Whether you’re just learning how to sing, are taking your first singing classes at school, or you’re an experienced singer about to showcase some new material at a popular venue, there is one pesky process that can impede progress and create additional problems.
This perpetrator is tension. The tightness can restrict and distort tone, thin out a potentially full rounded sound, and wreck your sense of comfort and confidence.
By investing in The Pro-Singer’s Warm Up issues can be properly addressed. This program, created by Jamie Wigginton and offered at Singingsuccess.tv, will help you to establish a daily reliable routine for releasing tension and warming up the voice so that you can confidently and consistently engage your full vocal potential.
The repeated daily practice will naturally create muscle memory that kicks in to relax and release tension as you warm up. You will find that comfort zone that helps you remain open, strong, resilient, and properly positioned to achieve the goals you set for your singing success.
Brett Manning Associate Testifies
Vocal coach Deborah “Zuke” Smith of Brett Manning Method: East Coast USA is sold on the value of this tool in addressing tension and getting in the right mindset and creative groove for teaching.
“I use it every single day before I teach. If I do nothing else, I do Jamie's warm-up. There something very soothing and meditative about his voice and exercises that gets me ready for a day of teaching. So…my daily routine is Jamie Wigginton's Pro Singer Warm-Up and about 15 minutes of selected exercises from Mastering Mix, and that's perfect for me! Jamie's warm-up addresses my balanced mix voice perfectly. It's great when I have to teach jazz, classical, or classical style Broadway.”
Fun Ways To Relax
There are some basic relaxation exercises that many teachers, coaches, and even doctors recommend as a positive practice for starting each day. Limbering up is vital to waking up the body the first thing in the morning, even before you roll, stumble, or leap out of bed.
Notice how cats and dogs stretch out upon awakening from a good sleep or quick nap? Before they take that first step toward the water bowl or hop onto the window sill, they systematically stretch out and yawn.
Often Overlooked Day-breakers
Engage in some simple but often neglected day-breaker practices. To relieve any tension carried over from the day before, take a few minutes to slowly stretch and yawn before your feet hit the floor. This will help to warm up the wonder of the day and shake off the shivers of the day and night before. It also gets you in a relaxed state of mind so that you are open to the challenges of the day, and you’ll have a relaxed point of reference to think back to as daily stressors arise.
From The Bottom Up
Once you’re out of bed, take a few moments to slowly align your body, starting with your feet and working your way up. Make sure that your feet are positioned shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly forward. Then, relax and loosen your knees and check to see that you’re not putting more weight on one leg or the other. Then, facing forward, square your shoulders, open your chest, and make sure your chin is level with the floor, and your arms are relaxed at your side.
Shake, Rattle, Then Roll
Once you’re aligned and feel relaxed, then shake things out, very much like a dog shakes off after getting wet. Shake out or wiggle your hands, legs, arms, feet – from head to toe. You may choose to start by working your way up or down. It’s up to you to have fun either shaking, wigging, pretending you’re being tickled, or that there’s an electric current or wave passing through – choose whatever works to help get you charged up and powered by the positive energy of the day. This is a fun way to help release tension while stimulating circulation. Then, after shaking out, realign your body.
Neck + Jaw Jitters
For a lot of singers tension in the neck and jaw can be a huge problem. When you align and realign your body you can monitor your tension in this area by noticing what you feel in the back of your neck. Reach back and massage the area and move your head from side to side to gauge the results of limbering up and to check for any residual tension or tightness. Then, check for tension in the jaw. Let your jaw hang loose and open as if you were snoring.
Zuke sees tongue tension as a critical issue that limits the full potential of a singer’s voice. She notes that tension in the tongue forces you to keep working harder as the tension builds on itself creating tension in other parts of the body, like a domino effect.
“There are three main areas of tension that will affect the voice – the tongue, the jaw and the neck – and these all are connected,” Zuke said. “But what is causing that tension in the first place? Perhaps the student had a lousy day at school or a fight with their best friend. I am careful not to cross the line into therapy, but sometimes just acknowledging that they had a lousy day will release some of the tension.”
Zuke has her singing students look in a mirror so they can see what the tension looks like. She then instructs them to roll their shoulders and neck, and then drop the jaw as if they're snoring or drooling, just to get them to relax. The student can come in as one giant ball of tension, So I have to unravel them bit by bit.
“Depending on how the student is tensing the tongue, whether it’s at the root, tight at the tip, pulling the tip back and forth, I work with the student to help them get rid of those habits and work on new correct habits to replace them,” she said.
Shelby Rollins is a Nashville-based Brett Manning Certified Associate who understands the value of several exercises for relaxing and warming up the voice of her students. She has several personal favorites that generate positive results that build off of relaxation and releasing tension that can threaten vocal transitions.
“Lip rolls are a great way to warm up with,” she said. “They also gently help you to bridge the transitions because you’re not thinking about your sound. So it sneaks you into higher parts of your range. Vocal fry cures a multitude of woes and ills in the voice. Not only is it therapeutic, but I think it helps people find their legitimate head voice, and find their mix. It’s the most unsung hero of singing resources because it has so much bearing on a lot of things a singer uses to realize their full potential.”
She also encourages students to use the “Woh-woh-who” sound for tension-free ease in finding a pathway of resonance and getting the air out.
“Because of its long narrow shape, it helps people’s chords to stay connected,” she said.
Forums + Clips
Share your experiences with relaxing, relieving stress and tension, and with warming up via the singingsuccess.tv forums. Talk about how you battled the tension and stress you face in those first singing classes. Offer any tips you found for releasing tension and how it has impacted your journey on learning to sing.
There are a number of helpful clips on relaxation and releasing tension offered by Brett Manning and his certified associates that will impact your tone and exercise your full vocal potential available for viewing at youtube.com/user/singingsuccess. Check out Christopher Keller’s video clip on Singing Easier and tune into Jesse Nemitz working with Craig Deuchar via a clip on Tone Production.
So, fight back the jitters with proven techniques to relax and release tension. Invest in The Pro-Singer’s Warm Up, available at singingsuccess.tv, and book a session in person or via Skype with a Brett Manning Certified Associate to strengthen your voice, work smart-not harder, and to build up confidence and comfort levels as you achieve the full potential of your singing success.
James R. Wigginton (Jamie) has been training voices professionally for nearly 20 years. He has worked as a solo artist; background singer (for Garth Brooks, Ray Stevens, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, Donna Summer, many others); and session singer (for WORD, Brentwood Music, as well as many studios). He serves as full-time Instructor of Commercial Voice Performance at Belmont University in Nashville and also teaches private lessons from VocalEdge Studio in Music City.
To learn more about Brett Manning Associate and vocal coach Shelby Rollins, visit http://www.brettmanningstudios.com/coaches. Shelby Rollins is available for vocal lessons either in-person in Nashville, over the phone, or via SKYPE. Please email [email protected] or call 615.866.1099 to inquire about or schedule a lesson!
Deborah “Zuke” Smith
Zuke is a renowned music copyist, piano teacher, songwriter, vocal coach, and self-proclaimed “East coast chick,” who credits Brett Manning’s Singing Success with not only saving her life but forever changing it for the very best it can be. In 2000 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and braved the brutal battery of tests, surgeries, chemotherapy, post chemo drug regimen and physical therapy. She believes that Brett Manning’s programs and method are absolutely essential to bringing out the full potential in any voice. You can find her on Facebook listed as Brett Manning Vocal Method: East Coast, U.S.A.