Vocal exercises

Download my Vocal Exercises & Warm Ups CD from iTunes

Susan Blair - Vocal exercises and warm ups
Attention: The content of this CD is provided for general information, reference and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for supervised vocal instruction.
Who is this CD for?
Any singer who wants to gain more control over his/her voice. The exercises will increase vocal stamina, extend range, increase volume control and enhance vocal flexibility.
Is this CD suitable for both male and female singers?

Yes. The range of the exercises is suitable for both. However, men should start an octave below the starting note sung at the beginning of each exercise.

Women start on middle C (the note that is sung at the beginning of each exercise).

Men start on C below middle C. This is easy to find: you just sing the note in the speaking range of your voice, where it feels comfortable.

Will this CD suit my needs?

If you are a beginning singer this CD is perfect for you because you simply follow the instructions and sing the exercises in order to increase your skills. If you are an advanced singer this CD offers the perfect backing track. You can adjust the exercises and make them more challenging.

What’s the benefit of doing exercises?

It’s like gym training for your voice.

The exercises on the CD are your training program, your workout, to build the muscle control, memory and strength you need in order to sing effortlessly.

It’s true what they say: practice makes perfect.

I can’t sing as high / as low as the exercise. What should I do?

Don’t panic, this is normal in the beginning. The exercises go that high and that low so that you have a chance to increase your range. Sing up to where you can reach comfortably without pushing or straining your voice.

At that point jump down an octave and sing the notes but an octave lower and keep singing along with the CD.

You will find that in time you will be able to sing those high and low notes.

How do I know if I’m singing correctly?

When it feels comfortable and painless.

You are doing something wrong if you;

(a) experience pain or discomfort at the back of your throat.

(b) feel an uncomfortable tickle at the back of your throat that makes you want to stop and cough or clear your throat.

(c) you can’t help coughing straight after singing a note and tears well up in your eyes

If any of the above occurs, you are doing something wrong and you need to stop and change it. Try yawning to relax your throat and then try again. If the issue persists, consult a qualified voice teacher so you know what you are doing wrong and can work on correcting it.

Should I sing through the whole CD as a warm up before a performance?

No, the whole CD is too long for a warm up. You don’t want to tire yourself out before you’ve even started.

Instead pick 2 exercises you like and restrict the warm up to around 15 to 20 minutes.

How much time should I practice with the CD when I’m trying to build my voice and improve my technique?

You should spend between 20 and 30 minutes with the CD once or twice a day. In the beginning you may find that your voice gets tired and that 30 minutes is a bit long.

Remember: 2 or 3 periods of 20 minutes is better than one period of 60 minutes. There is no such thing as “making up” by doing an hour-long session after a few days of no practice. In fact you could do more harm than good as your voice will get tired pretty quickly and you end up wasting time and building bad habits as you sing past the point where your voice is tired and needs to rest.

My voice feels tired after doing the exercises, is that bad?

With a perfect technique you should be able to sing in whatever style, all day, everyday.

However, when you are still learning about your voice and building your technique it’s important to practise little and often so you can gradually make your instrument stronger. Do not attempt to “push” through any tiredness, but rest and come back the next day.

Being tired isn’t so bad provided you rest your voice properly afterwards. The danger lies in having a tired voice and continuing to sing and speak.

If you find that your voice is a little tired and maybe a little hoarse then rest it completely for and hour. This means no talking, no telephone calls, no humming and no singing. You should feel a noticeable difference after that hour. If hoarseness persists, consult a professional.

Whatever you do, do not ignore a persistently tired or hoarse voice. In most cases though, a little downtime is all your voice needs to recover.

I have some trouble pitching the first note of each exercise / I’m not sure if I always start on the right note?

The way to improve your pitching and your aural skills is practising with a keyboard. If you don’t own a keyboard these sites have some great virtual keyboards on line: http://www.pianoworld.com/fun/javapiano/javapiano.htm 

or

http://method-behind-the-music.com/piano

Each exercise on the CD starts on middle C after which it moves up the keyboard by a semi tone (this is the next black or white key on the keyboard). The only exception is exercise no 5, which starts on G.

Play the next semi tone at the beginning of each exercise so you’re sure you are starting on the right note.

After a while your ears will get used to the pattern and the pitch and you will no longer require the keyboard.

Why doesn’t anyone sing along with me throughout the whole exercise?

Susan believes that it’s important for you to find your own sound, rather than copy someone else’s. There is no one right sound colour in which to sing the exercises. The important thing is that you sing through the exercises comfortably and without straining.

I’m doing really well and would like to do some more challenging exercises. What can I do?

You can try some of these more advanced exercises on the same tracks.

Track 1: 1 – 3 – 5- 8 – 5 – 4- 3-2 -1 (along the major scale)

Track 2: sing the major scale up and down on each exercise.

Track 3: increase the amount of beats for each section: 8 in, 8 hold, 12 out.

Track 4: sing the siren over an octave

Track 5: 5 – 8 – 5 – 3 – 2 – 3 – 4 (along the major scale)

Track 6: perform the exercise on all 5 basic vowels

Track 7: perform the exercise on all 5 basic vowels

Alternatively, you can wait for Volume 2!

Do these exercises replace one on one singing lessons?

No. They are a tool to help you gain more control over your voice. The exercises will increase vocal stamina, extend range, increase volume control and enhance vocal flexibility. It’s like a work out CD for your voice, so you will ultimately be able to sing songs better and with more ease. 

It frequently hurts or is uncomfortable when I sing, what should I do?

Stop and consult a qualified professional in your area. Singing should never be painful. It should feel free and comfortable even when you are singing powerfully or with much passion.

If it hurts when you sing, you are doing something wrong. You are abusing your voice and you need help to correct your mistakes. Prolonged vocal abuse can cause serious damage.

I had had 4 different teachers in the span of a few years and could simply not find the right vocal coach for me until I met with Susan. With her I finally felt very comfortable and I found the motivation I needed. While letting go of my fears, I was improving my vocal skills and techniques and finding myself more and more confident in no time at all. Most importantly she has really listened to what my needs and goals were from day one encouraging me to find new ways and helping me reach my goals.

Thank you Susan, for being the best teacher I’ve ever had, for being a listener and a very sensitive and caring person. Without you I would have never made the leap from singing fearfully to singing firmly.

Kiara Bianco

Singer/songwriter - NYC/Italy