Monday, November 3, 2014

Breathe deeply

A long-time student of mine recently gave me a 'Shout-Out' on Facebook. It was a very flattering opinion of my work as a teacher of voice over the last 64 years. My, that's a long time!

He called me 'A brave soldier in the fight against vocal ignorance'. I guess that maybe he is correct. I like to teach singers who do smart things.

Herbert Burtis

Throughout my teaching career I have tried to make singing easy, comfortable, musical, emotional, fun for all of my students. Sometimes I have even succeeded! 

I have been amazed at how many professional singers have come to me with vocal problems that we have been able to solve simply by teaching them how to take and use a 'Singing Breath'. There is no great mystery to this; but so many singers seem to avoid doing it correctly that it puzzles me.

Without this kind of breath, you may just as well forget good singing.

The longer I teach, the more simply I teach. I have been known to say that I am like a gardener; I weed voices, throwing away the things that don't work and trying to plant ideas that do.

I have heard horror stories from students of past vocal lessons they have taken with other teachers that leave me breathless. I can't imagine how anyone can sing going through all of these un-necessary vocal and physical gyrations. I try to give students a sure-fire, easy method of 'singing breathing' that always works.

The exercise is this:
1. Blow out all your air.
2. Inhale, listening to the sound the air makes as it passes down your throat. It should sound like 'aw'.
3. Immediately blow some air out using an 'H'. This is what I call the 'Bernoulli Action'.
4. On this moving column of air, sing a vowel.

It will automatically release the sound freely and focus perfectly without you getting in the way.

This is always lesson #1 in my studio.

Try it. You may like it!

Once you make this a habit, a muscle memory, you can add notes, words, drama, emotion, what ever you wish and you are singing beautifully and freely. 'Art is the emotion expressed on the technique.'

It is at this point that you can follow my dictum:
'Just sing the damned song!!'