Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute
“Mix it up Monday” is a new series on the blog. Each Monday I will post an exercise for you to try out in the studio or in your own practice. It is easy for teachers, and singers, to fall into a routine and use the same exercises over and over again. My hope is these posts will give you new ideas each week to keep things exciting for you and your students. If you have an idea you would like to share, please comment below. If you want to receive a message each time a new post is added, be sure to “follow” the blog. Thanks for reading! ~Matt
Dr. Ingo Titze is the Executive Director of the National Center for Voice and Speech, President of the Pan-American Vocology Association, and the creator of “straw phonation.” Dr. Titze is especially interested in singers and has made countless contributions to our understanding of the vocal mechanism. Today I want to feature his advice for how to warm-up.
Dr. Titze published an article in the Journal of Singing detailing what he believes are five essential exercises for warming-up the voice.
I’ve found this warm-up routine to be extremely effective in my studio and my students can easily understand what they need to do and why these exercises work. For more information, check out the original article in the Journal of Singing, January/February 2001, volume 57, number 3, pages 51-52 or check out a reduced version here on the National Center for Voice and Speech website. Also be sure to check out Dr. Titze’s numerous books for sale on the NCVS website.
Try these out this week with your students and comment below to let me know what you think or if you have other ideas that align with Dr. Titze’s suggestions.
Have a great week!
Regarding the /i/ — /a/ slide: seems like a male singer would benefit from the /a/ to /I/ motion and a female would benefit from the /i/ to /a/ motion. (On an upward slide anyway) This would be especially true for classical singers but I suspect the pitch ranges in which each gender tends to “hang out” would make the above more universal. My question would be is does the tongue roll you mention and fostering independence of the tongue etc. supersede this pitch and formant consideration? Or, would flipping the vowel pattern with consideration for the pitch range still achieve the desired outcome?
Christina: When I do these I start with an arched/forward tongue /i/ and move to /a/ on each pitch, trying to keep the /a/ position of the tongue as close to /i/ as possible. So I would do: i-a (5), i-a (4), i-a (3), i-a (2), i-a (1). If they struggle with that, I do “i-a-i-a-i-a-i-a-i” on a single pitch. I’m not worried about working the full range with this exercise, I usually hang out in their comfort zone and focus solely on getting the tongue loose. After I’ve warmed them up, I go back and work technical exercises. ~Matt
Is there any chance of you showing a video of these exercises to make sure I understand each one correctly?
Jason: Unfortunately there is no video available. If you search YouTube, you can find videos of Titze discussing straw phonation. Glides are pretty self-explanatory. When I’m working with students on step three, I mix up various extended tongue exercises: singing with a straw under the tongue, using tongue twisters, etc. You should be able to find YouTube examples of messa di voce exercises and staccati are pretty common. Theses exercises are not designed to develop your technique, they are intended to awaken the vocal mechanism, stretch out the folds, and coordinate the basic movements necessary for vocalization. So my suggestion would be to just start experimenting with different options and find what works best for you. If you have other questions, let me know. ~Matt
Thank you Matt
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I met Dr. Titze through our church congregation. He gave my husband and I a tour of the Denver facility and also graciously took us to the theatre. He was wonderful! It was such a pleasure to meet him and his lovely wife. Thank you for posting this article!
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