I have a question about panting (From your 10 Steps to Better Breathing Post). Does the Panting exercise help in expanding the abdominal area so that there is more room for air?
The Panting exercise, which is used on our Complete Breathing CD/mp3 doesn’t so much expand your abdomen as it gives you more control of your breathing. Panting requires quick shifts back-and-forth between inhaling and exhaling in very short bursts. It helps build the Core Breathing Muscles that give you all the breath you need, while not letting you use more than you need. Most singers literally use twice the amount of air needed to sing a phrase. This costs you breath and control, and robs from your best sound.
I received this question for Francis, and it really states a common problem very clearly. After singing at the top of four range, it can be difficult to transition back down to your lower notes. Read on to learn how I address this common issue.
I am considered a bass-baritone, with a range of C2-C4 and access of head voice from C#4-A5. Sometimes, I refrain from using my head voice for I need a lot of power. I haven’t built my mixed voice yet, for I am still in training of my head voice. When in the D4-G#4, I am belting out. But as a bass singer, I find it difficult to sing my C2 after belting, where there are songs I really needed it. I do a lot of warming ups after waking up and before singing. But what I’d like to know is what I should do to get to my C2 in a short period of time, for the low and high notes are in the same song. Hoping for some replies around. Thanks!
Thanks for your question, it is a really good one! Being able to return to your lower notes after forcefully singing in your upper range is a common challenge. I work through this regularly with lots of singers and it’s very doable. Here are my thoughts:
First, Keep This in Mind
First, there are two things you should always think and do when trying to recover to lower register after singing high.
One, make sure you are expanding the back when you inhale as this relaxes the larynx, and a relaxed larynx will more easily sing lower notes.
Two, at the same time think of “speaking” the word on the lower note rather than “reaching down” to hit it. This will get you in a more natural, familiar setting and make the lower notes much, much easier. The combination of these two things is powerful.
Also, you need to address the “passagio,” or passageway between your lower and upper registers. Because this area, (C4 to F#4) isn’t used in daily speaking it’s not as familiar to your voice. As you have said you just power through this area in chest voice but it may not be a good idea. It’s like driving a car at 70 mph in 2nd gear. It uses too much fuel and can easily overheat the engine. In singing that means straining and fatiguing the voice and possibly doing damage. Instead, you need to learn to move through and connect these areas in a healthy way. It’s the only option for a serious singer.
Vocal Coach has an entire CD/mp3 dedicated to this issue called Complete Expanding Your Range. It leads you through the principles and exercises that “allow” the voice to have one continuous, connected range bottom to top to bottom. “Allowing” the voice to work rather than “forcing” it to work is critical. Once you begin to understand, and walk in these principles singing is much more fun, not to mention much easier on the voice—and perhaps the listener’s ears : )
Descending falsetto into chest register. Start in a light, light “child” falsetto sound on Hah, descending down well into chest register (C5 to G3). Keep it in falsetto, like Mickey Mouse. Don’t let it change. The goal is to help the physical mechanism realize there are multiple ways to sing the same notes. Ultimately, you will be “mixing” chest and falsetto characteristics with the result being the mix, that becomes the head voice.
Lip trill/roll Use it carefully and lightly top to bottom (C5 – C3). Then, play with bottom to top and finally bottom to top to bottom and/or top to bottom to top. Here’s a real key: Anticipate that the mechanism wants to do something different as you move, but don’t make it happen. In stead, give the voice “permission” to begin to adjust sooner rather than later.”
Thanks again for your question. This may be way more than you were expecting, but I’m very passionate about all of this and about giving singers the truth and a clear path to follow. If you ever want personal feedback you can schedule an Online Skype or FaceTime session. Otherwise this should get you off to a good start!
Most of us are almost done with the big Christmas productions. Unfortunately, many are also coughing and having trouble hearing due to head congestion. Other than medications here are some tips to keep you singing through the end of the year… with excellence:
HYDRATE MORE. Winter season (at least in North America) means dryer air outside. It also means dryer air inside as a result of heated homes and cars (which I am thankful for). That, plus all the extra singing, and even talking if you work retail means UP YOUR HYDRATION. Water, water and more water.
THE POWER OF THE HUMM. Humming, with a chewing motion is a great way to keep things warmed up and resonating. It’s also a natural decongestant. It helps loosen and drain stuffy areas, which along with good hydration keeps you healthier. (Some of the silly noises babies make are really God-given exercises to keep the head and larynx area healthy.) Those of you who use the Lip Trill or buzzing motor exercise should also do that. It’s one of the absolute best warm-ups ever. Here’s what it sounds like:
The OTC (over the counter) product called Neil Med Nasal Rinse, available from Walgreens and sometimes Costco is an outstanding way to flush out the nasal passages and sinuses. It’s very inexpensive and used by thousands of singers and speakers to keep the body’s “air filters” clean and open.
Hope this helps, and that you finish the year with joy in your heart and health in your voice. The message of the Son of God is one of the strongest, most meaningful you will ever sing.