- What the Vocal Gym Guidelines are
- Importance of form and trained behaviors
Singers often unintentionally modify vocal exercises to make them sound as good as possible as fast as possible. Unfortunately, this approach to “perform” an exercise defeats the fundamental purpose of training, which is to discover and improve upon any vocal imbalances. This is where the Vocal Gym Guidelines come in. The guidelines are rules to be applied in the mindset of the vocal gym, designed to help you get the most out of your training, while being efficient and safe. This way, when it comes time to perform a song, you have the skills to express yourself artistically.
1: Maintain Tempo
The tempo(s) or duration intended at the start of an exercise should remain constant throughout the exercise.
This guideline will not only help you improve your overall sense of timing when you sing, but it will also improve your breath control by denying the temptation to speed up, often due to overspending air at the beginning of a phrase.
2: Maintain Volume
The volume(s) intended at the start of an exercise should remain consistent throughout the exercise.
This guideline will help you develop a valuable independence between pitch and volume, which will positively impact your ability to dynamically express yourself within a song.
3: Maintain Formant
A formant (sustained sound such as Ee, Ah, Mm or lip-trill) should only be modified if it is a deliberate intention within an exercise.
Formants are sometimes unintentionally modified in order to make it easier to sing certain pitches, which can rob you of your vocal freedom and distract listeners if they struggle to understand the words.
4: Maintain A Clear Tone
Avoid any breathy or distorted vocal sounds unless it is a deliberate focus within the exercise (such as adding a “vocal fry”).
Unintentional airy or distorted sounds indicate an imbalance of air pressure, fatigue or excess tension within the larynx. Imbalanced textures can be used to stylize a song, but should not be applied within an exercise, as it can mask your voice’s true condition.
5: No Exterior Muscles
Avoid any unintentional facial movements or visible signs of tension in the neck or shoulder area.
Learning to control your voice, without unnecessary muscles helping with the control of pitch or breathing, will lead to more freedom in tonal expression and assist in avoiding unwanted facial expressions when singing.
6: Minimize Vibrato
Avoid adding vibrato unless it is a deliberate focus within an exercise.
Vibrato can be a wonderful asset in the delivery of a song, but when vocalizing, it can mask imbalances we are hoping to discover and improve upon.
7: Let Go
Maintaining a tension-free environment takes precedence over forcing notes within an exercise.
Letting go of a note, no matter how bad it may sound (ie: cracks, wobbles, and skips), will allow you to temporarily expose a lack of coordination and alert you as to where and what you should be working on.
Having “Good Form” when practicing an exercise assures that you are building positive, long-term behaviors in a safe manner. If you ignore vocal imbalances, tensions, or even discomfort when training, it can lead to poor habits and inconsistent performances. Quality practice, following the guidelines, will maximize your time in the Vocal Gym for both mental and physical programming needed to continuously grow.
What are three guidelines a person would follow when training on a different instrument (ie: piano, drums or violin) or other physical activity (ie: dance, martial arts or tennis)?