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Understanding Exercises

Overview

  • Why Every Exercise Is Different
  • Exercise Formula
  • Component Breakdown
  • How To Target Dimensions

Why Every Exercise Is Different

Every vocal exercise is different for a reason. They can help warmup, challenge, relax, condition and coordinate a singers voice based on how it’s constructed. To find the best exercises for you and your voice, you must first understand what it is that makes up an exercise. From there, you will be able to create, customize, and maximize your time in the Vocal Gym. Let’s start by exploring the exercise formula.

 

Exercise Formula

The formula behind every exercise is simple. Each of the following components are combined to create an exercise. The total outcome will measure how much they affect each of the 7 dimensions.

Vocal Exercise = Formant + *Feature + Pattern + Volume + Tempo + *Variable

*Feature and Variable are optional components.

Component Guide


1st Component: Formant
A formant, in the context of a vocal exercise, is a sustainable and identifiable sound created by the shape of the vocal tract (resonator). This can include a lip trill, Mm, Oo, Ee, Ah, Zz and tongue roll.


2nd Component: Feature
A feature is a sound that is added to, or an interruption of, a formant. Features alter subglottic pressure and resonant patterns created by the position or temporary movement of the articulatory muscles within the vocal tract, similarly to formants. This can include most consonants, such as B, D, F, G, H, J, K, and L, as well as a Vocal Fry.


3rd Component: Pattern
A pattern refers to the order and duration of each note within a given exercise. Patterns can be separated into three basic categories: single notes, glissandos (sliding from one note to another) and intervals (scales or melodies). An exercise pattern can fall under any one of these categories or a combination thereof.


4th Component: Volume
Volume refers to the general measurement of decibels (dB) in which an exercise is practiced. Approximate decibel levels when singing (relative to an individual’s natural tendencies to project when speaking) can be broken down into four categories:

    1. Quiet (less than average speaking voice – under 60 dB)
    2. Medium (average speaking voice – approx. 60 – 75 dB)
    3. Loud (greater than average speaking voice – above 75 dB)
    4. Swell (crescendos / decrescendos – spanning a 20+ dB range)


5th Component: Tempo
Tempo refers to the speed at which a pattern is played, based on the beats per minute (bpm). Depending on how a pattern is constructed, the tempo used in an exercise can range anywhere from 40 (Largo) to 200 (Prestissimo) bpm.


6th Component: Variable
Variable is an optional component within an exercise. Intentionally modifying a relaxed upright posture, or adding a physical action while vocalizing, will affect the degree in which a dimension is targeted. This can include lowering the larynx, placing the tongue forward, or moving your head in a gentle circle.

How To Target Dimensions

Every component within an exercise directly impacts the 7 dimensions. For example, if you want an exercise to target the dimension of breathing, you can slow the tempo down or add cardio as a variable. If you want to build a custom exercise from scratch, you would select several components that challenge the dimension(s), you want to improve upon. There is an unlimited number of exercises that can be built! Using only the suggested components within this course alone can generate over 115,000 exercises! In the following lessons, we will break down the ideal components for each of the 7 dimensions.

Activity

Identify which component is associated with the following examples:

What Did You Learn?

  • The purpose of exercises
  • The formula for creating a vocal exercise
  • What each exercise component means
  • How to target a dimension

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