PAJAMA MOVES – easy, fun ways to maintain a healthy voice and body

EXERCISE! Thoughts of pain, time, and hassle? It doesn’t have to be that way.

Change the word to MOVEMENT to help you feel good just about all the time.

You don’t need to move your body fast and work hard in order to experience life changing benefits. You do not have to go to the gym, go to a class only offered a certain time of the day. You do not have to buy cute little work-out clothes. The only exercise I do in public is walking, riding my bike and dancing on the impromptu rare occasions I find the opportunity. I have never been able to maintain fighting traffic to get to an exercise class on time in the right clothes and with the water bottle in tow. I want to do it when it is convenient for me and without conversing with others while doing it.

But, why must we move? Because that’s just the way it is. If you don’t find an enjoyable way to keep moving you won’t be able to.

Full realization of singing can be hindered by bodies that are heavier than an optimum weight range. There can be a reduction in strength, endurance and range of mobility in respiratory, laryngeal, and vocal tract coordinations.

Every function of every organ and system in your body is enhanced by body movement. When they are activated, your:
1. Respiratory and circulatory systems deliver more oxygen and glucose to the muscles that enable more cognitive sharpness.
2. Metabolism increases.
3. Glands of the immune systems are better supported and protected(1).

The most important thing is to be consistent and use appropriate movements. This does not have to involve heavy weight lifting, aerobic classes, or even a personal trainer.

3 PAJAMA APPS – STAY IN YOUR JAMMIES AND STAY AT HOME

Down Dog Yoga App

Down Dog: My absolute favorite app in the world. Love it even more than iBooks!
Best feature: Operator friendly
Important features: FREE!  You can upgrade to choose what kind of music you want and what areas you want to concentrate on. Deals throughout the year as low as $29.99
Beginner to advance. 10 – 60 minute work outs that you can save to repeat.
Nice voice to listen to for an hour.

Sworkit App

Sworkit: Free trial, but then you have to pay to play.
Best feature: Designs 6 week plan for you based on age, gender, weight and skill.
Important features: Offers challenges and quick workouts.

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Tai Chi: Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and health benefits. The term taiji refers to a philosophy of the forces of yin and yang.
Best feature: Lovely traditional Chinese music in background.
Great features: Written and oral explanation of every move. FREE! But, when you are ready to move to the next level you must upgrade.

Worth checking out online:

Babette Lightner

THE LIGHTNER METHOD:

  • Ease common chronic physical pain such as knee, back and shoulder pain.
  • Shift frustration, anxiety or worry to clarity and calm.
  • Transform effort, strain in moving to light, lively mobility.
  • Experience
  •  Experiencing your current capabilities rather than always try to improve/change.

THE ANCIENT ART OF MINDLESS WALKING:

Walking.Mindless.

THE TAKE AWAY:
You don’t need to carve out an hour a day or even a few days a week. You can do small twelve minute sessions of any movement to receive a great benefit. I often do just a twelve minute beginner yoga session before I go to work because I just don’t have the time to do more. Those twelve minutes make a vast difference in my stamina, outlook and focus.

I hope you’ll give it a try!

 

Footnotes
1). Thurman, L. & Welch, G. (2000). bodymind & voice: foundations of voice education. The VoiceCare Network, USA, Book 3, 639-640.

 

 

 

Laughing in Music

2 videos attached.

It never occurred to me that the singing of Fa la la could be the translation of laughing in song.

In many of our rehearsals at the Webb-Mitchell Centre for Choral Studies, the singers have a difficult time moving while singing. The notion is that singers have a stance almost like that of a soldier. They plant their feet and they don’t move. Of course, no movement at all only sets up a perfect scenario for tension throughout the entire body. This in turn affects the breathing. This tension and shallow breathing will of course have an impact on intonation and phrasing.

We are working hard to add movement, even if very slight, with everything we do. Kinesthetic movement with the well- known canon Dona Nobis Pacem has become the standard way we end our rehearsals. It surely sends the ladies home completely relaxed and dreaming of the beautiful sounds they have experienced in our lovely acoustic space.

We have added many vocal exercises that move from a very bright ah to a very relaxed ah. We are working to keep the tongue down and throat open so that we may support our sound with air. We have actually gone to the other extreme in creating a very aspirate onset in the beginning of all of our phrases. It is important for our ladies to precede words beginning with a vowel with the voiceless h to remind them of the sensation of singing on the air. Aspirating the h mimics a sigh which naturally opens the throat.

While we are busy at work understanding the difference between resonators and articulators, we are also working on our musicianship. Since we have conquered learning rhythms by putting the sequences in our feet, we have moved the sensation to our voice and are applying count singing to our study.

In this video, you will see these brave, intelligent and hard-working Chinese women, transferring  rhythms from the feet to the voice by count singing on a repeating tone. Then, you will hear the lovely English tune Now Is The Month of Maying by Thomas Morley. First, we speak the English text in rhythm, then we sing it. With the singing Fa-la-la, our focus is to let the tip of the tongue do the flipping to create a light-hearted laugh with the singing of “Fa-la-la” being sure to not engage the jaw.

You will also hear the r used in the word merry. We later changed the American r to a flipped r because it was just causing too much trouble for our non-native speakers.

I highly recommend this piece as it is a great teaching piece that differentiates the articulators from the resonators. The imagery of the piece is depicted beautifully in the melodic line. The phrasing is two to four measures and the text is repetitive emphasizing the importance of contrasting dynamics. In the key of F Major, it also aids in learning to sing an ascending major scale on a neutral syllable. Of course, it’s even more fun explaining what is meant by the words lad and lass, words we don’t use much anymore.

 

Just What Are My Vocal Folds Doing During Warm-Up?

All Voice Experts advocate warm-up exercises. The lack of a proper warm-up may contribute to vocal fatigue and even dysfunction in singers as well as anyone that uses the voice throughout the day. Poorly warmed-up voices are less durable and less sustainable!

What happens to the vocal folds during the warm-up?

Since the vocal folds contain muscle tissues as a major component they depend on efficient blood circulation in order to retain good function and viscosity. Good circulation is stimulated by a well-planned and methodical warm-up. All great athletes rely on efficient and optimal muscle function and therefore warm up their muscles as part of their initial exercise.

Just how does one warm up the voice? Believe it or not, it can be achieved in much the same way one prepares the body for a work out. This warm up includes:
• Full body movements to activate the breath, bring natural movement to the diaphragm and bring circulation to the pharynx and larynx
• Massage the jaw and facial muscles
• Gentle onsets with soft phonation using resonators
• Begin phonation with the head voice, then mixed register voice and finally chest voice
• Distinguish the articulators from the resonators by working: mouth, tongue, jaw, hard palate, etc.
• Integrate consonants with vowels and transition to forming words