Hi Harmonizers,

Hard to believe it is August.  That means we only have two rehearsals before a much deserved “mini vacation “ for all.  I’ll try to make the most of these two rehearsals.

I’ve sent around a recording of all 4 parts of “Will the Circle”.  It does not have the repeat and the final tempo may change but at least it gives you an idea as to the complexity of the song and how it sounds when we put it together. Should be fun to sing against.  So we will definitely be working on that this coming Thursday.  We also need to sing through Sway since I hope that will be our next video.  Judy is putting the finishing touches on the Lions video and from what I have seen and heard, you will be happy and we need happy.  

We also need to review the tricky parts in “It don’t mean a thing”.  I think each breakout room needs to be a little longer so that more people get the chance to sing.  I’ll aim for that on Thursday as well.

Also as requested, here are the websites that Victoria mentioned that might help with ear training.  During the summer break, I’ll check these out and maybe they will prove useful. (RCM Ear Training info page) (purchase a monthly subscription) (RCM Home Page) (Create a free account)

Quite a few of you sent in your take aways from the workshop.  I’ve posted bits and pieces and some entire comments.  Really good reading and we should keep many of these posted on our mental whiteboards. Here they are.  I’ve removed most of the personal comments so that the take aways are more general in nature.

What a helpful, inspiring workshop that was. Victoria Holland is so passionate and knowledgeable and inspiring and engaging. She’s a wonder. I actually sang out for the first time, rather than trying so hard. It was a pleasure. I’m sure it was the “beginners luck” kind of feeling–the work will come in making it a new habit.

I especially appreciated Victoria’s description of the way the diaphragm works, and what’s involved (and what’s not) when we breathe in.  I also liked the visualizations she suggested—relaxing before breathing in, sending the sound out from the upper chest, and opening our jaws the size of a grape for the low notes and the size of a walnut for the high notes!  Enjoyed it a lot.

1. Try to project 10 feet away

2. That “moment of relief” where the air will enter your nose AND mouth

3. The breath provides the sustenance to singing, not straining (the horizontal river). I was watching Eric Owens sing on TV and saw exactly how that was when done right!

4. Your brain changes the pitch, audiation, imagining the pitch before you sing it. I tried this some and I thought it was very helpful and even helped me on high notes!

5. Her diagrams helped me to understand where the diaphragm is and what it does, where the air goes (no matter what my yoga teacher says) I was always confused about that. It all made sense.

6. Don’t move your body around to “reach” a note

I found it very relaxing to “think of a moment I feel relief”.  I was easily able to activate  my diaphragm and take a breath in effortlessly.

Keeping my skeleton straight gives me the support I need to move air 5 feet in front of me from my shoulders. 

1.  The objective is to learn how to use your voice as a wind instrument.

2.  Take in your breath with your nose and an open mouth.  Support the sound, not with the diaphragm, but with the muscles on the sides next to the ribcage.

3.  Concentrate on a placing your voice about 10 feet away.

4.  It is the intensity, not the loudness, of your voice that carries the sound you make.

5.  Think of the center of the pitch before you sing it (not scooping) to make the sound.

6.  Look like you are enjoying the experience!!

7.  Strive for proper singing posture to support your wind.

8.  Think about the words in a song and the message they convey.  Even “ba ba la la doot” has a message.  Sing for meaning.

When she said “Think about how you feel after you’ve been walking around all day, you’re hot, tired, and have to go to the bathroom. THAT’S what it should feel like, singing this way.”

 But what I really liked was her method of breathing or taking air in through both the nose & mouth and then letting out the sound like “fire hoses”.  I tried that during my voice lesson this week and it really helps. The idea of breathing in like a feeling of relief and then singing, was a surprise.  It really works!  

As an older singer,  there always continues to be room for improvement.  Years ago, breath control came easily & naturally.  Now, I really have to work at it.  I so appreciate learning any “new tricks”.  

  1. The breath moves the air to create sound through the vocal cords like a bow moves to create sound on the strings of a cello.

2.  To get enough breath, you need to practice breathing with a feeling of “authentic relief”.

3.  You should breathe in using BOTH nose and mouth.  I have long thought that breathing through the nose only is more effortful and doesn’t give as good a breath as breathing through the mouth and was happy to hear that opinion confirmed.  Also, it’s good to know that, if you open your mouth, the air will automatically come in through both the nose and mouth, so you don’t actually have to think about it.

4.  You should visualize the air moving in a straight, horizontal path to a listener 10 feet away.  Visualize the sound emerging from two little spots on the top of your chest in a steady stream.  I have trouble doing this without an actual listener 10 feet away.  Otherwise, I think I tend to sing too softly.  Not sure what different result you get from visualizing the sound coming out of those two spots vs. out your mouth vs. out the top of your head, and I wonder about that.

5.  All you have to do is “think” a pitch (audiate) and it will come out to match the pitch you are thinking.  This doesn’t necessarily happen with me.  I often have to adjust the pitch that comes out to match the pitch I am thinking, mostly with the first note I sing in a piece.  After that first note, getting the right pitch is more automatic.  There ARE “tough spots” where the note I am supposed to sing is less intuitive and I REALLY have to think hard about what that note should sound like when I get there.

6.  Think only of the note you are singing.  Don’t anticipate the next pitch. 

7.  Don’t pay much attention to sensations, for example, associating a high note with a high place in the body.

8.  The skeletal system must be stable (especially through the middle) and calm in order to support the breathing mechanism.  Do not allow awkward posture (for example, a tucked chin, craned neck, or clenched jaw) or motion of the body (for example, SWAYing around) to interfere with sound production.

9.  Shape the sound with intention, but not effort.  For example, make consonants with “flicks” of the tongue.  I wish I remembered her other examples… 

10.  You cannot assess the sound you produce in real time.  You need to listen to a recording to understand how you sound.  Of course people sound different to themselves inside their heads than they do to other people.

That sums up the responses so far.  I would say that we got our money’s worth and I hope we can explore some of these concepts as we go along.

See you Thursday.