We start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. But, I don’t start with do, re, or even mi. I start with a list that I was given by my college voice teacher, an Austrian gentleman named Kurt Weinsinger. Herr Weinsinger did not have the greatest instrument, but his technique was superb! (Yes, via genetics some people have been gifted with better instruments than others, but that doesn’t mean everyone can’t learn how to sing beautifully.) This list is called The Five Basic Elements of Singing. It lays out very objectively what is an extremely subjective artform.
The Five Basic Elements of Singing:
1. Good Posture
- Feet shoulder-width apart, one foot a little in front of the other
- Hips tucked, knees pried out
- Lifting up out of the ribcage
- D. Chin slightly tucked (no goose-neck!)
2. Relaxation of the Vocal Mechanism
- Good posture
- Throat and neck relaxed
- Jaw loose
- Back of the throat (soft palate) lifted as in a yawn
3. Proper Breathing
- Good posture
- Take small breaths, down low, expanding the lower ribs in a barrel-like fashion. (This is breathing from the diaphragm.)
- Settle the breath before singing
- Breaths should not be great gasps for air, but controlled intake as well as controlled outflow.
4. Proper Focus
- Tone well in the facial masque, or sinus cavities. This is also known as putting a spin in the voice.
- On higher notes the focus becomes tighter, as it is put right on the bridge of the nose.
5. Good Mental Concept
- “Hear” the note before it is sung.
Herr Weinsinger always ended this list with a quote from the great vocal teacher, Lamperti –
Until the air is pregnant with sound waiting to be born, you are only making musical noise.
Next month, we’ll start to look at each one of these points in greater detail.