Testimonial from a professional singer

Apr 04, 2023

Hello all of you beautiful singers and teachers of singing. I hope everyone of you is surviving this lockdown and feeling hopeful that we will sooner or later be able to go back to a more familiar way of life. I don’t want to get into a long, running dissertation about what that life is going to look like, other than I do believe it is going to be a bit of a different world than what it was before Covid19. A world that forced us all inside to rest, watch lots of television, play games with friends on Zoom, connect with our families on a deeper level via Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, take online classes that we were putting off, learn a new skill or craft, and give or take voice lessons online. 

We are living in a unique time in history, and most certainly navigating uncharted waters. Day after day we are hearing reports about how this organization or that one is going to require even stricter standards of social distancing in order to “flatten the curve” and get back to business as usual.

Then there’s the bad news coming out daily of businesses closing their doors for good, as they are unable to weather the financial blow dealt to them from weeks of keeping doors closed and loss of income. We recently learned (in the theater community) the sad news that Shetler Studios, one of the oldest and most established rehearsal facilities in New York City, was closing their doors for good, a result of too much financial loss from the Covid19 lockdown. This is a major loss to the Broadway community, but likely not the last organization to close their doors in the coming months, unfortunately. And then last week, one of the most successful shows on Broadway, “Frozen” announced the show would not reopen when the lockdown is over. 

It’s enough to make anyone want to stay in bed, binge watch Netflix, eat or drink one’s sorrows away, and forget about staying in shape physically, much less vocally. Trust me, I feel you if this is what you are experiencing. In our household we’ve binge watched more shows than I care to count over the last few weeks. Thank goodness for all of these streaming platforms, what would we do without them? It’s almost as if they knew this was coming……..conspiracy theories abound! 

Taking Small Steps to Get Your Voice Back In Shape

A couple of years ago I embarked on a weight loss journey, having seen myself in a video and noticing that I looked 30 or more pounds overweight. After viewing the video, I was devastated and decided it was time to get serious about losing those extra pounds. I changed my diet, started adding more cardio and resistance training to my daily workout regimine, and eventually lost most of the added weight. I was determined to not let the Covid19 lockdown ruin my weight loss progress. Every day since the lock down, I have religiously worked out with a couple of online fitness trainers and have managed to keep those unwelcomed pounds from reappearing. As the weather has begun to warm up a bit, I’ve started biking as often as possible, and generally feel in good shape. My voice on the other hand is a different story :-(

Teaching Voice Lessons Does Not Keep A Voice in Top Shape

As a vocal coach who also performs regularly with wedding/cover bands, as well as being a section leader for my church choir, keeping my voice in top shape is a requirement in order to perform at my best, and be able to teach as much as 30 hours (or more) voice lessons a week. Before Covid19, vocalizing daily was a no brainer, something I literally woke up doing after having my first two cups of coffee. But then that all changed as the entire world came to a screeching halt. I’m sure I speak for many of us by saying that the lockdown was a blow to our emotional states and bodies. How do we go from being a fast paced society always on the go, to going nowhere except the grocery store for weeks on end? 

About half of our Voice Soaring Studios clients have been online for the past 6 years, and fortunately, most of our in-person students were happy to continue their voice lessons online. For this I am truly grateful. 

Now six weeks into the lockdown, some semblance of normalcy has returned, but the strength in my voice has not. Admittedly I began to lapse in my own daily vocal workout regimine, and even though I’m teaching voice lessons daily, my voice was becoming flabby, not as resonant as before, and even a little tight. So I decided it was time to sit down at the piano and start re-working my voice back to it’s peak performance state, even if there are no immediate performance dates on the horizon. 

Start Out With A Light Vocal Workout, Then Build Up

Getting my voice back into fighting shape has not been unlike going back to the gym after not going for several weeks. At first (I’ll refer to my voice as “the voice” in order not to use “I”, “my” or “me” so often) the voice felt heavy and weighted, slightly weak, and certainly not as responsive as before. There was not a lot of “ringing” resonance, and the high notes that were easily accessible only a couple of months ago, suddenly felt like I was lifting a two hundred pound weight just to sing anything above the staff like a G4.

In my 20 years of teaching voice, I’ve noticed the most common issue with mature voices like mine, is that the middle voice and lower passaggio becomes unbalanced very quickly from lack of regimented vocal workouts.  

This can affect the high notes in a profoundly negative way. An out of balance lower middle register will not have as much “ring” in the sound, which indicates a lack of cord closure, therefore the upper notes will have less resonance and can sound out of tune, breathy or even constricted.

As I mentioned earlier, I began going back to my morning vocal workouts a week ago starting with simple, easy vocal exercises. The first exercise will be either lip trills, tongue/lip trills (a studio favorite!) or rolled R’s on a descending and ascending 5 tone scale starting at C4. This is about as easy as it gets by gently beginning the process of re-gaining the strength in the voice. I will take this exercise down by ½ steps slowly descending into the chest register, and then ascending upward by ½ steps until reaching about Bb4 in a pure head voice mixture.

Next I will sing a small “ooh” (u) vowel using that same descending and ascending 5 tone scale on a glide. By using a glide between the 5th and the 1st and up rather than focusing on individual notes, you are literally giving your vocal cords a chance to stretch out without tension. I’ll take this same scale and descend into the lowest comfortable chest tone, and back up to the highest note in the head voice. 

Once the voice starts to free up, then I’ll add a 5 tone ascending and descending scale on the vowel sequence “ah eh ee oh ooh oh ah eh ee”. This is a favorite vowel sequence as it lines up the lower and upper passaggio very easily. Instead of descending, this is usually the first ascending scale I’ll sing starting around C3 and moving up through the registers. Most of my students love this scale and will often comment that it feels like a massage on their throat. 

Next I will sing an arpeggio 1-3-5-8-5-3-1 on the word Alleluia. This simple scale on a beautiful word actually begins the process of connecting the chest voice to the head voice by starting the scale around C3 with the “ah” vowel on 1-3 and the “le”on the 5th, the “lu” on the 8 and carrying that all the way down to “ia”. Then I will slowly take this scale up by ½ steps to about Bb4, B4 or C5 if the voice is feeling comfortable up there.

The last two exercises are a coin toss but I generally, if not always sing the two octave Voce Cuperto starting at low A2 natural on the vowel “ah”, and jumping up two octaves to the vowel “ooh” (u) before descending in in whole steps back to A2. I’ve written extensively about this wonderful exercise taught to me by Maestro David L. Jones, my longtime vocal coach, and it’s benefits for the voice. The exercise is featured prominently in my instructional program “Let Your Voice Soar” with explanations and demonstrations on how to sing it, as well as a practice track to work it into your own voice. I absolutely love this exercise as it lines up the voice from top to bottom with no noticeable breaks over a period of time, and releases the high voice like no other exercise I’ve ever used. 

Lastly I will use either the “Meow” or the “Siamo” exercises, both of which are built on a 5-8-5-3-1 scale. These two exercises both use the concept of starting with a closed “ee” vowel before opening up to an “ae” sound which opens the soft palate wide and releases the root of the tongue. I will take this exercise as high as I can in full voice without letting it flip to falsetto or too much in the mixed voice.

This entire process of vocalization can take anywhere from ½ an hour to 45 minutes depending on how the voice is feeling. Once the voice feels well lubricated and ready for action, I’ll begin singing easy songs that don’t require too much range or power. Then it is time to take a break and come back later on to sing through the bigger songs with a wider range in my repertory, followed by a 5-7 minute cool down. 

All of the exercises mentioned in this blog-post can be found in my instructional program “Let Your Voice Soar” which can be purchased for the ridiculously low price of $35.00 by heading over to my website:

Voice lessons online are available to all singers from 10-100 regardless of genre. Write to me at [email protected] to book your first lesson.

Stay well, get some fresh air, eat good healthy foods, exercise your body and your voice, keep in touch with family and friends and most importantly, remain hopeful that on the other side of this, we just might be living in a better world! 


Happy singing everyone and LET YOUR VOICE SOAR!

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