Meet the sphenoid. She is arguably the most beautiful bone in the body, and — of interest to singers — she sits above the soft palate. In which I offer up some movement meditations for the sphenoid that might just help you work with your resonance in a different way.
If you have a body, it’s useful to know something about how it works. But before you crack open that anatomy tome, here are some useful guidelines to keep in mind.
I like to collect odd instructions I’ve seen given to singers about breathing, some by choir directors, some in master classes with really famous singers. Here’s a smattering of my favorites, along with a sprinkling of some more healthy approaches to understanding the breath.
Some meditations on how the singer might work with the maxilla, the bone in the skull which holds your upper teeth, forms part of the hard palate and is also the floor of the nose.
“Vocal Function Exercises” is the very unglamorous name for what should be your go-to exercise when you want your voice to sound like hot stuff. Oh, and it’s really useful for coordinating breath, vibration and resonance or for those times when you need to rehabilitate after a bout of laryngitis or I-haven’t-practiced-for-months-itis.
A plea for the preservation of wild places, where one can get away from all of the mechanical grumblings of the world and listen to singers from other species. With special guests: songbirds, bison and coyotes!
If you’ve ever done any choral singing, you’ve probably found yourself standing on risers with your fellow choristers, trying to “smile with your eyes” and “sing good” while on the inside, your mind screams, with increasing intensity: “My feet hurt!” If that describes your plight, dear reader, this article is for you.
One day, a chorister gave me a handout she had received from her voice teacher explaining why singers shouldn’t do vocal exercises on the ng consonant — because (gasp) tension! I confess, this prohibition makes about as much sense to me as telling someone they should never shrug, because lifting the shoulders might cause shoulder and neck tension. So what’s a singer with tongue tension to do? Read on!
If you’ve ever puzzled over a wine description (perhaps something like: flavors of black cherry with accompanying notes of sputtering campfire), you might realize that talking about wine shares some of the same challenges as talking about singing. Your repertoire of sensory experience is everything.