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Being in Voice

With Flloyd Kennedy

Four Great Vocal Warm-ups

5th edition Flloyd Kennedy May 2012 email:


Introduction Why Warm Up?................................................................................3 2 - Vocal Maintenance (or Vocal Function Exercises)................................................ 6 3 The 15 Minute Vocal Warmup ...........................................................................8 (Group Or Individual).............................................................................................. 8 4 The Full Warm Up (Part I).................................................................................12 5 - The Full Warm Up (Part Ii).................................................................................15 GLOSSARY............................................................................................................. 19

Introduction Why Warm Up? Warming up is an essential part of the performers practice. Whether you are an actor, singer, dancer or musician, you need to prepare yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and imaginatively before you begin your training, rehearsal or performance. Warming up means literally warming up your muscles, by stimulating blood flow to them so that you can use them more vigorously and dynamically. Youll not only get a better stretch if you warm up, youll be in less danger of tearing a muscle or a ligament. Ask any sports specialist. Warming up for a performer (as for an athlete) also means getting yourself focused, directing your concentration to the task in hand. A focused performer is present, available, relaxed and open to the challenges that arise. There are many different kinds of warm-ups, and many different techniques available. The ones I propose have been devised to fulfil different purposes. They can be rearranged and reordered to suit your own needs, as long as you remember why you are doing them, and do them with your full attention and awareness. It can be daunting, making funny noises around your family or house-mates. Even worrying what the neighbours might think will impact upon how you address this work. Tell them what you are doing, and why. You never know, they might even join in! If they tease you, remind yourself (and them) that you are just doing gym for the voice. These exercises have been acquired from the many wonderful teachers and colleagues I have worked with over the years. I put them together in a form that works for me, and I am happy to share them with you. I hope you will feel free to make them your own, incorporating and adapting them to include other exercises that work for you, and sharing them with your friends and colleagues. All I ask is that you acknowledge the provenance of the techniques where they came from as I do.

1 - The Mini-Mini Vocal Warm-up This is the shortest warm-up that is of any use. It was inspired by Eric Armstrongs morning voice warm-up, the very first podcast he ever put online. His website: is a veritable gold-mine of information on all things voice, including his own detailed series of vocal warm-ups from beginners to advanced. I find this one useful for waking up the voice first thing in the morning. It does nothing but stimulate blood flow to the larynx, so that you can use your voice normally without sounding as if you just woke up. It only takes a minute or so, it can be done as you stagger out of bed on your way to the bathroom. Better still, you can do it under the shower, or walking to the bus stop. Because it is so quick and easy, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for not doing it every day. It will get you into the habit of paying attention to your voice and treating it kindly. It is quick, easy and fun so hopefully it will inspire you to do more extended warm-ups on those occasions when you have a few more minutes to devote to your practice. 1. Have a bit of a yawny stretch, and do a little aerobic jig, just to warm up your muscles, get your heart pumping a little. Check your posture, relax your jaw (two finger tips should fit, one on top of the other, comfortably between your front teeth), relax your belly 2. Allow an easy, relaxed sighing, yawny aaaaah to slide from the low middle to the lower area of your pitch range downwards. Do this 3 or 4 times, each time beginning a little bit higher in your range, sliding a little bit lower, but never straining. Gradually convert the breathy sigh to a gentle, but fully voiced (h)Ah. 3. Gently hum around the middle of your range, keeping the yawny feeling in the back of your mouth, and let the sound flow forwards and outwards from the Centre of your body (near the navel) in a circle, getting a little bit higher and a little bit lower each time round. Its just the Ah but with your lips gently touching each other. You may feel a buzzing, or tickling on your lips. If so, Great! If not, Great! 4. Using a lip trill (brrrrrr), or tongue trill (rrrrrrr), slide up your range from middle to higher, taking it a little bit higher each time until you run out of range DONT STRAIN. If you have trouble with trilling, persevere with it, and do some humming as well. 5. Finally, brrrr, rrrrr, hum, sing, oo or ah up and down your whole range like a gentle siren. You can afford to give your voice a stretch now, but NEVER strain. Remind yourself to relax your jaw, and your belly as you do it.

RECAP: 1. Warm up your muscles, and check your posture for supporting the voice, drop your jaw, relax it, and also relax your tongue 2. Sighing aaah from middle to lower range 3. Humming mmmm around the middle range 4. Trilling brrrr from middle to higher range 5. then any old sound that flows around the full range.

TIP: this exercise is not aimed at producing a beautiful sound. You are aiming for relaxed, focused, smooth and easy sound. The sound that happens is the sound you created, and it has the right to exist. End of story. Theres always a next time, if you werent comfortable with it, but dont judge it.

Click here if you would like to download an mp3 file with Flloyd talking you through the Mini Vocal Warmup.

2 - Vocal Maintenance (or Vocal Function Exercises)

adapted from the Vocal Function program first described by Barnes and modified by Dr. Joseph Stemple: a series of direct, systematic voice manipulations (exercises), similar in theory to physical therapy for the vocal folds, designed to strengthen and balance the laryngeal musculature, and to improve the efficiency of the relationship among airflow, vocal fold vibration, and supraglottic treatment of phonation. (Clinical Updates in Voice: Voice Therapy for the Twenty-First Century, Symposium October 24, 1999)

In other words, this program, if performed regularly, will keep your voice fit and healthy; enable it to grow in volume and range. It is the equivalent of going for a good jog before breakfast. I learned it from Dr Wendy DeLeo LeBorgne, PhD., CCC-SLP at the VASTA conference in New York, 2003, and I have adapted it slightly. Warm up with these exercises, preferably once a day, and warm down at night however three times a week will still be better than nothing. 1) do some stretches, and something aerobic for a minute or two, to get blood flow going. 2) Prepare your posture, take a wide stance with feet turned out at a 45 degree angle, tuck your pelvis under (slightly) and lower your centre by bending your knees sustain an s for as long as possible, relax and repeat immediately sustain a z for as long as possible, relax and repeat immediately Goal S and Z same length Males: aim for 45-50 secs Females: aim for 40-45 secs If you add one second a day, most days, on average, youll be doing really well! 3) (stretching) Glide from your lowest note to your highest note on the tongue trill rrrr, or lip trill brrrr, or lip-buzzing OO with lips halfway between B and M. Do it slowly. Do it as slowly as possible. Dont try to hold the top note. Allow yourself to crack and wobble, and make sure to keep going all the way without stopping, no matter what it sounds like. Keep it EASY! The aim is for it to eventually be smooth all the way, but that takes time and practice. 4) Repeat 3. Goal = no voice breaks 5) (contracting) Glide from a comfortable high note to your lowest note on the tongue trill or lip trill or boom as above. Do it slowly. Do it as slowly as possible. Dont try to hold the top note.


Repeat 5. Goal = no voice breaks

7) Check posture, drop jaw (2 fingertips), tip of tongue behind bottom teeth (inside the mouth), relax/drop tongue as you aim for a yawn at the back of your mouth, slide an (h)Ah from middle to low in your range with full voice i.e. its not a sigh, its a fully focused Ah. Do this 3 times., never pushing, always letting the sound flow from your centre [This exercise is from the wonderful singing teacher, Arthur Samuel Joseph] 8) Same as 7), except that this time you sustain a 5 note diatonic (Major) scale in the middle of your range for as long as possible on the vowel O(h). Pitch it so that you MUST change register, i.e. chest to head voice. [This scale is the one that goes to the tune of Doh, re, mi, fa, so, fa, mi, re, doh] 9) Repeat 8. Goal: 45-50 secs. [See Tip 2 below]

Do this once or twice a day for 2 weeks, then add another repeat Add in more repeats after a few weeks, when you feel you are plateauing. The more you do, the more your voice will grow, but dont try to run before you can walk.

TIP 1: Some people believe they cant do a lip trill (brrr) or tongue trill (rrrr). I have never met anybody who couldnt learn how to do them within three months maximum, if they persevered. Blow your lips, or your tongue tip. They must be completely relaxed. The secret is in having another go and another one and then another one. Eventually the muscles learn the new habits.

TIP 2: Each goal will be achieved in its own good time. Its not a mark of how good or clever you are, its a mark of the health and strength of your vocal folds, and your supporting muscles. These particular goals are directed at full time professional voice practitioners, such as actors, singers, lawyers, preachers. They are the equivalent of Olympic athletes. They are, indeed, vocal athletes.

Click here if you would like to download an mp3 with Flloyd talking you through the Vocal Maintenance exercises.

3 The 15 Minute Vocal Warmup (Group Or Individual) 1) 2 or 3 mins of gentle aerobic exercise, just to wake up the joints, and get some blood flow to the muscles. 2) Vocal Maintenance Exercises (pages 5 and 6) 3) Resonant Pitch a) Cello sing the word Cello for the length of a whole breath, while playing your body as The Cello, beginning on low note, dropping a semitone each time, until there is no sound coming out. Wait for the longest singer to complete before beginning the next one. Wide stance, lowered centre of gravity, singing from widest part of the cello b) Viola sing the word Viola as vee-oooo laaaaa for the length of a whole breath, beginning in the middle range and taking it up a semitone each time, until you cannot go any higher without moving into head voice, or falsetto. Approach as if for Cello, then allow sound to flow straight out from the heart, as if a child, with no agenda, supported by cello body. c) Violin sing the word violin as veeeee ooooooo leeeeeen for the length of a whole breath, beginning quite high and taking it up a semi-tone each time, until there is no sound coming out. Approach as if for Cello, then allow sound to float out of centre of forehead, or 3 rd eye, supported by cello body. d) Cello is the bass instrument in this orchestra, it provides the foundation for all the other instruments. [I learnt this exercise from Harriet Buchan, who trained with the legendary singer and teacher Roy Hart] Feel free to alternate Cello/Viola/Violin with the Hungry Giant sequence from the Full Warm Up.

4) Articulation/Diction a) Bouncing softly from foot to foot, alternate toe placed on ground behind foot space while clearly articulating p, p, k. k.,t. t. ; p, p, k. k. t. t; p, p, k. k. t. t.: pe, pe, ke, ke, te, te, pe, pe, ke, ke, te, te ; po pa ka ta pet l, po pa ka ta pet l etc, then at double speed; building up to Popacatapetl copper plated kettle Breath drops in as required, easily and silently, focus is on ease and clarity of articulation with minimum effort. Maintain a steady rhythm throughout dont speed up! 5) Ensemble a) Stand in wide circle, engage whole body, interact with whole group. b) Following is recited using your whole body, gesturing with the arms to share and engage alternate sides. So, first Sea is directed to the right, Moon is directed to the left. Once the rhythm is established, there are no long gaps in between sections. Do not speed up, i.e. dont try to fit 16 seas into the time taken to say one sea. Breath drops in quietly and unobtrusively as required. This exercise is about experiencing and sharing the breath/sound/image with each other, and with the wider audience. c) Sea (to the right) Moon (to the left) d) Sea (to the right) Moon (to the left) e) Sea Sea (to the right) Moon Moon (to the left) f) Sea Sea (to the right) Moon Moon (to the left) g) Sea Sea Sea Sea (to the right) Moon Moon Moon Moon (to the left) h) Sea Sea Sea Sea (to the right) Moon Moon Moon Moon (to the left) i) Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea (to the right) j) Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon (to the left) 9

k) Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea (to the right) l) Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon Moon (to the left) m) Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea Sea (to the right) n) Mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn mn (etc to the end of the useable breath, while engaging with image of moon, or lots of moons all around from right to left and back and up and down and wherever) o) Sea (to the right) p) Sea (to the left) q) Sea (to the right) r) Sea(to the left) This exercise finishes with a deceptively quiet calm, but if constructed appropriately leaves everyone focused, engaged and ready for action. Dont have a break after this one, go straight into something challengingly creative, or creatively challenging. [Exercises Nos 4 and 5 have been adapted from the teaching of Valerii Valendiev, voice coach for the Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg.]

TIP: If you stop half way through an exercise because you dont think its right, you will never get any better at it. Make sure you complete each exercise no matter what it sounds like. If you are attempting the lip trill (brrr) and your lips keep tensing up and you lose the trill, keep going until you have completed the pitch exercise. Give yourself a pat on the back for having had a go. The next attempt is almost bound to be easier.


4 The Full Warm Up (Part I) This sequence takes about 30 minutes when you know what you are doing. It is designed to bring you to an alert, focused state of mind with a warmed up, relaxed body and fully rounded voice, ready to rehearse or perform. BODY Keep Your Body Soft and Responsive to your images VOICE Keep the channel from your centre open 1) Two minutes aerobic activity (minimum) Gentle sighs throughout 2) The Stretches: (x8, x4, x2, x1, x1) Counting gently in funny voices

And return/reverse 3) Raise the Roof a) both arms raised, palms flat just above head height b) take the weight of the roof in your body c) push the roof upwards d) stretch up through the body e) stretch up through the legs f) stretch up through the feet g) find the hook above your section of the roof and let go, dropping into 4) Rag Doll a) hang upside down, loose head/neck/upper body/arms, soft knees 5) Walking your hands forwards across the floor to the raised press-up position Sigh, or sing, squeak or growl (use your imagination, dont push 6) Press-ups, finishing lying on the floor, hands under or strain) Funny voices Sigh Hum from your centre, powering up the generator in your centre


shoulders (x8)

7) Stretching chin up to ceiling as in Lion or Cobra pose 8) Sitting back on heels Child pose 9) Cat stretches: 3 kitten cats, 1 mama cat, finish with lion face: big eyes, tongue touching chin 10) On hands and knees: side kicks with leg bent alternating with side kicks with leg straight (x16 each, x8, x4, x2, x1, x1) 11) Make fists and bang the bum 12) Kneeling up, hook fingers over invisible magic ring and lean back gently, straight line from knees to nose (x4) 13) Sitting on sitting bones, soles of feet together, holding feet or ankles, reach down inside yourself to the well of sighs, allow sigh of a want or a need to flow through body into the room: make eye contact and share your want or need with your colleagues (minimum four, maximum x no of people in group plus one for William Shakespeare, who is always in the centre of the work) 14) Legs apart, stretch over lef to right, centre, left, centre (x8, x4, x2, x1, x1). Finish with good longing stretch to centre 15) Roll down spine to your full length on the floor and sigh. a) Sit up, knees bent, feet off the floor b) Stretch legs straight ahead c) Stretch legs apart d) Scissors x 32 (fast and accurate) 16) Repeat 15 above x 4 17) Roll down spine to floor and relax into floor, sighing. 18) Relax body, focus mind on centre while sighing, reaching down through the back, through the floor to the Well of

Siren Siren Miaow/prrrrrooowwww Count, funny voices or different languages Sign/groan Ooooh OR aaaaa OR aawwww Open voiced sigh

Count, want, use funny voices Count, enjoy

Sigh Sigh aaaaaahhhhh


Sighs, allowing sighs to flow through body.

[This sequence was originally put together by the members of Golden Age Theatre (Glasgow) over the six years we worked together from 1990 to 1995. Members of the group had trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Drama, East15 (London), Queen Margaret College (Edinburgh) and The Drama Studio (London). I have since extended and revised it to be a totally integrated program of voice and bodywork]

Golden Age Theatre cast of Pericles , 1993. Left to right: Flloyd Kennedy, Emily Winter, Neil Packham, Mark Kydd, Stevie Hannan. (Photo: )

TIP: Time spent warming up is not time out of your day. If you warm up, you will get through whatever you have to do more effectively and efficiently.


5 - The Full Warm Up (Part Ii) 1) Lying on floor, having completed the first part of the warm up: Relax jaw, open mouth, tip of tongue behind bottom teeth, open throat all the way down to the Well of Sighs, which is in the centre of the earth, directly underneath your centre (h)aaaaahhhhhh what Catherine Fitzmaurice refers to as fluffy sound ) 2) Begin aaaah with open relaxed mouth/jaw (room for 2 finger tips between front teeth), gently touch lips together (mmm) then gradually open and finish with aaaaa STAY OPEN TO BEGIN THE NEXT ONE! 3) Continue playing with lots of with aaaaammaaaaa, exploring pitch range, while a. b. c. d. Drawing knees up, sliding feet along floor Raising knees to chest Floating knees and hips to right, head to left Floating knees and hips across body to left, head to right

e. As c) f. As d) g. Rolling onto side, one arm between head and floor, knees to chest open whole of back to the universe h. On to hands and knees, gradually arching and lowering spine, working whole spinal column from tailbone to skull and back again 4) Squat with feet apart, flat on ground, gently shake sound back down to the Well of Sighs continuing to play with lots of aaaaaaammaaaaaas 5) Side to side, taking sound through the sole of one foot, through the leg, the body and out through the other leg and through the sole of the other foot 6) Back into squat, some more gentle shaking to keep sound free inside body (2-6) exercises learnt from Kristin Linklater, Wales, 1995 7) Still playing AHMAA while rolling up through spine to standing, feet hip width apart, arms flowing from shoulders, head floating, looking straight ahead, gently shake sound from your centre, down to the basement b) shake sound from your centre up to above your head c) shake sound from centre down to basement and up to sky d ) shake sound from sky to basement and back again



Check your posture: soft knees, bum tucked in, head floating, arms free. a) Find a hum in your centre, allow its vibrations to flow all through your body b) Relax your jaw (drop it to the 2 fingertips width) open your centre and allow sound flowing through you to flow on into the room

Mmmmaaaaa c) Be specific: where do you want it to go? Use your whole body Mmmmaaaaa d) Let it go, and allow it to be present AFTER you have stopped sounding Mmmmaaaaa 9) Use your whole body to provide maaaa to the world, to your colleagues, to the audience, to the lighting box, to the universe. BE CLEAR IN YOUR MIND. VOICE IS THOUGHT DIRECTED. What and how you think affects how you are heard. (7-9) combination of Linklater and Valerii Galendiev, voice coach to the Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg.

TIP: Using a microphone does not make you sound better, just louder. Having a fully rounded, healthy voice is essential to sounding good, with or without a microphone.


10) HUNGRY GIANT EXERCISE to develop body in your voice, to open up the resonators of the body and help grow your voice. Your voice will gain volume and intensity.

Begin by establishing your personal castle. Prepare your posture, take a wide stance (like a sumo wrestler), lower your centre of gravity. Always feed the Giant before attempting any of the other voices. In other words, prepare your castle as if the Giant were about to speak, then allow the other voice to emerge.

THE INHABITANTS OF YOUR PERSONAL CASTLE. - The Hungry Giant, who guards your treasure in the dungeon: belly, pelvis area - The Friendly Man (feed the Giant), who occupies the large studio on the first floor: chest - The Mean Child (feed the Giant), who lives on the first floor in the nursery: the mask chin, mouth, nasal cavities, nasal sinuses, cheek bones - The Polite Child (feed the Giant), who lives in the attic, (open the windows wide): behind the eyes, sinuses behind lower forehead


- The Wee Bird, who leaves his nest in the dome (top of your skull), flies down to the dungeon to visit the giant and bursts with excitement up through the now open roof of the dome. (10) adapted by Flloyd Kennedy from an exercise attributed to Kristen Linklater in 1992 by New York based actor Ed Porter. It is similar to Linklaters Resonance Ladder, mentioned in Freeing the Natural Voice. New York: Drama Book Publishers, 1976. 11) Complete the program with Popacatapetl and Sea : Moon (pages 7-8). - adapted from exercises of Valerii Galendiev, voice coach to the Maly Drama Theatre of St Petersburg.

Enjoy playing with your voice, and exploring your sound potential!

Twitter: @flloydpk


GLOSSARY Centre This is the area of the body situated in the middle of your belly, halfway between your navel (belly-button) and the small of your back. It is where your personal centre of gravity is situated. It is also used in all of the Eastern dance and martial arts disciplines to identify your source of power, or energy, or life-force. It is surrounded by your core support muscles as identified in Pilates and by giving your attention to this area of the body, you automatically activate and engage some of these core muscles, in a subtle way. Good posture is hugely important for your general health, as well as for your voice. Good posture just means standing, sitting and moving around with your body in the optimal, or most healthy orientation. Think of your spinal column as the guide, if it is aligned well then the rest of your body happily follows along. Stand with your weight evenly distributed over both feet. Check that your ankles, knees and hip joints are soft, not locked. Gently draw your tailbone forward in space about 1cm. This is what I mean by tucking. It has the effect of bringing your pelvic structure into a balanced, cradle like position, where it can support the weight of your organs well. Think of your spinal column as flowing gently straight up in space, but curving gently forwards and backwards from your tailbone all the way past your rib cage and finishing deep within your skull. Your rib cage springs out in front, your shoulders float gently in space, and your head also floats gently above the top of your spinal column. If you practice standing with this degree of self awareness, you will notice whether there are unnecessary tensions, such as tight shoulder muscles, or a clenched tummy or butt. Nothing wrong with this, but if you dont know youre doing it, you cant NOT do it. Its all about choice. Once you are accustomed to how this good standing posture feels from the inside out, you can take the feeling with you to sitting and moving around.