Vocal Exercise – Singing Practice
Below are TEN Recommendations…
The first place to start is by looking at the songs you’re currently singing and the particular skills each one requires. This way you can quickly identify which vocal exercises your really need to focus on during practice.
For example, if a current song requires the far extremes of your vocal range then there are exercises specifically for that. Or, maybe you are rehearsing something that has lots of sustained notes in it so breath support and control exercises would be worth doing. How about trills and really fast runs? This would mean doing some exercises on flexibility.
For Breath Support and Control
1) The Buzz Slide (or Motorboat Exercise)
This is one of the best drills for loosening up your lips, jaw and vocal cords. Its also good for working on breath support. It is also commonly known as the Motorboat Exercise due the sound produced by your lips!
Exhale through your puckered lips to create a vibration sound, kind of like a motor. You can put a finger on each cheek and relax your lips to help you get a good buzz going.
Start in a comfortable mid-range tone and slide down a fifth: so-do. Do this a few times, descending by half-steps. After that, buzz the descending triad: so-mi-do, and be sure to slide between tones. Repeat this a few times, descending by half-steps. To finish up, try buzzing a five-tone descending scale: so-fa-mi-re-do.
Check out this video example of the buzz or motorboat vocal exercise.
2) Messa di voce
Messa di voce means “placing the voice” in Italian. The technique involves a gradual crescendo and decrescendo while sustaining a single pitch.
First, very softly sing “ah” in a comfortable mid-range pitch. Gradually get louder and then without stopping reverse it to get softer again.
For High Singing Range
Excellent training for sopranos and tenors but altos and basses will also find them useful.
3) Arpeggios Up and Down
(do-mi-so-do-so-mi-do) Sing simple broken chords up and down using your preferred syllable, buzz or vowel sound. Each time you repeat it, shift up by half-steps.
4) Upward Arpeggio, a Turn and Downward Octave
This builds on the exercise above and is a little more complicated. Sing the upward arpeggio (do-mi-so-do), follow it with a turn (ti-do-re), and then finish with an 8-tone descending octave scale from do to do.
Do the exercise with vowel sounds: sing a few with “ee”, a few with “oo”, and a few with “ah”. Begin each new cycle a half-step higher than the previous, as illustrated here.
5) Repeated High Note Upward Arpeggio
This arpeggio variation is really helpful for keeping a lighter tone on your high notes. Sing an upward arpeggio (do-mi-so-do) using the syllable “ha”. Repeat the high do (in staccato) five or six times as shown below.
For Low Singing Range
Excellent training for altos and basses but sopranos and tenors will also find them useful.
6) Descending octave slides
Find the most comfortable pitch in your mid-range and start there. Use the vocal buzz technique (some call it the lip roll or even bubble lips) and move in half steps down one octave. Try doing this with different sounds as well like voo, vee, ah and oo.
7) The Fifth slide
Starting from a comfortable pitch in your mid-range, use the buzz technique or the syllable vaw. Go down a fifth (so-do), moving in half-steps. Next, add a third tone back up to the starting pitch (so-do-so). Once more, move down by half-steps. To end with, reverse it (do-so-do).
8. Ascending triplet scale
Read the notes below and this exercise won’t seem so complicated. And if you can’t read music, just read the solfege syllables (do, re, mi etc) and you’ll get the idea.
Sing an eighth-note triplet upward starting on each syllable. Upon reaching the top of the scale, reverse and sing each triplet downwards. When you get comfortable with it, try speeding up until you can sing it as quickly as you can.
9) Ascending and descending thirds
Again this exercise is easier to sing than it is to explain in words. Begin on the base note, go up a third, down a whole step, up another third, etc until you get to the fifth tone. After that, turn around and go back down a third, up a half step, down a third, up a whole step and so on. When you start getting better at this exercise, try singing it as fast as you can.
10) The Repeated Up and Down Five Note scale – Rapid
Here’s an easy but effective one for you. Go up and down a five tone scale (do-re-mi-fa-so-fa-mi-re-do), repeating over and over.
Be sure to do at least one vocal exercise as part of each singing practice. Better still, do a few and you’ll be sure to notice a big difference in your vocal skills. Best of luck!