Vocal Exercises

The vocal exercises you want must be matched with the demands of the music piece that you will rehearse during a practice session. So, you must look first at your performance material to know what skills it requires.

Songs that can make you practice your vocal range will need exercises that can make that easy for you. Flexibility exercises, on the other hand, are geared towards materials with trills or fast runs. A song with plenty of sustained notes will demand a good breathing control and support. Here are some of the vocal exercises you can use for different purposes:

To Practice the Low Range

Basses and Altos need the exercises listed below. These can also be used by the higher voices or the sopranos and tenors to practice their low notes.

  1. The first one is descending octave slides. For this, you will have to start in your middle range (or your most comfortable pitch). While doing lip rolls or buzzing, slide down the scale one octave. Each movement should be down by half steps.This can also be done while producing vowels sounds like “ah”, “vee”, “voh” and “oo”.
  2. Another exercise is the fifth slide. The syllable “vaw” or the lip roll can be used for this. Begin at your middle range again or comfortable pitch. From there, go down a fifth (so-do), and move down only by half-steps. Next, add a third note to go back to your starting pitch (so-do-so), moving down by half-steps. Last, reverse the process by starting with do (do-so-do).

To Exercise the High Range

Usually, sopranos and tenors are the ones who use these exercises, but basses and altos can also practice this to expand and explore their high range.

  1. 1. First is the up and down arpeggios. An arpeggio is a broken chord that moves up and down. For this exercise, the pattern is do-mi-so-do (then back down)-so-mi-do. Using the lip roll or a vowel roll, sing the notes by moving upward by half steps for next times that you repeat it.
  2. An upward arpeggio and downward octave with turn is a more complicated variation of the regular up and down arpeggio. Start by singing the upward pattern of the arpeggio (do-mi-so-do), then a ti-do-re, and then the descending octave from lower do to higher do. This exercise requires you to sing using vowel sounds, a few “oo”s, “ah”s and “ee”s. The pattern below shows how you should begin each new arpeggio with a half-step higher than the previous.

    oo—————————————– etc.

  3. The third vocal exercise for higher range is another version of the arpeggio. This is called the upward arpeggio with repeated high note and is very useful in maintaining the high notes in a light tone. The syllable “ha” while singing the do-mi-so-do pattern is used for this. The last note, the high do, should then be repeated in staccato for about five or six times. Below is the pattern for this exercise:

For Flexibility…

  1. The first exercise is a bit complicated but the notes below will make it easier. The ascending triplet scale uses the solfege syllables: do, re, mi, etc (Think, Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music). The syllables should be sung upward first on an eighth-note triplet. Once you reach the higher do, reverse the pattern and sing the triplet going down. Try to do this as fast as possible.

    do re mi fa so la ti do ti la so fa mi re do

  2. The second is the repeated up and down five note scale which is done by simply singing the five tone scale (do-re-mi-fa-so-fa-mi-re-do) upwards and downwards.

  3. Last is the ascending and descending thirds. From the base note, move up a third, down one whole step and the up a third again. Repeat this until you have reached a fifth tone. Do the opposite and go down a third, up a half step, then down another third. This exercise should be done as rapidly as possible. Here is the pattern:

For Breath Control and Support

The exercise called messa di voce requires you to sing “ah” on a mid-range pitch. The key is to sustain the note staring softly and gradually increasing the volume and back again.

Buzz slide exercise are among the best for breath support. From mid-range, slide down a fifth (so-do). Repeat this a couple of times while moving down half-step each start. After that, buzz the descending triads (so-mi-do) while sliding between the notes. Repeat this several times. Last, buzz a five tone downward scale (so-fa-mi-re-do).

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