Taking Your Singing Agility to New Levels
Singing fast scales develops agility — the ability to change notes quickly and easily. Agility is important no matter what kind of music you plan to sing. If your voice can move easily and quickly, you’re much more likely to enjoy singing faster songs, because you can sing them well.
Some voices are designed to sing fast. If your voice happens to love only slow songs, be disciplined and work through these agility patterns. Later, you may be glad you did. Agility is especially important for singing classical music and upbeat pop songs.
Moving along the scale
The patterns in the following illustrations begin by moving quickly among just a few notes. Take your time getting used to all the notes. The patterns get progressively harder and longer and include more notes as they go. In addition, the tempo starts slowly and gradually speeds up. This gives you a chance to settle into the pattern before it starts moving too quickly.
The following illustration moves along a pattern and repeats a few of the notes along the way. Notice that the first two notes are repeated as are the highest two notes in the pattern. This gives you flexibility; you don’t have to try to control every note in the pattern. Be sure to notice your breath connection: You want your breath to move the voice along, not bounce your jaw or your larynx.
Picking up the pace
By practicing scales or patterns that move quickly, you can develop better agility. The pattern in the next illustration helps you sing at a faster pace up and down a scale. This pattern is a full scale plus one extra note on the top. It’s often called a nine-tone scale, in technical terms. These tips can help you sing this track:
Try to feel the pivot points or accents on the fifth note and the top note. You can see a line over the pivot notes. If you aim for these pivot notes, you can feel the pattern in two sections instead of one long, run-on pattern.
Make sure that your jaw stays still as you sing the pattern and that your larynx doesn’t bob up and down. Use a mirror and check the movement of both. Keep your fingers on your larynx if you can’t see it in the mirror.
If you have trouble getting all the notes, add a consonant — for example, add L or D to sing lah or dah. By inserting the consonant, you feel the movement of your tongue as you sing each note, helping you land more confidently on each note. Later you can take away the consonant and sing just the vowels.
Try to hear the familiar five-note sequence and think of those notes as your pivot notes. You can see a line over the pivot notes.
You really have to let go of control to sing this pattern. Watch yourself in the mirror and make sure that your jaw isn’t bouncing with each note. If you find yourself trying to change the rhythm, sing half of the pattern each time it plays so that you can really focus on the first few notes to release the tension in your throat or jaw.