Singing For Dummies, 3rd Edition
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No matter how easy the day is, start your singing practice session warm ups by stretching out. You want to get your entire body ready to sing, not just your singing muscles. For the breath to really move in your body, you need to be connected to your lower body.

Try the following stretching routine, which begins with your head and moves to your toes. For each segment, remember to continue breathing as you move.

  1. Shake out any tension in your entire body.

    Wiggle around until you feel the stiffness in your joints melting away. Focus on posture and releasing tension.

  2. Release your head forward.

    Gently drop your head toward your chest at a slow pace and inhale. As you exhale, allow your head to drop a little farther. Repeat this several times, allowing the head to drop farther each time to stretch the neck muscles. Inhale and lift your head back to its balanced position.

  3. Move your head.

    Turn your head to the left and to the right. Roll your head around, starting from the left side and rolling your chin near your chest to the right side. Don’t roll your head back unless you’ve worked with this kind of movement before. The vertebrae in your neck may not respond well to pressure from your head rolling backward.

  4. Gently stretch your neck.

    Gently drop your left ear toward your left shoulder and pause. Inhale and, as you exhale, drop your head a little farther toward your shoulder. Repeat several times, and then repeat the sequence over your right shoulder.

  5. Move all the muscles in your face.

    Tighten them and then release, to feel the flow of energy in your face.

  6. Move your tongue in and out.

    Stick it out as far as possible and then move it back in. You can also lick your lips — move your tongue in a circle around the outside of your mouth to stretch the muscles in your tongue.

  7. Work your shoulders.

    Lift your shoulders and then push them down. Move your shoulders forward and then back. Make circles with shoulders in one direction, and then reverse. Keep your chest steady and open.

  8. Swing one arm (and then the other) in circles.

    As you swing, wiggle your fingers and wrist to get the blood flowing all the way down your arm. Be careful; watch out for furniture. Repeat with the other arm.

  9. Stretch your side.

    Lift your left arm over your head and lean to the right. As you lean, feel the muscles between your ribs opening on your left side. Reverse: Lift your right arm and stretch your other side.

  10. Swing those hips around to loosen that tension.

    Many women hold tension in their hips. You don’t have to be tough now. Let ’em loose. Let the hips rock back to front, as well as around in circles.

  11. Warm up your legs.

    Stand on your toes and then lower your feet back to the floor. Stand on one leg and shake out the other. Reverse to get the other leg in motion. Move up on your tiptoes, and then drop back to the floor and bend your knees.

  12. Finally, take a nice deep breath and feel the energy flowing in your body.

Getting your blood pumping while warming up helps you focus on your task at hand. If you’re having trouble connecting your breath to your song, try being more physical in your warm-up or practice session.

One way to connect your body is to shoot basketball granny shots. Bend your knees, drop your arms between your legs, and throw the invisible ball up with two hands. This motion gets you connected to your lower body and really helps you connect energy to sing higher notes. If you shoot a regular free throw, you lift your body up to sing the note.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Pamelia S. Phillips, DMA, is the professional program director and chair of voice and music at Collaborative Arts Project 21 (CAP21) in New York. A seasoned performer, her appearances range from contemporary American Opera premieres to guest performances with major symphonies. Pam has taught extensively at such institutions as Arizona State University and Wagner College. She holds degrees in music education and vocal performance.

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