3 Pranayama Exercises for Singers

Bamboo meditationAs a singer who practices yoga for its health benefits, I can’t help noticing many similarities between certain singing and yoga exercises. It’s not surprising, since both singing and pranayama are considered Arts of Breathing. While not all yoga exercises are useful for singing (the Ocean Breath, for example, which involves constricting the throat, is great for yoga practice but not so much for good vocal tone), there are three pranayama exercises which I’ve long incorporated into my daily singing routine to great results. And singing aside, they also work as great go-to energy fixes when you need to clear and focus your mind and you don’t have time for a nap! Continue reading

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CRASH Course in Vocal Health

CarriageOnce upon a time, young singers would study the art of singing daily with master teachers. When deemed ready, perhaps at the age of 16, they would travel to engagements in carriages, or in ships like floating hotels, arriving with a few signature songs, maybe a role or two, to perform with a light orchestra in an intimate hall. A full opera might be abridged, for both singer and audience’s sake, or a recital accompanied by the fortepiano, a much lighter animal than today’s Steinway, in a living room salon.

Nowadays, instruments are louder, the orchestras are larger, and the auditoriums more spacious, and we have technology to both curse and thank. Easier travel means more frequent performances, often for audiences with ears accustomed to the photogenic perfection of studio-recorded music. Indeed, add to this the ease of downloading sheet music, and one must have an enormous repertoire in order to stay competitive. How is a singer to cope with all these new pressures and changes?

According to Dame Janet Baker, “two things remain constant for the singer of today: the paramount necessity for an excellent technique and the development of an inner spiritual process which enables us to say something of value through the medium of the voice.”

To these two important constants, I would add a third: the maintenance of one’s vocal health. But rather than launch into medical jargon, or make yet another to-do list, I’ve simplified things with this handy acronym, a C.R.A.S.H. course on how to enjoy a long and fruitful career: Continue reading