Learning from my voice class (1)

This semester I am taking a voice class with Dr. Elizabeth Linnartz at Duke’s music department. There are five singers, all girls.

A correct posture is the precondition for good singing. Singers should always keep a “high neck”, with “neck” referring to where the spine joins the skull. Keeping the “neck” high forces us to open our chest and straighten our back, which then allows us to breathe deeper and makes sure air flows freely from our belly all the way to our head. Singers also need to have an athletic stance, with feet apart, one in front of the other as if you are ready to fight. Make sure your front leg carries some weight and you are not too laid back.

Deep breathing is what differentiates singing from everyday talking. As Dr. Linnartz puts it: “Singing can be pitched talking or beautified hollering”. When we holler we breathe deep using our belly, allowing the air to go all the way up into our skull. We therefore produce a much fuller voice than when we simply “attach” pitch to talking in words. Deep breathing is the basis of professional singing and a lifelong practice that every singer needs to maintain.

For me the best thing about singing is that you can always improve given the right tools and enough practice. I was also glad to know that women can open up their hip bones better after having children and can touch upon lower notes as they grow older. Indeed, my 23-year-old voice is much fuller and richer than my 16-year-old voice! It is absolutely fulfilling to see myself expanding the range of quality of my singing. For this class I have chosen three songs to perform: Danny Boy, Santa Lucia, and Over the Rainbow. Let’s see how things go.

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