Christmas is six weeks past, but I've used this technique three times in the last week with students, so I thought I would share it with all of you on the newsletter.
You have probably heard many times that singing is all about breath support and airflow. And you may think you're singing with good breath support and airflow. But if you're getting tension in your neck and are unable to sing past a certain ceiling without "flipping" into the next higher register, you probably still have some work to do with breath. Let's get down to the basics for a moment.
Put your hand on your belly. Spread your fingers wide so that you cover as much vertical area as possible.
Now, say "Ho! Ho! Ho!" in a percussive way. Don't worry about hitting any particular pitch. Just focus on feeling your stomach muscles actually act, and expel air with each syllable. Your throat is simply a passage the air goes through. Let the air pass through without trying to "grip" it or control it with your throat muscles.
Your belly should go in, not out, with each syllable. This is completely natural for some people, but not for everyone. Just check to make sure. (If you're pushing your belly out with each syllable, how in the world are you pushing air up and out through your throat as well? Think about it...)
Once you are doing "Ho! Ho! Ho!" correctly, then do a variation: "Ho! Ho! Hooooo..." Hold out that last syllable for a second or two, making sure that you are still supporting your breath from your belly and not moving the compression and effort up into your throat just because you are now "singing" a sustained note.
This is one of those back-to-basic exercises that seems really simple, but is incredibly valuable. Questions about it? Ask here and I'll respond.
(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn