Ready for a little basic vocal technique today?
One of my favorite exercises, which functions as a warmup, troubleshooting, training, AND recovery exercise, is simply humming. But not just any kind of humming. It has to be done the right way.
Here are two ways to think about humming:
1) Go “Hmmmm…” as if you are perplexed, trying to figure out the answer to a tough question. Bring the pitch up higher as if someone has just shed some new light on the subject and you are excitedly curious. Now slide both up and down on “Hmmmm.”
2) Go “Hmmmm…” as if you are imitating the sound of a model airplane flying around, up, down, accelerating, decelerating, swooping around. (This is a sound I hear often, as there is a model airplane “airport” less than a mile from my house.)
When you hum, look for the following qualities:
- A buzzy, resonant hum that you feel in the forward part of the roof of your mouth and/or behind your nose. (No breathy, hooty, or hollow sounds.)
- A relaxed tongue. (No Kermit-the-Frog sounds.)
- A neutral larynx. (Your larynx should not go up and down as you change pitch – it should stay in the same position.)
Don’t psyche yourself out about this one. It’s the easiest thing to do. It’s one of those exercises that you can make hard by trying too hard.
Why is humming so good?
Humming is good as a warmup, to set your voice up correctly for later exercises. You don’t even have to worry about a single vowel or consonant.
Humming is good for troubleshooting and training. When you feel like you are singing under a ceiling, caught in your chest voice as you sing higher, with more and more tension on higher pitches, humming can help you find your way around this ceiling to find a smooth transition between registers.
Humming is good for recovery, whether you’re getting over sickness or have done a long hard singing gig.
(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn