Crescendo means to get louder, and decrescendo/diminuendo means to get softer. We want to be able to do either of these without adding extrinsic interfering muscle. Increasing volume requires “just enough and not too much” increased air pressure and a corresponding increase in vocal fold tension. Decreasing volume involves a decrease in air pressure and a corresponding decrease in vocal fold tension. Tone quality and pitch should remain constant during changes of volume; don’t allow a crescendo or decrescendo/diminuendo to affect intonation or timbre.
Skill Two: Flexibility
Flexibility exercises build a healthier vocal instrument and prepares you to execute clean riffs and runs. Exercises are presented first at a slower speed, then at the faster speed. Start slow, then build up to lightening-fast flexibiliy.
Skill Three: Power
When increasing power we must remember that air pressure must never exceed the resisting ability of the vocal folds – we must always maintain balance in order to sing well. When working on increased power, we need to coordinate and balance four components of our vocal “system”:
- Balanced vocal onset
- Balance of TA/CT muscle activity
- Balanced resonance, or more precisely formant/harmonic activity, which we control by the way we shape the resonators of the pharynx and mouth, including the tongue, lips, jaw space and soft palate
- Balance of air pressure and vocal fold resistance, or air and muscle
Skill Four: Stepwise Motion
It’s easier to sing wider intervals than to sing melodies in stepwise motion. Singing an ascending stepwise scale without “flipping” takes time and practice – but that is what we have to do in songs! Slight alterations of the tongue, lips, jaw space and soft palate are necessary to achieve a unified vocal quality from the lowest to the highest pitches. These movements alter format/harmonic relationships, making the transition from lower register to upper register imperceptible. We can create greater ease in transitioning through the primo passaggio with vowel modification. When modifying vowels, stay on either the front vowel track or the best vowel track, experimenting with small movements of the lips, tongue, jaw space and soft palate to create either more “release” or more “hold”.
Skill Five: Eliminating the Helpers
Temporary sounds are eliminated in this final advanced skills step. We work toward eliminating consonants as helpers too. The ultimate goal is that your student will stay balanced at all times. If they “fall out”, simply return to step four to re-establish the lower and upper registers, then step 5 to connect the registers.