Adults' Lesson 8: How to sing high and not get tense! | Sing with ETO
Hello. My name is paula sides. And i have sung with eto, numerous, times. And, i am due to sing with them again in 2021. Singing in the golden, cockerel. By rimsky-korsakov. And, i, am so excited, about it. And uh they're also going to be performing. La boheme. Now. Covet 19. Has, turned the arts world, upside down. But english touring opera has been amazing. They have paid their artists, even though. Even though the, whole season was canceled. They paid their artists, anyway their full fees. And, i am. I support them so much because, they they care about their artists, and that means. A lot, to the musicians, in the world right now, because, because, um this is a very uncertain, time, so. If you can. Go and support them, you can find ways of supporting them online. And, i'll talk more about that at the end, alright, so. Singing lessons. Wow, online. The whole world of seeing lessons has gone upside down. I've been teaching my students, online. On zoom, on facetime. On whatsapp. And eto. Has been really trying to reach out to all of you. Whether you're professional, singers. Whether, you sing for a choir. And, they're trying to give you some material, so that you can continue, to learn. During this time of. Not being able, to have your usual, singing lessons. Or acquire rehearsals. So. Check out all the lessons. And they're even great lessons for kids. So if you have kids and you're going oh my god, what am i gonna do now with my child. Just. Go on and just. Watch a few of those lessons with your kids. And have a good time yourselves. Now. There are. Some great lessons, i watched, um. Temba, did, an amazing, lesson right before me please, go back, and watch that, and before him susie harl. She did, a brilliant lesson as well. And, i just wanted to talk about. Two of the things, that they were both discussing. Susie. Is amazing. At, bodywork. And and support. And and doing body exercises. And then tembo was talking about release, and relaxation. In a lot of ways so. What i would love to do is combine, the two. And bring them together. So. One thing that i like to discuss, with my students. Is the yin, and yang. Of singing. You have strength. You have support. You have power. And then you have, relaxation. Release. And not tightening, up, to be completely, honest. How do you do those two things, at the same time, and i'm gonna discuss, that a little bit and give you some tools. And how to sing. Hi. And not, get, tense. All right this is a struggle, for everybody. First things first. I want you to get on the floor right now. And plank with me alright. So, let's go. Okay. So. Before, you plank. I don't want you to tense your shoulders, as much as possible, we're relaxing, our upper body. We are relaxing, our hands. We're keeping, our bodies soft, in the upper body. But what we're doing, is we're focusing. Our energy. On our pelvis. And i want you to tuck that pelvis, in. And really engage. The lower. Abdominal, muscles, around. Just above the pelvis. Think about, all the muscles, that are activating. Around. Your pelvis. Okay, all, the way around, i like to call it the pelvic, belt. It's this feeling of strength. That we can have, all right ready. Let's do this. So lift up, completely. Flat. Try to remain, completely, loose. The neck. Is not held. Everything, is as relaxed, as possible. Relaxing, the jaw. Breathing. Now. Tucking that pelvis. Thinking, about. All right, i want to make sure. That i'm focusing on my lower abdominals. Strengthening. That part of the body, that is supporting, my diaphragm. Release. Relax. The upper body as much as possible. That neck is loose. Hands are, loose. Move a little bit if you start to feel fixed. You'll feel this a lot in your lower back. A very, important, thing for singing. Back muscles. Very good, very very good, now, relax, down.
Stretch, Up. And. Stretch. Down. This is releasing, the lower back, it's really important after you've planked that you stretch. Okay. Now. Let's get it back up. So. Why did we just put ourselves through that. Now. The reason why. Is because to sing, high. And sustained. And that's what we're going to be, discussing, today. That takes, a lot. Of strength. In the lower, body, it takes a lot of strength. In your back muscles. Now, let's talk specifically. About, the upper back. Now for men. They have a lot more muscle. In general, in the upper body. But for women. We tend not to we tend to be a lot softer, in the upper body. And. Sometimes. Women, can get in this posture. Yeah. We end up with this collapsing. Down. And, i want to try to help you. Try to get, more openness. Here and then. Natural, organic, way, not feeling that you're having to. Pull it open but then it naturally, lies there, that takes time. Okay. If you're already, you're feeling collapsed, here, and when you go to sing, and you watch some of the other videos, and they're like posture, it's like this and if that feels, odd. Then let's talk about an exercise. That can get you to strengthen. Your upper back. Okay. Now, what i want you to do. Find, a wall. Stand against that wall. Now i don't have a wall here i have like a fireplace, situation, going on but, if i had a wall, i'm imagining, a wall behind me. I'm relaxing, against that, wall. Releasing. Now. To strengthen my upper body. What i'm going to do is i'm just going to put my arms up like this. And i'll show you i'm just going, to pull my arms, back. And pinch. My shoulder blades together. What i like to call this, is that area where the sports bra, is. There you're just pinching, it together. And holding it for 10 seconds. All right so what we're doing is we're just gonna hold it, pinch. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. And release. Now we're not doing this exercise, with our shoulders. We're just trying to focus. On the back. Pulling those shoulder blades together. Releasing. The stronger, our upper back is, ladies. The stronger, it is the more. That we won't feel, tight here, trying to hold that posture.
To Get the posture, right, we want this to be released. Okay, we want this to be released. My washing stone, that's amazing. All right, so, what i want you to do, is if if this is released. Here. You will you will basically, feel oh my gosh, oh my high notes they're really, easy today. Because this isn't tight. If this is tight, i just love the fact that it's shubert. Amazing. Excellent. Now now listen. If, this, is tight. Your high needs are going to be tight, they just will. If. These muscles are tight, your highness will be tight. It will feel a bit like. Strangling, a duck. I don't want that sound. We want a beautiful. Free, sound. Now. You've done your stretch. You've done your stretch here now let's do another stretch, where we're interlacing, our fingers, together. And we're opening, the chest. Should feel stretch along, your shoulders. Relax, your neck. And if you want to make that a little bit more intense. Just pulling the arms up a little bit. Make sure you breathe. And relax that down, so. I was talking, earlier, about the yin, and yang, of singing. Strength. And relaxation. So the strength. Is never fixed. The relaxation. Is never flopped. If your relaxation. Is so flopped. That your, posture, is flopped you're in deep trouble. So, let's discuss, how we can feel. Strong. And released. So in your lower body. I want you to stand. With your feet hip width apart. Your pelvis. Is tucked. Wow that makes a big difference, so let's do that again, your pelvis. I, my bottom really sticks out now when i tuck my bottom. It goes. Boom. My glutes are engaged. My legs are engaged, i can still move. But i can move in a really supported, way. Now. That. Combined, with what i like to call ragdoll. At the top. So you've got, pelvis tucked. Everything's engaged. And ragdoll, at the top that way you can just be, free. Your hands are soft your arms are soft. Shoulders, are soft your neck is floating. That feeling right after you go to the spa. Oh. Now. Let's move. With that feeling. So the lower body i want to do a big. Hip turn. The lower body is engaged, the upper body. Is soft. It's a rag, doll at the top. And the lower body. Is completely. Powerfully. Engaged. But. Flexible. At the same, time. Going the other, way. Letting that neck, drop. Like timba said. It's really. Useful. All right, so. You've just relaxed, the upper body. You're powerful in your lower body. Now. Singing, high. We're going to talk about. Breath speed. Now. When we sing low. It, usually, feels, easier. It usually feels, more. Released, more natural, and then when you get high. Something, changes. All of a sudden. You start to feel tension, you start to feel tight, and, i wonder, why. Why i'm supporting. Everything. Everything is going good but but this beethoven. Is, kicking my bum, i don't know how to maintain. This level.
Of Height. And say released, so, what i want you to do. Is think about a wind instrument. A clarinet. An oboe. A rated, instrument. And then think about, yourself. We are reading, instruments, ourselves. Inside. Our body. We have two reeds. And they're called vocal cords. And they come together. If we're singing, low. They come together with a slower speed of air. If we're singing high. They come together. With a higher speed of air. If the speed of air is not right. To bring those cords together at the pitch that we're thinking. What happens. Is the neck muscles. And what's called the irritinoids. Above, the vocal cords. Have to work really, hard, to pull those chords together, to create a sound. That is not supported, by the speed of air, we're using. And that is the main reason why high notes. Get tight. Really quiet, really quick. So basically. You have to have this high speed of air, for high notes. And a low speed of air for low notes. So let's let's try an exercise, now together. I want you to tuck your pelvis. You're strong. And your pelvic belt. Your pelvic, floor is engaged. And your upper body. Is nice and rag doll. Her head is floating. Her arms are loose. And. This is a really important thing. Ladies. Think about your upper back. Get that upper back to be awake, get on. To support, that floating, head. Lower back, is engaged, your back, is totally. Powerful. But the front. Is completely, soft. All right. So we're going to start with a low speed of air, a low speed of air. For a low, note. We have one, hand on your belly button. One hand, on your chest. And i want you to just. Think, about. What happens, and feel. What happens. When you blow, air. So we have. Let's do that one more. Time. What did you feel. In your hand. And hear what did you feel, let's do it. Again. Did you see, that little bit of movement here, it's just a little bit of movement. Does it go down. Does it go up. Let's try it. Again. All right, so instead of going down. It should go up there should be a buoyancy. Here. Where it's allowed the rib cage, is allowed to just go up a little bit why does it go up, it goes up because your diaphragm, is actually going up, we can't control, the diaphragm. It's a very important muscle. That allows us to sing. But we can support, it, we support it with our transverse, abdominis. These lower abdominal, muscles, that are activated, when temple was talking about. Intention. Of speech. Wanting, to communicate. Wait. Hey. All of those things. Activate. This transverse, abdominis. While the rest of your body, relaxes. And allows. The diaphragm, to move up. Okay. So if your chest. Collapses. Down. It means that you're, tightening. And actually, blocking. The diaphragm. From doing what it needs to do. So now. Let's speed the air up, what needs to happen. For higher. All right, so your pelvis is tucked. You're standing. Tall. Your head is floating. There we go. Exciting, isn't it, very different feeling you have to move that air quickly. Now remember. Keep, your jaw loose, keep your tongue loose. Everything is loose. Just the speed of air we're looking at okay, so it's. Good, all right.
So At first this might feel a bit weird. One way. That you can do it is pretend that you have a dial, and you're turning it up. So let's start with the dial. Low. Okay. This is a really. Good way. To practice. Speeding, up your air, without, singing. Okay. Now. Let's, sing. All right everybody. Singing now. We're gonna go from here. And i want you to think, about turning up that dial of air, now, before. When i mentioned. That this, shouldn't collapse. Now for everyday, breathing. To live. It does collapse. It does go. It does relax, down, but for singing there's a big difference. Because, the pressure. That we're creating. In our body. To change that speed of air. Does something very different, than it does, when you're breathing, to live. It the pressure, increases. In the body, and that. Is what changes. The way that it works where it goes. It's that build-up of pressure. Now that pressure. Is not tension. Okay, the tension is. Tight here, this is still. Loose, rollies. Relaxed. This is all released, relaxed. But what happens. Is we're just, changing. The pressure. Okay. So. If i am imagining, those pitches. And i'm going. Okay let's do that again, imagine, the pitch is in your head. And then think about, a slower, airflow, going to a higher airflow. Now remember. This is middle voice for sopranos, and tenors. We're not you know blasting, out top a's here we don't need. Okay. So, try to slow the breath down. While, keeping that power in the lower body, keep that pelvis. Tucked. Legs are on but you're still able to move, you're not going. You're just keeping it loose. My husband is laughing, hilarious. Now, keep it powerful. The upper body is loose and controlled. You've got a nice floating, feeling. And then. It's. Now. If you do this and all of a sudden you're like oh, there's a bit of a skip in the middle some of those pitches weren't exact, oh my god.
That Just means. That you need to sing with your brain, sing those notes with your mind. And think about that airflow. Now, sometimes, when you try to do this, other stuff goes, the body turns off. You start focusing. Things start tightening. And you don't even know they're tightening. So what i want you to do. Don't listen to yourself, there's a previous lesson where they talked about listening to yourself, and analyzing, what you just did. Record, yourself, get your phone out, record yourself. Play it back. Get a mirror, i have huge. Mirrors, in my house, and the reason why is i want to see my full body you know i want to look at it, and i want to see what's going on. I want to see. Is my neck coming forward. Am i tightening. Just my eyebrows. Are they helping, a little too much, is there tension, going on in my jaw and my face. Get in front of a mirror. Do mirror work, and you'll be able to be a teacher to yourself. That is kind. And gentle, and generous. I don't want to see any you know, space, slapping. When you have tension, you know just be loving to yourself. And say okay. I just need to release a little bit more, i need to try what paula said what temba said susie said, about. Strengthening. And releasing. All right so let's try that again. Now. You ready, your pelvis is tucked. Make sure those legs and your toes are on, okay. And. How did you do, was that good, let's try it again. Relax. Speed of air slow speed. Okay great, fantastic. That's something to play around with all right. Now, hi. Singing high. Without, feeling. Like you're strangled, with tension or tight, here. Most of my students when they come to me especially choral students, they get so tight, around the diaphragm, they're like ah. Here it cramps, so much by the end of a concert. And i'm like, okay. All right. Remember, support, is much lower, in the body yeah. This has to be free. In order for the diaphragm, to do what it needs to do to go up and down, all right, so. If you feel. Any. Pain. At, all. Stop. Straight, away, okay. If you feel, anything. At all when you're singing high, between, here. And here. Stop. The speed of air isn't right the support isn't right, go back. Sing, low again. Find out, find out, where that floating, feeling is. And. Then. Say i should feel that even when i'm singing top seeds i should feel that, i shouldn't feel like i am, literally being strangled. By a tenor, okay. Sorry tennis. You should feel a release. A euphoric. Release. And strength, in the lower body. But you shouldn't, feel. Anything. In your neck, if the speed of air is right because those areatinoids, will just come together, when the speed of air is right, cords will come together, on their own, when you're thinking of a pitch, and speak of air is right okay. Gotta trust physics. Trust the fact that you're a read instrument, okay. Now. Let's go to singing, some golden, cockerel. And i'll show you. What i mean. All right. So. This this this phrase, is something that before, i would even, begin. To saying something like this. I would get the air speed right, i get into my body. I might try it on one leg. Because. If, you are like. Everything is like too loose up there. The tension. Will rise. And you'll start to feel tight i mean you'll even feel tension in your head. I mean it's really not very pleasant if you're singing high, and you're not supported, properly, okay, so now we're gonna do it on a s. I'm gonna have my dial here my pelvis is tucked. And. All right. I'm not feeling. I'm not like. I'm not feeling anything like that okay. Yes this is a toby, plot we do not want to feel strangulation. On a choppy flat it normally doesn't sound good, so now let's try to sing it and i'm only going to try to feel what i felt when i did that, when i sing. It. Okay. So i'm not, adding any, tension. And that was alright. But actually what i'm going to do is add the homework. That temba. Gave me i love his homework, because it's something that i do. All, the time. Intention. If you don't have intention. I mean why am i saying the skylark, sings, i mean really, that is not everyday language. How do we make. Language, and if you're singing in a foreign language. You have to mean what you say. Or, what happens is these transverse, abdominis. Can be lazy. They can fix, and they can get tight. But one way to wake them up. Is to mean what you say because what happens, is our primal, instinct, kicks in. Wanting someone to hear us. So. I'm gonna say it. The skylark. Sings. I mean it. Not exactly sure why yet but i'll find out you know what i mean the skylark. Sings it's exciting. I want to tell my neighbors, i want to tell the street. I want to tell that cat over there, you know you gotta mean it, if you don't mean it, everything, can get too tight and too fixed.
So Now i'm gonna sing it again. But. With, that intention. And you'll notice a difference, now. These differences. Are slight. But they mean a lot because they keep you from getting tight, over time. So. My pelvis is tucked. I'm releasing, my upper body, now i'm gonna tell somebody. All. Right. I mean it. I want somebody, to know. Now my speed of air. Wasn't quite fast enough at the top did you hear it did you hear it because i was thinking, of. Telling someone, that's, normal. When you think of doing one thing something else might go awry so then what you have to do. Is put them together. So. My homework. For you. I want you. To take a phrase. From anything you're working on at the moment. I want you to practice. Tucking your pelvis. Standing, tall, ladies, really opening the chest even though that might be self-conscious. For you. Just open the chest think about the back muscles, yeah. And i want you, to sing that phrase, on a speed of air, just getting the speed of air right for that phrase. Feeling that this is going up rather than collapsing. Yeah. Okay. Now i want you to try it, on one, leg, if you can, alright. Nice yoga. The reason, why. Is because it's really easy, for the lower, body to completely. Turn off, and if you're standing on one leg, if you can. Remember listen to your body. If you can, do it on one leg. Your, your lower body will definitely be on but the upper body. Jello. Soft. Okay. So. We need to take that phrase, i want you to do it on an air. On the speed of air. And then i want you to sing it. And i want you, to remember, that intention that temple was talking about. So important. Why are we saying, we sing. To communicate. With people. Okay that's why we do it. We do it because we care about it all right. So. That's your homework. Now. I want you. If you can. Take a few minutes, go on the eto, website, english touring opera. I want you to go on their website i'm just going to make sure i've got this right. Englishtouringopera.org. Dot uk. Go on their website. And support them, because, they are supporting, their artists. They really. Want to bring art, back to you. And to all the communities. Across, the uk, not just london but. Bringing it, to where people. All, over the country. Can, see, live art. When we can get out of our houses, safely. We can go and we can be inspired, again. By art. And i want you to go and support them if you can. And i really appreciate, you joining me for, lesson, nine. And, i look forward to hopefully seeing you. Very soon. Um. In theaters near you. So take care. Bye.