This is a public version of the members-only ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons.
Join Now

Vocal Lessons
«Prev of Next»

ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Exercise 5: The La-Ga Series Part 1

Lesson Video Exchanges () Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
ArtistWorks Vocal School

This video lesson is available only to members of
ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from ArtistWorks Vocal Lessons. This is only a preview of what you get when you take ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
This exercise has several
different melodies to it.
I call the the la ga series.
In the number of years that I've been
using and teaching it it has had
nothing but rave results from everyone
that has used it.
Including myself, which is why I started
teaching it.
[LAUGH] But here's the thing,
it's tricky, even though it's kind of
And the reason why it's tricky is because
we're going to take your tongue through
a series of different moves, while you're
singing a melody.
And you need to hold your jaw still so
that we're able to isolate the movements
of your tongue.
The movement of your jaw really has
nothing to do with the movement of your
tongue, although it tends to get
associated by people because you're used
to speaking or singing words, and your
jaw's always moving.
What we need to do is isolate the tongue
and hold that jaw still.
If you try to hold the jaw without your
hand, you'll end up using muscles here,
which will end up tensing your tongue.
So, your hand now needs to become boss.
Take your hand like this, and put it along
the rim of your jaw, chin.
See how I have it right here?
Right here, either side.
Now say in this position with your mouth
open and
holding it with your hand, really hold it
with your hand, la-ga.
Okay, try that.
Okay, so you notice that the tip of your
tongue comes up against the back of
your bottom teeth for the l.
Drops for the.
But when it drops I want you to please put
the tip of your tongue against the back of
your bottom teeth.
So, put the tip against the back of your
bottom teeth.
Say that.
Now trying saying ga with your tongue
pulled back from your bottom teeth, ga.
You feel how it like really chokes you.
Ga, okay, now put your,
the tip of your tongue against the back of
the bottom teeth again.
Keep it there, ga, feel that difference,
ga, ga.
Now, when you do the g, pretty much the
back of your tongue rises.
It's gonna touch your soft palette for the
g and then drop for the.
Let it do that, otherwise you have this.
[SOUND] You're not really doing the G.
We need the G to exercise the tongue in
that particular way, so
we're getting the front of the tongue and
then the back of the tongue.
It's like a little see saw.
All right, so let's cover a couple of
these points again.
Tongue comes up, La.
Touches the back of the bottom teeth as
soon as it drops, Ga.
Do it again.
La, ga, la, ga.
Take your time with this.
I don't want you to go la, ga, la, ga.
No, it's too fast and your tongue will get
too tight.
So we're going.
la, ga, la, ga.
Good, do it with me, this speed.
La, ga.
After we do that with the melody that I
teach you, we go to the next syllable.
This is done with the tip of your tongue
lying on top of your bottom lip.
After I take you through these
I'll coach you through the exercise and
I'll tell you when to change syllables.
This one is trickier because it's, at
until you've limbered your tongue enough.
It's really easy to have your tongue
coming back into your mouth.
But I'm gonna go like this, and every time
I do that [LAUGH],
I want you to just double check, do you
have your tongue here.
So you're holding that jaw.
Just don't drape your fingers there.
Then you'll start these muscles.
Use these fingers.
Get a hold.
Say that with me.
So the tongue has got to move but you're
fixing the tip on the lip.
And it's pulsing a little bit every time
you do the y and dropping, but
not pushing.
Don't go like this.
[SOUND] We're not trying to gargle here.
Just say a regular just like you talk I
Again not [NOISE].
We're not trying to make this big dome in
the back of your throat.
not [NOISE].
If you have prior training that has told
you to lift the soft palate, or
open the back of your throat for an or, if
anyone has ever mentioned to you, when you
say or sing you need to create more space,
I'm here to tell you now, you don't.
If the muscles need to move to create the
sound that you want, they will.
You don't have to move them.
We're going for a natural speaking
approach even though of course we don't
tend to speak with our tongue hanging out
of our mouth but that's how I'm going to
encourage you and your approach to using
these vowels and stuff.
And, you know, sometimes you can get so
used to doing things a certain way that
that becomes the norm, where it really is
being manipulated instead of natural.
So if you just go roll into this and
little by little if what I've just
described is true for you, you'll be able
to start sorting things out for
yourself and get a much more natural
So, so far we've
done La-Ga and Ya-Ya.
The third one is done, again,
still with your tongue out, Ya-Ga, Ya-Ga.
So this creates a whole different set of
actions by the tongue, Ya-Ga.
Once again, we're not trying to create
space for
the ya, just let it be natural, Ya-Ga.
Not ya, don't press the tongue down.
Not ya, don't open the back.
Just totally natural, totally natural.
One of the instructions that you'll
probably end up hearing from me quite
a bit as we move forward with vocal
exercises is to stop sometimes in between,
in the midst of the exercise and just say
the vowel.
And find how you naturally do it without
any kind of augmentation,
trying to create more space, or, or
We just need to get these muscles
We're not dealing with style.
We will, we'll get into style,
but the exercises don't use style.
We aren't trying to project, have this big
voice that casts its
sound across the stage, or whatever, or an
Just a natural speaking approach.
So, we've done La-Ga, Ya-Ya, tongue out.
Tongue still out, Ya-Ga.
Final one, tongue comes in, still holding,
which by the way [LAUGH] let's say 35
years from now,
you're still doing this exercise,
which is totally cool because it really
warms up your voice.
Always hold the, hold that jaw open with
your hand.
Don't ever try to do it without holding
because your tongue doesn't end up getting
And instead the muscles, like I mentioned
squeeze that tongue, and it gets rigid,
instead of flexible.
Word to the wise.
Okay, fun one.
Ta, T-A to La, L-A.
T-A L-A, and it goes back and forth,
Now this one can be more difficult to keep
that jaw open and stilled.
Take your time.
Don't worry about it.
Just try the best you can, and as your
tongue gets more limber,
it will be a piece of cake.
It will be very easy to do.
It's not a perfect T, so don't try to
really get a really crisp T.
It's just whatever it is.
Tongue up, drop.
Tongue up.
That's the tip.
Do it with me.
Once again, every time the tongue drops,
fix it against the back of the bottom
You don't have to press it, because if you
do, the whole tongue gets rigid.
I'll show you what that would be like.
Okay, so just rest it.
Also, don't do it fast right now.
Take it at the pace that I'm doing it, and
do it with me.
Here we go.
Good for now.
That's your orientation.
Now, what we're gonna do is we're gonna
get into the actual exercise,
and the first melody we're going to use is
Just cuz you're singing
should not mean that you,
you change your approach to the vowel.
I'll show you what I mean.
Like this would be changing your
approach from La-Ga to La-Ga.
I am now singing.
We're not looking for vibrato,
that's where your voice kind of pulses or
shakes a little bit.
That's fake vibrato that I just gave you.
But it's just a speaking approach.
That's opening the back of your throat,
leave it alone.
If you need to stop every so often, like I
said before, and just say the vowel and
remind yourself, oh yeah, this is how I do
it when I just nor, normally speak.
Totally fine,
and I encourage you to do that because
we've got these sort out things.
I want to move, help you move from
anything that is shall we say [NOISE]
like a, a habit, that's stopping your
We wanna shed the habits, and get,
let you discover a natural approach from
which you'll be much,
it'll be much easier to use whatever style
you want,
whatever you consider is, is your thing.
It's a lot easier to do once you shed off
anything that's manipulative.
So, that's the first melody.
And as we go along I'll give you coaching
instructions to remind you of
different things and guide you through it.
Then I'll take you through the second
And a little further along in the
curriculum we'll deal with,
we'll use this exercise as a warm-up with
an advanced melody.
I'm gonna show you more of how this La-Ga
series goes.
And I'll point out certain things so as
you practice it,
even though I'll be coaching you with it
in the in the coached exercise for it.
I wanna point out certain things that will
you to know what to look for and recognize
I'm doing it right or oops, I need to
correct something.
If you're male and your,
your speaking voice hovers around this
That's where you would start.
If you're female,
you'll do it where I'm going to sing it.
Remember that you hold the jaw.
And your overextend.
By the way, try that.
You may feel the back
of your mouth of the roof tighten if you
go too far with your jaw.
Now, everybody has a different size jaw.
You know, some people have very large
jaws, big mouths, wide lips.
Some are smaller.
So I need you to hold your jaw in such a
way and
with your mouth open to the degree that
you do not
end up filling tension back here.
All right, that should be pretty good.
Right here.
That's about two fingers.
But if your fingers are wide, then that
might be too much.
So, monitor it for yourself.
All right, so starting off La-Ga,
you take a breath into your back.
Oh, and just listen to how I do it.
Notice I'm not doing it like this.
That's opening a cavern in the back of my
mouth, we talked about that, don't.
How do you say it?
La, ga, la, ga.
So you sing it that way.
Notice you're not, you're not looking for
This is just getting muscles exercised,
limbering the tongue.
Notice the difference?
Sucking it back.
If you do it naturally you may end up
actually feeling more vibration and
resonance in the, inside the front part of
your mouth.
That doesn't make you sound nasal by the
That actually is just working with the
mechanics of the voice.
And it gives you a whole lot of things
that we'll be talking about more as we
move along.
All right, now let's say you're here.
Just because
the notes are higher.
We'll call it more of a range extension.
You don't have to open your mouth more.
If you've ever been told as you sing
higher open your mouth more,
you really don't need to.
And you don't have to arch for the, these
Again, you're just talking on pitch,
talking on pitch.
You might wanna stop every so often, say
La, ga, la, ga.
What's that like for you when you just say
it and you're not trying to say it?
then you just slide that approach into
singing it.
And maintain.
Same approach whether it's here,
whether it's here.
We're not gonna go that high with, with
this exercise.
Cuz you don't need to use a lot of range.
It's just more about limbering the tongue.
With the next set of syllables,
where you put your tongue on the top of
your bottom lip.
You don't have to open, and it's just
again, speaking approach.
Chances are, when you talk, you don't try
to sound a certain
way unless you're playing a character in a
play or movie.
But, I just want you to find out what is
your natural approach
to saying the vowel and then use that when
you're just applying pitch.
Aye, aye, aye, aye, aye, aye, aye, aye,
Uh-huh, and then changing it to yaga.Yaga,
yaga, yaga, yaga, ya.
Go for the G, don't let it be too sloppy.
And the tongue starts actually
developing and limbering by
the precision of how you do it.
And so you get more out of it.
Monitor your volume.
It's important that you're not shouting or
trying to project your voice.
And then the final one with your tongue
inside is ta la.
Ta la la la la la la la ta.
All right?
So you end with a T, the T-A.
Ta, ta.
You start and end with it.
Ta la la la la la la la ta.
And then back to La-Ga, which you know.
So that's how it goes and again,
I'll coach you through it in the exercise
of La-Ga's.
Okay, let's roll
into this exercise.
Again, we're using this melody.
And I'm gonna coach you through it.
But here's a couple of reminders.
You're gonna use your hand to hold the
not use these muscles to hold the jaw.
So, really give the power to your hand.
[NOISE] When you take your breath, I want
you to breathe into your back.
Let your back, the lungs that are back
there, fill with the air.
[SOUND] Okay, so here we go.
Hold your jaw and open it.
Let your arm rest on your chest.
[SOUND] Breathe in to your back, let's
Right, let your tongue,
when it comes down go against the back of
the bottom teeth.
Keep it going.
That's right, [SOUND] breath.
Remember does not need space.
Holding that jaw still.
Yep, remember it gets
better the more you practice it.
If you're holding your jaw open too wide,
I want you to close it a little bit.
So it's not here [SOUND], but here.
Keep it going.
That's right.
Keep using your hand to hold the jaw.
Breath into the back.
Keep the jaw in
the same position.
So that means don't close your jaw in
the middle of this, keep it open the whole
Unless, you need to swallow.
[SOUND] Keep it going, breath in to the
back, [SOUND] hold the jaw.
These details [SOUND] will
come together [SOUND] the more you
Yeah, keep it going.
Remember, you place your jaw.
And then don't close it, unless you have
to swallow.
Okay, continue.
Sometimes a certain note will be more
difficult, it just means the muscles have
to be exercised.
Tongue relaxes, at this moment, you take a
breath, keep that jaw held.
[SOUND] A little more.
We'll do three more of la ga.
Keep your focus.
Yes, remember tip of tongue against
the back of the bottom teeth when it
Now I want you to extend your tongue so
the tip lies on top of the bottom lip.
Keep a hold of your jaw, and we'll do ya,
ya with the same melody.
That's right.
keep the tip out.
Right, the tip of your tongue doesn't have
to hang past your lip, just on it.
Now I know there's some coordination
you have to get used to.
Ya, ya, ya,
tongue forward.
At first, you may need to have
your jaw a little more closed.
Until your tongue becomes more limber.
Put your tongue on the lip.
Breathe into your back.
And start.
Yeah, tongue on the lip.
Keep it there.
Keep it there.
Breath into the back.
see if you can get your lips to relax now.
Instead of this.
breathe in,
into the back.
Keep the tongue on the lip.
If you need to swallow, go ahead,
you'll catch up.
[SOUND] Lips relaxed, tongue out.
Keep it out.
[SOUND] Uh-huh.
[SOUND] Place it on that lip.
[SOUND] Little more.
We'll do that one again.
[SOUND] Breath.
[SOUND] Tongue on the lip.
[SOUND] Bring it out.
Three more.
More tongue.
[SOUND] Yeah.
[SOUND] Keep it there, breath.
Use that hand to really
hold the jaw, breath.
Okay, we'll sneak one more in ya, ya.
next one.
Tongue is still out so swallow, take a
We're gonna do ya-ga.
Again, keeping the tip of the tongue on
the lip.
At first, until, and until you've, lim,
you've really limbered up your tongue,
this isn't going to be that easy, but do
the best you can.
It takes exercise to get the result.
Okay, here we go.
Breathe into the back and begin.
[SOUND] Uh-huh,
Keep it going.
Tongue out.
Breathe into the back.
Feel it,
get the tongue out.
Yep, check your tongue.
Breathe into the back.
Using the hand, really hold that jaw.
Easy on the you don't have to open
that back of the throat for it.
Oh, so kind of like talking on pitch.
Even though this is sort of weird having
your tongue out.
Right, a little more ya ga, tongue out.
Okay, last one of this.
Ya ga, tongue out.
[SOUND] All right, cool.
Now we're gonna bring your tongue back in.
You may feel so
stretched that you don't know how to get
your tongue back in your mouth.
[SOUND] Okay.
So, ta-la.
Remember, tip up, drop it for the tip up,
drop it for the.
Ta, la.
This really requires holding on to the
So, rest here.
Breathe into your back, let's start it.
Uh-huh, do it again.
That's right.
Keep it going.
From one teeth to the bottom.
That's tip of your tongue.
Right, does not need space, it will still
sound like an.
Just talking it, on pitch.
Yep, repeat that.
Good, remember you're breathing
through your mouth, not your nose.
breathe in through the mouth into your
All right, a few more.
Hold that jaw.
Yup, hold that jaw, breath into the back.
Last one.
That's right.
Okay now we're going to go back to La-ga,
and you can tell me,
does this feel easier?
Hold the jaw, breathe into your back.
La-ga, right.
La, ga, keep going.
Huh, how does that feel?
Right, we'll do two more.
Holding the jaw with your hand.
Bring it to the back.
That's it.
[APPLAUSE] I'm sure that felt a lot
better by the time you got to the end