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ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Applying Rib Cage Expansion Technique to Singing Songs

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Our next section of lessons deals with
songs, words, phrasing,
all the good aspects that have to do with
the culmination of vocal development.
Channeling them fully into the delivery
of a captivating song, for yourself, if
you're just singing for
yourself or for another, if you're singing
to other people.
There's a lot to explore.
First step has to do with the application
of the rib cage expansion
to the actual singing of songs.
Hopefully at this point, you've been
experimenting with that yourself.
However, I haven't really addressed it
very much with you, so now is the time.
The rib cage expansion applied to a song.
At this stage in your development, should
be fairly easy.
By which I mean, the sense of, of using
rib cage expansion as you
sing should now be at least getting into
feeling like,
wow, this is just how I approach singing
period with the ribs expanded.
Just like as, as a infant we start off
eventually crawling from just lying there
in the bassinet or whatever, and
then little by little we start standing
and finding our balance and now, each one
of us I assume are confidently standing on
our feet and not having to think about it.
That doesn't mean we don't intend to stand
using our legs,
but it isn't something that requires a lot
of concentration,
I hope [LAUGH] except for a few nights
here and there.
Okay, moving right along.
So, so with your songs, there's a lot of
other things of course going on.
You're dealing with words, you're dealing
with you know,
a variety of different melodic aspects.
There's the emotion of what you're singing
There's who your singing to if you are,
and how to get that song across.
There's dealing with, you know, all sorts
of things.
And that's why I don't jump right into
songs as far as
what we've been dealing with
Again, as I told you early on, I of course
have expected
that you would be continuing to sing
songs, cuz that's what it's all about.
Okay, so rib cage expansion.
There are times when you might wanna sing
something softer and more breathy.
That doesn't mean that you shouldn't use
rib expansion,
but ordinarily it won't need as much.
If you're singing something that's very
bold, outright, big volume.
Most definitely that's when you really
need rib expansion.
There was a point in my own process with
this, many years ago in my youth,
when I, my rib expansion was really good.
And I could do it without getting tired,
but I was still working out aspects of my
how shall I say, using more volume and
tone and stuff, in my voice.
And it really helped to think the sound
from back here,
within the context of the rib expansion.
It just centered my energy and it allowed
these, the muscles up in this area.
To do what they needed to do because
otherwise I just still had
a default habit you know of,
of clutching and over-moving the muscles
of my tongue and soft palate.
And so I found that just thinking rib cage
expansion even
though the muscles didn't need me to think
about it.
Cuz I was used to it.
Just thinking about it just really helped
me move through the song and
made singing so much easier.
And then from there, I got accustomed to
not pushing out the sound,
but rather, letting the resonance radiate
And it was an, a, a miraculous
transformation for me.
I got great feedback, you know, on how my
voice sounded and stuff and
it, it was a real boost in self confidence
for me.
So, this is something that I suggest you
might employ,
is when you getting into anything vocally.
Sing you a song ,or an exercise where it
feels challenging or
you feel like the muscles are locking up
or you're still tending to pull.
Just think the ribs.
And let the, let the, your concept of the
sound focus and center there.
It's just like [LAUGH] it's something that
I've, I've called sitting in the saddle.
If you've ever ridden a horse
you may know that you're going along and
the horse is walking.
And then you start trotting, and you have
to do what's called posting,
where you move your, you use your legs and
you make sure that
way that you're working with the horse and
you're not getting spanked by the saddle.
And then you start galloping and if you
don't drop your weight into the saddle
you'll go boink, boink,boink, boink,
boink, and it's pretty tough on the butt.
So, so you've got to sit in the saddle.
For us, the saddle is your ribcage
And you just let the energy sit in your
The ribs are the source of physical
strength, so that,
all the rest of your voice, your
instrument, can function freely.
It would be like walls in a room.
If the walls kept moving, you would have a
difficult time being able
to freely move around the space walking or
doing whatever you wanted to do.
Because the walls would keep changing and
the space would keep changing and, you
would have no prediction of how many steps
you could take from one wall to the next,
cuz the wall would keep collapsing on you
and, all that, you get the idea.
So, with the rib expansion, it sets up the
rest of the instrument,
so that the internal movements that need
to occur are not getting tightened by you
because something needs to be accountable
physically as far as strength goes.
If you're familiar with the symbol of yin
and yang, you've got the female aspect and
the male aspect, which is supposed to
symbolize strength,
co-existing with I guess gentleness or,
you know, anyway, there's the two
opposites of energy which co-exist,
and that's what we've got with rib cage
So, instead of the stomach getting tight
and the throat getting tight mus,
muscularly, the ribs can stay really
And, if you feel like you really have to
push into sound, just push out the ribs.
They can take it because the other parts
of your instrument cannot.
Again, singing forcefully, using grit in
your voice, being loud,
it doesn't have anything to do with
strong, forceful, tense muscles here.
You may have been singing that way, but
ultimately that is a road to ruin, and a
shorter career.
The way to maintain your voice, and to
sing however you want to,
without ruining it, is by really using the
rib cage expansion.
And letting that be the source of the
strength so
that the rest you can put the emotion in,
but it doesn't require attention.
Speaking of emotion, one more thing,
it's very common to think, or
have associated without thinking, of anger
are more emotion linking with tension.
It's like if you sing really loudly,
that you have to push, which is reducing
The exact opposite is necessary.
With rib expansion, the sound moves.
And you are giving the, the sound
vibrations the space it needs to be big.
So, this is where as a performer,
we start learning how to balance the
amount of physical effort we're putting
into the sound versus the emotional effort
that we're putting in.
So that we don't end up with,
stuck with just one emotion, which is a
careful emotion.
Or something like that,
which of course there is no such thing as
a careful emotion.
But, I think you, you get the idea.
The rib cage expansion permits this.
It permits you, if you feel like, I really
need to put some physical in it,
put it in your ribs not in your throat.
That will give you that extra command,
and with the resonance that you've been
developing and
will continue to I'm sure, that's where
you get big.
All right.
Let's get into the other aspects of our