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Country Vocals Lessons: Get Ready to Sing

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Let's get
ready to sing.
We're gonna cover a lot of technical
information in the span of this course.
We're gonna get down into the nitty
gritty of warming up and stance and
all kinds of technical details later on.
Right now I just want you to sing.
So the one basic can't move forward
without bits of information
that I want to put in place as
this is what you do every
time you get ready to sing.
Three things.
That means that you bring
your full attention
to the act, the intention of singing.
We use our voices for
many things all day long.
And it takes a concentrated
intention to repurpose your voice,
your mechanism for
something other than just talking,
yelling, it's everyday purposes.
So we're now taking a minute
to focus our attention and
our intention that we have
a purpose we are setting out
with an intentional purpose.
To now go from just
everyday talking use to
a special application of our instrument,
and that is to sing.
So you want to give this moment and
give your instrument,
which is your entire body,
your entire being.
Focused toward the intention of singing,
so that's focus.
The second thing is stance.
Want to make sure that you
are putting your instrument,
you know the cello is
always shaped like a cello,
it's always in its optimum stance for
being played.
A cello player has to have
their comfortable and
energized stance to be ready
to play that instrument.
You are the player and
the instrument together,
so it's vital that you
put your instrument and
your player in the stance
best prepared to play,
to perform, to produce music.
I'm gonna ask you for this,
to kick your shoes off.
Gonna let go of our shoes so
that we can really feel,
The earth beneath us.
I practice a lot of yoga.
I have found, I mean I've sung
since I was four-years-old.
I discovered yoga as a young adult and
the more I learned about yoga the more
useful I find it as a singer.
And the mountain pose which is one of
the most simple fundamental yoga poses.
When I first was taught the mountain pose,
it was like a lightbulb
going off in my head.
This is the most comfortable pose for
me as a singer.
I had already kind of naturally
discovered the mountain pose.
I didn't really pay attention
to what I was doing.
I hadn't gotten into the details of
how to focus my attention on all
the different parts of making this pose,
until I got deep into yoga.
Now I use the mountain pose
intentionally as a preparation for
singing, I use it as my
foundational stance.
So in mountain pose, you are the mountain.
You make your body the mountain.
And that involves aligning your spine,
trying to get a nice,
long, straight column for your spine.
It involves lifting the back of your head,
ever so slightly.
Almost like you're giving
yourself a little bit of traction
on your upper spine and your neck.
Very gently and very subtly.
It's really just a conciousness
of the top of your head.
Lifting toward Heaven, straight up,
just allowing your body
to drape very comfortably
on your spine which is nice and
straight and not stressed.
Mountain pose when it's done properly
is one of the most relaxing,
Places that you can put your body.
And for a singer, that is gold.
You need your body and all the muscles
that are not specifically engaged in
signing, you need everything else
in your body to be very relaxed so
that it doesn't demand any energy or
All of your active singing muscles and
apparatus can be engaged.
So you want your whole body to be relaxed.
Your legs to be right at hip width apart.
Because this gives you a nice
strong solid symmetric
balance all the way down to the ground.
You wanna point your knees and
your toes straight forward very parallel.
You want your spine to be nice and
the top of your head,
very gently stretched toward heaven.
And when you come down,
you want to make sure that your neck and
shoulders are relaxed, you can roll
your shoulders back a little bit.
You wanna make sure your
hips are straightforward.
That your legs are just at hip width or
maybe a little bit narrower
than hip width apart.
With your knees facing forward,
your big toe coming forward.
And your feel parallel, the insides of
your feet parallel to one an other.
You can even lift up
the front of your feet.
Your toes from the mounds of your feet.
Lift them up so that you really feel
that connection through the arch of your
foot to the earth.
And then drop your toes down, and
then the last little
secret is to tuck your
tailbone ever so
slightly down and forward.
Tilting your pelvis ever so
slightly and gently forward.
What that does is you can feel
that slightly engage your lower
abdominal muscles, and
the effect is also that it naturally
opens your chest and
gives you a little bit more room for.
That's right, our final piece of
prepping to sing, all about the breath.
So once you've got your mountain
pose stance, your spine is nice and
long, your face, jaw, neck, all relaxed.
Your should back,
you can roll them back again,
drop them straight down,
lower your shoulder blades.
This is mountain pose.
When you get familiar with this pose,
you will find yourself just wanting
to stand like this all the time.
And it's a great thing to bring your
attention to how you're standing.
Like, you stand cockeyed with
your hip out, I do that a lot.
It's not comfortable.
And especially when you go to sing,
you wanna make sure that your whole
instrument has this beautiful symmetry,
and openness, and relaxation.
Because this is where you want to be
to get the maximum amount of fuel for
your instrument for a singer,
your fuel is breath.
Just like gas in your car.
Your car won't go anywhere no
matter how much of a hot rod it is.
It will not go anywhere if
it doesn't have gas in it.
No matter how great a signer you are,
how beautiful a tone you can produce,
how many skills you have, how much
game you've got in licks, in rifts.
If you don't have proper and
adequate breath to work with,
you won't be going anywhere or
you'll putter out before you finish
that lick in a very embarrassing way.
So, let's make sure that
our bodies are relaxed
instrument nice and
aligned symmetrical and
now we're gonna take a minute to
really engage with how we fuel up.
So exhale just and
now inhale through your nose.
Now watch how much my chest
expands when I breathe in.
My chest lifts a little bit.
And my chest expands width-wise
because I am filling my lungs.
My shoulders are staying down,
because if I breathe and,
Hike up my shoulders here and
create tension in my neck, and
in my shoulders I'm acting against myself,
I'm fighting,
I'm working against my
effort to fuel up and
get the most amount of air and
air control that I can.
So one more time we're gonna breathe in,
keep your tail bone tucked,
your shoulders down,
we're gonna breathe in nice and slow.
And feel how deep,
how low in your lungs you can get oxygen.
So lots of air does a couple of things.
We oxygenate our bloodstream by
bringing more oxygen into our lungs.
And we also give ourselves lots of fuel,
because it is the breath that you have
to work with and then how skilled you are
at controlling the exhale of that breath
that gives you all that you need for
a singer to vocalize.
You can vocalize pretty much
anything you can imagine.
If you have enough air in your body and
the skill to control it.
And we're gonna get into that,
the details of all of that and
it's something that you will work on
the rest of your life as a singer.
We're gonna talk more
about the role of the diaphragm.
A lot of students hear that you need
to breathe into your diaphragm,
or you need to sing from your diaphragm.
And we'll get into a little
more of the details of that.
The diaphragm muscle looks like this.
It's a great diaphragm
diagram [LAUGH] showing
exactly where the diaphragm
sits in your body.
It's like this parachute
shaped band of muscle that
sits underneath and
is attached to your lungs, and
all the muscles around your lungs,
and your ribcage.
Your entire respiratory system
is all inter-connected.
And the diaphragm is a huge
muscle that sits under here.
The interesting thing is, is that the
diaphragm is mostly an involuntary muscle,
like the muscles that control
the blinking of your eyelids.
You don't think about it, it just happens.
The diaphragm is mostly
an involuntary muscle.
So, you don't really have conscious
control over your diaphragm,
but your diaphragm works
every time you breathe.
Your diaphragm is the muscle that helps
the other respiratory muscles
inhale air and then exhale air.
It's working all the time.
What you're doing when you focus and
consciously engage
your respiratory system to maximize
the amount of air you're getting.
You are actually,
Making a conscious effort to
engage the entire system with the muscles
that you can voluntarily control,
which are like the intercostals
around your rib cage and
the rest of your respiratory
muscles that are voluntary.
And you are just having them work
a little more hard and a little
more intentionally to maximize the amount
of air that you bring into your lungs.
So most of the time, you're breathing
pretty shallow while you're talking.
You're not thinking about it.
Certainly, when you sleep, your breathing
is happening without you doing anything.
When you approach singing, which is
what we're doing now, preparing to sing,
you make a concentrated,
focused, intentional instruction
go from your brain to your respiratory
system to the muscles you can control.
To maximize the amount of air that
you're pulling into your lungs.
So now we're gonna do that with intention.
Tail bone tucked, spine nice and
straight, shoulders back, face and
neck and shoulders relaxed.
And we're gonna let our brain tell
our respiratory system to maximize
the amount of air in our lungs, go.
Breathe a little more.
See how much more you can get.
Take another little sip
of air through your nose.
Yeah, you can really feel
now all the way down into
the bottom of your lungs what it feels
like to have a lot of air in your lungs.
And you can tell that your
diaphragm has been lowered.
That sheath of muscle under your
lungs is naturally flexed and
lowered because air is pushing it down.
Because you've put so
much air in your lungs.
Now we're gonna control the exhale.
We're gonna take a deep breath and then
[SOUND] like that, to control the exhale.
[SOUND] Lungs nice and
full, take another sip.
Keep your shoulders down, and very slowly,
[SOUND] see how long you
can keep that going.
[SOUND] Keep going.
[SOUND] So it's like a balloon
that you've got full of air,
but it's not been tied up.
And you can, very,
very carefully and slowly,
let a little bit of air out at a time.
Basically, the muscles of
your respiratory system,
including your diaphragm,
so the voluntary and
involuntary muscles of your
respiratory system are controlling
how quickly you're letting
the air out of your lungs.
And you have a lot of control over that.
And if you keep going,
[SOUND] you actually feel your
body starting to collapse.
Practice that a few times, so that you
really feel your lungs filling up,
maybe to a depth you've never filled
your lungs up with oxygen before.
And then slowly controlling,
letting it go out.
Okay, this is a good prep
to get you ready to sing.
In the next lesson,
you're gonna submit a video of you singing
something that's very familiar to you.
I want you to make sure
that you're standing.
Prefer that you have your shoes off
on the floor, engage with the earth,
and use your great stance.
And fill your lungs up.
Keep all that in mind for the next lesson.