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Cello Lessons: Singing While Playing: Singing Exercises

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Multi-Style Cello with Mike Block. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Cello 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.

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[MUSIC]
For me, personally, the hardest thing
about singing while playing,
was the singing part.
I didn't grow up singing, and I definitely
don't have the singing training,
that I do on the cello.
You may be a very natural singer, or you
may also hate your voice, like I once did.
But I just wanna show you a couple
of really helpful exercises,
that I like to do every day,
in order to loosen up my vocal chords.
And honestly, just running singing
exercises, that train the muscles
in my voice, they surprise me
how much they actually help.
Surprise, surprise, practicing helps for
things, other than the cello, too.
And so, I actually just enjoy singing, and
I feel more expressive
with these exercises.
So I highly recommend checking them out,
and also pursuing,
a vocal teacher or
The Artist Works Vocal School here,
if you wanna get really serious
about training your voice.
But I'm just gonna give you a couple
exercises to get you started.
So, this first exercise is
just an arpeggio exercise, and
we're gonna do it on the vowel me.
All of these exercises will
focus on different vowels.
But because each vowel has
a different combination of muscles
that they're engaging.
So you wanna learn how to sing in tune,
with those different muscle groups.
So, we're gonna start with me,
and it's gonna sound like this.
I'll start all of these
exercises from open G
[MUSIC],
singers often accompany themselves on
piano, when they're singing, and
I just do long tones on the cello.
It's a great way to practice your long
tones, and your singing at the same time.
So, first exercise.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
And it's just a major arpeggio,
up and down.
Sing that once with me, in the key of G.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
And all of these exercises, we're just
gonna chromatically modulate up and down,
as high as we feel comfortable,
and then we'll go back down.
And it's just working on
the whole range of the voice.
So when I do this exercise I
usually start at G, and I work all
the way up to the highest notes I can sing
[MUSIC]
are in that range.
So A, I might end up like, mi,
mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
I'll probably end up right around there,
but
I'll just demonstrate a fifth, for now.
But you can take this exercise and
modulated it as far as your
vocal range will allow.
So, this is the arpeggio on me.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.
And so on.
Another good one is a falling pattern.
And it sounds like this.
I'll start it on G again.
[MUSIC]
It goes like this.
[MUSIC].
For this exercise, as I modulate,
I'm gonna go through
the five different vowels.
Ooh, Eeh, Eh.
If you can say, Ooh, Eeh, Eh, really fast,
then those are all the vowels that are
traditionally used in singing practice.
So I'll just cycle through the vowels,
as I modulate a few keys.
[MUSIC]
And
so
on.
I should say maybe a little
bit about breathing.
Again, I'm not a vocal expert.
But you don't wanna hold your breath,
before you start.
You don't wanna go like this.
[MUSIC].
You wanna actually breathe quickly, and
just right before you start singing.
So that you don't have to hold anything.
So I'll, see if you can see
how quickly I'm breathing.
[MUSIC].
[MUSIC].
It can help to do it in rhythm.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.
[MUSIC]
And you want your breath to be continuous.
You don't wanna hold your breath,
particularly after you inhale.
The other thing I'll say about these
exercises is they're traditionally taught
in the major scale.
Although, I actually quickly
felt that it wasn't developing
my ear and
my voice exactly the way I wanted.
So after I walk up
[MUSIC]
all the way to the top of my vocal range,
with this routine, I'm actually
gonna change to the minor scale,
as I walk back down.
That's just my personal preference.
So if I was walking back down with this
exercise, if I got all the way up to here.
[MUSIC]
Ooh.
I would change it to the minor scale,
and it would sound a little,
I'll do a couple of keys so you hear it.
Eeh, eeh, eeh, eeh, eeh, eeh.
A, a, a, a, a, a.
Eeh, eeh, eeh, eeh, eeh, eeh.
A, a, a, a, a, a.
[MUSIC]
So that's how I practice these routines.
You can opt to do that or not.
Or you can wait a couple
months of practice, and
then see if you can manage that.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So we've got
two exercises.
If all you did was these exercises,
I know it would help a lot.
Now I'll just show you a couple more.
One helps work on intervals,
and it sounds like this.
We'll call this exercise three.
So we're starting on the third.
[SOUND] And I'm going to skip
mostly fourths, like this.
[MUSIC]
These
vowels, E and
O, kind of are these
nice contrasting
muscle groups
to develop with
this exercise.
And again, I'll modulate it into all
the way up the top of my vocal range.
And then I'll do it minor on the way down.
[SOUND] And that might sound like this.
[MUSIC]
This exercise is great for
really kinda honing in
on the break in your voice.
We've got chest voice,
and we've got head voice.
And your falsetto is your head voice.
And it's actually, it's a skill to
shift between your head voice and
your chest voice.
And so actually, you wanna focus on
those transition as much as possible.
So this exercise actually specifically
helps work on going back and forth between
your head voice and your chest voice
when you're singing it this high.
[SOUND] And so you just wanna
embrace the break in your voice.
You don't wanna hide away from it.
You wanna develop those muscles
that are involved in transitioning.
[SOUND] So I'll do a couple keys in minor
on the way down with this exercise.
[MUSIC]
Those particular
keys are right around
the hardest part of
my voice at the top of
the chest voice and
the bottom of the head voice.
That transition area, you wanna just
kind of hang out in those keys and
in that range and
really just spend time working on them.
Let me show you one more routine, and
this one just kind of helps general range.
And it sounds like this.
We'll call this exercise four.
[MUSIC]
And so
on.
So these vowels, ee, again are designed
to develop specific muscle
groups that are going to help support
your voice as you're developing.
On the way down in exercise four,
I'll do it in the minor scale as well.
That'll sound like this.
[MUSIC]
And so
on.
And you can hear that this
exercise is really also working on
the break in my voice, transitioning
from the chest to head voice.
These are just a handful exercises
that have really helped me.
And there's plenty more to learn
about singing in its own right.
Stylistically, I like to sing
a lot of pop songs and stuff.
And so one important scale
to make sure you explore,
if you want to sing like popular music,
is the minor pentatonic scale.
And we covered that in
the beginner curriculum.
But on G, it'll sound like.
[MUSIC]
And so I like to just sort of practice
various patterns in this scale cuz that
will get you sounding like Beyonce.
And just kind of doing these riffs up and
down.
[MUSIC]
That was just a three
note pattern up and down.
You could do a four note pattern, too.
[MUSIC]
Again,
modulating up half steps
through a whole bunch of keys.
And that scale in particular,
I think is really helpful to have in your
feeling and in your ear when singing.
That's all the exercises I wanna
give you for just singing.
Highly recommend you to check out the
ArtistWorks Vocal School to dive deeper
into singing in its own right.
And the last couple of lessons
I'll do on singing while playing.
For now, we'll get back to
coordinating changing notes on
the cello at the same times.
[MUSIC]