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“Vocal Advantage: Speaking Voice” by Dina Else

VOCAL ADVANTAGE: SPEAKING VOICE, by Dina Else (no. 26 in a series)
One of the things you would hear me say pretty frequently if you were a fly on the wall in my studio is “Practice makes permanent”.  What do our singers do with their instrument most of the day?  They speak!  Therefore it’s important to address the sensations of the speaking voice and incorporate the speaking voice into their study of how the instrument works. We talk a lot about the speaking voice in their lessons.  I think that in the area of resonance and phonation, the use of the speaking voice can be invaluable.  I have the students use their speaking voice in a way that will not feel natural, but in a way that will be closer to what they need to do when they sing.  My singers that are involved in the drama department grab onto this concept pretty quickly.  If you have access the stage in a  larger auditorium it would pay huge dividends to have your singer recite a poem or two from the stage while you sit at the very back of the auditorium. 
My favorite vocalise exercises to develop a beautiful tone are any vocalise with [ng], [mmmm], [nnnn].  I think they are the most helpful in allowing the student to find correct resonance adjustment. Of course every exercise in Richard Miller’s Structure of Singing is fantastic (and divided into vocal technique categories).  I also use a lot of sighs and sirens and then say “why don’t you just sustain that feeling in a singing sound and not worry how it sounds—just bring it down.”  Toward the beginning of their study, if you can get your students to not be so ‘self-critical’ of the sounds coming out of their mouths, but instead, remain in a constant state of discovery