Last updated 1 month ago by UtrechtCentral.com
In the previous article, I introduced the lie-down exercise for setting up a good posture and raising the awareness of the breathing. This exercise would be a good start of a warm-up routine.
In this article, two more warm-up exercises would be introduced to help you get ready for your business or academic presentations.
“S s s s” exercise for waking up the breath support
About deep breathing and breath support
In general, for deep breathing, you should feel that the lower part of your body including your belly, lower back and lower ribs all open when you breathe in, and deflat when you just relax all the muscles and let all the air out.
But in order to give a good support for the voice, the breathe support has to be sustained. Therefore, instead of just relaxing and letting all the air out quickly, we have to keep the lower back and lower ribs as open as possible, meanwhile the belly would be pull in and up a bit as if you are zipping your jeans.
How to do the exercise
First close your nose with your fingers as if there are clips on your nose. It is easier to breathe deeply through the mouth with the nose closed. Then breathe in and out through your mouth for a while to feel the expansion and deflation of the lower part of your body. Then with your nose still closed, breathe out on 4 “s” consonants.
Try to keep the last “s” as long as possible by keep your lower back and lower ribs open. Feel whether the lower part of your body is bouncing on the first 3 detached “s”. It is a sign that the breath is well supported. Then relax the muscles and let air in again. Repeat this cycle for a few times and pay attention to your body.
Afterwards you can try repeating the exercise without closing the nose.
Benefits of the exercise
This exercise can help to increase the awareness of breathing and to wake up the breath support. Deep breathing is crucial for a well-supported voice.
“meow” exercise for the projection of your voice
Resonance of our voice
Once sound is produced by the vibrating vocal cords, it vibrates in and through the open resonating ducts and chambers. The different resonators in our body are always referred as chest, mouth, nose /“mask”, or head.
The resonance in these resonating chambers have different qualities of colours. In general, it is like a spectrum of resonance: from the dark chest resonance, which predominates in the lower range; to the more forward mouth-nasal resonance, which is dominant in the middle range; to bright head-nasal resonance, which predominates in the higher range; to the radiant head resonance, which you can hear from the high notes of an operatic soprano, like the famous colouratura passage in the famous Queen of the night aria from Mozart’s opera “Die Zauberflöte” (The Magic Flute).
Different qualities of the resonators
As mentioned, the resonance of the human voice is like a spectrum across the whole range, so it is most of the time a mix of different resonance. The different colours generated in these resonators also allow more emotional and dramatic expressions.
As our speaking voice sits mostly in our middle-lower range, chest, mouth and nasal resonance contribute most to it. The quality of chest resonance is richness, darkness, deepness, power and warmth; for mouth resonance, it often has to mix with the bright and edgy nasal resonance in order to create a forward placement, which gives clarity and projection to the voice.
Chest resonance and nasal resonance in speaking voice
A lot of times it is the lack of chest resonance and nasal resonance that make the speaking voice difficult to be heard, or unexpressive. Of course this also has to do with breathing techniques, because if the breathing is too shallow, the throat will be high and hence difficult to mix the chest resonance into the voice.
In general you can find the chest resonance if you try to “roar” on a very low notes, you will feel vibrations in your chest. As long as you have a sinking feeling in your throat and breathing, you can mix the chest resonance in your voice. It is not the same as pressing your throat down though.
How to do the exercise
But since we have already the lie-down exercise to help on breathing, now we have this “meow” exercise to help on mixing nasal resonance into the voice. It is important to know that nasal resonance does not mean the sound is trapped in the nose, in reverse, it is by keeping the nasal cavaties open so that the sound can resonante and travel freely all around.
This exercise is very simple, just immitate the sound of a cat, as if you a lazy cat who just woke up from a nap and make a couple of “meow” sounds on variuos pitches. You can even “meow” a certain melody in your head. Feel the gentle stretch of the muscles inside your mouth and on your skull. Feel the vibration on the cheeks and in the nasal cavities. Feel the connection of your breathing and your voice. The consonant“m” is very good for feeling the nasal resonance. Then try to implement the same feeling, the same openness in your nasal cavities and the same activeness of the small muscles inside your mouth and on your head when you practise your speech.
Enjoy this little role-playing game, have fun and loosen up yourself before presentation!