October 2010 | Vocal Bliss

October 2010

Preparing for a Live Performance (1)

by Ramesha Nani

Here are some suggestions to get ready for a public performance. They say that 30-40% of your skills are usually lost when you perform, because of nervousness and tension. My hope is that these tips will help you feel more confident in your performances, thus enabling you to focus on the inspiration you want to convey to the audience, rather than on your fears and worries.

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Excerpts from: How To Develop the Voice, by P. Yogananda

Breathing Exercise

Sit calmly on a straight chair with spine erect and chin parallel to the ground. Keep mouth closed. Put the thumb of your right hand on the right nostril and very slowly inhale through the left nostril, filling the lungs and expanding the diaphragm simultaneously, counting rapidly one to twenty-five. Then close the left nostril with the forefinger, hold the breath, and count one to six or one to twelve. Then open the right nostril by removing the thumb, while keeping the left nostril closed with the forefinger. Then exhale slowly, counting one to twenty-five rapidly. Practice about twelve times in the morning on an empty stomach, as a matter of daily exercise, and half an hour or one hour before performing. It is best to eat very little or nothing for at least one or two hours before singing. It must be remembered that during the above breathing exercise, the lungs and abdomen must be simultaneously inflated during inhalation and deflated during exhalation. Those who do not practice breathing exercises often, breathe in short breaths and find the breath a hindrance during singing. All singers will find long walks, or regular moderate running very healthful in their profession.

To Strengthen the Chest

It is absolutely necessary always to have the chest a little forward and the shoulder blades a little backward, even when leaning back against a chair for rest. Practice will relive irksomeness.

Close eyes. Very gently contract both sides of the chest. Put whole attention there while contracting them. Hold contraction, counting 1 to 30. Then release contraction. Repeat six times.

Exposing chest to direct sunlight is found to be very beneficial; slowly walk two miles a day. Remain outdoors as much as possible. Eat plenty of raw green vegetables and thoroughly ground pecan nuts. Clearing throat and nose with mixture of half a teaspoonful of salt in a glass of water early in the morning and at noon, and just before going to bed, has been found very beneficial and refreshing.

Strengthening throat and neck muscles

Put chin to chest, then stretch the muscles of the throat slowly, with the feeling that your chin is tied to the chest. Then slowly force the chin up, holding the tension of the throat while the head goes upward. Then relax quickly and drop the chin on chest. Repeat the above twelve times morning and night.

The Cure of Stage-fright

Remember, if you, by calmness, can prevent the regular visitation of psychological nervousness, you will never suffer from the more serious and long-continued forms of nervousness. Stage-fright is a form of fear which causes nervousness in many people, so that they are never able to do anything naturally. If you are shy and have stage-fright, get your mind quiet and remember that all the power you need is within you, all the power to convince people, all the power to give the direct truth. The particular kind of truth that you want to give is in the Infinite Spirit, which functions through you. Overcome stage-fright: (1) By getting used to singing in groups. (2) By imagining whenever you sing that you are addressing an empty hall or that you are talking to children, or very simple people. Realize that all power to think, to sing, and to act comes from God, and that He is with you now, guiding and inspiring you. Feel that God sings through you whenever you want to sing.

Tonic for Nerves

Some of the physical methods of overcoming nervousness as taught in India are, first, a soothing drink made of fresh limes. It is made in this way: To one glass of water add the juice of one-quarter of a fresh lime and about a tablespoonful of sugar, or powdered rock candy. Stir thoroughly, and add a little crushed ice. It is difficult to give exact measurements because of the difference in the size of limes, but it should not taste at all like the ordinary limeade bought at soda fountains. That is far too strong. This drink should be blended so that the sweetness and the sourness are equal and you cannot distinguish which you are tasting. Ground rock candy is even better than sugar, but do not use honey. If properly blended, every nerve will feel calm. Sipping two or three glasses of this during nervousness has been found to be extremely beneficial. If you have too much lime or too much sugar, it will not produce the result. The blending must be equal.

Perfect Technique Must be Accompanied by Soul Inspiration

The technique of singing must be practiced without fault or blemish. After that is accomplished, inspiration, concentration, self-confidence, and emotion will guide the technique. In other words, inspiration must be the outstanding power behind the speech of the speaker and the song of the singer. As there is no excuse for a faulty halting speech or a faulty technique in singing, so also, speaking or singing with perfect technique but without Soul inspiration and Soul originality are inexcusable.

To be continued…

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Excerpts from: The Power of the Voice: Transform and Heal Your Life
by Swami Kriyananda

“There is so much that the voice expresses. I think it is a great mistake to teach singing only in terms of power. To get the power and volume for others to be able to hear them, most singers have a tendency to tighten their voices. But the sound that results from that tightening is not pleasant. In one sense the voice is a bit like a hose. One way to get power with the hose is to constrain the tip of it, which makes a fine jet of water because you have more power. But another way is to turn the faucet on full. We need to learn to use the voice in the right way.”

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Questions? 

Feel free to contact me about any singing-related issue or doubt that you might have. I will do my best to help you  find a solution for it.

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