The Wonderful & Confusing World of Breath Management!
" Breath. I refer to this most important subject as Breath Management.
It encompasses everything to do with inhalation and exhalation. Personally I found this to
be the most frustrating and bewildering part of mastering the skills needed to sing well. This is a
subject that I need to talk about in numerous posts so I will just talk about one issue at a
time. I am a down and outer. What does that mean? It means that when you inhale you
literally feel your breath go down low in your body and out. This corresponds to how I
experience support. If a singer inhales correctly they will see their abdomens expand
outward. I like to expand as low as possible. When we sing we must maintain the same
feeling of full inhalation. That outward expanded feeling is what we keep when we support.
I never want to allow a feeling of in or up. The Italian word “appoggio” means “to lean” The
great basso Jerry Hines talked to me a lot about the energy created when we “lean” down on
the breath “appoggio” and hold our lowest abdominal muscles firm and strong. I must
admit when I began developing this technique with Jerry and my main voice teacher Dodi
Protero I was a mess! Pushing, shoving, trying, failing. It took me a long time to build not
only the strength I needed but more importantly the correct coordination so I could sustain
this breathing technique for long periods of time. One of the things that helped me the most
is every lesson that I took with Dodi she made me sing with a seamless legato line. This
means many things….steady vibrato on every pitch, constant vocal sound and no stopping of
the sound. This is the essence of “bel canto” singing. I believe the absolute mastery of this
legato singing is what is missing in todays singing. I like to give my students some bel canto
songs to make them work hard and develop this skill. "
What is This Singing Thing About?!
I was what I call a late bloomer. I entered college as piano performance major. After about
3 weeks I decided I was bored and wanted to try something different. Singing was fairly
new to me and I considered it a 3 rd instrument next to piano and tenor saxophone. I began
dating my wife shortly into my freshman year who was a wonderful singer and voice
performance major. After hearing me sing a little she encouraged me to take some lessons.
Second semester I started with a voice teacher and a lot of enthusiasm. When I entered the
practice room after my first lesson I thought-“What do I do now?” It felt weird and strange
to open my mouth and actually sing out without anyone singing with me. I now found
myself surrounded by other guys who were very comfortable and skilled at something I was
completely new to. I think of that humble beginning every time I meet with a new student-
the strange sensation of singing out loud without feeling stupid! It took me awhile before I
began to feel comfortable singing by myself. Singing is a very different than any other
instrument. A lot of what we work with are feelings and sensations-things we cannot see or
touch. I was used to feeling the keys under my fingers. Now, I had to figure out this new
instrument I had inside my body. What a change! I’ve always believed this experience has
given me a unique perspective and appreciation for how challenging and frightening singing
can be. What I love when working with students is figuring out our own language together
that brings them the greatest and fastest benefits for their singing. It’s a whole new and
T h e K i n d A f f e c t
" One of my students, who just returned to the
states after completing the Berlin Opera Academy in Germany, told
me how shocked she was to find at an international program, that so many singers really didn't not know how to manage their breath support. She told me that when auditioning for an international manager she was told that she was one of a very small few that he had heard from the program that really new how to properly support her voice. To quote her exactly, “It is an international problem and I was so thankful to have you as a teacher. You have really unlocked the key to breath support that I need to allow my voice to grow!” Breath support is everything for singing. It is the literally the food needed to keep one’s voice healthy and strong. Would you drive a car with no gas? In order to properly “drive” your voice, you need a very strong and correct support mechanism. We at Jameson vocal studio want to help you find your support and in essence find your voice. We can guarantee that with proper support your voice will grow into the
instrument you have always hoped to have. Join us
and find your true potential as a singer!
We have been truly appalled at the number of students coming
to us telling stories of how they were verbally abused by voice teachers. It is disheartening to say the least to us here at Jameson Vocal Studio. How can a singer possibly improve if they are being taught through abuse or oppression? How is a person supposed to sing with a relaxed jaw, lips and tongue if they are feeling afraid? We too have experienced this type of treatment when we sang for professionals in Masterclasses or with difficult conductors. A singer must never feel that it is ok to be treated rudely or unkindly by your voice teacher, a Master teacher or a coach. You should not ever feel unsafe or like crying from the way you are treated! Abuse is never ok no matter how famous or important the professional! We believe in a gentle and nurturing approach to training singers. We want to teach you to sing with as little tension and as much relaxation as
possible so that your voice can truly reach it’s full potential. Following a young artist program, I nearly quit singing all together after working with an abusive general director. My voice, emotional state and my career were all saved through the nurturing support of my teacher and my coach. Please know that we at JVS want to uplift not ever tear down. You will receive the training you need, but you will receive it with a kind and supportive teacher who really cares
about you as a person.
We frequently asked question by pop, gospel, and broadway singers,
"Why is it important to study classically?" I think that the question can best be answered with a story of a blues singer who came to us with virtually no technique at all. She was very open to the idea of classical training because she wanted to make certain demands on her voice and her vocal range that would make her sound marketable in her genre but also desired a long sustainable career. Because of her drive for perfection and her strong work ethic, she improved very quickly and
within 6 months, she had increased her range dramatically, had a much more even and consistent sound, and learned, through proper technique, how to avoid vocal damage in the future. She also was offered and signed a contract with Sony records and is on her way to a wonderful singing career! The vocal technique we teach and believe in will help you learn to have proper breath support,
correct use of your articulators, an open vocal production, and a relaxed body. Whether you plan to sing opera or blues, you must understand your voice! Once a classical technique is understood, the singer just needs to change the style to whatever type of music they want to sing. Healthy singing is healthy singing no matter what type of music you sing so learning to sing correctly will give you a much better chance at a the singing career you want. We can not
promise that everyone will sign with Sony in only 6 months because every individual is different and everyone’s results will very great depending on many factors, but we can guarantee that you will have dramatic improvement
if you are willing to diligently seek
to improve your voice.
What is the best vowel to sing on in a warm up?
There are as many schools of thought on that question as there are teachers!
The Italians say that [u] or the vowel sound of in the word moon is medicine for the voice. Some teachers think that all singers should start with an [a] or the
vowel sound in the word pop because it is the most open an the easiest to master. Still others believe that a singer should start with an [o] or the vowel in sound in the word toe. We at JVS like the [i] sound like in vowel in the word tea. When singing the [i] sound, your tongue is in the most relaxed position it can be just as it would be if you fell asleep in a chair with your head back and your mouth open! When your tongue is in this position, it allows for the most open
space you can have. Add that [i] vowel to your raised soft palate and relaxed low larynx and you have now created an open space for your voice to properly be produced and to resonate.Once you truly find this place of relaxation, add your breath support and you will love the sound your voice is making. Warm-ups are so important but can be very counterproductive. Technique begins with mastering warm ups and then carrying over into songs and arias so get
those throats open and those tongues and jaws relaxed
and get that career going!