A Santa-Approved Voice Exercise

Gifts?  Check.  Eggnog?  Check.  If you’ve completed your to-do list, it’s time to sit back and take a deep breath.  You’ve made it – Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s time to celebrate (and relax!) with family and friends.  From all of us here at TakeLessons, we hope you’re enjoying the holiday season and making the most of it!

One of our favorite parts of the season is all of the holiday music, and sharing that gift of music with others.  And of course – if you’re heading out caroling this weekend, make sure to warm up your voice, as with any practice session or performance.  Here’s a simple voice exercise sure to get you on Santa’s “Nice” list, courtesy of

You have probably heard many times that singing is all about breath support and airflow.
And you may think you’re singing with good breath support and airflow.  But if you’re getting tension in your neck and are unable to sing past a certain ceiling without “flipping” into the next higher register, you probably still have some work to do with breath.  Let’s get down to the basics for a moment.

Put your hand on your belly.
Spread your fingers wide so that you cover as much vertical area as possible.

Now, say “Ho! Ho! Ho!” in a percussive way.
Don’t worry about hitting any particular pitch.  Just focus on feeling your stomach muscles actually act, and expel air with each syllable.  Your throat is simply a passage the air goes through.  Let the air pass through without trying to “grip” it or control it with your throat muscles.

Your belly should go in, not out, with each syllable.
This is completely natural for some people, but not for everyone.  Just check to make sure.  (If you’re pushing your belly out with each syllable, how in the world are you pushing air up and out through your throat as well? Think about it…)

Once you are doing “Ho! Ho! Ho!” correctly, then do a variation:  “Ho! Ho! Hooooo…”
Hold out that last syllable for a second or two, making sure that you are still supporting your breath from your belly and not moving the compression and effort up into your throat just because you are now “singing” a sustained note.

How did the voice exercise go for you?   What other tips would you add?  Leave a comment below!

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You might also like…
Using Scales to Improve Your Vocal Range and More
Can Yoga Help You Sing Better?
Fine-Tune the Way You Learn Music


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Singers: How to Warm Up Your Vocal Cords

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Ancient civilizations discovered powerful truths about vocalizing and singing that are relevant to modern students of voice and song.

We all go through our daily lives speaking, humming, and singing some of the time without realizing the effects of things we do half-consciously.  Or maybe we just suspect it!  Well here are some facts!!

By focusing on singing, speaking, or chanting the vowels (A,E,I,O,U) we release a myriad of emotions in an uplifting and healing manner.

Chanting or singing mantras are based on vowel-combinations that when chanted in a particular way produce a vibrating effect on our entire system, our nerves, glands, and the brain.  Here are some vowel sounds to use for warmup drills.  Singers, performers of all kinds, and instrumentalists may benefit from using these simple exercises.

A (pronounced “Ah”)  Induces a state of calm, peace, serenity.  Resonates at the toop of the thorax and esophagus (upper chest). The vibrations have a healing effect on the heart.  A(pronounced as in “glass”) resonates in the upper part of the lungs.

E(pronounced “eh”)
  Develops self-confidence. It resonates in the neck, throat, vocal chords, teeth, and thyroid glands.

I (pronounced “ee”) is the vowel of laughter.  It resonates in the bridge of the nose and crown of the head, affecting the brain and organs of the skull.

O (pronounced as in “home”) Turns inward and gives the sensation of seriousness, completion, and perfection.  It vibrates in the lower part of the lung, heart, and stomach.

OU (pronounced “oo”) has a similar sensation to O, but sweeter.
It vibrates in the lower abdomen, affecting the kidneys and stomach.

Simple warmup exercises that help you get emotionally clear and refreshed:

  • Balancing the Whole Body:  A   E  I (pronounced ahh-ee)  O  OU
  • For the ears: ENN
  • For the nose and sinuses:  MA
  • For the head and jaw:  YA  YOU   YAI
  • For the stomach:  HUH  HUH  HUH

Vowels are to be sounded with the full energy of a deep breath.  For example, when using I (pronounced ah-eee), inhale first, and then without exhaling, sound a strong and piercing EEEEE, parting your mouth as in a smile.  Keep at the same pitch. Keep sounding as you exhale but do not use up all your air. Rest and repeat the exercise 3 to 4 times. Soon you will notice a definite vibrating effect in your head which is pleasant.  This activity helps to clear the brain, eyes, nose, and ears.  This is a good morning exercise!!

Richard is a voice, guitar and piano instructor in Berkeley, CA.

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