Video: Breathing and Vocal Exercises with Arlys A.

Looking for a few new vocal exercises? There are a ton out there, and each has different benefits when it comes to your vocal health, breathing, posture and overall sound production. Check out this helpful video from Minneapolis voice teacher Arlys A….

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Minneapolis voice lessons with Arlys A.Arlys A. teaches singing, music performance and opera voice to students of all ages in Minneapolis, MN. Arlys specializes in pop and rock style singing, and joined the TakeLessons team in August 2012. Find out more about Arlys, or visit TakeLessons to search for a voice teacher near you!


Public Speaking and the Value of Singing Lessons

Breathing and public speakingMost students taking singing lessons have aspirations of getting up on stage, whether that be for a recital, audition, or maybe just to survive karaoke night. However, voice lessons can be especially valuable for public speakers, as well.

Just as the vocalist practices breath control, inflections and dynamics, public speakers can also benefit from vocal exercises.  Singing or voice lessons can also help a ton with your stage presence and confidence! You may not think about warming up before speaking in front of groups, but it can make a huge difference in your delivery, clarity, volume and vocal strength, if you know just what to focus on.

Breathing exercises in particular are a great thing to practice, as they can help with your vocal control (as well as ease stress!).  Here are some steps to follow to check your breathing:

– Get into a comfortable position, whether this is standing, sitting or lying down. Place of your hands on your chest, and the other on your abdomen.
– As you take a deep breath, focus on where your hands are: the hand on your abdomen should rise higher than the one on your chest, which occurs when your diaphragm pulls airs into your lungs.
– Exhale through your mouth, and then inhale again through your nose, this time holding it for as long as you are able to comfortably.
– Exhale again slowly through your mouth.  Contract your abdominal muscles one final time to expel any remaining air.
– Repeat this exercise a few more times, focusing on each inhale and exhale.

As you get comfortable with the exercise, you can practice without the aid of your hands. Once you get used to this style of natural breathing, you’ll have better breath and voice control, which helps with all aspects of speaking and singing.

Looking for speaking voice lessons near you?  Search for a teacher and book your timeslot with one our certified teachers! Subscribe to our posts for even more music tips and expert advice: Sign up for the updates here.

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Photo by Tess Mayer.

5 Simple Things to Add to Your Next Vocal Warm-Up

Singers, you probably already know the importance of a proper vocal warm-up, whether you’re practicing or performing. But here’s something smart to keep in mind warming up goes far beyond breathing exercises and scales!

Even if you’re technically just standing still, in reality your whole body is working when you’re singing.  Your muscles are active from your head to toes as you stand straight and tall.  Your blood is pumping and your abdominal muscles are definitely engaged as you inhale and exhale.  Basically, your entire body is your instrument! Pretty cool to think about.

We love these recommendations from the Finding My Singing Voice blog – consider adding these unconventional “warm-ups” to your routine:

1. Drink water – Most singers already know how essential proper hydration is, but just the act of swallowing is beneficial, too.
2. Drink hot tea – For singers with allergies, tea can help to wash down phlegm and clear the nasal passages. Other hot drinks will also work, but watch out for too much caffeine – it can dry the vocal cords. Tea has additional health benefits (it’s loaded with antioxidants) and half the caffeine (or less) of coffee.
3. Yawn – Yawning is the ultimate throat and palate stretch!
4. Stretch – Singing involves the whole body, and unnecessary tension anywhere can have a negative effect on the voice. A good side stretch can help open up the ribcage and free up your breath. (See also: Can Yoga Help You Sing Better?)
5. Meditate – Mindfulness meditation is the practice of focusing the mind, usually by observing the breath and disengaging from thoughts. It’s a great way to calm anxious nerves and tame self-criticism.

Now it’s your turn – what other activities or routines do you practice to get ready for a performance?  Head on over to our Facebook page and share them!

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Photo by Synergy by Jasmine.

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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Image courtesy of

Your Cheat Sheet for Singing High Notes

The “VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul” concert aired last night, featuring performances by Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige and Florence Welch, as well as a special tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.  In a generation of auto-tune and computer-generated beats, these powerful ladies are a great reminder of the vocal talent that’s still around.

Taking voice lessons and finding out your own vocal range can be an exciting process – but if you’re ready to take it the next level (literally), you’ll need to keep some things in mind.  Most of all, don’t strain your voice!  Some people just aren’t cut out for Mariah Carey’s range, and the last thing you want to do is end up with an injury (we all know about Adele‘s struggles).

Take it slowly, and listen to your body.  Here’s a safe exercise to try from that is worth the read:

1) Take a few minutes to do a vocal warm up with some rudimentary singing basics. For example, you can try humming through ascending arpeggios. The point is to warm up and go as high as you can for your vocal range — but don’t strain yourself!

2) Try to develop a clear sense of the high note you want to reach and make sure you’re setting a realistic initial goal. Ensure that this note is within the achievable range of your singing voice.

3) Start by singing the note that is an octave below it. Then, breathe deeply into your diaphragm and back, simultaneously dropping your inner jaw. You will then want to raise your soft palette without also dropping your tongue or raising your larynx. It will get easier with practice and this sort of thing definitely helps you to learn to sing better.

4) Get your voice high up in your head (above your eye sockets, near your forehead). It helps to visualize the top of your head as being large and hollow. Sing the high note with gentle but solid support from your lower body. It might feel like you’re yelling, but this is a good way to improve your singing voice.

5) Even though your voice feels like it’s up in your head, it actually starts its rise in your diaphragm. When you’re singing, your voice will reverberate in your skull first. Then it will be projected outwards.

6) Spend the time practicing singing the two notes an octave apart. Proceed ahead when you manage to achieve a rich tone for your high note.

Readers, what other tips do you have for singing high notes?  Leave a comment below! Like these posts?  Sign up to receive daily updates right to your inbox!  Click here to subscribe.

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Image courtesy of Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Vh1