I had the pleasure of working with Sherry Kennedy at the Jazz Connection Workshop this summer. It was only a couple of sessions, but enough to make me realize that if I'm ever going to play and sing at a gig and give some intelligent pointers to my students who are trying the "playing and singing" thing, I need to have a solid foundation in my voice. Today, I had my first singing lesson today after many years. We spent a good chunk of it working on breathing and relaxation exercises. The singing stance reminded me of our "ready" stance in Iaido - feet shoulder width apart, no unnecessary tension. Try to relax and hit that state of zanshin.
Ha! I think I'll have to do practice more sword cuts.
I digress. Sherry had me visualize the air coming from the ground, through my feet and up to my boobs as I breathed in. The only way I could make it work was to imagine a white mist flowing upwards. At one point, I think it was blue but I don't think it really matters.
Then, she had me lay on the floor so I could feel my diaphragm expanding into the floor, WHILE concentrating on keeping my shoulders and chin level, WHILE focusing on the airflow going from my toes to my boobs, WHILE dropping my jaw and letting the lower jaw jut forwards (completely slack), WHILE keeping my tongue flat and soft palette open, WHILE imagining I had a straw in my mouth and that I was trying to make an imaginary leaf fly off the table and dance in the air.
Then, Sherry asked, "Are you relaxed yet?"
That's a joke, right?
I know with practice it will all become second nature. Just as I know that getting my muscles to relax will help my piano as much as my singing. It will help in overall posture and health too.
In the meantime, I know I'll be practicing puking and yawning motions in front of the mirror to get my tongue flat and lightly holding my jaw to check that it's slack and forward enough. So if you see someone doing this in the car at a red light, that's probably me.
Now I can't stop yawning.
(c) 2009 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.