You are on page 1of 8

Richard Miller

:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises
"Technique and expression must be the supporting pillars of vocal art…Technique is of
no value except as it makes communication possible…Unless the emotional experiences
and sentiments of a performer can be externalized, they have no value beyond personal
therapeutic ones." - Richard Miller
Training Voices in the Choral Rehearsal
Systematic Application of Exercises in 4 Main Areas

Posture Breath Management: Free Laryngeal Function: Resonance Balancing:
5 Areas efficient coordination of breath with tone harmonic partial relationships

Noble & Axial Inhalation Aided by agility exercises Vowel differentiation

Garcia position Onset Aided by sostenuto exercises Vowel exercises

Phonation Vibrant voices

Release

Immediate renewal of breath

I. Posture
a. Noble & axial
1. Sternum is relatively elevated
2. Shoulders are comfortably back & down, military stance is
avoided
3. Rib cage remains stationary during all phases
b. Garcia position
1. Cross hands, palms outward, at the lower back area, just below
the 12th rib
2. Induces “quietude of the torso” and allows the rib cage to
remain in the position of inspiration (Solutions for Singers, p.
41)
II. Breath Management
a. 5-part cycle; can be practiced with onset vocalizes; vocal freedom is
determined by the onset of vocal sound
1. Silent inhalation
2. Onset begins with a vibrant tone centered on pitch (never hold
the breath)
3. Duration of phonation
4. Conclusion of phonation (the release)
a. Energize the tone through the entire phrase
5. Immediate quiet renewal of breath and same quiet thoracic-
cage posture
b. Onset exercises (see examples)
1. I-IV-V-I series from lower-middle to upper-middle ranges,
alternating cardinal vowels

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828
Richard Miller:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises
a. Avoid glottal onset
b. Use fricative consonants (h, sh, th, f…)
c. Breathe through the vowel you are preparing to sing
(reduces tension and the likelihood of taking in too
much air)
2. With repetition, the singer produces healthy vocal-fold
approximation that is neither pressed nor breathy, ensures
efficient breath management, and establishes a proper
resonance balance
3. Exercises can be gradually elongated and should vary in
difficulty
4. 4-5 minutes of each session should be devoted to onset training
if a free well-balanced tone without early rib-cage collapse is to
be achieved
5. Repetition also strengthens the anterolateral abdominal wall
through the use of the appoggio technique
a. Neither pulling inward nor pressing outward at onset
b. Short notes may cause a small change in the abdominal
wall
c. In sustained phonation, the position of inspiration is
maintained until just before the end of the phrase
III. Free laryngeal function
a. Aided by agility exercises
1. Short laughing patterns (5-4-3-2-1)
2. Abdominal wall remains flexible yet stable
b. Aided by sostenuto exercises
1. Move to simple articulated legato passages in middle range
2. In combination with onset exercises, develops appoggio
technique without long explanations
3. Exercises for practicing onset, agility, and sostenuto (see
Figures 9.2, 9.3, 9.4)
4. Excerpts from the literature provide many opportunities for
developing onset, agility, and sostenuto as well as musicality
IV. Resonance balancing
a. Vowel definition: “tracking the vowel”
1. Changing shapes of lips, tongue, mouth, and jaw for each
vowel
2. Vocal tract is not a fixed resonator, but rather a flexible system
3. Raise zygomatic arch (upper cheekbones) to assist with
resonance, vibrancy, and pitch
4. Upper teeth should show in singing voice
5. Tongue should be in contact with lower front teeth
6. Vowels should never loose integrity; over-modifying them
should be avoided
7. Additional 5 minutes should be spent on vowel differentiation

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828
Richard Miller:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises
in each session
b. Vowel definition vocalizes
1. Lateral to rounded then back to the original lateral vowel
a. [i-e-a-e-i] (ee-ay-ah-ay-ee) then in reverse [a-e-i-e-a]
(ah-ay-ee-ay-ah)
b. Amateur singers will retain the more open position once
they sing the (ah) vowel, and the last two will be
distorted
2. Changing pitch along with alternating round & lateral vowels
a. 1-3-2-4-3-5-4-2-1 (ay-aw) sequence, then reverse
b. Jaw position will change (fixed dropped jaw will cause
problems in vowel differentiation, it causes tension in
the jaw and throat, and interferes with proper tongue
placement)
3. Changing vowels follows cleanly alternating between round
and lateral vowels
a. 1-3-5-3-1 [a-o-i-o-e] (ah-oh-ee-oh-ay)
b. Repeat until no timbre distortion accompanies vowel
change, then proceed to other exercises
c. 1-3-5-3-1 [i-o-a-o-e] (ee-oh-ah-oh-ay)
d. Extend the patterns: 1-3-5-8-5-3-1 or 3-1-5-3-8-5-3-5-1
e. Add harmony on I-IV-V-I [i-e-a-e-i] & [a-e-i-e-a]
c. Vibrato is necessary for a freely produced sound
1. Less vibrant voices should be trained, through onset and agility
exercises to induced natural vibrancy
2. Balance of upper and lower partials; the light/dark tone is
balanced
3. Solo singers will no longer be aliens in the ensemble if less
vibrant voices become more so

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828
Richard Miller:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises

Onset Exercises & Instructions

• Work to balance each onset
• Sing each note with energy and vitality (and a lack of straight tone) until
the offset
• Balance the offset as you did the onset
• Alternate vowels [a e i o u]
• If you have problems with unbalanced onsets, use a voiced consonant [v
z m n] (vocal "training wheels").
• When your onsets become more skillfully balanced, you can remove the
training wheels and sing on vowels only.
• Where indicated in the score, take a complete, small, and absolutely
silent inhalation. This helps you prepare for the next onset with the
minimum muscular involvement, and therefore helps you balance the
next onset!
• Repeat up or down by 1/2 or whole steps, going only as low as
comfortable. These exercises do not work well above the register
transition in either males or females.

From “On the Art of Singing”, pp. 59, 60, 62

QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
QuickTimeª and a
decompressor
are needed to see this picture.

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828
Richard Miller:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises

Adapted from Miller’s Structure for Singing

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828
Richard Miller:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828
Richard Miller:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises

Figure 9.1 (Miller’s Training Soprano Voices)

Figure 9.2 (Miller’s Training Soprano Voices)

Figure 9.3 (Miller’s Training Soprano Voices)

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828
Richard Miller:
Training the amateur voice through warm-ups and
exercises
References

Miller, R (1996). On the art of singing. Oxford University Press US. ISBN
0195098250, 9780195098259

Miller, R (2008). Securing baritone, bass-baritone, and bass voices. Oxford
University Press US. ISBN 0195322657, 9780195322651

Miller, R (2004). Solutions for singers: tools for performers and teachers. Oxford
University Press US. ISBN 0195160053, 9780195160055

Miller, R. (1986). Structure of singing. Schirmer. ISBN 0534255353, 978-
0534255350

Miller, R (2000). Training soprano voices. Oxford University Press US. ISBN
0195130189, 9780195130188

AYarnell 11/09 MEMT 828