Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Spring Toys Every Singer or Speaker Should Have

My Bubbles, Hula Hoop and Martian Popping Thing

Because every vocal student I have brings unique vocal strengths, weaknesses and personalities, I keep lots of weird things in my office. Just ask anyone who's ever taken a vocal lesson from me... it's never boring:)  I use different toys, objects or gadgets with different voices on different songs.  Note: They work with speakers, too! Some of the ones I use most often (my students can name many others)...

The Martian Popping Thing

  • What you do with it: 
Squeeze the bottom bulge and the eyes and ears bug out!
  • What I use it for:
... to help the singer or speaker experience the voice-freeing sensation of low breath power. The effort necessary to support breath should come from low abs and butt so that powering the voice actually causes the bottom of the ribcage all the way up through the nose and eyes- even the ears - to expand instead of tighten!

Bubbles with Wand for Blowing

  • What you do with it: 
Blow bubbles... with the goal to blow the biggest, longest lasting one you can.
  • What I use it for:
... to get the singer to understand the sensation of balanced breath support/control for the most precise powering of the voice. Blow too hard and you get very small and quickly popping bubbles. Blow too soft and a bubble won't form. Blow just right and you get... big bubbles that last!

Hula Hoop

  • What you do with it: 
Twirl it around hips and try not to drop it. Doesn't matter if you're successful, just try!
  • What I use it for:
... to get the singer to loosen up! Lots of vocal students come in tight, tense bodies.  This kind of tension is always counterproductive to the workings of the breath, throat and communication techniques. I find that if I ask a stiff client (who trusts me not to be filming) to play with a hula hoop for a few moments, they instantly acquire some flexibility in the spine, hips, knees, shoulders, neck, jaw and as they laugh they even develop flexibility in the face and mask. And yes, I use it on guys, too!

The Motive Behind The Madness:

Playing with certain things while working with the voice gets past the conscious mind and frees up the automatic nervous system to try something different. So next time you pass the toy isle this spring.... check and see if you can find something for yourself!

What about you? Ever had something weird help you gain vocal progress? Are you my vocal student? What tool did we use that turned the light on for you?

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  • At January 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM , Anonymous Leigh Ann said...

    Now, that sounds like a fun vocal session.

  • At January 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    HAHA ... it is, Leigh Ann, it really is. Seriously effective fun!

  • At January 19, 2013 at 7:40 PM , Blogger greentub said...

    Not a prop, but when I was in high school mid-state choir, we had a director that had us quote "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to warm up our head voice.

    To this day when I warm up my falsetto, you can hear me say "alone, alone, all all a-LONE. Alone on a WIIIIDE, WIIIIDE sea."

  • At January 22, 2013 at 8:08 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Greentub... absolutely, using that quote is much like these toys... helps the instrument coordinate itself while your conscious mind is busy 'playing', setting your voice free to work more automatically and efficiently. Cool trick... you must have had a wonderful, creative director.

  • At January 23, 2013 at 9:32 AM , Blogger Diane Hurst said...

    The thing that really helped me was when a vocal teacher showed me that if I bend over from the waist and sing, I could sing "correctly" and get out of the bad habit I had of incorrect breathing and straining. I've heard some vocal people say this is nonsense, but it worked for me-- I could sing two octaves when in this position, whereas before had only been able to sing almost one. Of course, I had to learn how to keep the same thing happening when standing up, but it did help alot, just to get a feeling for what I needed to do.

  • At March 6, 2014 at 12:47 AM , Anonymous Benny Johans said...

    I have done Hula Hoop, it really helps, especially to over stage fear. Here are other practices which i was not aware of, thanks a million for sharing this. Will make this blog as my reference!


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