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Jim Drake’s Entertainment blog: Breathe, breathe in the air

Free workshop teaches basic exercises for singing

  • How did Frank Sinatra do it? Janis Joplin? If we could ask them today, I’d be interested in what they’d have to say about the mechanics of singing.

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Mechanics? Yes, that’s what I experienced during the vocal workshop sponsored by Harmony of the Gorge last Tuesday evening. At times, the class looked and felt more like an exercise or Tai Chi session.

Course instructor Judy Beckman, who has been singing barbershop-style since the 1950s, led the class through physical stretching poses and explained various breathing techniques designed to bring awareness to the muscle control you can eventually use to be able to “sing from your diaphragm” — that phrase I keep hearing about — but have not conquered, apparently, like some of the more popular singers of today.

Beckman kind of explained it like this: There’s several kinds of breathing, and you want to use the right one for singing. You don’t want to use the same breathing that occurs when you’re trying to re-oxygenate your bloodstream after heavy exercise, for example. That’s breathing “from the shoulders” (picture an out-of- breath, huffing and puffing situation). Singing should involve all the muscles surrounding your diaphragm; this is “360 degree breathing.”

The class handouts outlined “360 degree breath exercises,” explained the vocal warmup exercise “bubbling” and there’s even one called “hissing.”

This was a fun one: Take a breath, let it out, then say the alphabet out loud. It’s designed to show you how much air is still in your body after you exhale. Okay, breathe in again.

Just like practicing the right notes to sing, these exercises need the same practice regiment. “Three sets of 10 expansions” sounds like someone lifting weights, doesn’t it?

I didn’t know that the mechanics of singing could involve using your hands to feel the muscle response when inhaling and exhaling, or that scrunching your toes could be in any way beneficial to proper breathing for singing.

Did Frank know that?

Free vocal lesson workshop for men and women continue Jan 26, Feb. 2, and Feb. 9, from 6:30-7 p.m. at the Hood River Valley Christian Church, 975 Indian Creek Road. Learn new skills and revisit the basics of good singing to protect your voice. Sponsored by Harmony of the Gorge and Columbia Gorge Men’s Chorus.


WHERE'S HOTG?
Track us on FACEBOOK.  Throughout the year we post pictures from our Singing Valentines, performances, and other activities on our chorus FACEBOOK PAGE.   Everyone enjoys being part of our "Singing Valentine" adventure.
Where's HotG? If you'd like to help us "plot an adventure" drop us an EMAIL.


WE'RE ON TV!!!!
October 2013, we were in some TV ads for Coastal Farm & Ranch Supply.... sort of by accident, but it was a lot of fun.  We were asked to sing two days as part of the grand opening of the new store in The Dalles.  When we arrived the first afternoon, two great guys were wrapping up an earlier video shooting which they'd been doing.  We all got talking, and the next thing we know the camera was videoing us singing this fun jingle that we fixed up for the event.  I don't think any of us expected that we would be on TV - but there we were Monday night -- during the football game! 

 

Update:  Chamber News, October 18, 2012
Click HERE to watch the Chamber News Video which includes part of our chorus in the background!  Come sing with us!!  We love to sing ... and we have a lot of fun!  Come check us out.

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