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Daily Vocal Exercises
Elizabeth: The point of the daily exercises is to develop a routine which you carry out daily and learn
how to exercise your voice properly. To learn them takes regular lessons, preferably weekly. Depending
on the aptitude of the student these exercises take months to learn and years to master.
There are 14 scales on this page. These are the exercises I relied on as a student and during my career.
Each voice type should begin the exercises from a middle note of the voice, in the center of their range.
Each exercise has an arrow at the end, meaning you repeat the exercise a half step up or down. The
exercises begin with a double line and end with a double line. Exercise #2 goes for 4 measures for
instance. The exercises work each aspect of the voice and technique in an even fashion.
Exercise #1 is a Messa di voce, which means crescendo-decrescendo on one breath, on one note singing
through all of the vowels.
The vowels are written in the symbols used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). I believe
singers should be familiar on those symbols. They resemble letters of the alphabet but represent specific
vowels and specific sounds.
The exercises are arranged on the page in a good order for performing them. The first several exercises
can be a good warm-up. Never strain in range or dynamic. Keep the voice in a comfortable range.
The first athletic exercise is #5. This is a key exercise because of its switch from staccato to legato. It
works through your range up and down on each vowel. This exercise can take up to 20 minutes to
complete because of the repetitions on each of the 5 vowels and working up and down the range. It
should be sung athletically but never with strain.
#6 is a relaxing downward exercise. It is good to alternate between exercises that go with energy upward
and the next to be relaxed on a downward scale. These patterns help balance the voice.
It's important to work all the notes evenly with enough variety to avoid overworking any aspect of the
From exercise #7 and onward the purpose is to work on flexibility. Triplets are difficult to coordinate so
they get lots of practice. Many singers do quad 16th's more easily than the triplets. When triplets come
up in the music you want to be well grounded in them so they are even and accurate. Triplets are
revealing about technique.
Exercise #9 is a registration exercise. Sing in the lower range of your voice, kind of chesty on the un-ga.
Then sing the downward scale in a lighter registration, crescendo toward the bottom back to the lower
These exercises should be guided by a good teacher who can demonstrate them.
The grand scale #13 is a more advanced exercise that helps practice and demonstrates the unity of your
registration and voicing. You should be able to sing the octave scales up and down without a lot of
audible breaks in the voice.
Lilly Lehman called #14 the "queen of scales." It is two octaves over your entire range sung in one
breath on "ah." This is an advanced exercise. When you can perform this scale well you will be well
along towards the goals of belle canto singing. The "ah" vowel should stay the mostly the same through
out the range.
So go through these exercises as they are, transposed for your voice. They can be varied some or adapted
to the music you are studying. A warm up should reflect what you are scheduled to sing that day. On a
performance day you might just warm up some. On a lesson day, you might warm up longer if the
teacher wants you prepared for something. Be ready to adapt the exercises to suit your needs.
This page of exercises is more a guide than a dogma. Keep your exercises balanced so that your voice
trains evenly throughout the range. Spend more time with exercises than with repertoire each day.
Charlie: What was the first exercise you got at your first voice lesson?
Elizabeth: We sang 5-note scales, sometimes slow, until I could reach the notes accurately. A major, 5-
note scale, in a major key, is more difficult to sing than one might think. The first thing you have to do is
learn your scales so that the intervals come out in tune.
Charlie: Is there a particular scale on your list for that?
Elizabeth: The closest would be the 5-note scale #5. You begin with a staccato repeat of the first note,
one, two, three, four. Then sing the 5-note scale legato. The legato part of the exercise is the beginner
part. The staccato adds an athletic aspect that works the breathing muscles and coordinates the attack
with the breath. #5 is really a breath exercise with vowels. It provides you with the muscle conditioning
in the staccato. The quick change to the legato is difficult for some singers.
Charlie: What exercises were in the first homework assignment from your first voice lesson?
Elizabeth: Five note scales and an octave scale.
Charlie: How much time did the teacher want you to spend on those?
Elizabeth: 20 minutes to an hour. At the time, I was 16. She didn't want me over singing so she felt my
practice time should be about an hour and that's what I did. My first two teachers were in two sessions at
Interlochen summer camp. There was Willis Patterson, professor emeritus from U of M today, a
wonderful bass. The other was Elizabeth Manion, a fabulous contralto, who was at U of M at the time but
later moved to Bloomington Indiana. It's good to find someone who has a good performance record and
is perhaps even still performing.
Charlie: Are your very earliest exercises on this list?
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Title: Daily Vocal Exercises
Subject: Daily Vocal Exercises for Singers
Keywords: Elizabeth Parcells Daily Vocal Exercises
Author: Elizabeth Parcells
Creator: PaperPort http://www.scansoft.com
Producer: sspdflib 1.0 http://www.scansoft.com
ModDate: Mon Jul 9 08:45:08 2007
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