A little reflective Barbara Carroll at the piano at the Algonquin Hotel–enjoy!
Today I’m thinking about cabaret show rehearsal, so my tip for you today is this: think about raising your upper jaw rather than lowering your lower jaw when you practice your songs.
This is a rehearsal tip I learned from the wonderful book that I recommend you get and read immediately, if you haven’t already. It’s Freeing The Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater. (This is who Bernadette Peters turned to for vocal help when she did Annie Get Your Gun on Broadway, and Ms. Linklater has been working with acting students on voice for years.) I was taught from her Freeing Shakespeare’s Voice when I took diction and voice back in college, and it was very helpful in terms of creating a full, rich sound for the spoken voice. Freeing the Natural Voice offers more for the singer as well as the speaker, and I have found the exercises to be very helpful in helping the body and the parts of the body that are used to create sound actually relax enough so that the sound is free and not pinched in any way. This comes from Chapter 7: The Channel For Sound. She talks about relaxing the jaw, and she says in Freeing The Natural Voice that it:
. . . helps to think of the bottom jaw dropping and the top jaw lifting from as far back as possible. The top jaw action takes some of the burden off the bottom jaw as far as supplying space is concerned, diminishes the danger of pressing the tongue and larynx down, which can cause strain, and suggests spaces in the upper pharynx as added passages for sound (59).
I find the idea of lifting the upper jaw to be very useful in creating a wide and open passageway for sound. This whole chapter covers freeing the jaw muscles, as well as the tongue and the soft palate, and offers a full range of exercises that you can try yourself to relax these areas so crucial to producing beautiful, pure vocal sound when you are singing.
Do you use Kristin Linklater’s vocal exercises when you rehearse or warm up for singing? Do you have any other pre-show rehearsal tips you’d like to share? Do tell down in the comments! We always love to hear from our readers!
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