Monthly Archives: January 2020

Magic Choral Trick #388 Forward Pigeon, Backward Pigeon

This is part of the alignment regime that I use several times every rehearsal.

Most of us, because of the way we spend our days, hunched over computers or standing till everything aches, are unaccustomed to what great alignment feels like.

And because it’s essential to align the vibratey things (the vocal cords) over the top of the hole (the windpipe) for maximum resonance, most of us have some serious retraining to do.

Here are the basics:

– Feet shoulder width apart. Many singers think their shoulders are actually wider than they are
– Relaxed, easy knees
– Hips lined up over ankle bones. Boogey hips – feel that they can move easily
– Shoulders lined up over hips

And then there’s….

– Ears lined up over shoulders. This is the one that feels most unnatural for our internet device times.

So that people can have an easy way to get a sense of this I ask my singers to first jut their heads forward. I call this “Forward Pigeon”. Chin is still parallel to the floor.

Then I ask them to pull the chin way back, which of course displays every single chin we happen to own. I call this “Backward Pigeon”. Chin is still parallel to the floor.

I have them repeat Forward Pigeon/Backward Pigeon a few times, so that they become aware of the radically different positions for the head.

Then I ask them to do a modified, more relaxed version of each – finishing with “Relaxed Backward Pigeon”

Generally, “Relaxed Backward Pigeon” places the ears in the correct position, directly over the shoulders, chin parallel to the floor – which is where the head needs to be for maximum singing resonance.

They can keep tabs on where their chin is sitting as they sing, by placing a thumb lightly on their chin and having their extended pinky finger (same hand!) touching the chest – and keeping that hand position constant.

Until people get used to the feeling of this position they’ll need to keep checking themselves for tension and for shifting out of alignment.

Magic Choral Trick #387 Revisiting the ‘ee’ and ‘ay’ Vowels

In previous posts I’ve mentioned that the tip of the tongue needs to rest lightly behind the lower teeth at the gum line – for all vowels.

However, ‘ee’ and ‘ay’ offer a portal into a new increased resonance when the back of the tongue is relaxed, and is allowed to float up so that the sides of the tongue lightly touch the upper back molars.

I know that this seems counter intuitive – that the floated up tongue is now blocking the sound path. But what’s happening is that more resonating space is being opened up, and we remain more conscious of and committed to keeping the tongue relaxed. (A tight tongue is the fastest way to kill off resonance.)

‘Ee’ and ‘ay’ are the easiest way to discover more ping and ring – but once we get accustomed to the feel of the increased resonance for those two vowels we can begin to play with matching the feel of that level of resonance with ‘oh’, ‘ah’ and ‘oo’.

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