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The Breath: An Evolving Philosophy

As a singer and a practicer-of-yoga, I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about breath. I practice yogic breathwork to energize or to relax. I’ve embraced the idea of letting breath initiate movement and not vice-versa. I experiment with longer inhalations and exhalations, ujai breathing, alternate nostril breathing, box breathing, you name it. I've inhaled until I'm uncomfortably full and I've used all sorts of methods to release that too-full breath in controlled ways to allow for longer phrasing. All of this focus on “taking” breath makes singing less enjoyable. There’s got to be a better way. 

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The Troublesome R

The American English speaker, depending on individual and regional dialect, may have some trouble when it comes to singing the consonant “R.” Try it: say, “Q, R, S” as if you are reciting the alphabet. Feel how “Q” is formed in the mid mouth with a k sound and travels to the front of the mouth where the lips form the u sound? What a wonderful consonant to sing! Singing should always feel this good! Alas, much work is required to make it so. Case in point: now say "R." What do you notice about the path R travels? The opposite of Q! For most American English speakers, R starts with a nice open “ah” sound, with a relaxed jaw, and then is brought into the throat as one tightens the jaw to close the mouth. The R sound is then on the throat, sounding smothered and somewhat like a pirate. Imagine what singing such an R does to the phrase you are trying to sing. If you are having trouble with a phrase, experiencing an interruption of sound or a disturbance of pitch, this troublesome R is often the culprit. I can help!

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