Singing Workshop Plan (Musical Theatre)

The purpose of this singing workshop will be to explore the style of Traditional Musical Theatre; which uses a combination of chest and head voice to create a more ‘belty’ sound that is commonly heard in musicals such as, Cabaret and Chicago. As ‘the stylistic and vocal needs of the theatre singer are evolving differently from those of the classical singer’ (Kayes,2013) it is a crucial aspect of a theatre performers training that the voice is trained correctly. The session will consist of warm ups and exercises that will promote the importance of vocal health to the students and transferable skills for singing in the style of Musical Theatre. They can put these skills into practice during this workshop and future performances.

The intended learning outcomes from this workshop are;
– For the students to understand how to warm-up the voice correctly to ensure that they do not damage their vocal folds.
– To know how to project and place the voice in the correct place for singing in a traditional musical theatre style.
– To be able to act through song.

Session Structure                                             Length                    Time Used 

Warm up                                             –                10mins            –           10mins

Introduction to
characterisation through                  –               15mins             –          25mins
song

5 minute break                                   –               5mins                –         30mins

Group work (Singing                          –              15mins               –         45mins
‘Rose Red’)

Performing group work/                   –              10mins               –         55mins
critical observation

Feedback from session                      –              5mins                  –         1hr
leader
The group will participate in a physical and vocal warm up that will prepare them for the activities in the session. It is important to repeat your vocal exercises every time that you sing because ‘the voice is a muscle and… it’s very important to warm it up before you sing…otherwise you could end up damaging your vocal [folds]’ (N, 2013).

Warming up the Diaphragm:
To warm up the diaphragm students will be taught an exercise called ‘candle blowing’. All participants will stand in a circle and blow out each member of the circle as though they are a candle. They must breathe out at a constant rate throughout the exercise, supporting the breath with the diaphragm by using muscles in the diaphragm to pull it in. The diaphragm should ache afterwards if the exercise is performed effectively. We do this to make the muscles in the diaphragm warm so the singer can support their breath and project their voice effectively as ‘breath management needs to be tailored to the needs of the song. This includes considerations such as choice of voice quality, musical style and other interpretive issues’ (Kayes, 2013).

Warming up the lungs:
Stretching over with the right arm to collapse the left lung students will be instructed to breathe in (through the nose) for eight counts and then out (from the mouth) for eight. It will then be requested that they repeat this on the opposite side. Breathing is the single most important element in singing and the lungs are the component of the voice that allows this to happen. They are the key components in the respiratory system as they carry oxygen around the body. Warming up the lungs is important as they control the air flow while singing, allowing the performer to increase or decrease the amount of breath needed to hold a note. To become a better singer ‘a vocalist must learn to preserve a reservoir of air in the lungs that supports and holds up a small amount of air released across the vocal cords’. (Singbelt.com, 2017)

Warming up the vocal folds:

To warm up this element of the voice it is best to work with a piano. The participants will be played various arpeggios going from chest to head voice which will first be sang whilst saying numbers, for example the 1 2 3 4 5, 3 5 3 1 exercise. Also, singing an arpeggio on a ‘La’ or ‘Ah’ is effective for warming up the resonators to focus the voice making it easier to create a bright, ringing sound when singing, this is a particularly important quality for the voice when singing in a Musical Theatre style. ‘The vocal folds must move closer together to generate sound. A rapid closing and opening of the vocal folds produces the ‘sound signal’’. (Kayes, 2013) A rip or tear in your vocal folds can prevent you from singing for a while until it heals, so, it is essential that the students are taught to warm up the vocal folds as they are very delicate and can be damaged very easily.

Warming up the tongue:
There is a very simple exercise that students will be taught to warm up the tongue. Starting by placing the tongue on the front of the top teeth you move it in a clockwise motion. Repeat this three times and then do it in an anti-clockwise motion. This is another exercise that should hurt if it is done properly. The tongue is vital for articulation of speech allowing the performer to pronounce words properly and have clear diction during a performance. Failing to warm up the tongue will create a ‘tightness [and reduce] the size and the warmth of your voice.  Your vocals will sound jammed and tense.’. (Artistworks.com, 2017)

Warming up the teeth:
 The only thing you can do is keep them clean and in good condition. This is an important step towards vocal health. If an individual does not brush their teeth plaque begins to build up which holds bacteria that can contribute to gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing your teeth also prevents any infections from developing in the mouth or throat.

Warming up the lips:
To do this participants in the workshop will be taught how to do a lip trill, this exercise works ‘when you blow air out from your lips, there will be a ‘brbrbrbr’ sound, and your lips will vibrate naturally and easily’ (Lip trill exercises for A great vocal warmup!, no date). There will also be a printed hand out provided with tongue twisters, such as ‘Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers.’ This helps with warming up the lips to be able to articulate words properly when singing which is crucial when singing for Musical Theatre.


Main activity:

Singing in the round – Students will be taught how to sing in a round.  They will then be expected to transfer this technique into a performance. Using the characterisation skills previously shown to them in video clips and through being taught how to use ‘actioning’ verbs. The song they will perform is a simple piece of music used in commonly used in singing exercises. The students will be given a sheet with the lyrics of the song ‘Rose Red’. They will be expected to work in groups of four or five to create a short performance using the singing and characterisation techniques taught during the workshop. They will then perform these pieces to the rest of the group and receive feedback from the workshop leader and fellow participants.

References:

*, Name. “Do Warm Up Exercises Help Before Rehearsals?”. N.p., 2013. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

Kayes, Gillyanne. Singing And The Actor. London: Bloomsbury methuen drama, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013. Print.

“Lip Trill Exercises For A Great Vocal Warmup!”. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

“Singing Belt | How The Diaphragm Works”. Singingbelt.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 May 2017.

“Tongue Placement For Singing | Artistworks”. Artistworks.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 6 May 2017.


Further Reading:

Kayes, Gillyanne. Singing And The Actor. London: Bloomsbury methuen drama, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2013. Print.

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