[This is an updated post that was first posted several months ago.]
This is a vocalise that my earlier teacher Dr. Day taught me. He never presented it as being hard or anything. It was just the relaxing vocalise we did at the end of every warm-up. It also probably helped that he played pretty plagal cadences underneath me (as I have notated in the piano part).
Of course, the messa di voce is hard. By increasing air pressure to crescendo (get louder) you may accidentally cause a rise in pitch. The opposite is also true. Therefore, several adjustments must happen all at once while you crescendo and decrescendo (get softer).
In this variation on the familiar exercise, the singer moves between two closed vowels. The way we did it was to move from either extreme ([i] or [u]) and then move to the next closed vowel ([e] or [o], respectively). We would also move in an “up a fourth, down a third” movement so that the voice never sat too long in one range.
You are doing this exercise for several reasons:
- This will train your breath to be flexible and steady at once.
- The alternating vowels will help you find the best placements for them. Look for placements that help you crescendo and decrescendo easily.
- This will train a range of dynamic levels on all pitches. Don’t try to sing too loudly at first. Also, stay full voiced even while singing softly. The soft sound should not be weak.
- A well executed and appropriately placed messa di voce is wonderful to hear and will endear you to your audience.
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