MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXERCISES ON THE DVD
ADDITIONAL EXERCISES - COMING SOON!
Don't forget that you can use the Accu-Massage™ on the legs.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Feet & Legs: Styrofoam Roller on Quads
In this clip, Mandy rolls pretty much in a straight line on her quadriceps. You can also use the roller with your legs at different angles to get all four muscles of the quadriceps.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Ribcage & Diaphragm
Don't forget that you can use the Accu-Massage™ on the ribcage.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Ribcage & Diaphragm: Side Ribcage Stretch
Be sure to stretch both sides of the ribcage as you lift up and over. As you press your left foot into the ground, lift up and over on both the left AND right sides of your body. Don't just bend over sideways at the waist.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Ribcage & Diaphragm: External Release
Mandy, the model for this exercise in Voice at the Center™, lifts her pelvis off the floor. That"s fine, but it certainly is not necessary. You can get a great stretch in the external ribcage muscles with your pelvis remaining on the floor.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Ribcage & Diaphragm: Small Ball on Spine
To do this exercise you need a very, very soft, squishy ball. Don't use anything that pushes back against your spine. Please do not use a tennis ball for this exercise; you need something with much more "give."
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Ribcage & Diaphragm: Ball in Diaphragm and Psoas
If you have difficulty locating the psoas muscle, lean in further--but gently--on the ball. Never push yourself hard against a ball. The psoas muscle is near the back of the body, so you'll have to lean in to get the ball against it. As most people are tight in the psoas, you will know when you have found it because you will feel the tension.
When you do this exercise, the diaphragm stretches wide over the ball. Since the diaphragm is attached to the ribcage, that means the ribcage must also stretch wide. If you are particularly tight in the muscles on the back of the ribcage, you will feel discomfort there as you lie on the ball. To encourage them to release, you can try preceding this exercise with the other exercises in this section, especially Stretching Over Big Ball, External Release, and Internal Release.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Shoulder Girdle: Arm Lift
You are sure to be more flexible on one side of the body than the other. If you are not quite flexible enough on one or both sides to touch the opposite shoulder blade, try this: cross your left arm in front of your body and place your left palm on top of your right shoulder. Slide your right shoulder blade down your back as you lift your right arm up as indicated in the Arm Lift exercise in Voice at the Center™. Keep your elbow soft and your arm out at about a 45 degree angle from your body. If you feel your shoulder push up against your hand as you lift your arm, you have reached your effective range of motion. Repeat on the other side.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Neck: Ball in SCM Muscle
Almost everyone is tense in the SCM muscle, and often we are very tense here. If you are not feeling some tension when you do this exercise, you probably do not have the ball in the right spot. To make sure you have located the SCM muscle, sit or stand comfortably and turn your head to the right, as Mandy, the model, does in Voice at the Center™. With your head turned to the right, you will be able to see--and feel--the left SCM muscle. Keeping your head turned, put your left thumb in the middle of the length of your left SCM muscle. Keeping your thumb there, bring your hand behind your head and lace your fingers behind your neck. Place your right thumb in the middle of the length of your right SCM muscle. Press against the SCM muscle with your thumbs for a few seconds. When you take your thumbs away, you will still be able to feel where you were pressing. Now make sure the ball is positioned under that spot, and try the exercise again. You should be able to follow the length of the SCM muscle down to the clavicle and up to the skull. See the Glossary of Muscles to see the location of this muscle on the body.
Part I: Developmental Exercises: Release: Head, Jaw & Tongue: All-Over Head Release
In the tongue release portion of this exercise, when you put your finger inside the lower teeth to release the tongue away from the jawbone, slide your finger as far down as you can (as the tongue releases you will be able to move your finger down below the jawbone), and then as far back (toward your ear) as you can. Don't push and make this too painful. Here, the tongue is directly attached to the jaw. Releasing tension here will allow you to use your tongue and jaw independently of each other.
Your voice teacher may be asking you to use tension in certain parts of the tongue (for example, it is impossible to pronounce consonants without tension in the tip of the tongue). The tongue release is not meant to oppose any vocal instruction. Whatever you are intending to do with the tongue as you speak and sing, the tongue will benefit from a good massage, as will any muscle you use.
Use the 3-D Glossary of Muscles on the DVD to locate any of the muscles mentioned below.
Part I: Alignment 1-2-3: Feet and Legs
Here is a summary of the 3-step alignment for the feet and legs:
- Press the four corners of the foot into the floor evenly. Imagine your foot is a 4-pronged electrical plug.
- Lift your quads up and back; think of your calves moving forward.
- Lengthen your hamstrings up all the way into your pelvis. If that hyperextends you (that is, tips the top of your pelvis forward and the bottom of your pelvis back), bring your pelvis to neutral (See the Glossary of Muscles on the DVD) but don't stop lengthening the hamstrings.
Part I: Alignment 1-2-3: Torso and Head ("Letter C")
Here is a summary of the 3-step alignment for the torso and head:
- Feel the relationship between the skull and the pelvis through the spine.
- Extend energy down from the bottom of the spine through the tailbone, across the pelvic floor (from back to front), and up through the pubic bone. That's the bottom of the "Letter C."
- Extend energy up from the top of the spine, through the upper trapezius, up and over the skull, and down to the nose holes. That's the top of the "Letter C."
Part I: Alignment 1-2-3: Ribcage and Back
Here is a summary of the 3-step alignment for the ribcage and back:
- Widen and energize your upper back. You can tap it with your fingers to "wake it up."
- Slide your shoulder blades down; continue that movement by wrapping around from front to back, as if you were giving yourself a hug.
- Lift your arms and open them in a wide circle in front of you, as if you were holding a giant beach ball.
Part I: Alignment 1-2-3: Floating Head
Here is a summary of the 3-step alignment for floating the head:
- Press your fingers against the massater muscles (in your cheeks--they connect your lower jaw to the skull) to release the lower jaw. This will help you release the upper trapezius muscles (from your shoulders up the back of your neck to your skull) into length and width.
- Feel your skull coming up and over, as if you were biting an apple or closing your mouth with your nose.
Once you have worked through the Release Exercises in Part I, you will have learned which exercises you need to keep in your daily release routine, and that will vary from person to person. The four exercises shown in Daily Release highlight the areas that most people will need to check in with every day.
In the second example (extending your leg in front of you) as you lift your leg, be sure to keep the hip socket open and the sitz bones (the two points at the bottom of the pelvis) pointing at the floor. This standing exercise mimics the action of the Core Leg Lift (from Part II: Everyday Exercises: Breath Work--Physical), so feel the back of your body work and your abdominal muscles scoop and hollow out, rather than shorten and push forward.
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Breath Work--Physical: Connecting to the Core
This exercise begins with movement in the neck and head. When you add the pelvic movement and I say you can put your hand on your abdominal muscles to check to see if they are shortening and tightening, remember that we do not want them to shorten and tighten. When you use the core muscles to move the pelvis, the abdominal muscles will stay long.
Whether you are moving the head and pelvis up or down in this exercise, you should be feeling the sensation of the head and pelvis both releasing into length off the spine. You should not be lengthening to move in one direction and shortening to move in the other. This sensation of the top and bottom of the spine moving in opposite directions is called "opposition," and it is central to the idea of the "Letter C." (See Part I: Alignment 1-2-3: Torso and Head (Letter C).
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Breath Work--Breathing: Umbrella Breath
The "occipital region" in your head is the base of the skull in the back where you should feel an indentation. In the Glossary of Muscles in Voice at the Center™, go to Head and Neck to see the "suboccipitals." These muscles are located in the bottom of the occipital region.
The opening of the "umbrella" I am asking you to imagine happens on both the inhalation and the exhalation--it never closes. The idea of the umbrella opening is to help you feel that you are always releasing into length and energy--not only when you are inhaling but also as you are exhaling, speaking, and singing.
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Connect Breath to Speech: Mm-hmmm
Since making the sound of agreeing with something (that is, "mm-hmmm") connects you to your breath support in a very helpful way, then consciously imitating (and exaggerating) the sensations of support that happen when you use the "mm-hmmm" sound will be beneficial to your speech and singing. See the Mm-hmmm to Speech exercise, also located in Everyday Exercises: Connect Breath to Speech.
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Connect Breath to Speech: Straw, Glides, Whoop-Boom, Chewing
In this clip, I talk about these exercises being helpful if you have trouble with the "registers" of your voice. If you are unfamiliar with that term, it is simply another way of talking about what you might call a "break" in your voice, meaning that you have difficulty moving smoothly from "low" notes to "middle" notes or to "high" notes. These exercises are great for smoothing out those issues.
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Connect Breath to Speech: Eliminate Nasality--Female Speaker
In this clip, I say that nasality is caused by the tongue touching the soft palate, but they don't actually have to be touching--nasality can occur if they are merely too close to one another.
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Connect Breath to Singing: Counting (1, 2, 3)
As I say in the DVD, this is a great articulation exercise, but it is also very helpful if your have trouble moving from "low" notes to "middle" notes to "high" notes--what we call "evening out the registers," or what you might call "switching" from "chest voice" to "head voice" or describe as having a "break" in your voice.
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Connect Breath to Singing: Lip Trill on 9's
I mention developing an awareness of when your body is ready to take a "recoil" breath for you. I use this exercise to develop an awareness of the physical sensation in their bodies at the moment when they can no longer stay in the coordination of releasing the breath but are about to collapse the torso and squeeze out the rest of that exhalation. That's the point at which I say,"You're not out of breath; you're out of coordination."
I often say that the fastest way to a longer breath is an honest breath. This exercise (see also the Three Exhalation breathing exercise in the Part II: Everyday Exercises: Breath Work: Breathing) will help you practice stopping the exhalation when you have reached the end of your coordination. Then you can develop a healthier habit for moving forward.
Part II: Everyday Exercises: Connect Breath to Singing: Silent/Voiced Tongue Trill
Think of releasing the breath in one continuous stream, being careful not to change the way you exhale as you go back and froth between "silent" (just breath trilling the tongue) and "voiced" (adding a pitch to the breath trilling the tongue).