Culturing the voice depends on the inherent texture of the voice and the genre of singing as in classical (Indian, Western), folk, light. The singing voice and the voice with which we speak aren't the same. While speaking is an action that doesn't need any conscious effort (Do not refer to speaking as in stage orations), singing does demand. The technique of bringing the voice under our command is termed as "voice culture". This comes with breath control techniques, healthy body, and more importantly a sound and focused mind.
While for an instrument, oiling, tuning, selecting the instruments made out of the right materials (depending on the instrument kind - percussion, string, air instrument) etc. would matter, culturing a voice needs an ardent effort and a personal care. Every voice is unique and beautiful. The voice needs to be understood by its owner to nourish and culture it in a way that it gets strengthened. Each voice has its traits and limitations. Voice culture must aim at reducing the shortcomings and enhance the impressive traits of the voice.
Dos and DONTs:
• Practicing early in the morning, soon after waking up may not suit everyone. Give sufficient time to your voice to even out. Warm water gargling would help. Talk to people. Get your tongue to movement and leave your voice chords moist before you start the first practice for the day.
• DO NOT practice at (very) high pitch (Shruthi) when the sun is right on head (that's between 12 and 4) i.e., in the noon . If your pitch is five and half, it will do good to stick to five (say half a pitch lower than yours) at this time of the day. This would avoid ware and tear.
• Every saadakam (practice) should start with a varnam preferably; varnams are structured in a way that would exercise the voice from all possible angles.
• Learn to modulate the voice. DO NOT sing with the maximum voice beyond upper sthayi rishabham. Soften the voice to reduce the stress on the vocal chord. This doesn't mean you bring in false voice. Using false voice may help in effortless singing but wouldn't reach the audience in effect. Know the difference between singing with open voice and singing loudly and the difference between singing with a false voice and singing softly.
• Proper physical posture is required for a good voice production. Certain voice types would get strained with 2-3 hours of practice but some people can go upto 5-6 hours in one stretch. It is important that you understand the nature of your voice and its limitations. One should know his/her own competence to practice and NOT overdo! If the posture and the singing technique followed are acceptable, at the end of the practice session, the abdominal muscles should get strained and not the voice chords. This could be a self check. (Nabhi hruth khanta rasana-Origin of voice is from the abdomen)
• Nasal touch is required for a proper alignment with Shruthi, but nasal twang shouldn't inhabit your voice completely. Open mouth singing helps reduce the nasal twang.
• Diet plays an important role in maintaining the voice health. Drinking warm water helps; hot tea, clove in honey, ginger kashayam, and pepper milk do wonders and soften the voice. Avoid road-side food, oily food, and cold items.
• Avoid overuse of the voice- don't scream; talk softly; have limited talks; Last and the most important being "Get rid of the fear of falling sick!" Have a strong mind and a committed soul.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I maintain/improve base voice?
-To begin with, sing (in the lower range) even if your voice is not heard. It may sound silly enough; a simple lip movement with the composition sung in the head would help.
-As days go by, with gradual effort the base voice would get heard.
-Practice Om kara in three octaves...as u do with "sa-pa-sa"
Why should we not practice at high shruthi during noon ?
The vocal chord is a/like a sensitive tissue. Different pitches/scales are controlled by the vibration of these vocal chords. Higher pitches will need higher rate of vibrations. During the mid-day when the sun is high on head, the vocal chords would be relatively dry. And a high rate of vibration on these less moist chords would be more prone to damage than otherwise.
How to get the voice from nabhi?
A self check is, at the end of the practice session, one should feel the strain on/around the abdomen and not on the throat. " Om " is one shabdh that makes use of the abdomen, chest and the head voices.
"A(comes from abdomen) - U(chest) -UM(head)".Practicing Om kara is itself a good voical exercise.
Can I practice even after a tiresome day?
It is difficult to focus after a tiring day, specially for working people. It is better to have music classes/practice sessions leisurely when the mind and body are under focus. In case it's unavoidable, take a few deep breaths before you start singing/practicing on a long day. Do not sit on empty stomach; do not load yourself as well. Have something an hour before singing which is ideal.
How should I make my voice sweeter?
Few drops of honey every morning helps. Regular practice is “the” way to culture the voice.
Which is best time to practice?
The right time depends on the individual. It is said early morning is a good time, but most people's experience is that early in the morning the voice range is limited. We would find it difficult to reach higher octaves. Select a time which is comfortable for you.
Is it wrong if I sing through nose?
Singing through nose is not a problem, but isn't very appealing. It is good to have some nasal touch; nasal sound should not dress your voice completely though. Open mouth singing will help to reduce the nasal twang. Pronounce “a” as “a” and not as “e” or “ae”. Practicing simple varasais in akaras with open voice helps.
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