Vocal Flexibility

Amid winter and health surges, vocal flexibilty is key. Defined as readiness to vocalise fully, tips include loving warm-ups, stretching vocal skills, and balancing consistency with variety to enhance flexibility and explore new vocal possibilities.

(5-minute read time)

Although we are in the middle of winter, including both a covid and an influenza surge, I am not going to talk about vocal health. My social media feeds are full of tips and facts right now, so check that out if you are looking for ideas.

Instead … let’s talk about vocal flexibility!

This is one of those terms that means something different for everyone. So, for the sake of our short chat, here is my definition:

Vocal flexibility is the mental and physical readiness to vocalise with the full coordination and style that the instrument is capable of today.

This means that:

I want to make this practical, so here are three ideas you can try in your practice this week to discover what flexibility means to you and how to enhance it in your singing.

1. Fall in love with your warm-up

A flexible voice comes from being cherished, polished and tuned up, as though it were a priceless cello. Warming up can be the best part of your practice every day – where you and your voice listen to each other, celebrate what is stretching and growing, and take notice of what is different from yesterday (both better or poorer).

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

2. Stretch your toolkit

A flexible voice is agile, strong and able to navigate small and large intervals at slow and fast speeds, for short and long phrases. Using exercises, vocalises and activities that give you progressive challenges is a good way to feel like more of you is available when you tackle new song material.

Try these ideas to shift your voice from a “fixed mindset” of vocal limitation to a “growth mindset” of vocal possibility.

3. Balance consistency with variety

There is a lot of neuroscientific research to support both a consistent and varied approach to practice. Sometimes we need a certain amount of repetition to embed something for retrieval in the future. But sometimes we need to have variety and fun = because the brain thrives on it! Does your practice session mix it up in a useful way? This might be from day to day or within the session itself. For example:

Vocal flexibility is not a “one and done” achievement. It comes from the gentle accumulation of showing up often, paying attention to what your voice needs, and introducing it to new ideas regularly. Stretch it one notch at a time and respect its boundaries.

Let me know if any of these ideas helped you open a new pathway of flexibility!


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Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

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