singing technique

Fun with "Jee Jaw Jee"

If you visit the Kanbar Performing Arts Center any afternoon of the week, you'll hear lovely singing all around. It's entirely possible that amongst that singing will be the simple, catchy, and enduring "Jee Jaw Jee" warmup below. I don't know why I like this one so much, or why it seems to be a favorite of my colleagues and students, but perhaps it's due to the bouncy rhythm, or the buoyant, effervescent feeling you get when you do it right. In these few sentences, I've already built it up to be more than it is in actual substance, but give it a try and see what you think.

Similarly catchy, but slightly more difficult is "Kee Yaw Kyaw." This one hails from the late, great Barbara Kierig (and, she would've told you, from Tovini before her. "He was an utter god, Honey!"). Her original was slightly different, putting the 'kyaw' on the top note of the exercise. When we worked on this one, I usually lost my grounding and ended up choking on my larynx, so she moved the 'kyaw' one note earlier so I could slide up to the top and try to maintain a neutral, relaxed laryngeal position. It's a small example of flexibility and pragmatism that was a hallmark of our work together, and that I try to practice with my own students. After all, as Barbara said time and again, "You have to do what you have to do to get it to do." So there.


Vocal Technique and Warmups - Videos and Sharing

Beginning this week, I'll be posting videos of the warmups and vocalises I use regularly in my teaching. I used to think of these as proprietary, and think that keeping them semi-secret would preserve my unique teaching style and ability. In addition to being self-absorbed and vain, I now believe this notion is actually practically false as well. Sharing information with students and teachers, both close to me and in the vast online vocal community will only improve my teaching and ability to help singers. I hope to get feedback on my teaching, engage in dialogue with other vocal pedagogues, and help students I don't have time to see regularly or who aren't in the Bay Area. I'm going to throw this stuff out there and try radical openness for a change, and I bet it will be fun and fruitful. Please let me know what you think by commenting on my YouTube Channel, and please subscribe!


Currently, I am working with several young students who have been singing pretty high in chest voice—well above their lower passaggio. To give them another option besides that belt voice, we worked a little on this exercise of nudging the head voice downward in range. Their goal (for now) is to be able to sing D4 in a clear head tone. This tone will strengthen in volume and resonance with practice. These are rudimentary exercises, but many young singers need simple tools and lots of repetition to assimilate new vocal skills.