The Joy of Singing
INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO SERIES
The development of a healthy and consistent singing technique can promote a lifetime of musical enjoyment. Although members of the Soldiers’ Chorus come from diverse musical backgrounds, we all share a concern for singing correctly and efficiently, allowing us to perform in a variety of musical styles.
Like all wind instruments, the voice operates on a freely flowing and unforced stream of moving air. The larynx acts as a valve in regulating the flow of air through the vocal folds.
To ensure that the flow of air is unforced, and that the larynx is allowed to operate freely, the singer must breathe in a manner that lets the air move efficiently. The diaphragm, a very thin but very powerful muscle located directly beneath the lungs, flexes and relaxes, helping to cause the lungs to inflate and deflate.
The expansion and contraction of a blacksmith’s bellows perfectly demonstrates this type of breathing motion.
Relaxation and Focus
Performing to audiences can both exhilarating and terrifying-even to professionals! Every musician gets the jitters before they perform, but the challenge to each and every artist is to keep focused and relaxed.
The brain is the most important part of the singer’s instrument! Keeping proper mental focus while singing can help you from “giving in” to too much performance anxiety. Your voice cannot operate efficiently if you are feeling overly nervous. Here are two exercises to help you focus properly.
Because singing engages a variety of muscles, including the vocal folds, it is just as important for a singer to warm up before a rehearsal or performance as it is for a quarterback before a football game. Here are four warm-ups that will help get your voice going.
Interpretation and Diction
The additional element of text affords singers a unique opportunity to convey the thoughts of writers and poets to an audience. Reciting poetry or acting in dramatic productions is excellent training for young singers. Try this exercise with a friend. Read aloud to each other from a familiar text.
Notice how certain words such as nouns and verbs naturally receive more weight, or stress, than others. Now read from an unfamiliar text, and listen to each other to see if you can understand the text’s message.
A mirror is one of the singer’s greatest teaching tools. Mirrors will never lie to you, and they always give immediate feedback as to what kind of visual picture you are presenting “on stage.”
Healthy Habits for Singers
You cannot effectively perform if you are not in good health. Your body is your instrument, so keeping it in good working order is critical to singing well for many years.
The U.S. Army Field Band has compiled a series of lesson plans to accompany the educational video The Joy of Singing. Written by members of the Soldiers’ Chorus who have teaching experience at all levels, from elementary to college, these lessons use the major concepts from the video as a departure point for exciting and informative activities to be used in a choral or private voice setting. Each lesson can be viewed in HTML or downloaded as a PDF for ease of printing. At the end of each lesson is a list of standards specific to the concepts addressed in that lesson. These standards are taken from the National Standards for Arts Education.*
It is the wish of The U.S. Army Field Band that educators in a variety of settings will find these lessons to be valuable tools in enhancing their curricula.
Individual Lesson Plans
For further reading, we recommend the following resources in your study of vocal music:
Video Resources Listed in Sequence
“America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” Arr. Robert Edgerton. Used by permission of Shawnee Press, Inc., performed by the Soldiers’ Chorus.
“Act I Finale” from La Cenerentola, Gioacchino Rossini. Used by permission of Belwin Mills Pub. Corp., performed by Bel Canto.
Quote by Nellie Melba, The Music Lover’s Quotation Book, Compiled and Edited by Kathleen Kimball. Used by permission of Sound and Vision, 1990.
”Lobet den Herrn, alle Heiden” J.S. Bach. Used by permission of C.F. Peters Corporation, performed by the Soldiers’ Chorus, 2 oboes, english horn, bassoon, organ.
Rose Windows and Architectural Interiors, Rose Windows, Painton Cowen. Used by permission of Chronicle Books- A Prism Edition, 1979.
Diaphragm animation, Bodyworks. Used by permission of The Learning Co., 1994.
Vocal Fold Illustration, Used by permission of Anatomical Chart Co., 1993, 1995.
Quote by John Logan, The Music Lover’s Quotation Book, Compiled and Edited by Kathleen Kimball. Used by permission of Sound and Vision, 1990.
“Shenandoah” arr. James Erb. Used by permission of Lawson-Gould Music Publishers, Inc., performed by the Soldiers’ Chorus.
Winter in the Mountains, a Pantheist Poem: Morning, 1900, Vittore Grubicy. 1900: Art at the Crossroads, Robert Rosenblum, Maryanne Stevens, Ann Dumas. Used by permission of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000.
Quote by Ben Johnson, The Music Lover’s Quotation Book, Compiled and Edited by Kathleen Kimball. Used by permission of Sound and Vision, 1990.
”Vita de la mia vita” Luca Marenzio, Used by permission of American Institute of Musicology, performed by the Vocal Arts Ensemble.
Oriental Poppies, Georgia O’Keeffe. Georgia O’Keeffe: Art and Letters, Jack Cowart, Juan Hamilton. Used by permission of Little, Brown and Co., Inc., 1987.
Quote by Phil Jackson, Sacred Hoops. Used by permission of Hyperion, 1995.
Quote by Wynton Marsalis, Marsalis on Music, Wynton Marsalis. Used by permission of W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1995.
“Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” Vaughn Horton, Denver Darling and Milton Gabler, Arr. Kirby Shaw, Used by permission of RYTVOC, Inc., performed by Vocal Ease.
Reflection of the Big Dipper, Number 1, 1949, Number 3, 1949: Tiger, Jackson Pollock, Jackson Pollock, Kirk Varnedoe, Pepe Karmel. Used by permission of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998.
Quote by Confucius, The Music Lover’s Quotation Book, Compiled and Edited by Kathleen Kimball. Used by permission of Sound and Vision, 1990.
“Dry Bones!” Arr. Robert L. Jefferson. Used by permission of Theodore Presser Co., performed by the Soldiers’ Chorus.
Album Quilt, Jesse Covington. Souls Grown Deep, African American Vernacular Art, Paul Arnett, William Arnett. Used by permission of Tinwood Books, 2000.
Quote by Robert Schumann, The Music Lover’s Quotation Book, Compiled and Edited by Kathleen Kimball. Used by permission of Sound and Vision, 1990.
“Where is Love?” Arranger unknown (Handwritten manuscript), performed by SoundOff!
The Starry Night , Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh, Meyer Schapiro. Used by permission of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1983.
Food Guide Pyramid, Used by permission of The US Department of Agriculture.
Quote by Jessye Norman, Used by permission of American Music Teacher, 1998.
“Zion’s Walls” Aaron Copland. Used by permission of Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., performed by the Concert Band and Soldiers’ Chorus.
Country Fair, Grandma Anna Moses. Grandma Moses: 25 Masterworks, Jane Kallir. Used by permission of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997.
”Battle Hymn of the Republic” Arr. Peter J. Wilhousky. Used by permission of Carl Fischer, Inc., performed by the Concert Band and Soldiers’ Chorus.
The U.S. Army Field Band
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Fort George G. Meade MD 20755-7055
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