A common misconception is that singers practice just in rehearsal, one or two nights a week. The truth is, to make the beautiful music that you hear at a concert, singers practice quite a bit outside of rehearsal, and it doesn't always look like you'd imagine.
One trick for strengthening the voice, shared by Ronnie Cimprich that she learned from vocal coach Peggy Baroody, is resistance breathing through a narrow straw. She practices ascending and descending scales, looking for a constant kazoo-like buzz.
Tolly Roby shares that she uses a technique similar to Ronnie, but actually puts the end of the straw into a bowl of water and practices singing into the straw to strengthen her voice.
Ann Marie Johnson, board vice president and alto, practices outside her house by listening to CyberBass in the car to get the rhythms and tones in her ear during her commute. This site designed for choirs provides midi files of each vocal part so singers can practice on their own. While she uses CyberBass for the notes and rhythms, Ann Marie chants the words aloud on her daily jog - now that's commitment!
One final technique that I use, suggested by my vocal coach Marybeth Miller at the Music School of Delaware, is working on particularly challenging passages while doing yoga, which keeps me focused on core support and makes my sound much more free and light. It's pretty funny to walk in on, as my husband and daughter can attest, but holding a Warrior 3 position while singing a high soprano run of sixteenth notes makes it far easier to let the notes flow instead of forcing them out.
Sometimes you have to get a little out there to make sure your voice sounds the best it can be - and you all get to reap the benefits at our concert, just a few more weeks away!
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CoroAllegro soprano, board member, and sometime yoga practitioner