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If your voice is a mess, then Messa Di Voce!

Singers! The next time you are using the sink to refill your water bottle, or to fill a pot to make some pasta - do this exercise! Grab your large pot and put it under the faucet, now turn the water on so that it is a very slow-low-pressure flow, now turn it up slowly all the way to full release, and then turn it back down slowly to slow-low-pressure-flow. Now, you are going to sing in that same way. Start by singing very quietly but not whispered - just piano, soft but still with cord closure, open larynx, and controlled breath. Slowly get to a mezzo-forte or medium loud quality, and then slowly get to a forte or louder quality, and then slowly return to the mezzo-forte, and then back to the soft quality. The breath must be controlled to keep the cords together and the pressure below (a good way to feel this is to take the inhale and then very slowly hiss out, feeling the navel and two inches below gently and constantly “going into the spine.”) The breath for this exercise should be called Goldilocks - just right for the soft, not loose, and just right for the forte, not tight. When you are louder do not blast or splat, just keep the breath very connected and controlled - almost like slowly putting the foot on the gas pedal when you are driving. No sudden punches or bursts - just steady! To get louder from softer you will be filling in and exploiting more resonance. The breath line and pressure is constant but the masque, mouth, head, neck, and chest resonance (depending on where you are in your vocal register and range) will fill in more as you get louder and a bit less when you are softer. The resonance maximizes and minimizes to get louder and softer, all controlled by a steady breath. A good reference is when you took the SAT (or whatever regional equivalent test you took!) and slowly filled in the bubble with color (usually a no.2 pencil) to get that question/answer scored; or a rose blooming slowly opened and slowly closing to get the comparison of the swell of resonance. The pitch will stay constant (not flat or sharp), as will the breath (and the pressure), what will shift-grow-flourish-and-diminish is the resonance. Start off quiet, fill your personal concert hall with sound, and then lessen that sound. Do this next. Use the vowels Ay (like the letter A), EE, Ah (might change a bit to Uh higher in the voice), Oh, and OOO (might change a bit to OO (book) higher in the voice) Ay being quiet, EE slightly less quiet, AH being loudest, oh slightly less loud, and OOO least loud in other words AY< EE<< AH<<<OH>>OOO> Do this three separate times on three separate notes. First time: D3 for Bass and Baritone, E3 for Tenor, E4 for Contralto/Mezzo, and F4 for Soprano, now Second Time (higher): D4 for Bass and Baritone, E4 for Tenor, E5 for Contralto/Mezzo, and F5/G5 for Soprano, and Third Time (highest): E4/F4 Bass, F4/G4 Baritone, A4 Tenor, F5 Contralto, G5 Mezzo, A5/Bb5 Soprano. Now take out the different vowels, and do it on those three pitches for your voice part, I would suggest AY for Men, and AH, OOO (moose) or OO (book) for Women. The Messa Di Voce is a complex component of singing but it is your friend. The Messa Di Voce will bring evenness, color, warmth, expression, consistency, and clarity to your instrument. It may take time to really connect with it, give time, the time will build the voice, and the technique and artistry will emerge — in time. OH, and getting back to the water in the filled pot, use it for a nice pasta; like the breath in singing, Don’t Waste It! Enjoy!

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