The University of St. Thomas


Ryden, Diane

Ryden, Diane

Basics for Healthy Vocal Technique: A Developmental Approach for Elementary Vocal Music Educators
Diane Kay Ryden

Athletes would not even consider running a race without first physically warming up. Likewise, singers (vocal athletes) must “warm up” their voices and bodies in preparation for using the voice in singing. The purpose of this paper was to provide elementary vocal music educators working in the general music classroom with a technique for “vocalises” that should be used with all children, not just choral students.

Well-known music educators such as Helen Kemp (1985) and Kenneth Phillips (1992) strongly support the use of exercises/vocalises for all children. Based on information found in the vocal literature, this paper was written to present a program model in basics for healthy vocal technique, including the categories of posture, breathing, relaxation, vocal registers, resonance/tone quality, range and diction. Sections on the uncertain singer and vocal health/injury were also covered.

Information about the role of the base of the tongue in vocal production is largely absent from the literature. The tongue is a strong, complex mass of muscles. It is vital for daily existence as it assists with swallowing and other functions. This muscle tries to help the singer. However, the “help” has a tendency to hinder quality singing because of unnecessary tension in the base of the tongue. Exercising the base of the tongue builds strength, flexibility, endurance and coordination in the tongue. Thus, incorporating tongue exercises into daily “warming up” is essential for the singer.

Exercises/vocalises have been presented in this paper that may be replicated for the reader’s use in his or her own teaching situation. Whenever appropriate, they are presented in a sequential order.

Capstone Advisor
Cora Scholz