When I first met Luke, he was keen to increase range below his falsetto register but his throat looked very tight when he sang.
Luke had been exploring a mixed timbre to access higher tones but without much success and his feelings of frustration were causing him further tension.
He had been taught to hold his stomach in by his schoolboy choirmaster and so he needed an exercise to reduce tightness in his abdomen.
The abdomen and throat are best friends and they ‘do the same’.
It was time to isolate this tension and let go everywhere else!
Luke learned to play with the ‘Puppet Man’.
Puppet Man is an exercise where you raise up stiff arms above the head as you inhale and let go the rest of your body, loosening the knees and the abdomen.
The ‘Puppet Man’ is a way of being pulled rather than pushing – at first someone can do it for you or you can hang on a beam, but it’s absolutely possible to simply ‘pull up’ as opposed to ‘push up’ the arms – from the shoulder.
As he ‘pulled up’ during scales and then progressed onto song sections, Luke could feel his breath being supported on longer and higher tones and he gradually gained more natural strength in his abdomen.
Nine months on, Luke has added two tones to his range and is now a baritone/light tenor… and he looks a lot more chilled!
Rachel Bennett is a London-based vocal coach and singer songwriter. She is the lead singer / songwriter of RAIE and a Musical Director for theatre, television & recording studios across London. She has associations at WAC Performing Arts and Media College and Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. You can learn more about Rachel on her Website or Facebook. You can see more of Rachel’s writing here.