Meet the lovely Monica!
As well as teaching, Monica works as a musical theatre performer, singer, actress, VO artist, pianist/MD, composer, writer and producer. She has 12 years' teaching experience and is currently a singing teacher and musical director for Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, Italia Conti Arts Centre, Performers College and Mandy Ellen College for Performing Arts.
What is the first thing you do to warm up?
I always say to my students that relaxation exercises is very important as part of a vocal warm up regime. If your shoulders, neck, jaw and tongue are tense and tight, it doesn’t matter how good your overall technique is - your voice just isn’t gonna function properly.
Gentle shoulder rolls, neck and tongue stretches and massaging the jaw and tongue root in particular - should set you up for the rest of your warm up. I tend to do it in the shower first thing in the morning, followed by “bubbles” (lip trills) and “raspberries” (tongue trills).
Which is your favourite vowel to sing on and why?
This depends on what style you are singing, but for CCM styles and contemporary musical theatre, I encourage bright, close vowels like /e/, /i/ and even /y/, to help find a forward placement and to find twang.
How do you approach ‘belt’ in singers?
I always start finding a full belted sound from speech and will ask my students to shout at someone, or, nice and controlled, yell a phrase. Finding placement through accents is helpful, i.e finding twang for high belt through a Californian accent. I will always encourage a forward, bright placement, or else it is really hard (and unhealthy) to try to belt above a D5, when the head voice joins in to help! Make sure you let the larynx move naturally, and don’t try to force it to be low - it will naturally move a little higher when you’re belting.
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