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I'm a computer science student and I spend a big part of my day sitting in a classroom or typing at a computer. I like to sing and play instruments as a hobby, but it's not always that I have time to stop everything and just practice.

So I'm asking for suggestions of vocal exercises that can be done on a regular basis, while sitting down. What I'm trying at the moment are some breathing exercises that I learned from the brief period that I took singing lessons.

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Well, you probably don't want to actually make sounds, so here are two exercises that will help without that:

Proper posture: Sit up. There should be a vertical line running through your head, neck, chest, and butt. (your spine is supposed to curve, so let that happen naturally).

Proper breathing: I've been taught to use "yoga breaths" while singing--that is, keep your chest high, and take deep breaths, such that the only moving part of your body is your stomach. At the same time, make sure that your airway is completely relaxed, without any tension. If in the off chance you are alone in a sound-proof room, you can take that opportunity to practice singing with these breaths and without tensing up. It's hard to do!

EDIT:

I should probably clarify that these exercises were taught to me for the purpose of learning how to sing in a choir. If you're trying to sing in a death-metal band, it might not be for you, and you should probably wait for more applicable advice.

Also, some more exercises:

Easy Onset: The idea is to avoid glottal strokes (this video explains a glottal stop; a glottal stroke is the same concept, but at the beginning of the sound formation.

). To do this, waste air. Take a deep yoga breath, and establish airflow across your vocal cords before letting them vibrate. I tend to relate this to using the clutch on a stick-shift car.

Pharyngeal space: Opera singers, especially basses, have a crazily dark vocal quality. How do they do this? They increase their vocal resonance by increasing their pharyngeal space. To put it simply nearly to the point of incorrectness, the pharynx is the back of your throat, starting from about where the roof of your mouth goes squishy. You can consciously raise the squishy roof of your mouth (a.k.a. your soft palate) and drop the base of your tongue to increase the resonance of your voice. It requires some fairly infrequently used muscles, so you'll have to build some musculature.

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Actually sometimes it's ok to make sounds. For example when I'm sitting alone in my room. –  lfzawacki Sep 10 '11 at 3:20
    
I really liked the advice, even if it's a little more general then what I expected. I've been trying doing this and I think it's helping me get the airflow right when I'm going to sing "for real". I wish I could get more answers here, but I guess this question was too specific. –  lfzawacki Sep 21 '11 at 22:44
    
I'm shocked that you didn't get more answers. I guess we just don't have that many vocalists on this site. –  Babu Sep 22 '11 at 16:59
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It's been a long time since I asked this and since I've learned many more exercises for the purpose of singing. Here are some that can be done while sitting down through the course of the day:

  • Like Babu explains in his answer, try to keep a good posture and use diaphragmatic breathing.

  • Set a period of time, say 10 seconds. Breath in for 10 seconds, hold your breath without tensing the throat or other upper muscles for 10 seconds, release the air in 10 seconds. Try to do everything without making noises and very softly as to not tense. Vary the time period as you become more comfortable.

  • Take big gulps of air during 10 or 15 seconds and release it slowly in 30-45 seconds. You may feel out of breath for a few seconds after finishing, just breath normally until you feel normal again. The focus here as with the last exercise is to internalize how this breathing feels and enhance your breathing capacity.

  • If it's okay to make a little bit of noise hum notes through your range very quietly and try to keep them going for as long as you can without them sound "creaky" or "breaking". This is good for warming up or relaxing when your voice doesnt feel so good. (Reference video)

  • This is a more psychological one, but here we go. If during the day you think of yourself as a student (or employee) with a singing hobby try to reverse the logic and think of yourself as a singer with a day job. Treat your body and your voice as if your livelihood depended on it. Speak softly, don't sit with a bad posture, drink lots of water, stretch from time to time, etc... This is taken from The Rock 'n Roll Singer Survival Manual

These work for me and I use some variations of them when I spend lot's of time sitting at work or at home, I encourage you to try.

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