A and S class – Singing : how to best use your voice (even if you don’t think you can sing!)

Please note: If you wish to reproduce this in any way please credit me. We all work very hard and share our knowledge freely in the SCA. It would be a shame to find my work in someone elses name. Thank you. 


Singing Class

first done Canterbury Faire 2013, and requested at Darton Collegian May, 2013 and Great Southern Gathering 2013 and Champions of Lough Devnaree 2014


these notes go with the workshop…they are to trigger your memory when trying these things on your own. Don’t get upset if you can’t remember things, or if the vocab is hard at first…

you can look things up – or contact me at chantellegerrard@gmail.com for any clarification or help that you may need.

Basic singing technique….

There are a few things to remember when singing…the first things is that everyone can… just to varying degrees. Don’t get discouraged if this is your first time trying in public and there are people that sound ‘better’ than you…they probably have just done it more.

Singing is like that… practice improves it, like most things!

You don’t walk into a French class and expect to know everything about French straight off the bat It takes time and the will to learn.

…and in case you are saying, well, singing is something we all do at some stage in our lives, so it isn’t foreign to me like French is, just remember it is the learning what we can do with our breathing and voices that make it different from just singing along in the car or in the shower. Think of it as adding words to your English vocabulary or learning a new technique when sewing/cooking…you may already be able to speak English, sew or cook. Natural talent will get you only so far in any undertaking…but learning about what you are doing/why and practicing it will get you the rest of the way.

A good voice requires support (we shall get to that soon) and with that comes breath control.


Support comes from the Diaphragm and from the muscles in your back. They do all the work for you – your stomach area should be the thing that goes in and out when breathing – NOT YOUR CHEST.

Exercise one…

  • Lay on the floor. We all breathe the way we should when singing (and playing wind instruments) when we lay on our backs. lay flat, feet not crossed one hand resting beside you, the other on your Diaphragm (just above your stomach). Feel your ‘stomach’ go up and


  • notice your shoulders and chest don’t go up and down

this is you breathing as we should when we are singing….

Exercise two….

  • stand up.
  • stand with feet slightly apart
  • one foot slightly in front of the other
  • imagine a string going right through you, starting on the floor and going up the centre of you, coming out of the middle of your head, pulling you up.
  • try breathing the way you were on the floor
  • put one hand on your diaphragm and feel it move in and out

something that may help?

  • imagine that there is a hole in your back opposite your hand – try visualizing breathing though the hole.
  • keep doing this, in and out.
  • don’t lift your shoulders when your breathe in, don’t move your chest, just keep it nice and steady from your diaphragm

Exercise three…

  • stand the same way as exercise two
  • lift both arms above your head, bring them down straight parallel with your body so they end up with your palms on your thighs.
  • feel the lift in your rib cage, your sternum should feel higher
  • now practice your breathing again, in and out – once again not moving the shoulders or chest.


once you have gotten the basic ideas behind stance and support, then your breath has something that it can now rely on.

try singing one note for as long as you can. first with and then without support – can you see the difference?


yes – the face and head, singing is all concentration , once your support is fixed and practiced enough, it become second nature, so we go onto ….


you might notice some of the singers on programmes like x factor and idol after a few weeks start to sound raspy, tired etc – their voices are tired and rough. This a lot of the time is due to using their throats to sing, not their support, and not their heads.

your head voice is singing literally from the space in your head.

  • imagine your head is empty – a cavernous space ready to be filled with what we call RESONANCE…let the sound resonate around as you sing
  • imagine the sound going around and then over your head
  • Use something we love to call (and i personally hate….early trauma..) HAPPY SURPRISE…
  • happy surprise is just that – make that face by lifting your eyebrows and raising your cheekbones by smiling (happy surprise girls…)

NOW practice your new happy surprise with your stance and your breathing….and try making a noise – go on, i dare you….

a simple ahhhh or ohhhh on one note will do.

OTHER THINGS to help you (or confuse you)


this is the thing you do with your thoughts before you start a note – think of where you are going to place your note. Use your new found ideas about support and resonance to help you with this.


when you are singing high notes, think down

when you are singing low notes – think up

another way to imagine this is like you are walking up stairs if you are having to sing down a scale, or imagine pulling out draws as you walk up – this will help you to place the notes.


Singing should be like a duck paddling. smooth on the surface but the little feet are moving like the devil to keep it gliding on that water….i.e. – your support, breath control and everything else are the feet, the sound is the smooth glide that is achieved from all of this.


once you are starting to get the hang of all this – and you are starting to sing with others more and more, try to now start hearing those around you. This will help with your pitch and with your blending into what everyone else is doing. Don’t get upset if you lose your place or lose concentration at first – it will get easier the more you try, just concentrate on what you are doing….and turn ‘one’ ear onto those around you.

Please note:

When the class is given – depending on the exisitng skill or amount of people present, simple rounds like Dona nobis pacem, Jubilate deo,  rose red, Hey ho nobody home, Go to Joan Glover are taught.


The link for Dona Nobis Pacem, Rose Red, Hey ho nobody home, Go to Joan Glover in Baroness Cecilia’s Songbook on the Ildhafn Website is below


Jubilate Deo can be found here


Thank you to Mistress Katherina Weyssin for making these available on the Ildhafn webpage for public use.


Please note: If you wish to reproduce this in any way please credit me. We all work very hard and share our knowledge freely in the SCA. It would be a shame to find my work in someone elses name. Thank you. 

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