Years ago, I was invited to present a vocal technique workshop at the Polish National Catholic Church church musicians conference. (This is not Polish people in the Roman Catholic Church – different denomination.) That was when I organized my vocal exercise sheets around the concept of BRAAP:
B – Breath
R – Resonance
A – Articulation
A – Alignment
P – Phonation
My friend, Carolina Kipnis, said “braap” sounded like an extended belch. I said that’s what appealed to me about it. It was memorable. It’s why I used the P for Phonation as opposed to “OR” for Onset and Release. Because BRAAOR just sounded awkward. Or kind of like a Wookie.
The exercises I used were culled from things that I frequently use and supplemented with various exercises from books. In the I-don’t-know-how-many years since I created them, I have abandoned some of them completely, changed others, and found new ones that I like better. I hand these out to beginning students (at the 2nd lesson, because if I give them to people at their first, they often think they don’t need to come back a 2nd time because they have my tools).
So I’m revising and expanding my sheets. I will still follow the BRAAP format, but I also want to add a page (or two) of more advanced vocal concepts – range/registration, agility, legato, etc.
If you took or take lessons with me, and there was an exercise that particularly resonated (see what I did there?) with you, tell me what it was and I will include it.
I hope to have this done by the end of summer, so that I can give it out in the fall. The biggest hurdle I have is that I don’t have the software I used back in 200x anymore (let alone the computer I did them on), so I have to do the whole thing from scratch.
I wouldn’t mind doing some kind of private videos on YouTube for some of them as well. Or maybe a podcast about vocal exercises. Stay tuned for that.
Feel free to message me about exercises you liked – or comment here!
Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio
Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass.
As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination.
Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.
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