Singing Lessons: “Kəniii” Vocal Warm-up is Your Go-To Tool for Healthy Placement and Focus
Do you struggle with a breathy tone, laryngal fatigue, or vocal placement that feels too far back?
Then this “kəniiiii” vocal warm-up is your “ninja” move to master… it is quick, focused, and gets the job done!
This mixture of consonants and a vowel activates the air flow and focuses the sound with forward placement.
How? By using a specific, unvoiced beginning consonant, lifting the soft palate, bringing awareness to the oral cavity as the primary place of resonance, and transitioning gently to a bright “i” vowel. Click on video below to watch a demonstration of this warm-up.
The “kəniiiii” Warm-up
How and Why it works…
(This section is for those of you that love the technical details… the rest of you skip ahead to the section titled “4 Points to Remember” and then watch the video demo)
To make a “k” sound, there is a temporary stop in the airflow, the back of the tongue lifts and gently pushes against the soft palate. The “k” sound is heard when the air is released.
For a singer, this consonant gives a precise point of contact to feel and recognize the onset of airflow. If you don’t have breath moving, you can make this sound.
The “n” sound is made in the nasal cavity. To check for correct “n” placement, try singing a sustained “nnnnnn” and then plug your nose, because the air is blocked from traveling through the nasal cavity the “n” tone cannot be made. This means you are making the “n” in the correct place.
For singers, the “n” allows the entire oral cavity to be the active location for resonance – taking pressure off the larynx and allowing for healthy placement.
Note: A schwa or “ə” naturally occurs as you transition from the “k” to the “n.” Allow the schwa sound to resonate with a lifted soft palate.
The “i” vowel, as pronounced in the word free, offers a gentle transition from the nasal “n” to a sustained singing bright “i”. The “i” is made with high tongue in the back, the sides of the tongue are touching the upper side teeth, and the tip of the tongue is behind the bottom front teeth.
There is very little movement of the tongue or jaw as you move from the “n” the “i” –
This simple transition is wonderful for singers, as it keeps it simple and easy to “streamline” the focus of the sound.
Once you feel comfortable with the “kəniiii” warm-up, feel free to switch out the ending vowel to other vowel sounds.
4 Important Points to Remember
1. Relax Your Jaw – allow your jaw to gently fall in the down and back position. You will move from the “k” consonant to the “n” consonant to the “i” vowel, but the jaw is NOT involved in the movement. You will see in the above video that my jaw remains relaxed and neutral through the entire exercise.
2. Relax Your Lips – when you watch my demo video, you will see my lips creating the “i” sound. Engage the lips, but keep them relaxed as well.
3. Relaxed Tongue – the tip of the tongue starts at bottom front teeth and moves to the upper ridge for the “n” sound and then back down to behind the front teeth. Don’t let the tongue slip back into the mouth. The sides of the tongue are supple.
4. Allow for an Open Throat – inhale a quiet breath as a yawn; sense how open your throat is. Keep this space as you sing the warm-up.
Play different note patterns when singing this warm-up.
In the video, I demonstrate a five note pattern descending, but you may use a three or four note pattern, chromatic formation, or an ascending or descending triad. Have fun experimenting with different patterns.
Why not try a phrase of the music you are working on? Begin the phrase with the “kəniiii” and sing out the phrase sustaining the “i” vowel.
When to give this warm-up a try…
– Does your voice sound or feel breathy? Use the” kəniiii” warm-up.
– Do you feel your placement is too far back? Try the “kəniiii” warm-up.
– Do you feel laryngeal pressure or fatigue? Try the “kəniiii” warm-up.
Have fun warming-up with the “ninja” warm-up “kəniiii!”
Let me know how it goes in the comment section below and share this post with a singer friend!
P.S. Would you like to take voice lessons?
Email me today for your free 30-minute singing lesson and voice assessment in-studio or via skype – my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you!