Voice expert Sashi Kumar on what it takes to train your voice to perfection

“I cannot sing in high pitch. My voice breaks,” said Suja, a professional playback singer at the voice training workshop and crash course organised by Trinity Media at Hindusthan College of Arts and Science.

Sashi Kumar, the voice expert at television channel Mazhavil Manorama, asked her to sing. As she hit the top notes, her voice shivered. Sashi, who heads the workshop, suggested she follow an exercise where she has to take in quick breaths after each line. “Your voice breaks because you lose breath. This exercise will create a difference,” he assured her.

The five-day workshop began with a session where Sashi introduced them to breathing exercises and gave tips to overcome difficulties while singing in high pitch and bass.

From stage show performers and Carnatic music teachers to students and bathroom singers, the audience was varied. So were the questions. Sashi asked two school children to sing. “You have breathing trouble. You open your mouth for air after each line,” he told them after they finished. “However, this can be fixed if you regularly do breathing exercises.”

Then, he demonstrated the first breathing exercise. Keeping his legs apart and eyes closed, he asked them to swing to their left and right. The audience followed him, inhaling and exhaling as instructed.

Next was ‘flying exercise’, where Sashi stretched his arms on the side and leaned forward. “Now, breathe in as you raise your hands and join them over the head, and then breathe out.”

He also reminded the audience that they should never sing with their throat. “It strains your vocal chords. It is actually dangerous to your throat when you sing high notes. The voice always should come from the abdomen.”

A classical music teacher said her voice was breaking because of her age. “There is no age for music. You can rectify this by taking proper care of your throat. Every morning, drink a glass of hot water into which lemon juice has been squeezed,” Sashi said. He also shared a few tips with the audience as to how they could keep their voice fresh and strong. “Mango leaf boiled in water will do the trick. Or, eat neem leaf early in the morning. These age-old recipes work wonders on your throat,” he said.

There were also those who had come just for the sheer love of music. “I do not have any base in classical music. But, I love singing,” said one. Sashi told him that his interest was proof enough that there was music in his blood.

Sashi said there was a difference between practising and singing. “While singing, you modify your voice to make it pleasing for the listener. But, when you practise, you should sing in such a way that the neighbours come out of their houses! It should be loud and clear.” The workshop is open till August 30. The registration is open today as well. The entry fee is Rs. 2,500.