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Found 10 results

  1. Congratulations Shigeki Morimoto! Our new member of the TVS Certified Instructor team from Tokyo, Japan! Shigeki trained for 40 hours in Seattle, WA at TVS studios and took a very difficult TVS test... and English is NOT easy for him! My personal regards, Maestro Morimoto is great for the TVS Instructor program and will represent TVS well in Japan. He knows how to make a full commitment, has a huge work ethic and cares about learning the TVS Method ideas. Maestro Morimoto is also one of the kindest and most pleasant people to be around I have ever met. He also can sing amazing... Welcome Maestro Shigeki Morimoto, our new TVS MCI responsible for Japanese singers, our colleague and friend. Enjoy These Videos We Worked. Engineered, filmed and produced by me... DREAM THEATER TRIBUTE "THE SPIRIT CARRIES ON" SHIGEKI MORIMOTO (ORIGINAL) "WILL BE SHINE"
  2. Good singers are often described as having a unique personal style, a special way of expressing a song. But in the larger picture of singing, let's talk about vocal styles in general. First off, you want to be clear on which style you sing the most. Pop, rock, jazz, country, blues, R&B, classical, folk, gospel, Broadway belting or perhaps a combination of one or more of these styles? I frequently encounter singers who think they're singing in a pop style but are actually singing in a classical style because of prior training. It can sound quite strange and disorienting to the listener to hear someone sing in a wrong style. The conventions and techniques of classical singing are so different from popular, commercial styles that classical voice training can become a disability to the budding pop singer. Every vocal style is a recipe using only certain ingredients. Like a cook who knows the difference between braising and grilling, you should have an acquaintance with the recipe for your desired style. Let's start by comparing classical and non-classical styles: simply put, non-classical sounds like speaking or yelling and classical singing doesn't. If you've ever heard an opera singer speak then sing, you might be shocked to notice how different these two modes of vocal production are. Whether you sing classically or in a commercial vein, your choice of ingredients will determine if you're nailing your style or not. What are some of the ingredients of vocal style? Laryngeal Height - Your larynx (voice-box) can easily move up and down. Which vertical position you choose, regular, raised or lowered, will affect your sound. You might lower it for classical or soulful R&B and jazz, keep it regular for pop or legit Broadway singing, or raise it for rock and country. Airflow - How much air should you have in your sound? In country, there's typically not a lot of air coming through the vocal folds, but when singing sultry R&B or jazz, you may allow the folds to open more. Resonator Shape - What is the shape of your throat and mouth? For country, I recommend constricting the pharynx slightly under the jawline (never constrict the vocal folds themselves), while in classical or R&B I recommend widening that area to give me a more open sound. Shape decisions also include how open your mouth should be and if you're mostly smiling or pursing your lips. Nasality - Air which is routed through your nose creates the buzzy sound of nasality. Listen carefully to your favorite singers to see if you can discern how much nasality you hear. This important resonance is a must in rock and country, less so in pop and jazz, and not desirable in classical production. Dialect - Can you imagine hearing a country singer with a Russian accent? Or a blues singer with a French accent? Might sound strange. Consider a Southern accent for R&B and country, a standard American accent for pop and Broadway singing, perhaps even an English accent for classical. Stance - Ever notice how classical singers seem like they're leaning forward but some R&B singers may be leaning back on their heels? Subtle stance differences can make a difference in vocal production and are interesting to watch for. Volume - In sultry jazz singing, you may hear singers shift their volumes suddenly from loud to soft and back again, while in opera the vocal dynamics mostly range from loud to louder. Pop is often soft to medium loud, never getting very loud. When country, which is fairly soft to medium loud, gets louder, it then enters the world of country-rock. So volume can be a determining factor when combining styles. Stylisms - Each vocal style has particular stylisms which act as style hallmarks. For example, vocal fry can be heard in pop, jazz, and rock, which cry is common in country. Yodel can be heard in country and alternative pop, while stops are only heard in Broadway belting. There are different slides and swoops used and using the wrong swoop can get you into big stylistic trouble. Ornamental riffs such as R&B runs are important to master as well as classical ornamental runs called melisma or coloratura. Emotions - No one style has a monopoly on the human experience. For dignified and regal, no style comes closer than classical. If you want to express sensuality or ecstasy, look no further than R&B. Pop is sincere. alternative pop is quirky, rock is anti-social and powerful. You get the idea. A fun way to hone your style discernment skills is to sit at the ole radio tuner and go from station to station. See how quickly you come to a conclusion on the vocal style(s) you hear. It's not easy sometimes. Are you hearing country, pop-country, rock-country or R&B-country? Can you identify WHY you came to your conclusion? Remember that like in cooking (Thai, French, etc), each vocal style has conventions; rules that have developed over time. These conventions arise out of the particular culture and history which are the roots of a style. Listen and watch your favorite singers. Everything you see or hear helps to determine style choices. Styles are not accidents- make sure your style choices are well thought-out. Your next step? Pick a style, listen to the greats, observe everything, imitate, THEN play around to creative your own unique expressive masterpiece. Stay true to your style before you venture forth into uncharted territory. Lisa Popeil - Voiceworks Method - www.popeil.com 818-906-7229
  3. Good singers are often described as having a unique personal style, a special way of expressing a song. But in the larger picture of singing, let's talk about vocal styles in general. First off, you want to be clear on which style you sing the most. Pop, rock, jazz, country, blues, R&B, classical, folk, gospel, Broadway belting or perhaps a combination of one or more of these styles? I frequently encounter singers who think they're singing in a pop style but are actually singing in a classical style because of prior training. It can sound quite strange and disorienting to the listener to hear someone sing in a wrong style. The conventions and techniques of classical singing are so different from popular, commercial styles that classical voice training can become a disability to the budding pop singer. Every vocal style is a recipe using only certain ingredients. Like a cook who knows the difference between braising and grilling, you should have an acquaintance with the recipe for your desired style. Let's start by comparing classical and non-classical styles: simply put, non-classical sounds like speaking or yelling and classical singing doesn't. If you've ever heard an opera singer speak then sing, you might be shocked to notice how different these two modes of vocal production are. Whether you sing classically or in a commercial vein, your choice of ingredients will determine if you're nailing your style or not. What are some of the ingredients of vocal style? Laryngeal Height - Your larynx (voice-box) can easily move up and down. Which vertical position you choose, regular, raised or lowered, will affect your sound. You might lower it for classical or soulful R&B and jazz, keep it regular for pop or legit Broadway singing, or raise it for rock and country. Airflow - How much air should you have in your sound? In country, there's typically not a lot of air coming through the vocal folds, but when singing sultry R&B or jazz, you may allow the folds to open more. Resonator Shape - What is the shape of your throat and mouth? For country, I recommend constricting the pharynx slightly under the jawline (never constrict the vocal folds themselves), while in classical or R&B I recommend widening that area to give me a more open sound. Shape decisions also include how open your mouth should be and if you're mostly smiling or pursing your lips. Nasality - Air which is routed through your nose creates the buzzy sound of nasality. Listen carefully to your favorite singers to see if you can discern how much nasality you hear. This important resonance is a must in rock and country, less so in pop and jazz, and not desirable in classical production. Dialect - Can you imagine hearing a country singer with a Russian accent? Or a blues singer with a French accent? Might sound strange. Consider a Southern accent for R&B and country, a standard American accent for pop and Broadway singing, perhaps even an English accent for classical. Stance - Ever notice how classical singers seem like they're leaning forward but some R&B singers may be leaning back on their heels? Subtle stance differences can make a difference in vocal production and are interesting to watch for. Volume - In sultry jazz singing, you may hear singers shift their volumes suddenly from loud to soft and back again, while in opera the vocal dynamics mostly range from loud to louder. Pop is often soft to medium loud, never getting very loud. When country, which is fairly soft to medium loud, gets louder, it then enters the world of country-rock. So volume can be a determining factor when combining styles. Stylisms - Each vocal style has particular stylisms which act as style hallmarks. For example, vocal fry can be heard in pop, jazz, and rock, which cry is common in country. Yodel can be heard in country and alternative pop, while stops are only heard in Broadway belting. There are different slides and swoops used and using the wrong swoop can get you into big stylistic trouble. Ornamental riffs such as R&B runs are important to master as well as classical ornamental runs called melisma or coloratura. Emotions - No one style has a monopoly on the human experience. For dignified and regal, no style comes closer than classical. If you want to express sensuality or ecstasy, look no further than R&B. Pop is sincere. alternative pop is quirky, rock is anti-social and powerful. You get the idea. A fun way to hone your style discernment skills is to sit at the ole radio tuner and go from station to station. See how quickly you come to a conclusion on the vocal style(s) you hear. It's not easy sometimes. Are you hearing country, pop-country, rock-country or R&B-country? Can you identify WHY you came to your conclusion? Remember that like in cooking (Thai, French, etc), each vocal style has conventions; rules that have developed over time. These conventions arise out of the particular culture and history which are the roots of a style. Listen and watch your favorite singers. Everything you see or hear helps to determine style choices. Styles are not accidents- make sure your style choices are well thought-out. Your next step? Pick a style, listen to the greats, observe everything, imitate, THEN play around to creative your own unique expressive masterpiece. Stay true to your style before you venture forth into uncharted territory. Lisa Popeil - Voiceworks Method - www.popeil.com 818-906-7229 View full articles
  4. So, You Want To Be A Singer? by Diva Joan Cartwright CHAPTER 6 - REPERTOIRE Having a list handy of all the songs you sing in alphabetical order with a column for the key in which you sing each song can be invaluable when you meet musicians. If you are that organized, then you can probably fill the bill as a singer. Keep adding to the list as time goes by, until you've filled up two sides of the page. Try to include the composer of each song. Example: 1. A CHILD IS BORN C Thad Jones 2. A FOGGY DAY G Gershwin 3. A NEW WAY OF SINGING THE BLUES F J. Cartwright 4. AFRO BLUE Cm Coltrane 5. AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' Eb Fats Waller Versatility is a plus. It always helps to know songs in more than one genre. It may be necessary to have more than one list or categories, if you sing in two or more genres, for instance you may separate songs by: Jazz Blues Gospel Rock R&B Latin/Samba/Bossa Broadway Country Pop or Top 40 Hip Hop Reggae Contemporary Another way of categorizing songs is by composer or artist: Anita Baker Antonio Carlos Jobim Aretha Franklin Beatles Billy Joel Billie Holiday Cole Porter Duke Ellington Ella Fitzgerald Randy Crawford Stevie Wonder Whitney Houston Always have a list of your original songs, as well. That way people understand that you are a songwriter. Have a few copies of your songs in case other musicians want to play, sing or record them. In time, you will be respected as a songwriter and people will begin to request your songs, before they request songs of other artists. Buy this book at http://stores.lulu.com/divajc See all of Joan Cartwright's Books
  5. So, You Want To Be A Singer? by Diva Joan Cartwright CHAPTER 6 - REPERTOIRE Having a list handy of all the songs you sing in alphabetical order with a column for the key in which you sing each song can be invaluable when you meet musicians. If you are that organized, then you can probably fill the bill as a singer. Keep adding to the list as time goes by, until you've filled up two sides of the page. Try to include the composer of each song. Example: 1. A CHILD IS BORN C Thad Jones 2. A FOGGY DAY G Gershwin 3. A NEW WAY OF SINGING THE BLUES F J. Cartwright 4. AFRO BLUE Cm Coltrane 5. AIN'T MISBEHAVIN' Eb Fats Waller Versatility is a plus. It always helps to know songs in more than one genre. It may be necessary to have more than one list or categories, if you sing in two or more genres, for instance you may separate songs by: Jazz Blues Gospel Rock R&B Latin/Samba/Bossa Broadway Country Pop or Top 40 Hip Hop Reggae Contemporary Another way of categorizing songs is by composer or artist: Anita Baker Antonio Carlos Jobim Aretha Franklin Beatles Billy Joel Billie Holiday Cole Porter Duke Ellington Ella Fitzgerald Randy Crawford Stevie Wonder Whitney Houston Always have a list of your original songs, as well. That way people understand that you are a songwriter. Have a few copies of your songs in case other musicians want to play, sing or record them. In time, you will be respected as a songwriter and people will begin to request your songs, before they request songs of other artists. Buy this book at http://stores.lulu.com/divajc See all of Joan Cartwright's Books View full articles
  6. TODAY'S POP & ROCK VOCALISTS: What Comprises Good Vocal Technique! (By Cheryl Hodge, c. 2010, as written for SONGSTUFF.COM - Vocals Section) As I write today's article I am listening to the great Maria Callas, singing her flawless version of Norma's aria from Norma Casta Diva. I am not a classical singer by trade, although I often use classical pieces for warm-ups. When asked to perform a two hour concert of Stevie Wonder songs, I thought to myself: Wow; this is almost too much for me, vocally; what shall I do about this?! Vocal Exercises I went back to the basics, in practicing. I did my breathing, sighing, diaphragm and scalar exercises; followed by some Vaccai exercises. Finally, I topped off the practice with about 3 classical Italian arias. I would break my 1 hour and 40 minutes a day, thusly: Early in the day: 1. 20 min. Breath work, sighing exercises, diaphragm pushes, scales, Vaccai exercises Mid-Day: 1. 20 min. of the same exercise regimen which I did earlier in the day 2. 20 min. of Italian arias 3. 40 min. of working on material for concert You're probably wondering how classical singing could help my Stevie Wonder material... Well, it's like this: When I focus on connecting the breaks, then concentrate on power, and work on bridging everything through scales and Italian classical music, I find a magical thing happens. My voice is STRENGTHENED. I am able to "belt" in a healthy way on rock and pop for hours; not feeling the slightest twinge of pressure or pain on the vocal folds. Pretty cool, huh?! When I listen to today's pop singers, I am immediately drawn to the "true" divas. Of course, Christine Aguilera certainly springs to mind, first. She does her homework, and that is apparent. She can sing anything with strength, agility, and finesse. I'm impressed by hearing her sing the blues, pop or even jazz songs, like "Body and Soul". Do not think, for one second, that she does not do tons of warm-ups. Ditto, for Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Alisha Keys, and Celine Dion.... all competent, gifted singers, who know how to take care of their "pipes". Consequences Of No Warm-Up What are the consequences of not warming up? I can tell you, first hand, that it is never a good idea to step onto a stage without first working out.... Yes; I have been guilty of that - and it hurts to admit it! But through the years I've learned my lessons. Who are today's prime offenders; the people who's tone will never be completely realized, due to negligence. I'm not going to name names... that would be vulgar of me. What I WILL say, though, is that people who "yell" songs from the throat will have very short professional lives. People who have not learned to connect the breath from the deepest part of the lungs; and use the diaphragm correctly - well - let's just say that their sound will leave something to be desired. Great rock singers; past and present would include, for me: Steve Perry from Journey (used operatic techniques to warm up), Peter Gabriel, Sting, John Mayer, and Tom Chaplin from Keane, to name a few. Having said this, all of the aforementioned singers are in constant peril of hurting their voice; not because of their technique, but rather because of exhaustion. Hey, being on the road has it's drawbacks. Once tired, the vocal mechanism will certainly reflect the physical abuse. Finally, I am not a fan of the latest heavy metal "growl" singing, known as: "Vocal Fry"... think of George Petit, from the band "Alexisonfire". Yup; he's a "god" to many of his fans. However, George may have a short career. There is no safe way to sing the vocal fry technique. The only way to get the sound is to grind the false and true vocal folds together, which will create nodes, callouses and pollyps (all of which will put you, the singer, out of business). Discuss this article in our Music Forum. About Author CHERYL HODGE Cheryl Hodge has been in the music and songwriting business for well over 30 years; recording on several labels; among them Atco Records (Raindogs, 1990), and has released 4 CDs of her own; on her own label: Jazzboulevard.com Records. She has performed her music for the last 10 years with noted jazz guitarist John Stowell (amongst many others), and they are about to release a CD of co-written originals. She has been private instructor to many; including the gifted Paula Cole. She is also the author of "A Singer's Guide to the Well-Trained and Powerful Voice", and is a published vocal arranger. Cheryl is currently the head of the vocal dept. at Nelson, BC's: Selkirk College Music Program. There, she teaches Songwriting and Advanced Songwriting, Business of Music, Arranging and Vocals. She continues to write and produce her original materials, and has just released "Cheryl Hodge: Original Article" - a compilation of her favourites. For more info, visit: http://www.cheryhodge.com
  7. TODAY'S POP & ROCK VOCALISTS: What Comprises Good Vocal Technique! (By Cheryl Hodge, c. 2010, as written for SONGSTUFF.COM - Vocals Section) As I write today's article I am listening to the great Maria Callas, singing her flawless version of Norma's aria from Norma Casta Diva. I am not a classical singer by trade, although I often use classical pieces for warm-ups. When asked to perform a two hour concert of Stevie Wonder songs, I thought to myself: Wow; this is almost too much for me, vocally; what shall I do about this?! Vocal Exercises I went back to the basics, in practicing. I did my breathing, sighing, diaphragm and scalar exercises; followed by some Vaccai exercises. Finally, I topped off the practice with about 3 classical Italian arias. I would break my 1 hour and 40 minutes a day, thusly: Early in the day: 1. 20 min. Breath work, sighing exercises, diaphragm pushes, scales, Vaccai exercises Mid-Day: 1. 20 min. of the same exercise regimen which I did earlier in the day 2. 20 min. of Italian arias 3. 40 min. of working on material for concert You're probably wondering how classical singing could help my Stevie Wonder material... Well, it's like this: When I focus on connecting the breaks, then concentrate on power, and work on bridging everything through scales and Italian classical music, I find a magical thing happens. My voice is STRENGTHENED. I am able to "belt" in a healthy way on rock and pop for hours; not feeling the slightest twinge of pressure or pain on the vocal folds. Pretty cool, huh?! When I listen to today's pop singers, I am immediately drawn to the "true" divas. Of course, Christine Aguilera certainly springs to mind, first. She does her homework, and that is apparent. She can sing anything with strength, agility, and finesse. I'm impressed by hearing her sing the blues, pop or even jazz songs, like "Body and Soul". Do not think, for one second, that she does not do tons of warm-ups. Ditto, for Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Alisha Keys, and Celine Dion.... all competent, gifted singers, who know how to take care of their "pipes". Consequences Of No Warm-Up What are the consequences of not warming up? I can tell you, first hand, that it is never a good idea to step onto a stage without first working out.... Yes; I have been guilty of that - and it hurts to admit it! But through the years I've learned my lessons. Who are today's prime offenders; the people who's tone will never be completely realized, due to negligence. I'm not going to name names... that would be vulgar of me. What I WILL say, though, is that people who "yell" songs from the throat will have very short professional lives. People who have not learned to connect the breath from the deepest part of the lungs; and use the diaphragm correctly - well - let's just say that their sound will leave something to be desired. Great rock singers; past and present would include, for me: Steve Perry from Journey (used operatic techniques to warm up), Peter Gabriel, Sting, John Mayer, and Tom Chaplin from Keane, to name a few. Having said this, all of the aforementioned singers are in constant peril of hurting their voice; not because of their technique, but rather because of exhaustion. Hey, being on the road has it's drawbacks. Once tired, the vocal mechanism will certainly reflect the physical abuse. Finally, I am not a fan of the latest heavy metal "growl" singing, known as: "Vocal Fry"... think of George Petit, from the band "Alexisonfire". Yup; he's a "god" to many of his fans. However, George may have a short career. There is no safe way to sing the vocal fry technique. The only way to get the sound is to grind the false and true vocal folds together, which will create nodes, callouses and pollyps (all of which will put you, the singer, out of business). Discuss this article in our Music Forum. About Author CHERYL HODGE Cheryl Hodge has been in the music and songwriting business for well over 30 years; recording on several labels; among them Atco Records (Raindogs, 1990), and has released 4 CDs of her own; on her own label: Jazzboulevard.com Records. She has performed her music for the last 10 years with noted jazz guitarist John Stowell (amongst many others), and they are about to release a CD of co-written originals. She has been private instructor to many; including the gifted Paula Cole. She is also the author of "A Singer's Guide to the Well-Trained and Powerful Voice", and is a published vocal arranger. Cheryl is currently the head of the vocal dept. at Nelson, BC's: Selkirk College Music Program. There, she teaches Songwriting and Advanced Songwriting, Business of Music, Arranging and Vocals. She continues to write and produce her original materials, and has just released "Cheryl Hodge: Original Article" - a compilation of her favourites. For more info, visit: http://www.cheryhodge.com View full articles
  8. I would like to share with the singing public my own struggle with changing styles and sound from opera to pop. I teach from my own experience. I may be an expert today, but I am never far from my client's struggles and frustrations. It doesn't matter who the singer is, everyone at some point in their career has struggled with their voice in some way. Early on, even someone as gifted as Celine Dion had her own fair share of struggle with a tongue that wouldn't quit pulling back when singing, trapping her higher tones. (The culprit: her native language). Then there are those famed artists who claim to never have taken a lesson. Yet they have been seen by the public taking lessons with the some of the best teachers around. For me the issue isn't about who I teach. The issue is whether I can teach you how to sing, sing well, and without injuring yourself. Can I educate you well enough to become your own teacher? Yes. I was one of those who came out of the womb with an extremely gifted classical voice. At 12, I was seen in a Beverly Hills Elementary school production of The Magic Flute. After that appearance, many teachers wanted to teach me but I was still very young, and not that interested. I knew I already had a gift. My thinking was, Why do I need lessons? Yet at 16, I noticed I couldn't sing the songs I wanted to sing. My voice was too operatic for Pop, Pop/Rock, or Country. Now it was time for lessons. It got very depressing. Whenever I tried singing other styles, I felt horribly embarrassed. I could never figure out how the Mariah Carey's, Whitney Houston's, or Celine Dion's could belt like they did without choking! I sounded like a wannabe. Back then, teachers mostly taught classically. Very few were teaching how to sing contemporary music. All of my teachers (3) were those who sang with the Met and the Los Angeles Opera and couldn't teach me how to change styles. They told me it was best to stick with the classical training especially since my voice was a right fit, said I shouldn't mess around with the beauty of my sound or I might lose it. They scared me. Still hoping my voice would magically transform through lessons, I continued with the classical. Since technical perfection is a must when singing opera, there were times when if I didn't sing it right, I'd walk away from lessons feeling not good enough, stupid, or that something was wrong with me. It certainly wasn't helping me with the songs I so desired to be able to sing. It wasn't fun anymore. My voice became a liability, a limitation, rather than a gift. So humiliating to sing anything but opera, I stopped singing songs for anyone. I didn't want you to hear me attempt any other style while I still sounded like an opera singer for fear of what you'd think and say. When I finally made the decision to become a teacher, I also made the decision to become the very best teacher I could possibly become. This meant I was going to have to learn how to change my sound and style. I wanted to be able to teach anyone, no matter the style. Early on as a teacher I found out I had an extraordinarily gifted ear. It has become my greatest tool as an instructor and coach. They call it clairaudience. With my ears I am able to visualize exactly what's happening inside the singer that keeps them from having their voice the way they desire to sing and be heard. I went for lessons with two or three teachers as contemporary techniques became more popular. But after a couple of lessons and listening back to my tapes, I could hear things that the teachers weren't. Because of this, I lost faith in their ears. I trusted mine more. Additionally, I still wasn't getting what they were physically asking me to do to change my sound. This is when I came to a decision that wasn't easy to make; a very scary and what felt like unsafe proposition: to train myself. If I was so good at training you, why not train me? Out came the tapes and tape recorder. The recorder my student, and me, the teacher/guide. I treated those tapes as if I were listening to one of my students and began making the proper corrections. I probably read about 75 books and hordes of articles, internet and print, on vocal technique. I tried everything suggested and was obsessed with finding out what worked for me, what didn't, and why. I soon realized that singing in different styles wasn't so much about changing the sound of my voice as it was about changing the way I shaped the vowels, which also changes the placement. The process of changing sense-memorized habits was nothing short of grueling, but I was determined to never give up - no matter what. I wanted to be able to cover a spectrum of different styles. Habits are usually subconscious. They are so ingrained that it's not easy to ask someone to, for example, quit biting their nails or cracking their knuckles in an instant. Nope, not going to happen. To break a habit takes concentrated effort. Through this work I learned the true meaning of that word. Letting go of my own second-nature habits made me feel like my voice was at zero, as if I never had a gifted voice. I felt like many of my students do about their own voices when they come to me. The first thing I had to do was learn to stop listening to myself. Okay, yeah, that's like asking someone to leave his or her ego at the door - nearly impossible. But I transfered my awareness to listening from the outside, as if I were another person, and if it was wrong, I re-recorded until it was right. The tape never lies. I used vocalises to change vowel shaping, placement, and ways of support to create new sense-memorized habits. All of these were different from those used for classical singing. Vocalises became my weapon, my voice the competition, and I was going to win. Yes, I had my bed flailing days, days when I wanted to throw the tape and the recorder out the window. But nothing could ever stop me from continuing to try, continuing to practice, and continuing until I got it. After one of these breakdowns, I would be up in the morning practicing and right back at it again. I was relentless and determined. I don't really think I knew how competitive I was until I went on this expansive journey. Vocalises have now become my warm-ups. On any given day, just one vocalise can reveal where my voice is weak and needs work. Since the voice lives inside the body, you can never predict from day to day until you start exercising. Quickly discerning which area might need the most work, I can take an exercise and work that area until my voice opens up. Then I re-check by choosing a vocalise to sing through my entire range. What I've discovered is that by working in only one area, it often helps open all my registers. This is because I am practicing my new habits, and not my "sound" per se. A habit successfully changed in one area automatically changes it in another. Amazingly it is with this change of habits that a voice develops on its own. It's an automatic end result. Today, I don't have to think about my voice when I sing. I do, however, still have to vocalize with exercises. Old habits have a way of sneaking back in when you least expect them. So I, for one, have to keep after them. As long as I am reminding myself with this form of repetition, I can sing the songs I love quite well and it makes me very, very happy. I can't tell you how cool it is, when there were times I thought it would never happen. For additional style, I learned to listen for specific pronunciation rather than to the perceived sound of someone else's voice and trying to imitate it. I found pronunciation to be key to any given style. Imitating sound only kept me kept me pushing and forcing my voice. Again, very embarrassing. To get what I have today, the new way had to become the only way second nature to me, like opera. I am still a technical singer because I love to play with tones, and to be on pitch. I don't like the way I sound when I deviate into something that really isn't me. In my mind there are two types of singers: the technical and the stylistically artistic, and both are good. Technical singers make great session artists and are in demand because of it. Stardom, in my opinion, comes to those who seem to have the gift of MAGIC on stage or recording, artistically, stylistically, and as a performer. Some will still criticize me for sounding technical, not realizing that I prefer this for my own sound and style. It's how I love to sing because I can - and not everyone can. I don't need auto-tune. When I record a song, I can usually do it in an hour, and an a capella only takes 5 minutes. I'm proud that I can get it in one take. I did become the teacher I always wanted to become. I have a lot of fun singing today, and even more fun teaching my methods to clients, from the gifted to those who have to work for every iimprovement. Yes, it was a difficult journey and one I've noticed seems to be harder than going the other direction: from pop to opera. There were many ups and downs along the way. But everyone I teach is so happy to be on the road and keep forging onward. Those who have stuck it out have great voices and careers today. Dena Murray SME The Modern Vocalist, Voice Teacher/Coach, and Published Author www.denamurray.com www.facebook.com/dena murray
  9. I would like to share with the singing public my own struggle with changing styles and sound from opera to pop. I teach from my own experience. I may be an expert today, but I am never far from my client's struggles and frustrations. It doesn't matter who the singer is, everyone at some point in their career has struggled with their voice in some way. Early on, even someone as gifted as Celine Dion had her own fair share of struggle with a tongue that wouldn't quit pulling back when singing, trapping her higher tones. (The culprit: her native language). Then there are those famed artists who claim to never have taken a lesson. Yet they have been seen by the public taking lessons with the some of the best teachers around. For me the issue isn't about who I teach. The issue is whether I can teach you how to sing, sing well, and without injuring yourself. Can I educate you well enough to become your own teacher? Yes. I was one of those who came out of the womb with an extremely gifted classical voice. At 12, I was seen in a Beverly Hills Elementary school production of The Magic Flute. After that appearance, many teachers wanted to teach me but I was still very young, and not that interested. I knew I already had a gift. My thinking was, Why do I need lessons? Yet at 16, I noticed I couldn't sing the songs I wanted to sing. My voice was too operatic for Pop, Pop/Rock, or Country. Now it was time for lessons. It got very depressing. Whenever I tried singing other styles, I felt horribly embarrassed. I could never figure out how the Mariah Carey's, Whitney Houston's, or Celine Dion's could belt like they did without choking! I sounded like a wannabe. Back then, teachers mostly taught classically. Very few were teaching how to sing contemporary music. All of my teachers (3) were those who sang with the Met and the Los Angeles Opera and couldn't teach me how to change styles. They told me it was best to stick with the classical training especially since my voice was a right fit, said I shouldn't mess around with the beauty of my sound or I might lose it. They scared me. Still hoping my voice would magically transform through lessons, I continued with the classical. Since technical perfection is a must when singing opera, there were times when if I didn't sing it right, I'd walk away from lessons feeling not good enough, stupid, or that something was wrong with me. It certainly wasn't helping me with the songs I so desired to be able to sing. It wasn't fun anymore. My voice became a liability, a limitation, rather than a gift. So humiliating to sing anything but opera, I stopped singing songs for anyone. I didn't want you to hear me attempt any other style while I still sounded like an opera singer for fear of what you'd think and say. When I finally made the decision to become a teacher, I also made the decision to become the very best teacher I could possibly become. This meant I was going to have to learn how to change my sound and style. I wanted to be able to teach anyone, no matter the style. Early on as a teacher I found out I had an extraordinarily gifted ear. It has become my greatest tool as an instructor and coach. They call it clairaudience. With my ears I am able to visualize exactly what's happening inside the singer that keeps them from having their voice the way they desire to sing and be heard. I went for lessons with two or three teachers as contemporary techniques became more popular. But after a couple of lessons and listening back to my tapes, I could hear things that the teachers weren't. Because of this, I lost faith in their ears. I trusted mine more. Additionally, I still wasn't getting what they were physically asking me to do to change my sound. This is when I came to a decision that wasn't easy to make; a very scary and what felt like unsafe proposition: to train myself. If I was so good at training you, why not train me? Out came the tapes and tape recorder. The recorder my student, and me, the teacher/guide. I treated those tapes as if I were listening to one of my students and began making the proper corrections. I probably read about 75 books and hordes of articles, internet and print, on vocal technique. I tried everything suggested and was obsessed with finding out what worked for me, what didn't, and why. I soon realized that singing in different styles wasn't so much about changing the sound of my voice as it was about changing the way I shaped the vowels, which also changes the placement. The process of changing sense-memorized habits was nothing short of grueling, but I was determined to never give up - no matter what. I wanted to be able to cover a spectrum of different styles. Habits are usually subconscious. They are so ingrained that it's not easy to ask someone to, for example, quit biting their nails or cracking their knuckles in an instant. Nope, not going to happen. To break a habit takes concentrated effort. Through this work I learned the true meaning of that word. Letting go of my own second-nature habits made me feel like my voice was at zero, as if I never had a gifted voice. I felt like many of my students do about their own voices when they come to me. The first thing I had to do was learn to stop listening to myself. Okay, yeah, that's like asking someone to leave his or her ego at the door - nearly impossible. But I transfered my awareness to listening from the outside, as if I were another person, and if it was wrong, I re-recorded until it was right. The tape never lies. I used vocalises to change vowel shaping, placement, and ways of support to create new sense-memorized habits. All of these were different from those used for classical singing. Vocalises became my weapon, my voice the competition, and I was going to win. Yes, I had my bed flailing days, days when I wanted to throw the tape and the recorder out the window. But nothing could ever stop me from continuing to try, continuing to practice, and continuing until I got it. After one of these breakdowns, I would be up in the morning practicing and right back at it again. I was relentless and determined. I don't really think I knew how competitive I was until I went on this expansive journey. Vocalises have now become my warm-ups. On any given day, just one vocalise can reveal where my voice is weak and needs work. Since the voice lives inside the body, you can never predict from day to day until you start exercising. Quickly discerning which area might need the most work, I can take an exercise and work that area until my voice opens up. Then I re-check by choosing a vocalise to sing through my entire range. What I've discovered is that by working in only one area, it often helps open all my registers. This is because I am practicing my new habits, and not my "sound" per se. A habit successfully changed in one area automatically changes it in another. Amazingly it is with this change of habits that a voice develops on its own. It's an automatic end result. Today, I don't have to think about my voice when I sing. I do, however, still have to vocalize with exercises. Old habits have a way of sneaking back in when you least expect them. So I, for one, have to keep after them. As long as I am reminding myself with this form of repetition, I can sing the songs I love quite well and it makes me very, very happy. I can't tell you how cool it is, when there were times I thought it would never happen. For additional style, I learned to listen for specific pronunciation rather than to the perceived sound of someone else's voice and trying to imitate it. I found pronunciation to be key to any given style. Imitating sound only kept me kept me pushing and forcing my voice. Again, very embarrassing. To get what I have today, the new way had to become the only way second nature to me, like opera. I am still a technical singer because I love to play with tones, and to be on pitch. I don't like the way I sound when I deviate into something that really isn't me. In my mind there are two types of singers: the technical and the stylistically artistic, and both are good. Technical singers make great session artists and are in demand because of it. Stardom, in my opinion, comes to those who seem to have the gift of MAGIC on stage or recording, artistically, stylistically, and as a performer. Some will still criticize me for sounding technical, not realizing that I prefer this for my own sound and style. It's how I love to sing because I can - and not everyone can. I don't need auto-tune. When I record a song, I can usually do it in an hour, and an a capella only takes 5 minutes. I'm proud that I can get it in one take. I did become the teacher I always wanted to become. I have a lot of fun singing today, and even more fun teaching my methods to clients, from the gifted to those who have to work for every iimprovement. Yes, it was a difficult journey and one I've noticed seems to be harder than going the other direction: from pop to opera. There were many ups and downs along the way. But everyone I teach is so happy to be on the road and keep forging onward. Those who have stuck it out have great voices and careers today. Dena Murray SME The Modern Vocalist, Voice Teacher/Coach, and Published Author www.denamurray.com www.facebook.com/dena murray View full articles