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  1. I get asked a lot on my YouTube channel about how to sing without your larynx shooting up really high behind your chin. This can be challenging to any singer - beginner or advanced. We naturally raise our larynx when we speak and swallow so it can easily carry over into our singing - unfortunately it's doesn't help our singing at all. A slight raise of the larynx is necessary for some vocal effects like twanging the epiglottal tunnel but in general it's unhealthy for singing. So what can we do to help us disconnect from raising the larynx when we sing? Try this exercise on for size. Imitate the face of an ape or monkey saying "oo, oo, oo" - your jaw should be low and the lips outstretched uniformly to form a small, round opening. (yes -you will look silly) With an "OO" sound, start in your middle range and slide down gently to your lowest note in one continuous sound. It should sound like an old air raid siren winding down. The slide down should be slow and as even as possible. Slip into an "AH" sound at the very bottom each time you do it. Gradually raise the pitch you start on step by step. Continue to let the "OO" sound drop and turn into the "AH" as you reach your lowest note. Continue raising the start pitch until you start singing in falsetto and the "OO" slides through your break area. IMPORTANT: Don't make any changes in how you physically do the notes or change your volume to get through the break area. Keep the exercises as deep as possible by keeping your jaw low and the lips puckered forward. Your lips may tremble a bit as a result of the tension you are opposing, but that's ok. Let it happen. What's Going On The "monkey face" is not used for singing those vowel sounds, but for disconnecting the muscles that lift the larynx. The "lifter muscles" as they are called, are part of the chain of swallowing and when they are stretched the larynx is given some freedom. The slide down in pitch helps coordinate the muscles used for making pitch - but nothing else. It's common to have some falling off of the notes at first because the larynx isn't used to acting by itself. That's ok. Let it happen. It gets better the more you do this exercise. The goal of this exercise is to achieve a very slow and smooth slide down through the break area without a flip in the voice or any extra effort. This helps promote depth in your singing and control of the pitch without using any external muscles that just aren't needed. Once you become comfortable with exercise, add a return slide back up to your starting pitch and that "OO" sound. This not only helps disconnect the lifting muscles but also aids in breath support. If you run out of air before you get back to the top - go back and do some more breathing exercises. This essay was first published October 24, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles
  2. TMV World Team

    The Singing Voice vs. The Speaking Voice

    At The Vocalist Studio, we don't warm up our voice, more accurately, we warm up to get into our singing voices. The physiology of the speaking voice vs. that of the singing voice The Singing Voice vs. The Speaking Voice If vocalists want to achieve a profound increase in range and enjoy overtones with absolute physical freedom from gripping and inefficient physical ticks, the modern vocalist must learn how to get into his/her "singing voice" and get out of the speaking voice. The speaking voice and all the bodily responses that produce speech are not a platform for producing the singing voice. When a singer lacks the knowledge and practice of a legitimate voice technique, the brain will send creative commands from the right brain that cannot be effectively executed because there simply is no learned behavior or coordinated muscle memory responses developed to drive the singing voice. When this happens, an internal battle between the well-intended right brain signals and untrained, physical limitations of the body are out of synch. Yet the show must go on and the body must respond, so it does so by hurling the speaking voice at complex melodic ideas that require the muscles, normally facilitated for speech, to respond in an extraordinary way, it is not designed to do. This is an approach that is inevitably doomed. The evolution of the human singing voice Consider this perspective. The human larynx did evolve to produce speech, but it did not evolve to be able to produce vocal overtones of great volumes, definitive of a singing voice. Unlike animals born to produce vocal overtones, such as whales and birds, the ability to produce powerful vocal overtones and project our communications to great distances, were never critical to the survival of the human race. We don't need to know how to sing to survive, or to feed and breed, like other animals. The point is that students of singing must spend a lot of energy training to facilitate the physics that will transform their bodies into wind instruments that can produce vocal overtones. To be sure, the process of learning how to sing and the experience of teaching people how to sing is an abstract endeavor. However, with practice and physical workouts, the body can be trained to produce the most beautiful and effective overtones of all the animals on Earth and transform a mechanism facilitated for speech, into a system that is the most beautiful instrument of all. It is widely agreed by musicologists and music lovers of all points of reference that the human singing voice, when properly aligned, is the most beautiful and most versatile instrument of all, capable of producing athletic feats that no other musical instrument can. Summary The singing voice and the speaking voice are two very different kinds of vocal systems. The speaking voice and all the physical attributes involved in producing speech are not going to drive the singing voice and support modern vocal applications. Getting into your singing voice is an abstract art form and therefore, in order to train a modern vocalist, we must work to develop new muscle memory responses and increase muscular strength in key areas of the larynx to transform a vocal system, evolved to facilitate speech, into a system that can sing. This essay first published November 27, 2008 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  3. At The Vocalist Studio, we don't warm up our voice, more accurately, we warm up to get into our singing voices. The physiology of the speaking voice vs. that of the singing voice The Singing Voice vs. The Speaking Voice If vocalists want to achieve a profound increase in range and enjoy overtones with absolute physical freedom from gripping and inefficient physical ticks, the modern vocalist must learn how to get into his/her "singing voice" and get out of the speaking voice. The speaking voice and all the bodily responses that produce speech are not a platform for producing the singing voice. When a singer lacks the knowledge and practice of a legitimate voice technique, the brain will send creative commands from the right brain that cannot be effectively executed because there simply is no learned behavior or coordinated muscle memory responses developed to drive the singing voice. When this happens, an internal battle between the well-intended right brain signals and untrained, physical limitations of the body are out of synch. Yet the show must go on and the body must respond, so it does so by hurling the speaking voice at complex melodic ideas that require the muscles, normally facilitated for speech, to respond in an extraordinary way, it is not designed to do. This is an approach that is inevitably doomed. The evolution of the human singing voice Consider this perspective. The human larynx did evolve to produce speech, but it did not evolve to be able to produce vocal overtones of great volumes, definitive of a singing voice. Unlike animals born to produce vocal overtones, such as whales and birds, the ability to produce powerful vocal overtones and project our communications to great distances, were never critical to the survival of the human race. We don't need to know how to sing to survive, or to feed and breed, like other animals. The point is that students of singing must spend a lot of energy training to facilitate the physics that will transform their bodies into wind instruments that can produce vocal overtones. To be sure, the process of learning how to sing and the experience of teaching people how to sing is an abstract endeavor. However, with practice and physical workouts, the body can be trained to produce the most beautiful and effective overtones of all the animals on Earth and transform a mechanism facilitated for speech, into a system that is the most beautiful instrument of all. It is widely agreed by musicologists and music lovers of all points of reference that the human singing voice, when properly aligned, is the most beautiful and most versatile instrument of all, capable of producing athletic feats that no other musical instrument can. Summary The singing voice and the speaking voice are two very different kinds of vocal systems. The speaking voice and all the physical attributes involved in producing speech are not going to drive the singing voice and support modern vocal applications. Getting into your singing voice is an abstract art form and therefore, in order to train a modern vocalist, we must work to develop new muscle memory responses and increase muscular strength in key areas of the larynx to transform a vocal system, evolved to facilitate speech, into a system that can sing. This essay first published November 27, 2008 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles
  4. About Semi-Occluded Workouts Vs. Vocal Warm ups This article is about a specific kind of vocal warm up exercises. These kinds of workouts are called semi-occluded vocal tract postures. They are popular with singing techniques and with voice therapists. Their purpose are three-fold, as I have come to know them at The Vocalist Studio: Create More Efficient Phonation And Balance They balance the sub-glottal and super-glottal air pressure (above and below) the vocal folds and thus help the singer to create more efficient phonation and balance with the increased velocity of air required for singing. Inherently, speech vocal mode is not efficient compared to phonations used in singing, so the semi-occluded vocal tract exercises increase the efficiency of the relationship between the singer's respiration and vocal folds. Seamless Passage From Lower - To Higher Vocal Registers Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises establish a resonant track. They help the singer to get into a seamless passage through the vocal bridges (breaks), thus preparing the voice for good bridging from the lower vocal registers to the higher registers, namely, (chest to head voice). Lift The Voice Into Healthy "Top Down Phonation" They lift the voice out of what we call at The Vocalist Studio, bottom-up phonation into more healthy and successful top-down phonation. It excites the resonators (mouth, nose, sinuses), gets the overtone production placed in the mask and removes throaty singing. Summary This essay first published December 11, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  5. About Semi-Occluded Workouts Vs. Vocal Warm ups This article is about a specific kind of vocal warm up exercises. These kinds of workouts are called semi-occluded vocal tract postures. They are popular with singing techniques and with voice therapists. Their purpose are three-fold, as I have come to know them at The Vocalist Studio: Create More Efficient Phonation And Balance They balance the sub-glottal and super-glottal air pressure (above and below) the vocal folds and thus help the singer to create more efficient phonation and balance with the increased velocity of air required for singing. Inherently, speech vocal mode is not efficient compared to phonations used in singing, so the semi-occluded vocal tract exercises increase the efficiency of the relationship between the singer's respiration and vocal folds. Seamless Passage From Lower - To Higher Vocal Registers Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises establish a resonant track. They help the singer to get into a seamless passage through the vocal bridges (breaks), thus preparing the voice for good bridging from the lower vocal registers to the higher registers, namely, (chest to head voice). Lift The Voice Into Healthy "Top Down Phonation" They lift the voice out of what we call at The Vocalist Studio, bottom-up phonation into more healthy and successful top-down phonation. It excites the resonators (mouth, nose, sinuses), gets the overtone production placed in the mask and removes throaty singing. Summary This essay first published December 11, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles
  6. TMV World Team

    Colds or Flus: To Sing or Not to Sing

    Q: I've heard that singers should not sing if they have a cold or a hoarse voice. Is this always true? Flu Season A: This is a timely question during the winter flu season. Many singers are sensibly concerned about harming their voice. A singer may find herself hoarse for just a day, a week, or chronically. Hoarseness or laryngitis is an inflammation and swelling of the vocal folds, which inhibits them from properly stretching and closing. If they can't stretch and close, they are unable to properly vibrate and produce the desired sound. Two Reasons Laryngitis can be the result of a respiratory infection such as bronchitis or the result of vocal strain from singing incorrectly. If you are hoarse due to an infection, seek appropriate medical attention and remedies like antibiotics, vitamins, etc. If you have vocal strain, then the remedy is proper warm-ups to rehabilitate your vocal muscles returning them to optimum health and vibrational capacity. A hoarse voice after singing means you need to find a good voice teacher or work with one of my self-study courses to develop your vocal muscles. To Sing or Not to Sing In less serious circumstances, there are two types of colds or throat infections. With one you can sing and with the other you should not. If you have a respiratory infection, which is in your larynx (voice box) or lungs, do not sing. However, sometimes the vocal recovery of a lower respiratory infection can take some time. To facilitate this recovery, once the infection is gone, use of specific vocal warm-up exercises will help restore your voice. If you have an infection of your upper throat or sinuses, you can sing, if you prefer that to canceling a performance. Though a sinus infection can make the back wall of your throat painful when swallowing or singing, it will not affect your voice as long as the infection is not also in your larynx. Serious There are certain symptoms, which may suggest a more serious problem. If you have a raspy voice when speaking for a prolonged period of time, a shut down of the upper range where your voice now just squeaks out, notes that were previously fine just won't come out now, pain when singing or speaking or chronic laryngitis, you should waste no time getting professional help. These are indications of possible nodes or polyps and you should consult an otolaryngologist (ear,nose and throat specialist). No one should be hoarse for more than two weeks without being examined by a competent medical specialist. A Stitch in Time Saves Nine On the lighter side, the old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is really the best approach. Do vocal warm-ups before rehearsal or performance and work with a good coach or self-study course so that you develop vocal stamina and avoid the need for a cure. This essay first published January 1, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  7. Q: I've heard that singers should not sing if they have a cold or a hoarse voice. Is this always true? Flu Season A: This is a timely question during the winter flu season. Many singers are sensibly concerned about harming their voice. A singer may find herself hoarse for just a day, a week, or chronically. Hoarseness or laryngitis is an inflammation and swelling of the vocal folds, which inhibits them from properly stretching and closing. If they can't stretch and close, they are unable to properly vibrate and produce the desired sound. Two Reasons Laryngitis can be the result of a respiratory infection such as bronchitis or the result of vocal strain from singing incorrectly. If you are hoarse due to an infection, seek appropriate medical attention and remedies like antibiotics, vitamins, etc. If you have vocal strain, then the remedy is proper warm-ups to rehabilitate your vocal muscles returning them to optimum health and vibrational capacity. A hoarse voice after singing means you need to find a good voice teacher or work with one of my self-study courses to develop your vocal muscles. To Sing or Not to Sing In less serious circumstances, there are two types of colds or throat infections. With one you can sing and with the other you should not. If you have a respiratory infection, which is in your larynx (voice box) or lungs, do not sing. However, sometimes the vocal recovery of a lower respiratory infection can take some time. To facilitate this recovery, once the infection is gone, use of specific vocal warm-up exercises will help restore your voice. If you have an infection of your upper throat or sinuses, you can sing, if you prefer that to canceling a performance. Though a sinus infection can make the back wall of your throat painful when swallowing or singing, it will not affect your voice as long as the infection is not also in your larynx. Serious There are certain symptoms, which may suggest a more serious problem. If you have a raspy voice when speaking for a prolonged period of time, a shut down of the upper range where your voice now just squeaks out, notes that were previously fine just won't come out now, pain when singing or speaking or chronic laryngitis, you should waste no time getting professional help. These are indications of possible nodes or polyps and you should consult an otolaryngologist (ear,nose and throat specialist). No one should be hoarse for more than two weeks without being examined by a competent medical specialist. A Stitch in Time Saves Nine On the lighter side, the old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is really the best approach. Do vocal warm-ups before rehearsal or performance and work with a good coach or self-study course so that you develop vocal stamina and avoid the need for a cure. This essay first published January 1, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles
  8. TMV World Team

    How to Sing Hard and Avoid Vocal Blow-Out

    Can you use it and not lose it? As you may know from experience, powerful singing is a style that seems plagued by its own punishment - strain, hoarseness, laryngitis, throat discomfort, loss of upper range, or a frequent need to "clear your throat." Severe cases may result in nodes (calluses on the inner rims of vocal folds) or polyps (blisters on the tops or undersides of the vocal folds), which are painful and may restrict your singing. Metal and Rock singers often have the attitude that training will make them sound too pretty. So not knowing what else to do, they bash and trash their voice resulting in canceled gigs, recording sessions or whole tours. Does singing powerfully automatically mean that you'll wreck your voice? The good news is that it's not what sounds you make, but how you make them that will save your voice! Through over 40 years of my own vocal performance, and over 30 years of vocal research and coaching others, I've found there are techniques that allow you to sing any style you want and without the bad effects. Vocal Blow-Out Vocal blow-out stems from both external and internal conditions. The main external conditions are: late hours, insufficient rest, bad nutrition, alcohol, drugs, smoky clubs, PA and monitor problems, incorrect microphone design for your voice, and competing with band volume. The key factor, however, is internal: improper use of your vocal instrument when singing powerfully. To scope this out and get a handle on it, an understanding of your instrument is necessary. Vocal Basics Vocal sound, as you may already know, is the result of the vibration of your vocal folds (often called "vocal cords" but they're not cords; they're folds and that's their actual name). The inside of your throat has two vertical tubes; one positioned in front of the other. The tube in front is for air (trachea), while the one for swallowing food (esophagus) runs behind it, more in the center of your throat. Your two vocal folds are positioned just behind your Adam's apple and lie horizontally across the inside of your trachea. They are coated with mucous membrane and come equipped with their own tuning pegs, which are connected to the back ends of the folds. The folds remain open during regular breathing. But for every sound you make, their tuning pegs automatically pivot and close the folds so they are lying rim to rim next to each other. With each sound you decide to make, the muscles of the folds prepare and adjust by stretching, thinning and shortening the length of the rim that will vibrate. Higher pitches require less air for the folds to stretch, thin out and a shorter length of them to vibrate. For low notes, the reverse is true. The principle involved is similar to fretting the strings on a guitar: a shorter length and thinner string gives faster vibrations and higher pitches; a fatter string and longer length gives slower vibrations and lower pitches. Examining the Problem To produce vocal sound, air is released from your lungs and vibrates your stretched and closed vocal folds. If you push too much air up against and through the folds, too much pressure is created. The muscles of your folds will tighten, your throat muscles tense, and your problems begin. Many singers unconsciously associate tension with big emotion and hard singing. For your sound to be big, just the opposite is needed. The louder and harder your sound, the more resonance is needed. If your throat and tongue tighten or your mouth closes, you shut down your acoustic chamber and there goes the resonance. The stress created by the push of excess air pressure and muscle tension can cause an irritation and swelling of your folds. The result is usually: hoarseness, power loss, range shrinkage, and other difficulties, including a strained and off pitch-voice. I work with several techniques that permit powerful singing while eliminating the risk of vocal blow-out. While all the techniques aren't possible to fully detail in this short article, you'll find it helpful to apply the following. Self Test Try saying the word "how." Put extra emphasis on the "H" as you do so. Now sing the word in the same way. Notice how emphasizing the "H" makes your throat feel and your voice sound. Sing the word again, and this time, as you sustain the tone, form the "W." Decide if you like this outcome. Now try singing it with minimal air on the "H" and instead, emphasizing the "O" (which will sound more like an "Ah" when you sing it). Notice the result. This should feel and sound better. Vowel sounds result from the vibration of your vocal folds. Consonants are created with an exhaled air stream and are formed by your mouth. If you emphasize consonants when you sing, it will push out too much air and tense the muscles in your throat and mouth. This makes it difficult for your voice to work well and you may find yourself tightening throat and tongue muscles in an effort to hit the note. This stress and strain will choke off your sound killing resonance, cause you to go off pitch or miss the note entirely, run into register break and at the very least will result in vocal fatigue. The problem usually magnifies as you sing higher and louder. Vowels, worked with correctly, will relax the acoustic chamber of your throat and mouth and increase your volume through resonance. Consonants should not be shaped at the same moment as you sing the note/vowel. They will crush your sound and tighten your vocal muscles. Let the vowels take the spotlight. Putting this to Use Go through a song you find challenging, as follows: 1) First sing the melody of the song through using the vowel Ah. Pronounce it naturally, and focus on singing the same pronunciation for each pitch. With the Ah, sing the melody very smoothly, note to note. 2) Now sing the song through using the lyrics and note any changes. 3) Next, talk through the lyrics and notice the sound of each vowel. Maintaining this awareness, sing the song. Be aware that the pronunciation of many vowels, when sung, is often different than the spelling. (eg. "I" is often pronounced more like "Ah." "Say" uses more of an "Eh" than an "A" sound.) 4) If you run into any trouble spots, chances are you're pushing and closing your mouth on the consonants that begin or end the word, while simultaneously singing the vowel. 5) Sing that word or phrase again, focusing on the vowel and letting the consonant(s) take a secondary role. 6) On any melody note that you sustain, such as at the end of a phrase, notice; are you closing your mouth prematurely simultaneously ending the word, or are you letting the vowel sound sustain? Try it both ways and decide which you like better. Practicing with this new awareness may at first take some extra thought. But it soon becomes second nature, while your sound is enhanced and singing the way you want becomes easier! You will find more information and the exercises you need for powerful singing in my book and CD course: The Contemporary Vocalist. This essay first published April 22, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  9. Can you use it and not lose it? As you may know from experience, powerful singing is a style that seems plagued by its own punishment - strain, hoarseness, laryngitis, throat discomfort, loss of upper range, or a frequent need to "clear your throat." Severe cases may result in nodes (calluses on the inner rims of vocal folds) or polyps (blisters on the tops or undersides of the vocal folds), which are painful and may restrict your singing. Metal and Rock singers often have the attitude that training will make them sound too pretty. So not knowing what else to do, they bash and trash their voice resulting in canceled gigs, recording sessions or whole tours. Does singing powerfully automatically mean that you'll wreck your voice? The good news is that it's not what sounds you make, but how you make them that will save your voice! Through over 40 years of my own vocal performance, and over 30 years of vocal research and coaching others, I've found there are techniques that allow you to sing any style you want and without the bad effects. Vocal Blow-Out Vocal blow-out stems from both external and internal conditions. The main external conditions are: late hours, insufficient rest, bad nutrition, alcohol, drugs, smoky clubs, PA and monitor problems, incorrect microphone design for your voice, and competing with band volume. The key factor, however, is internal: improper use of your vocal instrument when singing powerfully. To scope this out and get a handle on it, an understanding of your instrument is necessary. Vocal Basics Vocal sound, as you may already know, is the result of the vibration of your vocal folds (often called "vocal cords" but they're not cords; they're folds and that's their actual name). The inside of your throat has two vertical tubes; one positioned in front of the other. The tube in front is for air (trachea), while the one for swallowing food (esophagus) runs behind it, more in the center of your throat. Your two vocal folds are positioned just behind your Adam's apple and lie horizontally across the inside of your trachea. They are coated with mucous membrane and come equipped with their own tuning pegs, which are connected to the back ends of the folds. The folds remain open during regular breathing. But for every sound you make, their tuning pegs automatically pivot and close the folds so they are lying rim to rim next to each other. With each sound you decide to make, the muscles of the folds prepare and adjust by stretching, thinning and shortening the length of the rim that will vibrate. Higher pitches require less air for the folds to stretch, thin out and a shorter length of them to vibrate. For low notes, the reverse is true. The principle involved is similar to fretting the strings on a guitar: a shorter length and thinner string gives faster vibrations and higher pitches; a fatter string and longer length gives slower vibrations and lower pitches. Examining the Problem To produce vocal sound, air is released from your lungs and vibrates your stretched and closed vocal folds. If you push too much air up against and through the folds, too much pressure is created. The muscles of your folds will tighten, your throat muscles tense, and your problems begin. Many singers unconsciously associate tension with big emotion and hard singing. For your sound to be big, just the opposite is needed. The louder and harder your sound, the more resonance is needed. If your throat and tongue tighten or your mouth closes, you shut down your acoustic chamber and there goes the resonance. The stress created by the push of excess air pressure and muscle tension can cause an irritation and swelling of your folds. The result is usually: hoarseness, power loss, range shrinkage, and other difficulties, including a strained and off pitch-voice. I work with several techniques that permit powerful singing while eliminating the risk of vocal blow-out. While all the techniques aren't possible to fully detail in this short article, you'll find it helpful to apply the following. Self Test Try saying the word "how." Put extra emphasis on the "H" as you do so. Now sing the word in the same way. Notice how emphasizing the "H" makes your throat feel and your voice sound. Sing the word again, and this time, as you sustain the tone, form the "W." Decide if you like this outcome. Now try singing it with minimal air on the "H" and instead, emphasizing the "O" (which will sound more like an "Ah" when you sing it). Notice the result. This should feel and sound better. Vowel sounds result from the vibration of your vocal folds. Consonants are created with an exhaled air stream and are formed by your mouth. If you emphasize consonants when you sing, it will push out too much air and tense the muscles in your throat and mouth. This makes it difficult for your voice to work well and you may find yourself tightening throat and tongue muscles in an effort to hit the note. This stress and strain will choke off your sound killing resonance, cause you to go off pitch or miss the note entirely, run into register break and at the very least will result in vocal fatigue. The problem usually magnifies as you sing higher and louder. Vowels, worked with correctly, will relax the acoustic chamber of your throat and mouth and increase your volume through resonance. Consonants should not be shaped at the same moment as you sing the note/vowel. They will crush your sound and tighten your vocal muscles. Let the vowels take the spotlight. Putting this to Use Go through a song you find challenging, as follows: 1) First sing the melody of the song through using the vowel Ah. Pronounce it naturally, and focus on singing the same pronunciation for each pitch. With the Ah, sing the melody very smoothly, note to note. 2) Now sing the song through using the lyrics and note any changes. 3) Next, talk through the lyrics and notice the sound of each vowel. Maintaining this awareness, sing the song. Be aware that the pronunciation of many vowels, when sung, is often different than the spelling. (eg. "I" is often pronounced more like "Ah." "Say" uses more of an "Eh" than an "A" sound.) 4) If you run into any trouble spots, chances are you're pushing and closing your mouth on the consonants that begin or end the word, while simultaneously singing the vowel. 5) Sing that word or phrase again, focusing on the vowel and letting the consonant(s) take a secondary role. 6) On any melody note that you sustain, such as at the end of a phrase, notice; are you closing your mouth prematurely simultaneously ending the word, or are you letting the vowel sound sustain? Try it both ways and decide which you like better. Practicing with this new awareness may at first take some extra thought. But it soon becomes second nature, while your sound is enhanced and singing the way you want becomes easier! You will find more information and the exercises you need for powerful singing in my book and CD course: The Contemporary Vocalist. This essay first published April 22, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles
  10. TMV World Team

    Quick Tips to Sing Better Fast

    You love to sing. You do whatever it takes to sound good, but it's not always easy. You have your embarrassing moments. Sometimes your voice feels tight. Sometimes you get the note but not always with the best tone. Sometimes your voice cracks and you run out of air too soon. But you keep on going because you're determined to do this wonderful, magical thing that for some possibly unexplainable reason you can't imagine life without the magic and the power of singing. But could it ever feel easier? Many singers tend to do a few specific things, which actually make singing harder. Here are a few tricks of the trade that make singing easier no matter what your style. Quick Tip #1: Relax your tongue. Does your tongue tense as you sing? Does the back of it pull up as you go for a higher note? Does it pull back into the back of your mouth? (That will cause it to tense.) Try this: Select a song to sing. As you do, rest the tip of your tongue behind your bottom teeth. It will need to move a bit to accomplish some of the consonants, but otherwise, especially as you sing long notes, leave it relaxed low in your mouth with the tip resting against the back of your bottom teeth. It may take a bit of practice to break the habit of tensing and overworking it. Remember, do let it move for the consonants your words will still be understandable. But you will discover that releasing tension in the tongue has a lot to do with singing becoming easier. Quick Tip #2: Relax your lips. When you sing do you tense your lips? Are you exaggerating their movement, or that of your cheeks, or the opening of your mouth? Try this: Put on a recording of a song you like to sing or a backing track of a song you perform. Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself as you sing. Really put yourself into the song and watch your face, especially your lips and mouth. If you exaggerate the movement of your face as part of achieving the notes, this tension will back up into your throat and you will find yourself pushing against this tension. Remedy: Gently place the palms of both your hands on either side of your mouth on the sides of your face. Sing the song again and let your hands help you to relax the movements of your lips, checks and mouth. Of course there will be movement but with this we are working on letting the movement be relaxed and natural. How does that feel? Do you notice a difference in how you sound as well? (Hint: it should be automatically easier and better.) Facial expressions should be part of your expression of the song - not to get your voice to work. Quick Tip #3: Breathe into your back. Do you push your stomach forward when you take a breath and then push it in when you sing? If so, you're pushing out too much air, which will in turn over-pressurize your vocal folds and cause them to either tense or over relax. Or, as you sing, do you exhale or in some way push up or push out your air? Instead try this: Put your hands on the back of your sides (not the front, the back). Take a breath letting your ribs in back expand. You will probably feel the air coming into your back. Now sing. As you do, let your stomach remain relaxed and maintain the open position of your back). Do this a few times so you can really test it out. Explanation: When air comes into your body it goes into your lungs. The biggest parts of your lungs fill about 3/4ths of your back. To fill with air, your lungs need your rib cage to expand. The expansion of your ribs is what physically opens your lungs. This movement is what pulls-in your breath. If your ribs collapse as you sing or if your stomach pushes inwards, too much breath is expelled too fast. This can cause tension in your throat and can make reaching certain pitches more difficult. Singing with your ribs expanded results in a fuller voice. This essay first published August 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  11. You love to sing. You do whatever it takes to sound good, but it's not always easy. You have your embarrassing moments. Sometimes your voice feels tight. Sometimes you get the note but not always with the best tone. Sometimes your voice cracks and you run out of air too soon. But you keep on going because you're determined to do this wonderful, magical thing that for some possibly unexplainable reason you can't imagine life without the magic and the power of singing. But could it ever feel easier? Many singers tend to do a few specific things, which actually make singing harder. Here are a few tricks of the trade that make singing easier no matter what your style. Quick Tip #1: Relax your tongue. Does your tongue tense as you sing? Does the back of it pull up as you go for a higher note? Does it pull back into the back of your mouth? (That will cause it to tense.) Try this: Select a song to sing. As you do, rest the tip of your tongue behind your bottom teeth. It will need to move a bit to accomplish some of the consonants, but otherwise, especially as you sing long notes, leave it relaxed low in your mouth with the tip resting against the back of your bottom teeth. It may take a bit of practice to break the habit of tensing and overworking it. Remember, do let it move for the consonants your words will still be understandable. But you will discover that releasing tension in the tongue has a lot to do with singing becoming easier. Quick Tip #2: Relax your lips. When you sing do you tense your lips? Are you exaggerating their movement, or that of your cheeks, or the opening of your mouth? Try this: Put on a recording of a song you like to sing or a backing track of a song you perform. Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself as you sing. Really put yourself into the song and watch your face, especially your lips and mouth. If you exaggerate the movement of your face as part of achieving the notes, this tension will back up into your throat and you will find yourself pushing against this tension. Remedy: Gently place the palms of both your hands on either side of your mouth on the sides of your face. Sing the song again and let your hands help you to relax the movements of your lips, checks and mouth. Of course there will be movement but with this we are working on letting the movement be relaxed and natural. How does that feel? Do you notice a difference in how you sound as well? (Hint: it should be automatically easier and better.) Facial expressions should be part of your expression of the song - not to get your voice to work. Quick Tip #3: Breathe into your back. Do you push your stomach forward when you take a breath and then push it in when you sing? If so, you're pushing out too much air, which will in turn over-pressurize your vocal folds and cause them to either tense or over relax. Or, as you sing, do you exhale or in some way push up or push out your air? Instead try this: Put your hands on the back of your sides (not the front, the back). Take a breath letting your ribs in back expand. You will probably feel the air coming into your back. Now sing. As you do, let your stomach remain relaxed and maintain the open position of your back). Do this a few times so you can really test it out. Explanation: When air comes into your body it goes into your lungs. The biggest parts of your lungs fill about 3/4ths of your back. To fill with air, your lungs need your rib cage to expand. The expansion of your ribs is what physically opens your lungs. This movement is what pulls-in your breath. If your ribs collapse as you sing or if your stomach pushes inwards, too much breath is expelled too fast. This can cause tension in your throat and can make reaching certain pitches more difficult. Singing with your ribs expanded results in a fuller voice. This essay first published August 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles
  12. TMV World Team

    Vocal Control for Recording Studio Singing

    A large part of vocal training involves learning vocal control. Without vocal control, any vocal recording will suffer dreadfully. With it, you can do things you can only dream about without it. Another problem with lack of control is that if you are singing with any degree of power, you are going to experience a lot more vocal fatigue and risk damage to your instrument if you sing too long. With it, you can sing all day and not experience vocal strain. Yes, it's true! And a lack of control will cause you and your recording team frustration, or you'll just give up and settle for the best you and they think you can do. Usually, it's a huge waste of time and resources. Live performances are more forgiving of slight control issues, but studio singing requires surgically accurate control. So what am I talking about? For a great recording, you need vocal technique skills that will enable you to: Control volume. (Without it, your engineer will have to use excessive compression to even out volume, control distortion and bring soft sounds up so they can be heard. Some degree of "riding the faders" and compression is normal and usual, but the less the better. The less your vocals need to be compressed, the richer the resulting sound.) Control vocal lics and embellishments. (Without it, you will not be able to sing some vocal lics you attempt; "scats" or phrasing nuances will not "turn" well or flow evenly.) Control vibrato. (Without it, your vibrato will be too much, too little, uneven or inappropriately applied.) Control tone color. (Without it, the tone color of your voice will be too "covered", "hooty", "edgy", harsh, numb and boring or just plain wrong for the message. Your choices of tone of voice will be seriously limited, and your voice will sound small and/or unpleasant.) Control articulation. (Without it, you will over-, or more usually, under- pronounce the lyrics. There are differing degrees of articulation appropriate for different genres and tempos and types of lyrics. Singers must be able to know and apply the proper way to form words for their songs. For instance, blues music is pronounced more slurry. Hip- hop generally has sharper attacks. Pop is usually articulated clearer. Musical theater diction usually needs to be very crisp, but if you try to use this kind of diction in a pop song you will sound fake. But all songs should be understood, or the connection to the audience is not going to be made well.) Control sibilance. (Without this, recording your vocal can be a nightmare because too much sibilance hurts the listener's ears! And fixing excessive "s" sounds with de-"ss'ers always limits the quality of sound. A related problem is the popping of "p"s and other consonants. You must be able to control your consonants even while you clearly form them.) Control dynamic expression. (Without it, you will over-express and sound fake, under-express and bore the listener out of their minds, or bring too many changing emotional levels to the song to sound authentic and really move the heart of your listener. You have to know how to express the emotion of the lyric like a great actor delivering lines that invite an emotional response to the message.) Control the beginnings and ends of each phrase. (Without it, you will have trouble getting the beginning of the line right. You will drop off the ends of your sentences, robbing the listener of the complete thought. You will also find yourself with a lack of other kinds of control of initiating and ending lines, because you didn't set yourself up properly before entering the phrase or you've dropped your controlling support too early.) Control rhythm. (Without it, you will not be singing with the groove. You will be too early, too late or have inappropriate placement of lyrics via the beat. Again, different genres ask for different places the lyric should fit with the beat, but you have to know what your genre norms are and have the ability to sing with the beat that way. For instance, hip-hop usually has the lyric slightly behind the beat, pop usually right on top of it, gospel and big band "Sinatra" types are flexibly in and around the beat, but you really have to sing with a lot of the masters to get this authentically right.) Control pitch. (Without it, your engineer will have to tune the vocal too much, resulting in a mechanistic, artificial sound. You may be so inconsistent and inaccurate that tuning becomes almost impossible, because the tuner "grabs" the wrong pitch or can't draw the lic well enough to sound natural. Your bended notes may be so far off there is no way to make them sound in tune. Fact: The less you have to tune a vocal, the better. Don't get complacent here and think you can just have your engineer fix it in the mix. You'll be unpleasantly surprised.) Can you think of other types of control issues you've found in the studio? Which of these would you like to know more about? This essay first published September 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  13. A large part of vocal training involves learning vocal control. Without vocal control, any vocal recording will suffer dreadfully. With it, you can do things you can only dream about without it. Another problem with lack of control is that if you are singing with any degree of power, you are going to experience a lot more vocal fatigue and risk damage to your instrument if you sing too long. With it, you can sing all day and not experience vocal strain. Yes, it's true! And a lack of control will cause you and your recording team frustration, or you'll just give up and settle for the best you and they think you can do. Usually, it's a huge waste of time and resources. Live performances are more forgiving of slight control issues, but studio singing requires surgically accurate control. So what am I talking about? For a great recording, you need vocal technique skills that will enable you to: Control volume. (Without it, your engineer will have to use excessive compression to even out volume, control distortion and bring soft sounds up so they can be heard. Some degree of "riding the faders" and compression is normal and usual, but the less the better. The less your vocals need to be compressed, the richer the resulting sound.) Control vocal lics and embellishments. (Without it, you will not be able to sing some vocal lics you attempt; "scats" or phrasing nuances will not "turn" well or flow evenly.) Control vibrato. (Without it, your vibrato will be too much, too little, uneven or inappropriately applied.) Control tone color. (Without it, the tone color of your voice will be too "covered", "hooty", "edgy", harsh, numb and boring or just plain wrong for the message. Your choices of tone of voice will be seriously limited, and your voice will sound small and/or unpleasant.) Control articulation. (Without it, you will over-, or more usually, under- pronounce the lyrics. There are differing degrees of articulation appropriate for different genres and tempos and types of lyrics. Singers must be able to know and apply the proper way to form words for their songs. For instance, blues music is pronounced more slurry. Hip- hop generally has sharper attacks. Pop is usually articulated clearer. Musical theater diction usually needs to be very crisp, but if you try to use this kind of diction in a pop song you will sound fake. But all songs should be understood, or the connection to the audience is not going to be made well.) Control sibilance. (Without this, recording your vocal can be a nightmare because too much sibilance hurts the listener's ears! And fixing excessive "s" sounds with de-"ss'ers always limits the quality of sound. A related problem is the popping of "p"s and other consonants. You must be able to control your consonants even while you clearly form them.) Control dynamic expression. (Without it, you will over-express and sound fake, under-express and bore the listener out of their minds, or bring too many changing emotional levels to the song to sound authentic and really move the heart of your listener. You have to know how to express the emotion of the lyric like a great actor delivering lines that invite an emotional response to the message.) Control the beginnings and ends of each phrase. (Without it, you will have trouble getting the beginning of the line right. You will drop off the ends of your sentences, robbing the listener of the complete thought. You will also find yourself with a lack of other kinds of control of initiating and ending lines, because you didn't set yourself up properly before entering the phrase or you've dropped your controlling support too early.) Control rhythm. (Without it, you will not be singing with the groove. You will be too early, too late or have inappropriate placement of lyrics via the beat. Again, different genres ask for different places the lyric should fit with the beat, but you have to know what your genre norms are and have the ability to sing with the beat that way. For instance, hip-hop usually has the lyric slightly behind the beat, pop usually right on top of it, gospel and big band "Sinatra" types are flexibly in and around the beat, but you really have to sing with a lot of the masters to get this authentically right.) Control pitch. (Without it, your engineer will have to tune the vocal too much, resulting in a mechanistic, artificial sound. You may be so inconsistent and inaccurate that tuning becomes almost impossible, because the tuner "grabs" the wrong pitch or can't draw the lic well enough to sound natural. Your bended notes may be so far off there is no way to make them sound in tune. Fact: The less you have to tune a vocal, the better. Don't get complacent here and think you can just have your engineer fix it in the mix. You'll be unpleasantly surprised.) Can you think of other types of control issues you've found in the studio? Which of these would you like to know more about? This essay first published September 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles