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  1. What do you mean by the above, you may ask? What I mean is that the person in question, immediately after recovering their speech (or their singing voice for that matter), goes on the binge marathon. It's like a person who has been on a diet for sometime, after loosing the desirable weight, goes right back to their bad eating habits and binges on everything they were deprived of. No doubts that their lost weight will come back really fast and often double their original weight. Sad? Indeed! But that’s haw the human body works. Similarly, it happens with voice repair clients. They acquire virtually a "verbal diarrhea" And in spite of all my warnings and pleadings, they cannot stop talking until they again become raspy and hoarse! Now they are, so to speak, in their "comfort zone" but upset and frustrated that they have lost their ability to communicate with no pain or strain on their vocal anatomy, like they did during the instruction. Whose fault is that? Obviously their own. They obviously have not followed the recovery protocol, which was thoroughly and strongly advised to them. Who could they blame now? Obviously themselves. However, all of us are human and it is understandable that when we become deprived of something, we want to regain it back real fast and that's where the problem begins. We do not have patience, at least the majority of us. And those who do, we applaud! Nobody would imagine the athlete with an injured leg, (with only a few treatments behind his belt) suddenly start running a marathon! To regain the normal function of any organ, especially the limbs, spine and yes, voice, requires time and a strict regimen. In the case of the voice repair, the person requires to speak much less then before (at least for some time). They have to continuously consume the natural herbs and remedies that were suggested to them. The absolute minimum amount of hours to start the rehab to concur the voice issue would be 30 consecutive hours of unique instruction and natural treatment. For some people that is enough, and they can carry on from there on their own. For others, it requires 2 or even 3 times of repetition of the same and then maintenance - In other words, “tightening the screws” should prevail. It also depends on the severity of the vocal disorder However, the strong and determined people require less repletion and less maintenance. The more healthy and fit people usually have much less struggle with the instruction, treatment and aftermath. Those (with psychological problems and poor diet) require more attention on both parts – instruction and treatment. And, as a rule, they have many more problems during and after the process. Very often, the voice repair clients suffer from many physical and emotional problems, which also contribute to their voice loss and their voice dysfunction. So the voice problem could be a very complicated and deep matter, as the voice loss might be just a symptom of something much more serious going on with the person. Therefore, the voice issue cannot be taken lightly and should be addressed immediately, as it could be an indication of something serious yet to come, for example, a stroke or heart attack. I want my readers to understand the seriousness of any voice disorder and address it, if not medically, then alternatively, as soon as possible.
  2. What an experience I had teaching two masterclasses at Mount Saint Mary's University in Brentwood, California for The Vocalizeu artist intensive week, April 10-19th, 2015. I have to admit, I was extremely nervous as I do not like public speaking. Throw a wig on me and ask me to perform for thousands- that's easy. But speaking about something as divided and controversial as singing technique, well, that's another animal. During the months leading up to the presentation, I was trying to figure out how to present my philosophies about singing not only to a room full of artists, performers, singers, and musicians, but also to a round table of "who's who" in the singing/science of singing community such as Mindy Pack, Dave Stroud, and Karin Titze Cox MA CCC/SLP/Vocologist (Daughter of Dr. Ingo R. Titze- if you don't know him, Google him. He's basically the father of science and practice of voice rehab. Nobody is more in the know of voice than this brilliant man) as well as many other professional teachers. With that being said, I wrote some notes and tried to follow a script. But in the end, I just had a blast helping a lot of singers. Everyone at the Masterclass was so understanding of my nerves. They put me at ease so I was able to explain and demonstrate the tools that I have been using onstage and in my home, scaring my neighbors to death, for the past 25 years. Not to mention my wife and daughter dealing with my ups and downs and keeping me moving forward as an artist. I would like to thank everyone for making this a great experience. A special thanks goes to Mindy Pack for asking me to do this, Dave Stroud for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself, Fawna and Ian for dealing with my horrible internet skills, and lastly Karin Titze Cox for giving me confidence by letting me know that the things I teach and believe in are solid, making it a little bit easier for me to believe in my abilities. Thank you everyone! I can't wait to do more with the VIP Crew! Daniel www.yourvocalteacher.com
  3. Hey all! I recently discovered my two favorite vocalists (Aaron Tveit and Jeremy Jordan) both went to the same music school, and I would love to go there. Unfortunately, the tuition for the school is about $35,000, and I don't think I can afford that. Could private vocal lessons with the right teacher help me just as much? For example, I'm currently trying to sing Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, and I'm doing it in Bb which is already a full one and a half steps down from the original, but I can't sing the chorus without straining. Wouldn't a vocal teacher be able to help that? Thanks in advance for the help!
  4. I found this cool web site that offers bed tracks for Classical arias and art songs! Check it out! http://www.virtualorchestra.eu
  5. Many teachers will tell you to squeeze your bum cheeks to eliminate strain and to sing higher notes. What do you guys think of this technique, does it work?
  6. For every singer, the question should be; do I possess the distinct tone and the uniqueness of the sound overall?It is easier said than done. Majority of people could carry a tune, but not too many could sing, I mean, really sing. First of all, the person who likes to call him/herself a singer should possess a proper vocal technique, which will allow the singer a freedom to vocalize to their hearts content. They should be able to do it with absolute ease and pleasure, and not to have hardship while trying to deliver their message to their audience. If they don’t know how to work smart, so to speak, and not hard, they also could ruin their voice in the process. And if that happens, their artistic tendencies would not count for anything. Just like in figure skating, the artistic merit is very important, as well as looks, costumes and presence on the ice. But if the skater lands 3 out of 4 jump combinations flat on the ice, the former will not count, and vice versa. So obviously, both technical and artistic merits should be very strong. Similarly in singing, the person might have a strong and powerful voice. That person could even have some knowledge of vocal technique, but his tone is not pleasant, and his passion is not there, so he sounds, quite often, very harsh, loud and robotic. There is nothing unique about that singer and he does not possess any identification of his persona. So his ‘biometric data’ is pretty shut down and obviously not thriving. If that singer performs at the bar, he will find that within the first few minutes, he has “lost” his audience. People are not listening, talking loud, eating and drinking and not paying attention to what’s happening on stage. On the contrary, when there is an artist singing in a bar or in a concert hall, projecting the right power and dynamics, knowledge, intelligence and proper vocal technique, the audience are captured by the singer and stop talking and stop eating….and stop drinking. Interestingly enough, many years ago, I was invited to do a presentation/workshop about the Vocal Science ™ technique in one of downtown Toronto’s venues. The pretty respectable bar was holding some kind of a music related event and I was invited to tell and show to the up and coming artists what the Vocal Science method is all about and how to apply it to the actual singing. The first 15-20 minutes, I thought, were very successful, as the audience was silent and completely taken by me. Then somebody tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to finish my presentation in a short order. I was extremely surprised, as the audience obviously loved it and wanted more. But then, I realized that I was producing an ‘opposite effect’ for the venue: I “took away” their customers, as almost everybody stopped talking, stopped eating, and mainly… stopped drinking. LOL.Obviously, I realized later, and after the fact, that the whole Idea for that bar was to invite as many drinking musicians as the capacity would allow. Go figure! In any other occasion, it would be considered as a desirable outcome, and so it should be! So if your biometrics are intact, your vocal technique is impeccable and your passion and desire is present, you will be remembered as, in this instance, your tone will be unique and your sound will be distinct. Achieving all of the above, consider your entire being (voice included, nevertheless) fully optimized!
  7. Song selection is sometimes the most important factor in an audition preparation. What type of song you pick depends entirely on what you audition for. Here is what to consider. Musical: Take time to get to know the show. Choose who you want to be and pick a difficult song from another show by a similar character. For instance, if you want to be Marian in Music Man, find a piece similar to her hardest solo, “My White Knight.” Several aspects of the song are difficult, but focus on singing something in the same vocal range and style. Opera: Whether you audition for the chorus or as a soloist makes a big difference in the world of opera. You may sing one selection to sing in the chorus, and at least two to sing solo. Pick an aria in German, Italian, English, or French. Do not audition with an art song. Typically as a soloist, you pick one aria to perform and prepare and list several others for the casting director to pick from. List at least one serious and one funny selection, represent several languages, pick arias from several periods (Mozart, Rossini, Massenet), and be prepared to sing whatever they ask you to. Jazz Gig: With jazz gigs, most managers expect you to either play the piano yourself or provide your own live accompaniment. Be proactive and ask at restaurants or department stores whether you may audition. They may want background music or a main attraction. Try to find out before the audition, so you can select music accordingly. Prepare at least 30-45 minutes of repertoire for a performance. If you are hired for a longer period of time, just take a break, and then run your set again
  8. Hello All: I thought that since I have not seen much on TMV regarding SLS or Speech Level Singing, which is the technique pioneered and taught by the master vocal teacher and one of my greatest teachers ever, Seth Riggs, I would post an introduction to the principles of SLS for everyone to read and learn from. Introduction to Speech Level Singing Overview Speech Level Singing is not new. It is a technique devised and originated by Seth Riggs of Los Angeles, California that has produced over 100 Grammy winners and many Metropolitan Opera winners. Seth Riggs is the most renowned voice teacher and vocal technician in the industry of performing arts and teaches around the world. Some names of famous singers who use this technique are Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Bryan Adams, Michael Bolton, Janet Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Ricky Martin, Julie Andrews, Connie Stevens, Bernedette Peters, Natalie Cole and many, many others who are in the singing industry today. Some of the groups who have worked with SLS are Kiss, The Eurythmics, Chicago, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith, etc. Speech Level Singing is a technique that allows a person to sing with a "free voice." The only muscles that are engaged when singing with this technique are the muscles attached to the vocal cords, inside the voice box (larynx), i.e., the muscles of speech, as well as keeping the larynx at the level of speech production, hence the term "Speech Level Singing." It allows you to sing freely and clearly anywhere in your range with all your words clearly understood. Since you are not learning what to sing but rather HOW to sing, you can apply this technique to ANY type of music. Simply put, Speech Level Singing states that if the larynx stays down and the vocal cords stay together from the very bottom of the vocal range to the very top everything is fine. This also applies to all vowel and consonant combinations through out any phrase. If at any point the larynx jumps up or down or the tone becomes breathy then there is something wrong with the vocal process. The larynx is the big bump in the middle of the neck just below the chin. This houses the vocal cords and controls the process of swallowing. When the larynx moves up, the muscles around the cords act as a sphincter and closes so as to prevent swallowing down the windpipe and into the lungs. This is a very important process when you need to swallow, but it is a very poor process when you are trying to sing. If you place your hand on your larynx and yawn, you will find that you can bring your larynx down as well. This is a good way to learn what it feels like to have the larynx stay down. The end goal here is to be able to keep the larynx from moving too far down as well as too far up. It should stay in a fairly stable and speech level position as you ascend and descend. This is a very brief and condensed version of SLS, there is obviously a lot more to it. But, to give you an idea of what is correct, take these two ideas and while you are singing, monitor them. See if you can keep your larynx stable and your cords together. You will probably find that there is a certain area of your voice that is easy for you to accomplish this, and certain points of your voice that are more difficult. These harder areas are called bridges. Breathing Breathing for singing is a very relaxed process. When it is said that you can regulate it, what is meant is that you allow it to happen so that inhalation and exhalation are done in a way that best suits your musical needs. You do not have to work at breathing correctly unless you have poor posture or a tendency to raise your chest and shoulders and take shallow breaths. Your diaphragm, rib muscles and abdominal muscles are already strong enough for your needs as a singer. If you maintain good posture when you sing, and are careful not to let your chest collapse as you exhale, your diaphragm is able to move freely and be regulated by your abdominal muscles automatically. There is no need to consciously exert tension in those muscles. If you do try to directly control your breathing muscles when you sing, the extra tension in your body will only cause your vocal cords to overtense and jam up. Very little air is required to produce a good tone. Even for a loud tone, the amount of air you use need only be enough to support the vibration of your vocal cords no more, no less so that your tone is produced without any effort or strain. Just as trying to control your breathing muscles directly will cause your vocal cords to jam up, so will using too much air. That's because when you sing, your cords are instinctively committed to holding back (or at least trying to hold back) any amount of air you send their way. And the more air you send them, the tighter your cords have to get to hold it back. Also, this is when the outer muscles around your larynx will assist the cords by pulling on and tightening around your larynx in order to hold back the excess of air blasted at your cords. You know you have proper breath support when there is a balance between air and muscle. There will be a mutual and simultaneous coordination of the proper amount of air with the proper adjustment of your vocal cords. Bridges A bridge is a spot where resonation shifts from one area of your body to another (for example, from your chest to your head). Another term for a bridge is the Italian word for passage, passagie (passagio when plural). When you hear the word passagie, you are hearing a reference to a bridge. Knowing where your bridges are can really help you smooth out the resonation from one area of your body to the next. Bridges take place in different spots for men and women, but they are fairly universal within a gender. We will deal with four areas of resonation: the first is chest voice, the second is mix voice, the third is head voice, and the final is super head voice. All combine to create ONE FULL VOICE. Men's Bridges Men, with the exception of basses or dramatic baritones, start their first bridge at E-flat above a keyboard's middle C. This is the first note in the mixing or blending area of the voice (a blend of chest voice and head voice), and each chromatic move up will transition the voice toward a headier position and sound. The male vocalist will not feel completely in his head voice until an A or B-flat. This is where the second bridge is. This second bridge goes from A or B-flat above a keyboard's middle C to D above the keyboard's high C. Women's Bridges Women's bridges are similar to men's: they exist within approximately an augmented 4th interval. But they begin where a man's second bridge is. So, generally speaking, a woman's first bridge is on a A or B flat above the keyboard middle C. Below this is a woman's chest voice, and above this, up to a D, is mix voice. Once a female vocalist hits an E-flat (or sometimes an E), she is in head voice. Strictly on a technical level, a woman shouldn't sing completely in head voice until an E-flat. This area of resonation will continue up to an A or B-flat below a keyboard's double-high C. This third bridge puts the female singer in a super head voice, and she will stay in that until she reaches an E-flat above a keyboard's double-high C. When singing most songs, women don't need to go much past this fourth bridge, but there are a few more bridges beyond this fourth bridge. Once again, they are at intervals of an augmented fourth above the E-flat above a keyboard's double high C: the fifth bridge is on A, and the sixth is on the E-flat above that. These last two areas of resonation are known as the whistle range, and as I stated, most women don't use these areas, but they do exist and can be developed. Crossing Bridges You may have heard about vocal-cord adduction and the need to develop good cord closure. It is essential that the vocal cords stay together as a singer crosses the bridges. Your first bridge is the most critical. It's where the outer muscles (if they haven't done so already) are most likely to enter into the adjustment process. When they do, they pull on and tighten around the outside of the larynx in an effort to stretch the vocal cords to get the necessary tension for the pitch or volume level you require. Stretching your cords in this manner causes your entire singing mechanism tone and words to jam up! Fortunately, there is an easier and much better way to stretch your vocal cords to achieve the necessary tensions without disrupting your tone-making process or your word-making process. The key is to do less in order to do more. To be specific, the higher you sing, the less air you should use. When you reduce the amount of air you send to your vocal cords, you make it possible for the muscles inside your larynx to stretch your vocal cords by themselves. Your outer muscles are less likely to interfere because there isn't as much air to hold back. Your outer muscles will interfere in the vibration process whenever you use more air than your vocal cords and the other muscles inside your larynx are able to handle. As the pitch ascends, sound traveling from the vocal cords shifts paths. Chest voice travels to the hard palate and out of the mouth. As the pitch rises and goes over the first bridge, the sound begins to split, going behind the soft palate as well as to the hard palate. This is a balancing act of sorts. If too much sound is traveling in front of the soft palate and out of the mouth, the result will be a wide vowel and what is called pulled chest. A residual result will be a high larynx. The right balance depends on which note within the mix is being sung. By the time you're completely in head voice, much of the sound will be traveling behind the soft palate before exiting the skull. Each time a singer reaches a bridge, more sound must pass behind the soft palate and more resonation within the skull should take place. Singers resist letting sound pass behind the soft palate for a couple of reasons: The first is that they hear the tone bouncing within the skull and feel that it sounds too ringy. They don't realize that the sound they're hearing is not what the audience is hearing. They're picking up this sound through the skull, not from within the room they're singing in. One way to deal with this is to record yourself passing into mix and head voice; then play back what you've recorded. You will hear the difference between how you really sounded and the sound you heard resonating in your head. The second reason for resistance is that many singers get used to feeling that they have to muscle notes. As you learn to master the bridges, you'll feel very little pressure. There is compression from the diaphragm and resistance from the cords being held together, but there will not be any tightness in the neck or under the chin. This lack of pressure can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable for many singers and even feel a bit precarious, especially if the strength in the mix is not quite there. Once again, recording an arpeggio that ascends into the head voice and playing it back can shed some light on the relationship between what a certain note sounds like and what it should feel like as you sing it. View full articles
  9. Hello All: I thought that since I have not seen much on TMV regarding SLS or Speech Level Singing, which is the technique pioneered and taught by the master vocal teacher and one of my greatest teachers ever, Seth Riggs, I would post an introduction to the principles of SLS for everyone to read and learn from. Introduction to Speech Level Singing Overview Speech Level Singing is not new. It is a technique devised and originated by Seth Riggs of Los Angeles, California that has produced over 100 Grammy winners and many Metropolitan Opera winners. Seth Riggs is the most renowned voice teacher and vocal technician in the industry of performing arts and teaches around the world. Some names of famous singers who use this technique are Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Bryan Adams, Michael Bolton, Janet Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Ricky Martin, Julie Andrews, Connie Stevens, Bernedette Peters, Natalie Cole and many, many others who are in the singing industry today. Some of the groups who have worked with SLS are Kiss, The Eurythmics, Chicago, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith, etc. Speech Level Singing is a technique that allows a person to sing with a "free voice." The only muscles that are engaged when singing with this technique are the muscles attached to the vocal cords, inside the voice box (larynx), i.e., the muscles of speech, as well as keeping the larynx at the level of speech production, hence the term "Speech Level Singing." It allows you to sing freely and clearly anywhere in your range with all your words clearly understood. Since you are not learning what to sing but rather HOW to sing, you can apply this technique to ANY type of music. Simply put, Speech Level Singing states that if the larynx stays down and the vocal cords stay together from the very bottom of the vocal range to the very top everything is fine. This also applies to all vowel and consonant combinations through out any phrase. If at any point the larynx jumps up or down or the tone becomes breathy then there is something wrong with the vocal process. The larynx is the big bump in the middle of the neck just below the chin. This houses the vocal cords and controls the process of swallowing. When the larynx moves up, the muscles around the cords act as a sphincter and closes so as to prevent swallowing down the windpipe and into the lungs. This is a very important process when you need to swallow, but it is a very poor process when you are trying to sing. If you place your hand on your larynx and yawn, you will find that you can bring your larynx down as well. This is a good way to learn what it feels like to have the larynx stay down. The end goal here is to be able to keep the larynx from moving too far down as well as too far up. It should stay in a fairly stable and speech level position as you ascend and descend. This is a very brief and condensed version of SLS, there is obviously a lot more to it. But, to give you an idea of what is correct, take these two ideas and while you are singing, monitor them. See if you can keep your larynx stable and your cords together. You will probably find that there is a certain area of your voice that is easy for you to accomplish this, and certain points of your voice that are more difficult. These harder areas are called bridges. Breathing Breathing for singing is a very relaxed process. When it is said that you can regulate it, what is meant is that you allow it to happen so that inhalation and exhalation are done in a way that best suits your musical needs. You do not have to work at breathing correctly unless you have poor posture or a tendency to raise your chest and shoulders and take shallow breaths. Your diaphragm, rib muscles and abdominal muscles are already strong enough for your needs as a singer. If you maintain good posture when you sing, and are careful not to let your chest collapse as you exhale, your diaphragm is able to move freely and be regulated by your abdominal muscles automatically. There is no need to consciously exert tension in those muscles. If you do try to directly control your breathing muscles when you sing, the extra tension in your body will only cause your vocal cords to overtense and jam up. Very little air is required to produce a good tone. Even for a loud tone, the amount of air you use need only be enough to support the vibration of your vocal cords no more, no less so that your tone is produced without any effort or strain. Just as trying to control your breathing muscles directly will cause your vocal cords to jam up, so will using too much air. That's because when you sing, your cords are instinctively committed to holding back (or at least trying to hold back) any amount of air you send their way. And the more air you send them, the tighter your cords have to get to hold it back. Also, this is when the outer muscles around your larynx will assist the cords by pulling on and tightening around your larynx in order to hold back the excess of air blasted at your cords. You know you have proper breath support when there is a balance between air and muscle. There will be a mutual and simultaneous coordination of the proper amount of air with the proper adjustment of your vocal cords. Bridges A bridge is a spot where resonation shifts from one area of your body to another (for example, from your chest to your head). Another term for a bridge is the Italian word for passage, passagie (passagio when plural). When you hear the word passagie, you are hearing a reference to a bridge. Knowing where your bridges are can really help you smooth out the resonation from one area of your body to the next. Bridges take place in different spots for men and women, but they are fairly universal within a gender. We will deal with four areas of resonation: the first is chest voice, the second is mix voice, the third is head voice, and the final is super head voice. All combine to create ONE FULL VOICE. Men's Bridges Men, with the exception of basses or dramatic baritones, start their first bridge at E-flat above a keyboard's middle C. This is the first note in the mixing or blending area of the voice (a blend of chest voice and head voice), and each chromatic move up will transition the voice toward a headier position and sound. The male vocalist will not feel completely in his head voice until an A or B-flat. This is where the second bridge is. This second bridge goes from A or B-flat above a keyboard's middle C to D above the keyboard's high C. Women's Bridges Women's bridges are similar to men's: they exist within approximately an augmented 4th interval. But they begin where a man's second bridge is. So, generally speaking, a woman's first bridge is on a A or B flat above the keyboard middle C. Below this is a woman's chest voice, and above this, up to a D, is mix voice. Once a female vocalist hits an E-flat (or sometimes an E), she is in head voice. Strictly on a technical level, a woman shouldn't sing completely in head voice until an E-flat. This area of resonation will continue up to an A or B-flat below a keyboard's double-high C. This third bridge puts the female singer in a super head voice, and she will stay in that until she reaches an E-flat above a keyboard's double-high C. When singing most songs, women don't need to go much past this fourth bridge, but there are a few more bridges beyond this fourth bridge. Once again, they are at intervals of an augmented fourth above the E-flat above a keyboard's double high C: the fifth bridge is on A, and the sixth is on the E-flat above that. These last two areas of resonation are known as the whistle range, and as I stated, most women don't use these areas, but they do exist and can be developed. Crossing Bridges You may have heard about vocal-cord adduction and the need to develop good cord closure. It is essential that the vocal cords stay together as a singer crosses the bridges. Your first bridge is the most critical. It's where the outer muscles (if they haven't done so already) are most likely to enter into the adjustment process. When they do, they pull on and tighten around the outside of the larynx in an effort to stretch the vocal cords to get the necessary tension for the pitch or volume level you require. Stretching your cords in this manner causes your entire singing mechanism tone and words to jam up! Fortunately, there is an easier and much better way to stretch your vocal cords to achieve the necessary tensions without disrupting your tone-making process or your word-making process. The key is to do less in order to do more. To be specific, the higher you sing, the less air you should use. When you reduce the amount of air you send to your vocal cords, you make it possible for the muscles inside your larynx to stretch your vocal cords by themselves. Your outer muscles are less likely to interfere because there isn't as much air to hold back. Your outer muscles will interfere in the vibration process whenever you use more air than your vocal cords and the other muscles inside your larynx are able to handle. As the pitch ascends, sound traveling from the vocal cords shifts paths. Chest voice travels to the hard palate and out of the mouth. As the pitch rises and goes over the first bridge, the sound begins to split, going behind the soft palate as well as to the hard palate. This is a balancing act of sorts. If too much sound is traveling in front of the soft palate and out of the mouth, the result will be a wide vowel and what is called pulled chest. A residual result will be a high larynx. The right balance depends on which note within the mix is being sung. By the time you're completely in head voice, much of the sound will be traveling behind the soft palate before exiting the skull. Each time a singer reaches a bridge, more sound must pass behind the soft palate and more resonation within the skull should take place. Singers resist letting sound pass behind the soft palate for a couple of reasons: The first is that they hear the tone bouncing within the skull and feel that it sounds too ringy. They don't realize that the sound they're hearing is not what the audience is hearing. They're picking up this sound through the skull, not from within the room they're singing in. One way to deal with this is to record yourself passing into mix and head voice; then play back what you've recorded. You will hear the difference between how you really sounded and the sound you heard resonating in your head. The second reason for resistance is that many singers get used to feeling that they have to muscle notes. As you learn to master the bridges, you'll feel very little pressure. There is compression from the diaphragm and resistance from the cords being held together, but there will not be any tightness in the neck or under the chin. This lack of pressure can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable for many singers and even feel a bit precarious, especially if the strength in the mix is not quite there. Once again, recording an arpeggio that ascends into the head voice and playing it back can shed some light on the relationship between what a certain note sounds like and what it should feel like as you sing it.
  10. So what does a student need? They need to be able to do all of the physical tasks that constitute the singing activity required by their goals. This requires training, even if no trainer is available. In addition, their goals will require them to develop the musicianship and experience to handle styles, inflection, and ornamentation appropriate for the music they want to do. This requires learning, even if no teacher is available. In school and at home, we were told many times to "Think about what you are doing!" That approach is almost completely counter-productive for musicians and high wire walkers. Imagine the effect of yelling "Think about what you're doing!" to a person walking a wire across the Grand Canyon. The free-flow execution of skills is managed by a part of the brain that is totally different from the part of the brain where knowledge and understanding are applied to currently executing skills. Once a performer starts thinking about what they are doing, the analytical part of the brain begins to interfere with the free-flow part of the brain. If you as a teacher explain everything, you are implying that singing skills can be managed by the intellect, which is actually impossible beyond a beginner level. I'm not saying that teaching about the subject of singing technique has no value. A voice teacher needs to really know and understand the subject. However, I am suggesting that you carefully consider how much and when to teach a student "about" singing technique. My friend, Robert Lunte, says that singers need to train as "vocal athletes," and I totally agree. The great athletes don't become great by approaching their skills analytically. Their trainers focus on the physical and mental demands of specific skills, and they train the muscles to do the job. The great trainers also train the athlete's mind to concentrate in ways that don't interfere with the fluency of their physical skills. Princeton says that "training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies." I like that definition, but I would boil it down a bit and say that personal voice training is leading someone through exercises and experiences that develop the skills to achieve specific goals and acquire the knowledge required to execute those skills in the required styles. For more information about The Performing Mind, go to http://www.pfco.com. Michael Kysar The Performing Mind http://www.pfco.com
  11. So what does a student need? They need to be able to do all of the physical tasks that constitute the singing activity required by their goals. This requires training, even if no trainer is available. In addition, their goals will require them to develop the musicianship and experience to handle styles, inflection, and ornamentation appropriate for the music they want to do. This requires learning, even if no teacher is available. In school and at home, we were told many times to "Think about what you are doing!" That approach is almost completely counter-productive for musicians and high wire walkers. Imagine the effect of yelling "Think about what you're doing!" to a person walking a wire across the Grand Canyon. The free-flow execution of skills is managed by a part of the brain that is totally different from the part of the brain where knowledge and understanding are applied to currently executing skills. Once a performer starts thinking about what they are doing, the analytical part of the brain begins to interfere with the free-flow part of the brain. If you as a teacher explain everything, you are implying that singing skills can be managed by the intellect, which is actually impossible beyond a beginner level. I'm not saying that teaching about the subject of singing technique has no value. A voice teacher needs to really know and understand the subject. However, I am suggesting that you carefully consider how much and when to teach a student "about" singing technique. My friend, Robert Lunte, says that singers need to train as "vocal athletes," and I totally agree. The great athletes don't become great by approaching their skills analytically. Their trainers focus on the physical and mental demands of specific skills, and they train the muscles to do the job. The great trainers also train the athlete's mind to concentrate in ways that don't interfere with the fluency of their physical skills. Princeton says that "training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies." I like that definition, but I would boil it down a bit and say that personal voice training is leading someone through exercises and experiences that develop the skills to achieve specific goals and acquire the knowledge required to execute those skills in the required styles. For more information about The Performing Mind, go to http://www.pfco.com. Michael Kysar The Performing Mind http://www.pfco.com View full articles
  12. For the starting out vocalist, or even for the professional at anything, I don't think there is one bestanyone. Vocalists, Performers, Teachers/Coaches, and most anyone I know has had their dreams. In our youth the dreams are, for the most part, grandiose. For a very small few, they aren't. For whatever reasons, those people hit it big. I like to think it's destiny, but who knows? Ego deflation has taken its time on me. I don't know about anyone else, but I am one of those people who had to be brought down to what I call "right size." Yes, okay, it wasn't pretty, but I came to accept something that made me very happy. I am THE BEST teacher for those who find their way to me. It's that simple. For those singers who come to learn from me in my 'lab,' I invest everything I have to give. For myself, I've learned I really can't afford to take students on just for money. I want to be teaching those who are sincerely hungry to learn. In my practice, I've noticed many 'a confused' student. They come not having been able to understand so many things after so many lessons with other instructors.Often its' because of misperception with semantics when, in reality, we are all trying to teach right way. With my own clientele, I've found it important to not only learn how to explain things using the right words, but to also learn how to communicate on different levels. My dictionaries have been quite useful with this. The "just do it" method never worked for me, so why would I think it would work for my students? In my mind, it's like when I was a kid and asked my parents, "Why?" and they came back at me with "because I said so." Some students don't even understand why they even have to bother practicing vocalises just because they've never understood the reasoning behind it. "Learn by do" is one of my mottos, but we also have to have some intellectual understanding of how things work or the puzzle pieces won't come together when physically experienced. It all has to make sense. The AH HA moments come when someone has repeatedly physically experienced right way. I teach a lot of foreigners. There are a lot of words they don't understand. This is where my acting (used to be an actress -- long story) and my willingness to look ridiculous comes in handy. Often I have to imitate the unnatural ways in which a singer is trying to go after something, exxagerate it so much that they get the point. It never fails that we both end up laughing hysterically in these moments. And to me, laughter is so healing, so important. It's also surprising ( at least to me) that those who are famous, have the money to spend, and don't sing well 'live' aren't doing the research to find the teachers who are equipped to fix such problems. I'd be embarrassed to have someone running around telling people, "I took lessons with Dena Murray" if I hadn't corrected such things. Additionally, it's such a let-down for fans to hear that their favorites need so much technology just to be able sound as good as they do on their CDs. It leaves those who are really trying to learn something feeling badly about themselves (their investment), and wondering about their own journeys. I don't like to judge whey anyone has chosen to take voice lessons. There may be reasons that none of us may know until it's time to part ways --and personally, I don't want to be the type who tries to hang on to someone just because I might need money. At that point, there would not only be an undercurrent of resistance, but trying to learn anything would prove unproductive. Besides, it doesn't make room for someone else who might need my service. As instructors, most all are trying to teach the same things and not hurt anyone's voice. In that way, we are all one. I also believe it to be very true that each and every one of has something very unique to bring to the table and that this is what separates us. I have not only learned multitudes from other teachers, methods, and books, I have also learned from my students. I'm not just a professional instructor of voice, I am also still a professional student. I love the challenge of learning new things; challenging my own self. All of that said, it is a privilege to be on this site, an honor to be able to work with such a supportive, professional, gifted, and accomplished group of people. And, if any of you singers find yourself with a teacher who doesn't necessarily 'click 'for you, remember that sometimes it takes having a 'wrong fit' to realize when you've found the right one. I thank all of you for your gifts and the willingness to share them. View full articles
  13. For the starting out vocalist, or even for the professional at anything, I don't think there is one bestanyone. Vocalists, Performers, Teachers/Coaches, and most anyone I know has had their dreams. In our youth the dreams are, for the most part, grandiose. For a very small few, they aren't. For whatever reasons, those people hit it big. I like to think it's destiny, but who knows? Ego deflation has taken its time on me. I don't know about anyone else, but I am one of those people who had to be brought down to what I call "right size." Yes, okay, it wasn't pretty, but I came to accept something that made me very happy. I am THE BEST teacher for those who find their way to me. It's that simple. For those singers who come to learn from me in my 'lab,' I invest everything I have to give. For myself, I've learned I really can't afford to take students on just for money. I want to be teaching those who are sincerely hungry to learn. In my practice, I've noticed many 'a confused' student. They come not having been able to understand so many things after so many lessons with other instructors.Often its' because of misperception with semantics when, in reality, we are all trying to teach right way. With my own clientele, I've found it important to not only learn how to explain things using the right words, but to also learn how to communicate on different levels. My dictionaries have been quite useful with this. The "just do it" method never worked for me, so why would I think it would work for my students? In my mind, it's like when I was a kid and asked my parents, "Why?" and they came back at me with "because I said so." Some students don't even understand why they even have to bother practicing vocalises just because they've never understood the reasoning behind it. "Learn by do" is one of my mottos, but we also have to have some intellectual understanding of how things work or the puzzle pieces won't come together when physically experienced. It all has to make sense. The AH HA moments come when someone has repeatedly physically experienced right way. I teach a lot of foreigners. There are a lot of words they don't understand. This is where my acting (used to be an actress -- long story) and my willingness to look ridiculous comes in handy. Often I have to imitate the unnatural ways in which a singer is trying to go after something, exxagerate it so much that they get the point. It never fails that we both end up laughing hysterically in these moments. And to me, laughter is so healing, so important. It's also surprising ( at least to me) that those who are famous, have the money to spend, and don't sing well 'live' aren't doing the research to find the teachers who are equipped to fix such problems. I'd be embarrassed to have someone running around telling people, "I took lessons with Dena Murray" if I hadn't corrected such things. Additionally, it's such a let-down for fans to hear that their favorites need so much technology just to be able sound as good as they do on their CDs. It leaves those who are really trying to learn something feeling badly about themselves (their investment), and wondering about their own journeys. I don't like to judge whey anyone has chosen to take voice lessons. There may be reasons that none of us may know until it's time to part ways --and personally, I don't want to be the type who tries to hang on to someone just because I might need money. At that point, there would not only be an undercurrent of resistance, but trying to learn anything would prove unproductive. Besides, it doesn't make room for someone else who might need my service. As instructors, most all are trying to teach the same things and not hurt anyone's voice. In that way, we are all one. I also believe it to be very true that each and every one of has something very unique to bring to the table and that this is what separates us. I have not only learned multitudes from other teachers, methods, and books, I have also learned from my students. I'm not just a professional instructor of voice, I am also still a professional student. I love the challenge of learning new things; challenging my own self. All of that said, it is a privilege to be on this site, an honor to be able to work with such a supportive, professional, gifted, and accomplished group of people. And, if any of you singers find yourself with a teacher who doesn't necessarily 'click 'for you, remember that sometimes it takes having a 'wrong fit' to realize when you've found the right one. I thank all of you for your gifts and the willingness to share them.
  14. The Passagio: Myth vs. Mechanics What is it? The passagio is a necessary change in the dominant muscles responsible for making a pitch. What is happening? Put simply, the pitch is determined by the length and tension of the vocal folds. Lower pitches rely predominantly on the speaking muscles or thyroarytenoid muscles(TA's), the deepest layer of the vocal folds, which bulk or mass the folds. As you ascend in pitch there has to be a transfer of dominance from the TA's to the crying muscles or cricothyroid muscles (CT's), which tilt the top half of the larynx (thyroid cartilage) forward. This tilt stretches and thins the folds, which aids in creating higher pitches. Singers often experience a change in the location of the sensation of vibration (chest, throat, mask, head, etc.) when moving around the passagio. This change in sensation is determined by the sound the singer is making and in what part of the range and will vary between sound qualities and singers. It is important to note that this change in sensation of vibration is a by-product of the muscle set-ups the singer is using, not the cause. It is difficult to teach by where a singer feels the vibration and get sustainable results. Singers are more likely to find consistency in their voices when they are given tools that help them isolate the muscles that are responsible for different sounds. This way they can always tune-in to how they are making the sounds happen as opposed to judging the sound by where they feel the resulting vibration. Why make the change? If a singer wants a more consistent aesthetic sound quality throughout the range this change in muscle use has to be made gradually and subtly by adding the CT's in before the singer reaches the passagio. The singer must then also gradually reduce the amount of TA effort as he/she ascends over the passagio. The singer may also choose to add twang or an aryepiglottic sphincter contraction along with contractions in other muscles in the pharynx to give the voice an edgy or ringing quality that will boost the formants between 2.5-4kHz where the ear is most sensitive. This twang will make up for any perceived diminishing of power that accompanies the thinning of the vocal folds as the singer moves up in the range. Why not make the change? This decision to blend the qualities above and below the passagio is a purely aesthetic one. Many a singer has benefitted from the use of falsetto or belting (if applied correctly and safely) for artistic purposes and ignored any sense of aesthetic balance throughout the range. A blended or connected sound is more important in certain styles of music than others. Great singing is not purely the ability to sing high. It is a great worry to me that so many voice teachers are obsessed with four-octave ranges. This vocal size-queen approach to the range is often limiting to singers artistry and is often misrepresented as the only way to vocal health. It is also a very limited view of the myriad elements that make great singing exceptional. All sound qualities from operatic tone to belting can be employed safely and sustainably throughout one's range if one has proper muscle control. People who claim that bridging techniques are the lynchpin of sustainable healthy voice use often do so because it helps them sell their training products. This vocal scaremongering is without evidence and should be questioned if not discredited full-stop. What should be considered? Singing styles that require a modal or full-voice sound in higher parts of the range that maintain a conversational tone quality (pop, some theatre, RnB, etc.) will certainly demand that singers can move seamlessly through the passagio. Styles that rely on heightened states of emotion signified by vocal breaks, yelling, belting, distortion and breathiness (modern theatre, folk, jazz, rock/metal, etc.) will require singers to have access to a variety of sounds both above and below the passagio. These sounds will not always blend and may not be to everyone's taste. That does not mean one cannot make them safely.
  15. The Passagio: Myth vs. Mechanics What is it? The passagio is a necessary change in the dominant muscles responsible for making a pitch. What is happening? Put simply, the pitch is determined by the length and tension of the vocal folds. Lower pitches rely predominantly on the speaking muscles or thyroarytenoid muscles(TA's), the deepest layer of the vocal folds, which bulk or mass the folds. As you ascend in pitch there has to be a transfer of dominance from the TA's to the crying muscles or cricothyroid muscles (CT's), which tilt the top half of the larynx (thyroid cartilage) forward. This tilt stretches and thins the folds, which aids in creating higher pitches. Singers often experience a change in the location of the sensation of vibration (chest, throat, mask, head, etc.) when moving around the passagio. This change in sensation is determined by the sound the singer is making and in what part of the range and will vary between sound qualities and singers. It is important to note that this change in sensation of vibration is a by-product of the muscle set-ups the singer is using, not the cause. It is difficult to teach by where a singer feels the vibration and get sustainable results. Singers are more likely to find consistency in their voices when they are given tools that help them isolate the muscles that are responsible for different sounds. This way they can always tune-in to how they are making the sounds happen as opposed to judging the sound by where they feel the resulting vibration. Why make the change? If a singer wants a more consistent aesthetic sound quality throughout the range this change in muscle use has to be made gradually and subtly by adding the CT's in before the singer reaches the passagio. The singer must then also gradually reduce the amount of TA effort as he/she ascends over the passagio. The singer may also choose to add twang or an aryepiglottic sphincter contraction along with contractions in other muscles in the pharynx to give the voice an edgy or ringing quality that will boost the formants between 2.5-4kHz where the ear is most sensitive. This twang will make up for any perceived diminishing of power that accompanies the thinning of the vocal folds as the singer moves up in the range. Why not make the change? This decision to blend the qualities above and below the passagio is a purely aesthetic one. Many a singer has benefitted from the use of falsetto or belting (if applied correctly and safely) for artistic purposes and ignored any sense of aesthetic balance throughout the range. A blended or connected sound is more important in certain styles of music than others. Great singing is not purely the ability to sing high. It is a great worry to me that so many voice teachers are obsessed with four-octave ranges. This vocal size-queen approach to the range is often limiting to singers artistry and is often misrepresented as the only way to vocal health. It is also a very limited view of the myriad elements that make great singing exceptional. All sound qualities from operatic tone to belting can be employed safely and sustainably throughout one's range if one has proper muscle control. People who claim that bridging techniques are the lynchpin of sustainable healthy voice use often do so because it helps them sell their training products. This vocal scaremongering is without evidence and should be questioned if not discredited full-stop. What should be considered? Singing styles that require a modal or full-voice sound in higher parts of the range that maintain a conversational tone quality (pop, some theatre, RnB, etc.) will certainly demand that singers can move seamlessly through the passagio. Styles that rely on heightened states of emotion signified by vocal breaks, yelling, belting, distortion and breathiness (modern theatre, folk, jazz, rock/metal, etc.) will require singers to have access to a variety of sounds both above and below the passagio. These sounds will not always blend and may not be to everyone's taste. That does not mean one cannot make them safely. View full articles
  16. Vocals Mag had a great experience meeting up with Robert Lunte (your very own TMV creator). We had a great time meeting up with him and his wife. Vocals Mag has reached out to the all the high-speed, low-drag, fully-automatic manufacturers at the NAMM show. We were able to speak with the biggest names, Boy! were they stoked about being part of the Vocals Mag. We had a great chance to meet with Anthrax, Black Label Society, Serpent Underground (these dudes thought they could outdrink a bunch of Texans....yeah, sure..), Metal Knights (Razor really kicked some ass, not only did he take care of us, he went out of his way to ensure we were where we needed to be. Owe ya one Robbie!), Mike Stone (Queensryche guitarist, dammit, he's such a great friend), Melissa Cross (Zen of Screaming, fellow San Antonian!), Kerry King (Slayer), Myles Kennedy/Mark Tremonti (Creed/Altar Bridge), and many many others. The next issue of Vocals Mag will feature the NAMM 2009 show with tons of pics. Hell, you might see yourself in there. Ken Vocals Magazine
  17. Vocals Mag had a great experience meeting up with Robert Lunte (your very own TMV creator). We had a great time meeting up with him and his wife. Vocals Mag has reached out to the all the high-speed, low-drag, fully-automatic manufacturers at the NAMM show. We were able to speak with the biggest names, Boy! were they stoked about being part of the Vocals Mag. We had a great chance to meet with Anthrax, Black Label Society, Serpent Underground (these dudes thought they could outdrink a bunch of Texans....yeah, sure..), Metal Knights (Razor really kicked some ass, not only did he take care of us, he went out of his way to ensure we were where we needed to be. Owe ya one Robbie!), Mike Stone (Queensryche guitarist, dammit, he's such a great friend), Melissa Cross (Zen of Screaming, fellow San Antonian!), Kerry King (Slayer), Myles Kennedy/Mark Tremonti (Creed/Altar Bridge), and many many others. The next issue of Vocals Mag will feature the NAMM 2009 show with tons of pics. Hell, you might see yourself in there. Ken Vocals Magazine View full articles
  18. Take your acting to the next level by following this one simple directive: Move, then sing. That's it. Amateurs move on their phrases. Pros move before them. I teach Movement for Actors at the Stella Adler Studio, Los Angeles. There, we spend countless hours laboring over truth in performance. Truth is what your audience connects with--more than great vocal technique, more than powerful lyrics, more than personality. And the truth of human behavior is that we express ideas with our bodies before we express them with our words. To act the heck out of a song, your performance behavior must reflect the truth of natural human behavior. When you see someone struggling with an armful of packages, do you stand there and say, "Oh, my gosh, let me help you!" and then go running over to help them? No, you run over, and, while you're running, you say, "Oh, my gosh, let me help you!" After you pour someone a drink, do you say, "Here you go," and then offer them the glass? No, you offer the glass and then say, "Here you go." When you hear a loud noise behind you, do you say, "What was that?" and then spin around? No, you spin around and then say, "What was that?" Your performance will be more truthful, and therefore more compelling, if it expresses the same truth of human behavior illustrated in the examples above. The way to this truth is to allow yourself to get caught up in the ideas of the song before you sing the symbols (words) that express those ideas. Your body is only a manifestation of what you're thinking; it has no intelligence to move on its own. So, if you get caught up in the ideas, your body will naturally express those ideas before you make the choice to express them through symbols (words). Wanna see what I mean? Check out these two performances: The first is Steve Perry singing "Faithfully." Notice what happens at 1:09. He moves his right hand just before he sings, "Right down the line..." See how natural it looks? And it feels natural. Steve isn't just a great voice, he's a singer, an artist. He's connected to the truth of what he's saying, and his body expresses it before his words do. The second is Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Watch her eyes. They almost always move before her phrases. You can see she's thinking about the ideas, not just singing words, so her body expresses the same naturalness of human behavior that you experience every day. It's why that performance is so compelling! It's like she's just talking to you, the way she would to a friend who'd stopped by for some tea. For some reason, when amateurs sing, they move counterintuitively--on the phrase, instead of before it. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Naturally, it's okay to do it if you have to dance during a song or when you're adding emphasis to a particular word, as Steve Perry does in "Faithfully" when he sings, "...you and me." And sometimes the song is so fast, it's tough to move before you sing. But don't let these become excuses for a lack of truth in your performance. Your audience came for the deeper truth that art can express. Move, then sing, and give 'em what they came (and paid) for! Request: Have you come across other great performances of singers who move, then sing? Post links to those performances in the comments section, so we can all check them out. Make a note of where in the song the "move, then sing" moment occurs. Paul Cuneo is an actor, singer and teacher. He teaches Movement for Actors at the Stella Adler Studio, Los Angeles. He blogs on the topic of Performance and Movement for Actors atMovementalLA.com. Paul will appear on MTV'S From Gs to Gents later this month, as well as Of Silence, an independent feature film from director Jeremiah Sayys filming this spring. Paul is also the founder of NotToneDeaf.com and the author of Correcting Tone Deafness. This is the ONLY completely sensible approach I have ever encountered to resolving the problem and stigma of "Tone Deafness." - Jeannie Deva You can hear Paul on his lullaby album Rest Here, described by national parenting magazine Childas "...perfect for soothing your baby."
  19. Take your acting to the next level by following this one simple directive: Move, then sing. That's it. Amateurs move on their phrases. Pros move before them. I teach Movement for Actors at the Stella Adler Studio, Los Angeles. There, we spend countless hours laboring over truth in performance. Truth is what your audience connects with--more than great vocal technique, more than powerful lyrics, more than personality. And the truth of human behavior is that we express ideas with our bodies before we express them with our words. To act the heck out of a song, your performance behavior must reflect the truth of natural human behavior. When you see someone struggling with an armful of packages, do you stand there and say, "Oh, my gosh, let me help you!" and then go running over to help them? No, you run over, and, while you're running, you say, "Oh, my gosh, let me help you!" After you pour someone a drink, do you say, "Here you go," and then offer them the glass? No, you offer the glass and then say, "Here you go." When you hear a loud noise behind you, do you say, "What was that?" and then spin around? No, you spin around and then say, "What was that?" Your performance will be more truthful, and therefore more compelling, if it expresses the same truth of human behavior illustrated in the examples above. The way to this truth is to allow yourself to get caught up in the ideas of the song before you sing the symbols (words) that express those ideas. Your body is only a manifestation of what you're thinking; it has no intelligence to move on its own. So, if you get caught up in the ideas, your body will naturally express those ideas before you make the choice to express them through symbols (words). Wanna see what I mean? Check out these two performances: The first is Steve Perry singing "Faithfully." Notice what happens at 1:09. He moves his right hand just before he sings, "Right down the line..." See how natural it looks? And it feels natural. Steve isn't just a great voice, he's a singer, an artist. He's connected to the truth of what he's saying, and his body expresses it before his words do. The second is Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Watch her eyes. They almost always move before her phrases. You can see she's thinking about the ideas, not just singing words, so her body expresses the same naturalness of human behavior that you experience every day. It's why that performance is so compelling! It's like she's just talking to you, the way she would to a friend who'd stopped by for some tea. For some reason, when amateurs sing, they move counterintuitively--on the phrase, instead of before it. DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU. Naturally, it's okay to do it if you have to dance during a song or when you're adding emphasis to a particular word, as Steve Perry does in "Faithfully" when he sings, "...you and me." And sometimes the song is so fast, it's tough to move before you sing. But don't let these become excuses for a lack of truth in your performance. Your audience came for the deeper truth that art can express. Move, then sing, and give 'em what they came (and paid) for! Request: Have you come across other great performances of singers who move, then sing? Post links to those performances in the comments section, so we can all check them out. Make a note of where in the song the "move, then sing" moment occurs. Paul Cuneo is an actor, singer and teacher. He teaches Movement for Actors at the Stella Adler Studio, Los Angeles. He blogs on the topic of Performance and Movement for Actors atMovementalLA.com. Paul will appear on MTV'S From Gs to Gents later this month, as well as Of Silence, an independent feature film from director Jeremiah Sayys filming this spring. Paul is also the founder of NotToneDeaf.com and the author of Correcting Tone Deafness. This is the ONLY completely sensible approach I have ever encountered to resolving the problem and stigma of "Tone Deafness." - Jeannie Deva You can hear Paul on his lullaby album Rest Here, described by national parenting magazine Childas "...perfect for soothing your baby." View full articles
  20. Are you determined to become the next American Idol? Good for you! Anything is possible when you believe in yourself. This is the second in a series on the making of an American Idol. In this series of blogs I'm going to walk you through the process I am using to prepare a student of mine to audition on the east coast this summer for American Idol. We'll first take a look at the basic ingredients needed to become a star. In Part 1 of this series, we talked about singing ability and how it may or may not be a deciding factor in an audition. In Part 2 we're going to take a look at stage fright. You know about stage fright. Sweaty palms, nausea, uncontrollable shaking of limbs, butterflies in the tummy and on and on. You probably know exactly how you will feel when it hits you. Basically, stage fright is adrenaline running wild through your mind and body causing all the symptoms mentioned above. One of my favorite sayings that I quote in my book on vocal technique is this: The brain starts to work the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak [sing] in public anonymous Below are 10 tips to help you overcome your stage fright and to give a great performance. Take and make them a part of your mind and body a part of your performance. #1 Bodacious Body Alignment: Look confident, feel confident! Begin by stretching your spine down from the tailbone and up from the top of the spine, which is at the same height as the top of your ears. Release and soften your back muscles and triceps (back of the arm). You will feel the core muscles taking over the job of holding your body open and erect. Think superhero: strong and confident. Lift the collarbone keeping the chin level to the ground. Looking confident will make you feel confident! #2 Dispel the Myths Do not picture your audience naked. They won't appreciate it and you might not either. It does not help you to put your audience at a disadvantage to your position as performer. Include them, talk to them, share your story. They want you to be successful they are rooting for you! Give your audience what they came to experience you! #3 Use It! Stage fright is an over abundance of adrenaline running wild through your brain and body. Trying to suppress it will only make it more insistent on taking over. Accept the adrenaline rush. Welcome it to your body and brain. This will diffuse its power. #4 Be Prepared Ben Franklin wrote, It takes about three weeks to prepare a good extemporaneous speech. Wise man, our Ben. Be over-prepared with your music and a healthy voice. Practice as though the person who makes you the most nervous is in the room. Practice welcoming that person and accepting their presence. #5 Practice Every Chance You Get Get out there and sing at every opportunity. The more you perform, the less nervous you will be when the real audition comes. #6 Establish a Pre-performance Routine Maybe you've seen the baseball player who has an elaborate ritual of gestures that he makes every time before he swings the bat. That is a pre-performance ritual that keeps him focused on his performance. Find something that calms you and focuses your energy and thoughts. Try tapping a complex rhythm, send roots out of the soles of your feet into the ground, count your breaths, etc. Remember that the audience is cheering for you to be great! #7 Move! It is tempting to remain physically very still to keep the adrenaline rush from getting the upper hand before you hit the stage. However, that is like trying to contain a basket of frisky puppies they have to work out their energy! Same with your stage fright. Figure out where in your body the energy is causing tension and wiggle it until you feel silly and can laugh. Now you are ready to perform! #8 Keep Your Sense of Humor Anyone who has performed a lot knows that anything and everything that can go wrong, will. We've all seen a president of the US vomit while speaking, performers trip and fall off the stage, wardrobe malfunction and the list goes on. Keep your sense of humor alive and well for those mishaps and enjoy the surprise. Acknowledge it when something goes wrong. Make a joke and continue with your performance. It makes you more human, more accessible to the audience and makes for a great story to tell later on. #9 Breathe: Nature's Valium Never, ever take drugs or alcohol thinking that you will be calmer! You won't. Instead, breathe. Follow your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Feel it open up your airways and bring calm to tense places in your body and mind. Go to www.VocalPowerTools.com products page to get Meditative Breathing Exercises. #10 Listen! Stage fright originates with those negative voices inside your head. The audience will think I'm a no talent hack. No one wants to hear this! I'm going to sound terrible and look foolish. The voices inside your head are ancient history and they are not the truth. They are your fear talking. Instead, make a choice to listen to breathing in I calm, breathing out I smile, I am prepared and I'm going to have fun and other positive messages that you can develop for yourself and practice. ** Always remember that the performance is not about you! It is about your audience their comfort, their pleasure, their entertainment. Focus on them at all times and have fun! **
  21. Are you determined to become the next American Idol? Good for you! Anything is possible when you believe in yourself. This is the second in a series on the making of an American Idol. In this series of blogs I'm going to walk you through the process I am using to prepare a student of mine to audition on the east coast this summer for American Idol. We'll first take a look at the basic ingredients needed to become a star. In Part 1 of this series, we talked about singing ability and how it may or may not be a deciding factor in an audition. In Part 2 we're going to take a look at stage fright. You know about stage fright. Sweaty palms, nausea, uncontrollable shaking of limbs, butterflies in the tummy and on and on. You probably know exactly how you will feel when it hits you. Basically, stage fright is adrenaline running wild through your mind and body causing all the symptoms mentioned above. One of my favorite sayings that I quote in my book on vocal technique is this: The brain starts to work the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak [sing] in public anonymous Below are 10 tips to help you overcome your stage fright and to give a great performance. Take and make them a part of your mind and body a part of your performance. #1 Bodacious Body Alignment: Look confident, feel confident! Begin by stretching your spine down from the tailbone and up from the top of the spine, which is at the same height as the top of your ears. Release and soften your back muscles and triceps (back of the arm). You will feel the core muscles taking over the job of holding your body open and erect. Think superhero: strong and confident. Lift the collarbone keeping the chin level to the ground. Looking confident will make you feel confident! #2 Dispel the Myths Do not picture your audience naked. They won't appreciate it and you might not either. It does not help you to put your audience at a disadvantage to your position as performer. Include them, talk to them, share your story. They want you to be successful they are rooting for you! Give your audience what they came to experience you! #3 Use It! Stage fright is an over abundance of adrenaline running wild through your brain and body. Trying to suppress it will only make it more insistent on taking over. Accept the adrenaline rush. Welcome it to your body and brain. This will diffuse its power. #4 Be Prepared Ben Franklin wrote, It takes about three weeks to prepare a good extemporaneous speech. Wise man, our Ben. Be over-prepared with your music and a healthy voice. Practice as though the person who makes you the most nervous is in the room. Practice welcoming that person and accepting their presence. #5 Practice Every Chance You Get Get out there and sing at every opportunity. The more you perform, the less nervous you will be when the real audition comes. #6 Establish a Pre-performance Routine Maybe you've seen the baseball player who has an elaborate ritual of gestures that he makes every time before he swings the bat. That is a pre-performance ritual that keeps him focused on his performance. Find something that calms you and focuses your energy and thoughts. Try tapping a complex rhythm, send roots out of the soles of your feet into the ground, count your breaths, etc. Remember that the audience is cheering for you to be great! #7 Move! It is tempting to remain physically very still to keep the adrenaline rush from getting the upper hand before you hit the stage. However, that is like trying to contain a basket of frisky puppies they have to work out their energy! Same with your stage fright. Figure out where in your body the energy is causing tension and wiggle it until you feel silly and can laugh. Now you are ready to perform! #8 Keep Your Sense of Humor Anyone who has performed a lot knows that anything and everything that can go wrong, will. We've all seen a president of the US vomit while speaking, performers trip and fall off the stage, wardrobe malfunction and the list goes on. Keep your sense of humor alive and well for those mishaps and enjoy the surprise. Acknowledge it when something goes wrong. Make a joke and continue with your performance. It makes you more human, more accessible to the audience and makes for a great story to tell later on. #9 Breathe: Nature's Valium Never, ever take drugs or alcohol thinking that you will be calmer! You won't. Instead, breathe. Follow your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Feel it open up your airways and bring calm to tense places in your body and mind. Go to www.VocalPowerTools.com products page to get Meditative Breathing Exercises. #10 Listen! Stage fright originates with those negative voices inside your head. The audience will think I'm a no talent hack. No one wants to hear this! I'm going to sound terrible and look foolish. The voices inside your head are ancient history and they are not the truth. They are your fear talking. Instead, make a choice to listen to breathing in I calm, breathing out I smile, I am prepared and I'm going to have fun and other positive messages that you can develop for yourself and practice. ** Always remember that the performance is not about you! It is about your audience their comfort, their pleasure, their entertainment. Focus on them at all times and have fun! ** View full articles
  22. Which Is The Best Vocal "Method"to Study? A unique look at the approaches, challenges and insights of being a singing teacher. Advice from Vocal Coach Kathy Thompson © 2009 Request permission to use in whole or in part by email: admin@purevoicepower.ca We study singing to get better at it just as we would study any skill. We are studying this art form in order to improve our ability. One of the foundations of voice work lies in building confidence. But more than that, we should study singing in order to acquire healthy technique when we vocalize. Notice that I said healthy rather than good. I try to avoid words such as good or bad, because they imply judgment. When you sing with correct and healthy technique, you are in fact maintaining your voice for longevity and stamina, as well as optimum performance. Good technique involves understanding your instrument to some degree, and employing recommended, safe habits when it comes to warming up or working out with your voice. Beyond that, continued study and vocal maintenance (regular practice routine) is recommended. Regardless of my teaching methods, there are constants and truths such as: Progress does not - and will not - happen instantly, overnight. As with developing any physical skill, developing one's voice takes time without force. If you practice regularly, you will see results. Everyone progresses at a different rate. In order to create something artistic, it helps to know the rules. That's the same with anything you want to excel at in life! We shouldn't assume that just because you know how to use your voice to talk and have sung songs, that you know all there is to know about how to do it better. Think of it this way: Just because you know how to run doesn't mean that you can automatically run a marathon. Just because you can use a sewing machine doesn't mean you can sew high fashion clothing. Just because you can talk with your voice doesn't mean you can sing expertly. Just because you can sing without studying doesn't mean you have the ability to sing like a seasoned professional with heavy usage demands on one's voice. I think we can agree that someone just learning to paint can paint any old picture without knowing what they're doing or studying it. Maybe they will get lucky and it will look fine. But it's usually short-lived. Pretty soon that passionate novice painter will want to know how it all works. So they study. Great painters know all about painting and understand how the great masters created such classic, unique and timeless art. I think it's the same with singing. What is a method? My dictionary defines METHOD as: A manner of procedure, esp. a systematic or clearly defined way of accomplishing an end; system or order in thought or action; the plan of procedure characteristic of discipline; logical or scientific arrangement. A method is the way in which we do something. Most everything we do has a method of some kind. You might have your own method of stacking the dishwasher or your own method of folding your towels. Use of a method simply implies that there is a systematic or specific way of doing something. If a singing teacher advertises that they are certified in a particular method of teaching singing, it's possible that they will be only able to deploy only that one method when teaching voice. They may not be allowed to utilize any aids, exercises or approaches that they as a singing teacher created themselves. I prefer not to work like that. To just use one method created by someone else would be stifling to me, no matter how popular that method is, or which masterful teacher developed it. I am the sum of my parts. All of my experiences as a singing student, actor, voice over artist and vocalist made me the performer I am today, and also the teacher I am today. I have studied voice with many singing teachers myself, taken workshops, and I was a voice major in college. I have experienced various styles of teaching voice as a singing student myself. I have developed my own approaches on how to connect with students as individuals over the years and I customize lessons to the way in which a student will learn best. (BTW- I myself, will continue to learn, read, research, develop, take workshops and classes for the rest of my life. We are never above learning anything new.) Which Teaching Methods does Kathy use? I believe that there are so many different approaches to teaching voice because there is no standard. That is a lengthy discussion which is best had elsewhere. When I teach voice, I use mostly my own “method”. That means I use partial things from a variety of other methods, or systems of teaching voice, along with exercises, games and handouts that I created. I draw from information from all forms of media, and my own personal experience as a singer. I would work differently with someone who is very soft-spoken and shy than I would with someone who is a high-energy extrovert. There are different kinds of learners and I take that into account. I never plagiarize anything from other singing teachers. I might take a seed of an idea I learned and tweak it, just as you would a classic food recipe. If I learn something related to singing from a science book, I will incorporate that. If I use a scale from another method such as the Seth Riggs SLS method, Frank Sinatra method, the Alan Greene workbook, or the Bel Canto method, I am sure to tell the student where that exercise came from and that they can pull on those resources. (The source is always quoted on their printed handout). I frequently tell my students about other singing courses! If a student is doing something incorrect during singing, I can imitate it in my own voice, identify where the error is occurring during the process, and then show the student how to approach singing that one thing with more correct technique or more economical way. Kathy's Approach I insist on visiting the basics at first and spend time accordingly on the usual things such as correct breathing, posture, vowel formation, etc. It's ongoing. I devote a part of every lesson to performance. I want you to be an original. I want to help you discover the leader within you. Every moment that we are singing a song, we are making decisions about how to sing it. The lyrics will mean something. The beat will mean something. How you phrase, deliver words, the volume or power you apply will shape the song. The vocal nuance or the boldness you choose will come into play. I think there is an actor in each of us and we can adopt characters for our songs. How you connect with your audience whether live on stage, or from a recording booth - will matter in the end. The main goal of lessons is not to CHANGE the inherent way your voice sounds. My goal is to take the unique sound of your voice and add to it; enhance it. We work towards uncovering and empowering the artist within you. We develop the voice you have and build upon that with a spirit of joy. You will discover new sounds. You can't force your voice to grow or do things it can't possibly do until you have trained to do it. (And yes, there is a difference between belting and yelling!) To me, singing is both science and art at the same time. I never try to change someone's natural sound. We only enhance it, help it flourish, take a holistic vocal evolutionary path and keep adding new musical layers. At the end of every lesson, I hope that these 4 questions will be answered yes: 1. Did your voice get some good exercise / workout? 2. Did you learn something interesting and new? 3. Do you understand the assignment for next time; are there any questions? 4. Do you feel motivated to sing and practice? I research. I test. In truth, science is still learning about human behaviour and how the brain works, which is paramount to the mind-body connection not only when it comes to singing or playing an instrument, but is related to learning and executing ANY physical skill. Science is still learning about the voice. What Makes a Great Singing Teacher? Let us pose this question to anyone who teaches a skill. For example: In order to be a fantastic football coach, does that person have to be a fantastic football player themselves first? In order to be a fantastic auto mechanic teacher, does that person have to be a fantastic auto mechanic themselves first? In order to be a fantastic singing teacher, does that person have to be a fantastic singer themselves? It's my opinion that the answer to that is yes. Ideally, at some time in their career the teacher, trainer or coach would have excelled at performing that skill themselves, which they are now teaching. If they themselves know what it's like to hit a home run on stage or in the studio, they can bring that experience to you through their coaching. Don't be too quick to judge the style of your singing teacher. If you are a raspy rock singer and you need to learn how to sing more healthy easy sounds during practice, you might not want to study with a person who only knows how to rock hard with their voice. You probably need warmer, richer, healthier exercises to sing; not more of the same. You need a little something in the way of therapeutic singing. Look to a variety of styles to study: R&B, folk/roots, classical, SLS, theatre, pop, etc. Internet Misinformation About Singing Methods There is so much misinformation on the internet, it's hard to believe what's true and what's not! Just because something is in writing doesn't mean that it is entirely accurate and absolute. There are literally hundreds of people out there calling themselves singing teachers, vocal coaches, starting schools and calling themselves experts. Should a singing teacher have academic credentials only? A degree? Stage experience only? What credentials does someone need to be a valid singing teacher? Suppose someone has performed on Broadway stages for years but has never been in a hit musical, is not famous, and they decide to teach singing. Does that mean they won't be a good singing teacher? Maybe maybe not. Don't be fooled by fame. Fame can be a result of luck and good networking skills. It's rare that anyone becomes famous by accident, including singing teachers. They have usually sought their station. That's not good, bad, right, or wrong just fact. A few times, a parent has asked me if I have taught anyone famous. Would that make a difference to the quality of my teaching? Not necessarily. Keep an open mind is all I'm saying and try not to think in absolutes. There are singing methods out there with certified coaches who are fanatical with the notion that they have the ONLY and the BEST method of teaching singing on the planet. Some attach to celebrity endorsement. Well there can be many, many amazing and valid approaches to working with people on their voices. I think that some popular methods are far too technical and the student gets hung up on the mechanics of singing. Some methods recommend things like warming up with very high quiet tones, or never talk about vocal mechanics, and assorted approaches. Here’s something that made my eyes pop wide open. I saw video of a celebrity voice coach working with a famous rap superstar that I found to be very disturbing. He had his female rap star actually moving her jaw sideways, quickly sweeping it back and forth, fast and hard, as a part of the vocal warm-up! You can almost guarantee TMJ medical issues from that. In fact, it could possibly warrant litigation. This NY singing coach was charging an astronomical hourly fee into three figures (but included back massage). I like to base things in fact. I have kept a log of internet untruths about singing. Here is just one of many, and more benign than most: There is a website I saw which has the word musician and university in the name of the site. Under singing, it says, Singing is easy. Anyone can do it. But what most singers do not know is that your voice is just like an instrument. I don't think that's true. No, singing is not easy for everyone. Some people are very challenged with vocally interpreting and recreating sound as they hear it (* research the word amusia), and require different amounts of, and approaches to- ear training for accurate pitch placement. Some people are in poor physical condition and have a hard time understanding breathing, believe it or not. Some people were raised in a culture where silence was encouraged and they are ashamed to use their voice in a singing fashion. And so forth. The human voice is the only musical instrument located within the body. It is prejudiced with emotion. A piano is not. A violin has no emotion. A guitar has no emotion. It's the players of these instruments who can bring emotional interpretation to sound production. But our voice is within our body; the player and the instrument are one. Furthermore, I can see all other instruments as I play them. But you cannot see your voice as you play it. You feel it. You operate this instrument of voice as your brain sends neuromuscular impulses to your voice and various other muscles and systems in the body. For fascinating information on this, I encourage you to investigate The Alexander Technique for Singers. (FYI, it's a little technical.) I don't mean to scare or intimidate anyone. Connect with the person you want to work with. See if they make sense to you. Use your instincts and common sense when it comes to information at large. If something sounds astonishing or weird, perhaps try searching university and academic websites which are usually loaded with true and verified information. When we sing, let there be unconditional joy. Kathy Thompson, Vocal Coach, Toronto View full articles
  23. Which Is The Best Vocal "Method"to Study? A unique look at the approaches, challenges and insights of being a singing teacher. Advice from Vocal Coach Kathy Thompson © 2009 Request permission to use in whole or in part by email: admin@purevoicepower.ca We study singing to get better at it just as we would study any skill. We are studying this art form in order to improve our ability. One of the foundations of voice work lies in building confidence. But more than that, we should study singing in order to acquire healthy technique when we vocalize. Notice that I said healthy rather than good. I try to avoid words such as good or bad, because they imply judgment. When you sing with correct and healthy technique, you are in fact maintaining your voice for longevity and stamina, as well as optimum performance. Good technique involves understanding your instrument to some degree, and employing recommended, safe habits when it comes to warming up or working out with your voice. Beyond that, continued study and vocal maintenance (regular practice routine) is recommended. Regardless of my teaching methods, there are constants and truths such as: Progress does not - and will not - happen instantly, overnight. As with developing any physical skill, developing one's voice takes time without force. If you practice regularly, you will see results. Everyone progresses at a different rate. In order to create something artistic, it helps to know the rules. That's the same with anything you want to excel at in life! We shouldn't assume that just because you know how to use your voice to talk and have sung songs, that you know all there is to know about how to do it better. Think of it this way: Just because you know how to run doesn't mean that you can automatically run a marathon. Just because you can use a sewing machine doesn't mean you can sew high fashion clothing. Just because you can talk with your voice doesn't mean you can sing expertly. Just because you can sing without studying doesn't mean you have the ability to sing like a seasoned professional with heavy usage demands on one's voice. I think we can agree that someone just learning to paint can paint any old picture without knowing what they're doing or studying it. Maybe they will get lucky and it will look fine. But it's usually short-lived. Pretty soon that passionate novice painter will want to know how it all works. So they study. Great painters know all about painting and understand how the great masters created such classic, unique and timeless art. I think it's the same with singing. What is a method? My dictionary defines METHOD as: A manner of procedure, esp. a systematic or clearly defined way of accomplishing an end; system or order in thought or action; the plan of procedure characteristic of discipline; logical or scientific arrangement. A method is the way in which we do something. Most everything we do has a method of some kind. You might have your own method of stacking the dishwasher or your own method of folding your towels. Use of a method simply implies that there is a systematic or specific way of doing something. If a singing teacher advertises that they are certified in a particular method of teaching singing, it's possible that they will be only able to deploy only that one method when teaching voice. They may not be allowed to utilize any aids, exercises or approaches that they as a singing teacher created themselves. I prefer not to work like that. To just use one method created by someone else would be stifling to me, no matter how popular that method is, or which masterful teacher developed it. I am the sum of my parts. All of my experiences as a singing student, actor, voice over artist and vocalist made me the performer I am today, and also the teacher I am today. I have studied voice with many singing teachers myself, taken workshops, and I was a voice major in college. I have experienced various styles of teaching voice as a singing student myself. I have developed my own approaches on how to connect with students as individuals over the years and I customize lessons to the way in which a student will learn best. (BTW- I myself, will continue to learn, read, research, develop, take workshops and classes for the rest of my life. We are never above learning anything new.) Which Teaching Methods does Kathy use? I believe that there are so many different approaches to teaching voice because there is no standard. That is a lengthy discussion which is best had elsewhere. When I teach voice, I use mostly my own “method”. That means I use partial things from a variety of other methods, or systems of teaching voice, along with exercises, games and handouts that I created. I draw from information from all forms of media, and my own personal experience as a singer. I would work differently with someone who is very soft-spoken and shy than I would with someone who is a high-energy extrovert. There are different kinds of learners and I take that into account. I never plagiarize anything from other singing teachers. I might take a seed of an idea I learned and tweak it, just as you would a classic food recipe. If I learn something related to singing from a science book, I will incorporate that. If I use a scale from another method such as the Seth Riggs SLS method, Frank Sinatra method, the Alan Greene workbook, or the Bel Canto method, I am sure to tell the student where that exercise came from and that they can pull on those resources. (The source is always quoted on their printed handout). I frequently tell my students about other singing courses! If a student is doing something incorrect during singing, I can imitate it in my own voice, identify where the error is occurring during the process, and then show the student how to approach singing that one thing with more correct technique or more economical way. Kathy's Approach I insist on visiting the basics at first and spend time accordingly on the usual things such as correct breathing, posture, vowel formation, etc. It's ongoing. I devote a part of every lesson to performance. I want you to be an original. I want to help you discover the leader within you. Every moment that we are singing a song, we are making decisions about how to sing it. The lyrics will mean something. The beat will mean something. How you phrase, deliver words, the volume or power you apply will shape the song. The vocal nuance or the boldness you choose will come into play. I think there is an actor in each of us and we can adopt characters for our songs. How you connect with your audience whether live on stage, or from a recording booth - will matter in the end. The main goal of lessons is not to CHANGE the inherent way your voice sounds. My goal is to take the unique sound of your voice and add to it; enhance it. We work towards uncovering and empowering the artist within you. We develop the voice you have and build upon that with a spirit of joy. You will discover new sounds. You can't force your voice to grow or do things it can't possibly do until you have trained to do it. (And yes, there is a difference between belting and yelling!) To me, singing is both science and art at the same time. I never try to change someone's natural sound. We only enhance it, help it flourish, take a holistic vocal evolutionary path and keep adding new musical layers. At the end of every lesson, I hope that these 4 questions will be answered yes: 1. Did your voice get some good exercise / workout? 2. Did you learn something interesting and new? 3. Do you understand the assignment for next time; are there any questions? 4. Do you feel motivated to sing and practice? I research. I test. In truth, science is still learning about human behaviour and how the brain works, which is paramount to the mind-body connection not only when it comes to singing or playing an instrument, but is related to learning and executing ANY physical skill. Science is still learning about the voice. What Makes a Great Singing Teacher? Let us pose this question to anyone who teaches a skill. For example: In order to be a fantastic football coach, does that person have to be a fantastic football player themselves first? In order to be a fantastic auto mechanic teacher, does that person have to be a fantastic auto mechanic themselves first? In order to be a fantastic singing teacher, does that person have to be a fantastic singer themselves? It's my opinion that the answer to that is yes. Ideally, at some time in their career the teacher, trainer or coach would have excelled at performing that skill themselves, which they are now teaching. If they themselves know what it's like to hit a home run on stage or in the studio, they can bring that experience to you through their coaching. Don't be too quick to judge the style of your singing teacher. If you are a raspy rock singer and you need to learn how to sing more healthy easy sounds during practice, you might not want to study with a person who only knows how to rock hard with their voice. You probably need warmer, richer, healthier exercises to sing; not more of the same. You need a little something in the way of therapeutic singing. Look to a variety of styles to study: R&B, folk/roots, classical, SLS, theatre, pop, etc. Internet Misinformation About Singing Methods There is so much misinformation on the internet, it's hard to believe what's true and what's not! Just because something is in writing doesn't mean that it is entirely accurate and absolute. There are literally hundreds of people out there calling themselves singing teachers, vocal coaches, starting schools and calling themselves experts. Should a singing teacher have academic credentials only? A degree? Stage experience only? What credentials does someone need to be a valid singing teacher? Suppose someone has performed on Broadway stages for years but has never been in a hit musical, is not famous, and they decide to teach singing. Does that mean they won't be a good singing teacher? Maybe maybe not. Don't be fooled by fame. Fame can be a result of luck and good networking skills. It's rare that anyone becomes famous by accident, including singing teachers. They have usually sought their station. That's not good, bad, right, or wrong just fact. A few times, a parent has asked me if I have taught anyone famous. Would that make a difference to the quality of my teaching? Not necessarily. Keep an open mind is all I'm saying and try not to think in absolutes. There are singing methods out there with certified coaches who are fanatical with the notion that they have the ONLY and the BEST method of teaching singing on the planet. Some attach to celebrity endorsement. Well there can be many, many amazing and valid approaches to working with people on their voices. I think that some popular methods are far too technical and the student gets hung up on the mechanics of singing. Some methods recommend things like warming up with very high quiet tones, or never talk about vocal mechanics, and assorted approaches. Here’s something that made my eyes pop wide open. I saw video of a celebrity voice coach working with a famous rap superstar that I found to be very disturbing. He had his female rap star actually moving her jaw sideways, quickly sweeping it back and forth, fast and hard, as a part of the vocal warm-up! You can almost guarantee TMJ medical issues from that. In fact, it could possibly warrant litigation. This NY singing coach was charging an astronomical hourly fee into three figures (but included back massage). I like to base things in fact. I have kept a log of internet untruths about singing. Here is just one of many, and more benign than most: There is a website I saw which has the word musician and university in the name of the site. Under singing, it says, Singing is easy. Anyone can do it. But what most singers do not know is that your voice is just like an instrument. I don't think that's true. No, singing is not easy for everyone. Some people are very challenged with vocally interpreting and recreating sound as they hear it (* research the word amusia), and require different amounts of, and approaches to- ear training for accurate pitch placement. Some people are in poor physical condition and have a hard time understanding breathing, believe it or not. Some people were raised in a culture where silence was encouraged and they are ashamed to use their voice in a singing fashion. And so forth. The human voice is the only musical instrument located within the body. It is prejudiced with emotion. A piano is not. A violin has no emotion. A guitar has no emotion. It's the players of these instruments who can bring emotional interpretation to sound production. But our voice is within our body; the player and the instrument are one. Furthermore, I can see all other instruments as I play them. But you cannot see your voice as you play it. You feel it. You operate this instrument of voice as your brain sends neuromuscular impulses to your voice and various other muscles and systems in the body. For fascinating information on this, I encourage you to investigate The Alexander Technique for Singers. (FYI, it's a little technical.) I don't mean to scare or intimidate anyone. Connect with the person you want to work with. See if they make sense to you. Use your instincts and common sense when it comes to information at large. If something sounds astonishing or weird, perhaps try searching university and academic websites which are usually loaded with true and verified information. When we sing, let there be unconditional joy. Kathy Thompson, Vocal Coach, Toronto
  24. (This text has been sourced from the eBook "Just another day at the office...How to get better results in auditions and other high pressure performing situations"). Introduction Throughout the course of your performing life, opportunities to audition for jobs or perform in solo recitals don't usually come along too often. If you're an active job-seeker, you may have the chance to attend four or five auditions per year. As a student, you might perform one or two sixty-minute solo recitals per year. And as a full-time professional orchestral musician or choral singer, solo performances may be very few and far between indeed. Auditions and other solo performances are under the spotlight events, and are often experienced by many performers with high levels of performance arousal. Performance arousal? What's that? You've no doubt heard of or even experienced feelings of anxiety before and at times during performances. This anxiety, or performance anxiety as it is commonly referred to, is the negative form of performance arousal. Performance anxiety can affect you negatively in performing situations. Excitement on the other hand, or the feeling of looking forward to a performance, is the positive form of performance arousal, and can have a positive effect on your ability to perform. But this is only true if the level of excitement you experience is appropriate for your particular performing situation. In other words if the level of excitement you experience is inappropriate (i.e. too much or too little) for your performing situation, then this excitement will have a negative effect on your ability to perform. So in short, the term performance arousal describes the excitement or anxiety you may feel before and at times during performances. Performance arousal can be particularly strong in under the spotlight events, or other performing situations that you perceive as high-pressure. Ok. So how much positive performance arousal (excitement) do I need to get the best results? As a classical musician or singer performing in a recital or audition situation, high levels of excitement may make you feel like you are out of control. Likewise, performance anxiety can also make you feel out of control, and in addition may be accompanied by unpleasant physical sensations such as muscular tension, hyperventilation, sweaty palms, nausea, and so on. So, in traditional recital or audition situations, a moderately low level of positive performance arousal (excitement) will in most cases allow you to achieve your best possible results. That sounds like it should work in theory. But how do I actually make it happen? In this eBook you'll be shown the simple yet powerful technique of Intense Positive Visualisation . This technique has been specifically designed to help you obtain an ideal state of mind for your performing situations, regardless of your field of performance. Using Intense Positive Visualisation, you can achieve better results in auditions, and see how other high-pressure performance situations may be perceived as easy, comfortable, and dare I say, even a joy to experience! Familiarity To begin with, let's take a situation quite apart from a musical one. Let's imagine for a minute that you are an office worker beginning your first day at a new job. As with a recital or audition, this is a situation that can put you in the stressful position of not knowing exactly what will happen throughout the course of the experience. You might have a certain amount of information, but there are still many variables and details that are either unfamiliar, or completely unknown. You are also quite naturally aware that the outcome of the actual event is significant, especially given the importance placed on first impressions. What are some of the physical and mental responses that you might experience before and/or during your ever-important first day at the office? Perhaps you might have sweaty palms, shallow breathing, a churning stomach, or possibly mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety. However, after experiencing your new environment for a few days, you begin to perceive being at the office as no big deal. When this happens, the heightened excitement or anxiety (performance arousal) you experienced on your first day starts to disappear. Now, compare the number of times you've heard of the phrase I'm starting my new job today. Wish me luck! with the phrase It's my 30th day at the office today. Wish me luck! and not to mention It's my 2,623rd day at the office today. Wish me luck! It starts to sound ridiculous, doesn't it? So therefore, and this really is the crux of the matter, what is the difference between the ever so slightly ridiculous sounding 2,623rd day at the office and the 1st day at the office? The answer is familiarity! And it is a special sort of familiarity that helps us feel at ease, calm, confident and in control. This sort of familiarity can be referred to as positive conditioning. Riding the Roller Coaster To explain positive conditioning in plain English, picture this. You are at a theme park and are very nervous or anxious about riding that big, scary roller coaster for the first time. Even thinking about taking the plunge starts you off on a serious emotional roller coaster! Should I? Shouldn't I? I don't really want to after all. But I do want to try it, and all my friends are doing it. I can do it. I can't do it. It might be fun!? But what happens if we crash? Maybe I should have just stayed in bed this morning! Eventually you decide to board the roller coaster, and experience the ride. Riding the roller coaster turns out to be a positive experience you survived and even enjoyed it in some weird way! This makes your brain suddenly say Hey! That wasn't so bad after all! The next time you think about riding the roller coaster, you are perhaps only a little nervous or anxious. You make the decision to ride the roller coaster again, and again it turns out to be a positive experience you even had your eyes open this time! Your brain now says to you Hey! That was actually kinda fun! I wanna do it again! And so the next time you think about riding the roller coaster, you are looking forward to it, because you know it will be a fun, enjoyable experience! This is basically how positive conditioning works. However, what if your experiences are negative? For example, what happens if the first time you ride the roller coaster you get stuck at the top of the ride and are forced to dangle upside-down for 6 hours because of a technical problem? If this happens, your brain is probably going to say to you the next time you think about riding a roller coaster, Oi! Remember that last roller coaster experience?? It was horrible! I don't ever want to go through that again get me outta here! This is negative conditioning in action. The Routine Part 1 So, how do we ensure your brain tells you that auditions, recitals, and other high-pressure performing situations are easy and fun? How do you achieve positive conditioning when you only get one shot at something??? We'll answer these questions very soon! But for now, it's back to the office! After 30 days at the office, you know the routine... Wake up with the alarm clock, hit the snooze button, and sleep for an extra 10 minutes Get out of bed when the alarm rings for the second time Eat breakfast Have a shower and get dressed Brush teeth Shoes on Leave the house after locking the door Walk to the bus stop. Aim to arrive there in time to get on the number 85 bus that you know always leaves 2 or 3 minutes earlier than it's supposed to Board the bus Get off the bus at the appropriate stop Walk up to the building and in through the main entrance The Routine Part 2 A Greet the receptionist Sign in Walk up the stairs, bidding a fellow colleague a good day on the way Greet the other office workers as you pass them on your way to your desk Arrive at your desk, sit down, and start the day's work Lunch break for 45 minutes Work through to the late afternoon When it's time to leave, walk back down the stairs, out of the office, and out of the building All of these small but necessary actions are completed each day as part of your routine. Thinking back to your first day at the office, you didn't have this routine your first day was completely unfamiliar! This is the reason why you may have been feeling anxious or even over-excited (high performance arousal level), and the reason why you asked your partner, flatmate, friends, or family to wish you luck. Now, if it feels like we have wandered from the path of an under the spotlight performance situation, read the bullet points in The Routine Part 1 again, and then skip directly toThe Routine Part 2 B below. The Routine Part 2 B Walk around to the stage door of the venue Greet the receptionist at the desk Sign in Walk up the stairs and along the corridor to warm-up room marked ‘Soloist 1’ Take out your instrument, and begin your warm-up routine After some time, your accompanist enters the warm-up room With 15 minutes until your audition is scheduled to start, you rehearse entries and certain problem passages The stage manager knocks on the door, and asks if you are both ready You follow the stage manager to the wings in the off-stage area You walk confidently on stage, with your accompanist following closely behind You acknowledge the audition jury You begin the audition calmly, and confidently The performance begins, and continues in the most musical way you can possibly imagine You finish the last audition piece, acknowledge the jury, and finally walk off stage So, if you're a performer, and get the chance to be at the office for 30 days (performing in recitals or auditions every day for 30 days) you can get to know the routine, and become quite comfortable and familiar with it. But wait a second! You might be thinking: Ok, but the office worker has the opportunity to learn the routine and get familiar with it as they are in reality at the office every weekday. I'm not doing a recital or audition everyday. I only get one shot at this! What?!? You're right! You're not performing in a recital or audition everyday but you should be! What?!? Auditions and recitals don't come along everyday! In reality, no they don't! But in your mind, you can perform auditions and recitals as often as you wish! What do you mean?!? How does this work?!? By using specially designed visualisation techniques, you can use your mind to rehearse any one-shot performance as many times as you wish! Therefore, you can become familiar with your one-shot performing situation, well before it even happens! So, if you practise visualisation techniques, when you walk into your performing situation in reality, you're just like the office worker going to work on their 30th or even 2,623rd day at the office! In other words, you can feel, calm, confident, and in control in any performance situation! The Proof But wait just another second! Surely there is a vast difference between experiencing an event in reality and experiencing the same event in your imagination? After all, the office worker actually is at the office every day, and if I use visualisation, I'm only going to imagine myself being at the office. Can this really be the same thing? The short answer to this question is YES! According to many studies on visualisation in the field of sports psychology, the subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between actually experiencing an event, and simply imagining an event in vivid detail! Look at this example: One study on visualisation in sports psychology involved the members of three basketball teams of approximately equal skill level, practising shooting 3-pointers, for a period of 30 days. One of the teams practised neither physically on the court, nor in their minds during the duration of the study. Their improvement at the end of the study was not surprisingly 0%. Another team practised physically that is, on the basketball court for a period of one hour each day. After 30 days, their improvement was measured at 24%. The third team did not practise physically at all but was told to mentally visualise the game for one hour each day. At the end of the thirty day period, their improvement was a remarkable 23%. What was the reason for this? The sports scientists concluded that the subconscious mind cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined. Therefore, since the subconscious mind has a large influence on how you perform, positively conditioning your subconscious mind using Intense Positive Visualisation can have a huge effect on your success as a performer! Find out how to practise Intense Positive Visualisation in the next chapter! Intense Positive Visualisation Visualisation techniques can help you positively condition yourself to achieve an ideal state of mind, helping you to gain optimal results in your performing situations. In short, when visualising, you train your mind by entering a relaxed state and imagining the exact results you would like to achieve. By regularly practising visualisation techniques, you can condition yourself for success! In the book Performing in The Zone, three different types of visualisation techniques are explained: Snap Shot Intense Positive Visualisation The 5 Sense Visualisation Method Here in Just Another Day at the Office you're going to see exactly how the simple yet powerful technique of Intense Positive Visualisation can help you in your performing situations! Read on! Different points of view Intense Positive Visualisation can be carried out in the 1st person or 3rd person perspective. Using the 1st person perspective, you put yourself in the centre of the visualisation. For example, if you are a concert pianist, you would imagine yourself performing on stage from your own eyes, seeing your hands and the piano keyboard in front of you, taking in the experience as if you were actually carrying it out in reality. In the 3rd person perspective, you would see yourself from a distance, possibly from a seat in the audience, the back of the room, or even a position up in the ceiling somewhere above, behind, or beside you. Some performers find a 1st person visualisation to be more powerful and real, whereas others may find a 3rd person visualisation to be most effective. Experiment using both viewpoints, and discover which one works best for you. Intense Positive Visualisation explained To practise Intense Positive Visualisation, you will need to be undisturbed for a period of anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, depending on the length of the performance you are about to visualise. Intense Positive Visualisation is best carried out lying down on your back with your hands resting gently on your solar-plexus. You may choose to lie flat on the floor or on a yoga mattress. Lying down on a bed can be an acceptable alternative, and is at times preferable if practising this exercise just before sleeping. It's important to keep the body at a comfortable temperature throughout the duration of the visualisation, and therefore covering yourself with a blanket might be necessary. To begin Intense Positive Visualisation, gently close your eyes, and lightly touch your tongue to the front part of the roof of your mouth, just behind the teeth. This is a Qi Gong technique which forms an energy bridge to allow freer flow of energy in the human energy system. Try to keep the root of your tongue relaxed at all times. If you have trouble with this, simply let your tongue sit in its natural position and come back to this Qi Gong energy bridge technique at a later stage. Whilst in a horizontal position, allow the floor to take your weight. Feel your limbs becoming heavier the more relaxed they feel. Trust the floor it will hold you. Give in to the support from underneath. Trust, relax, and let go. Breathe gently through your nose. Allow your body to breathe as it needs to. The next section is designed to help you understand how Intense Positive Visualisation works. It is an example of one possible visualisation, taken from the perspective of a musician giving a recital, requiring a performance arousal level of +1 before the performance, +2 for the majority of the recital, and +3 for the climax of the concert. After reading the following example and understanding the process of Intense Positive Visualisation, you can then create your own personal visualisation to meet your specific needs. When creating your visualisation, remember to visualise events exactly as you want them to be Start of Intense Positive Visualisation example: You begin by imagining yourself at home, taking your performance clothes out of the wardrobe. You check to see that everything is in order with your clothes and your performance shoes. You put your performance clothes and shoes in a suit bag, pick up your instrument case, check to see if you have your keys and wallet, and leave the house, locking the door behind you. You walk down the stairs and out on to the street in a relaxed pace. Arriving at the metro (underground train/tube) station, you use your ticket to pass the barrier, and board your train. It's going to be a great show. Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. Getting off at the right stop, you stroll towards the recital hall, taking in the scenery on the way. Perhaps a seagull is calling in the distance? How do the trees look? Are there other people out walking? You take out your Cue Card and slowly read over your key words. Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. You arrive at the venue and greet the receptionist on the way in. After signing in, you head to your warm up room where your accompanist is already waiting for you. You ask your accompanist for 15 minutes by yourself so that you can prepare yourself and warm up. You unpack your instrument, and begin your warm up routine. It feels fantastic to start warming up. You know your accompanist is going help you put on a great show. You know that the venue has a warm acoustic. Your performance clothes are ironed and your shoes polished. You are ready. You are about to share part of yourself with some people who want to hear you they want to be touched by you. It's going to be a warm, giving, rewarding experience for both them and you. It's going to be great! Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. After 15 minutes your accompanist walks in to the room. Before you begin to rehearse, you check your Cue Card again, and go through your Pre-Performance Ritual, C3 calm, controlled, confident the C3 and +1 on your Cue Card gives you a familiar, friendly reminder. You rehearse the beginning of the first piece with your accompanist. It's easy and free. The acoustic in the practise room is dry, but you know that out there in the hall the space will take care of you the warm reverb will beautify every nuance and add to the experience for everyone. Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. When it is time, you are called to the wings of the stage. You take one final look at your Cue Card and go through the C3 exercise again. You can hear the chatter of the audience, and see the stage in front of you. You walk calmly, securely, and with purpose on to the stage where you are greeted by applause. They like you and you haven't even done anything yet! This is going to be a fun performance! Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. Whilst your accompanist adjusts the piano stool, you look out into the audience and make visual contact with the people you are about to touch with your performance. Your body language exudes confidence and assuredness. You greet the audience, introducing yourself and your accompanist, and begin to talk about the evening's programme. Your voice is stable, powerful, and reflects the perfect +1 state of performance arousal that you are currently in. Your voice resonates effortlessly to the back of the hall. You are in The Zone. After your brief introductory talk, you look to your accompanist who is ready to work with you. This is going great! You begin your performance, and your performance arousal gently rises to a +2. (At this point in the visualisation I strongly suggest that you visualise your entire performance that is, see and hear yourself giving the most musical, fantastic, controlled, inspired, moving performance you can possibly imagine. Use either 1st or 3rd person perspective. In your visualisation you are doing everything right it feels fantastic and sounds amazing. You are at an ideal level of performance arousal for this performing situation, and totally in The Zone.) Just before the climax of the final piece, you turn the page, and see the familiar figure of +3 that you wrote earlier at the top of your music. You step it up a notch, and raise your performance arousal level to +3. The music takes on a new life and energy and this is felt by you, your accompanist, and the audience. Finishing the concert at a +3 level your audience erupts in cheers and applause. You did it! It was great!! You were in The Zone!!! You acknowledge the audience, and walk off stage. End of Intense Positive Visualisation example. When you feel ready, slowly begin to move your body again. How did it feel to give that amazing performance? You were great! Everything just clicked. You were totally and completely in The Zone throughout the entire process. Intense Positive Visualisation can be practised every day before a performance. By doing so, you can condition yourself to perform in The Zone. Intense Positive Visualisation is highly recommended to all performers about to give important performances, auditions or recitals. The earlier you begin Intense Positive Visualisation the better, but at least one week prior to the performance event should be the minimum. In your own visualisations, remember to assess how much positive performance arousal you need at various moments: +1, +2, +3, +4, or +5. Do you need to be at the same activation level for the entire event, or does your performance arousal level need to modulate at various times? Remember that imagining yourself calm and relaxed probably isn't going to give you the best results if you are preparing for an intensely physical, fast-paced performance situation. Likewise, visualising getting yourself psyched up and exploding out of the gates isn’t going to help you if you are preparing for a more delicate +1 situation, such as a slow movement of a concerto. Visualising performing with an ideal level of performance arousal is important! By using Intense Positive Visualisation, you are using positive conditioning to become familiar with as many elements of your performance day as possible, and become used to experiencing these always in a positive light. Notice also that Intense Positive Visualisation goes into as much detail as possible, both before and during your performance. This is to help take away as many surprises and unknown factors on the day of your performance as possible. It may help the accuracy and intensity of your visualisation to do some reconnaissance by actually visiting the performance venue prior to your performance event. This is easily possible for students giving final recitals for example, or sportspeople playing at a local venue. Try to also incorporate some variations in your visualisations. Perhaps the audience isn’t ready and takes an extra 5 minutes to get seated? Perhaps your accompanist arrives later than expected due to traffic problems? Maybe the stage curtains are blue and not red? Perhaps the warm up room is bigger or smaller? Regardless of what happens, you are prepared, and you stay in your ideal level of positive performance arousal. You are completely stable, and in The Zone, always. By using Intense Positive Visualisation every day over a period of one week, you have in effect carried out your performance successfully 7 times. Practise this visualisation 3 times per day for a week and you’ve completed 21 successful, positive, great, fantastic, easy, ideal performances, and have been in The Zone every single time! Remember that your subconscious doesn’t differentiate between what is real and what is imagined. Therefore by using Intense Positive Visualisation diligently, you are conditioning yourself for success by becoming familiar with performing in The Zone! By using the technique of Intense Positive Visualisation, you can experience your next audition, recital or ‘high-pressure’ performance as just another day at the office! Conclusion Intense Positive Visualisation is just one of over 20 effective techniques fully explained in the book Performing in The Zone. These techniques can help you to become secure, confident, comfortable, in control, and successful in your performing situations. With the book Performing in The Zone, you get more than just techniques. You get: To find out what really goes on inside your mind and body in performing situations To learn about The Zone, what it is, and how you can get there A complete explanation of performance arousal, and how it can affect you positively or negatively in performing situations Over 20 techniques specifically designed to help you get better results in any field of performance The 12 Week Performance Success Programme to help you incorporate the techniques from Performing in The Zone into your performing life An introduction to additional sources of advice and information to further aid you in your journey to The Zone! By reading Performing in The Zone, you can: Perform at an optimal level Achieve better results when under the spotlight Become a master of yourself and your performance environment Realise your true performing potential Become a better performer by learning to perform in The Zone! In addition, at http://www.thezonebook.com you can subscribe to: The very latest techniques for controlling performance anxiety and over-excitement A personal email support service One-on-one coaching services – in person, via chat, or via video conferencing (limited number of places available) What should I do now? 1) Visit www.thezonebook.com 2) Sign up for a 20% Pre-Release Discount on "Performing in The Zone!" 3) Read Performing in The Zone, apply the information in the book, and enjoy the results! 4) Keep visiting www.thezonebook.com (as well as the blog, at http://www.thezonebook.com/blog) regularly for news updates, the latest techniques for getting better results in performing situations, and special offers! View full articles
  25. (This text has been sourced from the eBook "Just another day at the office...How to get better results in auditions and other high pressure performing situations"). Introduction Throughout the course of your performing life, opportunities to audition for jobs or perform in solo recitals don't usually come along too often. If you're an active job-seeker, you may have the chance to attend four or five auditions per year. As a student, you might perform one or two sixty-minute solo recitals per year. And as a full-time professional orchestral musician or choral singer, solo performances may be very few and far between indeed. Auditions and other solo performances are under the spotlight events, and are often experienced by many performers with high levels of performance arousal. Performance arousal? What's that? You've no doubt heard of or even experienced feelings of anxiety before and at times during performances. This anxiety, or performance anxiety as it is commonly referred to, is the negative form of performance arousal. Performance anxiety can affect you negatively in performing situations. Excitement on the other hand, or the feeling of looking forward to a performance, is the positive form of performance arousal, and can have a positive effect on your ability to perform. But this is only true if the level of excitement you experience is appropriate for your particular performing situation. In other words if the level of excitement you experience is inappropriate (i.e. too much or too little) for your performing situation, then this excitement will have a negative effect on your ability to perform. So in short, the term performance arousal describes the excitement or anxiety you may feel before and at times during performances. Performance arousal can be particularly strong in under the spotlight events, or other performing situations that you perceive as high-pressure. Ok. So how much positive performance arousal (excitement) do I need to get the best results? As a classical musician or singer performing in a recital or audition situation, high levels of excitement may make you feel like you are out of control. Likewise, performance anxiety can also make you feel out of control, and in addition may be accompanied by unpleasant physical sensations such as muscular tension, hyperventilation, sweaty palms, nausea, and so on. So, in traditional recital or audition situations, a moderately low level of positive performance arousal (excitement) will in most cases allow you to achieve your best possible results. That sounds like it should work in theory. But how do I actually make it happen? In this eBook you'll be shown the simple yet powerful technique of Intense Positive Visualisation . This technique has been specifically designed to help you obtain an ideal state of mind for your performing situations, regardless of your field of performance. Using Intense Positive Visualisation, you can achieve better results in auditions, and see how other high-pressure performance situations may be perceived as easy, comfortable, and dare I say, even a joy to experience! Familiarity To begin with, let's take a situation quite apart from a musical one. Let's imagine for a minute that you are an office worker beginning your first day at a new job. As with a recital or audition, this is a situation that can put you in the stressful position of not knowing exactly what will happen throughout the course of the experience. You might have a certain amount of information, but there are still many variables and details that are either unfamiliar, or completely unknown. You are also quite naturally aware that the outcome of the actual event is significant, especially given the importance placed on first impressions. What are some of the physical and mental responses that you might experience before and/or during your ever-important first day at the office? Perhaps you might have sweaty palms, shallow breathing, a churning stomach, or possibly mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety. However, after experiencing your new environment for a few days, you begin to perceive being at the office as no big deal. When this happens, the heightened excitement or anxiety (performance arousal) you experienced on your first day starts to disappear. Now, compare the number of times you've heard of the phrase I'm starting my new job today. Wish me luck! with the phrase It's my 30th day at the office today. Wish me luck! and not to mention It's my 2,623rd day at the office today. Wish me luck! It starts to sound ridiculous, doesn't it? So therefore, and this really is the crux of the matter, what is the difference between the ever so slightly ridiculous sounding 2,623rd day at the office and the 1st day at the office? The answer is familiarity! And it is a special sort of familiarity that helps us feel at ease, calm, confident and in control. This sort of familiarity can be referred to as positive conditioning. Riding the Roller Coaster To explain positive conditioning in plain English, picture this. You are at a theme park and are very nervous or anxious about riding that big, scary roller coaster for the first time. Even thinking about taking the plunge starts you off on a serious emotional roller coaster! Should I? Shouldn't I? I don't really want to after all. But I do want to try it, and all my friends are doing it. I can do it. I can't do it. It might be fun!? But what happens if we crash? Maybe I should have just stayed in bed this morning! Eventually you decide to board the roller coaster, and experience the ride. Riding the roller coaster turns out to be a positive experience you survived and even enjoyed it in some weird way! This makes your brain suddenly say Hey! That wasn't so bad after all! The next time you think about riding the roller coaster, you are perhaps only a little nervous or anxious. You make the decision to ride the roller coaster again, and again it turns out to be a positive experience you even had your eyes open this time! Your brain now says to you Hey! That was actually kinda fun! I wanna do it again! And so the next time you think about riding the roller coaster, you are looking forward to it, because you know it will be a fun, enjoyable experience! This is basically how positive conditioning works. However, what if your experiences are negative? For example, what happens if the first time you ride the roller coaster you get stuck at the top of the ride and are forced to dangle upside-down for 6 hours because of a technical problem? If this happens, your brain is probably going to say to you the next time you think about riding a roller coaster, Oi! Remember that last roller coaster experience?? It was horrible! I don't ever want to go through that again get me outta here! This is negative conditioning in action. The Routine Part 1 So, how do we ensure your brain tells you that auditions, recitals, and other high-pressure performing situations are easy and fun? How do you achieve positive conditioning when you only get one shot at something??? We'll answer these questions very soon! But for now, it's back to the office! After 30 days at the office, you know the routine... Wake up with the alarm clock, hit the snooze button, and sleep for an extra 10 minutes Get out of bed when the alarm rings for the second time Eat breakfast Have a shower and get dressed Brush teeth Shoes on Leave the house after locking the door Walk to the bus stop. Aim to arrive there in time to get on the number 85 bus that you know always leaves 2 or 3 minutes earlier than it's supposed to Board the bus Get off the bus at the appropriate stop Walk up to the building and in through the main entrance The Routine Part 2 A Greet the receptionist Sign in Walk up the stairs, bidding a fellow colleague a good day on the way Greet the other office workers as you pass them on your way to your desk Arrive at your desk, sit down, and start the day's work Lunch break for 45 minutes Work through to the late afternoon When it's time to leave, walk back down the stairs, out of the office, and out of the building All of these small but necessary actions are completed each day as part of your routine. Thinking back to your first day at the office, you didn't have this routine your first day was completely unfamiliar! This is the reason why you may have been feeling anxious or even over-excited (high performance arousal level), and the reason why you asked your partner, flatmate, friends, or family to wish you luck. Now, if it feels like we have wandered from the path of an under the spotlight performance situation, read the bullet points in The Routine Part 1 again, and then skip directly toThe Routine Part 2 B below. The Routine Part 2 B Walk around to the stage door of the venue Greet the receptionist at the desk Sign in Walk up the stairs and along the corridor to warm-up room marked ‘Soloist 1’ Take out your instrument, and begin your warm-up routine After some time, your accompanist enters the warm-up room With 15 minutes until your audition is scheduled to start, you rehearse entries and certain problem passages The stage manager knocks on the door, and asks if you are both ready You follow the stage manager to the wings in the off-stage area You walk confidently on stage, with your accompanist following closely behind You acknowledge the audition jury You begin the audition calmly, and confidently The performance begins, and continues in the most musical way you can possibly imagine You finish the last audition piece, acknowledge the jury, and finally walk off stage So, if you're a performer, and get the chance to be at the office for 30 days (performing in recitals or auditions every day for 30 days) you can get to know the routine, and become quite comfortable and familiar with it. But wait a second! You might be thinking: Ok, but the office worker has the opportunity to learn the routine and get familiar with it as they are in reality at the office every weekday. I'm not doing a recital or audition everyday. I only get one shot at this! What?!? You're right! You're not performing in a recital or audition everyday but you should be! What?!? Auditions and recitals don't come along everyday! In reality, no they don't! But in your mind, you can perform auditions and recitals as often as you wish! What do you mean?!? How does this work?!? By using specially designed visualisation techniques, you can use your mind to rehearse any one-shot performance as many times as you wish! Therefore, you can become familiar with your one-shot performing situation, well before it even happens! So, if you practise visualisation techniques, when you walk into your performing situation in reality, you're just like the office worker going to work on their 30th or even 2,623rd day at the office! In other words, you can feel, calm, confident, and in control in any performance situation! The Proof But wait just another second! Surely there is a vast difference between experiencing an event in reality and experiencing the same event in your imagination? After all, the office worker actually is at the office every day, and if I use visualisation, I'm only going to imagine myself being at the office. Can this really be the same thing? The short answer to this question is YES! According to many studies on visualisation in the field of sports psychology, the subconscious mind doesn't know the difference between actually experiencing an event, and simply imagining an event in vivid detail! Look at this example: One study on visualisation in sports psychology involved the members of three basketball teams of approximately equal skill level, practising shooting 3-pointers, for a period of 30 days. One of the teams practised neither physically on the court, nor in their minds during the duration of the study. Their improvement at the end of the study was not surprisingly 0%. Another team practised physically that is, on the basketball court for a period of one hour each day. After 30 days, their improvement was measured at 24%. The third team did not practise physically at all but was told to mentally visualise the game for one hour each day. At the end of the thirty day period, their improvement was a remarkable 23%. What was the reason for this? The sports scientists concluded that the subconscious mind cannot differentiate between what is real and what is imagined. Therefore, since the subconscious mind has a large influence on how you perform, positively conditioning your subconscious mind using Intense Positive Visualisation can have a huge effect on your success as a performer! Find out how to practise Intense Positive Visualisation in the next chapter! Intense Positive Visualisation Visualisation techniques can help you positively condition yourself to achieve an ideal state of mind, helping you to gain optimal results in your performing situations. In short, when visualising, you train your mind by entering a relaxed state and imagining the exact results you would like to achieve. By regularly practising visualisation techniques, you can condition yourself for success! In the book Performing in The Zone, three different types of visualisation techniques are explained: Snap Shot Intense Positive Visualisation The 5 Sense Visualisation Method Here in Just Another Day at the Office you're going to see exactly how the simple yet powerful technique of Intense Positive Visualisation can help you in your performing situations! Read on! Different points of view Intense Positive Visualisation can be carried out in the 1st person or 3rd person perspective. Using the 1st person perspective, you put yourself in the centre of the visualisation. For example, if you are a concert pianist, you would imagine yourself performing on stage from your own eyes, seeing your hands and the piano keyboard in front of you, taking in the experience as if you were actually carrying it out in reality. In the 3rd person perspective, you would see yourself from a distance, possibly from a seat in the audience, the back of the room, or even a position up in the ceiling somewhere above, behind, or beside you. Some performers find a 1st person visualisation to be more powerful and real, whereas others may find a 3rd person visualisation to be most effective. Experiment using both viewpoints, and discover which one works best for you. Intense Positive Visualisation explained To practise Intense Positive Visualisation, you will need to be undisturbed for a period of anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, depending on the length of the performance you are about to visualise. Intense Positive Visualisation is best carried out lying down on your back with your hands resting gently on your solar-plexus. You may choose to lie flat on the floor or on a yoga mattress. Lying down on a bed can be an acceptable alternative, and is at times preferable if practising this exercise just before sleeping. It's important to keep the body at a comfortable temperature throughout the duration of the visualisation, and therefore covering yourself with a blanket might be necessary. To begin Intense Positive Visualisation, gently close your eyes, and lightly touch your tongue to the front part of the roof of your mouth, just behind the teeth. This is a Qi Gong technique which forms an energy bridge to allow freer flow of energy in the human energy system. Try to keep the root of your tongue relaxed at all times. If you have trouble with this, simply let your tongue sit in its natural position and come back to this Qi Gong energy bridge technique at a later stage. Whilst in a horizontal position, allow the floor to take your weight. Feel your limbs becoming heavier the more relaxed they feel. Trust the floor it will hold you. Give in to the support from underneath. Trust, relax, and let go. Breathe gently through your nose. Allow your body to breathe as it needs to. The next section is designed to help you understand how Intense Positive Visualisation works. It is an example of one possible visualisation, taken from the perspective of a musician giving a recital, requiring a performance arousal level of +1 before the performance, +2 for the majority of the recital, and +3 for the climax of the concert. After reading the following example and understanding the process of Intense Positive Visualisation, you can then create your own personal visualisation to meet your specific needs. When creating your visualisation, remember to visualise events exactly as you want them to be Start of Intense Positive Visualisation example: You begin by imagining yourself at home, taking your performance clothes out of the wardrobe. You check to see that everything is in order with your clothes and your performance shoes. You put your performance clothes and shoes in a suit bag, pick up your instrument case, check to see if you have your keys and wallet, and leave the house, locking the door behind you. You walk down the stairs and out on to the street in a relaxed pace. Arriving at the metro (underground train/tube) station, you use your ticket to pass the barrier, and board your train. It's going to be a great show. Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. Getting off at the right stop, you stroll towards the recital hall, taking in the scenery on the way. Perhaps a seagull is calling in the distance? How do the trees look? Are there other people out walking? You take out your Cue Card and slowly read over your key words. Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. You arrive at the venue and greet the receptionist on the way in. After signing in, you head to your warm up room where your accompanist is already waiting for you. You ask your accompanist for 15 minutes by yourself so that you can prepare yourself and warm up. You unpack your instrument, and begin your warm up routine. It feels fantastic to start warming up. You know your accompanist is going help you put on a great show. You know that the venue has a warm acoustic. Your performance clothes are ironed and your shoes polished. You are ready. You are about to share part of yourself with some people who want to hear you they want to be touched by you. It's going to be a warm, giving, rewarding experience for both them and you. It's going to be great! Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. After 15 minutes your accompanist walks in to the room. Before you begin to rehearse, you check your Cue Card again, and go through your Pre-Performance Ritual, C3 calm, controlled, confident the C3 and +1 on your Cue Card gives you a familiar, friendly reminder. You rehearse the beginning of the first piece with your accompanist. It's easy and free. The acoustic in the practise room is dry, but you know that out there in the hall the space will take care of you the warm reverb will beautify every nuance and add to the experience for everyone. Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. When it is time, you are called to the wings of the stage. You take one final look at your Cue Card and go through the C3 exercise again. You can hear the chatter of the audience, and see the stage in front of you. You walk calmly, securely, and with purpose on to the stage where you are greeted by applause. They like you and you haven't even done anything yet! This is going to be a fun performance! Your performance arousal level is at +1. You feel relaxed, positive, and calm. Whilst your accompanist adjusts the piano stool, you look out into the audience and make visual contact with the people you are about to touch with your performance. Your body language exudes confidence and assuredness. You greet the audience, introducing yourself and your accompanist, and begin to talk about the evening's programme. Your voice is stable, powerful, and reflects the perfect +1 state of performance arousal that you are currently in. Your voice resonates effortlessly to the back of the hall. You are in The Zone. After your brief introductory talk, you look to your accompanist who is ready to work with you. This is going great! You begin your performance, and your performance arousal gently rises to a +2. (At this point in the visualisation I strongly suggest that you visualise your entire performance that is, see and hear yourself giving the most musical, fantastic, controlled, inspired, moving performance you can possibly imagine. Use either 1st or 3rd person perspective. In your visualisation you are doing everything right it feels fantastic and sounds amazing. You are at an ideal level of performance arousal for this performing situation, and totally in The Zone.) Just before the climax of the final piece, you turn the page, and see the familiar figure of +3 that you wrote earlier at the top of your music. You step it up a notch, and raise your performance arousal level to +3. The music takes on a new life and energy and this is felt by you, your accompanist, and the audience. Finishing the concert at a +3 level your audience erupts in cheers and applause. You did it! It was great!! You were in The Zone!!! You acknowledge the audience, and walk off stage. End of Intense Positive Visualisation example. When you feel ready, slowly begin to move your body again. How did it feel to give that amazing performance? You were great! Everything just clicked. You were totally and completely in The Zone throughout the entire process. Intense Positive Visualisation can be practised every day before a performance. By doing so, you can condition yourself to perform in The Zone. Intense Positive Visualisation is highly recommended to all performers about to give important performances, auditions or recitals. The earlier you begin Intense Positive Visualisation the better, but at least one week prior to the performance event should be the minimum. In your own visualisations, remember to assess how much positive performance arousal you need at various moments: +1, +2, +3, +4, or +5. Do you need to be at the same activation level for the entire event, or does your performance arousal level need to modulate at various times? Remember that imagining yourself calm and relaxed probably isn't going to give you the best results if you are preparing for an intensely physical, fast-paced performance situation. Likewise, visualising getting yourself psyched up and exploding out of the gates isn’t going to help you if you are preparing for a more delicate +1 situation, such as a slow movement of a concerto. Visualising performing with an ideal level of performance arousal is important! By using Intense Positive Visualisation, you are using positive conditioning to become familiar with as many elements of your performance day as possible, and become used to experiencing these always in a positive light. Notice also that Intense Positive Visualisation goes into as much detail as possible, both before and during your performance. This is to help take away as many surprises and unknown factors on the day of your performance as possible. It may help the accuracy and intensity of your visualisation to do some reconnaissance by actually visiting the performance venue prior to your performance event. This is easily possible for students giving final recitals for example, or sportspeople playing at a local venue. Try to also incorporate some variations in your visualisations. Perhaps the audience isn’t ready and takes an extra 5 minutes to get seated? Perhaps your accompanist arrives later than expected due to traffic problems? Maybe the stage curtains are blue and not red? Perhaps the warm up room is bigger or smaller? Regardless of what happens, you are prepared, and you stay in your ideal level of positive performance arousal. You are completely stable, and in The Zone, always. By using Intense Positive Visualisation every day over a period of one week, you have in effect carried out your performance successfully 7 times. Practise this visualisation 3 times per day for a week and you’ve completed 21 successful, positive, great, fantastic, easy, ideal performances, and have been in The Zone every single time! Remember that your subconscious doesn’t differentiate between what is real and what is imagined. Therefore by using Intense Positive Visualisation diligently, you are conditioning yourself for success by becoming familiar with performing in The Zone! By using the technique of Intense Positive Visualisation, you can experience your next audition, recital or ‘high-pressure’ performance as just another day at the office! Conclusion Intense Positive Visualisation is just one of over 20 effective techniques fully explained in the book Performing in The Zone. These techniques can help you to become secure, confident, comfortable, in control, and successful in your performing situations. With the book Performing in The Zone, you get more than just techniques. You get: To find out what really goes on inside your mind and body in performing situations To learn about The Zone, what it is, and how you can get there A complete explanation of performance arousal, and how it can affect you positively or negatively in performing situations Over 20 techniques specifically designed to help you get better results in any field of performance The 12 Week Performance Success Programme to help you incorporate the techniques from Performing in The Zone into your performing life An introduction to additional sources of advice and information to further aid you in your journey to The Zone! By reading Performing in The Zone, you can: Perform at an optimal level Achieve better results when under the spotlight Become a master of yourself and your performance environment Realise your true performing potential Become a better performer by learning to perform in The Zone! In addition, at http://www.thezonebook.com you can subscribe to: The very latest techniques for controlling performance anxiety and over-excitement A personal email support service One-on-one coaching services – in person, via chat, or via video conferencing (limited number of places available) What should I do now? 1) Visit www.thezonebook.com 2) Sign up for a 20% Pre-Release Discount on "Performing in The Zone!" 3) Read Performing in The Zone, apply the information in the book, and enjoy the results! 4) Keep visiting www.thezonebook.com (as well as the blog, at http://www.thezonebook.com/blog) regularly for news updates, the latest techniques for getting better results in performing situations, and special offers!