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  1. Singing is one of the most important means of communication that we are blessed to experience. It is the means by which we express our innermost thoughts and feelings in a language shared by the whole world. We sing songs as worship...as symbols of patriotism...as words to inspire change...to amuse...to romance....to uplift. Often, it is forgotten how integral singing is to our existence. When at play, children seem to almost instinctively sing as part of their games. These same young voices are instruments capable of producing a wide array of tones and timbres. In order to access this wide range of sounds, though, the sounds produced at play are not enough. Proper training in healthy vocal production is needed. Recently, I have been asked quite a bit about the appropriate age to begin voice lessons for children. Parents realize that their kids have either an overwhelming enthusiasm for singing or some substantial native talent that they want to properly nurture. They just wonder if formal lessons are safe for the youngster to undertake and worth the financial investment. First of all, I stress that the most important issue with kids is their attention span and not the perceived talent level. I've had some clearly gifted 7 year olds come in but they did not have the focus and maturity that is needed. Once that is explained, I relay that I believe lessons can successfully begin at age 8. I have trained a couple of 7 year olds, though, because they had the requisite focus, attention span, and teachability in addition to natural musical instincts. As long as the training is based in healthy technical habits and applied correctly to songs, there are no inherent dangers. Many people wonder what young singers can actually learn in private voice lessons. Some have believed that their physically immature instruments cannot acquire any real technical skills until their voices fully develop at puberty. But I am one of many who work with kids on a regular basis who believe that these voices can develop quite a lot of facility if guided correctly. We must remember that singing is an intricate psychomotor skill, not so different from the learning of piano, dance, or athletic moves. It's all about the systematic training of correct muscle memory which builds healthy technique that will strengthen and protect the voice. And if the goal of vocal study is establishment of good vocal habits that will carry over into adulthood, vocal technique has to be of primary importance! Of course, this must be balanced with singing good songs, but it will be difficult to expand repertoire if the instrument is limited in the sounds it can produce. The very same technical issues that need to be taught to adult singers need to be taught to kids. The building of tone production practices is essential. Child singers need to develop the ability to produce tones without undue tension and restriction. They must be taught proper breathing techniques and good body posture and alignment. Range extension is still important for kids, even though it must be applied relative to their still-growing voices. Many of the exercises that I use with my adult clients are used in the sessions with my youngsters, though sometimes with modifications. I also make sure that I introduce them to correct terminology concerning how the voice is put together and how it works. They learn about head and chest voice, the larynx, vocal folds, diaphragm, and resonance. They need to start learning a singer's vocabulary from the start of their study. We are seeing some fine examples of superstar singers who have become elite vocal athletes because of some fantastic vocal training starting at a young age- Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Adam Lambert among others. It is a worthwhile investment to begin lessons with a child who has the love for singing coupled with a sense of focus and discipline. The teacher must have a great knowledge of vocal pedagogy and a personality that can provide a safe, nurturing environment for the young singer to embark on this great journey of singing study. View full articles
  2. Are singing exercises really mandatory? No, they are not. They are only mandatory if you want to become a successful singer with a long and important career. Sure, some singers may never have done a scale in their lives. But then again, some people win the Lottery with the first ticket they buy. Willie Nelson probably never warbled a mee-mee-mee in his whole life. (Only guessing here; I've never asked) But few people have the charisma and sincerity that we see in Willie. He is a poet who puts tunes to his poems when he reads them. For the rest of us, the answer to that question is a resounding "YES." Singing is an athletic endeavor. And just like any other athletic activity, in order to be most effective, a subtle combination of brain, body and voice needs to be coordinated. These elements should be awakened by singing exercises so they can work freely together. A singer needs to sing scales and exercises in order to practice the elements of the techniques they are learning in a "pure" form. By that, I mean, without being distracted by issues like words, rhythm and interpretation. This is the time a singer gets to totally concentrate on the body, brain and voice synergy. Singing exercises build a kind of muscle memory intended to allow the singer to forget about issues like breathing and support so they can concentrate on performance aspects when they are singing onstage or in the studio. It's too late to concentrate on breathing and support when you're standing onstage. That's when a singer must forget about the basics and perform. You have to rely on muscle memory. And the way to build that muscle memory is to do what every vocal coach hopes you will do, and that is to practice your exercises. Exercises. That sounds like a lot of work and not much fun, doesn't it? Well, you could be right, but think of them like you would physical training. Crunches aren't much fun either, but when you don't do them, it shows in your performance and in your body. Fabled violinist Jascha Heifetz made a good point when he said, "If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it." For singers, I recommend warm-ups that work like building blocks, starting with the number one, all-time fundamental building block, which is effortless breathing. If you get the breathing part right, you stand a good chance of doing well with the rest of it. If you fail to establish your breathing correctly you will always be off-kilter. The next step is to incorporate your method of support. Then focus on your resonating system and add it to the mix. I also recommend that as you go through your singing exercises, you begin with scales that are short and in a comfortable voice range for you. Build slowly by gradually lengthening the spread of the notes you sing and begin exploring the boundaries of both upper and lower registers. There is a temptation to view singing exercises as a mindless activity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They are only worth doing if you concentrate on building a smooth working machine that incorporates body, brain, and voice. Record yourself and monitor your progress. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. To quote football coach Vincent Lombardi, "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect!" Nashville vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams helped make stars out of many top artists: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus, Huey Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Christina Aguilera... Author of "Voice Power" AMACOM (NY), Renee offers insider's information via on-line lessons, to receive her free weekly video News Lessons and an eBook "Answers to Singers' 7 Most Important Questions."http://cybervoicestudio.com
  3. Are singing exercises really mandatory? No, they are not. They are only mandatory if you want to become a successful singer with a long and important career. Sure, some singers may never have done a scale in their lives. But then again, some people win the Lottery with the first ticket they buy. Willie Nelson probably never warbled a mee-mee-mee in his whole life. (Only guessing here; I've never asked) But few people have the charisma and sincerity that we see in Willie. He is a poet who puts tunes to his poems when he reads them. For the rest of us, the answer to that question is a resounding "YES." Singing is an athletic endeavor. And just like any other athletic activity, in order to be most effective, a subtle combination of brain, body and voice needs to be coordinated. These elements should be awakened by singing exercises so they can work freely together. A singer needs to sing scales and exercises in order to practice the elements of the techniques they are learning in a "pure" form. By that, I mean, without being distracted by issues like words, rhythm and interpretation. This is the time a singer gets to totally concentrate on the body, brain and voice synergy. Singing exercises build a kind of muscle memory intended to allow the singer to forget about issues like breathing and support so they can concentrate on performance aspects when they are singing onstage or in the studio. It's too late to concentrate on breathing and support when you're standing onstage. That's when a singer must forget about the basics and perform. You have to rely on muscle memory. And the way to build that muscle memory is to do what every vocal coach hopes you will do, and that is to practice your exercises. Exercises. That sounds like a lot of work and not much fun, doesn't it? Well, you could be right, but think of them like you would physical training. Crunches aren't much fun either, but when you don't do them, it shows in your performance and in your body. Fabled violinist Jascha Heifetz made a good point when he said, "If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it." For singers, I recommend warm-ups that work like building blocks, starting with the number one, all-time fundamental building block, which is effortless breathing. If you get the breathing part right, you stand a good chance of doing well with the rest of it. If you fail to establish your breathing correctly you will always be off-kilter. The next step is to incorporate your method of support. Then focus on your resonating system and add it to the mix. I also recommend that as you go through your singing exercises, you begin with scales that are short and in a comfortable voice range for you. Build slowly by gradually lengthening the spread of the notes you sing and begin exploring the boundaries of both upper and lower registers. There is a temptation to view singing exercises as a mindless activity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. They are only worth doing if you concentrate on building a smooth working machine that incorporates body, brain, and voice. Record yourself and monitor your progress. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. To quote football coach Vincent Lombardi, "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect!" Nashville vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams helped make stars out of many top artists: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus, Huey Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Christina Aguilera... Author of "Voice Power" AMACOM (NY), Renee offers insider's information via on-line lessons, to receive her free weekly video News Lessons and an eBook "Answers to Singers' 7 Most Important Questions."http://cybervoicestudio.com View full articles
  4. To expand a singer's range, vocal coaches must be prepared to explore every trick in the book. Everyone wants to hit better high notes. And there are many who want to improve, or simply phonate more audibly, their lower notes. It could be argued that there are far more important issues for a singer to conquer: rhythmic integrity, emotional communication, and a delicious understanding of when and how to use consonants, to name a few. But we singers love to fret about the high notes, so I am going to offer a few solutions about range, vocal quality and power that I hope will help. High notes come in all shapes and sizes and any one of them can strike terror into the heart of a hapless singer. Our usual reaction to that terror? We do everything we possibly can to make the situation worse. We panic. We sing too loud. We grimace. We stiffen up like mummies. Support and relax your jaw. When you stiffen and jam your jaw downward you are applying tremendous pressure to that area, which, in turn, constricts your throat and strangles your sound. Instead, use your lower body for support. Tuck your hips under your body and keep your knees loose, almost as if you were sitting on your tailbone. Then support your voice with lower-body strength. Use the same lower-body crouch you would use to lift a heavy chair. If that were the task, you would surely protect yourself by using the strong muscles of your legs and lower body. Sound loves movement. Freely move some part of your body to help keep it loose. Don't clench your fists and stiffen up. Wave your arms, move your head, do a Mariah Carey hand wave. She seems to sing whatever she draws in the air with her right hand. But, no, tapping your toe doesn't count. Keep a level head. Resist reaching up for the high notes. The note is not up there like a fly buzzing around. All you have to do is try this little experiment to see how reaching up with your chin strangles off the sound: Sing or hum a long note as you slowly dip your chin to your chest and then raise it upwards and let your head fall back. Go back and forth a few times. Do you see how tipping back chokes off the sound? Now, we've all seen great singers who seem to throw their heads back and let forth. But if you look carefully, most of them are arching back with their whole body. It's not that the head is arching back independently; the head is part of the support curve. Lighten up before you leap. Most high notes are written as high notes because they are important words and the writer expects them to stand out. But as you go higher in your range, vocal tension increases. Lighten up the volume of the two or three lower notes before the high note. You'll have less weight to carry and the high note will be easier to sing. Never ruin a potentially great high note by over-singing the 1-3 notes before it. Nobody is out there thinking, Wow, I wonder if she'll hit that middle note. No, they're all waiting to hear how well you sing the high note. View full articles
  5. To expand a singer's range, vocal coaches must be prepared to explore every trick in the book. Everyone wants to hit better high notes. And there are many who want to improve, or simply phonate more audibly, their lower notes. It could be argued that there are far more important issues for a singer to conquer: rhythmic integrity, emotional communication, and a delicious understanding of when and how to use consonants, to name a few. But we singers love to fret about the high notes, so I am going to offer a few solutions about range, vocal quality and power that I hope will help. High notes come in all shapes and sizes and any one of them can strike terror into the heart of a hapless singer. Our usual reaction to that terror? We do everything we possibly can to make the situation worse. We panic. We sing too loud. We grimace. We stiffen up like mummies. Support and relax your jaw. When you stiffen and jam your jaw downward you are applying tremendous pressure to that area, which, in turn, constricts your throat and strangles your sound. Instead, use your lower body for support. Tuck your hips under your body and keep your knees loose, almost as if you were sitting on your tailbone. Then support your voice with lower-body strength. Use the same lower-body crouch you would use to lift a heavy chair. If that were the task, you would surely protect yourself by using the strong muscles of your legs and lower body. Sound loves movement. Freely move some part of your body to help keep it loose. Don't clench your fists and stiffen up. Wave your arms, move your head, do a Mariah Carey hand wave. She seems to sing whatever she draws in the air with her right hand. But, no, tapping your toe doesn't count. Keep a level head. Resist reaching up for the high notes. The note is not up there like a fly buzzing around. All you have to do is try this little experiment to see how reaching up with your chin strangles off the sound: Sing or hum a long note as you slowly dip your chin to your chest and then raise it upwards and let your head fall back. Go back and forth a few times. Do you see how tipping back chokes off the sound? Now, we've all seen great singers who seem to throw their heads back and let forth. But if you look carefully, most of them are arching back with their whole body. It's not that the head is arching back independently; the head is part of the support curve. Lighten up before you leap. Most high notes are written as high notes because they are important words and the writer expects them to stand out. But as you go higher in your range, vocal tension increases. Lighten up the volume of the two or three lower notes before the high note. You'll have less weight to carry and the high note will be easier to sing. Never ruin a potentially great high note by over-singing the 1-3 notes before it. Nobody is out there thinking, Wow, I wonder if she'll hit that middle note. No, they're all waiting to hear how well you sing the high note.
  6. Guest

    ArticlesHow to Practice

    Anyone who wants to master a skill is taught that practice makes perfect or perfect practice makes perfect or practice makes permanent. But practicing one's singing is uniquely difficult because it's such an invisible process and it can be challenging to know if you're succeeding or not. A piano player can see his fingers and a skier can time himself racing down a hill. Singing though is esthetic and subjective so it's hard to trust oneself. For how long should I practice? Should I do exercises and then songs? What's the optimal practice time? How do I know if I'm doing anything right? When I began my voice training, in the Dark Ages, my teacher recommended that I not practice. She was concerned that I would practice incorrectly (very likely) and that we'd have to redo rather than build. Made sense to me at the time! But I realize that new muscle memory takes practice and that if the teaching is clear, there's less chance of practicing wrong at home. Here then, is a list of my suggestions to help make practicing a thing of pleasure and satisfaction. Find a private place to sing. Not easy for those living in an apartment, I know, but the more private and undisturbed you can be, the less self-conscious you'll feel. Singing can sound loud and strange at times and you don't want to have to worry about people making fun of you by banging on the wall. Though singing in the car is not ideal, for some, it's the only reasonable private space. Just keep your hands on 10 and 2and eyes straight ahead while driving! Determine exactly what you need to focus on- + support exercises? watching yourself sing in the mirror to eliminate head tilting or chin lifting? + getting rid of chest breathing? holding long notes more comfortably? having consistently easy, non-strainy high notes? singing in tune? + vocal agility (speed and accuracy ornamental sections)? + high belting? + memorizing lyrics? + creating vocal riffs? + figuring out harmonies? working out performance gestures and moves? Notice I didn't mention warming-up exercises. Technical exercises and warm-up exercises can be two different things. Personally, I think that too many warm-up exercises can be tiring and sometimes less is more when it comes to warming up. The idea that one must warm-up for 20 minutes (or any exact amount of time) prior to a performance is unnecessary for many singers. Warm-ups should begin with stretching the body, creating good posture, reaffirming lower belly breathing then warming up the support jobs: chest up, ribs out, upper belly firming out, lower belly going in. This whole process should only take about three minutes. Then it's time to attach the vocal folds to the picture. I love the trill patterns: either lip trill or tongue trills. BUT, do not make the mistake of doing them loudly and carelessly. Start on your very lowest note and LIGHTLY do the trills to your highest note with great attention to your breathing and support jobs. I hear so many people doing the trills incorrectly and super-loud. That will over-pressurize your vocal folds and you'll be hoarse in no time. Humming is also a standard first warm-up for the vocal folds. Can't go wrong with humming. Sirens (smoothing sliding up and down) on hums and on vowels is another great, simple vocal fold warm-up. Never sing high and loud until you feel thoroughly warmed-up. 4) Do you ever accidentally do something amazing when singing and the bell of truth rings in your head? Don't let luck be your master! Follow what I call the Rule of Five. If you get lucky when experimenting and something AWESOME comes out of your mouth, REPEAT the phrase 5 times in a row perfectly. If you blow it, start over and aim for five perfect ones. It's a great method (if a bit obsessive-compulsive!) to make happy accidents into new behaviors. 5) When working on high, challenging passages, take the phrase down an interval of fourth then gradually take the phrase up in semi-tones. Take the passage ABOVE where you need to perform it. That will help trick your brain into thinking that the once-too-high passage is not so high after all. 6) When practicing a new and difficult technique (like belting to high C....with vibrato!), take a break every so often. Go and make yourself a sandwich, then come back and try again. Also try your new techniques in as many different locations as possible so your muscle memory remains no matter what the visual input might be. 7) Figure out if you're primarily a visual learner (reading sheet music, chord charts, or lyrics), a kinesthetic learner (singing by how it feels) or an auditory learner (hear it, sing it, know it). If you have a strong predilection for one type of learning, don't be too hard on yourself if other styles of learning seem really difficult. It's just the way your brain is built. 8) Don't practice until you get hoarse. Hoarse means swelling and that means it's time to stop singing. Pain should NEVER be experienced...nor tickling in the vocal folds. It is incorrect to think that pushing past the pain is ever a technique for strengthening the vocal folds. There should be no pain, ever. 9) The goal of practicing is to sing songs, not to do exercises perfectly. There are too many people out there who can sing their pants off on exercises but cannot sing a song to save their lives. Songs filled with feeling and magic are the goal. Practicing is only the foundation, not the goal. So include songs or difficult song fragments as part of your practice strategies. 10) Record yourself or consider having a professional ear (like a vocal coach with a lot of experience) monitor your progress every so often. Just to make sure your practicing does make perfect! Celebrity voice coach Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is the creator of the Voiceworks® Method and the Total Singer DVD. www.popeil.com View full articles
  7. Anyone who wants to master a skill is taught that practice makes perfect or perfect practice makes perfect or practice makes permanent. But practicing one's singing is uniquely difficult because it's such an invisible process and it can be challenging to know if you're succeeding or not. A piano player can see his fingers and a skier can time himself racing down a hill. Singing though is esthetic and subjective so it's hard to trust oneself. For how long should I practice? Should I do exercises and then songs? What's the optimal practice time? How do I know if I'm doing anything right? When I began my voice training, in the Dark Ages, my teacher recommended that I not practice. She was concerned that I would practice incorrectly (very likely) and that we'd have to redo rather than build. Made sense to me at the time! But I realize that new muscle memory takes practice and that if the teaching is clear, there's less chance of practicing wrong at home. Here then, is a list of my suggestions to help make practicing a thing of pleasure and satisfaction. Find a private place to sing. Not easy for those living in an apartment, I know, but the more private and undisturbed you can be, the less self-conscious you'll feel. Singing can sound loud and strange at times and you don't want to have to worry about people making fun of you by banging on the wall. Though singing in the car is not ideal, for some, it's the only reasonable private space. Just keep your hands on 10 and 2and eyes straight ahead while driving! Determine exactly what you need to focus on- + support exercises? watching yourself sing in the mirror to eliminate head tilting or chin lifting? + getting rid of chest breathing? holding long notes more comfortably? having consistently easy, non-strainy high notes? singing in tune? + vocal agility (speed and accuracy ornamental sections)? + high belting? + memorizing lyrics? + creating vocal riffs? + figuring out harmonies? working out performance gestures and moves? Notice I didn't mention warming-up exercises. Technical exercises and warm-up exercises can be two different things. Personally, I think that too many warm-up exercises can be tiring and sometimes less is more when it comes to warming up. The idea that one must warm-up for 20 minutes (or any exact amount of time) prior to a performance is unnecessary for many singers. Warm-ups should begin with stretching the body, creating good posture, reaffirming lower belly breathing then warming up the support jobs: chest up, ribs out, upper belly firming out, lower belly going in. This whole process should only take about three minutes. Then it's time to attach the vocal folds to the picture. I love the trill patterns: either lip trill or tongue trills. BUT, do not make the mistake of doing them loudly and carelessly. Start on your very lowest note and LIGHTLY do the trills to your highest note with great attention to your breathing and support jobs. I hear so many people doing the trills incorrectly and super-loud. That will over-pressurize your vocal folds and you'll be hoarse in no time. Humming is also a standard first warm-up for the vocal folds. Can't go wrong with humming. Sirens (smoothing sliding up and down) on hums and on vowels is another great, simple vocal fold warm-up. Never sing high and loud until you feel thoroughly warmed-up. 4) Do you ever accidentally do something amazing when singing and the bell of truth rings in your head? Don't let luck be your master! Follow what I call the Rule of Five. If you get lucky when experimenting and something AWESOME comes out of your mouth, REPEAT the phrase 5 times in a row perfectly. If you blow it, start over and aim for five perfect ones. It's a great method (if a bit obsessive-compulsive!) to make happy accidents into new behaviors. 5) When working on high, challenging passages, take the phrase down an interval of fourth then gradually take the phrase up in semi-tones. Take the passage ABOVE where you need to perform it. That will help trick your brain into thinking that the once-too-high passage is not so high after all. 6) When practicing a new and difficult technique (like belting to high C....with vibrato!), take a break every so often. Go and make yourself a sandwich, then come back and try again. Also try your new techniques in as many different locations as possible so your muscle memory remains no matter what the visual input might be. 7) Figure out if you're primarily a visual learner (reading sheet music, chord charts, or lyrics), a kinesthetic learner (singing by how it feels) or an auditory learner (hear it, sing it, know it). If you have a strong predilection for one type of learning, don't be too hard on yourself if other styles of learning seem really difficult. It's just the way your brain is built. 8) Don't practice until you get hoarse. Hoarse means swelling and that means it's time to stop singing. Pain should NEVER be experienced...nor tickling in the vocal folds. It is incorrect to think that pushing past the pain is ever a technique for strengthening the vocal folds. There should be no pain, ever. 9) The goal of practicing is to sing songs, not to do exercises perfectly. There are too many people out there who can sing their pants off on exercises but cannot sing a song to save their lives. Songs filled with feeling and magic are the goal. Practicing is only the foundation, not the goal. So include songs or difficult song fragments as part of your practice strategies. 10) Record yourself or consider having a professional ear (like a vocal coach with a lot of experience) monitor your progress every so often. Just to make sure your practicing does make perfect! Celebrity voice coach Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is the creator of the Voiceworks® Method and the Total Singer DVD. www.popeil.com
  8. Let's be honest- voice lessons can be expensive!! In this tough economic climate, it becomes an even larger sacrifice to spend money on vocal training. For that reason, if you are making the investment, the vocal instructor you choose should be worth your hard-earned dollars. There are waaaaaay too many charlatans out there who are, in essence, ripping you off!! They are not leading you into vocal freedom and are nothing more than vocal cheerleaders. You should be making your teacher really work for the pay. I want to share with you some things to consider in terms of teacher accountability. First of all, let's be clear: If your vocal coach can't explain clearly and simply how the voice works, RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!! A REAL teacher should be able to lead you into a working knowledge of your instrument. It is only when that happens that you will truly master your voice. He should be able to give you a purpose for any and every exercise that is given. I tell my students that if I don't give you the reason behind the vocalese, they can smack me. When the client is away from me, he will need to become self-sufficient and fend for himself on the road, in rehearsal, or in the studio. Knowing what exercises serve what purpose will keep you able to function on a daily basis. For too long, singers have been allowed to be the 'dumb' musicians, lagging behind their instrumentalist cohorts in knowing the nuts and bolts of their axe. A solid coach won't allow that. Beware of voice teachers who throw around trite directions like "sing from the diaphragm" and "place the tone forward", for example. This is often a sign that they have no clue as to what is pedagogically sound. Famed vocal coach Seth Riggs warns against such teaching by result instead of by cause and effect. They should be able to give specific exercises to bring the voice into balance. Teaching voice is an artful science and a scientific art. The scientific knowledge must be there. If not. move on to another teacher. A good voice teacher doesn't need to be the best singer you ever encounter, but if he can't sing, MOVE ON!!!! The coach should be able to demonstrate the concepts and exercises for their students. You should put the teacher on the spot. Ask her to sing through her passaggi or bridges. If she can't make easy transitions, she shouldn't be teaching you how to do it. The trainer should possess the technique that they claim to teach. By the way, a degree in voice doesn't guarantee that the voice teacher is truly qualified to be training other singers. There are a number of wonderful teachers may have degrees in music education, musical theater, or speech pathology. Also, don't be overly concerned with the piano skills of the coach. They need to able to play the exercises and chords, for sure. But their principal job isn't to be the accompanist. The main focus should be on your watching and listening to you as you vocalize and then move into song work. Set the bar high, folks. Don't throw your money away. Do your homework. Ask good questions. Audition the teacher. You will not regret the effort you put into the search when you find your voice growing into the instrument you've dreamed of having. SING OUT LOUD!!!! View full articles
  9. Let's be honest- voice lessons can be expensive!! In this tough economic climate, it becomes an even larger sacrifice to spend money on vocal training. For that reason, if you are making the investment, the vocal instructor you choose should be worth your hard-earned dollars. There are waaaaaay too many charlatans out there who are, in essence, ripping you off!! They are not leading you into vocal freedom and are nothing more than vocal cheerleaders. You should be making your teacher really work for the pay. I want to share with you some things to consider in terms of teacher accountability. First of all, let's be clear: If your vocal coach can't explain clearly and simply how the voice works, RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!! A REAL teacher should be able to lead you into a working knowledge of your instrument. It is only when that happens that you will truly master your voice. He should be able to give you a purpose for any and every exercise that is given. I tell my students that if I don't give you the reason behind the vocalese, they can smack me. When the client is away from me, he will need to become self-sufficient and fend for himself on the road, in rehearsal, or in the studio. Knowing what exercises serve what purpose will keep you able to function on a daily basis. For too long, singers have been allowed to be the 'dumb' musicians, lagging behind their instrumentalist cohorts in knowing the nuts and bolts of their axe. A solid coach won't allow that. Beware of voice teachers who throw around trite directions like "sing from the diaphragm" and "place the tone forward", for example. This is often a sign that they have no clue as to what is pedagogically sound. Famed vocal coach Seth Riggs warns against such teaching by result instead of by cause and effect. They should be able to give specific exercises to bring the voice into balance. Teaching voice is an artful science and a scientific art. The scientific knowledge must be there. If not. move on to another teacher. A good voice teacher doesn't need to be the best singer you ever encounter, but if he can't sing, MOVE ON!!!! The coach should be able to demonstrate the concepts and exercises for their students. You should put the teacher on the spot. Ask her to sing through her passaggi or bridges. If she can't make easy transitions, she shouldn't be teaching you how to do it. The trainer should possess the technique that they claim to teach. By the way, a degree in voice doesn't guarantee that the voice teacher is truly qualified to be training other singers. There are a number of wonderful teachers may have degrees in music education, musical theater, or speech pathology. Also, don't be overly concerned with the piano skills of the coach. They need to able to play the exercises and chords, for sure. But their principal job isn't to be the accompanist. The main focus should be on your watching and listening to you as you vocalize and then move into song work. Set the bar high, folks. Don't throw your money away. Do your homework. Ask good questions. Audition the teacher. You will not regret the effort you put into the search when you find your voice growing into the instrument you've dreamed of having. SING OUT LOUD!!!!
  10. First , I believe that everyone has the right to choose a suitable teacher for him/her that charges according to his/hers economic possibility. There is no use to start and taking one or two lesson and then stop because we can't afford it anymore. Therefor I will advise you to look for someone that his charges suit your pocket. This way you won't have to stop and change voice teacher in the middle of your voice learning process. I would suggest you also to try and find someone who can prove his professional abilities as a singer and as a teacher by videos or audio files. I won't just trust his/her word for it. I would also get an idea of what are the results I might obtain from studying with him/her. I would look for someone who has years of background and teaching experience, and not a fresh one. Usually an experienced teacher can offers you more. No always, as a rule, but often. I would try to find a teacher that gives you a nice and comfort feeling while study with. Singing can be sometimes like open your heart to a "stranger" and tell about "all your problems. Your teacher should be a person you can communicate with and feel free to be able to give feedback during the process. You should feel relaxed during the lessons for the process to be effective. Don't obligate yourself for a long period for lessons before you know the teacher and you have decided that this is what you want/need. You shouldn't feel any strange feelings on your throat at the end of a voice lesson. If you do feel uncomfortable (and you don't have a cold) afterwards that means you may need to change your teacher. After a while with a good teacher you should feel you can sing much easier, singing higher notes with less effort (than before) and have a clear sound. If none of it happens that means that may indicate on the fact that this method might be not working for you. Above all: Listen to your body/voice and what it tells you. If you feel that the teacher IS helping you that is great. If not you can stop your lessons , and look for another one. Don't forget , now you have much more knowledge than before to know if things are good for you. View full articles
  11. First , I believe that everyone has the right to choose a suitable teacher for him/her that charges according to his/hers economic possibility. There is no use to start and taking one or two lesson and then stop because we can't afford it anymore. Therefor I will advise you to look for someone that his charges suit your pocket. This way you won't have to stop and change voice teacher in the middle of your voice learning process. I would suggest you also to try and find someone who can prove his professional abilities as a singer and as a teacher by videos or audio files. I won't just trust his/her word for it. I would also get an idea of what are the results I might obtain from studying with him/her. I would look for someone who has years of background and teaching experience, and not a fresh one. Usually an experienced teacher can offers you more. No always, as a rule, but often. I would try to find a teacher that gives you a nice and comfort feeling while study with. Singing can be sometimes like open your heart to a "stranger" and tell about "all your problems. Your teacher should be a person you can communicate with and feel free to be able to give feedback during the process. You should feel relaxed during the lessons for the process to be effective. Don't obligate yourself for a long period for lessons before you know the teacher and you have decided that this is what you want/need. You shouldn't feel any strange feelings on your throat at the end of a voice lesson. If you do feel uncomfortable (and you don't have a cold) afterwards that means you may need to change your teacher. After a while with a good teacher you should feel you can sing much easier, singing higher notes with less effort (than before) and have a clear sound. If none of it happens that means that may indicate on the fact that this method might be not working for you. Above all: Listen to your body/voice and what it tells you. If you feel that the teacher IS helping you that is great. If not you can stop your lessons , and look for another one. Don't forget , now you have much more knowledge than before to know if things are good for you.
  12. Introduction This weekend's article is a comparision of the 'belt voice' production as used by female singers, the 'robust head voice' as used by Operatic tenors, and the male 'Rock' pharyngeal voice . These types of vocalism share some characteristics which make them similar to each other, but also have some characteristics which differentiate them. As I have done before, I will use spectragraphic analysis to assist in the understanding of how these voices can be compared and contrasted. A first example: 'Top Line F', Belt and Robust Head Voice The following spectragraph shows the harmonic content of two voices singing the F natural usually written on the top line of the treble staff, that is, the F at the upper range of both the belt and tenor voices (the F the octave and a perfect fourth above middle C.) The female singer, represented in blue, is Patti LaBelle, from a televised recording of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel , recorded in the mid-'60s. The tenor is classical tenor Nicolai Gedda, from a 1973 recording of "Credeasi Misera" from I Puritani. Patti http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTAOD-2Fnqw at 2:19 Nicolai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w_TTK7UP1c at 4:50 As I have done with prior recordings, I have matched the volumes of first harmonic (H1) so that the relative intensity of the upper harmonics can be identified. With this matching, we see the following: 1) There are five strong harmonics displayed by both voices, and for both of the notes, the 3rd harmonic is the strongest. This gives the voices power and color. The relative intensity of the harmonics is approximately the same in both voices. 2) H1 and H2 are lower in intensity than H3, but strong enough to make the core warmth of the tone quality very solid. 3) The 4th harmonic is both voices is in within the 'red lines', the most senstive part of our hearing range. 4) The white trace sections are 'wider', indicating that Mr. Gedda's vibrato is as well. Ms LaBelle sang her note with almost no vibrato, so the peaks are very pointed. A second example: Middle line B, Pop Belt and Rock Pharyngeal voice This second spectragraph, which I have annotated for harmonic identification, is of two voices singing the B above middle C. The two voices are Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, singing 'A whole lotta love', and Whitney Houston singing 'I will always love you', on a vowel approximating /a/. I have matched the fundamentals as before. Robert Plant's voice is in blue, and Whitney Houston's is in white. The spectragraph shows the following: 1) With the fundamentals equalized, the loudest harmonic in both voices is H2, and approximately the same intensity in both. With fundamental matched, and H2 so similar, the core of the tone for both voices on this note is identical. H2 in both voices carries the bulk of the volume for both. 2) H3 in Robert Plant's voice is somewhat louder by comparison to Whitney Houston's, but for both it is louder than the fundamental, and the 2nd loudest harmonic overall for both as well. Recall that the 3rd harmonic (an octave and a perfect 5th above the fundamental) as an odd harmonic, adds color to the tone quality. The relative strength of this harmonic in Robert Plant's voice is helps us to distinguish his from Whitney's tone quality. 3) H4 for both voices is about equal, but H5 and H6 in Plant's voice are stronger than Whitney's. This may be the result of "Singer's Formant" in Plant's voice. H6 is particulary well situated, as it is not only strong, but within the sweet spot of hearing. Example three: Broadway Belt, and Operatic Tenor This one is a fun one. The following spectragraph is of two very famous singers, Ethel Merman (the quintessential broadway belter of the mid-20th Century) and Luciano Pavarotti, Operatic Tenor. Ethel is singing the last note of 'Theres no business like show business' from Annie, Get Your Gun, and Pavarotti is singing the last note of 'Celeste Aida' from Aida. As usual, for comparison I have equalized the strength of the fundamentals so that relative harmonic balance can be shown. Can you tell which is which? Without giving away yet which is which, the following can be observed: 1) With the fundamentals equalized, the Blue voice has a louder H2 than the White one, which makes the core of the tone quality just a bit brighter, but not much. 2) H3 in both voices is the loudest harmonic, so they both have the color this harmonic brings to the tone, with a small advantage for the White voice. 3) H4 for both voices is quite a bit softer than H1, H2 and H3, adding some brightness, but not much to both. 4) The higher harmonics have less energy in both voices, but overall the White voice has more than the Blue one, which gives it more ring. 5) Both voices have vibrato (as evidenced by the 'wideness' of the harmonics), with the Blue voice having just a little bit more than the White one. Have you determined which is which? Scroll down a bit to learn.... Pavarotti is in White. Merman is in Blue :-) Conclusions In looking at these representative voices, there are some commonalities that we can identify for this pitch range: A) In each voice type, the principal strength of the tone is in the 2nd and 3rd harmonic. The fundamental is often 4th or lesser in strength, meaning that other harmonics align more closely with the resonances of the vowels chosen than it does. Some voices display presence of singer's formant, and others do not. C) Each of the singers shows strong voice production characteristics, but not equal balances of resonance.
  13. Introduction This weekend's article is a comparision of the 'belt voice' production as used by female singers, the 'robust head voice' as used by Operatic tenors, and the male 'Rock' pharyngeal voice . These types of vocalism share some characteristics which make them similar to each other, but also have some characteristics which differentiate them. As I have done before, I will use spectragraphic analysis to assist in the understanding of how these voices can be compared and contrasted. A first example: 'Top Line F', Belt and Robust Head Voice The following spectragraph shows the harmonic content of two voices singing the F natural usually written on the top line of the treble staff, that is, the F at the upper range of both the belt and tenor voices (the F the octave and a perfect fourth above middle C.) The female singer, represented in blue, is Patti LaBelle, from a televised recording of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel , recorded in the mid-'60s. The tenor is classical tenor Nicolai Gedda, from a 1973 recording of "Credeasi Misera" from I Puritani. Patti http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTAOD-2Fnqw at 2:19 Nicolai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w_TTK7UP1c at 4:50 As I have done with prior recordings, I have matched the volumes of first harmonic (H1) so that the relative intensity of the upper harmonics can be identified. With this matching, we see the following: 1) There are five strong harmonics displayed by both voices, and for both of the notes, the 3rd harmonic is the strongest. This gives the voices power and color. The relative intensity of the harmonics is approximately the same in both voices. 2) H1 and H2 are lower in intensity than H3, but strong enough to make the core warmth of the tone quality very solid. 3) The 4th harmonic is both voices is in within the 'red lines', the most senstive part of our hearing range. 4) The white trace sections are 'wider', indicating that Mr. Gedda's vibrato is as well. Ms LaBelle sang her note with almost no vibrato, so the peaks are very pointed. A second example: Middle line B, Pop Belt and Rock Pharyngeal voice This second spectragraph, which I have annotated for harmonic identification, is of two voices singing the B above middle C. The two voices are Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, singing 'A whole lotta love', and Whitney Houston singing 'I will always love you', on a vowel approximating /a/. I have matched the fundamentals as before. Robert Plant's voice is in blue, and Whitney Houston's is in white. The spectragraph shows the following: 1) With the fundamentals equalized, the loudest harmonic in both voices is H2, and approximately the same intensity in both. With fundamental matched, and H2 so similar, the core of the tone for both voices on this note is identical. H2 in both voices carries the bulk of the volume for both. 2) H3 in Robert Plant's voice is somewhat louder by comparison to Whitney Houston's, but for both it is louder than the fundamental, and the 2nd loudest harmonic overall for both as well. Recall that the 3rd harmonic (an octave and a perfect 5th above the fundamental) as an odd harmonic, adds color to the tone quality. The relative strength of this harmonic in Robert Plant's voice is helps us to distinguish his from Whitney's tone quality. 3) H4 for both voices is about equal, but H5 and H6 in Plant's voice are stronger than Whitney's. This may be the result of "Singer's Formant" in Plant's voice. H6 is particulary well situated, as it is not only strong, but within the sweet spot of hearing. Example three: Broadway Belt, and Operatic Tenor This one is a fun one. The following spectragraph is of two very famous singers, Ethel Merman (the quintessential broadway belter of the mid-20th Century) and Luciano Pavarotti, Operatic Tenor. Ethel is singing the last note of 'Theres no business like show business' from Annie, Get Your Gun, and Pavarotti is singing the last note of 'Celeste Aida' from Aida. As usual, for comparison I have equalized the strength of the fundamentals so that relative harmonic balance can be shown. Can you tell which is which? Without giving away yet which is which, the following can be observed: 1) With the fundamentals equalized, the Blue voice has a louder H2 than the White one, which makes the core of the tone quality just a bit brighter, but not much. 2) H3 in both voices is the loudest harmonic, so they both have the color this harmonic brings to the tone, with a small advantage for the White voice. 3) H4 for both voices is quite a bit softer than H1, H2 and H3, adding some brightness, but not much to both. 4) The higher harmonics have less energy in both voices, but overall the White voice has more than the Blue one, which gives it more ring. 5) Both voices have vibrato (as evidenced by the 'wideness' of the harmonics), with the Blue voice having just a little bit more than the White one. Have you determined which is which? Scroll down a bit to learn.... Pavarotti is in White. Merman is in Blue :-) Conclusions In looking at these representative voices, there are some commonalities that we can identify for this pitch range: A) In each voice type, the principal strength of the tone is in the 2nd and 3rd harmonic. The fundamental is often 4th or lesser in strength, meaning that other harmonics align more closely with the resonances of the vowels chosen than it does. Some voices display presence of singer's formant, and others do not. C) Each of the singers shows strong voice production characteristics, but not equal balances of resonance. View full articles
  14. If you have any questions about these products, please feel free to contact me on The Modern Vocalist or send me an email at robert@thevocaliststudio.com and we can talk your specific application. THE VOCALIST GIG BAG TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY FOR SINGERS: FROM ROBERT LUNTE & THE VOCALIST STUDIO: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TVS VOCALIST'S GIG BAG VIDEO OR WATCH BELOW! Microphones: - RODE M1 - RODE M2 http://www.rode.com/ - Electro-Voice 767a http://www.electrovoice.com - HEIL PR-35 http://www.heilsound.com - Telefunken M-80 http://www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com - Sennheiser 935 http://www.sennheiserusa.com - TC-Helicon MP-75 http://www.tc-helicon.com - AKG D7 http://www.akg.com Processing: TC-Helicon VoiceTone Pedals http://www.tc-helicon.com/voicetone-create-xt.asp - Create (EFX) - Doubler (simulates studio doubling) - Correct (compression) - Singles Pedals Wireless Microphone Solution - Samson Airline 77 http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=2018 Check That Mic Sanitary Wipes for Microphones http://www.checkthatmic.com VocoPro (HERO – RV) For Practicing and Writing: http://www.vocopro.com/products/product_info.php?ID=649 Extreme Isolation Headphones – X-29s: http://www.extremeheadphones.com/ex-29.html Vishudda Singer's Tea: http://aromatherapyinhaler.net/product/vishudda-singers-tea-kit-2/ Olympus Hand held Digital Recorder (The WS Series): http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_voicerecorders.asp Etymotic Ear Protection for Singers http://www.etymotic.com Hercules Mic Stand: http://www.herculesstands.com/mics/micstands.html PocketTone Pitch Pipe: www.PocketTones.com *Add this code to save $1. Special TVS Deal! (TMV08pt) Lyric Writing Software: www.masterwriter.com *Add this code to save $20. Special TVS Deal! (3059) Pen & Paper: Binder with all your bed tracks & lyrics: View full articles
  15. If you have any questions about these products, please feel free to contact me on The Modern Vocalist or send me an email at robert@thevocaliststudio.com and we can talk your specific application. THE VOCALIST GIG BAG TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY FOR SINGERS: FROM ROBERT LUNTE & THE VOCALIST STUDIO: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TVS VOCALIST'S GIG BAG VIDEO OR WATCH BELOW! Microphones: - RODE M1 - RODE M2 http://www.rode.com/ - Electro-Voice 767a http://www.electrovoice.com - HEIL PR-35 http://www.heilsound.com - Telefunken M-80 http://www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com - Sennheiser 935 http://www.sennheiserusa.com - TC-Helicon MP-75 http://www.tc-helicon.com - AKG D7 http://www.akg.com Processing: TC-Helicon VoiceTone Pedals http://www.tc-helicon.com/voicetone-create-xt.asp - Create (EFX) - Doubler (simulates studio doubling) - Correct (compression) - Singles Pedals Wireless Microphone Solution - Samson Airline 77 http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=2018 Check That Mic Sanitary Wipes for Microphones http://www.checkthatmic.com VocoPro (HERO – RV) For Practicing and Writing: http://www.vocopro.com/products/product_info.php?ID=649 Extreme Isolation Headphones – X-29s: http://www.extremeheadphones.com/ex-29.html Vishudda Singer's Tea: http://aromatherapyinhaler.net/product/vishudda-singers-tea-kit-2/ Olympus Hand held Digital Recorder (The WS Series): http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_voicerecorders.asp Etymotic Ear Protection for Singers http://www.etymotic.com Hercules Mic Stand: http://www.herculesstands.com/mics/micstands.html PocketTone Pitch Pipe: www.PocketTones.com *Add this code to save $1. Special TVS Deal! (TMV08pt) Lyric Writing Software: www.masterwriter.com *Add this code to save $20. Special TVS Deal! (3059) Pen & Paper: Binder with all your bed tracks & lyrics:
  16. Ever since 2002, I have been religiously watching all the reality TV shows concerning vocal performances. It started with American Idol, then it was followed by Canadian Idol and then, we got The Voice and almost right at the same time, we got X-Factor. Some of them are better than others, but all of them are quite entertaining. Sometimes, actually, they are almost too entertaining... What I mean by that is that the entertainment part is overshadowing the vocal performance part. In some cases, it looks ridiculous, as not every vocal performer is strong enough to offset the very good and strong dancers, not to mention tons of effects and "fireworks" on stage, so to speak. It does not actually help the artist to showcase their vocal talent. On the contrary, in my opinion, it is pretty distracting for the artist and for the audience. Also, especially this year, the quality of the vocal performance by the remaining top 10-12 participants has quite deteriorated. You would think that it should have an opposite effect, as by now the artists got accustomed to the stage and the audience and had their mentors attending to them. To my knowledge, there are some vocal coaches that are around and employed to work with the artists, but the latest trend that seems to be taking place, is that the judges, who are also the artists themselves, are playing the role of vocal coaches. Granted, they have experience to perform on stage and definitely could help with that immensely. But when the actual technical help is needed, would they be qualified to give a sound advice and actually teach a singer how to overcome certain technical difficulties, which may occur during some complicated songs? Let's, for example, take a good car driver and ask him if he could qualify as a driving instructor or, moreover, as a car mechanic? I presume some would, but generally speaking, the person who knows how to drive the car does not necessarily know how to fix the car or how to play the role of a driving instructor. All of those qualities are somewhat related, but they are not necessarily implied. Every skill has its trade and requires a specific certification. Also, even a very good car driver is not qualified to drive the truck or a truck trailer. For each of those skills, there is a specific license required. Therefore, I think that if besides the qualified mentors, there would be somebody who could help artists not only to interpret the song, but also with the technical merit, we would be presented with much better quality and much more on target singing. Also, when the artist is covering somebody else's song, he/she is usually suggested to make that song his/her own, which is a great suggestion. However, some of the artists are taking it almost too literally and the other night, watching an episode of X-Factor, I hardly could recognize the song by Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On". Not to mention that the technical merit of the performance was not present at all. The song has to be recognizable, and if the artist wants to put his/her own twist and spin, so to speak, on it, it's great, as long as the song is not completely lost and ruined in interpretation. Either way, I'm glad that those shows exist, as there is something to look forward to in anticipation, every time it airs. Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producer, and Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science ™ method and Talent Scout and Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc. If you would like to stay up to date with Vocal Science news, follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group. If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone, Toll Free in North America, at 1-888-229-TUNE (8863) View full articles
  17. Ever since 2002, I have been religiously watching all the reality TV shows concerning vocal performances. It started with American Idol, then it was followed by Canadian Idol and then, we got The Voice and almost right at the same time, we got X-Factor. Some of them are better than others, but all of them are quite entertaining. Sometimes, actually, they are almost too entertaining... What I mean by that is that the entertainment part is overshadowing the vocal performance part. In some cases, it looks ridiculous, as not every vocal performer is strong enough to offset the very good and strong dancers, not to mention tons of effects and "fireworks" on stage, so to speak. It does not actually help the artist to showcase their vocal talent. On the contrary, in my opinion, it is pretty distracting for the artist and for the audience. Also, especially this year, the quality of the vocal performance by the remaining top 10-12 participants has quite deteriorated. You would think that it should have an opposite effect, as by now the artists got accustomed to the stage and the audience and had their mentors attending to them. To my knowledge, there are some vocal coaches that are around and employed to work with the artists, but the latest trend that seems to be taking place, is that the judges, who are also the artists themselves, are playing the role of vocal coaches. Granted, they have experience to perform on stage and definitely could help with that immensely. But when the actual technical help is needed, would they be qualified to give a sound advice and actually teach a singer how to overcome certain technical difficulties, which may occur during some complicated songs? Let's, for example, take a good car driver and ask him if he could qualify as a driving instructor or, moreover, as a car mechanic? I presume some would, but generally speaking, the person who knows how to drive the car does not necessarily know how to fix the car or how to play the role of a driving instructor. All of those qualities are somewhat related, but they are not necessarily implied. Every skill has its trade and requires a specific certification. Also, even a very good car driver is not qualified to drive the truck or a truck trailer. For each of those skills, there is a specific license required. Therefore, I think that if besides the qualified mentors, there would be somebody who could help artists not only to interpret the song, but also with the technical merit, we would be presented with much better quality and much more on target singing. Also, when the artist is covering somebody else's song, he/she is usually suggested to make that song his/her own, which is a great suggestion. However, some of the artists are taking it almost too literally and the other night, watching an episode of X-Factor, I hardly could recognize the song by Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On". Not to mention that the technical merit of the performance was not present at all. The song has to be recognizable, and if the artist wants to put his/her own twist and spin, so to speak, on it, it's great, as long as the song is not completely lost and ruined in interpretation. Either way, I'm glad that those shows exist, as there is something to look forward to in anticipation, every time it airs. Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producer, and Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science ™ method and Talent Scout and Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc. If you would like to stay up to date with Vocal Science news, follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group. If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone, Toll Free in North America, at 1-888-229-TUNE (8863)
  18. One of my artists who is on The Voice this season shot me an email last week asking about what is the right food to eat prior to performance. I wanted to share this with you, too! Early on I was interested in the impact of food on our bodies and consequently on our voices. The voice being an instrument housed in our body what we feed it makes or breaks how our voice performs. Here's my Singers' Top Nine Vocal Super-Foods: Fresh REAL food is superior. Veggies & fruits have more energy because they are living foods singers need energy and oxygen in their blood (which real foods give us). Leafy greens in particular are energy givers: watercress, kale, arugula, spinach (raw not cooked), romaine, mixed greens, broccoli rabe, escarole, etc. Foods with high water content are hydrating. Hydration from plants is an additional source that adds nutrition, too (8-10 oz. of water, too!). Celery is great for nerves (try a celery or carrot juice the day of or sprinkle some on your salad.) Bok choy is actually a real super-food. And watermelon and melon of any kind is super hydrating for your voice. (I throw some pieces in my water for extra hydration.) Salads are the best. Dr. Joel Fuhrman (my nutritionist) says make salads your main dish. I squeeze a little lime or lemon & olive oil or use just a little balsamic. Top with avocado great for lubrication. Speaking of olive oil, some people swear by it for a little extra lubrication (but use sparingly.) Fresh squeezed juices! SHAZAAM! (Except no orange which causes reflux.) My favs are carrots, celery (remember, great for nerves), apple, beet, parsley with a smidge of ginger, all those leafy greens (watercress, kale, arugula, spinach raw not cooked, bok choy.) Strawberries are great for the larynx (notice how it's shaped like the thyroid cartilage love that). Google it you'll find some awesome articles about it. Broth soups hydrate miso, veggie base (but no tomato or cream base causes reflux.) Turkey-chicken-salmon: good sources of protein. Stay away from ketchup (too much sugar) and sugar in general depletes energy. They say carbs the night before a performance give energy sweet potatoes are better than rice or pasta, which turns into sugar. What foods do YOU find helpful for your voice (actual foods not remedies)? Post here! Happy Healthy Singing!! ©2012 Cari Cole, Vocal Mag, Inc. All Rights Reserved. View full articles
  19. One of my artists who is on The Voice this season shot me an email last week asking about what is the right food to eat prior to performance. I wanted to share this with you, too! Early on I was interested in the impact of food on our bodies and consequently on our voices. The voice being an instrument housed in our body what we feed it makes or breaks how our voice performs. Here's my Singers' Top Nine Vocal Super-Foods: Fresh REAL food is superior. Veggies & fruits have more energy because they are living foods singers need energy and oxygen in their blood (which real foods give us). Leafy greens in particular are energy givers: watercress, kale, arugula, spinach (raw not cooked), romaine, mixed greens, broccoli rabe, escarole, etc. Foods with high water content are hydrating. Hydration from plants is an additional source that adds nutrition, too (8-10 oz. of water, too!). Celery is great for nerves (try a celery or carrot juice the day of or sprinkle some on your salad.) Bok choy is actually a real super-food. And watermelon and melon of any kind is super hydrating for your voice. (I throw some pieces in my water for extra hydration.) Salads are the best. Dr. Joel Fuhrman (my nutritionist) says make salads your main dish. I squeeze a little lime or lemon & olive oil or use just a little balsamic. Top with avocado great for lubrication. Speaking of olive oil, some people swear by it for a little extra lubrication (but use sparingly.) Fresh squeezed juices! SHAZAAM! (Except no orange which causes reflux.) My favs are carrots, celery (remember, great for nerves), apple, beet, parsley with a smidge of ginger, all those leafy greens (watercress, kale, arugula, spinach raw not cooked, bok choy.) Strawberries are great for the larynx (notice how it's shaped like the thyroid cartilage love that). Google it you'll find some awesome articles about it. Broth soups hydrate miso, veggie base (but no tomato or cream base causes reflux.) Turkey-chicken-salmon: good sources of protein. Stay away from ketchup (too much sugar) and sugar in general depletes energy. They say carbs the night before a performance give energy sweet potatoes are better than rice or pasta, which turns into sugar. What foods do YOU find helpful for your voice (actual foods not remedies)? Post here! Happy Healthy Singing!! ©2012 Cari Cole, Vocal Mag, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  20. I just picked up the new album by my good friend and colleague Paul Tauterouff, entitled Audio Chocolate. Paul is a perennial pro instrumental guitarist who is branching out into new territory with this latest project by inviting several guest musicians; namely guitarists like Nick Layton, the incomparable violinist Pete Hartley and several pro vocalist, to be part of the project this time and it produced great results. I was fortunate to be one of those guest vocalists and I wanted to tell you about my experience. A few months before he finished the music for the project, Paul asked me to write lyrics and record guest vocals for 2 of the tracks on his album; Voices (track 2) and Rebel (track 5). Of course at the time, neither of the tracks had titles, only basic guitar riffs and melodies. For both songs Paul gave me an idea of what he was thinking each song could be about but beyond that, he let me be as creative as I wanted to be from there. Rebel was the first song I wrote. Paul said, I want this to be a tongue in cheek tribute to the south and southern rock. The only thing I keep hearing over and over in my head is the phrase, I'm a rebel son! So from there, I ran with a barrage of clich southern phrases and southern cultural activities, to come up with a silly homage to the south. It was actually a lot of fun to write. It brought me back to my college days as a bright-eyed Colorado boy heading to a prestigious southern University in the state of North Carolina. I had never been anywhere but Colorado at that point in my life and boy was I in for a major culture shock! Turns out I would recall some of my Tar Heel experiences to help me create the song Rebel. Verses like, we like honky tonkin and shootin just for fun! Sittin on the front porch, sippin shine, watchin fireflies on the Mason Dixon line, were just a few of the lines I came up with. Pretty silly really, but that was the idea and Paul loved it, so I ran with it. Next came Voices. A much harder edged song but one that Paul wanted to tell a story with too. I think this song is talking about a girl whose a bit strange. She dances to her own drum and she really doesn't care who knows it, Paul said. This song was a bit tougher to write from a personal perspective, since I'm not a woman but I've been in situations where I've felt like I was the outcast and didn't give a darn what people thought of me, so that's where I began to write from. Secondly, I've got a very good female friend who is the perfect model of eccentricity, with no pause about who she is, so I used her as my template for the girl in Voices. (She was totally stoked when I told her the song was about her by the way.) Some of the lyrics that made up the skeleton of the song were lines like, Misunderstood, diamond in the rough, the world for her can't move fast enough. I basically tried to paint a mental picture of this girl for the listener. So I had my lyrics all finished and now it was time to record the vocals for each track. The best part about this project was the ease and convenience that came from recording the songs in my own home studio. See Paul lives in New York and I live in Colorado, so recording together in a studio was not an option. But it was also not an obstacle. in this day and age of high quality recording software and recording technologies working with other pros in other areas of the country or the world, is not a problem. Everything I needed to record a professional studio quality sound is right in my home. And it didn't cost me tens-of- thousands of dollars to do it either. I used Ableton Live 8, a popular recording software ($300) A Mac Book Pro laptop ($1200), an M-Audio interface ($50), a shure sm58 beta microphone ($100) and a pair of stereo headphones ($30). All of which I can use again and again for future recording projects, so if you look at it that way, I really used my investments to record these 2 songs for Paul. The only expense I really had, was my time and some electricity. Pretty cool! Especially when you consider what it would cost me to record my vocals at a local professional recording studio. You're talking at least $150 to $300/hour and they're not going to take the time and effort to make the quality of the recording near as good as you would yourself because they simply don't give you the time. Unless you're willing to pay for it that is. Each song took me a day to do. Recording the main vocals, then the harmonies. From there, choosing certain vocal effects that the recording software offers and getting all the volume levels right is usually the next step but for Paul's project, I didn't even have to do that. He preferred that I leave all the vocals and harmonies dry so he could manipulate them on his end when he got to the mixing end of things with each song. Once the tracks are complete and ready for shipment, I just imported the files as WAV courier service for sending large files to anyone anywhere vial email.files, and emailed them to Paul via YouSendIt.com, a free All-in-all a very simple and fun process that I learned a great deal from. And each time I do session work with/for colleagues I learn something new about long distance recording collaborations and recording in general for that matter. Lessons that make each new recording session I'm involved with that much better because of my past experiences. recording engineer to make great recordings! If I can do it, anybody can!You don't have to be a professional Bottom line, Paul Tauterouff's Audio Chocolate turned out to be a successful, ambitious journey of sounds and textures that will please many musical tastes. And I'm so proud to be a part of it! You can purchase the hard copy version or download your digital copy of the album at PAULTAUTEROUFF.COM. Don't forget to let me know what you think! **Do you have any thoughts or comments on this article? I'd love to hear what you think about recording, music or anything that comes to mind. Please leave your comments or questions below and I'll get back to you asap! ** Johnny Ryan is a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist and session musician from Denver, CO. To contact Johnny, email him at: johnnyryanmusic@hotmail.com or visit his website at:JOHNNYRYANMUSIC.COM View full articles
  21. I just picked up the new album by my good friend and colleague Paul Tauterouff, entitled Audio Chocolate. Paul is a perennial pro instrumental guitarist who is branching out into new territory with this latest project by inviting several guest musicians; namely guitarists like Nick Layton, the incomparable violinist Pete Hartley and several pro vocalist, to be part of the project this time and it produced great results. I was fortunate to be one of those guest vocalists and I wanted to tell you about my experience. A few months before he finished the music for the project, Paul asked me to write lyrics and record guest vocals for 2 of the tracks on his album; Voices (track 2) and Rebel (track 5). Of course at the time, neither of the tracks had titles, only basic guitar riffs and melodies. For both songs Paul gave me an idea of what he was thinking each song could be about but beyond that, he let me be as creative as I wanted to be from there. Rebel was the first song I wrote. Paul said, I want this to be a tongue in cheek tribute to the south and southern rock. The only thing I keep hearing over and over in my head is the phrase, I'm a rebel son! So from there, I ran with a barrage of clich southern phrases and southern cultural activities, to come up with a silly homage to the south. It was actually a lot of fun to write. It brought me back to my college days as a bright-eyed Colorado boy heading to a prestigious southern University in the state of North Carolina. I had never been anywhere but Colorado at that point in my life and boy was I in for a major culture shock! Turns out I would recall some of my Tar Heel experiences to help me create the song Rebel. Verses like, we like honky tonkin and shootin just for fun! Sittin on the front porch, sippin shine, watchin fireflies on the Mason Dixon line, were just a few of the lines I came up with. Pretty silly really, but that was the idea and Paul loved it, so I ran with it. Next came Voices. A much harder edged song but one that Paul wanted to tell a story with too. I think this song is talking about a girl whose a bit strange. She dances to her own drum and she really doesn't care who knows it, Paul said. This song was a bit tougher to write from a personal perspective, since I'm not a woman but I've been in situations where I've felt like I was the outcast and didn't give a darn what people thought of me, so that's where I began to write from. Secondly, I've got a very good female friend who is the perfect model of eccentricity, with no pause about who she is, so I used her as my template for the girl in Voices. (She was totally stoked when I told her the song was about her by the way.) Some of the lyrics that made up the skeleton of the song were lines like, Misunderstood, diamond in the rough, the world for her can't move fast enough. I basically tried to paint a mental picture of this girl for the listener. So I had my lyrics all finished and now it was time to record the vocals for each track. The best part about this project was the ease and convenience that came from recording the songs in my own home studio. See Paul lives in New York and I live in Colorado, so recording together in a studio was not an option. But it was also not an obstacle. in this day and age of high quality recording software and recording technologies working with other pros in other areas of the country or the world, is not a problem. Everything I needed to record a professional studio quality sound is right in my home. And it didn't cost me tens-of- thousands of dollars to do it either. I used Ableton Live 8, a popular recording software ($300) A Mac Book Pro laptop ($1200), an M-Audio interface ($50), a shure sm58 beta microphone ($100) and a pair of stereo headphones ($30). All of which I can use again and again for future recording projects, so if you look at it that way, I really used my investments to record these 2 songs for Paul. The only expense I really had, was my time and some electricity. Pretty cool! Especially when you consider what it would cost me to record my vocals at a local professional recording studio. You're talking at least $150 to $300/hour and they're not going to take the time and effort to make the quality of the recording near as good as you would yourself because they simply don't give you the time. Unless you're willing to pay for it that is. Each song took me a day to do. Recording the main vocals, then the harmonies. From there, choosing certain vocal effects that the recording software offers and getting all the volume levels right is usually the next step but for Paul's project, I didn't even have to do that. He preferred that I leave all the vocals and harmonies dry so he could manipulate them on his end when he got to the mixing end of things with each song. Once the tracks are complete and ready for shipment, I just imported the files as WAV courier service for sending large files to anyone anywhere vial email.files, and emailed them to Paul via YouSendIt.com, a free All-in-all a very simple and fun process that I learned a great deal from. And each time I do session work with/for colleagues I learn something new about long distance recording collaborations and recording in general for that matter. Lessons that make each new recording session I'm involved with that much better because of my past experiences. recording engineer to make great recordings! If I can do it, anybody can!You don't have to be a professional Bottom line, Paul Tauterouff's Audio Chocolate turned out to be a successful, ambitious journey of sounds and textures that will please many musical tastes. And I'm so proud to be a part of it! You can purchase the hard copy version or download your digital copy of the album at PAULTAUTEROUFF.COM. Don't forget to let me know what you think! **Do you have any thoughts or comments on this article? I'd love to hear what you think about recording, music or anything that comes to mind. Please leave your comments or questions below and I'll get back to you asap! ** Johnny Ryan is a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist and session musician from Denver, CO. To contact Johnny, email him at: johnnyryanmusic@hotmail.com or visit his website at:JOHNNYRYANMUSIC.COM
  22. We often hear the saying, you are what you eat. I can also, with absolute certainty, say that you are what you speak and sing. How so, you may ask? Holistically speaking, the voice is an expression of who you are, and identification of the state of your being. The voice is a very important tool for communication. When you speak with the person, by his/her voice tone, you can determine the person's mood and even the state of the person's health; especially if you are, at least, somewhat, familiar with the person. On that note, I could say that when I work with the Voice Repair client and get their voice out of their throat by restructuring it to the facial and abdominal muscles, the person starts to sound completely different, i.e., the voice starts to sound much healthier, more vibrant, more colorful and more reflective of the actual person's make-up. The sound becomes much clearer and the words are more announced and pronounced. The hoarseness disappears and the tone of the voice changes. When we are talking about the voice disorder, the voice often sounds quite sopranoish. It is especially pronounced with the male gender, the condition of which causes a lot of discomfort and insecurities. These peoples lives become literally handicapped, as they are afraid to communicate in person and terrified by phone conversations, by simply not ever picking up the phone and/or initiating any phone conversations. It does affect their social lives and their professional lives. Needless to say, most of them are depressed and some of them are even suicidal. Once the voice is improving and they are gradually getting their lives back, they are also gaining back their zest for life. Their mood becomes exponentially happier, their spirit is rejuvenated and their soul is now singing, even though that some of them have never sung in their lives. Those, however, who are singers, or I should say, have had been singers before they damaged their voices, experiencing the double whammy. They need to restore their speaking voice first, and then, and only then, their singing voice. However, the good news is that after the speaking voice falls in place, it is much easier to fix the singing voice, as ultimately, the voice mechanics are virtually the same. With the singers, however, I have to restore their tone and, mainly, pitch, which in some cases, becomes very challenging. Usually, in these cases, the confidence is really damaged, as the singer is scared to reach the high notes and to project his/her voice. Therefore, on the background, there is a lot of psychological counseling that is required for those cases. I have to say it has been the making of me meeting you Diana in more than just the voice, wrote to me one of my former Voice Repair clients, now Opera singer, Evie Bonella of Essex UK.
  23. We often hear the saying, you are what you eat. I can also, with absolute certainty, say that you are what you speak and sing. How so, you may ask? Holistically speaking, the voice is an expression of who you are, and identification of the state of your being. The voice is a very important tool for communication. When you speak with the person, by his/her voice tone, you can determine the person's mood and even the state of the person's health; especially if you are, at least, somewhat, familiar with the person. On that note, I could say that when I work with the Voice Repair client and get their voice out of their throat by restructuring it to the facial and abdominal muscles, the person starts to sound completely different, i.e., the voice starts to sound much healthier, more vibrant, more colorful and more reflective of the actual person's make-up. The sound becomes much clearer and the words are more announced and pronounced. The hoarseness disappears and the tone of the voice changes. When we are talking about the voice disorder, the voice often sounds quite sopranoish. It is especially pronounced with the male gender, the condition of which causes a lot of discomfort and insecurities. These peoples lives become literally handicapped, as they are afraid to communicate in person and terrified by phone conversations, by simply not ever picking up the phone and/or initiating any phone conversations. It does affect their social lives and their professional lives. Needless to say, most of them are depressed and some of them are even suicidal. Once the voice is improving and they are gradually getting their lives back, they are also gaining back their zest for life. Their mood becomes exponentially happier, their spirit is rejuvenated and their soul is now singing, even though that some of them have never sung in their lives. Those, however, who are singers, or I should say, have had been singers before they damaged their voices, experiencing the double whammy. They need to restore their speaking voice first, and then, and only then, their singing voice. However, the good news is that after the speaking voice falls in place, it is much easier to fix the singing voice, as ultimately, the voice mechanics are virtually the same. With the singers, however, I have to restore their tone and, mainly, pitch, which in some cases, becomes very challenging. Usually, in these cases, the confidence is really damaged, as the singer is scared to reach the high notes and to project his/her voice. Therefore, on the background, there is a lot of psychological counseling that is required for those cases. I have to say it has been the making of me meeting you Diana in more than just the voice, wrote to me one of my former Voice Repair clients, now Opera singer, Evie Bonella of Essex UK. View full articles
  24. Diana, I am amazed: the doctors - the experts - just keep saying 'nothing can be done, be happy for what you have left' and they're wrong. You have proved them wrong with your vocal approach -Tim Bristol, throat cancer survivor of Niagara Falls, New York. Tim Bristol, a professional musician and singer for the last 40 years was, unfortunately, diagnosed with tonsil cancer. He was given a choice to undergo quite extensive chemo and radiation therapy, or otherwise, it could have endangered his life. He chose the former, but then he was experiencing the side effects of such therapy. He lost his salivary glands, his throat was always dry and his voice was drawn in a very low position and sounded raspy and hoarse when he first came for his non-surgical voice repair sessions. Also, he lost nerve endings on the tips of his fingers, which was very crucial for his career as a musician/guitar player. The doctors were congratulating him on being alive and conquering his cancer and did not want to hear any of his complaints with regard of the above. His mind, however, was very strong and his will to recover his professional craft was unshakable. Via my special speaking and singing exercises and natural herbs and remedies treatment, I was able to recover Tim's voice in a super-fast manner. He arrived on his first session with me on one of the Wednesdays and, already by Friday of the same week, he was singing in our local Karaoke place to everybody's amusement. They were asking me why I was hiding such a good singer from them, and had never introduced him to them before. I tried to explain that he came from the US only for a few days for non-surgical voice repair sessions with me, but they had no listening to that, as for them, it was quite unbelievable that he could hardly speak, let along sing, just a couple of days ago. One more miracle, amongst many, has been produced! That said, if you have a strong mind and complete determination to recover your voice, or conquer any other physical problem for that matter, your body will eventually listen to you, providing that the correlation between mind, body, voice and, of course, the soul is very sound and in sync. You obviously have to be given the positive affirmation by your mentor/healer and definitely the proper directions/instructions on how to access your inner resources and make your body heal thyself. One more victory! One more champion! Way to go Tim! You are an inspiration to others.
  25. Diana, I am amazed: the doctors - the experts - just keep saying 'nothing can be done, be happy for what you have left' and they're wrong. You have proved them wrong with your vocal approach -Tim Bristol, throat cancer survivor of Niagara Falls, New York. Tim Bristol, a professional musician and singer for the last 40 years was, unfortunately, diagnosed with tonsil cancer. He was given a choice to undergo quite extensive chemo and radiation therapy, or otherwise, it could have endangered his life. He chose the former, but then he was experiencing the side effects of such therapy. He lost his salivary glands, his throat was always dry and his voice was drawn in a very low position and sounded raspy and hoarse when he first came for his non-surgical voice repair sessions. Also, he lost nerve endings on the tips of his fingers, which was very crucial for his career as a musician/guitar player. The doctors were congratulating him on being alive and conquering his cancer and did not want to hear any of his complaints with regard of the above. His mind, however, was very strong and his will to recover his professional craft was unshakable. Via my special speaking and singing exercises and natural herbs and remedies treatment, I was able to recover Tim's voice in a super-fast manner. He arrived on his first session with me on one of the Wednesdays and, already by Friday of the same week, he was singing in our local Karaoke place to everybody's amusement. They were asking me why I was hiding such a good singer from them, and had never introduced him to them before. I tried to explain that he came from the US only for a few days for non-surgical voice repair sessions with me, but they had no listening to that, as for them, it was quite unbelievable that he could hardly speak, let along sing, just a couple of days ago. One more miracle, amongst many, has been produced! That said, if you have a strong mind and complete determination to recover your voice, or conquer any other physical problem for that matter, your body will eventually listen to you, providing that the correlation between mind, body, voice and, of course, the soul is very sound and in sync. You obviously have to be given the positive affirmation by your mentor/healer and definitely the proper directions/instructions on how to access your inner resources and make your body heal thyself. One more victory! One more champion! Way to go Tim! You are an inspiration to others. View full articles