Never fear, the FREEBIE is HERE!

Merry Christmas and please forgive me.  I honestly intended to post a Christmas Freebie on the 24th, but alas, it slipped right by me.   But…. Never fear, the FREEBIE is HERE!

Click the link to unlock your gift (better late than never). A full 45minute uncut video shot with my iPad of our vocal workshop earlier this month. Thank you for your loyalty and ENJOY!

THIS LINK is time sensitive so don’t delay because this FREEBIE will go away.

Vocal Workshop

 

Singer…. know thyself!

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Good morning vocalists!

How do you feel about your level of competency as a musician/vocalist?  It’s a curious thing to see the number of people who have no idea what they sound like when they sing. Some folk’s unconscious incompetence is clear to those listening but they have no clue they are singing off pitch.

Here’s a little something that can help you determine what stage you are in regarding your competency.  It can be helpful in giving you perspective in setting and pursuing your goals.

THE FOUR STAGES OF COMPETENCE

– Unconscious incompetence
The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

– Conscious incompetence
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

– Conscious competence
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

– Unconscious competence
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

source: wikipedia

“…those that ‘can’ and those that have to work at it…”

Good Thursday Vocalists!

Have you ever thought about how people who like to sing fall into two categories,.. those who can sing and those who have to work at it?  The truth is, even those who can sing need guidance.  Singing / vocal lessons are for anyone who wants to sing well.

Even the most gifted singers take lessons. Take Michael Jackson for instance.  He worked as hard at improving and maintaing his voice as he did at making great quality productions.  He had a super talent even as a child.  If you listen to his earliest childhood recordings you can identify some great singing but also some technique that needed improving and he did just that and took his voice to the highest level he was capable of.  He improved his range to about 4 octaves and sang effortlessly from F1 to C6.

I’ve often referred to the following “rare audio. In a hotel room in ’94.”  The recording was taken during a vocal session by phone with renowned Speech Level Singing creator, Seth Riggs.  Yes, even Michael Jackson appreciated the benefits of vocal lessons.

So remember, if you want to sing as good as your favorite singer, they took lessons to get that great voice.

Vocal Tip: Blending Backup Vocals

Photo: Musicademy

Photo: Musicademy

“Coordination of the vocal cords takes a sense of awareness of how your voice works, vocal mechanics, and an ability to identify, isolate and control vocal function. Most singers have no idea what their voices are doing apart from training and would benefit from a few good lessons to help them on their way.

Blending in with other vocalists is a balance of lyric, tonal quality, timing, dynamic and sensitivity. Not only does a vocalist need to be flexible vocally but they must be flexible when it comes to following and mimicking genre and stylistics. Each group or band has their own style that is developed through the preferences and style of the leader or type of group such as a classical choir, barbershop singers or rock band as well as all that the individuals bring to the group as a whole. Learning to sing in a number of styles makes the backup vocalist a valuable part of the team. Any backup vocalist should know it’s important to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses and be willing to devote themselves to always be improving their talent so they can be the best fit in any situation. Good luck, God bless and Sing On!”

(reposted by Cosima on an earlier post)

Visit Musicademy for more on BGV

Today’s Vocal Tip!

Singing Tip

Singing Tip

Good Monday, Singers! It’s good to be back after a road trip to northern cali, a funeral and a wedding I’m ready to dig in and get some singing on with all you great singers. Here’s today’s singing tip to get things started:

 

Not only is your voice your instrument but you are a vocal athlete too. Every athlete follows a training regime to strengthen, grow and perfect their technique.  Training includes not only the muscles but the whole body and mind through exercises and other factors such as diet, hydration and rest.

It’s important to consider what goes into your body uninvited. Smoke, fumes, smog and allergens all can have an negative effect on your instrument.

Having a healthy lifestyle and using wisdom and caution regarding your environment can be helpful in the improvement and safety of your voice. It’s all a matter of being a conscious singer. Be conscious of your surroundings, your diet, sleep patterns, and other good health factors and you’ll improve your options to Sing On! for years to come.

Cosima

Today’s Vocal Tip: Every Body Can Sing!

Singing Tip

Singing Tip

Every body can sing!

Every human body has the same anatomy and we all can develop our voices to sing well. That doesn’t mean that everyone’s voice is going to be as awesome as their favorite singer, but it does mean that with proper technique everybody can produce a healthy, free, resonant sound. That means YOU!!

In singing, relaxation is key. Learn to observe and feel your body and understand its behaviors; it will always tell you what’s going on, but most of the time we don’t pay attention. People have various tensions and it takes time and patience to retrain how your body behaves – but it’s totally doable! And a relaxed voice is the foundation for good singing.

So, first things first… for the next 24 hours (any date after reading this post) see if you can practice a relaxed posture in your body and voice during singing. Set aside several 5 minute spots in your day to purposefully sing with a mindset to focus on removing tension when you sing.  Don’t allow yourself to indulge in your regular singing habits any time during the 24 hour period. Don’t worry about whether your voice sounds good just make sure you have released all tension in your jaw, tongue, throat, vocal apparatus, face, shoulders and body. Think about freeing up your voice. Your voice shouldn’t feel trapped in your throat or sound muddy. A breathy sound is ok, but it should feel free of all tension.

Repeat several times over the next 24 hours remembering to avoid any other kind of singing. Allow what you’ve learned from the experience to get you in touch with your voice.  Then come on back to this post and share your comments. Let me know how it went. Ask questions and share some feedback. Let’s get talking!!

Why are some songs easier to sing than others?

One of my vocal students tweeted the following complaint in regards to singing, to which a short conversation got me involved on facebook. Check out the conversation and add your comments or questions. Let’s see if anyone else out there has similar singing challenges!

Cherry:
uggghhh…why must Hillsong songs be so vocally challenging for me…well except for Mighty To Save. but I will press on #challengeaccepted

Mary:
Why is “mighty to save” not challenging to sing?? I would always choose that song before my vocal lessons because it didn’t seem hard… Maybe Cosima can tell us why?

Cosima ~From TheVoiceBox:
Ahhh that’s easy! First off, Mighty To Save only has one octave in it. That’s a very small range so if you sing it in a key you are comfortable in there’s no challenge at all. You could, in fact, sing the whole song in your chest voice thereby avoiding singing into your head voice.
Essentially, that’s like using only the speaking range of your voice and I don’t know anyone who has trouble speaking unless they have an impairment.

Secondly, the melody is highly repetitive and is uncomplicated melodically as well as lyrically making it a no brainer. So… you can sing the whole song in your speaking range, and you don’t have to concentrate too hard.

Finally, the song starts at the low end of the scale and slowly makes it’s way up to the octave during the bridge, giving your voice time to set up for the “high” note. What could be easier?

BTW, this would make a nice lesson in good songwriting for worship.

(My response assumes that Cherry had transposed the song into a key she was comfortable in.)

What a voice lesson looks like!

Ever wonder what your voice lesson might be like? Here’s a sample of my lesson notes from a 60 min free mini-lesson given this week. Have you set yours up yet?

NAME: xxxxxx
3/13 Vocal Evaluation & mini-lesson:
Vocal Evaluation determined beginning range to be: Undetermined at this time.
Possible Choral Alto/Choral Mezzo Soprano
Range at first lesson : C3 – G5

Lesson Goals:

  • Intro to vocal mechanics 
  • The vocal registers and range
  • Chest voice, head voice, whistle voice, falsetto, vocal fry
  • Breathing for singing
  • Recognizing and dealing with tension

Foundational exercises 

  1. Isolating outer muscles of the larynx to gain control and free the vocal cords 
    1. Bubble exercise – placing finders on cheeks where teeth join to produce a loose lip pucker. Sing through the low end of your range to the high end with minimal effort without tripping over the ‘breaks’ in your range. Remember to control breath support. Avoid letting all the air escape all at once.
    2. This foundational exercise should become a daily routine. The action of the lips frees up the vocal cords by releasing unwanted outer larynx muscles and setting the larynx up for correct speech-level position. Paying close attention to all the sensations in the vocal apparatus will help you isolate the healthy vocal function needed for beautiful, free singing.
    3. What to remember – learn to recognize vocal cord adjustments by how they feel. 
  2. Working towards Pure Tone
    1. Vocal fry – vocal cord vibration with no tone.
    2. Positions the vocal cords for optimum connection thereby producing a pure clear tone with minimal effort. Also foundational. While most exercises such as the Bubble, are only part of a vocal workout or warm up routine the vocal fry will remain part of how you sing.
    3. What to remember – expect progress over time with good practice habits.
  3. Good breathing for singing
    1. Diaphragmatic breathing – using the diaphragm to draw air into the lungs rather than ‘filling up the lungs’ from the top down.
    2. Making this part of a daily practice routine will build the support you need to move you toward controlled phrasing and support steady well placed tone while maintaining pitch control.
    3. What to Remember – Breathing for singing is different than breathing for speech. 
  4. Tension busters
    1. Relaxing in the jaw and mouth. (see blog for exercises to release jaw and tongue tension)
    2. Open relaxed jaw and mouth for better volume/diction

Having trouble blending vocals? Here’s a reblog from 2008.. Sing On!

The Voice Box

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I’ve always been attracted to musicians who could really sing together, blending their voices until you couldn’t distinguish between them as they sang as one before the Lord. Musicians like Shane and Shane for instance.

Have you ever listened to a worship team and wondered who the lead vocalist was because they were all “leading” and all the singers stood out in the crowd? How about this, have you heard a team and couldn’t figure out which one was singing which part because they all sang “together” so well? Which would you rather listen to? Which one do you think represents worshippers who worship as one voice? (II Chronicles 5)

When we sing lead we use all our expression or all our tone to express the song in a way that others will “feel” the song. For back-up vocalist it’s a different story. If we are all trying…

View original post 104 more words

This week in The Studio

Tip of the Week

Tip of the Week

Jaw and tongue tension can wreak havoc on a vocalist’s endurance during a performance not to mention, make singing difficult and exhausting while limiting one’s full vocal potential. But if you can’t identify and isolate the offending muscles then you won’t gain control. No control – no vocal freedom.

Try these exercises to get started identifying and isolating tension in your jaw and tongue in order to get in the best position during singing.

  • Gently drop your jaw down and back while opening your mouth as if to say, “ahhh.”

tongue tension

  • Then move your tongue out of your mouth and drape it over your lower lip while keeping it flat and very relaxed.  Hold it there for several seconds while singing a comfortable scale with the “ahhh” sound. Be sure to keep it resting very still but not tight.  The tongue should feel relaxed from tip to root except for the least amount of effort it takes to keep it extended and over the lower lip.

tongue tension 2

  • Last, retract your relaxed tongue and place it flat, just touching behind the lower front teeth.  Repeat the “ahhh” sound on a comfortable scale.  Again, the tongue is kept relaxed and still with no tension.

Do this exercise through a series of scales from chest voice to head voice noting whenever there is tension until you can sing through your range with no tension.

For jaw tension try this ..
Jaw tension

  • Find the joints located just in front of your ears, place your fingertips just by and in front of your ears on both sides of your face and open your mouth. The space that opens up as your jawbone moves is your temporal mandibular joint. Massage these joints using your fingertips or the palms of your hands. Release your jaw further and massage deeper as you exhale.

Do these exercises a few minutes at the beginning of your daily vocal exercise routine and watch that tension begin to melt away.

Overcoming hurdles through training.

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One of my vocal students has come to a hurdle in her vocal journey. Mary tells me she’s lost strength in her chestvoice after working on having free vocal production in her headvoice with light connection.

This hurdle is so common amongst vocalists. One day they have great success through their range and the next day they have difficulty repeating it. It can be a frustrating process but it doesn’t have to be.

So, how do singers get past vocal hurdles like Mary’s? Conditioning! We’ve got to strengthen and coordinate the vocal folds and the muscles and bring balance between air flow, vocal folds and muscles. We achieve this only through the training process. It doesn’t happen over night any more than training for a marathon does. This is why vocalists need to train through their whole range, over their breaks, from low chestvoice to high headvoice and back, without any noticeable fluctuations in tone production, breath control or dynamic volume.

Vocal training produces confidence, because vocal training develops consistency in the voice. There’s nothing more thrilling for a singer than to have the confidence their voice will perform to their expectations every time in every situation because they have consistency in their voice! Having a daily vocal exercise routine is the singers most effective tool in their pursuit of consistency and PURE VOCAL FREEDOM!

Using the iPad on your Vocal Journey

Did you know that most people, when trained, can learn to sing really well? To be one of them, you need two things: 1. vocal training, 2. a good sense of pitch. The Erol Singers Studio app gives you not only world-class voice lessons to develop your voice, but also instant visual feedback on your pitch during the lessons, so you also develop an accurate sense of pitch. It’s a complete voice and ear training program that comes with dozens of voice lessons that were designed by an award winning singer and vocal coach to help you learn about your voice and become a better singer.

During practice, target notes and your actual pitch are simultaneously displayed onscreen, so you can actually see and correct any pitch problems before they become habits.

The app comes with 36 unique voice lessons ranging from beginner to advanced, each individually crafted to build a specific skill, each with detailed instructions and audio examples for both males and females so you know exactly what to do.

All the essentials you will need are already included, and you don’t need to make any additional purchases to get all the benefits. With regular use of the app, your breathing, tone, range, and vocal flexibility will improve, and you will sound better singing your favorite songs.

See how fun it can be to develop your voice and be able to sing songs you never could before!Erol Singer’s Studio is not only the most beginner-friendly voice training app on the market, but with its support for standard sheet music notation, accurate pitch analysis, and exercises for all levels of singers, it is also the most powerful one for more advanced singers.

“Certainly the best App for singers in the App Store! … A Killer App!”
– Apps4iDevices

“This is a near perfect system. I am thrilled with the scope and effectiveness of this app. … I’ll be sharing this with many others.”
– Forum comment on Vocal Health section of the User’s Manual

How I use the Erol Singers Studio App
BEGINNERS:

  • Listen to you to detect vocal range, and customize the lessons to a comfortable range for the students voice type. I use this feature from the first lesson; it makes the notes much easier to sing, which helps the student to focus on learning.
  • Shows when the student sings the right notes and help them sing on pitch
  • Teaches correct singing techniques that are widely used around the world
  • Allows practice that encourages the students that may be shy about singing in front of others.

INTERMEDIATE SINGERS:

  • Helps students identify and focus on parts of their range where have problems
  • Increases range and tracks progress
  • Improves the quality of their tone
  • Helps smooth vocal breaks
  • Improves musical ear

ADVANCED SINGERS:

  • Provides effective warmup/cooldown exercises
  • Keeps the voice in top shape with a thorough voice exercise program
  • Improves sight singing when following the music notation instead of the note bubbles
  • (Optional) See the “Ear Training for Singers” package mentioned below

AS A TEACHER:
– I’m not much of a piano player so scales and arpeggios take some concentration. This app gives me some great exercises I can use with my students so I get to focus on the student
– Helps my new students see when they’re flat

I hope you check it out. The price is right at $14.95 on iTunes. Erol Singers Studio is a serious tool that’s fun. The app that will truly improve your singing. It comes with 36 lessons included (covering beginner to advanced), with an option to buy more exercises such as the “Ear Training for Singers” bundle that includes an additional set of 60 exercises for scales, intervals, and arpeggios that will greatly expand your musicianship.

Every Sunday morning, worship leaders all over the world will step up to the mic

Every Sunday morning worship leaders all over the world will step up to the mic…. but will their voices be ready? Here’s a few steps a singer can do before that first song calls the people to “Come Worship The King!”

1. Avoid coffee, dairy, (do I need to mention alcohol, smoking?) or other forms of irritants to the vocal cords.

2. A hydrated voice is much more responsive so drink plenty of water the night before and again in the morning before stepping up to the mic.

3. Slowly and gently warm up the voice at least 15 minutes before stepping up to the mic. ( have a good warm-up routine)

4. Sound check is not your warm-up routine. A singer wants to be warmed up before sound check in order to sing as they do during a “performance.” This ensures your sound tech will dial you in accurately.Remember, careful preparation of the voice will give any worship leader confidence when they open their mouth to sing that first note and a voice that has been warmed up properly will be more likely to sing with vocal freedom and less likely to experience strain or other problems during and after worship sets.

“Will taking voice lessons make me into an opera singer?”

Not all people who love to sing, love opera. While I may enjoy singing Die Fledermaus or Phantom of the Opera My singing goals aren’t set in becoming an opera singer. I enjoy opera, rock, country, jazz, and contemporary Christian styles as well, and I want to be a flexible singer. That means I need work on having the vocal control it takes to sing different genres. I may not be at the top in all styles but I can learn and practice enough to do it well enough that I won’t sing opera on a Sunday morning with the worship team.

So how does one learn to sing different styles? I know a fantastic classical singer but she can’t do anything else. She gets frustrated because she cant blend with worship team singers and she really would like to sing other styles but feels stuck. Just the other day I heard a soprano at a worship leaders conference say she was a backup singer but her classical training made it hard for her to fit into the team at her church. It’s not uncommon for singers to be stuck in bad vocal habits but singers can get stuck with good habits too, limiting themselves because they haven’t explored what is called “vocal placement.”

So how can someone who is “stuck” in a vocal style break out of the vocal habits they have been practicing for years? Or, how can a vocal student avoid getting stuck in the first place?

We each are blessed with one voice and with training we can learn that there are different places physically where the voice can resonate, creating different sounds that lead to various vocal placements. These vocal placements are found in chest voice, mask, head voice, and falsetto.

Just for fun here’s a link to an article discussing vocal placement that will get you thinking. Although the article discusses voice over characterization for animated characters like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd the basic concept is the same for singers. For now just begin exploring the idea that you can produce the same pitch with different tonal qualities. How those qualities are produced are up to you. Remember you have 1 voice but you can choose to use it safely in many ways as long as you maintain healthy, free vocal production.

Practice Makes Perfect?

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It occurred to me the other day that it is very common for some vocal students to skip the necessary daily practice routine prescribed. Frankly, this is a difficult thing for me to accept since my days are filled with vocalizing to practice. After all,… If a student wants to make any serious progress they will need to get serious about their craft.

Communicating the need to practice is certainly not lacking as the dutiful teacher regularly reminds said students, by email and during lesson times, how and how much to practice. Still the reminders go unheeded, for the most part, and the result has been evidenced by a lack of noticeable progress in the student.

All that said, I ask myself, “Why?”

Why don’t most voice students practice?

Perhaps there is something in the communication on the teacher’s part that has not given the student enough reason to make the commitment. On the other hand man is lazy by nature, and prefers to indulge the flesh, and practicing is not always the most enjoyable thing to do .. unless of course the student is making significant progress and is experiencing some victories over bad vocal habits. That’s when practice becomes less work and more, as the singer experiences breakthroughs toward pure vocal freedom and the mastery of their instrument, fun.

The voice is not completely subject to the law that practice makes perfect. The interesting thing is the vocal student will find that, given the necessary talents, the student of the guitar may count with certainty on acquiring the mastery of this instrument. But for the vocal student this is not necessarily true.

Now, let me just say that there are many cases in which practice in singing does not bring about technical perfection. Just singing through technical exercises is not enough; it is crucial that the exercises be sung with specific correct vocal technique and through a series of specific voice productions that build upon one another with the intent to strengthen and clarify the voice.

So, if the student was to make the effort and practice, there is a specific way to handle the voice in the process. If the voice is exercised in this way, it will improve steadily as the result of practice. Progress will continue until perfect technical control of the voice is acquired. But if the student fails to hit upon this particular way of handling the voice in practice the voice will improve little, or not at all. In such a case perfect vocal technique will never be acquired, no matter how many years the practice may continue. Hence the need for an instructor. But the one without the other will, inevitably, lead to no progress at all.

Finally, let me come full circle and say this, . . . A singer sings, when practicing like the guitarist who picks up the instrument to play, through a series of exercises emphasizing good technique with the goal of accomplishing freedom and perfect mastery of his instrument.

So let me ask you this,…

Have you practiced today?