Showing posts from 2016

Head Resonance For Singers

Head Resonance. All of the structure above the folds, including the throat, nose, and mouth, resonate when we sing. Head resonance, or ringing vibrations in the head, provide an alternative to the damaging belting style of singing that is so prevalent today. Learning to feel head resonance frees the singer in so many ways, and allows her to go by feeling, rather than hearing (which is a much more reliable). Head resonance is the key to producing volume without yelling.

Low Larynx Singing

The larynx (or voice box) sits on top of the windpipe. It contains two vocal folds that open during breathing, and then close during voice production. The idea is to keep the larynx in a naturally, comfortably low position while singing, particularly on high notes.
Ideally, singers achieve a “yawning position” – which means that the larynx is being pulled down flexibly by both the muscles attached in the front and in the back. When we yawn, we are relaxed and usually, sleepy. When we sing, we want to approach pitches with the same relaxed, low feeling.
When we sing high, we should think low. Thinking low really does help to keep the larynx stable. In addition, proper breath support helps to stabilize a rising larynx. But because low-larynx singing doesn't come easy for the majority of singers, a student must reorient the muscles through consistent repetition of helpful vocal exercises, performed correctly.
A voice teacher must guide the student in turning OFF the wrong muscles and …

Zipped Vocal Cords

There are two methods singers use to sing high notes. One is easy, one is hard. One produces pain, the other is effortless. One is quickly maneuvered, one takes time and skill. Singers may either stretch vocal cords, or zip them, to achieve high notes.

Most singers take the easy route by stretching the vocal folds for high pitches. This approach makes very difficult the descent from high notes back down to low notes. I can always tell a singer is singing on a stretch simply by the difficulty for which they descend back down to their lowest notes.A stretch results in pain, out-of-tune singing, unnatural vibrato and an aged voice.

The zipping technique, on the other hand, easily produces high notes, and often facilitates an effortless 3-octave range. When we zip our vocal cords for higher pitches, rather than stretching them, we are left with one consistent voice (rather than two or three), zero cracking and a seamless maneuvering through the passaggio (E-F-G). We no longer must flip into…

Low Notes First

In order to develop a powerful voice, singers must train low notes first. Your low notes actually set the foundation for the overall beauty, color, and strength of your high notes. In the beginning, students may only be able to sing a low B4 or A4, but eventually we want them to descend as low as G3 (sopranos), E3 (mezzos) or even C3 (altos). First we master low notes, then middle, then high.

Singing in the chest voice causes the entirety of the vocal folds to be engaged. In other words, the vocal folds vibrate in their entirety on low notes. As the voice ascends into the higher range, the vocal cords can then be zipped from front to back, allowing for an effortless climb to your highest pitches. Cracks, breaks, or shifting changes in the voice indicate that the vocal cords are not zipping properly and that the low notes still need work.
Interestingly, we naturally speak in low tones, otherwise known as our "chest voice". The larynx is already low when we speak in a relaxed …

Natural Circular Breathing

Singers are often confused by how to breathe for singing? Proper breathing is actually quite intuitive, and it is when singers let go of this intuition that they run into problems. Breathing for singing should be as easy as breathing for speaking.

Take In A Fistful of Air
Singers often feel that they need take in huge breaths of air to sustain a line, which is not true. Taking in too much air causes singers to feel as though they are hyperventilating. This "stacking of air" is very uncomfortable while singing. We need about as much air to sing, as we do to speak a phrase; just a handful of air does the trick.

Push The Air Down Low
When you take a breath, push the air down into your low belly to create an "apple belly" feeling. Mentally, you should feel as though you are pushing the air down low - to your crotch area. This causes the diaphragm to descend and the lower part of your abdomen to fill with air. You can place your hands on your tummy to ensure that it is e…

Singing With Relaxed Face

Tongue, jaw and lip tension are all too common for singers. Ideally, a singer has a completely relaxed face and mouth. A bit of drooling during vocal warmups is actually a good sign! Singers should be able to smile, frown, cry and laugh while singing. Every word, every vowel, every consonant – should be sung naturally. Learning to relax the wrong muscles, and to engage the right ones, is the key.

Buzzing Vocal Cords

Place your hand on your adam’s apple and speak a few phrases. You will notice a buzzing – much like a swarm of honey bees. This buzzing feeling is created by vocal fold vibration.
Now sing a line or two. Place your hand on your adam's apple in order to feel the same vocal fold vibration. Notice it feels the same as when you are speaking? This is what I mean by, "the buzz." Ideally, a singer will sing in a way that feels almost identical to speaking. This can be done with a natural buzz on every note.
False vibrato, forced belting, an inability to resonate properly, being trained at the middle/high range first - are some of the ways in which we "kill" the natural buzz in the voice. We lose the most fundamental components to instinctual singing, and replace them with manufactured/forced ways of producing sound. 
Buzzing is the opposite of belting, though it produces a similar power. To belt is to force volume unnaturally. Any teacher that encourages belting is, in m…

A Proper Voice Lesson

Voice lessons should focus on vocal technique, musicianship, and mastering songs – with technique being the most important component of the lesson. A traditional voice lesson will last for approximately 30-60 minutes. I typically spend the first half of the lesson strictly on vocal exercises, in order to equip my students with the best tools for healthy singing.
Technique Exercises Vocal exercises are meant to be done from simple to complex, small intervals to octaves, and then double octaves. Humming, singing on vowels, lip-bubbles and practicing different words/phrases are just some of the exercises covered. We attempt to create a relaxed, speech-like tone by singing with a comfortably lowered larynx, a feeling of “buzzing” on the vocal cords, resonance throughout the face/mouth/head/body, supported breathing and vocal chords that “zip” in order to create high pitches (among other things). I often attempt to cover between 3-5 different exercises during each lesson.
Sight-Reading Next…

Healing A Damaged Voice

Adele, Christina Aguilera, Michael Buble, Sam Smith and John Mayer are just a few of the singers who have suffered from polyps, nodules and even hemorrhaging in their throats. I am confident that with proper technique and a healthy lifestyle, vocal damage can be avoided, and oftentimes, completely healed.
Imitating, false vibrato, belting and screaming are often considered the “cool” thing to do with today's pop-style music. Singers convince themselves that a strained sound is a good sound, even though the greatest pop singers in history have always proved this to be wrong (Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Beyonce). It is difficult for singers to understand how much microphones and technology are enhancing pop voices of today. Imitating what we think we are hearing is a losing battle.

Despite years of serious training, I have noticed that classically trained singers are often taught to sing high notes on a stretch, rather than a zip - which is a muscle-memory disaster. Stretching th…

Qualified Voice Teacher

A good voice teacher is very rare. Ask any experienced singer and they will tell you, you are lucky to find one good voice teacher in your lifetime. Voice teachers should produce vast improvements in your voice during your study with them; their goal should be to make you a phenomenal singer. Here are six vital qualities every voice teacher should possess:

One. Educated in the voice. Being a good voice teacher is an intellectual and academic pursuit. Your voice teacher should be educated with a bachelors or masters degree in voice, and should continue her education outside the classroom via personal study, online resources and continued reading/research.
Two. Professional performing career. A good voice teacher has many years of professional performing experience and understands what it really means to be the best and sing with the best. She understands the life and pressures of a performer because she herself has been one. This allows a teacher to take vocal pedagogy/theory from books …