Tip #1: If it doesn’t feel good, chances are it doesn’t sound good.

Tip #2: Singing is a SPORT. It has more in common with tennis than with painting. There are muscles involved that must be developed, but then you have to trust the body to take care of it. (And you can). It is actually a mental endeavor, based on humming. It’s better not to think of the sound as something you must do, or place or “hit.”

Question: How can I sing harmony–I keep singing whatever the other person sings!
There are some parts when I am supposed to sing the harmony, but I always start singing the melody without meaning to. Then when it’s time to switch back to the melody, I hit the wrong notes. Are there any Quick Fixes you can give me for this?

Answer: You have to focus on YOU, not the other person singing...

 Hi Singers!  Just in case you're auditioning for something, I’d like to go over some lists of do’s and don’ts for winning auditions, contests, and the hearts of an audience. And for the inspiring part…just wait!

Breathing is a natural thing, but breathing for singing is a difficult matter to discuss. There are many theories and explanations out there, and they range from “don’t worry about it” to lengthy diatribes on what to do and how to do it. My finding is that people learn in different ways and feel things differently. What is easy for one person to do physically may not be easy for another, who habitually tightens his abdomen whenever he talks or moves. This is actually a subconscious body affliction called “armoring”, that some of us use when we feel vulnerable or threatened—tightening the solar plexus relieves the feeling of vulnerability. It is also one thing to tell someone to “take a deep breath”, and another to have them understand the physical process that is needed for singing. The inhale that is needed for singing is not the sucking in and raising of shoulders that we did as kids before we jumped into the pool. The gap between the explanation and the understanding is often wide when it comes to breathing for singing.

Tension. Twenty-five years ago that word used to have more of a scientific meaning, referring to wires or ropes. Culturally, now it brings up freeway traffic, migraines, heart attacks. It’s acknowledged as a bad thing, and we try to get rid of it with massages, yoga, deep breathing and martinis.

The book “Full-Throated Ease,” by James Terry Lawson, M.D., has some interesting explorations about singing that I thought I’d pass along, pre-Karaoke Fest. The good doctor is also a singer, so he is intimately acquainted with the particular mechanisms involved in singing well. He also discusses how difficult the communication regarding “sensations” can be, when a teacher is conveying information about your instrument. (We’ve mentioned this pitfall before—feeling is all important and words may just cloud the issue). He notes that all movement by muscles in the body is either voluntary or involuntary. Of special importance to us singers is the fact that muscles used in singing can be both voluntary and involuntary. Great! So that’s why your tongue volunteers to help with pitch (when you specifically told it to just lie there!)

Hi singers! Zappenin’? If you’re on the East Coast I guess it’s all about the weather–also the MidWest. Out here on the Left Coast, we’re not complaining, although we often do!

Hi Singers! Just had some interesting last few weeks, and I am excited about sharing them with you, so possibly you can glean inspiration and maybe some help too. First, I had to deal with my voice being so weak and possibly injured for the last three months–what a worry! I’ve been treated for nodes before, and I didn’t think these were what I had, but still I had problems I’ve never had before. Now I also had this little show to do, followed by a big show, and I was singing worse than ever. My middle notes, starting with middle C, were very wobbly and weak, and I couldn’t seem to fix them. I was also in the recording studio recording my voice lesson CD’s in the middle of this, and it was very disheartening. It was impossible to do some things I have always been able to do. I tried my new Vocal Rescue, from SuperiorVocalHealth.com and also the new Voice Saver, from the same company, and they helped me get through the sessions, but some will have to be re-recorded.

Charisma. What is it, how do you get it? Are you born with it or can you develop it? The term charisma (pl. charismata, adj. charismatic; from the Greek χαρισμα, meaning “favor given” or “gift of grace”) has two senses: 1) compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others, 2) a divinely conferred power or talent.; a mysterious, elusive quality. Media commentators regularly describe charisma as the “X-factor”.

Andre Donegan,` voice coach, has some good things to say to clarify what is meant by “phonation“. In case you thought it was another cell phone plan, here’s what he says: “Phonation is the creation of sound from air. A mostly mental process! If we wish to create a “good vocal sound“ we must first define that concept.

Hi Singers!
Take along another of my Quick Fix Check Lists before you go rock ‘em

A singer just asked me how to be loud when he was singing the Blues.
To sing the blues, you have to be able to “belt”. Belting, sometimes known as “The Twang” or “soft shouting”, is a very specific skill. If you try to sing in chest voice (your speaking voice register) and go too high, your voice will break and you will not hit the note. Here are some tips so that doesn’t happen to you (it just happened to Chris Daughtry on the Star Spangled Banner at the World Series).

“Nine”, “Crazy Heart”, “Mama Mia”, “Sweeny Todd”—all these movies have singing roles and star actors who aren’t known for their singing voices. Dubbing an actor’s singing voice is not seen as necessary these days, when formerly almost no stars in musicals used their own singing voices (Natalie Wood, Audrey Hepburn). (BTW, I just attended a great class taught by Marni Nixon, who DID sing in those movies! She’s still fabulous!) Many actors now seem game to try their hand at singing—although Brad Pitt swears he never will.
The connection between singing and acting is that they are similar skills. “Really good actors have really good ears”, says Eric Vetro, Penelope Cruz’s vocal coach on “Nine”. “They have a good ear to mimic dialects and imitate characters.”

Hey there, Everybody! Happy 2012! Have you heard the term “pharyngeal voice” before? If you’ve watched American Idol or The Voice, maybe you have. It is the “witchy” voice, the “twangy voice”, the “belt-y” voice. Think Aretha Franklin, Fantasia, Chaka Khan, Heart singer Ann Wilson. This type of sound used to sound “like cats singing”, to classically trained singers. Then came Robert Plant and lots of other rock singers, and it was obvious that they had managed to make a sound that normal voice lessons didn’t cover. Flash forward to all the singing competitions on TV and the Broadway shows popular now, and you see that you cannot sing current songs unless you know how to do a pharyngeal voice.

Whether you are singing to win a contest or just singing for yourself–there are some basics to remember that will help you sound better. Singing is very much like a sport; specific muscles are involved, correct thinking, precise repetition, and courageous action all play a part in both. Also, like a sport, there can be added tension and pressure from performing in front of an audience. The difference that music can make in a singing performance, as opposed to say, a tennis match, is an advantage for the singer over the tennis player. One must find an almost musical rhythm in the body in sport to let the muscles take over as they should, but a singer merely has to become immersed in the emotion and rhythm of the song. Pretty simple – well, it is IF you’re also using correct inhalation, posture, and breath control.

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