Take your SINGING VITAMINS! Do you feel that, no matter how often you stretch, you're still tense? The solution could be as simple as vitamins! A deficiency in Vitamin D and Magnesium has been shown to contribute to myoskeletal tension in the body. This includes the Larynx! It can be difficult to obtain sufficient amounts of these nutrients from dietary sources alone. And sadly, unless you live along the equator, your chances of absorbing enough Vitamin D from the sun are slim. Magnesium and Vitamin D are processed more efficiently when taken together. So, consider taking a supplement of each or a multivitamin. Continue your usual strategies to reduce vocal tension, but a daily dose of these critical nutrients could be just what your body needs!
It's time for a little Vocal LIMBO! "How low can you go" in your Head Voice and Falsetto? In popular music, it's very common to hear singers singing HIGH in Chest Voice. Many singers mimic this aesthetic because it often sounds thrilling and exciting. Yet, it's actually just as important to practice taking your Head Voice and Falsetto as LOW as you can take them as well. This may not be aesthetically pleasing to you. In fact, it usually sounds quite weak. However, doing this balances the voice in terms of vocal technique and also vocal health. Plus, it will assist you with developing the Mix and will give you more possibilities for stylistic nuances, dynamics, and dramatic choices. So practice the Vocal LIMBO, and find out: "How low can you go" in Head Voice and Falsetto!
Have you learned all the notes of a particular Riff, but still find it hard to execute? This is common due to the fact that Riffs require great flexibility. So, try following a few simple steps that promote vocal flexibility and agility. 1st - slowly sing each note of a Riff on any syllable. This enables you to separate each note individually and master the Riff's directional changes. 2nd - sing those same notes in a quick staccato fashion. The shortness and quickness of the staccato will build agility and precision. 3rd - vocalize the Riff on an OO vowel or a lip trill. This will encourage flexibility and allow you to feel the smooth flow of the Riff. Last - add back the original words or sounds of the Riff. You will likely notice a major improvement! You can always apply this step-by-step approach to any Riff that is getting away from you!
What's a "Melisma"? A Melisma is a group of notes all sung on the SAME syllable. We see Melismas in many musical styles - from art songs to pop riffs. Surprisingly, singing multiple notes on ONE syllable requires a lot more precision and technique than singing multiple syllables. Practice Melismas by first repeating your primary syllable on each note. For example, if you sing the word "no" over five notes, then sing "no no no no no." Next, try grouping just TWO of the notes together. Did your vowel change between those notes? Did one particular note feel better than the other? Did losing the starting consonant affect your technique? Make adjustments in order to maintain consistent technique across the entire Melisma. Then, keep grouping more and more notes together until you're singing your full Melisma like a pro!
Ever feel your voice resonate in your EARS? If so, then something is actually going right! The ear canal is located near to the vocal tract. This is why you see an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor) when something is wrong with your voice. All these areas are interrelated. Often when singers sing high notes successfully, they report feeling the sound in their ears. This is no coincidence! High notes are usually felt resonating upwards in the head, forehead, cheeks, nose, and you guessed it… the EARS. So, next time you find yourself listening too hard to yourself while you sing - put your ears to good use instead! Feel your high notes in your EARS!
Should the larynx be high or low? Neither. And both. Contrary to old beliefs, different larynx positions are actually a healthy and viable way to produce different vocal styles and timbres. Lower larynx positions provide a darker tone while high larynx positions enable a brighter vocal quality. However, the larynx should NOT be a pitch changer. Often a raised larynx is used to assist with singing high notes when the voice has not been developed or trained. This should be minimized as it can lead to major limitations and tensions in the voice. When developing your vocal technique, ensure that higher notes are accessible without hiking up the larynx. Once this has been achieved, if you choose to raise the larynx for stylistic purposes (like in a pop/rock tune), then feel free to raise it up! Explore all the possibilities your larynx has to offer!
When it comes to vocal style, CONSONANTS can make an even stronger statement than vowels. Do you start your words strong with a firm punch? Or with an airy and breathy tone? When you finish your words, do you perhaps hum on an M or N for a few seconds like Sarah Vaughan? Or, do you spit your consonants out with conviction like Michael Jackson? Consonants can also affect the vowels you sing. A strong consonant like G or B can make it easier to belt. An N or SH might make it easier to find a lighter place in your voice. Making deliberate choices with your Consonants will enhance your personal vocal style a hundredfold!
Experiencing too much Vocal Fry? Solve it with breath flow! You may notice that when you arrive at the end of your sentences, the last word or syllable ends in Vocal Fry. Often, we unintentionally "give up" as the energy of the sentence wanes. Confident speakers, though, carry the momentum of the exhale PAST the end of the sentence! Say: "I have a cockatiel in Wyoming." Many people will notice some Vocal Fry toward the end of "Wyoming." Now try: "I have a cockatiel in Wyoming and one in Iowa." Notice that the Vocal Fry doesn't occur until "Iowa". Practice blowing out a little extra air during the last word so that you don't hear a "crackle". While Vocal Fry can be an effective tool in singing and voiceover work, it doesn't need to be an everyday part of your speaking voice. Keep on breathing out!
Your body is a Wonderland… of RESONANCE! Try to feel your resonance as you sing with different components of your voice. Place your hands on your chest and feel the vibrations when you sing with a strong Chest Voice. Switch registers to Head Voice and place a hand on the back of your head. You'll likely feel some vibrations there as you move to the upper part of your voice. Next, place your fingers on the front of your nose and try an M, N, or NG. You should now feel the vibrations move to the nose and the front of your face. As a singer, it's much more important to understand how your voice FEELS than how it sounds. Let US appreciate the beauty of your sound. You can just focus on your body. After all, it's a Wonderland!
Give your entire spine all the LOVE it deserves! Your spine is made of 33 vertebrae, starting all the way up in the center of your skull and extending all the way down below your hips. When you're warming up to sing, give your spine some TLC by doing a very slow roll-up and paying attention to each individual vertebra. Start with a few deep breaths in a low forward bend. Then, as you roll up slowly, try to feel each bone align with the one below. Be careful not to "hinge" up when you get to your shoulder blades or your neck! Spinal flexibility leads to better breathing, alignment, and freedom from tension in the larynx and neck. It's also one of the best ways to improve your voice without even singing a note!