Want to adjust the Larynx without even thinking about it? Try thinking about your BREATH sometimes instead of your Larynx. While it's helpful to adjust the Larynx directly, sometimes adjustments are better made indirectly. When you take a breath deep in the body, the larynx actually drops a little bit automatically. This slightly lowered position allows for greater resonance and looser vocal folds. Not to mention that a low breath sets you up for optimal breath support. While good vocal technique often asks us to isolate different components of our instrument, it's also great for them to work together. Let your low breath and your low larynx work in harmony!
What is your vocal SIGNATURE? Just like signing your name, your vocal signature is unique to you. It's not just your God-given resonance and physiology. It's also the amalgamation of all your technical choices and stylistic nuances. We recognize singers by the tone of their voices, yes, but even MORE by their unique vocal signature. Sara Bareilles sings long, legato phrases interspersed with breathy qualities. Rihanna belts with sharp, clean sounds alternating with a little grit. Justin Bieber uses high, edgy sounds mixed with falsetto flair. What about your favorite singers? And what about your own vocal artistry? Constantly take note of the tools that make singing personal and exciting to you. Keep honing your own unique vocal SIGNATURE and you may one day find yourself being asked for your signature!
Feel like you're not getting enough AIR? Try invoking the "Rule of 12 Breaths"! While sitting down, breathe 3 times into your ribs with arms over your head. Then clasp your hands behind your back, push them down and breathe 3 times across your chest. Next wrap your hands around yourself in a hug and breathe into your back 3 times. Finally, roll down and place your elbows on your knees. Again, breathe 3 times and feel the expansion in your lower back, belly, and pelvis. After 12 breaths, you should feel a great expansion of breath all over your body! Any time your breathing is feeling shallow, just remember the "Rule of 12 Breaths". You'll be breathing much more efficiently without even having to get up!
Your body is a Wonderland… of RESONANCE! Try to feel your resonance as your 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!
Have you ever wondered why the way you STAND affects your singing? For example, leaning your body weight back into your heels makes vocal production more DIFFICULT. Sitting back in the heels causes muscle contractions in your legs, hips, lower back to help keep your balance and stand upright. This kinetic chain of muscle contractions eventually leads to an increased need for abdominal pressure. Excessive abdominal pressure usually leads to excessive subglottal pressure which can cause a "pushed" or "squeezed" sound. Keep your weight distributed evenly into the floor, making sure to not lock the knees, torque the hips, or press the abs. These subtle adjustments to the way you carry yourself will put you in alignment with greater flexibility and freedom!
How often do you COMPLIMENT other singers? It's easy to get wrapped up in competition and trying to make a name for yourself as an artist. But, true Artists appreciate all the beauty around them - even if it's being made by someone else. As Artists, we should be able to genuinely appreciate the work of others without having to compare it to our own. Even when we're comparing ourselves to other voices as a learning tool, we still need to be able to step back and simply ENJOY other singers! Valuing and encouraging fellow vocalists will keep you focused on singing as an art instead of a contest. With this approach, every singer truly wins!
Did you know that when you sing a note, you're actually singing MANY notes all at once? It's true! The note you sing is called the "Fundamental Frequency". It's the lowest note present in the sound. But, there are many other higher notes present that are called "Overtones". Depending on how we shape our vocal tract (jaw, tongue, soft palate, lips, and larynx), certain Overtones become boosted and others become dampened. Vocal tone and timbre is largely affected by which Overtones are brought forth. Modifying vowels and making thoughtful adjustments to your vocal tract is how to achieve a clearer, louder, or more aesthetically pleasing sound. Imagine the infinite notes you can sing without ever changing pitch!
Sometimes we're not the STAR. Sometimes we perform in small groups, in choirs, as backup singers, or as a part of an ensemble in a musical. In these moments, it's important to still give our ALL! It's sometimes tempting to give less than our best because we think nobody will notice or that it doesn't matter as much since we're in a group. Yet, the reverse is true! The great Stanislavski once said, "There are no small parts, only small actors". These wise words remind us that no matter what role we play in a performance situation, we ought to put forward our best work. This way of thinking will impact those who see and hear you perform far more than you'd think. Approaching every performance situation with full excellence cultivates a star mentality that will lead to solo and leading role opportunities! Be a star ALL the time! …even when you think nobody is watching…
Maybe it's time to get out there! Are you eager to start performing as a soloist or in a band, but unsure of how to transition from singing in the shower or karaoke to gigging professionally? One great starting place is to attend Open Mic Nights! They are often held at restaurants, taverns, churches, or performances venues and allow singers and musicians to get onstage and perform together. Some are rather informal, while others are highly organized and require scheduling a time slot to get up and sing. Not only can these settings provide great performance practice with a live audience, but they're also an ideal way to network with other singers and musicians. Maybe it's time to get out there!
Dress for success in your auditions! But, when selecting your perfect audition outfit, be aware that certain clothes can actually interfere with your singing. Avoid tight-fitting pieces that can restrict the expansion of your abdomen or ribcage and hinder your breathing. Also, don't forget about your shoes. Changes in heel height can alter your body's ideal alignment and your technique. To avoid being surprised on audition day, try rehearsing in the shoes and outfit you plan to wear. Finally, make sure that your outfit makes you feel confident in who you are. Wear something that makes you stand out, but also stays true to the person you are and the message you want to send to the world through your art! Look good... sing GREAT!