Do you have a hard time achieving VIBRATO? If so, you are not alone. While some singers discover their Vibrato naturally, many others need time and practice to develop it. The BEST way to learn Vibrato is to UNDERSTAND it. Vibrato is a small pitch oscillation that can be created with the right Vocal Agility, Breath Support, and Resonance. The next time you practice, you might want to try some agility patterns, pitch bends, and quick staccato exercises. All of these things promote the kind of agility that is necessary for developing Vibrato. It may not come immediately, but understanding that you CAN and SHOULD work on your Vibrato will help you to discover it before too long!
MENTHOL. Who doesn't love it? It offers a cooling sensation, it has an invigorating feel, and it smells good! We've all been there... we have a cold and start coughing. So, we grab a cough drop with menthol, rub a menthol cream on the chest at night, or even use steamers with menthol steam. But, what many people don't know is that menthol can have adverse effects for you as a singer! Although the cooling sensation of menthol can feel good, it also has a NUMBING effect and DRYING effect on our vocal folds. These two things certainly don't bode well for our singing. When we're feeling sick we want to be very much AWARE of how our throat and vocal folds are feeling, not the opposite! So, you're looking for throat lozenges be sure to look for drops with honey. Drop the menthol and reach for the HONEY!
Want to expand your Repertoire AND your vocal abilities? Then, give yourself a Repertoire CHALLENGE! Make a list of Five different STYLES. Find one song per style and learn those songs to the best of your ability. Next, make a list of Five ARTISTS within your favorite style. Find and learn a song by each artist. After this, make a list of Five SONGS that you've always wanted to sing, but never have. Lastly, make a list of Five songs that you've always been too AFRAID to try. By following this simple Repertoire Challenge you will reinvent your Repertoire. In the process, you will grow so much vocally and stylistically and will be pleased to see how something as simple as song selection can make you a better artist! HIGH FIVE!
Do you know how your body achieves RELAXATION? It's through a slow, steady exhalation! Think about someone who is experiencing a panic attack. Do they need to take a deep breath? No! They actually have TOO MUCH air in their lungs. What they need to do is to exhale their breath slowly and steadily. This goes for any time we need to relax. All we need to do is take a moment to release our air in a gentle stream. So, perhaps now you understand why singing has so many health benefits and makes you feel so great! It's because all good singing is done on a slow, steady exhale! Singing makes you RELAX better… and relaxing makes you SING better! Aaaaah...
Your voice has many registers that can be DRAGGED to change the quality of your sound. For instance, you can drag a register DOWN from above to create a "headier" Mix or UP from below to create a "beltier" Mix. Both are necessary skills. BUT being able to honor every register in your voice is just as important. Think of it this way - there is an overlap of notes that are playable by both a violin and a cello. A cello can play quite high, but this puts the strings under more stress than is sustainable for a long time. Likewise, a violin can play some low notes that align with those of a cello, but the quality is far less rich than the cello. Honoring each register would be the equivalent of playing each instrument in the sweet spot of its range. So, don't always play your cello too high or your violin too low. As you vocalize, spend the majority of time in the sweet spot!
Have you ever seen singers move their JAW when they sing Riffs? Interestingly, this can be both a bad thing OR a good thing. It just depends on the circumstances. For most singing, jaw movement that corresponds with pitch movement is a very bad habit. This can happen during vibrato, during Riffs, or just when moving from note to note. Very GOOD vocal technique happens when the vocals folds are solely responsible for pitch adjustments. So, the first step to Riffs and vocal agility is to move the notes WITHOUT moving the jaw. On the other hand, more advanced Riffers sometimes use their jaws for a stylistic rearticulation of Riff notes. This is a sort of vocal "sound effect" that adds an extra accent detail to complex Riffs. Rule of thumb: don't use your jaw to Riff. (But, there may come a day when it's okay)!
Our voices change VOLUME in more ways than we realize! Factors that typically influence Volume include breath flow, vocal fold compression, larynx position, resonance, and mouth shape. For example, open vowels like AH or OH are typically louder than smaller vowels like EE or OO. This is one reason why singers who use microphones pull the mic away from their faces on big notes or pull it close when they're singing softly. Sound engineers limit this variation on recordings. That's why you can listen to recorded songs without having to change the Volume on your speakers every time the singer hits a big note or gets quiet. Nevertheless, before you hit the studio or the stage - experiment with the many factors that help you control your own VOLUME!
The Larynx is an extraordinary structure capable of making nearly an infinite amount of sounds! Yet sometimes we find it necessary to use other parts of our body to make sound instead of letting the Larynx do it's job. We force too much air out, we tense our neck muscles, we raise our shoulders, we jut our jaws, we raise our eyebrows…the list goes on! Allow your Larynx to do the work it was meant to do! Take note of your body as you sing. Are you recruiting extraneous muscles to do the job of the Larynx? During your next practice, try your exercises or songs using as little movement of extraneous muscles as you can. Once the Larynx proves it can do all the work it was designed to do, then stylistic elements can be added. But, as for your vocal technique, you'll have found right one for the job!
These days Opera isn't as popular as it once was, but it certainly ain't over! While it's a myth that classical training will make you skillful at singing other styles of music, don't neglect at least SOME classical work in your technique practice. What does this mean? Learn to sing with lower larynx positions. Know how to sing every note with vibrato. Cultivate your Head Voice. Build the stamina for long legato phrases. Master your breath support and dynamic control. Experience how your voice can sing on pure vowels. Adding all of these elements to your technique practice will make you a better singer overall. You might even try out an Aria or Art Song for extra enrichment. Or, if you're really inspired you might even buy a ticket to go and see an Opera! Chances are it will really expand your horizons. The fat lady definitely AIN'T singing!
All singers know that Breathing technique during singing is of the utmost importance. But what about Breathing technique while NOT singing? A common habit many of us have is to hold our breath unintentionally. This happens when the vocal folds shut and prevent air from moving in and out of the trachea and lungs. Many people don't even notice that they are doing this! It's wise to stay away from this habit due to its potential for unwanted vocal tension and also a stressful mental state. The best way to stay relaxed, both physically and mentally, is to allow our air to flow freely. Pay attention to yourself throughout the day when you are not making sounds and make sure that you are breathing freely and easily! In a way, it's like practicing your singing ALL DAY!