Riffs aren't harder than SCALES! Most Riffs in any style of music are variations on just a few simple scales. You can build your Riffing vocabulary by working these scales into your regular warm-ups and vocal practice. One of the most common scales you'll hear in Riffs is the major pentatonic scale (1-2-3-5-6). Try singing a pentatonic pattern instead of the usual 1-2-3-4-5 ascending scale. Then mix it up in as many ways as you can imagine! Leap between notes; start in the middle of the scale; sing on different vowels or words. Just remember to start slowly, and don't speed up until you feel comfortable at the slower pace. There's never a need to get frustrated! After all - Riffs aren't harder than SCALES!
How many times have you started singing a song you love, only to discover you don't actually know the words? It's easy to listen to songs and enjoy the tune without really paying attention to the lyrics. Yet, lyrics are essential to a song's success. How do the song's words communicate a story or a feeling? From a technical perspective, how do the consonants and vowels in each word establish style and texture? Do the breaths within the song change the meaning of the phrases and sentences? Lyrics give singers countless opportunities to communicate and express themselves. Your musicality, technique, and acting will all benefit from awareness of how the lyrics compliment the music. So, next time you listen - or sing along - give the words the attention they deserve!
Give your Larynx the credit that it deserves! Your Larynx is more than just a house where your vocal folds live. Different POSITIONS of the Larynx can be used in a healthy way to produce a vast variety of vocal sounds and styles. Keep an open mind and try out laryngeal coordinations that you might not be used to. Explore a LOW Larynx to discover strong, deep, and robust sounds. Try a HIGHER Larynx to experience some softer, brighter, and thinner sounds. As long as they're done with thoughtful and conscientious technique, different Larynx positions can greatly expand our vocal horizons. Give your amazing Larynx all the credit!
Style vs. Technique. What's the difference? STYLE is the distinctive musical, dramatic, and emotional choices used to express a song or phrase. TECHNIQUE is the practiced muscular coordinations, physical control, and vocal skill-sets that free singers to express themselves in one or many Styles. So why do we separate them? Focusing on Style without awareness of Technique is like an athlete focusing on game strategy without working on the fitness and athleticism needed to compete. Ignoring Style, though, is like an athlete who never leaves the gym to actually play the sport. When practicing, consciously link the Technique you are working on to the stylistic effects you want to produce. This winning strategy is what makes the most difficult singing look and feel easy!
Want to give your Vocal Folds a TREAT? Then sing on a small, steady stream of air! Your ideal Breathing Technique should feature a gentle, smooth, constant, and energized exhale. Vocal problems and limitations typically result from breathing systems that involve forceful breaths, jerky breaths, or irregular breath flows. Take an inhalation by expanding your low abs, your low back, and your side ribcage. Then, exhale to sing on an energetic, yet TINY breath stream. Your vocal technique will instantly improve. Plus, your Vocal Folds will thank you for giving them what they have always wanted!
Our EMBOUCHURE (or mouth shape) can greatly affect the resonance of our voices! Try experimenting with different mouth shapes to achieve various resonances and stylistic characteristics! First try a NEUTRAL mouth shape. It's important to be able to sing our entire range without any drastic changes to our Embouchure. If you're looking for increased strength and brightness, attempt to SMILE while singing! If you're attempting a style with a darker resonance quality or need increased vocal flexibility, PUCKERING your lips will help you achieve this effect. Lastly, SNARLING the upper lip is an Embouchure that promotes a lighter sound by encouraging nasal resonance. While we want to first master all vocal coordinations with minimal Embouchure changes, we can later choose to color the sound with a wide variety of mouth postures as we see fit!
"Don't SLOUCH!". "Stand up straight!". "Sing with good posture!". These phrases echo in our ears if we've ever had training as singers. And for good reason! SLOUCHING thrusts the jaw and head forward which adds tension to the neck, larynx, and surrounding muscles. Slouching also limits your breathing by preventing the ribcage from expanding fully. Plus, Slouching makes us look sad, unconfident, and defeated. Thankfully, out of the many vocal habits that exist, Slouching is probably the easiest one to fix. You just have to be willing to stand up for yourself! Or, in other words, you must become SLOUCHLESS!
Do you FEEL your voice? If so, you are experiencing Conductive Vibrations. Conductive Vibrations are the sensations that we feel in our chests, our heads, and in different parts of our faces. These vibrations help guide us as to what register we are singing in and what position our larynx is located. Chest vibrations usually correspond with Chest Voice and also lower larynx positions. Head vibrations usually correspond with Head Voice and higher larynx positions. What the audience hears is called Sympathetic Resonance. That happens when sound waves go zinging around inside your head. They can't hear your Conductive Vibrations. But, you can use Conductive Vibrations to FEEL your way to your best singing!
Tension in the singing voice is often due to the voice's relationship with the SOLAR PLEXUS. The Solar Plexus is the upper abdominal region just below the sternum. This muscle group has an indirect relationship with your vocal folds. If the Solar Plexus is tight, the voice will be tight! To work on freeing this area, place your hand gently into your Solar Plexus. When you inhale, the Solar Plexus should be free enough that it will push your hand outward. After this happens, try a firm exhale on a hiss. If these muscles remain free, then the force of the exhale will make them pop out a second time! This exercise (in both your technique exercises as well as your songwork) is a great way to ensure that your Solar Plexus is open and that your voice is tension-free! Let your voice and your Solar Plexus SHINE!
Mastering the nuances of each Vowel can revolutionize your vocal technique! Each Vowel has a distinct shape when sung. The long EE sound, as in "geese," is known as a Closed Front Vowel. It feels as though it buzzes forward in the face, and the tongue is arched high in the back. This diminishes the space in the back of the mouth. Conversely, the "AH" vowel sound, as in "hot," is categorized as an Open Back vowel. You can feel why - the tongue drops and creates more mouth space. Plus, the resonance seems to retreat more into the back of the mouth. Practice FEELING the difference between these two very different vowels. Pay close attention to how the internal shape of your mouth changes the sounds you create as you work through all your vowels!