Everyone knows that certain songs are unfailing crowd-pleasers. You sing one line and the whole room joins you. It's helpful to have songs like this in your repertoire to pull out on a whim. However, don't limit yourself to crowd favorites! It's ideal to be able to perform not only sure-fire hits, but lesser known melodies as well. When you sing a piece that's unfamiliar to the listener, they won't be distracted by wanting to join in and can focus their attention on the singing itself! Your audiences will become even more interested in your performances simply due to the VARIETY of your repertoire alone. You may also introduce them to a new artist or style of music in the process. This is a crowd-pleaser in itself!
Don't be a Vocal POWER LIFTER! When attempting high notes, vocal tension can be caused by too much "weight". Vocal "weight" means that short vocal folds are doing the work long vocal folds should be doing. For instance, when you're in Chest Voice the vocal folds are generally shorter. Shorter folds tend to close with thicker vocal fold mass and musculature. High notes require the vocal folds to vibrate quickly. So, maintaining thick vocal fold contact higher up is a LOT of heavy lifting! Lengthening the vocal folds via Falsetto, Head Voice, and Mix is the way to prevent yourself from weighty strain. A good motto is "Lengthen THEN Strengthen". If you can hit the notes in a lighter register, then you always have the option of adding the mass back in gradually from there! In fact, this is exactly how to achieve powerful high notes! Don't be a Vocal POWER LIFTER!
Try the Vocal INTENSITY Scale! Eliminating vocal tension can be far simpler than we often believe. But, this involves adjusting the way we THINK about the voice. Most difficult vocal tasks don't require the intensity and force that we assume that they will take. Use a scale from 1 through to 10 to self-monitor your Vocal Intensity. On this scale, 1 is your lowest physical energy and 10 is your fullest force. If you notice that you feel tense or vocally tired after singing a song or exercise, ask yourself - "What number on the Vocal Intensity Scale am I singing at?". If you find you're at 9 or 10 most of the time, then try singing between 4 and 6. Likely, you'll still be able to achieve what you were aiming for, but in a much easier way. In fact, it will probably come out better using a more moderate Vocal Intensity!
What keeps us from singing higher and higher and higher â€" until only SPOT and FIDO can enjoy our singing? The Vocal Ligament! Your vocal cords are made up of three distinct layers. The innermost layer is the ThyroArytenoid muscle. The middle layer is a gelatinous texture and is called the Lamina Propria. The Epithelium is the outermost layer and is mucous-covered "skin" of the vocal cords. Now for the kicker: In the middle of the Lamina Propria resides the Vocal Ligament. The same kind of tissue in your knees and elbows is inside your vocal cords! Its fibrous strands provide stability and strength to the vocal folds and also limit how far they can be stretched. This sounds like bad news, but it's not! The Vocal Ligament saves us from stretching too far and… well... singing with a voice only your dog could love!
Do you suffer from a Riff ADDICTION? Riffs are one of the singer's best stylistic tools to heighten a melody or lyric. A well-placed Riff can bring a musical moment to an exciting peak or to a soothing resolution. Riffs also work as perfect transitions between words, musical ideas, and phrases. As great as these things are, we've all heard singers rely on Riffing TOO MUCH! When this happens, the benefits of Riffing are completely lost. It's much like an artist using red, red, and more red on the same canvas. If you're a singer capable of incredible Riffs, just remember you don't have to use every Riff in your arsenal in one song. It's far better to use Riffs in moderation. Friends don't let friends let Riffing become a problem. Please Riff responsibly!
Have you ever seen singers singing with books in front of their ears? If you have, you may think they've lost their minds. Maybe all those intense breathing exercises finally sent them to the loony bin. Or, maybe this "old-school" vocal trick still WORKS! Try it! Grab two books or any two hard-surfaced objects. Press the spine of the books in front of your ears and begin singing. VOILA! You've instantly gained a more accurate idea of how you sound to other people. Your ears no longer can judge your internal resonance. Instead, they experience your sound as it appears to others. So grab those books and start cultivating a new relationship with your resonance! (WARNING: do not try this in public unless you're ready to become one of those "singer types").
High and TIGHT larynx? Think "Lifted and LOOSE" instead! Sometimes a High Larynx Position gets a bad reputation since it can contribute to excessive brightness in the voice. It can cause a feeling of strain, like you're trapped by a vocal wall that you can't push through. Yet, the High Larynx Position isn't totally to blame! Low Larynxes are WIDE larynxes. This means that when your larynx is in a lower position, the vocal cords actually need to work harder to come together. When we lift the larynx we also NARROW it, requiring the vocal folds less effort to make contact. Therefore, with Higher Larynx Positions, you can actually LET GO quite a lot! So, why not try out lifted and LOOSE?
How many decisions do you make in a day which directly affect how you present yourself to the world? "What should I wear?" "How should I do my hair?" Your personal style says a lot about how you hope people will perceive you. But what about how you use your SPEAKING voice? Are you a loud or soft speaker? Do you construct long sentences or use fewer words? How often do you gesticulate and how big are your gestures? Is your face very animated when you talk or is it more calm? Communication style is as important as appearance when making an impression. So, whether it's a big audition, a job interview, a date, or a friendly outing - be aware of how your voice affects your presence. To know YOU is to know your voice!
Studies have shown that it takes professional sight-singers approximately TWELVE times singing through a new song before their breathing functions optimally. This means that the mind focuses first on learning the notes and only later can vocal technique be added. What can we learn from this? First, give yourself TIME to familiarize yourself with the notes, rhythms, and lyrics of a song. Don't be too hard on yourself about technique initially. PLAN your breaths ahead of time. Mark them on your music with a dash. Take many breaths at first. Breathe at any punctuation marks or ends of ideas. In the initial stages of learning, give yourself the best chance by approaching a song step-by-step. Don't get immediately frustrated with learning new music. Breathe. Plan. Practice. Succeed. Repeat.
One of the best alignment exercises for singers is the "WALL SIT". Find a nearby wall and place your back against it. Slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Adjust your feet so that your knees are directly above your ankles. With your back and head against the wall - take a few breaths to make sure you're comfortable and not rigid. From here, sing your vocal exercise or a song you are working on. You'll instantly feel that it's very difficult to "cheat". Your neck is long and lithe. Your back is open and wide. Your chest and shoulders remain tall and calm. And, the best part is that you're breathing DEEP into the body. Try the Wall Sit in your practice and you'll notice some immediate improvements - without ever getting up!