Practicing your Mix Voice? Well then - PUCKER UP! Not for kissing, but for Vocal MASTERY! There are two main exits for air when we exhale to sing: the mouth and the nose. Breath will exit where there is the least resistance. That's why the "Beltiest" and often "pushiest" sounds happen when the mouth is WIDE open. Rounding your lips during some vocal exercises causes less breath to be forced out. This creates a pathway of air upwards and inwards, which assists Head Resonance and Nasal Resonance. Utilizing more Resonance provides freedom for high notes, allows for greater volume control, and creates a more professional tone quality. So… practice puckering up! And blow a KISS to your Mix voice!
Why do we practice proper posture in Voice Lessons when in reality we'll be dancing, sitting, crouching, or even laying down when we perform? Well, consider an ATHLETE. They aren't running marathons on a treadmill or competing on how much they can stretch their hamstrings. They are conditioning the body in optimal ways so that it can do many things on the court, track, or field. Similarly, when we do vocal exercises, we're conditioning our vocal and postural muscles to perform optimally on the stage or in the recording studio. Start thinking of the Vocal Studio as your GYM and the stage as your FIELD. Without becoming rigid - stand up straight, keep the back of your neck long, and your sternum lifted. If you've trained your body under these controlled conditions, your voice will have an advantage when it comes time to perform in any situation!
One of the most important aspects of being an Artist is LISTENING. First, you must listen to your OWN voice - not just your singing voice, but your INNER voice. The voice that guides your taste, choices, decisions, and, ultimately, your path. Second, you must listen to the voices of your TEACHERS and mentors. It's unwise to try to tackle singing completely alone. It's a communal art, and you should find a set of ears that you can trust to help you grow. Lastly, you must listen to the voices that DISAGREE with you - those that give thoughtful (not mean, negative, or hurtful) critique. Have the toughness to listen objectively. True critique can be difficult to hear, but it's crucial to growth. Be willing to listen to yourself, your mentors, and your critics - you'll have no choice but to become a True Artist!
Whether it's over an orchestra, in an auditorium, or across a crowd of people - it's common to want our voices to CARRY. Unfortunately, it's also common to tighten or squeeze parts of the throat in an effort to do it. The famous saying "Many hands make light work" applies here. Instead of the brute force of projection alone, it's better to use SEVERAL ideas instead. First, make sure that your breath is not being shoved out, but rather allow your sound to be carried on a steady flow. Next, take advantage of the brighter resonances of your voice like TWANG. Higher overtones help sound waves to travel. Finally, allow your larynx, neck, tongue, and jaw to feel relaxed and loose so that your sound doesn't get constricted. These many vocal hands will make your work light. Keep calm and CARRY on!
Forget YOU! Or, more specifically - forget yourself! It's one of the most valuable things that any performer can ever do. You've already mastered every note, every acting beat, and every word. Now try to go back to a blank-slated nothingness. Bring your imagination to a time when you didn't even know your song. Pretend that you're a total newbie who has never even learned a song, sung a note, or conveyed a feeling. How spontaneous would you feel if you were singing for the first time? How would you discover and navigate your creativity? Dare yourself to forget. To let go and completely lose yourself in your music. Even if it's just for a brief moment... Forget YOU!
Vocal PRACTICE. What does that really mean to you? Does it evoke feelings of something that's a chore, a task, a necessity, or a duty? If so, maybe think of another example of PRACTICE - A Yoga Practice. A Yogi "practicing" Yoga doesn't have a relationship of HARD WORK with their Practice. Instead, they enter into a sacred space. A space where they are FREE to move, play, breathe, explore, feel, experiment, fall down, lengthen, strengthen, tone, fail, succeed, and love. What if we saw our Vocal Practice this way as well? What if we saw our Practice as a very "imperfect", yet beautiful inner experience? If we did, we'd probably find a much greater Joy whenever practice time rolls around. In fact, we'd probably want to get to practicing right away! NAMASTE!
It's okay NOT to pursue a professional performing arts career! Many aspiring artists struggle with an "all or nothing" conflict between their desires to perform professionally and to live a more structured life. The music and entertainment industry is certainly not designed for stability, security, or steady routines. So, if the chaotic structure of those career paths doesn't make you happy, that's OKAY! There have never been more ways to fulfill your creative dreams without committing to a full-time career than there are today. Many artists find that they are MORE creatively satisfied when they pursue their artistry outside work hours while holding stable jobs in other fields. So, if you're seeking ways to pursue your artistic dreams, remember that there IS room for you! Not everyone HAS to be a full-time professional performer to be a successful artist!
Practice makes permanent! That even goes for your NERVES too! When we rehearse, we practice what we plan to do in performance. If we rehearse being NERVOUS about our high notes, we'll be nervous about our high notes in the audition room. Yet, if we rehearse at our bravest, we stand a far better chance of being BRAVE in the audition room. Practice singing with your entire being, acting with no hesitations, and unleashing your imagination into your performance. Be mindful to not rehearse negativity, self-doubt, fear, and self-criticism. In time, you will take your best and most-castable self into every audition. After all, you PRACTICED!
Did anyone tell you? That your voice is absolutely beautiful? If they failed to say it, then they clearly weren't paying close enough attention. Didn't anyone tell you? That your voice is one-of-a-kind. If they did, then they heard your SOUL loudly and clearly. Did anyone tell you? That you should stop singing and give up on the love inside you. If so, then it's good that you ignored them. Didn't anyone tell you? That your voice is a MIRACLE. If they did, then you should believe them. Because it's true. And even if they didn't, you should sing anyway. With all that you are. And you should tell the whole world. About your passionate love for singing. About how much it has meant to you. And how it has helped make you the miraculous person that you are today. Did anyone tell you? Did you tell them?
Do you have the STAMINA for Sustains? Try singing one pitch for as long as you can, nice and steady. Ok… GO! Keep going! You can make it! Alright, how many seconds did you last? If you lasted 30 seconds or more - WOW! Congrats! A vocal triumph! If you had trouble lasting 10 seconds or even less - you have a little work to do. Sustaining long phrases requires not only Breath Stamina, but Breath Management as well. Breath Stamina is how long you can last between breaths. Breath Management is expelling the proper amount of air at any given time during your exhale. Think of it this way: at the beginning of your exhale you have more air you need to hold back. At the end of your exhale, though, you need to let more air out. Practicing this will help you keep an even flow throughout your singing - and will give your Stamina a boost!