Listening too closely to ourselves can lead to timid or restricted sounds. One trick to combat this tendency is "CALL HANDS". Place both hands at the corners of your lips, firmly against your face, with no space between fingers - just like the gesture we use when calling across a distance. Try singing your songs or exercises with Call Hands in place. What do you notice? Does it change the way you perceive your sound? Does the volume seem different? Is the tone altered in some way? Did it change the sensations or enhance how you feel the vibrations? With Call Hands in place, sound has further to travel to reach the ears. This usually leads to less judgment and timidity. Use this trick to stop listening and judging. Instead, start FEELING how great your voice really is!
Any TRACHEA fans out there? Well, fun fact! It has been shown in studies that a deep breath will often cause what is known as "Tracheal Pull"! This is a chain reaction that occurs when the diaphragm flattens out during a large inhalation. As the diaphragm flattens downward, it pulls the lungs, the trachea (windpipe), and the larynx downward as well. They are all connected! The common benefits of Tracheal Pull for singers include a lowering of the larynx and a loosening of the vocal folds. So, Tracheal Pull can be a very effective strategy for singers wishing to explore deeper and looser sounds in their voices. All you've got to do is breathe DEEPLY and also remain aware that your breaths are truly interconnected to the opening of your throat. Isn't it time you became a FAN of your Trachea?
Where does STYLE come from? Think about the clothes that you wear. Do you wear them because you like them? Because you think others will? Or, perhaps because you've seen others that you like wearing them? Your unique vocal style will be similar. It's a combination of personal instincts of what sounds good and feels good coupled with the celebration of outside influences. Don't worry too much about "copying." Your interpretation will never be an exact replica of another singer. Instead, think about achieving sounds that feel good to you within those inspirations. And remember, your style can EVOLVE. Just like what you wear - you can always make subtle or large changes to your approach to suit every occasion!
Breathing can be both voluntary AND involuntary. We breathe all the time without thinking. Yet, we can also breathe in a conscious and controlled fashion. Apply this truth while you sing. Use your breath voluntarily when you need to take a good deep breath before singing a long phrase. Consciously resist and control your exhale through engaged and energized Breath Support. On the other hand, use your breath more involuntary when you feel that you're pushing your voice. Try letting your exhale happen more naturally. If you happen to run out of air, just let your inhale happen on its own. Celebrate your body's ability to relax and do the work for you. Or, celebrate your ability to consciously take control over your breathing system!
True or False: locking your knees while singing makes you PASS OUT? Under the right circumstances, it's indeed True! But why? Your primary inhalation muscles are your External Intercostals (which expand your ribcage), and your Diaphragm (which contracts downward to pull in air). For exhalations, the Internal Intercostals close the ribcage and the Diaphragm returns to its upward position. However, the muscles of your back, abdomen, and legs also indirectly affect the QUALITY of your breathing. Locked knees or flexed quads cause tension in the lower back and abdomen - limiting Diaphragm and ribcage movement. Prolonged shallow breathing can cause light-headedness and, in extreme cases, passing out. So, keep your knees loose and sing out - you'll never pass out!
"Resonant Voice" is a term used by many voice practitioners, teachers, and pathologists. This term refers to "sound that is easy to produce and vibrant in the facial tissues". The concept can be applied across any vocal register - Head, Chest, and Mix. One way to experience Resonant Voice is to hum gently. As you hum, try to get vibrations to occur in the front of your face. You might experience the sound in the lips, teeth, nose, cheekbones, and forehead. The buzzy vibrations should not feel forced in any way. Once you've found it, try to sing your vowels right after humming in this fashion. The sympathetic vibrations sensed in the front of the face will act as a sign of efficient breath energy, vocal fold vibration, and resonance. So get BUZZY! And find your Resonant Voice!
Why is it so common for people to RUN OUT of breath - even in the middle of everyday conversation, during an interview, or business presentation? Chances are, they haven't coordinated their breathing system with their voice! For better coordination, take a full breath into the low ribcage, low abdominals, and the back. Keep in mind that it's more about the DEPTH of the breath than the QUANTITY. Next, speak boldly and with friendly conviction as though your sound emerges from this deep place. Be sure to take breaks on punctuation to reestablish this coordination. Focusing on this will slow the rate of speech and convey even more CONFIDENCE. Remember - we speak on an exhale, so make sure your inhales prepare you to never RUN OUT of great things to say!
Becoming a True Artist often feels more like FORGETTING the things that we've learned than it feels like remembering them. Often, we are more alive and expressive when we don't over-think our singing and we simply "forget ourselves". Of course, it takes a lot of practice, training, and hard work to get to this place. But, once you've arrived, difficult phrases and songs will roll right out of you without giving them a single thought. Your SOUL takes over and you become the messenger - a vessel and an open channel for your truest artistry. Don't forget to work hard and be disciplined and thoughtful about your technique. But once the hard work is done and you are ready to perform - don't forget to FORGET!
The voice is a SUPER-instrument! Think about the sound an upright bass makes when it plays. How would you imitate it? Maybe "doom doom" or "bum bum"? Now think about a trumpet. What does it sound like? Maybe "bah bah" or "brap brap"? But a bass never sounds like "bah bah," and a trumpet never sounds like "doom doom." No matter what note these instruments play, they always have the same timbre. The voice, on the other hand, can sound like every instrument, even ones that don't exist. Every part of your instrument - your throat, mouth, nose, tongue, teeth, larynx, etc. - combines to make an infinite array of tones and sounds. So, experiment with the many sounds you can make while enjoying the fact that your voice is the most versatile instrument of all!
There are FOUR important questions to ask yourself as you prepare to act your song or monologue. WHERE am I? WHO am I with? What do I WANT? What do I stand to GAIN and what do I stand to LOSE? We can't know who we're with until we know where we are. We can't know what we want until we know who we're in front of. We can't know what to do unless we know what we want and how far we're willing to go to get it. Ask yourself these questions right now, where you sit, about your own life. Now imagine your character is a living, breathing person just like you. This is the true path to every actor's goal of "living truthfully under imaginary circumstances." Want to revolutionize your Acting? ASK first. ACT second!