Happy St. Patrick's Day! This day is set aside to celebrate the heritage and culture of the Irish and the patron Saint of Ireland - St Patrick. On this Feast of St. Patrick many people party, eat, drink, and SING! Quite often, we can take singing very seriously. Being serious, strategic, and structured with vocal study definitely has its place most of the year. However, it's important to take it easy sometimes! Why not share your voice while celebrating with friends and family this holiday? Let this St. Patrick's day be a time where you let loose vocally! Be brave and let your singing voice be the true toast of the town! SLAINTE!
We live in a day and age that can be very NOISY - with seemingly everyone unleashing a massive output of themselves onto a multitude of media platforms. It can often feel like being one small voice in a chaotic cacophony of creations. It's very easy to want to give up and say, "Why even bother?". YET! Through all the noise, the artists who are producing art from a place of pure Joy and Love always find a way to be heard. It's all about staying focussed on what unique message YOU have to share with the world. Even if your voice doesn't seem to be heard at the moment - stay the course! Trust your own artistic vision rather than becoming distracted or frustrated by the fray. Honor our world with your gift. If you keep doing the right thing, the right people will hear you!
TRAVEL can wreak havoc on the voice. Sleep schedules change, we end up sitting for long periods of time, and the temperature and humidity can vary wildly. Make sure to treat your voice well as you navigate these variables! Warm up gently in the morning if you switch time zones to avoid pushing your voice later in the day. Stay hydrated in new climates and especially on planes, which are notorious for drying us out. Find opportunities to stand up and walk every hour or two, and if that isn't possible, engage your muscles and stretch a bit while you sit. Keep your body active, your diet clean, and your vocal folds limber. If you do, your voice will travel in style!
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!
Get ROOTED - with Tree Pose! If you are experiencing unwanted vocal tension, try vocalising in a position that requires BALANCE. The Yoga Tree Pose is very helpful for this. To find Tree Pose, place the sole of one foot on the inner thigh of the other leg. Bring your hands in a prayer position that makes contact with your sternum. You might notice that your leg, hips, or shoulders start to quiver and possibly cause you to lose your balance. If this is the case, think about lengthening the back of the neck and lifting the sternum. Once you are balanced, sing a phrase or a vocal exercise while maintaining Tree Pose. Do you notice a positive difference? If so, then return to your neutral stance and try to maintain that balanced and lifted feeling when you sing. If you ever lose it, you can always go back to your ROOTS again with Tree Pose!
GRRRRRUNT! Does your singing ever feel like lifting a HEAVY OBJECT? This feeling often occurs when singers sing too loudly in Chest Voice or Chest Dominant Mix, or when too much Glottal Resistance is used. One way to shed some vocal "weight" is to develop a "light" and "flowy" Head Voice and then drag it DOWN. Start with a note that is HIGHER than the Chest Voice notes you are struggling with. Slide down from the lighter gear to the stronger. If there's a large crack or flip as you slide, then your Chest and Mix are likely too heavy. See if you can make the transition as seamless as possible. If you do, your voice will soon feel more SVELTE than ever!
"SHHH!!! I'm Riffing!" One of the best tactics for getting your Riffs precise and clean is to rehearse them QUIETLY. When we sing loudly, our entire voice mechanism works a little harder. The vocal folds are thicker and typically more compressed. We use a little more air pressure and the muscles that stabilize the voice also are more engaged. These conditions are NOT ideal for successful and agile Riffing. So, for practice purposes, try reducing your volume. The vocal folds will be thinner, the air pressure will diminish, and the musculature will relax â€" PERFECT Riffing conditions! Once you've learned your Riffs quietly and incrementally (oh, so slowly!), then you can increase your volume closer to where you'd like it!
There are as many opinions as there are people - especially in the Recording Industry. So, it can be a challenge to stay true to your vision in the midst of hearing what everyone else thinks you should do. It's incredibly important to listen to a TEAM of trusted souls that push you forward and challenge your artistic best. These voices should tell you what you NEED to hear and not just what you WANT to hear. Sometimes what feels good to hear isn't the information that will make you a stronger artist. Keep your ears open to the feedback of people who know more, have done more, and who personally value YOU as an artist. Pretty soon you'll be so wise and experienced that other artists will want you on THEIR team!
Have you FOUND YOUR SOUND? Many singers doubt whether they have found "their voice" or "their style". In reality, though, "your sound" is as simple as the CHOICES you make. As an exercise, pick a common song with a simple melody. Start by singing the song as plainly as you can. Then, change it up! Experiment with all the stylistic tools out there: dynamics, sustains, rhythm changes, word emphases, melodic alterations, riffs, vibrato, straight tone, texture changes, and others. Before you know it, you'll be making choices that are 100% original and discovering a sound that is truly your own! Once you know you can CHOOSE it, you'll never LOSE it!
It's time to FIRE UP your singing! With the BREATH OF FIRE! Try it! With your mouth closed, inhale and exhale through your nose very rapidly for several seconds. You'll feel the belly pulsing as you do this.This quick and FIERY breath through a small opening gets the air moving in hurry! This is an indication that the diaphragm is moving very quickly. You might not be able to do the Breath of Fire for very long at first. Maybe 5-10 seconds is enough. Later, you can increase to 20-30 seconds and eventually to 1 minute. No matter how long you do the Breath of Fire, you'll notice an INSTANT energy boost to your breathing and to your body. Yogi's swear by the Breath of Fire. But, it's great for singers too. So, it's time to get that diaphragm FIRED UP with agility, control, and energy!