What's the key to success in the Music Industry? YOU. As an aspiring artist, you must understand who YOU are before prospering in the field. Don't let the industry compromise what makes you special. There will always be a multitude of great artists out there. Yet, your originality is what keeps you grounded and sets you apart. Your productivity, your preparation, and your perseverance are completely up to YOU. Are you writing new music? Are you studying? Do you know what you're saying as an artist? Are you staying true to your heart, your uniqueness, and your Joy? The more specific you can be about your own gifts and goals, the more ready you are for success. No artist in history has ever had everything go according to plan. So, take control over the one thing in the Music Industry that you can control: YOU!
If you take an audition workshop or ask people for audition tips, you're almost guaranteed to hear contradicting advice. "Always introduce yourself" - "Never introduce yourself". "Look at the people at the table" - "Never look at the people at the table". But, one piece of advice that always remains constant is - "Be respectful to everyone in the room". From the monitor, to the accompanist, to the casting team, to the reader. Even to the other artists you are up against. Everyone is there to do their job and be a professional. So, this is your chance to be the kind of person that everyone wants to work with. You may not do everything perfectly in your audition, but by consistently being a respectful and courteous professional, you can never go wrong!
Feeling Joyful? Feeling sad? Your voice reflects your emotional well-being more than you can imagine. JOY inspires exuberant, energetic singing, whereas depression can make creating or even listening to music difficult. Some singers even struggle to make bold, strong sounds because they struggle with self-confidence in daily life. Never fear! Singing is actually one of the greatest cures for the hardships in our lives! Invite your Vocal Journey to be a part of your Inner Journey. Let singing help pull you out of the sorrows that you are experiencing. Let your "Joyful Noise" reflect any happiness you feel deep in your spirit. But, also invite singing into the pain and suffering that you are overcoming! And YES... you WILL overcome this...
SCATTING is vocal improv that uses nonsense syllables that imitate a Jazz instrument. You get to focus on noise, melody, and tone only! How freeing! Start by listening to great Scatters like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Kurt Elling for inspiration. Then, try singing along with melodies, but without singing the words. Instead use syllables like "SKI", "DO", "BEEP", and "WAH" - all sounds that imitate Jazz instruments. Once you've mastered Scatting with the melody, try Scatting along with the instrumental parts. Let your vocals imitate the melody, rhythm, and tone of the instrumental solos. With practice, you'll eventually start creating your own Scat solos! Remember - Scat singing is NOT about perfection. It's about getting into the groove and being creative. So, don't let Scat singing scare you or make you feel silly. Instead, start SCOODOOTIN' your way to Scatting success!
ALCOHOL. You may know that it has some not-so-great effects on the voice, particularly the night before a big performance. But not all drinks are created equal! If you find yourself in a situation where drinking simply can't be avoided, opt for white wine. Wine is generally less harsh on the vocal apparatus than beer or hard liquor. Red wine, though high in antioxidants, contains tannins that can irritate the soft tissue in the vocal tract. If you do choose to indulge, remember to compensate with extra water to counteract your drink's diuretic effects. Keep in mind that all forms of alcohol contribute to dehydration and acid reflux. But, with moderation and care, you should be able to enjoy a drink or two without ever worrying about your voice!
Comedy songs can be particularly difficult to find for theatre auditions. Yet, they are very often needed. In your search, don't forget about juxtaposing character, song, and style. Maybe Kermit sings "Don't Cry Out Loud". Or, try a Christina Aguilera-esque pop version of "My Favorite Things". Or, a cowboy sings an opera aria with country twang. These choices can certainly be tough to pull off. But, if it's the right role or circumstance, these contrasts can be just the thing to get the laughs and win the role! While you should always be judicious in making bold audition choices, don't forget to think outside the box with juxtaposing character, song, and style! With this approach, nobody else will have comedic material like yours!
Can GOOD posture be the enemy of free and easy singing? Well, sometimes yes. Beautiful, tall posture is obviously fantastic for the voice. Yet, sometimes sitting or even slouching can be surprisingly helpful in unlocking new levels of freedom. Our postural muscles help us stand and walk upright. These include the Sternocleidomastoid, trapezius, lumbars, hip adductors, and hip extensors. These muscles are in continuous use to some degree and have a tendency to become too tight. Nobody ever complains that their lower back is too loose, do they? So, when you're feeling locked vocally, try a different stance. Lean on a doorway, sit down, lay down, or just lean to the left or right. The redistribution in tension could unlock your next vocal breakthrough!
Many singers wish to work on HARMONIZING. However, it can be difficult to learn to Harmonize just by singing along with songs on the radio. One helpful and fun exercise is to record yourself singing four SATB vocal parts and stacking the Harmonies. Not only will this challenge your Harmony and musical skills, but it will exercise different vocal registers in which you may not commonly sing. Plus, it's always delightful to hear yourself singing four parts at once! If you're new to singing Harmonies, try singing the same vocal line in different octaves first. From there, try finding harmonies that are intervals of a 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th away from the melody. Soon you'll enjoy all the benefits of becoming a one-person Choir!
GRACE Notes are often what separates good Riffers from GREAT Riffers. A Grace Note is a tiny passing note either just above or just below a sung pitch. It goes by so quickly that it barely counts as a note. It's quite similar to a pull-off or hammer note on a guitar. The primary note that is played or sung is very dominant. However, there's also a teeny tiny "graceful" note that leads into the dominant pitch. Beginning Riffers can often achieve the primary notes of a Riff, but fail to hear or perform the Grace Notes. If you can learn to do them, though, your Pop/Rock/R&B Riffing will become more detailed. But, you'll also become the kind of Riffer that causes people to ask: "how do you DO that?!". Just tell them it's all by GRACE!
Think of your larynx like an elevator. How many levels does it stop at? Maybe you feel like it has two stops: up and down. Maybe there are three: up, down, and neutral. What if there were four? Five? Ten? There are no physical limits to how many levels you can imagine this larynx elevator stopping at. Try to visualize as many as are helpful or useful to you in developing new sounds and greater control. If you're struggling with larynx position in a song, experiment with adding a few levels to your elevator or taking a few away. Or, maybe you've been jumping levels - not moving smoothly from one level to the next. Experiment with these visualizations until you arrive at where your voice feels freest! Next stop - vocal control!