Improve with IMPROV! One of the best things you can do to improve your vocal and performance skills is to take a few classes in Improvisational Comedy. Whether you're interested in singing, acting, or better speech - Improv is an amazing tool. In this discipline, you learn to listen and react in entirely new ways. Your Improv success lies in your ability to listen carefully and then let your voice and body LIVE in the moment. You must not overthink, hesitate, or plan. Instead, you must react spontaneously! Many singers and performers focus on great vocal technique, but lack spontaneous creativity with their musical, acting, and performance choices. Even a few basic courses in Improv can help you to be more comfortable outside your comfort zone!
Let the Larynx do it's thing! Many times our bodies know what to do without us getting in the way. When we sing high notes our vocal folds usually need to do three things: 1. STRETCH 2. CONNECT 3. BALANCE breath pressure. When these three things happen, the Larynx TILTS for high notes. The Larynx knows how to do this naturally, but we tend to interfere by raising the Larynx, squeezing the vocal cords, or pushing the breath. There are few things in life more glorious than an intelligent singer. However, sometimes are our brains can get in the way of the amazing tasks that our bodies can do naturally. So, next time you go for those high notes: Let your larynx do it's thing!
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 know your voice!
Ever try breathing with a "360-Degree Breath"? We usually think about breathing in and out. But what about side-to-side and front-to-back? Try it! Place one of your hands on your side at the base your ribcage and the other hand on your belly right below the sternum. Inhale and think of breathing downwards and outwards. Did you feel your ribcage expand? Did you feel your stomach expand? Excellent! If you felt your chest rise â€" try it again. Expanding 360 Degrees allows our inhalation to be performed with the most efficient musculature. In turn, this sets up our exhalation and our singing for the broadest range of possibilities. All the way â€˜round!
Every singer works on improving their RESONANCE. The Pharynx is the voice's primary resonator. It's divided into 3 sections. There's the LaryngoPharynx (Larynx space), OroPharynx (Mouth space), and NasoPharynx (Nasal space). Lowering the LARYNX increases the darker Resonances of the voice. Raising the Larynx makes the sound brighter. Opening the MOUTH makes the sound appear stronger. A narrow or neutral mouth position increases Head Resonance and often the beauty of the tone. NASAL Resonance is added when the soft palate is lowered. This provides flexibility to the voice and assists with vocal placement. All these important Resonance adjustments take place in the 3 sections of the Pharynx. There's so much great singing going on in the back of your mouth!
Atten…TION! Standing at attention with "perfect" posture can conjure images of rigid, tight muscles constricted in a frozen state - not the ideal conditions for singing. Great singing requires "tension" to be sure, but tension that's supple and ready to move. Imagine your singing posture NOT as a "set" position, but instead as a combination of energies moving in opposing directions. For instance, let your spine have an upward momentum out of the crown of your head AND a downward motion into the floor. Or, keep your ribcage and abdomen expansive AND free to move inward. Keeping your posture at ease AND intentionally in motion will help keep your singing free and agile. Don't let your posture command a tension. Let it command Attention!
Get in a good RELATIONSHIP… with the Composer! Often as artists, we're very focussed on bringing our own unique sound and interpretation to a piece of music. However, in the process of trying to offer our own artistry, we often forget how much has already been done for us. Why did the composer write this song? Why were these specific notes, intervals, and rhythms chosen? Why did the lyrics have to be these lyrics and not something else? Remember that composers are gifted and soulful artists just like you. When you consider what THEIR soul is saying in the song, then go back and add what YOUR soul wants to say. Your solos will have DOUBLE the artistic potency! You'll even find that your craft feels a lot easier whenever you're singing these divine duets. Two is better than one!
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!
Do you have EYE TENSION when you perform? It sounds silly because we often only think about things like jaw, neck, and tongue tension. Yet, have you ever seen singers performing and looking like ZOMBIES or deer caught in the headlights? These are singers who have not freed their gaze and allowed us to see into those proverbial "windows to the soul". Luckily, It's an easy fix! Don't think so hard about how you sound or how you look. These thoughts will cause your eyes to lock up. Instead, simply SEE the room you are in when you sing. Take in the objects and experience the environment visually and naturally. This focus takes the pressure off of you and instantly makes you look more "at home" during your performance. You've done all the work. Now it's time to SEE and to BE!
Practice makes perfect. Sure. But, it can also drive you NUTS! There are so many technical, stylistic, and musical elements to focus on - it's not always easy to know what to do next. Or, perhaps you end up practicing only the things you do well. Creating a Practice Plan can save a lot of time and frustration. First, figure how frequently you can practice and for how long. Vocal Practice doesn't need to be long to be efficient. Even 15 or 20-minute increments can help you maintain focus and manage your time more effectively. Try labelling these increments with what you want to use the time for: "Resonance", "Agility", "Range", "Songwork", etc. This will be time better spent than an hour of unfocused energy and scattered objectives. Make a plan that helps your singing progress like it should!