"Am I too old to sing?". This is a question asked by 17-year olds. This is a question asked by 30-year olds. It's asked by 50-years olds. And, by 70-year olds. But, if it's a question that virtually everyone seems to ask themselves, then there's something wrong with the question. Singing is meant for all to enjoy and to succeed at regardless of their age. It's actually quite reasonable to sing into one's NINETIES very beautifully! Often society puts pressure and expectations on people of all ages regarding what they "can" or "cannot" do. So, you have two options. You can listen to those pressures and stay silent. Or, you can dare to "Make A Joyful Noise!". If you do, it will keep you forever YOUNG!
How do your notes END? The way we finish our phrases is called an OFFSET. Offsets can often affect the rest of the phrase more than we think. Are you holding the note as long as it's supposed to be held? Are you holding it TOO long? Notice the qualities of your Offset. Does the note get softer and fade out? Maybe you flip registers or your vowels get rounder as you reach the end of your phrase. Alternatively, maybe the notes get cut off sharply with a little kick of breath. All of these qualities are just fine if used in the right contexts. However, if you find yourself struggling with a particular song or phrase, pay attention to how the phrase ends. The problem may be hiding there. As a wise man once said - all's well that ENDS well!
The change in seasons can wreak havoc on the singing voice. Many singing journeys are plagued with colds, congestion, and sore throats. To combat these symptoms, make sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day. At night, try sleeping with a cool mist ultrasonic humidifier during the fall and winter months. Place the humidifier close to your bed. This will make a significant difference in minimizing dry throat symptoms and is also great for your skin. Stay hydrated, stay humidified, and get your vocal beauty sleep. The weather may be getting colder, but no cold can stop your best singing from happening in any season!
If a song isn't right for you, find out WHY. Many of us have songs in our books that we love to sing, but that teachers or casting directors say "just aren't right for you." When this happens, be sure to ask your listeners WHAT about the song makes them feel that way. Is the problem technical: the song highlights an uncomfortable part of your voice or doesn't allow you to show off your best vocal skills? Maybe it's emotional: the song may seem downtrodden when your natural energy is more buoyant. Or, perhaps the song has a worldliness that your innocence seems to work against. However true or false this feedback may feel to your personal instincts, it can help you learn a lot about yourself as a performer and guide you to material that absolutely IS right for you!
Struggling with tension on a difficult phrase of a song? Try looking at the BIG PICTURE! We often get hung up on all the little parts of a difficult phrase: so many words, so many notes, so many leaps... it can feel very overwhelming! Try shifting your focus to the full ARC instead. What is the contour or shape of the phrase from start to finish? Does it end higher or lower than where it began? What is the meaning of the full sentence you are singing? Following BIGGER ideas in your mind while you sing helps you flow through the little details that are often much easier than they seem focusing full attention on them. So if you have a scary, tension-creating phrase - try stepping back and looking at the BIG PICTURE!
In the female voice, there is a major Passaggio (or transition) that occurs between D5-G5. Males sing these notes less often, but will also will notice the same phenomenon these pitches. At this part of the voice, singers usually benefit from a slight opening of the mouth if they are seeking a stronger sound. This opening aids the strength of First Formant (F1) resonance. Either a slight jaw opening or a small widening of the lips typically helps this resonance to intensify. In general, we don't want to open up the mouth or spread the lips to sing higher notes. Instead, we should learn to sing them with a neutral mouth first. But, if you're seeking more power through this particular Passaggio, try letting Acoustics work for you!
"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 dimininish, 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!
Are you LISTENING to yourself when you sing? If so, then STOP! "Wait. What?!" Yes. It's true! You can't LISTEN to yourself and sing well at the same time. This doesn't mean to sing off-key or to throw pitch and musicality out the window. It means that listening to ourselves puts us in a physical and mental state that isn't conducive to our best sounds. Physically - the body and breath lock up when we listen really hard. Mentally - we get into a judgmental, critical, and analytical mindset when we listening really hard to ourselves. Singers who listen too hard to themselves often sound contrived, planned, and stiff. Instead of listening - try trusting your ears. Your audience will do the listening! You can do the TRUSTING!
"He's got a big voice!". "She sounds so powerful!". Think of the biggest, strongest, fullest voice you've ever heard. Now consider this: the human Larynx is only about the size of a dime or quarter! The vocal folds of an adult are 18 to 23 millimeters long - not even one inch! It's a wonder something so small can produce a huge range of sounds of all kinds: singing, laughing, shouting, crying, cheering, beat boxing, etc. So mighty is the little Larynx that it can produce sounds that can be heard over an entire orchestra. So, the next time you're feeling small and defeated as a singer - remember that the most fantastic feats are often accomplished by the littlest heroes. And the unlikeliest underdog, the strongest sounds, and the greatest victories are already inside you!
To develop your personal singing style, turn to your natural ACCENT! Different languages and dialects vary not just in vocabulary, but also in word stresses, inflections, and speaking attitudes. Southern American accents often linger on long vowels longer than standard American accents. Spanish vowels are brighter and farther forward than Russian vowels. Most Italian consonants have a lighter touch than the throatier sounds in German or Hebrew. Some cultures encourage louder speaking than others, while some regions use faster talking speeds. How do your natural tendencies make certain songs easier or more challenging? How can your accent make your approach to songs unique? Start considering how your ACCENT can inform your vocal style!