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 of 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!
What does it mean to make ACTIVE Acting Choices in a song? It means seeking what you can PLAY, before seeking what you can FEEL. Take the song “Yesterday” by The Beatles. “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they’re here to stay”. It might be very tempting to seek a sad or nostalgic feeling about how things were “yesterday”. This might be “emotional”, but it gives you absolutely NOTHING to act. Instead, what if you looked for “yesterday” as a way to keep believing for tomorrow? What if it were a way to keep your love alive? What if it were a way to convince your love to reconsider? These choices would give you a lot of ACTIVE things to play as a singer. Approach your songwork seeking for what you can act NOW! If you don't, you'll be onstage awkwardly searching for some emotion that happened "yesterday".
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!
Become more agile with your WORDS! Plenty of songs, from classic comedic patter songs to high-speed rapping, go through a lot of words very quickly. The key to performing these songs well is good Diction: making sure your words are clear and can be understood. You can practice your Diction slowly and carefully to be sure you’re articulating well and not glossing over any syllables that make what you’re saying hard to understand. Then, once you turn up the speed, LIGHTEN your touch! Keep your accuracy and clarity, but use less force as you go from consonant to consonant. Limit excessive movement of your tongue, lips, and jaw. Avoid tension in those areas and in your neck. A good lyricist knows how to pick words that flow naturally. So, glide gracefully and nimbly through your lyrics as you become agile with your WORDS!
The Larynx is an extraordinary structure capable of making nearly an infinite amount of sounds! Yet sometimes we find it necessary to use other parts of our body to make sound instead of letting the Larynx do its job. We force too much air out, we tense our neck muscles, we raise our shoulders, we jut our jaws, we raise our eyebrows…the list goes on! Allow your Larynx to do the work it was meant to do! Take note of your body as you sing. Are you recruiting extraneous muscles to do the job of the Larynx? During your next practice, try your exercises or songs using as little movement of extraneous muscles as you can. Once the Larynx proves it can do all the work it was designed to do, then stylistic elements can be added. But, as for your vocal technique, you'll have found the right one for the job!
FREESTYLE your style! Feeling uninspired with the song you’ve been singing? Try changing styles. PLAY! Approach an R&B ballad like a Country song. Try a Classical art song as a Pop tune. Sing a simple Folk tune with your best Gospel belt. Go as far as you can! Be silly even! Or draw some inspiration from imitating another singer - How would Justin Bieber sing a Sam Smith song? How would Jennifer Hudson sing an Ed Sheeran song? Playfulness leads to creativity, and creativity is a great goal for expanding your vocal artistry. After experimenting, return again to your primary style. You’ll be surprised how effortless it is to incorporate the discoveries you made while FREESTYLING in other styles!
What’s your FAVORITE Vowel? Chances are, when you vocalize, you feel like a CHAMP on certain Vowels when you sing High Notes. Odds are - those MAGIC Vowels are “EE” as in “Geese” or “OO” as in “Choose”. There's an explanation for this! "EE" and "OO" are what are known as Closed Vowels. Closed Vowels employ more Head Voice than Chest Voice. This makes it easier to sing higher. Most likely you find a wide Open Vowel like “AH” as in “MAMA” much more difficult to sing on higher notes. That’s because without modification, Open Vowels employ too much Chest Voice to be sung at too high of a pitch. If you struggle with this, try closing the “AH” to an “AW” as in “Hawk”, or “AHWN” as in “Honk” to make your "AH" more High Note-friendly. Soon, you'll be welcoming Open Vowels into the ranks as some of your new FAVORITE vowels!
When acting a song, remember to SAY your words! This may sound silly or obvious, but try speaking the lyrics of a song you love to sing and you'll quickly notice how unnatural some of the speech patterns become. Every word is part of a sentence, even though this isn’t always obvious in the rhythms of a song. That’s why it can be easy to neglect these inflections and phrasings when we're caught up in a soaring melody or a fun groove. As you work through a new song, practice SPEAKING the lyrics. Really make sure that the meaning of your sentence remains honest even as you return to the rhythm of the song. Follow the WORDS to your destiny of beautifully acted songs!