Category: Breathing

Vocal Coach's Pick: Essentials Set

Coach's Pick: Vocal Coach Essentials Set

Need to kickstart your vocal training? The Vocal Coach Essentials Package is just for you.

Ever wonder how to actually get started with your vocal training, or in some cases re-start it? The reason for the question is all the singers I hear from who passionately want to sing but can’t quite put their fingers on the first step. To make that easier we’ve put together the Vocal Coach Essentials. I chose 4 training CD’s from our collection that I feel will best get you on the road to better voice control. We also threw in a bonus workout CD called Vocal Coach Styles which takes a well-know song and lets you experiment with it in 8 different musical styles. It’s extremely fun and may open some new options in your singing.

What Elements Of Singing Need To Be There Every Time?

That’s the question I tried to answer with Essentials Set. Here is what you will learn:

  1. Breath control is where it starts. If there’s no breath there’s no sound. And if there’s too much breath it can strain and wear out the voice not to mention make you run out of breath early.
  2. Tone is the sound of your voice, and no matter what your style there are right (efficient) and wrong (inefficient) ways to get that sound. You will learn how to get more sound with less work.
  3. If you’re the only one who knows what your song is about because of lazy diction you’re not going to get the message across. Our Complete Diction CD is famous for it’s thorough and practical approach. Just as with breathing, with diction you don’t want too much, or too little, and finding “just right” is easy once you know what to look for, and actually easier on your voice.
  4. Having great breathing, tone and diction is good, but if you look bored or scared or are not fully engaged with your audience you’re missing it. The steps to owning and expressing a song are clearly laid out in the Complete Performance CD. It’s the icing on the cake.

In addition to the above you’ll learn other critical skills like how to have a successful sound check, smart microphone technique, how to choose songs that work for you and much, much more. All things that every singer needs to know.

How To Best Use Vocal Coach Essentials

Because the sound of the voice is based on mechanics and acoustics it’s best to start with Complete Breathing. And, don’t be in a rush to blast through it. Listen to the training sections until you understand the principles, then do the fun, and often funny exercises anytime you can. In the car, taking a walk… any time you can. The more focused time you spend with these exercises the faster it becomes part of who you are. You will want to come back to this CD and will use the exercises for years to come.

Once the breathing is becoming more natural spend some time with the Complete Tone CD. Here, just as with the breathing, take time to live with a little and let the exercises help you discover your best and freest sound. It’s exciting, and will impact your speaking as well as singing.

I’m Here to Help

If you have any questions along the way, visit my Blog where you can browse various vocal topics that I’ve addressed, and if you don’t find the answer to your question, just type it into the form in the sidebar. I love to hear from all my students and will gladly help you along your way.

Learn More about Vocal Coach Essentials

Lift hands for better posture

Lift Your Hands

Nick discovered that his voice tone improves when he lifts his hands above his head. Why is that? Well, read on and I’ll tell you.

Your Question

I have a question regarding the resonance of the voice. When I am raising my arms above my head (e.g. like when I prepare to dive in a swimming pool) my voice becomes very clear with a full resonant sound with easy high notes. When I bring my hands back to normal my voice is not so clear and I push for high notes. What is happening when I raised my arms? How can I achieve the same vocal result with arms in normal position?

My Answer

What a great question, Nick. Without seeing/hearing a video of what you describe I will take a stab at what I think is happening. Basically, lifting the arms all but guarantees efficient posture and breathing, which in turn set the stage for good tone and easy access to the upper register.

I use this position with students regularly to help them build muscle memory. The other concept I use is to find a tray or similar prop. Then, imagine you are serving a very formal meal and holding a tray of very high end food. You should have almost the same posture as with lifted arms. Elbows will be out to the sides and the thoracic cavity (chest/ribs) will be still and wonderfully expanded.

I have one student who is a competitive table tennis player. I have him squat as if about to receive a serve. Again, he is in an athletic, alert balanced position even though bent from the waist.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Let me know if this helps. I’m curious. And if you’d like to confirm my suspicion, a quick Vocal Coach Voice Assessment would let me see you and, well, assess the situation.

Anyone else have any tricks to force your body into proper posture? Let me know in the comments.

Singing to the Back Row

This weeks question comes from Eli, who is wondering about the concept of “singing to the balcony” and how that might affect a singer’s posture. Naturally, I have some thoughts on that. Read on to see what they are.

Your Question

Chris, In your teaching about singing posture, you teach that the back of the neck should feel longer while the front of the neck should feel shorter. Lately I’ve read and have watched operatic tenors who do the opposite. Italian tenors, in particular, seem to raise the front of their necks (chins) upward, particularly when singing high notes. I heard some other operatic singers say to always sing to the second balcony which would mean raising the chin upward. What’s your opinion of their thoughts? Thank you very much.

My Answer

Thanks so much for your thoughtful question, Eli. Here are my thoughts:

Operatic singers can afford to be a bit stiffer than pop or Broadway singers. But, even so, lifting the head for higher notes and lowering it for lower notes doesn’t offer any physiological benefit. In fact, in my studies, it interferes. But more to the point, here is what I teach. And in considering my answer please remember that my background includes extensive classical experience in many languages as well as in oratorio and opera. Carole and I have traveled the world as I taught and sang. Admittedly, however, I do live more in the contemporary world these days. So…

  1. The “Long back of neck and shorter front of neck” is intended to prevent the Goose-necking that so many singers do. They stick the chin out (forward) and up—inhibiting air flow and a free larynx. By eliminating this dangerous position it opens the doors to complete freedom. When the head is balanced back over the shoulders it can ultimately be rotated up, down, left or right still with complete “freedom.”
  2. Tying a fixed posture to a certain range is limiting.
  3. The best opera singers I know can sing the same note looking at the sky or the floor and still get the job done.
  4. “Sing to the 2nd balcony” is the same concept as “sing to the guy in the last row.” That’s fine as long as you don’t push, unnaturally, or skip connecting with row 1 and all the way back. The idea is to get singers to think out beyond themselves, which I get, but the fact is we need to connect to every person from row 1 to 99. Every row needs to feel we are looking at and singing to them. And to that end, I include performance coaching as integral to any complete voice training.

There is a lot of information out there about how to sing. Sometimes it conflicts, and then sometimes it seems to conflict, but actually doesn’t. This is a case of the latter where on the surface, “Singing to the Back Row” seems to be addressing Posture, but is really a performance issue. If any of you get some confusing information on your journey to become a better singer, I’d be glad to clear it up for you. Just ask!