Freya’s Singing Tips – The Podcast
It’s all about helping you find the awesomeness in your voice!
What is belting? How do you achieve it? What about doing it in a healthy and sustainable way? You may have experiemented on your own and hit a wall you just can't break through. You've been wanting to sing higher and louder, but you keep getting hoarse after having a sensation of roughness in your throat that makes you cough. Maybe you've just been scared to even try, because you keep breaking into head voice as you try to sing higher, but you want that pop sound without the headiness.
These are all very common problems, and in this week's podcast episode I talk to Chris Johnson and Steve Giles of "The Naked Vocalist" about the science behind belting and how to achieve the sound you desire without damaging your vocal cords.
Check out their website at http://www.thenakedvocalist.com/ for more awesome singing science and practical advice.
The hardest thing is to get started... that also goes for starting a pitch. How do you attack it in a way that allows you to stay in full control of your voice, even if you want to hit that really high pitch. And how do you end that last pitch without it sounding like it's dying a painful death?
It's all about the way to approach the onset and offset.
Don't underestimate how much you can learn by just listening more attentively. While you don't want to copy any other singer, you can learn a great deal by beginning to notice the intricate details of another singer's technique and interpretation style. When you begin noticing when and how they breathe, what register they sing in, when and how they switch registers, when they make dynamic changes, and so on - you will begin comparing your way to theirs and may try out new things while staying true to your own voice's nature.
Become a teacher who gets creative by coming up with ideas of doing it differently - there's never just one way to do it!
Although there are a lot of resources on the internet that can educate you about your voice and how it works - such as video tutorials, podcasts, articles, online courses - there's nothing like having an actual coach who can show you exercises and ways to improve your voice that are tailored to your very specific needs.
Since ever singer's voice and personality are so different, there's usually a different solution to similar problems from singer to singer.
Then there are the aspects of someone holding you accountable and singing in front of an actual person whom you know will critique you - all very valuable to help you become more confident and aware of how others perceive you.
Wouldn't it be great to have a voice that works just as well as it did when you were at your peak for the rest of your life? Surely you've heard many famous singers who have had major vocal problems, nodules, vocal cord ruptures and the like. These horror stories make you want to shut up in fear of the possibility of doing permanent harm to your vocal cords.
While you do need to be careful, there's no need to become overly paranoid. The most important skill you can learn is to be very much in touch with your voice and body, so you can interpret and understand the small subtle signs and signals your body sends you.
We just had an awesome 10-Day Belting Challenge in my Facebook Group "Master Your Voice", during which I showed exercises and gave a lot of tips and background knowledge about healthy belting.
There have been some common issues that seem to present problems to a lot of singers, such as knowing at every point in time what register you're in - chest voice or head voice - and how to transition between the two. We answered the question what mixed voice is and how high you may be able to sing in chest voice depending on your voice type.
Do you know what voice type you are? If you've ever been in a choir, you've probably been singing one of the four basic voice types: soprano, alto, tenor, or bass.
But if you have always believed that your vocal range alone determindes our voice type, you will need to learn that there's so much more to it.
Your timbre, voice color, agility, and comfortable tessitura play an important role, as well as your expressiveness.
Most importantly, don't put yourself in a box, since voice types can change over the course of a lifetime. You may start out a soprano and morph into a mezzo as you get older.
It seems to be the case that many singers are great vocalists, but don't have a lot of musical training per se, and thus have some issues when it comes to the more technical side of basic musicianship, for instance timing.
Since timing isn't only important when you practice on your own, but especially crucial when you are part of an ensemble - choir or band - it's one of the skills you must work on continually in order to perform at your best. Because, let's face it: even if you have a perfect voice - if the timing is off and you just come in on the wrong count, this will be your most limiting factor of putting on a great performance.
I don't think I've had a lot of students who did not have some issues with head voice. Either it's hard to get into head voice, or it's hard to get out of head voice. Then there are the transitions between head voice and chest voice, the different spaces when singing more classical or popular music, and expanding the range to the top. Whatever the case may be, head voice is an important part of your voice and should not be neglected. Just like strength training for a muscle should not happen without also stretching, it's important that you train your voice on both ends of the spectrum on a regular basis, both high and low.
Only then will you achieve maximum flexibility, strength and accuracy - and that's what every singer needs to be working on throughout their singing career. There are some facts I want you to be aware of so you can be the master of your head voice, and not let it dictate what you can and cannot sing!
In a singer's life, there are always times when there are a lot of rehearsals going on, presenting the problem that we only have limited endurance as far as our vocal cords are concerned. Especially when you're part of a big production that includes other singers, a band or orchestra, costumes, staging, acting, props, lighting, etc., you can't always sing through all of these rehearsals with full voice.
Since it is very common for rehearsals to get long and stressful the closer to show time you get, it's especially important to save your voice from too much strain, since you want to be your best come opening night. The best way to save your voice is to mark whenever it isn't mandatory for you to sing out fully. For instance, when there is a rehearsal just for the lighting designer so he or she can try out lighting scenarios, your voice isn't the most important aspect. The lighting designer needs you to follow the stage director's directions to make sure you are in the right place at the right time. On the other hand, you WILL have to sing out in your full voice when the sound engeneer wants to do a sound check.
Marking means taking the most strenuous parts of a musical number and transforming it into an easier version. That includes jumping back and forth between octaves, as well as just taking some of the volume out, while always keeping great support and posture.
Everybody has dreams, but there are things that we keep holding on to throughout our lives, which also give us the feeling of great fulfillment, and the thought of not fulfilling that specific dream leaves us feeling sad and disappointed.
If you have ever dreamed about becoming a singer and actually making money with your talent, you may have had people around you who were not very understanding and supportive, because they think this dream of yours is too lofty, and that you should have a "real" job.
I have been writing songs since I was a six years old, and I would like to share with you some possible strategies on how a great song can be created.
It's one of the best feelings in the world to listen to your song after it's fully produced, knowing you've left some kind of legacy to the world. Songs are like ships you send out into the world, and they can take on a life of their own, especially when you're not the only one singing them, but when others perform them.
Tone quality seems to be an issue that no singer ever closes the book on. It's an ever-ongoing process to work on your tone and voice colors.
There are several elements that all influence the quality of your tone, so it's the subtleties that can make a big difference. It will take a lot of practice to notice the minute details in your voice and how they change when you do different things, such as opening your throat or relaxing your jaw and neck.
Being on stage and performing for your audience is the most awesome and rewarding feeling in the world, but when you have long and demanding gigs, it's all a matter of singing the smart way so you can make it through without killing your voice.
Over the years, I have learned a few tricks how to save my voice while still performing at my best. Not only do you want to keep your voice healthy over the course of the gig, but also for the rest of your life, since singers never retire 🙂
Doesn't every singer want to find more ease in their voice? That's definitely always been my goal, and I always keep working on getting closer to tha ultimate ease with just the right amount of tension in exactly the right places, so my tones just float out of my mouth.
Dr. Tim Seelig isn't only one of the most knowledgable voice teachers and choir directors I have ever met, he is also very approachable and always happy to help other singers who have a genuine interest in finding their natural voice.
His calmness in directing a choir always impressed me, and I believe, as singers we should all learn to find that calmness that grounds us and helps us keep our voices fresh and plyable. That's also the prerequisite for a healthy voice that will continue to sound beautiful for many years to come.
Links mentioned in the show:
Video "Dr. Tim Seelig's Vocal Folds". This is very educational.
Dr. Gould's Gargle recipe:
Inhale steam for 2-3 minutes before using the gargle. Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon clear Karo Syrup, and 6 oz. of warm water. Gargle and don't eat or dring for 20-30 minutes after gargling.
Check out the YouTube channel of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus: Watch here! They're amazing!!!
Tim's Website: www.timseelig.com/
I'm sure you have struggled with this, too: you can hit that pitch, but somehow it just doesn't have the right sound, it doesn't resonate, it doesn't travel, it has no character, it just doesn't sound effortless, has no ping, and is hard to hold.
Did you know you can produce a million different voice colors even just on that one pitch? The fascinating thing about the human voice is that there's so much you can adjust: the larynx, the pharynx, the tongue, the soft palate, vocal cords, registers... it gives you an endless palette to paint sounds with.
The difficulties come in knowing how to access all those small parts of your body in order to control what direction your sound will take. In this episode, I show you some exercises that will help you utilize all these parts of your vocal tract so that you will find much more ease and gain more control in your tone quality.
What sets you apart from other singers who have a great voice? What is it that will make your audience come back from more to where they literally can't get enough of you?
Let me just say that playing it safe isn't the thing that's going to help you to rock the stage. It takes many components for you to really hit home with your audience, and making it stick after the gig is over is a key ingredient of turning the occasional visitor into a raving fan.
Going deeper on an emotional level may be one of the hardest objective, but it's the one that you as a performer will have to work on for the rest of your life. In this episode, I go deep into some practical issues that you can work on in order to master the art of being a true artist, not just a pretty voice.
Increasing your range will make it so much easier to sing a more varied repertoire, since you won't be constrained by how many pitches you can actually sing with your voice. Here is some sound advice on how to add more pitches to your voice:
I'm sure everyone has experienced it to some extent: you have dreams, a passion for something, a burning desire that brings you incredible joy in life. And yet - doubts creep in telling you that you're not cut out to achieve any of your big lofty goals, giving you the feeling of being an impostor, and finally you give up. After all, who are you to think you're actually good enough to achieve those goals.
You want to be a professional singer? I can't tell you how much doubt there was creeping up inside of me at the beginning of my singing career. I clearly had talent, but I simply couldn't come to terms with the fact that anyone actually really wanted to listen to me, that someone would actually pay me money to sing. It took years to get over this lingering impostor syndrome.
With his book "The Voice of Your Dreams", Aaron Anastasi dives deep into the mind issues we all have when it comes to the desire to fulfil our biggest dreams. It's a most valuable resource for anyone who is serious about achieving their goal to become the best singer they can possibly be. His story about how he developed from a singer who basically sucked into a touring artist who made a living off music and a successful vocal coach who has built a six-figure business with his online singing courses, is incredibly inspiring.
Listen to the wonderful interview I had with him:
You know that you need support when you sing! But why does it matter so much? In my life as a professional singer, I come across situations agan and again when I don't just feel my ab muscles, but I literally am sore as if I had just done 500 situps. This proves to me how important support actually is and that you actually need a lot of physical stamina and strength to sing demanding repertoire. Otherwise, you will most likely put all of that pressure on your vocal cords and damage them over time. Since your vocal cords are an extremely delicate muscle, it's a good idea to save them from too much strain, and instead put that strain on your abdominatl muscles.
Listen to the full episode to find out more about why support matters so much.
It's one of the big battles every singer fights: transitions between the registers, also called the passaggio. It's that area in your voice where it sometimes feels like there's a hole in your vocal cords and they can't decide how to sing that pitch. Since Brad has made the transition from baritone to tenor, he knows a lot about the battle with the passaggio and how to win it. Listen to this episode to get some great advice about transitions and what the passaggio is anyway. Find Brad on the web at http://www.bradraymondtenor.com/.
Shannon is a wonderful singer and dear colleague of mine. She has been a professional singer for many years, touring and performing in musical theater productions.
She talks about the importance of putting in the work and how she found the most efficient way to warm up her voice in order to keep it fresh and working well under the demands of touring and performing.
Since every voice is uniquely different, every singer has to find his or her own perfect warm-up routine. For some, it may include some yoga, for others it's all about arpeggios. The fact is that you need to take good care of your instruments to grant its longevity.
We also talk about the issue of singers singing in more than one genre, i.e. classical and modern. It it possible?
You will absolutely enjoy the interview with Shannon, as she has some great insights and tips.
Have you always dreamed of becoming a professional singer and making a living with your voice?
So, what does it actually take for you do make your dreams come true? The truth of the matter is that it's just plain hard work and lots of practice, practice, practice, and patience, patience, and even more patience!