"Newtworking" or "Schmoozing" are key parts of building connections and contacts within the entertainment industry. These things often have a negative connotation because they seem to imply that you have ulterior motives. That is, that you are falsely cozying up to someone for your own benefit. But, it actually should never be that way! Instead, successful Networking can best be thought of as a sincere desire to connect with and help others. If you consider your relationships from that perspective, it can be a VERY fulfilling and effective experience. As Zig Ziglar often said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want".
What is STACCATO? Staccato is a musical term that means, "with QUICK, sharp sounds or movements". You've probably heard singers and instrumentalists use Staccato as a stylist or expressive tool. But, it also has amazing applications for improving Vocal Technique! Staccato assists with vocal fold looseness, agility, pitch precision, and vibrato. One way to practice Staccato is to repeatedly speak or sing the word, :HA" like a panting puppy. It is helpful to accentuate the letter "H" with each sound you make. This consonant helps loosen the vocal folds and ensures that each note will come in free from tension and hopefully with great precision. Practicing Staccato will build surprising new skills for your singing...real QUICK!
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 singing. Physically, the body and breath lock up when we listen really hard for things. Mentally, we get into a judgmental, critical, and analytical mindset when we listen really hard to ourselves. Singers who listen too hard to themselves often sound contrived, planned, and stiff as well. Instead of listening, try TRUSTING your ears. Trust your body, breath, and resonance too. Your audience will do the listening! You can do the Trusting!
"Don't sweat the TECHNIQUE!" There's a huge difference between TECHNIQUE exercises and vocal WARMUPS. A warmup is something you might do for 5-10 minutes before a performance, an audition, or even a practice session. However, technique exercises are specifically designed vocal workouts that help to build strength, flexibility, coordination, stamina, resonance, agility, and tone. Too many singers never achieve the results they are hoping for because they don't see the point of doing "warmups". Yet, when this happens, they have sadly missed the point entirely by mistaking valuable technique practice for mere "warmups". Don't just warm up and then sing songs. Make sure you've also got focused daily technique exercises that allow you to become the singer you want to be. For the bests results and fatsest progress with your singing, study with a technique coach and don't sweat the "TECHNIQUE!"
Style vs Tecnhique. What's the difference? STYLE is the distinctive musical, dramatic, and emotional choices used to express a song or phrase. TECHNIQUE is the practiced muscular coordinations, physical control, and vocal skill sets that free signers to express themselves in one or many styles. So why do we separate them? Focusing on Style without awareness of Technique is like an athlete focusing on game strategy without working on the fitness and athleticism needed to compete. Ignoring style, though, is like an athlete who never leaves the gym to actually play the sport. When practicing, consciously link the technique you are working on to the stylistic effects you want to produce. This winning strategy is what makes the most difficult singing look and feel easy!
One of the most important aspects of being an Artist is LISTENING. First, you must listen to your own voice- not just your singing voice, but your INNER voice. The voice that guides your taste, choices, decisions, and ultimately, your path. Second, you must listen to the voice of your TEACHERS and mentors. It is unwise to try to tackle singing completely alone. It's a communal art, and you should find a set of ears that you can trust to help you grow. Lastly, you must listen to the voices that DISAGREE with you-those that give thoughtful (not mean, negative, or hurtful) critique. Have the toughness to listen objectively. True critique can be difficult to hear, but it's crucial to growth. Be willing to listen to yourself, your mentors, and your critics-you'll have no choice but to become a True Artist!
Many times singers OBSESS over which register they are using. Is it "Head Voice"? Is it "Chest"? Is it "Chest Dominant Mix"? WHAT IS IT?! Don't let fancy vocal concepts intimidate you. Vocal Registers boil down to variances in breath flow, vocal cord closure, and resonance. There are actually an INFINITE amount of register possibilities. It's indeed very helpful to use labels like "Chest", and "Mix". But, be careful that you don't obsess about these labels! Many different schools, teachers, and vocalists use different terminology. In fact, you can actually make up your own labels: This is my "Comfy Cozy Power Register". Or, this is my "Floaty Flexible Resonating Register". If it helps you to understand your voice- Use it!
Did you know that pianos are not technically "in tune"? According to the laws of Acoustics, the intervals that we know and love-octaves, fifths, thirds, etc., should all be a little closer together than they are. Instruments used to be tuned this way in the past. But, because the mathematics of acoustics are based on one particular "root" note, you would only be able to play your instrument in the key of that root note, you would only be able to play your instrument in the key of that root note without everything sounding strange. In the 18th century, the music community decided to shift to an equal tempered or well-tempered scale, compromising each interval a little bit so that musicians could play in any key without re-tuning their whole instrument. So, if you're struggling with your tuning while you sing, just remember that the piano is too!
Your body is a Wonderland...of RESONANCE! Try to feel your resonance as you sing with different components of your voice. Place your hands on your chest and feel the vibrations when you sing with a strong Chest Voice. Switch register to Head Voice and place a hand on the back of your head. You will likely feel some vibrations there as your move to the upper part of your voice. Next, place your fingers on the front of your nose and try an M, N, or NG. You should now feel the vibrations move to the nose and the front of your face. As a singer, it's much more important to understand how your voice FEELS than how it sounds. Let US appreciate the beauty of your sound. You can just focus on your body. After all, it's a Wonderland!
A speaking voice is considered to be pleasant when it is warm, full, and RESONANT. Since Resonance is determined by the shape of our head, mouth, and face, we need to learn to work with what we've got. Experiment with directing the air into the THREE reverberating cavities in your head. ONE- your oral cavity (mouth),TWO-your nasal cavity (nose), and THREE- your pharyngeal cavity (back of the throat). By taking away and adding any of the three, you will probably discover how many recognizable entertainers create their signature voices. But , to sound the most like yourself, you'll want a balanced combination of all three resonant spaces. Use what you've been given!