How is it POSSIBLE that one person can project their voice over a 60 piece orchestra? The Singer's Formant! The "Singer's Formant" is a set of specific resonance frequencies that allow classical singers to be heard over an orchestra. The human voice can be trained to amplify resonances that are not amplified by other instruments that carry very well. Some of the keys to finding the Singer's Formant include breath support, a lower larynx position, twang or squillo, and nasal resonance. Even if your're not a classical singer, your voice will carry far better when your resonances have been trained to the fullest. this can even be used to help the speaking voice carry over large crowds or far into the distance. So, do the IMPOSSIBLE! Use the Singer's Formant!
Every vocal journey is filled with highs and lows. It is easy to become discouraged or feel that your voice simply isn't good enough. When you find yourself singing the blues, take this self-esteem boosting challenge: write down one thing every day you LOVE about your voice or singing style! Whether it's your range, your tone, your captivating stage presence, or that one note you hit like nobody else can- there are more amazing things about your voice than you realize! Finding one positive attribute a day will keep your mind focused on your strengths rather than dwelling on your weaknesses. Never stop striving for improvement, but take time every day to appreciate the skills you already have. You will be amazed how much faster you grow with the right attitude!
3 essential principles for a consistently healthy voice
Singers, we all have our rules, tools, and rituals. You may use a throat spray religiously or an all natural lozenge. Maybe you avoid dairy at all costs; or the real sin is coffee!
The reality is a healthy voice regimen can be a simple one. In fact, it can be so simple that when we boil this regimen down to the essentials, it may seem trivial and redundant. It isn’t.
Whether you are a beginner hobby singer or a busy, gigging professional, follow these 3 essential principles for a consistently healthy voice.
1. Sleep & Rest Well
A healthy voice can only thrive in a healthy body. In order to sing with our full capacity for expression, one must first balance rest.
Sleep plays a major role in any singer’s performance. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation increases levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Simply put, lack of sleep leads to fatigue and stress, which tends to result in excess tension and inefficient use of the voice. Stress also inhibits our ability to multitask.
Singers have to manage breath, pitch, intonation, pronunciation, style and performance simultaneously. When one is lacking sleep, multitasking all of these elements becomes exponentially harder.
Make sure you are getting a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis to prevent stress and fatigue and to encourage a sharp mind for multitasking the elements of a balanced voice.
Now, what if you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night and still feeling vocally tired? Let’s take a look at how you are practicing and how much vocal rest you are getting
Let’s say you aren’t a professional singer. You regularly study voice with a solid teacher. You practice and maybe even perform once in awhile and you are often feeling fatigued when you sing. If this is sounds like you, you could be over-practicing and/or practicing inefficiently.
When you are a beginner or intermediate and working towards a healthier balance, you are also undoing bad habits, which can quickly wear out the voice.
For beginners and intermediates, I recommend that you vocalize for only 15-30 minutes per day (if you don’t know what I mean by vocalizing, keep reading…). Practice at a medium volume and aim for accuracy of pitch, evenness in tone, and pure vowels to keep your practice sessions effective and sustainable.
Are you a busy, professional singer? Working singers are just that—busy working! And when you have to take gigs to pay the bills, it’s easy to spiral into a cycle of vocal fatigue. More often than not, professional singers become so used to a swollen and tired voice that this becomes their new normal.
To prevent this, as best as you can, choose your gigs wisely. Take opportunities in which you are:
1. developing your musicality
2. being paid fairly
3. networking with people who may contribute to you developing your musicality and/or being paid fairly!
Schedule in vocal rest days (i.e. minimal talking, no singing) so that the body can release and recover. SCHEDULE IT IN! (Right now.)
Limit yourself from talking too much before or after gigs (especially in loud clubs) to prevent further wear and tear on your voice.
If you are a busy, professional singer, you must relate to your voice as if you are a professional athlete. Pro athletes take rest days to prevent injury and to keep their bodies functioning optimally.
2. Stay Hydrated.
The vocal folds need to be lubricated with a thin layer of mucus in order to vibrate efficiently. Optimal lubrication is achieved by staying well hydrated.
Stay consistently hydrated by keeping a water bottle with you at all times. The body can only intake so much water at a time, so sipping water throughout the day is the best approach. Drink until you pee pale!
Coffee isn’t the worst thing unless you have an allergy, intolerance or sensitivity to caffeine and the corresponding dairy/soy products that tend to go with it. Some research has shown that caffeine and alcohol pull water out of your system, which depletes the vocal folds of healthy lubrication. Be sure to drink an equivalent amount of water to counteract any dehydrating effects of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
A dry environment can also affect your hydration. This includes environments with heating units, air conditioners and climates with a low amount of moisture in the air. Using a humidifier can compensate for the dryness.
3. Vocalize your entire range
I can’t stress this one enough. Technique is where many singers are lacking in the health department. You can get the proper amount of sleep and be properly hydrated and still, without good technique, your voice will suffer. If you are trashing your voice every time you sing, no matter how much you rest or hydrate, your voice will always be tired, swollen, and limited.
All healthy singers must vocalize in the entirety of their range. If you are unsure of what your range is, I highly recommend seeing an IVA certified voice teacher to discover your range and voice type (see below for contact information).
You must vocalize to teach the vocal folds to engage with airflow in a balanced way throughout your vocal registers, commonly referred to as chest, mix and head voice. Even if your style of music only puts you in the low register (chest voice), you must stretch to and strengthen the high register (head voice). Without doing so, your voice will function improperly, becoming stiff and weak.
Scales and drills that encourage balanced function specific to your voice type will help to diversify your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. F or this step, it is important to study with a qualified voice teacher who can tailor a set of exercises to your voice and habits. Without the help of a knowledgeable and experienced vocal technician, teaching yourself by pulling vocalises from a book or the internet may actually hinder your progress.
Proper rest and hydration makes for a healthy instrument. Good technique makes for the balanced function of said instrument, resulting in a whole and expressive voice altogether. Follow these 3 essential principles, and you will be singing healthfully for many years to come.
"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!