The big mouth

So why do all your American Idol favorites sing with huge mouths?

Answer: Because the big mouth is directly related to the freedom associated with making sounds found in contemporary styles such as rock, pop, gospel, jazz, musical theatre, country, and even opera!

The ability to get great cord closure (to sing high notes with thin and stretched cords), and resonate in the oropharynx (back of the throat and out through the mouth), is what we are talking about here. This means the soft palate is high enough (which it needs to be), and the jaw and tongue are relaxed enough (which they need to be), and the throat is open enough (which it needs to be), to allow the sound to project off the uvula and soft palate area. This creates great oral resonance (oral twang). With the right amount of breath support, this sensation is very freeing and very BUZZY. You will feel the buzzy vibrations on your upper teeth, the hard palate, in the nose, and even out the top of your head! But be careful. Make sure you are not just making head resonance. It needs to come out the front of your mouth! This is mixed voice (middle voice) in high gear, and the safest way to belt out your notes! This is what gives great singers the illusion that they are singing in the chest voice, when in fact, they are mixing like crazy (split resonance).

This is not easy to do, and it’s not as simple as described above. The actual critical playing card is your ability to control and manage your breathing.

Give it try. What do you think? Allow the voice to come out the mouth with the freedom of resonance in the head. Stick three fingers between your teeth to keep your jaw and tongue from gripping. I know it’s hard to form the consonants in your words…so just sing the vowels. If you can perfect this to a sound you like, you are well on your way!

Honing your skills

Do you ever wonder how your favorite singers on American Idol got to be so darned good? (I’m referring to the singers in the finals, of course!). How can people possibly sing like that?

Well, let me tell you one of the secrets that is not really a secret! These singers are singing every day: sometimes for hours and hours. Many of these singers have been practising their singing skills since they were a child.

Now refer to your singing history. How long have you been singing? How are you going to add more hours of singing to your bank.

One of the best ways to get more practice each week is to join a choir, a band, or  sing karaoke regularly. It sure is a lot more fun working on your skills when you are actually “performing”. The more you sing, the more you become aware of the control you can have over your breath control and larynx (your voice box in your throat).

Singing everyday will always move you forward. As long as you are focused on correct technique, you will continually see improvement in your voice.

It’s an illusion

Don’t be deceived about the “size” of commercial voices you hear on recordings. They are sometimes produced in the studio to sound big and thick and bright. If you heard these singers in your average-size living room, you may be shocked to realize they sound nothing like they do on recordings.

This is, in fact, part of the perception problem that happens when we try to copy some of our favourite singers.  We try to mimic what we think is the singer’s vocal power, when it is actually an illusion of power created in the studio with amplification and effects. Even on our favourite shows like American Idol and The Voice, there is tons of reverb, delay and EQ effect added to a singer’s voice to make it sound “larger” than it really is.

What makes a great “big” voice is a singer’s ability to control their voice during register shifts, changes in volume, and use of correct resonators. These things can only be done well when a singer’s larynx and vocal cords are in good shape. These abilities have nothing to do with whether a voice is actually “big” or not.  (A big voice is when a person is loud when they are talking … not just singing … and this usually means they have thick vocal cord).

Amplify a voice that has great control of the above qualities, and you get one heck of an awesome voice. And yes, this voice can be “big”.



Betty Buckley takes on American Idol

Did you hear about Betty Buckley’s recent rant about Randy Jackson of American Idol? She states on twitter, “I just have to say this: I am sick & tired of Randy Jackson bashing what they think is Broadway singing!” You can read her full commentary here

Way to go Betty! There is no doubt she is correct when she states that American Idol is continually sending signals to the young kids of America that a Broadway voice is inferior. I’ve noticed this for years. Simon Cowell has done this continuously.

IMHO, the show producers do need to nip this in the bud, and I truly hope Betty Buckley’s rant will change some of this type of dialog. The judges simply need to leave the word “Broadway” or “trained voice” out of the sentence. We all know, for a fact, that the reason the singer isn’t making it through, isn’t because they are trained or not-trained, Broadway or not Broadway. It’s because the singer doesn’t have the sound quality or “package” these judges are looking for….period. There have been many trained singers make it in the recording industry. Adam Lambert, himself, was accused of having a “Broadway” voice while on AI. Lucky for him, he was so fabulous it didn’t matter, and he went on to win anyway.

Indeed, there is a difference between a Broadway voice and an American Idol voice. Let’s face it, there are great singers in both. Is one better than the other? Well, that’s for you to decide. As for me, “absolutely not! They can both be down-right fabulous!”