Thank you for a great year!

If you have been following my singing blog, you will know I have trained in a few different methods of singing over the past years. Each one has been slightly different, yet the same, if that makes any sense.

In my early years, I trained in Bel Canto with various teachers and later went on to Speech Level Singing and Estill Voice Technique.

As a singer in my teens, 20’s and 30’s, I always felt I had two very different voices. My “choir” voice and my “rock band” voice. I struggled with understanding what was going on and how to get the sound I wanted without hurting my throat.

A revelation came when I studied Speech Level Singing (Seth Riggs). I learned how to use my entire range efficiently without flipping, pulling, or straining. Those of you who have studied SLS will understand what these terms mean. I learned how to “mix”. That is, I learned how to bridge in my middle voice by allowing transition to my head register without strain. I later went on to teach SLS and continue to use a lot of these concepts with my students.

My issue with SLS started when I came to a stalemate about my middle voice while singing a song for a Level 5 SLS teacher. I was singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow in the key of C major. The first two notes are middle C to high C. This is a big leap over the female first passagio. My teacher was listening for a certain amount of cord closure and head resonance on the high C. I was able to produce the coordination and sound he wanted, but I personally didn’t want to sing my song the way he wanted me to sing it.

After studying Estill Voice Technique, it became clear to me that SLS is a safe and effective way to balance the voice, and to stay in “shape”. The exercises are fabulous, and I do them every day. However , with SLS I would never learn about safe belting or even a better understanding of your voice.

It is important for each and every singer to understand their own voice. When you know what you are good at, and what you are not so good at, then you can take the steps necessary to achieve the voice you always wanted.

In 2014 I will continue to share with you exercises and explanations that will continue to help you understand your voice and the art of singing. I welcome your questions and concerns, and hope you find my posts engaging.

Let’s face it….we all have one thing in common…we all want to sing the best we can!

Adele’s new voice – Skyfall

If you are working on your chest voice so you can sing more Adele songs, you may be able to access your mix more easily in her latest song Skyfall.

Most of this song is under the first bridge (as are the others). But most importantly, there is no chorus repeatedly using thick folds through the first bridge, like she did in Rolling In the Deep, and others.

Instead, Adele is playing it safe (and so she should so soon after surgery).

The word “tall” in the chorus of Skyfall is a very light mix….she’s definitely holding back here. This part of the chorus could have been bigger. Instead she is using thinner cords with no pushing whatsoever. A beautiful blend.

The first time we hear any belting whatsoever is at the word “heart” at 2:29.

Listen to the “cry” in her voice at 3:43 on the word “stand”. Note her head register in the mix at 4:13 on “let the sky fall”.

The build does start to happen at 4:24 to 4:30. She has saved her chest voice for 4:24 to 4:30. This is the only part in the song where she carries her chest voice up through the bridge with very thick folds and a lot of air pressure. At 4:436 she releases into her head voice for a beautiful exit to her phrase.

Singers, lots to learn here from Adele’s singing……….listen to it again…….and notice.

Comments? Questions? Please leave them here.

Singers, you are so lucky!

Singers! Do you realize how lucky you are living in the 21st century? Gone are the days when you have to rely and listen to only one opinion or view of a teacher/professor, and what they recommend for your voice! You have access to tons and tons of information online about the voice and the various ways to learn how to sing. Get informed. Learn what you want for your voice, and how to get it!

Here are some things to consider:

  • If your teacher cannot make the kinds of sound you want, I suggest you go elsewhere.
  • If your teacher does not know EXACTLY where you passagi/bridges are, then I suggest go elsewhere.
  • If your teacher is teaching you to sing classical or Broadway, and says you can use this coordination in any style, then see if you can. If you can’t, and they can’t help you get the sound you want, then go elsewhere.
  • If your teacher is telling you the sounds you are making are wrong because they will damage or hurt your voice, and only wants you to sing in a classical coordination then go elsewhere
  • Watch out for teachers who only teach chest voice….yes, there are coaches who simply teach you how to sing loud and shouty as you ascend in scale. Can they sing clear and connected on a high note without shouting?
  •  Watch out for teachers who only teach head voice or chest voice separately as two different sections of the voice. If your teacher doesn’t understand about how to teach and connect the middle area, then I would definitely go elsewhere!

The Middle Voice…..

Do you ever notice that it feels like you have two voices? Well, you actually do have two “registers” and they feel very different. You have your low register (chest) which is used when you are speaking. Try it, put your hand on your upper chest and feel the vibration when you talk. If you don’t feel any vibration then talk a little louder until you do feel it.
Next you have a high register. Try to make a sound like a fire siren. Do you still feel the vibration in your upper chest? Are you feeling your throat strain as you try to make a high sound? Do it again, but this time look at the floor. Make your high fire siren sound, or a baby kitty meow. Check and see if you still feel vibration in your upper chest, or feel a lot of effort in your throat. If so, then you are having trouble accessing your true high voice. Your upper register should only vibrate in your head and sinus area. Try the same thing only lighter. Did that help? Do you get a sense of your voice being in your head? If yes, then you are able to access your high register. If you feel the effort in your throat instead, then you are having trouble.

It’s a common problem among singers so don’t be dishearteneed. Generally speaking, you are probably trying too hard. In other words, you may be blowing too much air, or singing too loud. Again, try the lighter approach (which may be breathy and weak at first), and see if you can make a high sound without all the volume and weight of your low register joining you. You may feel “the flip” and that’s OK. This is necessary so you can learn how to differentiate between the two registers. Once you are able to access your high voice (even if it’s lightly), then you can take steps to strengthen your vocal cords to hold back more air which will strengthen your high register. This is a necessary first step in moving ahead to the next step…………..the middle voice!

The middle voice is simply the area which crosses over between you low register and your high register. Singers who have the ability to seamlessly connect the two registers are well on their way to accessing their entire vocal range with ease and clarity. Accessing the middle voice is relevant in all styles of singing…rock, pop, country, gospel, and musical theatre and opera. Without accessing the middle voice, the singer may get “stuck” and reach a ceiling. The singer will need to sing louder as each note gets higher. The throat will get tight and the singer will tire.

Developing the middle and high voice can give a singer an overwhelming sense of ease and control. Not all vocal teachers strengthen the middle voice in a manner that connects the two registers seamlessly. Talk to your teacher and be sure he/she can make the sounds you are trying to make. That’s a good start anyway!