Nasality or Twang?

Nasality and twang are not the same thing. They may, indeed, seem or sound similar, but they are definitely not the same.

Nasality is the sound we hear when a singer has his nasal port open. Is this good or bad? Well, I guess that depends on what kind of sound you want to make with your voice. For the most part, nasality is not considered an esthetically-pleasing sound; however, some singers may indeed do this and consider this their signature sound.

Twang on the other hand is an important coordination that every singer should learn and understand. The ability to “twang” creates particular frequencies in the voice. There frequencies add volume, brassiness, brightness, crispness, and/or fullness. This is an important coordination that when used with other vocal coordinations gives the singer freedom to express themselves dynamically and with texture.

Twang may sound unpleasant in its’ purest form, but when added to the voice in varying degrees, allows a voice to be interesting and believable.

Ladies, we have double trouble

I see this time and time again, and I just have to write about it…. again. I had another female student today with a fabulous head voice, that she could carry down to her “belly button!”

This is such a familiar trait of female trained voices. The throat is wide open, the larynx is low, and the tongue is nicely placed between the two back teeth. Perfect, right?

Here is the problem. These ladies want to sound like Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood and Lea Michele. I’m sorry, but the set-up mentioned above is not going to get them there.

If you read my previous post about “from the bottom up” then you will know exactly what these ladies need to work on…..their chest voice starting from a speech level coordination.



Yes, everyone can sing!

I have a wonderful motivating story for you!

Mister W. has been seeing me for singing lessons for about 3 months. He is 33 years old and his favourite band is Stone Sour ……… He has never sang in school or a choir, or in front of anyone for that matter. He was what you would call a “closet-singer”.  He only made sounds when he knew no one was listening.

Mr. W. had a lot of trouble matching pitch during first few lessons. For one thing, he was nervous, which is totally normal when you first meet someone and you have to try and sing in front of them. But, he was determined. He had always wanted to be able to sing and I told him it was definitely possible if he is willing to do the work.

Three months later, he is proving to himself, that indeed, he can sing. He has been doing his exercises regularly, and he is now vocalizing at the level of what I call …. A Singer!! Yes, he is matching pitch ascending and descending through his 1st and 2nd  passagio.

His family thinks this is incredible, however, the truth is …. he has worked hard and it is paying off. I paved the path and he has followed diligently. He did exactly what he was asked to do …. twice a day ….. everyday!



The Middle Voice

Oh, the controversy! Is there such a thing as the middle voice? Some would argue there is only chest voice and head voice, and a passagio (sometimes called a bridge or a break), separating the two. The chest and head voice get their name from where the voice resonates in the body.  If you put your hand on your chest and speak, you can feel the vibrations on your hand. This is your chest voice. If you leave your chest voice (which some people have a lot of trouble doing!) and go to a high free-sounding place (try the sound woo – woo), then you have found your head voice. Like I said, some people have trouble finding their head voice. Usually, this is men.

I, frankly, love the term middle voice. Since I like to sing music genres such as rock, pop, and country, the middle voice is where all the action is!  For women this is around middle C to high C, and for men this is around G below middle C to G above middle C. You will notice that almost all commercial music falls into this area (and more).

The middle voice is where you “get in the mix”! Again, there is much controversy over this term.

Mixing simply is a term used when a singer has the ability to keep their vocal cords properly adducted as they ascend and descend through their bridges. If you can do this properly, then you will notice a shift in resonance as the sound moves upward from your throat and mouth area into your face and head. Once you have ascended in pitch, it will actually feel like you are singing in your head, but not in a light falcetto airy mode. If you have kept the cords together well, and have allowed the resonance to shift accordingly as you ascended, then you have achieved a good mix. You should feel no strain in the throat whatsoever.

I’m very passionate about singers figuring out their mix. Once a singer learns the “feeling” and “coordination” necessary to be in a good mix, then they can work on building strength, endurance and enhancing tone.

Visit me at for vocal exercises to help you “get in the mix”!



Jackie Evancho … Opera singer or child who mimics

I recently read some very disturbing opinions about Jackie Evancho, the young 11 year old opera singer, and her “modified” voice on the internet.

I feel very bad for this little girl and her family, and I hope they never have to read what I just did.

When I hear this little girl sing I get goosebumps. Yes, I analyse her voice, and yes, I see her jaw wobble, but this is an angel who sings from her heart and soul.

There will always be children who learn to mimic what they hear and/or see very well. This is not anything new. However, now, in the 21st century when most people have access to the internet, children are learning more and developing faster than ever before. We will continue to be amazed by children on the internet who can do things that we never thought possible.

Is it really so amazing? In my opinion, no, not really. The internet has opened windows of opportunity for these children and young people to be seen and loved. The internet has given them not only the opportunity to view the best in the world, but to mimic the best in the world.

I believe we will continue to be amazed.


Speech-Level Singing … Taking the High Road

During one of my last posts I talked about Brett Manning and Seth Riggs and this wonderful singing method called Speech-Level Singing.

Today I want to talk further about how this technique is going to change the lives of many singers in the future.

This world is constantly moving forward in ideas, creations and inventions. This is happening at an incredible rate now with our current technology and ability to communicate to everyone all over the world. The educational system cannot keep up. Gone are the days that schools can teach you the “latest” information on a given topic, and that is certainly the case with singing technique.

Singers of the future may actually find it detrimental to their voice to study vocal technique in university. Think about it. Why do we go on and study voice at university? Is it for the prestige so we can put those initials after our name? Is it so we can get a higher paying job? Is it so we can become a vocal teacher? There are many good reasons to go to university and study voice. You will certainly achieve a wealth of information about the history of singing and music in general.

Unfortunately you may not learn about Seth Riggs and Speech-Level Singing (SLS) at university. You will learn about the Bel Canto technique which is what SLS is derived from, and other classical forms of voice, but not SLS. It will take years for SLS to reach universities. In the meantime, singers will continue to graduate from universities and teach voice the way they were taught by their professors. This has been going on for centuries.

Here’s the thing. Most singers, not all, but most singers no longer want to just sing classical music. For a singer to get a job in music theatre or on broadway, a classically-trained voice is not always what the producer is looking for. This is why I say it could be detrimental to go to university for voice. I don’t think singers, in general, realize the implications upon entering university at the age of 19 or 20.

Think carefully before chosing a voice teacher…

Here are two scenerios to consider:

1. A student starts taking singing lessons at age 8 from a voice teacher who has had his/her training from a university. (This teacher also started his/her singing journey with a teacher who got his/her training from a university). The student accomplishes many singing exams, then goes on to university to complete his/her training in singing and graduates with a beautiful classically trained voice. This student, who is now a teacher, goes on to teach many other young voices.

Scenerio two:  A student starts singing lessons with a voice teacher who has had his/her training from a master teacher in Speech Level Singing. This teacher may have gone to university, but realized the limited potential for “work” with a classically-trained voice. This student doesn’t take vocal exams, but rather learns to sing with a microphone and performs regularly in front of small and large audiences. This student is also writing songs. This student goes to university but not for music. He/she is performing their original music with their band and making money to pay for their education. Later this student gets a record deal ….