Carrie Manolakas sings Creep (Radiohead cover)

I’m sure many of you have seen this heart-wretching rendition of Carrie Manolakas’ cover of Creep. She possesses such a compelling hold and control of this song. Have a listen.

Jen DeRosa from Tom Burke’s Voice Studio talks about how Carrie is managing these sounds.  (A Quick Fix for Chicks that Mix)  Check that out here     (And, if you are not subscribing to Tom Burke`s Studio yet for singing tips, then you better get there fast!)

I want to add a couple of things to Jen`s comments, that may seem obvious, but definitely crucial for anyone who is trying to make contemporary sounds in this range (belting).

1. Note Carrie`s body and breath control. Watch her stomach. Notice how effortless it appears she is working. This is NOT the case at all. Carrie is able to hold back huge amounts of air to create the pressure needed to make these sounds safely.

2. Note the `cry`in her voice that is very apparent starting around 2:26. This is good vocal cord closure. See how the top of her mouth is up (ensuring a raised soft palate), and her front top teeth are showing. Again, this is helping with the entire coordination of good cord closure and placement of tone and resonance.

3.  Note her chin starts to rise at the chorus. This is very effective for her belt sound, once she has good cord closure and optimum breath control. This only works when the throat is relaxed, open and you are `MIXING`. Note how the belt increases by the activation of the cricoid cartilage, and supreme oral resonance. (In other words, happy shouting!) (Note again, the soft palate is high, and the tongue is also slightly high in proportion to this coordination….and the throat is open and free). This is giving the illusion of pure chest voice.

4.  What is going on in the larynx? Lots of things.

The thyroid cartilage is tilted and the aryepiglottic sphincter is narrowed. This is creating oral twang which is a essential component for safe belting.

We know the the thyroid is tilted because her “cry” is very apparent (in her mix). Try meowing or doing a puppy dog whimper in your high mix. (Ladies, high C area and men G above middle C). We also know her aryepiglottic sphincter (AES) is narrowed because of her supreme oral twang. This makes her voice louder. This allows her to lift her chin. (Try quacking like a duck, or saying “nay, nay, nay” like a schoolyard bully with a nasty little bite to your voice).

If Carrie’s thyroid cartilage was not well tilted and the AES was not narrowed, Carrie would not be able to left her chin to better activate her oral twang and resonance. This laryngeal coordination is key to belting in any style of music.

Questions? Comments? Please leave them here.



Check out Dave Brooks

I highly recommend Dave Brooks from Nashville for singing tips. Check him out here

Notice his emphasis on the “sob” and the “whine” to get cord closure. This can’t be stressed enough for commercial “contemporary” style music like country, rock, gospel, pop, and even opera…….yes opera. This coordination will get the cords closed on the attack and keep the larynx “neutral”.

I love his sound at 2:0e minutes. Because he has started with a mid to low larynx, he is achieving a beautiful mix with reasonably thick folds at his 2nd break (A above middle C). This is a coordination used by great country singers as well as opera singers! Note: If he started with a slightly higher larynx, he could still bridge into his 2nd break with a more pop-like or rock sound….. a little thinner with some bite…..again, another fabulous coordination used by singers.

Singing 101 – Is this You?

Knowledge is power. If you want to learn how to sing better … keep reading.

I believe the best way to learn about anything is to experience it for yourself, and to learn about other’s experiences. When I read stories online about singers who have taken lessons from various teachers, I nod my head and think, “yeah, that’s what it was like for me too”.  I’ve taken singing lessons from many different teachers over the years.  It wasn’t until I discovered Speech Level Singing over ten years ago, that things really started to make sense for me.  With Speech Level Singing I was singing through three bridges (passagio) in my first lesson.

I now teach Speech Level Singing to all my students, and they all go through at least one bridge (passagio) on their first lesson. What is a passagio or a bridge? This is a spot in your singing voice between the low sounds (chest voice) and the high sounds (head voice). Many men have never even experienced their head voice…..while many women have not experienced their true chest voice. For some men, their chest voice is their connection to power…or so they think. The opposite can be true for women (and lots of children both boys and girls) who have sang for years in choirs and were taught to blend their voice with all the other singers.  Choral music is usually written high in pitch which meant the singers would always be in their head voice.

A lot of female and male singers have the opposit and very common problem of not being able to reach high notes. This usually happens because the singer is too loud, too low, and too soon. Quite often the singer feels like they have reached a ceiling (usually at their passagio) and they just can’t sing any higher. The voice gets louder and louder as they try and sing higher notes. 

Do one of these scenerios match you? Everyone is unique so there is no one “fix” that meets everybody’s needs. This is the main problem with self-teaching CD’s like Brett Manning’s Singing Success and Seth Riggs Singing for the Stars.  They are both fabulous Speech Level Singing programs, but if you don’t know your singing problem, then these exercises might be too generic to really help you.

Learning to sing better takes time and dedication. It’s really no different than becoming a good athelete…atheletes must work out regularly with proper form and the right exercises. It’s the same for singing. Your vocal cords are your muscles and they need just the right exercise to learn the coordination needed to help you sing better.

So, first…..know your singing issue. Get a professional opinion that will give you direction and a goal. Start with this and you’ll be on your way to a better singing voice!

Singing tips…….sing higher, sing better

So many singers sing poorly by trying to copy the “sound” of their favourite singers. Unfortunately, without knowing how to copy correctly, it can cause many many problems for singers. Knowledge is power, so read on for a few tips on singing better.

To the average listener/singer, a great big voice may sound simply loud and powerful. The average listener/singer is unaware as to why this voice is so great other than for these reasons. Unfortunately, copying this singing without knowing what is really going on can cause an average singer to never reach their full potential. If your voice gets tired easily when trying to sing higher, or you have trouble reaching high notes with intensity, then you fall into this category.

The powerful sounds that we love so much come from a careful balance of air pressure built up behind the vocal cords, careful pronounciation of the words being sung (the vowels cause resonance in the mouth, head and sinuses), and the amount of vocal cord closure occurring.  In short it’s a combination of air flow, vowel production, and cord closure.

Speech Level Singing teaches the singer about these three things that they have control over. The singer learns where their bridges are, and learns how to negotiate through them to allow the voice to go higher and higher.

There is no other technique that simplifies the knowledge of singing better than the way Speech Level Singing does. I’m proud to a certified teacher with the Seth Riggs Organization. My voice is stronger and better than it has ever been…thanks to SLS.