Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pilates (and Planks) and Singing: Why and How Pilates Helps the Singing Voice

Image result for pilates

Pilates (and Planks) and Singing: Why and How Pilates Helps the Singing Voice

What are the main components of Pilates and how do they relate to the singing voice?

6 Essential Components of Pilates (from the BodyBook) (and Singing by Me)

1. Centering: Everything begins and ends with the center

Pilates:  All movements are energized and empowered by the strengthening of the core muscles

Singing: All breath flow starts with the direction of the core muscles and coordinates with the ribs and entire body to balance breath flow.  Breath flow is initiated and ends with the center core.

2. Concentration: Attention is on the intention of the movement or beginning of a phrase

Pilates: Attention is spent on the intention of movement before it begins and as it happens

Singing: Concentration on how our breath and sound is coordinated is the focus of much of our practice time until it becomes second nature.

3. Control:  Body and mind

Pilates and Singing: In both, we control and sync together the body and mind

4. Precision: Focus on each part being precise!

Pilates: Each movement is performed with precision and focus.  The details matter.

Singing:  Each start, duration, and end of musical phrases is performed with precision and focus.  The details matter to practice to make it seem flawless and effortless.

5. Breath:  Transformative

Pilates: Breath transforms the body and mind by working together

Singing:  The sycronization of the the breath with the body and mind makes singing such a unique art.  The mind slows to be in sync and the breath then does its job to provide the catalyst for our sound. 

6. Flow:  Breath, body, mind.

Pilates:  The goal is to flow from one exercise to the next gracefully.

Singing: The goal is to flow from one phrase to the next (coordinating our breath and muscles) gracefully.

One thing the book does not address which I find to be paramount to Pilates and Singing is that it works on improving and strengthening your posture.  Good posture is essential to good breath and therefore good singing.  Pilates work strengthens our core and posture which in turn improves singing and makes the motions of good singing more natural. 

Explore Pilates practice and see how it impacts your singing past doing the basic planks we already explored.  Check in soon for tips on some of the best Pilates moves for your singing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The 2 Plank Challenge for Singers! The Results are IN!

I hope you joined me in the fun of planks and the experiment to see how it affects your singing.  After a few weeks of adding 2 planks to your daily practice, what happened?

I noticed I started supporting my singing from my abdominal muscles immediately upon doing my warm-ups.  A plank activates the abdominal muscles to do exactly what we want them to do when singing:  contract lightly but firmly.  It also activates the quadriceps or front muscles of the legs. Engaging these muscles when standing helps us activate the internal abdominal muscles and provide adequate breath support to our sound.

My breath support was balanced from the start and I avoided the potential to oversing even in emotional passages.

My brain also was truly focused on singing from the start.  The extra couple of minutes to get myself set to sing made an impact. 1 or 2 minutes of concentration on a muscular task also calms the brain.  Instead of trying to calm it down to focus all on your own, physical motion helps you.

It also calms and slows down your breath from our quick paced world.

Comments from my studio:

"The planks help me develop a stronger core which I can feel."

"A tighter belly creates more breath support which is therefore easier on my throat when singing.  I always want to start my sound in the throat without using my breath first.  This is helping me to break this habit."

"My core is getting stronger to use it and guide my air better."

"I am connecting with my breath more now when I sing."

Thank you to all of you who commented on my blog The 2 Plank Challenge-What-does-doing-2 planks before singing do for you?  Most singing teachers agree that adding planks and other physical activities help singers be more in tune with their bodies and improve singing. Here are a few comments which stood out to me:

"I've been advising my clients for years to do the Plank Challenge in order to build up their core strength - very effective :-) http://30dayfitnesschallenges.com/30-day-plank-challenge/" Kim Chandler

"After I took up triathlon, I noticed a huge difference in my singing. More power in the voice, better breath control. In my studio, through the years, I have often had my students to planks and other core building exercises. For inactive students I highly recommend they take up an activity the will build their aerobic capacity, as well. Our bodies are our instrument and we can shape them to be better for singing."  Elizabeth Rotoff

"I have been having my students planking for a year, I have been doing it for a long time. The results are immediate: even on days when they are a bit under the weather, after planking for 30-40 seconds, the breath connects with the body and the vocal results never cease to amaze! HIGHLY recommended..."  Angela Ahiskal 

Each individual is unique so various approaches work for different people.  Singers who are also athletes may need less direction on support and dancers often already have tight core muscles which may need to be relaxed when singing.  Those who are not as physically active outside of singing may need to take more time to get in tune with their bodies.  Physical fitness is an important part of being a singer today.  Find the activities that work for you to keep improving your singing and truly get your voice and body coordinated to make YOUR best sound.  Keep up the plank challenge and let me know other things which help you!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Attention All Singers! Meet the 2 Plank Challenge- How Does it Impact Your Practice and Singing?

I have a challenge to all singers out there, add 2 planks of 30-60 seconds a piece before practicing.  It is ideal to to this on your toes, but on knees is a good start.  Try adding this to the beginning of practicing for a week or two.  How does it impact your practice that day?  Take note if anything and what changes about your singing.  Write it down and then process, what does this do for your singing?

Try it and then respond to this blog post.  Then check back in.  How does it impact what you are doing?  Does your body remember what to do better then when standing?  I will post more thoughts in 2 weeks.  Join me in improving your singing through the summer!

As always, more tips on becoming more 'in tune' with your singing!  Check out my website for more information www.susanandersbrizick.com Happy singing!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why Should I Take Individual Voice Lessons in the Fall?

Why do you sing?  Why does your daughter, brother, sister, mom sing?  It is something they enjoy and often something they simply have a desire and love to do (and do better)? This is why we take singing lessons.

What better time to start a journey towards singing better than when school kicks off into full gear? Students are back in the swing of things and establish new goals for the year.  Auditions are coming up for the fall musical or they want to prepare ahead for those auditions in the winter.  Juniors and Seniors realize they want to major in MUSIC in college- time to start preparing and get serious about audition literature.

Adults, the lazy days of summer are done and you may find new time to yourself to foster a love of singing while the kids are in school or are new to the business world and craving some fresh education.  The network shows such as America's Got Talent, Nashville, The Voice, American Idol, are about to begin which give many the ‘bug’ to sing.  Why not try it out?

Why should you take voice lessons in a private voice studio?  Can’t everyone sing? 

Almost anyone can learn to sing, but most people don’t use their voices to their full potential. Voice lessons teach singers how to control their breath and find vocal resonance to create a fuller, healthier, and more beautiful sound. Lessons also teach general musical skills and build more confident singers.  
The average singing student needs weekly guidance to establish a solid technique. 

Should I take voice lessons with a teacher or can I really learn to sing from an online program or DVD? 

Every voice and every person is different and responds differently to technique. Learning to sing demands a personal touch and ears and eyes outside of oneself. With the guidance of a live teacher, you will get direct response to what is actually heard and seen by others, not just what you hear inside your head. A live teacher can also help you explore to find what repertoire and vocal range actually suits your voice best.   In a voice studio, you get one on one teaching in addition to camaraderie with other students through masterclasses and recitals.

What we hear while we’re singing just isn’t true, so we are always dependent on someone we trust to take the role of our ‘outside ears’. Renee Fleming 
In a private voice studio, the student not only gets access to a voice teacher and vocal coach, but to the camaraderie of belonging to a group of people who enjoy singing.  Most voice studios provide opportunities to perform musical repertoire one or two times a year.  Some also give the opportunity to work on the repertoire in front of and with others in the studio (please see more information on my studio at www.susanandersbrizick.com).  With more opportunities to share music with others, a student has a higher drive to perfect the craft of singing, builds a higher confidence level in their singing and themselves, and the better music we create!  Start singing lessons somewhere today and  become the best singer you can be!
Contact Susan Anders Brizick at susananders@aol.com if you are interested in starting voice lessons.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer Singing Activity That Will Help Your Singing Lessons in the Fall

What can you do now that will help your voice lessons in the fall?  There are many things including, just sing!

1.  Sing along with the radio or your favorite Broadway musical.  Sing to yourself or sing to others.

2.  Practice the song (s) you were last assigned in lessons.  Review the notes, rhythms, lyrics.  Look at your notes for the technique you are to be working on.

3.  Research and listen to new music or a genre which you have never sung before.  Look at repertoire that you have always wanted to sing.  Bring it to your teacher to see if they think it would be good for your voice.  Bring ideas to collaborate with your teacher. 

4.  Listen to music of different genres and eras to see what you like.  Explore your musical horizons  while you have a little extra time.  Remember that French song your teacher wanted you to sing? How about Italian or jazz?  You never know what might suit your fancy when you are not in the throws of a hectic schedule.  Bring those ideas or likes to your teacher in the fall.

5. Watch or listen to a new concert or new Broadway musical (or two).  Go to the theater or watch it via Netflix or YouTube.  Enjoy music and all of its styles with a little downtime.

6.  Go practice again to refresh your most recent songs (or learn the new one given to you at your last lesson) so you can go in fresh and ready to move ahead at your first fall lesson!

Enjoy the last month of summer!!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer Solstice! Find your inner motivation to sing through nature.

In the throws of the beauty of summer take some time, whenever you can find it, to use nature to motivate you and your singing.  The beauty of the sunrise over the lake, the sunset over the beach, a shade filled hike through the mountains or a walk on the beach, use nature to refuel you.  Composers and lyricists write so much music about the beauty of nature.  They are inspired by it, how can it inspire you as a performer? 

It often brings us back to reality or a sane sense of being when we spend time with nature.  Drink in the beauty of the sunshine or the bird in the tree, the rolling of the ocean waves.  You may find yourself humming a song of long ago as you allow yourself to enjoy and relax.  Whether it be "Son of a Sailor"or "Oh Shenendoah", music can be situational, relaxing, and inspiring.  Maybe that is a song you should return to in your practice or an image you could use as you perform a work in progress. 

Don't dismiss the value of enjoying nature and reveling in the relaxing atmosphere of vacation.  It can motivate and rejuvenate our inner soul.  Being outside in nature and enjoying relaxation of a vacation can inspire our inner artist.  Let it inspire you!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Preparing for that Summer Performance

With the joys of summer come many opportunities to perform in a variety of programs.  Whether it is a summer musical theater program or summer recital, how can you assure that your performance is the best it can be? 

1. Dedicate the time to learning the repertoire well in advance.  Learn the music as soon as possible.  Solidify all of the notes, rhythms and lyrics right after you receive the materials.  Work on dynamics and vocal quality so you can add interpretation, movement, and stage direction more easily at rehearsals or lessons.

2. Do your homework.  Know what you are supposed to work on and work on it at home so that time spent at the program or lesson can be spent building on those skills.  Review what you work on in rehearsal or lesson and take the next step as directed by your teacher or director.

3. Analyze the lyrics of your song.  What do the words mean?  What do they mean to you?  Can you relate to them or do you need to paraphrase it for yourself to better convey the message you are singing?

4. Research your song, role, and musical.  Where does your song come in the musical?  What is going on with the character?  Watch a video of the song by a few different people on YouTube for reference or watch the musical.  Find the context of the song and use what you watch and listen to as a way to help solidify your interpretation.

5. Practice in between sessions.  Add a little exercise, sleep, water and fresh air.

6. Build on those new skills. Repeat!

The time spent outside of a summer program and lessons is valuable to your overall experience.  Embrace it and enjoy!!