Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Speak as you would sing, sing as you would speak

Speak as you would sing, sing as you would speak

Truly the best things you can do for your singing voice are to balance healthy vocal hygiene (water, rest, good diet and exercise, and good technique) AND healthy vocal speaking.  Speak as you would sing.  Support your sound and think of projecting your speaking voice in everyday life.  Your voice is one instrument whether you are speaking or singing.

5 Tips for a Healthy Speaking Voice (and Better Singing Voice)

1.       Support your speech as you would your singing.  Use abdominal support and make sure you breathe.

2.      Take breaths often and as relaxed and deep as you can.  Avoid catch breaths.  They stress your voice.

3.      Find your resonant space and use it to project your speech (think raised soft palate or the feeling of a yawn). 

4.      Raise your speaking pitch slightly.  Find it by saying ‘hmm-hmm’ in answer to questions.  Where does your voice settle?  Try to speak starting around that pitch. Use that 'hmm' to draw your voice forward.

5.      Inflect up at the ends of sentences as if it is a question.  This will start your next sentence higher. 

Go to my newsletter, “Speak as you Sing”  or contact me for more information.

Also focus on some simple vocal hygiene steps.  We get so caught up in our everyday stresses that we forget to take care of ourselves.  Go to bed early if you can, drink as much water as you can, get moderate exercise, support your speaking voice as you would your singing voice and go visit a vocal professional to ensure you have good vocal technique.  

When performing, try to keep your emotions in the black zone, steady yet energized. Use them to enhance your performance but out of the red which forces you above and beyond what is comfortable.  Don’t let anxiety to cause you to push the envelope.  Allow yourself one more level to go with emotion and exertion.   Enjoy the music and express yourself but stay in tune with what your body is saying.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trials and Tribulations of a Pop Singer's Hectic Life. Is it lifestyle or health habits that can cause difficulties?

Trials and Tribulations of a Pop Singer’s Hectic Life.  Is it lifestyle or health habits that cause difficulties? 

Unfortunately the trials and tribulations of a pop singer with a heavy performance schedule bring potential troubles to many singers.  Not only are there many performances, but a lot of travel through time zones (affecting sleep), sleeping in hotel rooms (varying levels of humidity or lack of that cause allergy and dry throat symptoms), dietary changes, and stress.  The schedule of late night performances often leads to the unfortunate habit of eating very late.  Many singers cannot eat a good meal before performances (call it nerves!), therefore they eat late following performances. This late eating (and often not enough hydration) leads to vocal troubles such as acid reflux.  Among other performers, John Mayer has experienced vocal troubles as a result of acid reflux manifesting itself in a granuloma.  Although told he has great vocal technique, vocal health has bit him . 

Steven Tyler has also experienced difficulties but due to faulty technique.   Click on this link to read details about Megan Gloss’ advice on how to minimize stresses on the voice outlined below.

Strive to attain the following goals:

  Avoid Strain.

Develop a healthy technique.

Warm up.

Drink plenty of water.

Also, watch how you speak.  Use your healthy singing technique as you talk every day.  Read my next blog, “Speak as you would sing, sing as you would speak”.

The lifestyle of hundreds of performances a year and travelling affects different people in different ways.  Take care of yourself the best you can both through healthy technique and lifestyle and how you talk.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is there a connection between Adele's speech and singing troubles? The speech and singing connection

The Speech and Singing Connection
Delving Further into Adele- Is there a speech connection to her singing troubles?  Speech is Deeply Connected to Singing.

Amazing how Adele's Cockney accent does not appear in her singing at all.  Her voice is clear and consistent.  Does she have the vocal training in singing to produce pure vowels and tested technique to keep her going?  Yes, Adele has a long history of vocal training for singing (link).  However, are her speech habits and vocal health regime impacting the longevity of her success?  It is very possible that it is having an impact.

Although her (Brittish) accent is enduring, listening to Adele speak, the trained ear may wonder if her speech habits might negatively influence her singing.  In the words of Kathy Alexander, “One very common problem for singers is to be careless about how they talk,” says Cazden. “With interviews and so on, the offstage persona can seem just as important to maintain, so the vocal cords may be getting bruised and used-up from morning to night, not just during the music.”  Singers can weather more high-pressure singing if they use a balanced, resonant sound when chatting off stage and over coffee.

This is why we should think more about voice use on – and off – stage.  Our wear and tear of the voice in everyday life impacts our performing voice.  How you speak and diet and lifestyle affect how much singing your voice can tolerate.  Hydrate, support your speech, get sleep, eat a balanced diet, get moderate exercise, and minimize talking, especially when in a heavy performance run.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Adele and William Shatner on Musical Performance Anxiety

Musical Performance Anxiety- even Adele has it!

In her interview with 60 Minutes, Adele admits to having sometimes crippling stage fright and performance anxiety before singing. She has intense messaging in much of her music and is bearing her soul to thousands each time she sings.  Adele admits her nerves have gotten worse as she’s becoming more successful.   “There's a bit more pressure and people are expecting a lot more from me.  I'm not going to succeed-- people aren't going to enjoy it.   Nervous that I'll ruin their love for my songs by doing them live. I feel sick. I get a bit panicky. I have thrown up.”;contentBody

Stage fright is real and can be crippling.  It also can work for your benefit if you learn to control it to a certain degree.  The nerves fuel adrenaline that gives you energy and the desire to achieve.  Imagining yourself in the song and reliving the emotion of the song can channel that energy to the positive.  It is seen on Adele’s face each time that she performs “Rolling in the Deep” that she relives the pain of her breakup.  By doing so, she controls her fears and channels her energy into the emotion of the song.  Now she says  “It is as if I have a clean slate now.  But I know if I were to go on a big tour right now, it would go again. The exhaustion of it all."

In the words of Jonathan Dickins, Adele’s agent, “She was obviously nervous - talk about going into the deep end. That's a testament to Adele, that her first singing performance public in over five months was the biggest music awards show in the world. You know, that alone -- you've gotta be a pretty remarkable character to take that on in the first place, and she actually did.”

One thing we tend to forget is that we should really think about the audience after the performance.  Take in the applause and response of the audience and then you know how you did.  Do you need to re-evaluate or did you do a good job?  Jonathan Dickins after Adele's performance says,  “It was fantastic - it was great to see her like that. That to me was the most nerve-racking thing of the night. I wanted her to feel relaxed about that. So to see the reception and see how happy she looked afterward, that was like an extra win”.

The overall rejuvenation one gets after performing should overcome our musical performance anxiety.  The knowledge that we shared our music and a piece of ourselves should trump any fear that we may have.  Knowing our limits and listening to our bodies and our souls is the best thing we can do. 

William Shatner also discusses musical performance anxiety- fear of failure.