Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What voice study and voice lessons can do for my child (or me)!

What voice study and voice lessons can do for my child (or me)!

In the next series of blogs, I am writing to you, the parent, and you the student.  There are so many reasons to take voice lessons!  Not only does it improve the singing voice for the person who loves to sing, but it does so MANY things for each individual person in their everyday life.

Here is a list of skill sets that advance with voice study:

1. Develop and Discover YOUR Singing Voice

2. Develop Better Breath Control

3. Improve Posture and Poise

4. Increase Awareness of the Mind and Body Connection (How to Take Care of Yourself)

5. Academic Excellence (Math and Literary Skills)

6. Increase Concentration  and Focus (Quality and Length of Time)

7. Build Confidence (In Yourself and Abilities)

8. Increase Communication Skills

9. Find an Emotional Outlet

10. Learn the Value of Dedication and Perfectionism; Receive Constructive Criticism

11. Perseverance and Follow Through to the End of a Project

12. ***  Last But Not Least - IT'S FUN!!

Understanding and appreciating art is so helpful when it comes to processing the hard stuff in the world.  Music is a safe place to let out emotions.  An outlet for times you feel powerless and it can be invaluable in your emotional survival.  Art can be such a powerful tool for children to express themselves.    Jennifer Nettles,Sugarland

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why should someone study musical theater repertoire? What are it's extra benefits?

Why should someone study musical theater repertoire (legit or otherwise) even if they do not want to perform that style of music?

There are so many elements- The technique of singing is the cake that we build while these benefits of musical theater repertoire study are the icing to your singing!

    Here is a list of all the things that voice lessons can do for you!

  • Studying the character of music enhances the ability to communicate with the audience
  • It enhances the emotional connection to music.
  • It builds confidence in singing by ‘being another person’
  • It reduces nervousness of performing (getting outside of oneself)
  • It encourages motion and movement in singing
  • Motion and movement often reduces the tensions that creep into singing
  • Helps the student think ‘outside of the box’ and be creative
  • Intensifies the connection between word and song
  • It connects students to their own emotions and empathizing with others

All of these qualities can be used not only to get into the school play, but to enhance their singing skill set in all styles of music!

Musical study also develops many extra-musical talents such as academic excellence, increased concentration abilities, posture and poise, and the value of dedication and follow through of a project.  Sign up to receive developing articles at 

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Studying Musical Theater Repertoire in Voice Lessons- Why is it a good idea?

Studying Musical Theater Repertoire in Lessons- Why is it a good idea? 
There are many facets to singing as most music educators know. Breath support, posture, and communication of the song are the most important.  Does the average person know about these things as well?  There is so much more to singing than meets the average eye.  How you breathe, support your sound and stand affect the overall quality of the sound.  However, if one stops there in their singing study, we are still missing an important part of singing:  Communicating the meaning of the song.  Here is where learning musical theater repertoire can be very helpful.  It allows the student to truly connect with a character and develop the emotional content of a song.
“God gave us music that we might communicate without words.”  This is true, but add words to the music and the communication is amazing!  Whether it is a classical, pop, or musical theater song, we must take time to focus on what we are truly saying while singing!  It changes so many things.  

We develop the 'cake' of singing through technique.  Emotion and movement become the 'icing on the cake' of singing techniques.  The tone quality of the voice is enhanced when tapping into the emotion of the piece.  A sad song will sound slightly different from a happy song if the singer addresses what they are really saying.  When a singer connects to the emotion of a song, it touches a different part of the singer, and also reaches the audience in a profound way. A true mark of a good performer is being able to touch the audience with the music.  If someone in the audience is so moved to cry in a sad section of music, it communicates that which the spoken word cannot.  Combining music with the written word touches the soul.

The beginning singer focuses on the technique of singing and works to expand their ability to communicate through song.  When working on conveying the meaning of a piece, students are often encouraged to listen to professional artists in the genre perform their song.  When studying musical theater repertoire, students not only study the individual piece itself, but the character of the play, who they are, and what is going on in their life.  There are both auditory and visual sources for them to go to for study.  By studying a literary person, the student is really asked to identify with the emotions of someone else and empathize with themand 'be the character' in the performance of the music. There is a true element of acting that comes into play which enhances the ultimate performance.

If voice teachers guide students in what musical theater repertoire is appropriate for their voice, it can be a wonderful developmental tool for the singing artist.  Many of our students want to learn musical theater repertoire so that they can be in the school play or community theater productions.  This is an appropriate goal for them given where they are in their lives.  Why not use this as a portal to get them to truly communicate a piece?  They can relate to a character in a play (often more so than to the person singing about love in Italy in the 16th century).  Encourage the student to use what they learn by studying a character from a musical theater production in the singing of their other repertoire!

How have you found study of musical theater repertoire useful in your singing or your studio?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Do hormone changes (specifically puberty) affect the singing voice.The Tree of Life

Hormone Changes (Specifically Puberty)   The Tree of Life

If you (or your child) are a young voice student, you may experience a change in voice when going through puberty and afterwards as the body adjusts to not only the hormonal changes, but growth of the body.  Sudden changes in the size of the body directly relate to the vocal cords. When your legs grow, so do your vocal cords.  Just like those legs, they need time to adjust to the change.  This difference often appears most prevalent in boys, but also happens as girls go through puberty.  Boys experience a rapid change affecting even their speaking voice with sometimes squeaky speech or loss of pitch occurring regularly.  A husky sound and almost a disappearance of notes in singing as the voice changes are often common, whereas girls may develop a raspy sound on certain days of the month.  If in active voice study, a voice teacher can help maneuver through these changes.  Guidance can be provided to help these singers through the adjustment while still maintaining a healthy singing voice.

The human voice continues to develop and change as the body and mind continue to grow.  Changes continue often into the late 20’s and early 30’s.  The components of our everyday life change as we go through college, get our first job, life on our own, are responsible for our own bills, get married and have children.  These situational changes can impact how our singing voice operates if we are not careful.  Reminders of regular vocal care and good singing technique are very helpful. 
Some people (especially women) then experience a change later in life as well as hormones change again in menopause.  There is little documentation of the scientific validity of this occurrence, however many singers have mentioned feeling a change in their voice in their later years.

All of these factors lead to one conclusion, voice lessons should be a constant in a singer’s life. Just as a tree continues to grow and change throughout the seasons, so does the human voice.
What are your experiences with hormonal changes and the singing voice?