Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Singing Lessons Improve Academic Skills (Part 5 of 12 of What Singing Lessons Can Do For You!)

Studies show that students who study voice or a musical instrument, perform better academically.  In musical study, we learn problem solving, perseverance, and are continually using multiple intelligences at the same time.   Artistic creations cause us to try to figure out how to sing or play that phrase with good support or more musically, answer questions such as  ' How would the character in the musical Guys and Dolls react in the situation?'  or 'How can I help the orchestra perform this piece successfully- what is my role and how can I play my part accurate?' Students are consistently being challenged to solve problems such as these.  This helps to develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career (All Catholic Orchestra Program).

In solving problems in music, one learns perseverance and also develops musical intelligence, a separate trait in the 'theory of multiple intelligences' (both to be expanded up in future blogs).  Music study increases the academic (and musical) functions of the brain! 

A few specific examples:

Many of the concepts of music and making music are based on math:  time signature, beat, and rhythm are just a few examples.  By learning how to organize the beat into measures and the rhythm within beats, we are teaching valuable mathematical skills. 

Most of the instructions given in music are in Italian.  Piano (soft), mezzo-forte (medium loud), Allegro  (quickly).  Understanding their meaning increases our language awareness.  We start to look at the roots of words to find their meaning.  Since our language is devised from Latin as it Italian, students learn roots of words and prefixes which help their vocabulary and may even help in their success in language study.

In voice lessons we also analyze the words of the song thus working literary skills.  What is the poet really saying with these lyrics from the 16th century?  Put it in your own words.  How does the character feel at this part of the song when you say 'I love you although I can no longer be with you'.  How do you translate this line to English from Italian?  Singing lessons go one step further to not only interpret the written word just like you would in English class, but addresses other languages, and how do we communicate those words while we sing? 

We study music for the music itself and the joy it brings us, but the academic benefits of musical study are astounding.  Why not encourage lifelong study?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Singing Lessons Help the Connection Between Body and Mind (and How to Take Care of Oneself!) (Part 4 of 12 of What Singing Lessons Can Do For You!)

Increase the Awareness of the Mind and Body Connection by taking singing lessons.  The most intimate instrument to study is the voice.  There is no one else in the world who has the same instrument as you.  You may sound similar to a musical icon through imitation, or blend well with the person sitting next to you in choir, however NOONE else has your voice!

When taking voice lessons, a singer looks deeper inside themselves physically and mentally and really learns HOW their voice works.  What do they need to do or allow their body to do to create that free, beautiful, and resonant sound?  If the singer is stressed about schoolwork or lacking sleep, does their voice function the same way as if they are relaxed and well-rested?  What if you tweeked a muscle in your back while playing soccer?  Does this affect your singing?  If you are upset that you had a fight with your best friend and fixate on it, does this impact how you sing?  YES!  You become more aware of what affects YOU as a person and what you can do to control it.

So, as a singer, you then need to learn how to take care of yourself and your instrument.  All of the things that we learn about in health class that will keep us healthy play a key role in singing: get adequate sleep, drink lots of water, wash your hands well and frequently, stay physically active, find mental and physical outlest for stress.  We learn how to take care of our bodies and either find a physical or emotional outlet for our stresses to preserve our vocal instruments. 

When taking singing lessons, students are encouraged to take responsibility for their bodies, minds and instruments.  This in turn helps students to become more aware of the connection between body, mind, and functioning in everyday life.  What better thing can you do for yourself than learn HOW to take care of your own body for the things that you want to accomplish in life?  For more about the body-mind connection and the exercise, diet, and singing connection, visit and

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Posture and Poise

Singing Lessons Help Improve Posture and Poise

In singing lessons, we address posture often.  It affects how we breathe- how much air we actually bring in to our body and how we exhale.  The flow of breath we have through our body helps us to sustain a phrase and create a smooth, beautiful sound.  If we expell all of our air at once, we can only sustain short phrases.  Having good posture gives us the capability to create a steady breath flow that can be held for a full phrase. 

When we work on posture, we in turn work on poise.  What person can have great posture and not feel a sense of pride inside?  I often say to students, 'stand tall and proud and allow the breath to flow through you'.  This helps your singing.  In turn, it also help the psyche.  It is tough to stand proud and not feel a sense of strength from within.

The shy student who is full of self-doubt or average student just having a rough day, often has a surge of pride and poise when reminded about posture.  Working from the outside in and the inside out to develop confidence while perfecting posture for health and good singing can do wonderful things for a person's pride! 

A good way to work on posture in singing is to work with yoga and pilates poses.  The empowerment that one feels from a Warrior 1 pose or relaxation from centering oneself with Tree Pose is a wonderful thing not only for posture, but for the inner strength of a human being.  Visit to find out more about the Affects of Pilates Study on the Singing Voice and for the Affects of Yoga Study on the Singing Voice.

What do you think about developing good posture and poise for singing and confidence building at the same time? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Breath Control and Posture- What can they do for your singing and your life?

Breath Control and Breath Support in Singing and Other Parts of Life

Breath Control is such an important part of our lives and yet we barely think about it.  It is a natural phenomenon that we breathe.  Breath comes in and goes out.  We don't have to think about it, unless it causes us troubles or we need to use more air than is required by sitting still.

Singing study involves time spent on breathing and posture. Learning how to control the breath helps you develop a full and free singing voice.  We use more air in singing than regular breathing and control the expiration of air so that we can sing a whole phrase on one breath and develop the endurance to sing a whole opera!  Learning to control breath can also help you in other areas.

Physical activities and athletics require us to learn to use air a little differently.  Running back and forth on a soccer field, long distance running, swimming, and other sports activities make our lungs work harder and our bodies process air a little differently.  We must lower our breathing to use abdominal breathing or we will hyperventilate. We use this kind of breathing when we sleep and when we sing as well! 

You also use air differently when you have a cold or bad allergies.  The aeoli in your lungs do not react as quickly as necessary to keep your normal pace of life.  You must slow down a little bit and learn to get your air differently.   Controlling how you breathe can help you regulate this better on your own.

Asthma is a severe form of these actions- literally the reaction of the lungs inability to process air quickly.  Working with breath control and support in a singing atmosphere facilitates how to deal with these breath challenges.  We learn how to calmly find the best breath possible when we need to take breaths quickly in between phrases in singing.  This muscular action and coordination of breath carries over to help with compromised breathing through illness, asthma, and athletic activities.  When you work on your singing, you also work on the physical action of good breath (and how to control breath support for a smooth and free sound in singing).  So, singing can help you to learn to breathe easier!

While studying Breath Control for singing, we also address Good Posture.  Good Posture facilitates good breathing! Read more in next week's blog on Improving Posture and Poise!

For more information on the reasons on the extra reasons to take singing lessons, visit

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Develop and Discover YOUR Singing Voice

Develop and Discover YOUR Singing Voice

Think about it- how often do you sing along with the radio and wonder, what is MY singing voice like? 'I know I like to listen to the following artists, but have no idea what my singing voice is capable of doing.'  'Sure I can sing all the words to XXX song, but want to get better.'  You love music and want to spend time studying what YOU can do with the instrument that was gifted only to YOU.

Here is where singing lessons really help.  A professional voice teacher can help you not only find that voice that is trapped inside you, but advance your voice to it's fullest potential, help you make appropriate song choices for your voice type, and expose you to music (or parts of your voice) that you never even knew existed.

The Voice That is Trapped:

Through proper singing technique, you can learn to unleash your voice that seems trapped.  Work on breath support and proper posture help you to explore your singing voice and find your best range. Time studying the voice releases it's capabilities and develops solid technique to sing most music.

Make Appropriate Song (and Repertoire) Choices:  

I may love to listen to Taylor Swift, but know that I have a higher soprano voice, so her music may not the best for me to sing. It may be better for me to explore a different artist (or genre).   What about musical theater? How about art songs or opera?  Maybe jazz is the best avenue.  The more styles of music you explore, the best fit for your voice is revealed.   There may be more than one genre that you like to sing and excel at singing.  Open the window to opportunity and have fun!

Allow yourself (or your child) the experience of music.  It enhances so many aspects of life in addition to it's own enjoyment.  See my previous blog for a list of all the benefits  Also, return next week for how working on breathing techniques for singing help other aspects of your life!