Monday, December 29, 2014

Top Blogs of Healthy and Confident Singing Voice in 2014

As the year draws to a close, it is fun to revisit the best of topics of the year (isn't that why they summarize the year so often on television?).  Seriously, it is interesting to look at.  The top 5 prevalent topics of Healthy and Confident Singing for 2014 are:

1. Sick But Singing December 2014

2. Vocal Color- How it Makes YOU Unique November 2014

3. Mind Control and Singing: "It's All in the Mind" October 2014

4. Just a Few More Reasons Singing is Good for You: Stress Relief, Self Esteem... October 2014

5. Yoga and Balance are Synonymous. How Can Yoga and Balance Help Your Singing? April 2014

Honorable Mention: Reasons Why You Need to Sing Everyday! March 2014

Are there any topics YOU would like to see addressed in 2015?  Questions that you would like answered related to singing?  Let me know by clicking here: Contact Me  Visit my website for more informationVisit My Website for more information or sign up to receive my blog!

I look forward to a WONDERFUL 2015 filled with singing!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays to All and Happy Singing!!

Fa la la la la, la la la la!!  'Tis the season of caroling and singing!  Happy Holidays to all!

Remember to take time for yourself and take time to enjoy the magic of the season.  Sing your favorite Christmas carols, practice for the Holiday Concert, listen to Christmas music on the radio, make sure you find time for one concert (or listen to a recording) of Messiah, add some Manheim Steamroller or Holiday Rock if that is more your style.  Music shares the meaning of this holiday season!

Musicians are the makers of holiday traditions and getting people in the holiday spirit.  We get so caught up in our craft that sometimes we forget to just plain enjoy the music.  Take a moment before or during that next concert to 'drink in' the holiday spirit and truly appreciate the beauty of the music of the holidays.  Whether it be the religious or secular aspect of the season, music really puts the icing on the cake of the holidays.

When you are stressed about how you are going to get everything done before the holiday, frustrated with the traffic at the mall, or worried you are going to be late to get to your next rehearsal, take a minute and close your eyes (or just breathe if you are driving) and sing your favorite holiday song, find a holiday station on the radio or a Pandora station.  Enjoy the wonders and magic of the season with the thing that drives us all into the spirit, MUSIC!

Stay tuned for a summary of the hottest singing topics from 2014 and sign up to receive my blog and

Monday, December 15, 2014

Make Your Practice More Productive

We are all in a time crunch at this time of year. So many performances, shopping to get done, social engagements, finals at school, snowstorms to weather.

How do you make the most of the time that you have to practice singing?  Take time to do a few things and you will get so much done in less time!  Try these tips.

1.  Establish a practice space and eliminate all distractions from the room (phone, tv)

2.  Get your body and mind ready.
- Stretch your neck, arms, legs.
- Do a 'rag doll' by flopping forward bending over your legs and take a few deep breaths in and out.  Release any tension through your fingertips.
- Do a 'tree pose' to extend your spine and calm you mentally.  (Make sure you do this on both sides)

3.  Follow a 5-10 minute vocal warm-up (Spend time finding 4-5 exercises that warm your voice up well quickly).

4. Isolate exactly what you are going to work on in your practice on your repertoire and focus on that 1 or 2 things.
-Are you working out your breaths, phrasing, pronunciation, interpretation?
-Focus on only 1 at a time.  If you master that, move on to another.

5. Sing through the whole of the selection you are working on.  Assess how you did.

6. Did the work you did stick?  Make notes to yourself as to what you need to work on the next day.  Is it the same or should you now work on phrasing or interpretation.  Write down a note or two and when you will practice next.

By focusing and getting right to task (that ideally is selected before you get to your practice space), you minimize messing around with non-singing tasks and can get a lot accomplished with your practice time.

If you have more time (maybe in between Christmas and New Year's?), take time to explore new things, improvisation, sing through old repertoire just because, or figure out what you want to use for your next audition.  The beauty of music is creating it and perfecting it and freedom to explore new paths our icing to the cake!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sick but Singing? "Tis the Season to be....."

Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la laaaah...oh boy, I'm sick. The holiday season is filled with singing, concerts, and shows.  What do you do if you find yourself sick?  Despite our best efforts to stay healthy, sometimes we do catch that cold.

First take a minute and assess if you have to do the performance or not.  If you are in the chorus, maybe you can back off a little bit on a song or two.  If you are the soloist or lead maybe not.  If it hurts when you are singing, really take a moment to re-evaluate your technique.  If the show must go on.....

Be Smart

Take care of yourself physically.  Get extra sleep, drink lots of water, wash your hands, take extra vitamin C, stay warm, avoid talking if you don't need to.  Do anything that will support your immune system and get you better.

Take care of yourself mentally.  Think about what you can and cannot do about the situation and get a little mental R & R.  Don't go overboard with the ramifications, just make a plan.

Take some time to take an unemotional and honest look at how the sickness is affecting your voice. Sore throats often lead to a raised larynx and reduce vocal power and resonance.  Swelling of the mucous membranes absorb some of your sound and affect your resonance.  If the cold has gone to your chest, it may impact your ability to rapidly fill your lungs for good breath support.  General aches can impair your endurance.  Figure out how this illness if affecting your singing.

After you do this, make rational adjustments.  Reduce your expectations a little bit.  You may not sound as you usually do.  Maybe that high C is not going to be as loud as you know it can be, maybe you need to add a few breaths into phrasing to help you, maybe you need to increase your support or warm up for more time than usual.  It is best to get through a performance by singing on cue and in tune than worry about subtle changes.  Showing up and showing professionalism is part of a singer's life and everyone will understand.  In the meantime do your best to relieve your symptoms and get better so you can do your best on that day!  Remind yourself that you will wake up again tomorrow and the next time you sing you will be well and astound everyone!

Many singing greats have had to make the show go on and admit they learned something from singing with a cold.  Opera singer, Renee Fleming, states in her autobiography that she truly learned to sing when she was sick.  She could no longer cheat on my technique and get away with it, she had to listen to her body and trust her technique to get her through.

This is not encouraging you to sing if you are very sick or if your throat hurts, but a means to help you get through it when you need to.  Of course, the ideal would be to take care of yourself to the point that you never get sick (but let's be realistic, we do), but be smart if the show must go on.

Dr. Jahn's Advice (Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and author for Classical Singer):

-Make a realistic appraisal of whether you really need to sing or can cancel.
-Make an unemotional checklist of how your vocal production is impaired
-Develop a strategy for working around those impairments,
-Use medications and adjustments in technique
-Accept a philosophical attitude toward a temporary setback

Stay healthy and smart about your singing!