How To Sing: Style

July 21, 2009 by  
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What makes a song interesting?

In this video you will learn how to add style to your singing by developing dynamic and tempo contrast.

Learn the 5 Elements of Style in my X FACTOR VIDEO SERIES

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How To Sing: Discovering Your Range

July 21, 2009 by  
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I Want A Bigger Range!

This statement is one that I have heard many times as a vocal coach.  In this video you will learn how to increase your range safely.

Develop your range further by enrolling in my FREE MINI COURSE

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How To Sing: Develop Vocal Flexibility

July 21, 2009 by  
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Vocal Flexibility

In this video you will learn how to add agility and flexibility in pitch and rythym.  Flexibility is a vital ingredient when it comes to contemporary singing.

Access my FREE Mini Course HERE and receive 5 video lessons.

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How To Sing: Power

July 21, 2009 by  
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The Secret to Singing With Power!

In this video you will learn how to use the cavities of your throat and head to add power to your voice.  Are you sick of having a tired voice trying to belt the sound?  Do you tire easily?  Develop resonance to solve your problems.

Learn more about your voice by enrolling in my FREE Mini Course

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Energy And Pyschology. A Singers Secret Weapon.

July 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Singing Articles


Energy and PsychologySo, you have a solid technique, you have developed style to your singing.  You have done everything ”vocally” to master your voice.  There is however another aspect of singing that is overlooked.  An aspect of singing that sets apart the amateur singer to the professional singer.

ENERGY

An energized body will lead to an energized voice!

Exercise: Walk into a room with your shoulders slumped, head down, yawning and feeling very lethargic.  Notice your energy levels.  Now sing.  What do you notice? What is often lacking is certain “spark”.  A singer may be technically great, but a technically great singer may sometimes appear robotic and lack intensity.

So how can we create energy?

  • Light exercise before you sing
  • Move while doing vocal exercises.

Motion leads to Emotion

This leads me to my next point, physiology. As a singer, your instrument is your body.  By now you should realize that nearly every muscle in your body contributes to the way you sing.  The way you present your instrument (body) can alter your energy levels and also the way people perceive you. Let’s take the first example again.  Remember, lethargic, slumped….. Now walk into a room with energy and vitality.  Chest high, head up, smiling.  Now sing.  Is there a difference to your voice?  How differently will people perceive you? I can tell within seconds in my private coaching sessions how well a student will perform that day just by the way they walk into the room.  Your physiology, the way you move, the way you hold yourself directly affects your state of mind, your Psychology.

Psychology and Singing

A singer can have the most talent in the world but unless they have the mindset to take full advantage of their talent, it will go to waste.

The mind has the ability to create or destroy.

3 examples of successful singers:

  1. Natural talent and positive mindset.  This singer is very rare.  They become the superstars we know today.
  2. Learned talent and positive mindset.  This singer is very common in the classical world.  A singer may spend 10 years studying and a couple of years trying to get a break.  They never give up and eventually “make it”.
  3. No outstanding talent but a positive mindset.  This singer probably won’t win any singing competitions yet somehow is able to make a living out of singing.  I’m sure you can think of examples in today’s pop music.

3 examples of unsuccessful singers:

  1. Natural talent and no mindset.  This singer has all the talent in the world.  Unfortunately they are full of excuses as to why they haven’t “made it” as a singer.  Confidence and self esteem issues are usually the problem.
  2. Learned talent and no mindset.  This type of singer will give up easily.  They often fear rejection.
  3. No talent and no mindset.  Occasionally I come across a student who doesn’t possess any talent and who is hesitant to learn anything new.  This singer is often under the illusion they are a good singer yet when they are told otherwise they become defensive and angry.  I’m sure you will have seen this on a popular prime time singing competition.

Talent can only take you so far.

Technique can only take you so far

The singer’s mindset will determine how successful they will be.

Which category do you fit into?

The Learning Process

As a singing student you must realize that learning to sing is a lifetime of study.  You cannot master singing in a month, a year, or even five years.  Remember that your body is your instrument and it will change throughout your life.  With that in mind, patience is the key.  Build skills slowly and add to your technique on block at a time.  The more time you spend laying the foundations, the more skills you will be able to add over time.

Don’t rush it!

Beliefs. Beliefs form a big part of the learning process.  There are two types of beliefs:

  1. 1. Empowering Beliefs
  2. 2. Disempowering Beliefs

Empowering Belief

Disempowering Belief

I CAN do it

I CAN’T do it

I AM a good singer

I am NOT a good singer

I LOVE singing high notes

I CAN’T sing high notes

Disempowering beliefs are dangerous when learning how to sing.  If a student believes they can’t do something even before they have even attempted it, they will be in a constant battle with themselves.  This will result in frustration.  As a student you need to be open minded and free of any preconceived ideas and beliefs when learning how to sing.

Mistakes

As a society we have been conditioned to believe that mistakes are bad.  In the schooling system a student is punished for making a mistake.  Mistakes = Failure.  It is no wonder that when a student of mine makes a mistake, their first reaction is one of anger and frustration.

Mistakes are a singer’s best friend.

Mistakes are the quickest way to learn.  Mistakes do not equal failure.

Mistakes = opportunity to learn and grow.

When you hit a “wrong” note or have a moment of “cracking”, have a laugh about it and don’t take it to heart or get embarrassed.  The more mistakes you make, the more you will learn.

Evaluate

As a student it is often hard to gauge how much you have improved.  There are certain things you can do to keep track of your progress.

  1. Keep a journal and take it to your lessons.  Write down anything you are struggling with, and any small breakthroughs you have.
  2. If possible arrange to have your lessons video recorded.  You will be able to view your progress over weeks, months and years.
  3. Set yourself goals and evaluate yourself monthly.  I have included a handy chart which will aid you in this area.

A well rounded Voice.  Equally developed in all areas.Well rounded singer

A Poorly Trained VoiceUnbalanced singer

Strong in some areas, but weak in others.

Imagine that this is a wheel on your car.  How smooth would your car feel when driving?  How efficient would it be?  How long would it last? Your voice will behave in the same way.  Singing will seem hard, frustrating, and unpredictable.  Your voice will tire easily.  The truth is most singers start out like this.  By evaluating what your strengths and weaknesses are you will know which areas of your voice to focus on.

Aim to be equally strong in all of the areas.

I hope this article has been useful to you.

Ian Castle

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How To Develop Your Tone

July 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Singing Articles


How To Deveop Your Tone“I want to sound better!” How many times have you heard someone say this about their singing?  How many times have you said this to yourself?  During this Interactive Article you will learn the different “areas” of your voice, how they affect your tone, and how to adjust your sound so that it sounds better and is easier to sing.  Think of your voice as an engine in a car.  In order for a car to go faster the engine needs to change gears.  Your voice acts in a very similar way.  Your voice has 3 distinct “gears”:

  1. Chest Voice
  2. Mixed Voice
  3. Head Voice

These “gears” are commonly referred to as vocal registers.

Chest Voice

This part of your voice is the most easily developed and recognized because it is used in everyday speech.  It is termed chest voice because of the sound resonating and vibrating in the chest cavity.  Take a moment to put your hand on your chest and speak as if you are in a conversation.

Being the most natural and common register there is a tendency for novice singers (and some not so novice!) to take their chest voice too high.  This will result in a yelling sound and will cause vocal fatigue.  A “changing of gears” is required to allow the voice to freely ascend into higher singing.

Here is a simple exercise to develop the chest register:

  1. Ascending and Descending 5 note scale on “AH”

Head Voice

In order for the voice ascend into higher singing a “gear change” needs to occur.  Your chest voice will eventually “redline” as you take the chest voice up.  There will be a point where you cannot sing any higher.  This point is where you need to switch to your “head voice”.  It is termed head voice because the vibrating sensation moves from your chest cavity to the cavities in the face and nose.  It is a much thinner sound and feels lighter.

Here is a simple exercise to develop the head register:

  1. Arpeggio using a lip roll


When doing these exercises, make sure you are not pushing the voice.  Let the sound “transfer” into your head naturally.  It is helpful to practice in front of a mirror.  Focus on the muscles in the middle of your neck and make sure they do not tense up.  The lip roll is used to keep your larynx low.

Before we continue I want you to make a sliding sound on “AH” starting in chest voice.  Ascend into head voice, then back down to chest.  Did you notice a change or a break from chest to head?  This is called a bridge in your voice.  It occurs for 2 or 3 notes and can be a troublesome area for singers.  This area can be improved and “ironed out” by developing….

The Mixed Voice.

To smooth the transition between chest and head voice, the resonance needs to be split between the two.

Here is a simple exercise to develop the mixed register:

  1. Ascending and Descending 5 note scale on “MUH”.  Make sure you keep a low larynx position and maintain a “dopey” sound.

Bonus Exercise.

There is another vocal technique that can be used to help smooth out the registers and shed weight from the voice, Vocal Fry.  I know the name of it sounds quite strange but it is a sound you should be familiar with from the lesson on the onset of sound, the balanced onset.  It is also a sound you may make every day when waking.  You may have seen the movie “The Grudge” or remember the cartoon character “Elmer Fudd”.  These are great examples of vocal fry.

Here is a simple exercise to develop vocal fry:

  1. Ascending and Descending 5 note scale.

When doing these exercises there should be no tension in the throat.  Monitor yourself by using a mirror.

The second area of Tone Development is vowel placement and modification.

The way you shape different vowels, the position of the three “articulators”, can drastically change the sound of your voice.

The three articulators of your voice are:

  1. The Jaw
  2. The Tongue
  3. The Lips

Often singers will tense these articulators in speaking and singing.  The result will be “muddy” diction and tone.  Are you sensing a common theme here?  Tension and singing cannot co-exist.

We will now look at the five major vowels, the neutral position and the positioning of your articulators.

The Neutral Position

When at rest the tongue is relaxed, sitting on the lower teeth.  The jaw is slightly dropped and the lips relaxed and slightly parted.  I am going to refer to this position as Neutral.

Exercise 1.

I want you to say “I  E  A  O  U”

Notice the different jaw, tongue and lip positions for each vowel.

Say it again, but this time with tense and tight articulators.  Do you notice the difference?

The Five Vowels.

The combination of vowels flows from the most open to most closed vowels.

Neutral to “I”

Slightly wider lip position and slightly lower jaw position. The tongue rises at the back of the throat.

The next vowel is “E”.  The tongue should have increased contact with the lower teeth.  The jaw should drop slightly.  The lips should remain in a similar position to the “I” vowel.

Try it…

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”

Notice the slight tongue and jaw movement.

The next vowel is “A”.  The tongue should remain in the same position as the “E’ vowel.  The jaw should drop slightly.  The lips should also remain in a similar position.

Try it….

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”                  “A”

Notice how the jaw drops as you move between the vowels.

The next vowel in the sequence is “O” as in “hot”.  The jaw should remain dropped as in the previous vowel.  The lips become more rounded and the tongue will be slightly elevated to create space in the back of the throat.

Try it….

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”                  “A”                 “O”

The last vowel in the sequence is “U” as in “book”.  The jaw remains in the dropped position.  The lips are rounded, almost to a pouting position.  The tip of the tongue is elevated to create maximum space in the back of the throat.

Try it….

Neutral                     “I”                   “E”                  “A”                 “O”                 “U”

Here is a simple exercise for vowel shaping and placement:

  1. IEAOU in an Ascending and Descending 5 note scale.



  2. I hope you enjoyed this Interactive Article on Tone Development.  I will be adding more exercises so please revisit this article soon.  Feel free to share this article with your friends and family.


    To download the exercises as an MP3 simply go to the MP3 Downloads page.

    To access even more information and videos about Improving your Tone enrol in my Free Course.

    Thanks for reading,

    Ian Castle

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