Six Graduation Songs That Everyone Will Love!

6 Perfect Graduation Songs for the Class of 2015

Six Graduation Songs That Everyone Will Love!Gearing up for graduation? Congratulations! Whether you’re putting on a performance or simply need to load up your party playlist, here are some of the top graduation songs, rounded up by Hayward, CA voice teacher Molly R...

 

It’s May, and before you know it we’re getting into another very busy time of year! One of the things we have to look forward to is graduations galore (how did it get to be the end of the school year already?) .

If you’re a singer, perhaps you’ve been asked by a friend or family member to sing at a ceremony or party. There are lots of wonderful songs you can sing that are sure to please — the hard part is narrowing it down! Here are six suggestions for this year’s top graduation songs.

“Reach” - Gloria Estefan

This pop tune recorded by Gloria Estefan was composed for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Its simple yet positive message to keep reaching high is perfect for sending young people out into the great big world!

“Climb Every Mountain” – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Sound of Music”

This musical theatre classic is a marvelous choice for a classically trained voice, especially a big voiced mezzo-soprano or soprano. Its inspiring lyrics and soaring melody are best when sung with lots of conviction (and solid vocal technique!). Not recommended for pop voices.

“Unwritten” –  Natasha Bedingfield

This is another inspiring pop song perfect for the new graduate! Your entire life is now a blank page, so go ahead and write your story! This particular song is great for big voices that aren’t afraid to play with melismas, also known as vocal runs.

“The Climb” – Miley Cyrus

This is yet another pop song with lyrics that encourage us to focus on our goals in order to achieve our dreams, even in tough times. Talk about the perfect message for the big day! This song would also work well for middle school ceremonies and young singers.

“I Believe I Can Fly” – R. Kelly

This ’90s R&B song from “Space Jam” is great for a variety of singers — bonus if you have a choir or vocal ensemble to sing with you! It’s uplifting and big; there’s no better way to end the year and begin the next chapter! This song would work very well for all levels and ages.

“Fly” – Avril Lavigne

This is the newest of the six songs, penned just this year in honor of the Special Olympics. Like the other songs listed, it has a very inspiring message, but is also fairly easy to sing! Those newer to pop solos will be able to do a fine job with this one.

Naturally, your voice teacher is likely to have additional suggestions, so it’s a good idea to sift through these top graduation songs together. He or she really knows your voice and is a great resource for graduation day repertoire! TakeLessons is the ideal place to find a voice teacher if you do not already have one.

Be sure you do a good warm-up before the big performance… and break a leg!

mollyrMolly R. teaches online and in-person singing lessons in Hayward, CA. Her specialties include teaching beginner vocalists, shy singers, children, teens, lapsed singers, and older beginners. She joined TakeLessons in November 2013. Learn more about Molly here!

 

 

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Pre-performance checklist flowchart

Checklist for Singers: How to Prepare for an Upcoming Gig

Are you a singer gearing up for an important gig? If you’re feeling nervous about singing, don’t sweat. Here, online voice teacher Tyler J. share his timeline for success…

 

The gig is booked, you’ve invited your friends, and you realize on the night of the show that you haven’t even rehearsed yet. Your heart rate speeds up, your stomach turns, and you break out in a cold sweat. “I’ve barely rehearsed, I’m totally going to screw this up” repeats over and over in your mind as you pace back and forth counting down the hours until downbeat. Have you ever been in this situation? Of course you’re going to feel nervous about singing in this scenario.

It’s something that many performing musicians have experienced, but it fortunately can be remedied well in advance. Following the checklist below is a great way to know you’re well prepared, and will help you confidently take the stage when the time comes.

Checklist for Singers

While at first this may seem like a lot of work, when you space it out over a few weeks it’ll seem much easier. I highly suggest working through this checklist with your vocal coach (and if you don’t have one, look no further than right here on TakeLessons.com!). These are just some of the tips for singers that will help you become an amazing performer. Your teacher can also provide honest criticism of your performance, help you memorize lyrics, and help to keep your voice feeling strong and comfortable. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to step on stage with confidence and deliver an excellent performance.

Need help finding a vocal coach near you? Start your search here!

Tyler J

 Tyler J. teaches multiple styles of singing and guitar via online lessons. He recently earned a Master of Music in Commercial Music from California State University Los Angeles and can also help students with composition, music recording, and audio engineering. Learn more about Tyler here!

 

 

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Turning Rejection Into Success: 5 Stories To Encourage You to Keep Singing

5 Famous Singers Who Failed Big Before They Made It

Dreaming about making it big as a singer? Developing a thick skin and learning how to persevere is key — the road ahead isn’t always easy! Even the most successful singers today had to start somewhere. In this guest post by Corona, CA teacher Milton J.learn how to become a famous singer by drawing inspiration from these success stories…

 

As a budding musician and singer myself, you and I have something in common – we both love to share our vocal gifts with those willing to listen. However, how do we feel when some people are just not willing to listen? How do we keep our confidence up and turn our audience into fans? We can draw our inspiration from some of the music industry’s most successful artists who, just like us, had similar setbacks on their road to stardom. Despite the setbacks, though, they all persevered to become the famous singers they are today!

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, was a child piano prodigy and began performing in New York jazz and supper clubs as a teenager. Initially signed by L.A. Reid for Def Jam, her subsequent demos from her debut album did not impress her new boss, who labeled her new music “disgusting.” Gaga spoke on this event, stating, “They would say, ‘This is too racy, too dance-oriented, too underground. It’s not marketable.’ And I would say, ‘My name is Lady Gaga, I’ve been on the music scene for years, and I’m telling you, this is what’s next.’ And look…I was right.” Lady Gaga clearly knew how to become a pop star, and after her prompt dismissal from the label, she lined up with Akon’s Konvict Music and had the freedom to write and perform to her heart’s content.

Madonna

Madonna

It seems as though Gaga is the apparent heir to Madonna’s pop trailblazing career, so it’s no coincidence that Madonna dealt with the same adversity decades earlier. After graduating from high school in Michigan, Madonna received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. After convincing her father to allow her to take ballet lessons, she was persuaded by her ballet teacher to pursue a career in dance, dropped out of college in 1978, and relocated to New York City. She worked as a Dunkin’ Donuts waitress and danced with modern dance troupes, continuing to perfect her craft while trying to make ends meet. “It was the first time I’d ever taken a plane, the first time I’d ever gotten a taxi cab,” she once said of her move to New York. “I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I’d ever done.”

After collaborating with bands The Breakfast Club and Emmy, she eventually decided to market herself as a solo act and recorded demos to send to record labels in New York City. Madonna was famously rejected by Millennium Records President Jeremy Ienner, known for productions of such hits as “Dirty Dancing” and “Sister Act.” He stated that while he enjoyed some of her music, she was “not ready yet” and he would “pass for now.” This rejection motivated Madonna to continue making music with club DJ Mark Kamins, who at the time was working with Seymour Stein of Sire Records. Kamins gave Stein a demo of Madonna’s work while Stein was in the hospital, and he insisted Madonna come to the hospital immediately so he could sign her to his label.

In an interview, Stein remembered what it was like to meet Madonna: “I always believed in her, because not only did she have talent, but she had a burning desire, drive, ambition, and a work ethic that is incredible. So, she had everything and I saw that in my hospital room.”

And a whole list of others…

Some of our best recent vocalists and bands come from the reality singing competition reject lines. “American Idol,” “X Factor,” and “The Voice” may rule the ratings on television, but they do not necessarily dictate talent and success.

Hillary Scott, of Lady Antebellum fame, did not make it to the judges’ round to see Randy, Paula, and Simon. Colbie Caillat met the same fate while singing her future lead single “Bubbly” for the judges. Later, she would state, “I was shy. I was nervous. I didn’t look the greatest. I wasn’t ready for it yet. I was glad, when I auditioned, that they said no.” Inevitably, she found success by channeling that rejection into a chance to get better and come into her own as an artist.

Jordin Sparks, winner of “American Idol’s” sixth season, was actually rejected in her first audition and won a radio station contest to re-audition in a different city. Additionally, just last year, she was dropped from her label RCA due to delays from the executive team and recently signed to Salaam Remi’s new label Louder Than Life, with her album coming in May 2015.

Even show winners have faced setbacks. “The Sing-Off” winners and reigning a cappella music leaders Pentatonix was dropped after Sony’s Epic Records folded and only came back to Sony – this time with Madison Gate, owned by Sony – after their covers began to go viral on YouTube. After their debut album, they would leave Madison Gate for RCA due to their desire to release more original music than merely covers.

 

This industry is indeed for the strong-willed and the bounce-back types, and these artists figured that out long before they were famous. What’s more, however, is learning from the sure-fire rejection that is bound to come. Not everyone will like your singing and your performance, but if you push forward and continue to work on getting better at singing every single day, you can turn your love for singing into a career. It is true our worst critics can be ourselves, but the right vocal teacher can help bring the absolute best out of you! With the right attitude, your potential is endless!

Readers, what other advice have you received about how to become a famous singer? Leave a comment below and share!

MiltonJMilton J. teaches guitar, piano, singing, music recording, music theory, opera voice, songwriting, speaking voice, and acting lessons in Corona, CA. He specializes in classical, R&B, soul, pop, rock, jazz, and opera styles. Learn more about Milton here!

 

 

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7 Strange Ways to Keep Your Voice Healthy

7 Strange (But Effective) Ways to Keep Your Voice Healthy

7 Strange Ways to Keep Your Voice HealthyAs a singer, you probably know how important it is to take care of your voice — it is your instrument, after all! If you’re already staying hydrated and doing your daily warm-ups,  take it a step further by trying these strange (but effective) strategies in this guest post by Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R...

 

Most people know that water and rest are good for the voice. Proper vocal health for singers doesn’t have to be much more difficult than that though, because there are lots of bizarre things you can do to keep your voice healthy, even when you aren’t singing. As a professional singer, I’ve acquired lots of little eccentric ways to keep my cords happy while those around me go hoarse. Here are the top seven strange ways to keep your voice healthy.

1. The Concert/Sports Game “Wooo”

The biggest culprit of vocal health problems is vocal abuse. We use our voices constantly, and if we do it wrong, the voice suffers. One place where we tend to abuse our voices is at big events like concerts and sports games, where everyone spends hours hollering at the top of their lungs.

So, what’s the solution? The concert/sports game “wooo” allows you to enjoy the thrill of “yelling” without killing your cords. Some people naturally do this: think of the times you’ve heard a long, high “WOOOO!” at a concert. This head voice “woo” is also a popular vocal warm-up. To master this, simply practice gently saying “woo” in head voice (falsetto for men) with adequate breath support. As you get better at this, you will be able to make a lot of noise – more than the screaming, overenthusiastic fan who won’t be able to talk the next day. Here’s a good example (skip to 1:02):

If you need help with this, ask your voice teacher.

2. Pretend to Scream on Roller Coasters

While I do enjoy healthy whooping at concerts and sports games, I choose to stay mute on roller coasters. Why? The ups and downs aren’t exactly conducive to proper vocal technique, and no one is listening to you anyway. I just open my mouth so it looks like I’m screaming and enjoy the ride. I promise it doesn’t take away from the fun, and you’ll be able to sing beautifully even after a full day at the amusement park.

3. Don’t Sing Only Christina Aguilera at Karaoke Night

Vocal health for singers is important to keep in mind, even while you’re out at karaoke! Yes, it’s fun to belt along to your favorite tunes at karaoke night (or in the car, shower, or wherever). But overdoing it can lead to serious vocal problems. To avoid hurting yourself, limit the number of super-high belting songs you sing and try mixing in some head voice-dominant songs (Beyoncé’s “Naughty Girl, Ellie Goulding’s “Lights”, and pretty much anything Justin Timberlake sings are good, low-impact choices). If you find yourself belting all the time for fun, please, please, please take voice lessons. Belting is not inherently unhealthy and you can learn how to do it right – but it can injure your voice if you do it wrong (trust me, I know from experience).

4. Lip Sync at Concerts

Concerts are bad for voices. Not only do we scream at them, we also sing along – loudly and badly – to our favorite songs. Doing this is fun, but if you don’t want to wave goodbye to your voice, try lip syncing. No one will notice, and you will still be engaged and having a great time (as well as showing everyone that you know all of the lyrics).

5. Support Your Speaking Voice

Did you know that voice therapists treat people who talk a lot (actors, reporters, lecturers, etc.) just as often as they treat singers? You probably talk more than you sing, and talking too loudly or with lots of tension can harm your voice. If you have a voice teacher, ask him or her to devote a lesson to healthy, supported speaking. Your voice teacher can help you apply breath support, throat relaxation, and other vocal techniques to your speaking. If you don’t have a teacher, consider getting one! But in the meantime, try speaking while thinking about breath support and resonance concepts. If you get the hang of it, your speaking voice will have more range (no monotone here) and be louder with less physical effort.

6. Pick Quiet Restaurants

If you are going out for a nice long meal, consider noise levels. Some restaurants are so loud that you have to shout across the table, and by the end of the meal your voice won’t feel so great. Taking noise levels into account will not only protect your vocal cords, it will make the dinner conversation much more audible and enjoyable.

7. Mouth Words at Clubs

Remember tip #4? You can use this at noisy clubs, parties, and other events as well. If people try to talk to you, they aren’t going to be able to hear you unless you shout. But they might actually understand you if you mouth your words clearly. If they don’t, they will lean in and you can speak at a comfortable volume.

As you can see, you don’t have to be a hermit to keep your voice healthy. Go to all of the social gatherings, concerts, clubs, restaurants, and sports games you want. If you keep these seven strange ways to keep your voice healthy in mind, your vocal cords will stay as rested as if you had stayed at home and watched Netflix.

ElainaElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

 

 

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how to become a broadway star

Want to Someday Star On Broadway? 3 Tips from an Expert

how to become a broadway star

Dreaming about someday starring on the Broadway stage? Here, Los Angeles, CA teacher Meredith P. shares her expert tips to help you get there…

 

As an audience member, you can sit back and relax at a Broadway show, and not truly understand the work that it takes to get to that coveted stage and the tremendous blood, sweat, and tears that go into each performance. As with athletes, the only thing the audience sees is the end result. A lot of times it can be intoxicating and glamorous. But its rare that an outsider understands the amount of training, sacrifice, focus, and money that is invested into each and every performer and each and every performance.

But that’s every performer’s job… to make it look easy. Because of this, it’s the strong, the tenacious, the hard-working, and the incredibly lucky ones who make it to the Broadway stage.

I began my dance training at the age of two and a half. Sure, back then, my parents weren’t thinking about molding me to be a professional Broadway dancer, but this is just an example of how far back training goes for many professional dancers. Then, as my interest and passion continued, I began ballet training at six, singing lessons at eight, and began working in professional theater productions at age 13.

I continued training all throughout high school and moved to New York City at the age of 18. I was fortunate to be just 20 years old when I was cast as the leading lady of my first national tour; but even then, I still had five more years before I got the chance to fulfill my dream of actually starring on Broadway. But, within those five years, I was working every day on my singing, dancing, and acting skills to carry a show as a leading lady.

If you’re like me, you see Broadway performers as the best of the best! And to be ready for that competition — to be prepared to actually “star on Broadway” — is something that performers train for YEARS to achieve. And, even after all that training, it’s very rare that you get the incredible chance to actually star on Broadway. You never know when that “luck” will roll around. So, what I teach my students is to concentrate on what they can control and to always be prepared for when that luck comes!

If you’re interested in learning how to become a Broadway star, here’s what I did to prepare to star on the stage:

1. Put in hours of work, outside of auditioning for shows.

Artists take voice lessons weekly, sometime more than once a week, depending on the role they’re playing. They’re also taking yoga, meditation, dance, and exercise classes to keep their bodies healthy. This is a daily occurrence. Performers should be working and training daily before they even get to the theater to do their shows.

Also, networking is important, because the more you’re mingling with artists in your field, the more people get to know and like you. Booking a show isn’t always just about skill — a lot of times it can come down to skill and a choreographer or director knowing and liking you.

2. Remember that what a star eats makes a huge difference!

Broadway stars must watch what they eat to be aware of what foods work for them and energize them. Your voice and body can change depending on fatigue, hot or cold weather, and the theater environment, and you have to know how to adapt to that. If you’re doing a tremendously physical show, you have to know that you can’t truly be full at the beginning of it. When I was starring in 42nd Street, I had a rule that I couldn’t be full past 6:30 for an 8pm curtain. I would eat sushi a lot of times between shows because I knew it was good for my energy and digestion. And I always had a banana or an apple in my dressing room to eat before the last 20 minutes of the show, which was the hardest for my role. I learned to never eat nuts or granola, because the pieces got stuck in my teeth, and I almost choked on stage when I started singing.

A lot of Broadway performers eat dinner after the show, and knowing what food is best for your body and what doesn’t create acid reflux is also important, because that affects your vocal cords. Every body is different, and like an athlete, you have to know your body and what fuel works for you to be your best eight shows a week.

3. Have a spiritual or mental practice that helps you balance your body, mind, and soul.

The demands of a Broadway performer are very intense. Not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. The emotional ups and downs are a part of your life, even if you’re extremely successful. Rejection is a part of every performer’s life. For every job you get, there are 50 you didn’t get. So, finding a way to achieve balance is crucial. I’ve turned to meditation, yoga, and “rules” for myself that have helped me lead a full and balanced life outside of the entertainment industry.

For example, I used to tell family and close friends when I got an big audition because I was so excited at the fact that I got a chance! Then, if I got a callback, the pressure was on, and everyone I told would ask, “Did you get it?” Very soon, I realized that if I didn’t get the part, not only would I have to feel the disappointment, I also would have to explain what happened to friends and family over and over again, re-living the rejection.

So, one of my rules now is that I don’t tell anyone until I am signing the contract for the role. This rule might not work for every artist, and I believe balance is about bio-individuality. As a holistic health counselor, I help performers find body, mind, and spiritual practices that promote balance and work for them.

Even after ascending to the top of a Broadway marquee, the work continues. Anybody passionate to learn how to become a Broadway star should constantly be taking voice lessons, acting classes, and dance classes. Take a theater dance class, a ballet class, and a tap class. Even when you’re a star, you should still be taking lessons.

The best, most successful stars never stop training. Ever.

Meredith P.Meredith P. teaches acting, singing, and dance in Los Angeles, CA. She has performed on Broadway, acted in television shows, and even recorded her own jazz albums! She studied at the AMDA College & Conservatory For The Arts and the Institute For Integrative Nutrition in NYC. Learn more about Meredith here!

 

 

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soprano singing

5 Important Tips for Soprano Singers to Keep in Mind

soprano singing

Are you a soprano? Keep your voice in great shape with these tips from Saint Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L...

 

Being born a soprano comes with both its perks and its challenges. On the one hand, we sopranos have a lot of the solos in choruses and choirs, and most of the highly dramatic arias and ballads. On the other hand, we tend to overwork and abuse our voice more often and get diagnosed with a lot more pathologies of the voice. Every voice type is special, and soprano singers have their own quirks. Here’s a list of five important tips for sopranos to keep in mind.

Be patient, but don’t wait too long.

A famed soprano refused to perform an aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” until she was 30 years old, because she knew that she just wasn’t old enough yet. The human voice doesn’t really develop into all of its awesome brilliance until the mid-20s. And let’s face it, this could be one of those rare times in life when people tell you that you’re just too young. How great is that? That means that it’s important to listen to your voice teacher or your choir director if she tells you that you’re not ready for a certain song. On the other hand, singers’ voices have shelf lives, just like the bodies of professional athletes do. So, if you plan to pursue soprano singing as a professional career, don’t wait to find a voice coach. Start looking now!

Build endurance, but listen to your body.

It’s important to build endurance by learning how to sing for increasingly longer periods of time. Follow the guidance of your teacher, but this is effectively done – among other things – by having more frequent, but shorter lessons. This means that if you’re currently taking a one-hour voice lesson every week, then you could take two half-hour voice lessons every week. By building both mental and physical endurance, you’re also improving your concentration, making you all the more ready to sing the big songs. But remember, nothing is more important to your career than the health and longevity of your voice. So, as is always the rule, listen to your body and pay attention to sensations as you sing and speak.

Eat right and work out.

Every voice type generally has its typical physical characteristics. In other words, baritones tend to be tall and lean. Tenors are usually shorter than other men, with short necks and broad shoulders. Contraltos and mezzo sopranos generally have curvy bodies, while sopranos tend to be petite with long necks and a smaller amount of muscle mass. Our bodies are our instruments, and one of our goals is to have a strong and solid instrument. So, what sopranos should keep in mind is that it’s often really helpful to make simple strength training, like lifting weights, a part of your practice regimen. Be careful not to be either underweight or overweight. Eating right — meaning the right balance of complex carbohydrates, fats, and protein (to build those muscles) – is also really helpful in achieving that strong and solid instrument.

Speak well.

My voice physician once told me that he estimated that ninety percent of the vocal problems that his patients face are from poor speaking habits, not poor singing technique. Avoid the very popular “vocal fry,” talk in a well-modulated voice at all times, consult your voice teacher if you have any concerns and seek only an ENT (ear, nose, throat) physician who specializes in treating voice professionals. And sometimes, if you have poor speaking habits, you may need to see a speech therapist who specializes in treating singers.

Get a laryngoscopy annually.

Sopranos in particular are prone to nodules, hemorrhages and other pathologies of the voice. Early detection and prevention is key to having a healthy voice for a lifetime. One of the best tips for sopranos to keep in mind is to see a voice specialist physician yearly for an exam of the vocal mechanism, specifically the folds. A laryngoscopy is a quick procedure where the physician will insert a tube into your nose or a scope with a video camera at the end, which can detect several problems for which you may not be experiencing symptoms, including cancer. You already get annual eye, dental, and general exams. Your voice deserves the same!

Perhaps the most important tip for sopranos to keep in mind is to make stress reduction a part of your daily life. Stress, and the tension that it can lead to, make soprano singing more difficult and can create both small and large problems over time. Learn stress-reducing techniques that are easy and that can be used all day long and in any situation. Your high notes are precious; keep calm and sing on!

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in St. Augustine, FL, as well as through online lessons. She is a graduate of the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and has performed with the New York and Royal Philharmonics, the New Jersey and Virginia Symphonies, the American Boy Choir, and the internationally renowned opera star Andrea Bocelli. Learn more about Heather here!

 

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singing high notes

Singing Tips: 3 Physical Keys for Hitting High Notes

singing high notesNo matter what your vocal range is, singing high notes comes with challenges. Read on as New York, NY music teacher Nadia B. shares her tips to keep in mind from a physical approach…

 

Approaching a high note or passage while singing can be a stressful experience: you know it’s coming, you may have struggled with this particular passage before, and you may feel your body tensing up in anticipation of the challenge of singing in a higher register. Read on to discover several tips that will help you approach high notes with greater ease, support, and confidence.

1. Stay Grounded

One habit that singers frequently use when going toward a high note is to reach upward with their body. Pulling upward seems helpful as a type of preparation for singing high notes, but it is actually detrimental to everything you want and need in your body. When you reach upward, you might throw your head back, pushing down on the spine, jut your ribs forward, compromising the integrity of your back, or pull your legs away from the ground, losing your sense of support underneath you.

For these reasons, when you’re singing high notes, a good strategy is to release your weight into the ground. You will naturally lengthen away from the ground without losing your sense of support underneath you. This will also stop you from doing anything extra in your body, allowing your body to naturally respond to gravity as you release your weight into the ground and simultaneously rebound upward away from the ground.

2. Release Tension

Another thing that often happens as a high note gets closer is for a singer to anticipate it. Similar to reaching, anticipation might involve a startled response in the body and/or stressful thoughts or feelings about singing the high note. When we are anticipating something challenging, we often tighten our muscles and hold our breath. If we can instead convince ourselves not to anticipate the event, we can stay at ease in our bodies, calm in our breathing and open to interacting with the sound we are producing and the environment we are in. In this way, the higher notes can be supported by an open, expansive body with the appropriate (not excessive) muscular tone and engagement, which makes them far easier to produce than from a body that is tight, tense, and weak from an imbalance of tension and tone.

To work with this idea, notice your thoughts and bodily sensations as you approach a high note. If you notice excessive tension or that you’re holding or closing off your breath, pause and give yourself time to release whatever you don’t need. Then, begin singing again, staying aware of yourself.

3. Don’t Force It

In tandem to the above tips, another thing to keep in mind is not to push your voice to force out a high note. Forcing your voice only leads to more effort, which ultimately leads to fatigue and/or damage to your vocal cords. The best way to give your high notes sustaining power is to rely on the support down below the breath. Because the breathing mechanism is engaging to move the air out of the body, the movement of the air becomes a source of support for your voice. The air coming up and out of the torso is a source of support in motion.

Instead of pushing, notice the connection of the front and back of your torso, and the ribs gently ‘releasing’ together. In addition to the ribs coming together, the diaphragm also naturally releases upward to push the air out, and the vocal folds come together to control the flow of air. Noticing how your body naturally moves the air out of your body as a source of support can allow you to let go of additional effort you are using to force the air and sound out.

The key to finding a good balance in singing high notes is to use your awareness of your body and breath. It holds the key to releasing unnecessary tension, making use of your natural support, and letting go of unhelpful mental and bodily cues that are interfering with your production of high notes. As always, ask your voice teacher if you need additional help!

nadiaBNadia B. teaches flute and piano in New York, NY, as well as through online lessons. She acted as principal flutist of the orchestra and wind ensemble at California State University, Sacramento, and then went on to receive her degree in Music Performance from New York University. Learn more about Nadia here!

 

 

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The 6 Biggest Myths about Learning to Sing

Truth or Myth? The Reality Behind 6 Common Tips for Singers

The 6 Biggest Myths about Learning to SingThere are so many tips for singers out there — but did you know some of them may not be actually true? Here, Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R. dispels some of the common myths about singing…

 

“It’s bad luck to say ‘Good Luck’ before a performance.”
“Don’t eat chocolate! It clogs your vocal cords.”
“A bad dress rehearsal leads to a good show.”

We singers toss around myths more than most. It’s important, however, to recognize which ones are just for fun and which ones are harmful. Here are some of the biggest myths about singing – and the truth lurking behind them.

Myth: Drinking Milk (Or Eating Chocolate) Will Ruin Your Voice
Fact: Unless You Have Acid Reflux, You Can Have Your Milk

Have you ever swallowed something and commenced a loud coughing fit because it “went down the wrong tube”? That correctly implies that we have two tubes in our throats (one for air and one for food). We are built so that food does not touch our vocal cords. The esophagus transports food and the trachea transports air. Unless you have a condition such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – wherein stomach acid and food re-enters your esophagus and leaks past your epiglottis into your vocal tract – enjoy that glass of milk.

Myth: You Sing From Your Throat
Fact: You Sing Using A Whole Lot of Stuff

Saying that a singer sings “from the throat” or even “from the diaphragm” is an oversimplification. It’s like saying that a flute can make noise by itself. A singer is a complicated, protean instrument with a power source (air), a sound maker (the vocal cords and the muscles that control them), and a resonator (the face and vocal tract). There are a myriad of parts involved in this process, from the intercostal muscles to the tongue to the soft palate.

Myth: The Voice Is Strong and Can Take Lots of Abuse
Fact: Your Vocal Cords are Tiny and Need TLC

Vocal cords are squishy, miniscule, and helpless. They are made of mucous membrane (a soft tissue) stretched between muscles. Adult male vocal cords are about the length of a quarter; adult female vocal cords are about the length of a dime. When you sing or speak improperly (e.g. yell in loud restaurants or sports games), your vocal cords slam together. There is only so much of this your poor little cords can take before bumps, calluses (nodules), or even bloody hemorrhoids form. So, if you think your voice is invincible, think again.

Myth: If I Take Voice Lessons For A Month I Will Know Everything About Singing
Fact: No One Knows Everything About Singing

Expecting to know everything about singing after a few lessons is like expecting to know everything about cooking after taking a few cooking classes. There is always more to learn, even for the best chefs (and singers) in the world.

Myth: If My Throat Hurts, A Special Concoction of Lemon Water, Tea, Honey, and Herbs Will Cure Me
Fact: If Your Throat Hurts, Baby It

There are a million reasons your throat could hurt. Illness, abuse, allergies, environmental factors, and medical conditions abound. Instead of trying to find a “magic pill” (here’s a little secret: there isn’t one), rest your voice the same way you would rest your leg if you hurt it. This is one of the most important tips for singers. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and use a humidifier in dry climates for a speedy recovery.

Myth: Cough Drops are Good For Vocal Cords
Fact: Mentholated Cough Drops are Bad for Vocal Cords

Menthol, the active ingredient in most cough drops, numbs your throat. It’s just like taking a painkiller to mask pain from an injury. The injury isn’t gone; you just don’t feel it (and are therefore more likely to do further damage). Menthol can also be drying, which is the last thing you want if you have a sore throat. Stick to normal candy (glycerin coats the throat as well as any cough drop) or cough drops with pectin as the active ingredient.

 

The biggest myths about singing probably evolved from people who genuinely wanted to sing well. Learning which common beliefs and tips for singers  are true – and which ones are false – helps you focus on actually improving your vocal health and technique. Toss those mentholated cough drops, enjoy that morning cup of coffee guilt-free, and work with a qualified voice teacher to see real results.

ElainaElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!

 

 

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recording studio first time

5 Tips Singers Need to Know Before Recording a Song

recording studio first timeIs recording a song one of your goals as a singer? It’s an amazing feeling to pour your heart out and have a finished product to be proud of! Here, Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T. shares some important tips to remember before you head into the studio…

 

Before going into a studio to record vocals for a song, it’s important that you prepare yourself to make the best use of your time! Recording a song in a studio can be quite expensive, because most are rented by the hour — so here are some tips for singers on how to make the most of your upcoming recording session!

1) Research recording studios

First, do a little research on the recording studios in your area, or engineers you are going to be working with before you go into the studio. Make sure you have talked about all fees and how much time you will have, and if that includes setup and breakdown. How will you get your recording after? What kind of equipment do they have? Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You don’t want to show up on the big day and be surprised they don’t have the microphone you had hoped for! Also, see if you can listen to some of the work they have produced beforehand, to get an idea of the recording quality.

2) Make a plan

Go into the studio with a specific goal in mind! For example: “Today I’m going to do just vocals for one song, or vocals and guitar on the chorus.” Keep your plan as simple as possible, and make sure your goal is clear and concise. Write it out, and share it with your engineer or producer before going in, so everyone is on the same page! It also helps to send them a rough version of the song before, with a lyrics/lead sheet.

3) Have your track ready

If you are recording vocals over a pre-existing track, it’s a wise idea to send the mp3 to your engineer beforehand, to make sure it will work in the studio. If you are going to be recording the track from scratch, take your time and record one instrument at a time. If you do not have your full band track ready to record over, you can still record your song with a solo piano or guitar track.

4) Always allow for more time

Don’t go into the studio rushed or pressured to record in a short amount of time. Have some extra time available, so that if you do go over a little bit you don’t have to worry. Usually two hours per song and per instrument is sufficient to get in multiple takes. Everything always takes longer in recording than we think, due to circumstances beyond your control (engineers setting up, testing levels, finding the right microphone, etc.). So book yourself extra time, and if you end up having free time at the end, use it for another song!

5) Work with your vocal coach

Make sure you prepare with your vocal coach beforehand, or even see if he or she can come into the studio with you as you’re recording your song! You want to be at your “vocal best” on the day of the session, and practicing the music with your teacher will put you ahead of the game (and impress the producers/engineers)! Recording a song requires a bit of different training than performing live on stage, and there are specific techniques that your vocal coach can teach you.

If you follow these tips, I ensure you will be very pleased with the outcome of your recording. As a singer, always remember to bring water and wear comfortable shoes, as you will be on your feet for a while. It’s also best to warm up before you go into the studio, so you are ready to go. Finally, remember to get plenty of rest the night before, and avoid any alcohol, which dries out your voice. Enjoy your vocal recording session!

LizTLiz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

 

 

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singing warm up exercises

Video: 4 Effective Vocal Warm-Ups to Try When You’re Sick

Feeling a cold coming on, or dealing with allergies? Below, Brooklyn, NY teacher Liz T. shares a few singing warm-up exercises to add to your practice session!

 

No one likes to sing when they’re sick, but — as we all know — sometimes “the show must go on!” It is recommended that you rest, take care of your voice, or even go on vocal rest if you have lost your voice completely. However, if you are dealing with seasonal allergies or a common cold, I have good news! It is still healthy to sing over these inconveniences, and I am here to show you how with these singing warm-up exercises!

With these exercises in mind, it’s important when you’re sick to warm up for no more than 15 minutes at a time. You don’t want to overuse your voice. Also, remember to hydrate yourself with water, tea, and apple cider vinegar, massage your glands, and also to try a hot shower to loosen up that mucus.

Doing these singing warm-up exercises will surely help you sing over your cold or allergies! Also, don’t be afraid to ask your voice teacher for additional suggestions — that’s what your teacher is there for!

LizTLiz T. teaches singing, acting, and music lessons in Brooklyn, NY, as well as online. She is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music with a B.M in Vocal performance and currently performs/teaches all styles of music including Musical Theater, Classical, Jazz, Rock, Pop, R&B, and Country. Learn more about Liz here!

 

 

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