4 Singing Exercises to Practice Dynamics

299721287_f3c2d29362_oAs a singer, understanding and utilizing dynamics can turn a mediocre performance into a great one. Read on to learn some singing exercises to practice, as shared by Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L...

 

Dynamics is a word that comes from the Greek word dynamo, meaning “power.” In the context of general music, we use it as a term for how loud or soft sounds are. Dynamics can make or break a song. Frankly, in the world of singing, sometimes the lack of or presence of dynamics can make a difference in whether a singer is regarded as great or not. Think of the best singers in the world and I’ll bet that many have a tremendous sense of dynamics.

The improvement of the use of dynamics in our singing voices comes right down to a word that I don’t typically like to use as a voice teacher: control. The simple passing use of this word can often, maybe subconsciously, cause a singer to tense and strain. Control, however, is truly the thing that enables us to do much with our voices. Just make sure to maintain a free and open sound as you incorporate the concept of control in the following singing exercises.

Learn and Practice Messa di Voce

Perhaps the best singing exercise to help improve your vocal dynamics is messa di voce, an Italian phrase meaning “place the voice.”  To sing a messa di voce, you sustain one single pitch, getting louder, then softer.  The proper musical terms for getting louder and softer are crescendo and diminuendo, respectively.  Decrescendo is a word created in modern times to mean “become softer,” but it is not an Italian word or a proper musical term.  When using this exercise, be sure, as always, to use a warm, resonant sound and to stay connected to your breath. Remember, your sound begins at the bottom of the pelvic floor. Keep your shoulders floating in place; do not allow them to rise.

Lip Trill Like a Revving Engine

Another singing exercise to practice dynamics is singing lip trills, or “lip bubbles,” using messa di voce.  This is a great one that I learned from Celine Dion. Begin with a low breath, filling up your torso all the way around. Start at a comfortable low/middle position in your voice, trill up to a comfortable high point, and begin to sail down to your lowest register. As you slowly sail down in pitch, make stops along the way. On those stops, crescendo and then diminuendo. It’ll sound a lot like a old drag car revving its engine! Not only does this singing exercise improve your ability to sing dynamically, but it will also help to warm up and strengthen your singing muscles.

Laugh Out Loud

Speaking of strengthening exercises, it’s essential that the muscles of your torso are strong enough for the control that’s needed for great dynamics. Sing short “ha, ha, ha” sequences on a descending scale, making each “ha” very short, but warm and round. You’ll notice quite a jumpy motion from your tummy as you instinctively work to produce short bursts of air.

“Yow-wow-wow”

In this exercise, you’ll sing a single pitch on “yow-wow-wow” with a loose, open jaw, as if you’ve just touched a hot stove. This loosens the face, especially your joints, which is vitally important in preventing tension.

Lastly, remember that singing dynamics comes not only from phonation–the pitched sounds that our vocal folds produce–but also from articulation. Our articulators are our teeth, our tongue, and our lips. To be clear, crisp articulation should be an inherent part of your singing voice.  You can use it, though, to sound even louder or softer than your phonation is. And as always, be yourself and sing with your own voice.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in Saint 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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Teach Yourself to Sing on Key With These 5 Tools

Teaching Yourself To Sing On KeyIf you’re looking to teach yourself to sing on key, it’s important to remember that it has as much – if not more – to do with training your ear as it does with training your voice.  And since we can’t hear ourselves sing accurately, we need recording equipment or another trusted pair of ears to check our results. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, tools that will help you teach yourself to sing on key are now readily available alongside more traditional methods. Here are five methods you may want to experiment with for yourself:

1) Use Your Piano

For this vocal exercise, sit down at a piano and choose a note in the middle of your range. Listen carefully to the note as you play it, and sing it back. Don’t be afraid to play the note a few times, and spend a second or two listening before you repeat it. Extend this exercise by playing your home note, then sing intervals of a third, then a fifth away from it. Are you accurately returning to your home note? If not, analyze what you are doing wrong – are you singing sharp or flat? Is there something technical that you are doing wrong? This is an exercise that singers of all levels should come back to from time to time just to make sure your ears are working in relation to your tuning!

2) Record Yourself

Whether you’re using a more standard piece of equipment like a mini-disc recorder or you’re using a smartphone or tablet, recording yourself can be an ear-opener. Try recording your practice sessions and lessons, and listen to them afterward. When you’re singing specific exercises, particularly scales and arpeggios, how accurately-tuned are your intervals? If your teacher is accompanying you, are you in tune with the piano? This latter point to note is a natural progression from the first point above, so remember any intervals that may have been slightly weaker when working on your own, and pay particular care to tuning those.

4) Download an App

If you’re a fan of games on your smartphone, you have several options for combining ear training and fun! EarWizard is a great option, although it’s only available for iOS. This game starts with visual clues, then leaves you relying on your ear as you progress through levels, and ends up testing both your musical memory and your ear. It’s suitable for beginner and advanced musicians (there is a range of skill options), and is a superb way to make learning fun.

5) Work With a Voice Teacher

Back to the “trusted pair of ears” advice, there is no substitute, electronic or otherwise, for a good voice teacher who can check your posture and correct any bad habits that might be affecting your tone and your ability to sing in tune. Your singing teacher will help you train your ear alongside your voice, and ensure that your musical skills advance alongside your vocal progress.

Ear training is probably the most important part of your development as a musician, and should be considered an essential step in learning to sing. Even at a fairly basic level, a singer that sings in tune will be pleasant to listen to and get the kind of listener feedback that encourages them to keep going. Anyone can improve their ear, and hopefully a combination of the above options will work for you!

 

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Basics of Singing: The Do’s and Don’ts of Singing in a Group

Guide To Group Singing Mastering the basics of singing is just one of the many steps you’ll need to take when training your voice. You may think that once you’ve tackled the various exercises needed to improve agility, tone, and technique, and learned the basics of good posture and support, that you’re winning the battle and well on the way to being a good singer. The truth is, you may have mastered the basics of singing on an individual level, but if you want to eventually sing with others, there are many other skills that you need to learn to make you a both a good colleague and a useful member of any ensemble – and many of them have nothing to do with your voice!

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to singing as part of a choir:

  • Be Businesslike – If you’re just singing for fun, this may seem like a strange thing to master. However, your choir leaders are most likely renting out their rehearsal venue and keeping a careful eye on costs. If members are late and waste rehearsal time, it’s also wasting money for the choir; when it comes to re-auditioning, the perpetual absentee or member who always shows up late may find that their vocal services are no longer required. Don’t be that person!

  • Learn Your Music – On some songs, depending on your vocal range, you may be assigned to the harmony line. This is quite different from singing the melody, which comes naturally to most singers. Knowing how to read music is one of the basics of singing that will help immensely – work with a vocal teacher to help you with this, and you’ll go much further than your fellow singers who need extra time because they need to hear the tune several times or play it on the piano before being able to sing it.

  • Don’t be a “Wrecker” – Those of us that have attended the concerts of friends and family members that already sing in choirs are probably familiar with the concept of “The Wrecker.” The Wrecker is usually brimming with confidence for all the wrong reasons, incapable of watching the conductor, sings off key or out of time loudly, and doesn’t come in and come off notes at the same time as their colleagues. One of the worst things about a Wrecker is that they are usually completely unaware of what they’re doing. Watch the conductor, count carefully, and be aware of what’s going on around you – don’t be a Wrecker!

  • Listen to Your Colleagues – Knowing your music isn’t enough; to be a really good choral singer you have to know the other parts fairly well too, and be able to listen to others at the same time. It’s important to work on blending with the other voices; make sure that you aren’t singing louder or softer than your section colleagues, and listen carefully so that you start and end phrases as a section, or in unison passages, as a choir.

  • Work With a Vocal Coach - Whether you’re a hobby singer or have professional aspirations, you’ve probably considered studying with a teacher one-on-one to get beyond the basics of singing (if you aren’t already!). A singing teacher will train your voice as an individual and teach you how to control your instrument, including how to manage pitch problems, improve your breathing, and develop your natural skills as a musician. These are all invaluable traits for any vocalist, whether you’re singing solo or as part of a group!

Of course, group singing isn’t limited to choirs; you can improve your musicianship and vocal skills by seeking out ensembles of varying size to sing with, even if it’s just singing duets with a friend at a similar stage of study, or a casual a cappella group. You may be surprised how much your abilities as a solo singer improve by listening to and singing with others!

 

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8 Singing Tips for Reaching Your Lower Register

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Struggling to reach your lower register when you practice your vocal exercises or sing your favorite songs? Check out these helpful singing tips from Augustine, FL voice teacher Heather L...

 

You know, it seems that we singers talk all the time about how tough our higher register is (and it can be). But as a voice teacher and a singer myself, I have to admit that the lower register gives many of us just as much reason for frustration. Often, in performance or in recordings, even of acclaimed, famous singers, the lower notes sound weak and faint. Sometimes, they’re barely audible. But when they’re sung with both confidence and care, they can be truly beautiful.

Most importantly, whenever singers encounter any challenge in their voice studies, it’s especially important to remember not to force sound in any register. This forcing often leads to more frustration, then tension, tightness, and pain, and sometimes even permanent injury. You might have heard this a lot in reference to your higher register, but not necessarily to your lower, and yet it’s just as important. It would be like forcing yourself to do a gymnastic split before you were really ready to do it. You could hurt yourself.

So, instead, follow these singing tips for reaching your lower register:

1. Be gentle.
I realize that this is a repetition of what you just read, but it can’t be reiterated enough. When low notes aren’t treated gently, in addition to the dangers listed above, you could sound like you’re bellowing or yelling.

2. But don’t be too gentle.
The opposite of forcing is sometimes a whispering sound or an ill-supported phonation. This can be just as damaging to the vocal folds as forcing, over time. Use an assertive and warm tone.

3. Activate your core.
Use lip trills, or lip bubbles, to get your breath going and your muscles warmed up. There are 37 different muscles involved in your breathing. Get them all going!

4. Fill up your “tire.”
When you breathe, it’s not only your tummy and the front of your torso that fills up, but also your back! Imagine yourself filling up with air all the way around, just like a bicycle tire, and take five deep breaths.

5. Slowly, “walk down the stairs.”
Using the same lip trills and a feeling of great support in your “tire,” trill five-note patterns descending (going down) from your middle register. You don’t have to have a piano or descend exactly by half steps. Just be gradual.

6. Sing the same patterns on “yee.”
With a relaxed, slack jaw, go back to the middle register and sing descending notes slowly, continuing to pay attention to your sensations and acknowledging what they’re telling you. If you sing down to a spot that doesn’t feel good, then go back up.

7. Sing the same pattern yet again on “yoo.”
The vowel sound “oo” is the least warm of all of them. So as you sing it, focus on a warm, rich, and round sound.

8. Sing a low passage.
If you have a song that has an especially low passage, then try it on lip trills first, then on the words. The lip trills should ensure that you have proper support.

These singing tips for reaching your lower register should be just what you need to tackle those deep, rich sounds. Remember, your voice is completely unique. You will sound different from everyone else, including your favorite singers. That’s part of what makes you special and exactly why listening to yourself without judgement is key. As always, be yourself, and sing with your own voice.

HeatherLHeather L. teaches singing, piano, acting, and more in Saint 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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5 of the Best Daily Vocal Exercises for Singers

3857885135_4a7d642f24_bConsistency in practice is key to improving your skills as a vocalist! Check out these five vocal exercises to incorporate into your daily routine, as described by Brooklyn, NY singing teacher Liz T...

Just like an athlete stretches his or her body and muscles before a big game or practice, a vocalist must warm up his or her singing voice before a performance or rehearsal! All it takes is 10 minutes with these five simple warm ups to maintain a healthy voice. Here are some of my favorite vocal exercises that will work for both beginning and advanced vocalists.

1. Lip Buzz
Simply vibrate your lips together, without pitch at first. It may take a while to get used to. This will help build up your breath support and stamina while singing. Next, try adding a pitch to your lip buzz, and holding it anywhere from 3-5 seconds. Pitch can go up, down, or stay on one note. There should be a funny, tickling sensation in your nose, and your other resonators (forehead, cheeks, etc.). If you do not feel this, try harder!

2. Solfege
We all should be familiar with “Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do” from the The Sound of Music! Starting on middle C, sing through the solfege up and down the scale, taking your time and really listening to each pitch. See if you can also try this warm up without a piano (acapella), as this will help with your ear training! Practicing solfege is not only a great tool for your ears, but it will also help with your sight reading!

2. “Mah-May-Me-Mo-Moo”
Remaining on one note (monotone), sing “mah-may-me-mo-moo” nice and slow, really pronouncing the Ms. I would start low, perhaps at A3 and sing up the scale to an octave above. Really take your time, and see if you can sing this exercise all in one breath. While you don’t have to sing the warm up pretty, focus on the tone and your intonation to create the best vocal sound. Don’t push – this exercise should be nice and relaxed.

4. “I Love to Sing”
This is one of the vocal exercises you can use to  help with your range, as it includes an arpeggio. Starting low at around Bb3, you are literally going to sing “I love to sing” with a smile on your face! You will start at the root, then hit the octave, and come back down on the 5th, 3rd, and root of the chord again. This is a great way to test your range through big jumps; it can be done fast and should be done in one breath. And smiling while you sing will help you with a more clear and bright sound – give it a try!

5. The Siren
This is the easiest vocal exercise of all! Think of the sound of a fire engine passing by, and imitate it with your voice. Start at the lowest note in your range, and slide through every note to the top of your range. If you can sing the low notes and high notes, then you know you are in good vocal shape! This is a good way to tell if you are vocally fatigued; if you are unable to hit the low or high notes, then it’s best not to sing and push too hard. You can try this warm up in reverse, too, by starting with your mouth opened up wide, going from high to low.

These vocal exercises take as little as 10 minutes a day, and will help you tremendously. If you have any questions, need clarification, or would love to work more on these warm ups, book lessons with me today through TakeLessons for further instructions!

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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4 Crucial Elements of Singing Every Great Vocalist Knows

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What does it take to learn how to sing? Take a look at these four important factors for success, courtesy of Palm Springs, CA teacher Angel V...

 

As a singer myself, I have to develop discipline and really strong practice habits to stay on top of my game. I had have the opportunity to study with great musicians and singers throughout my life, and they all have something in common. I like to call it the four P’s of great success as a singer:

Practice + Patience + Perseverance + Play = Creative Expression.

Practice

Like the proverbial building constructed on sand, a weak foundation creates an unstable building that won’t stand the test of time. It’s very important for all of us as singers and musicians to have solid practice techniques in order to develop our instrument and make it a stronger one with every performance. A full, strong voice will have the stamina for a full capacity of creative expression when it comes to singing.

A complete practice routine should include:

  • Warm Ups

Our vocal cords are like any other muscle in our body; they need to be warmed up before we can sing a song, the same way we need to warm up our legs before we can run a marathon. Warming up your voice with lip trills, runs on your middle range, single tone exercises, and breathing exercises are essential before you start any technical vocal work. Your voice will respond better once you give it the proper warm up. Consider your vocal warm up the way you tell your vocal cords that they are going to be doing some weight lifting!

When I started taking voice lessons, I used to warm up my voice two to three times a day for about 10-20 minutes, depending on what songs I was working on and the technical work my voice teacher had laid out for me. Nowadays, I warm up my voice every morning, before seeing my students, for at least 30 minutes, then do some technical work, and so on.

  • Technical Work

With every lesson I teach, I work on breathing with my students. Strong breath management is the basis for learning how to sing well. You cannot sing the right note if your breathing is not in place. It’s just impossible. I recommend dividing your technical work into stages: breathing exercises, flexibility, and range extension, for starters. And if you are tired or straining in any way, STOP! Take a break.

  • Song Performance

Start by choosing a couple of songs in a style that you like, and make sure that they are within your singing range. To find that out, look for the lowest and highest notes in the song. Most of the song should be within your middle range, although it is possible that it may have a few low or high notes outside your comfort zone – in that case, work on those notes and see if with time they become easier for you. You can always transpose the song to a lower or higher key if that will make it easier for you to sing.

  • Cool Down

After all your hard work, spend about 5 to 10 minutes doing some warm up exercises to cool down your voice. To do this effectively, keep the exercises within the middle range of your voice. This will ease the process of your voice going back to your normal everyday vocal use by allowing the tissue temperature to lower. This is very similar to what we should do after doing vigorous physical exercise.

Patience

Learning any instrument – especially vocal technique – requires patience, especially if there are any bad habits to undo. The payoff of being patient with your instrument while learning how to sing properly is that you will have a well-trained instrument capable of greater expression. Every now and then you may have what I like to call an aha! moment in singing, but most of the time progress comes after a long period of work that peaks and then plateaus for a while. As long as you keep working at it, you will always be growing and learning something new about your instrument.

Perseverance

You need to always stay focused on your goals as a singer. Something that has helped me with this is to keep a clear picture of where I am going and what it is that I want to accomplish. I always keep track of my short-term goals and how those are helping me reach my long term ones. I always celebrate my accomplishments and learn from my mistakes. If I have a performance that wasn’t my best, I allow myself to take a break and see what happened and allow myself to feel what I am feeling, but I do not allow that to discourage me from reaching my goals. It’s a work in progress and it’s only getting better.

Play

Music, especially singing, should always be FUN! So don’t ever forget that. You should love and enjoy what you are singing. And you should enjoy it before, during, and after each and every performance! Be proud of yourself and your hard work. Celebrate your singing and every opportunity you get to share your talent!

AngelVAngel V. teaches singing, guitar, dance, and more in Palm Springs, CA. He received his Voice Performance/Music Business degree, along with minors in Piano and Guitar, from Berklee College of Music. Learn more about Angel here!

 

 

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How to Become a Singer: 5 Qualities You Need to Succeed

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Wondering how to become a singer? Take a look at the five essential qualities you’ll need in this guest post by Ann Arbor, MI singing teacher Elaina R...

 

Plenty of people want to be singers. At the same time, though, most people have no idea how to become a singer and really improve. Why? Singing is complicated!

Singing is a performing art. A good singer is both a good musician (sounds good and sings the right notes) and a good performer (is engaging and interesting to watch). There is, in fact, a relationship between performing well and singing well; these skills rely on each other.

Is there a secret formula to becoming an outstanding singer? No, but cultivating these five skills hones both musical and performance abilities. Practice these, and you will be able to sing accurately and put on a good show.

A Good Ear

First of all, a singer needs to sing in tune! For those who are not born with sensitive aural skills (also known as a musical ear), learning to consistently match pitch is an important first step to singing. Working with a voice teacher on aural skills exercises, and practicing those exercises at home, helps. Technology, such as pitch-recognition apps, aid in at-home practice for students who aren’t yet sure if they are singing the right pitches.

Strong Breath Support

The more breath support you have, the longer you will be able to sing phrases and the easier it will be for you. Developing a strong base of breath support by learning about the breathing apparatuses of the body and doing breath-related exercises allows you to sing those newly in-tune songs with ease and grace.

A Relaxed Body

Have you ever watched someone with a stiff body (shoulders up, neck tense) try to perform? It’s extremely stressful for the audience, not just the performer. Learning to relax your body – especially the parts directly involved with singing, such as your jaw, tongue, and neck – in performance situations is an essential skill for singers. Practice singing in front of a mirror, noticing what happens. When you hit a high note, do you strain your shoulders and neck? See what happens if you don’t. Do you sound better?

A Balanced Stance

While you do need to be relaxed to sing, you also can’t be a puddle on the floor. Audiences take performers with a powerful stance more seriously. Practice standing comfortably and openly, without crossing your arms or leaning to one side. Balance your weight across your two feet, on your pelvis, throughout your spine.

If you play another instrument while you sing, spend some time finding a good stance for your body while you are doing so. Are you leaning too far forward to look at your guitar strings, for example? What do you think that does to your sound?

Confidence

If you’ve ever seen a great singer perform, you probably noticed that they looked utterly confident. Staying relaxed and standing right are a big part of this: humans register relaxed, open posture as a sign of confidence, and just standing this way can make you feel more confident as well. Practicing aural skills, breath support, and other elements of good singing also helps you feel more confident in your abilities.

Got pre-show jitters? Do some slow breathing exercises. Eat a banana (they help the brain produce serotonin). Try holding a power pose, such as the “Wonder Woman pose,” for two minutes (this also raises dopamine levels in the brain). Then get out there and have a wonderful time!

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 Sing R&B | 4 Tips for Beginners

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Interested in learning how to sing R&B? Check out these helpful tips from online voice teacher Liz T...

 

If you’re a fan of contemporary R&B singers today, such as Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, and Rihanna, and want to learn how to sing R&B music, then this article is for you! R&B is a very specific style of music – think pop and rock with an “urban” feel. To get a better idea of how to approach R&B songs, check out these musical tips!

1. Listen to the greats
Start out by listening and studying R&B, also known as “Rhythm and Blues.” Rhythm and Blues started in the 1940s and was popular in African-American culture. Singers such as Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and James Brown were some of R&B’s founding fathers. The style eventually progressed to bring out artists such as TLC, Brandy, and Boyz II Men.

2. Practice vocal improvising
R&B music is known for improvising and riffing vocally, so start practicing improvisation and coming up with your own melodies. Find a simple blues scale to riff over, and create your own made-up melody. Or try performing a riff or scatting over a well-known melody. You can also buy many books that come with audio CDs to practice with at Berklee Press; many start right at the beginning with the basics of riffing and vocal improvisation.

3. Start singing
First, I suggest you take a look at simple jazz ballads, such as:

  • “God Bless the Child” – Billie Holiday
  • “Misty” - Erroll Garner
  • “Summertime” – Ella Fitzgerald
  • “Body and Soul” (jazz standard)
  • “At Last” – Etta James
  • “My Funny Valentine” – Ella Fitzgerald

Practice your vocal improvisation and riffing in the solo section. Then try a more contemporary R&B song that you are familiar with. You don’t have to copy the artist exactly, but use their vocals as a guideline.

Ideas for contemporary R&B ballads to learn include:

  • “Fallin’” – Alicia Keys
  • “One Sweet Day” – Mariah Carey
  • “Unbreak My Heart” – Toni Braxton
  • “Ordinary People” – John Legend
  • “All My Life” – K-Ci and JoJo

4. Analyze song lyrics
Find that R&B soul in yourself, and don’t be afraid to show it! Many R&B songs have compelling lyrics about love, overcoming struggle, inspiration, and hope. Find a song that speaks to you, and make it your own. Also, don’t be afraid to try a little writing of your own. Start out with writing a poem, and then put your lyrics to a melody. R&B artist Alicia Keys is notorious for writing and performing her own music – she would not be where she is today if she did not take a stab in the dark at writing her own R&B tunes. This is what makes her such an authentic artist, because what she is writing and singing about comes from her own personal journey and experiences, and truly shapes her as an artist.

R&B music is a unique genre. It’s OK if it doesn’t come natural to you at first, but educating yourself by listening to the greats and practicing specific R&B techniques in your voice lessons will definitely help you become a better R&B singer!

LizTLiz T. teaches online singing, acting, and music lessons. 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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How to Sing in Falsetto: Tips and Exercises to Try

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Curious about how to sing in falsetto? Check out these helpful tips from Ann Arbor, MI singing teacher Elaina R...

 

If you’ve ever listened to Justin Timberlake, you’ve heard falsetto, the upper register of the male voice. Falsetto is the male version of head voice, something that everyone with vocal cords has. Head voice is very important in all kinds of music, since it allows singers to easily access high notes.

Do you want to learn how to sing in falsetto? Don’t worry – it’s a lot easier than you think. After a little practice, you will impress everyone with your gorgeous high notes!

What is Head Voice?

First of all, let’s discuss how head voice works. Singing in head voice makes a lot more sense if you understand how it is produced.

The vocal cords are controlled by two muscle groups: the thyroarytenoids and the cricothyroids. The thyroarytenoids work to shorten the cords, while the cricothyroids stretch them out. Can you guess which muscles produce head voice? If you guessed cricothyroids, you are correct! Think about the way string instruments work. The thinner and tighter the string, the higher the produced pitch is. The same thing applies to your vocal cords.

Head voice is technically a register of the voice. The other register often used for singing is chest voice, which is thyroarytenoid-dominant (and thus lower than head voice).

Finding Your Head Voice

To find your head voice, try talking like Mickey Mouse. You will find that the sound you make is higher and has a difference quality than your normal speaking voice. To find your chest voice in relation to your head voice, try yodeling. Yodeling involves rapidly switching from chest to head register and back. Do this slowly, and you’ll notice the shift.

Exercises for Success

As with all types of singing, practice makes perfect! Try these exercises to strengthen your familiarity and skill in your head voice range.

1. Relax

First of all, to successfully sing in head voice, you need to relax. Your thinner, stretched-out vocal cords won’t work if the body around them is tense. Find a mirror and look at yourself as you talk in your Mickey Mouse voice. The more relaxed your body is, the easier it will be for you to produce sound in head voice.

Here are some specific areas to check and relax as you make sound in your head voice range:

  • Tongue
  • Jaw
  • Neck
  • Shoulders

2. The Concert Woooo

Have you ever been to a concert and heard someone yelling “Wooooo!” in a really high voice? This exercise comes from that concept. Take in a good breath and do some of these “woo” noises while maintaining your relaxed body. Open your mouth as you go up in pitch. Make sure that you are not pushing; you should feel as though your voice is finding its way up rather than being forced.

3. Ghosty Singing

This last exercise borrows from that spooky “oOoOOOooOO” high voice that all of us are familiar with. Using your breath, practice doing this in your head voice. Remember to stay relaxed!

Open Wide

One last tip for success: your mouth has to be much more open when you sing high notes. Have you ever seen an opera singer singing a high note? Our mouths are wide open! On these notes, no one really cares whether or not they can understand the words; it’s the sound that matters. So keep practicing these tips on how to sing in falsetto, stick with those voice lessons, gain familiarity with your head voice, and let your mouth flop open as much as it needs to!

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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Singing Better

The Super Simple Trick for How to Sing Better Instantly

Learning How To Sing Better At some point during the process of mastering any skill, from learning to ride a bike to learning to drive a car, you might long for a quick fix – that one thing that will improve your ability drastically, and take you from a floundering beginner to, if not an expert, at least reasonably accomplished. Singing is no different, and most aspiring vocalists are always on the lookout for hints and tips on how to sing better instantly.

You may have read books and articles about the physical and emotional processes behind good singing, and perhaps as many biographies and autobiographies of famous singers as you’ve heard theories on whether this technique or that school of singing will show you how to sing better instantly. Try as you might to look for your instant cure-all for every vocal problem you might have, you can’t find it. There’s a good reason for that – there isn’t one.

However, there is one super simple trick for how to sing better instantly which has nothing to do with your technique, or your skill level as a singer; learn how to relax both mind and body, and your singing will improve dramatically without any technical trickery whatsoever. If you learn to relax both before and while you are singing, you can expect the following remarkable changes:

  • Your voice will double in size – When you’re relaxed, your voice won’t get “stuck” on the way out. In addition, if you’re relaxed when you’re singing, your voice will work naturally and without strain, which can result in injuries.

  • Your tonal range and vocal colors will multiply – Think back to the last time you sang when you were tense or nervous. You may have sung accurately enough, but you may have noticed a tinny or metallic sound coming through. Now think about the last time you sang when you were relaxed; more than likely, your tone was much richer and stronger than in the other scenario!

  • You will be able to sing for longer – Tense muscles are tired muscles, and after a while, they’ll start to ache. If you are relaxed, you are less likely to tire yourself out simply through working too hard to achieve half the results.

So all you need to do is relax – easy, right? Wrong. The vast majority of people find that as soon as someone tells them to relax, they’re immediately tense, and the more they try to unwind, the more wound up they become. You may have found your “how to sing better instantly” tool, but if you can’t implement it, it won’t do you much good. Everyone is different, but you can try some of the following and see what works for you:

  • Take care of yourself – The difference between a singer and an instrumentalist is that we are our instruments. If a violinist has a cold, for example, they can still put on a good performance, whereas a singer will find it harder to do so as their lousy blocked nose or scratchy throat will get in the way. Do your best to take care of yourself to avoid getting sick: get enough rest, drink water throughout the day, and pay attention to the foods you eat.

  • Warm up your body –  You probably already know that it’s harder to sing when you’re feeling lethargic. Start with a few gentle stretches to make sure that you’re physically relaxed and ready to put your best foot forward!

  • Prepare – There’s nothing guaranteed to make you tense up quicker than not preparing your music properly. Practicing often will help if you’re anxious about forgetting words or notes during pressure situations, like performances and auditions.

Finally, no matter how well your strategies for relaxing when singing might be, there is only so much that you can do by yourself. If you are a self-taught singer, there are all kinds of hidden tensions that can creep into your technique that you might not be aware of, and that will set you up for vocal problems, and possibly even permanent vocal damage. The best way to avoid this is to find a qualified teacher who will be able to both see and hear problems as they occur, and help you to fix them.  If you really want to learn how to sing better instantly, nothing can replace a great teacher by your side!

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