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5 Best Singing Tips Singing Karaoke How to Sing Pop Music Singing With Emotion Part 2: Rock & Roll

5 Best Singing Tips

From beginners to professionals, singers understand the importance of improving the quality of their voice. There are no shortcuts or quick fixes; it takes time, effort, dedication and the right knowledge. Here are the 5 best singing tips shown to make those improvements. Practice Makes Perfect Seems simple enough, but it’s one of the most […]

Singing Karaoke

A great way to learn to sing is by singing karaoke. There are karaoke players you can by that are relatively inexpensive or you can attend a ‘karaoke’ party, usually at a legion hall or local pub.  With karaoke, the karaoke jockie or host (also called a “KJ”) will have a book with all the songs […]

How to Sing Pop Music

Mastering Pop Music    Successful pop music is usually measured in terms of commercial success with little regard to artistic merit although it generally has a good dance beat and hook to the song — performed by charismatic singers who may or may not be technically talented, look attractive, fashionable, and have the ability to […]

Singing With Emotion Part 2: Rock & Roll

Singing with Emotion Part 2   In part two of this article we will cover 6 popular Vocal/ Music Styles and some of the techniques used for each style. There are many different styles of singing. Some singers excel at one or two particular styles while others can round the scope on various different styles. This […]

Proper Microphone Technique for Singers

Discovering proper microphone technique can improve your vocal sound and make you look and sound like a real STAR! 

 KnowiAs a singer, a microphone can really make or break a good vocal performance. If you want to be a good performer, then you’ll need to think about proper microphone (mic) technique at some point in your musical career.

Read More…

Sing Your Way to Good Health

Singing may very well be a skill, a talent and an art form but can it really be a good form of EXERCISE???

Absolutely YES! 

When you sing, your singing works many muscles and muscle groups in your body. When you sing from your diaphragm, your lungs, stomach and abdominal muscles (abs) will all get a good work out. 

Deep, controlled breathing is great for strengthening our lung muscles and increasing our lung capacity (how much air they can hold). That means, the more often you practice deep controlled breathing, the more oxygen (air) you will be able to hold and the longer you will be able to hold your notes before running out of air.  For the same reason Swimmers practice deep controlled breathing exercises, strong lung muscles take in more oxygen, allowing this increase in oxygen to flow through our bloodstream and leaving us feeling more alert with increased energy and stamina.  

There are many ways to work our abdominals, we can do those neck-wrenching crunches, try some sit-ups, or spend a lot of money on an ab roller or some other funky piece of machinery that will most likely end up in next year’s yard sale! Isn’t it great that something as fun as singing can also give your abs a great workout?

Controlled breathing is not only about holding your breath, it is also about letting the air out slowly and in a controlled manner … then squeezing out that last little bit of air before you take your next breath. The squeezing comes from constricting or tightening the diaphragm. 

Even if you have not had any formal voice training, you have probably heard of the diaphragm. Usually, people point to their stomachs when asked where their diaphragm is located. Some even refer to it as their ‘abdomen’ or their ‘belly’ however, you'll notice in the attached diagram that your diaphragm is located directly under the lungs and extends across the bottom of the ribcage.

If you watch a baby or a small child breathing, you’ll notice a rise and fall of the center of their torso. The centre will rise with each inhale and lower with each exhale. As we get older, improper breathing techniques take over, largely due to a lack of cardio aerobic activities, stress, and awareness of our breathing (when we sleep, most people tend to fall back into this natural breathing pattern).  However, breathing properly through the diaphragm causes it to contract, providing more space for our lungs to expand even further and take in more air.

* to Learn more about proper breathing technique, including some practical exercises, Sign-up now to receive instant access to our FREE 5-week Learn to Sing Video mini-series, featuring Lisa Smith of Lisa Smith’s Power Haus.

Learning to activate and work your diaphragm can also improve your posture. Since it’s located in the centre core region of your body, it provides support to both the front of your body attached to your ribs, as well as the back of your body supporting your lumbar (back) vertebrae (spine). This is why the diaphragm is commonly referred to as “nature’s girdle’. Keeping your shoulders down in a relaxed, natural position while going through breathing exercises will also improve your posture, since it properly guides your body to take air into the diaphragm. With proper breathing through the diaphragm, you will notice an improvement in the positioning of your shoulders and your overall posture.

Singing is also known to:

  • increase blood circulation
  • improve mood
  • stimulate and increase the 'feel good' hormones that flow into the body
  • lower cholesterol
  • and build confidence (improving mental health)

These are just some of the many wonderful, positive physical benefits you can experience simply by singing – there are far too many to mention here.  Your tongue is also a muscle that can be strengthened with regular exercise and while we may not think about giving our tongue a good work-out, stretching your tongue can not only improve your singing but it will also improve your speech, diction, annunciation, pronunciation, and the overall health of your tongue and mouth.

So go ahead, sing your way to good health!

Your Personal Vocal Coach

PS: Have you taken advantage of our FREE 5-week Learn-to-Sing Video mini-course, featuring Lisa Smith? It’s Free to sign-up and you can cancel at anytime. Join now for instant access to FREE singing lessons.

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How to Master the 3 Types of Singing Voices

Did you know that you have 3 different voices?

When singing and speaking, there are 3 different types of voices that may be used:

  1. the chest voice
  2. the head voice and
  3. the falsetto voice.

For instance, when talking, people will either use their chest voice or their head voice but it is more common for the head voice to be used, unless someone has had previous vocal or public speaking lessons.

Using the chest/throaty voice repetitively in it's highest range can be very damaging to the vocal chords. Therefore, learning to use the diaphragm to breath properly is crucial for protecting your instrument. There are times while singing that you will use the various vocal styles for effect, and switch between them to create more feel to the song.   This can be done without damage to the throat by being able to switch or transition from one type of voice to the other smoothly. In time, learning to sing in your different voices will all become second nature. 

While practicing the various styles of voice, it is important to pay attention to strain. If you are feeling any strain in the throat, then you should rest your voice as you may be causing damage to either the muscles or the vocal chords themselves.  My teachers always reminded me that when I'm singing, it should feel like there is a hollow pipe running from my diaphragm up to my throat – meaning that my throat should feel open and without constriction.  Your muscles and vocal chords should not feel any strain when singing properly.  If you are feeling strain, then you should stop and rest. Regular practise using propler vocal exercises will improve your vocal ability and reduce strain. 

Practice the relaxation techniques in our free 5 week Singing Lessons Video series. Use the form on the right to sign up Now!

Chest Voice

There are 3 main areas that your voice can emerge from. The voice used by many people everyday to communicate through talking is the Chest Voice.  Unless you have been trained in public speaking you are probably using your chest voice when talking.  This is also the voice that is used naturally when you yawn or are partiallyasleep and is the voice that is used to hold notes, increase range, increase power, and overall protection of the voice. 

Head Voice

The second voice is the Head Voice.  Sound is created in the upper nasal cavity and the sensation will almost feel like the sound or resonance vibration is coming from the top of the nasal cavity (top of the nose) through the center of the forehead. This voice is used in addition to breathing from the diaphragm.   The chest voice can also be expanded and used in higher registers but let's stick with learning to sing properly before we move on to expanding the chest vocal register.  

Falsetto

The third voice we use is called Falsetto. Just like it sounds, this is our false voice because most people do not speak using this method unless they deliberately try to. The falsetto is our highest voice but also our weakest voice. Many R&B and Disco artists, like the Bee Gees, Leo Sayer and Hot Chocolate, sing using their falsetto voice. Yodelling, which is common in country music, is also a more obvious way of stepping back and forth from one voice to the other

Transitions

A transition is moving from one voice to another. You can also learn to use combinations of these voices switching from one to the other with a smooth transition to create a more melodic sound and style. Other artists, like Shakira are well known for stepping from one voice to another in a more obvious way. Shakira uses all 3 of her voices in most of her songs and you can hear the difference in her voices as she steps from chest voice to head voice to falsetto and back again. 

I urge all of you to listen to Sarah Brightman http://www.sarah-brightman.com/. When Sarah hits her higher registers, she is using her Head Voice in conjunction with singing from the diaphragm. The air is coming from her diaphragm and the sound / tone is resonating in her upper nasal cavity. Note the placement of her mouth, tongue and facial movements when singing.  A good example of using the diaphragm on lower registers is to check out Geoff Tate, singer for the Band Queensryche. He does a version of Scarborough Fair where, the beginning and end of this song is a prime example of how the diaphragm is being used in lower registers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcwQlGjNqrs

To hear an example of singing from the chest or throat, check out Janis Joplin.  Axel Rose from Guns and Roses also uses this technique a lot, in addition to using his diaphragm. It is this style of singing that really needs to be used carefully to preserve the voice. While it can be used in vocal styling, it also causes a lot of strain on the vocal chords.

To learn how to master your 3 types of singing voices,  CLICK HERE  to sign-up for our Free, 5-week video mini-course.

Learn the Secrets to Sight Reading

If you are new to sight reading and you want to learn how to do it, then you’ve come to the right place!

The term sight reading refers to the ability to read and sing a piece of written sheet music at first sight, without having seen it or rehearsed it before. I know this may sound scary but it’s really not as difficult as you might think. Many singers can sing "by ear", which means they can sing what they hear and they learn songs by listening to them. But if you want to join a choir, a chorus, or a band, or want to perform as a classical singer, then you may be asked to sight read some music so it would really be to your advantage to learn how to do it. A good sight reader can also learn songs faster. So if your choir is handing out solos, learning to sight read music is not only fun but it can also be to your advantage. Any music teacher can teach you how to read music but not many of them can teach you how to sight read and sing a piece of music you have never seen before. Being someone who naturally learns songs by ear, I had to teach myself how to sight read, so that I could join the choir at my church. Here is an easy method I developed for sight reading that has helped place me in numerous choirs and allowed the opportunity for me to sing solos, duets, quartets, and more, simply because I was able to sight read a sheet of music.

Step 1:

In order to sight read, you first need to learn the basics for how to read music. Again this is not very difficult and you can learn to read music on any number of websites or by watching videos on You Tube. For this exercise, we are going to assume that you know the basics. Basically, a staff (or row) of music consists of 5 lines, with 4 spaces between them. Songs are written in either Treble Clef or Bass Cleff. For this exercise, we will refer to the Treble clef.

The notes on the lines are:

E G B D and F music_staff (To remember these notes, you can make up a sentence, such as: "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge" – these are the letters reading from the bottom – upward).       The spaces between these lines are: E C A F (Notice that these letters spell "FACE" if written from the bottom-upward)

Step 2:

The second step in learning how to sight read is knowing how to sing a scale – Do, Ra, Mi, Fa, So, La Ti, Do A scale is made up of 1 octave; which is the same as singing 8 consecutive notes in order. For example: from C to C; from A to A, from B to B, etc. Each one of these represents an octave.

Step 3:

To help you sight read faster and easier, it really helps to find your natural singing range and your comfort zone and know what notes they are made up of. Start off by singing a note and saying "Do". Now sing a scale (Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do) Do not try to sing really high or really low. Just try to sing the easiest, most comfortable notes for you – the notes you sing will probably be close to your regular talking voice. Now you need to find out what the names of notes are that you just sang. To do this, you will need a pitch pipe, a musical instrument like a piano or keyboard, or you can listen and compare yourself to the notes sung by Lisa Smith in Lesson 2 of our FREE Singing Lessons series (click here to join now!). Sing your note "Do" again and find the same note on your instrument or with Lisa. Did you find out what the name of the note is that you sang? When I did this exercise, I discovered that my natural singing range is in the key of D. When I sang an octave in my natural, comfortable range and then figured out which notes I was actually singing, here’s what I discovered. I sang: Do – D Re – E Mi – F Fa – G So – A La – B Ti – C Do – D Knowing your natural singing range is critical to sight reading. Having done this exercise, I now know that I can sing a D note without even hearing it because it is the note that is most natural and easiest for me to sing. Get familiar with your natural comfort range. Sing it over and over again.

Step 4:

This is our final step in learning to sight read a sheet of music. Now that you know what your natural notes are, it will be very easy for you to look at a sheet of music and sing along. First, find your natural note on the music sheet. (For me, I would be looking for a D note; the lower Do note is located in the space just below the E note on the bottom line of the treble clef.) Because I know how to sing the D note, as well as sing a scale from my D note (Do, Re, Mi, etc.) I can now start at the D note on the sheet of music, and work my way up and down the staff, finding and singing the notes on the printed on the sheet. If you do this a couple of times out load, you should have the melody of the music in my head and you will know how the song is supposed to sound, so you can sing along with the choir. Don’t be afraid to try this yourself to see how it works for you. Learning to sight read music will expand your versatility, make you more valuable in a choir, and can help you land those leads and solos you’ve been wanting. Try it today!

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Want to Sing Better? Learn to relax!

Step 1 in preparing the body for a performance or practice is to "Learn to Relax".  

neckandshouldersRotate your head to allow the muscles in your neck and upper shoulders to relax. Dip your chin to your chest and hold your head there for the count of 5 (1-2-3-4-5). You should be breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will expand the diaphragm and ribcage while it keeps your shoulders stationary, meaning they should not be moving up and down with each breath. This will also help determine whether you are breathing properly from the diaphragm or not.

As stated in an earlier article, I would like to give you more information on relaxing the body, your muscles and your mind before a practice or performance.

Relaxing the mind will come automatically if you focus on what you are doing to relax the body and muscles used to sing. By focusing only on singing and relaxing, rehearsing can become like a form of meditation. As you are focusing on relaxing tense muscles and breathing, try to block everything else from your mind.

When you are preparing to sing; whether it be for a performance or just rehearsing, your mind should be focused on preparing your body and mind. Continue to focus on tongue placement, breathing properly from the diaphragm, becoming aware of what muscles in the body are tense and then releasing that tension. This cannot be achieved if you are thinking about the fight you had with your boyfriend/ girlfriend or any other stressors that may be in your life.

Become aware of what your body is doing and telling you. When you sing, your face muscles should be completely relaxed. This means there should be no tension in your jaw. If there is tension, it will limit your ability to hit those higher and lower notes you want to achieve. Common areas for tension are:

  • the tongue
  • jaw
  • shoulders
  • neck
  • throat
  • back
  • arms

 I have a few exercises I would like to share with you that will help you to achieve the relaxed form you want to have before any performance. With some practise, you will eventually be able to do all of these exercises in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes and achieve the relaxed form I’m talking about.

How to Relax

 First, clear your mind and focus only on your breathing and finding the tension spots in the body.

Take your arms and swing them as hard as you can to the front of your body all the way up above your head. Then let them drop – swinging them as far as you can to the back of your body behind you. This will loosen the shoulders and chest area.  While swinging the arms forward, breath-in through your nose…on the down swing to the back swing you should be exhaling slowly out of your mouth. Your focus should be on breathing-in on the upswing and breathing-out (exhaling) on the downswing. Do this 10 times.

Now move your head and touch your left ear to your left shoulder without raising the shoulder. If you cannot reach your shoulder, then just go as far as you can until you feel a comfortable pull in opposite side of the neck. Hold that position for the count of 5 (1-2-3-4-5) then straighten out your head and move it back to the center looking forward. Repeat this motion on the right side and then to the back. Repeat the count of 5 in each position and focus on breathing-in through the nose and out through the mouth. 

Now lets focus on releasing tension in the torso, arms, shoulders and chest area.

armcirTake your arms and shake them out slowly at first, and then more vigorously. Twist the upper body, keeping the hips stationary. Remember to focus on breathing from the diaphragm. Even though there is movement from side to side while shaking your arms vigorously, DO NOT STOP BREATHING or hold your breath. You must breathe through every exercise by breathing in slowly and deeply – in through your nose and out through your mouth without raising your shoulders.

 Last and probably the most important exercise is to make sure the mouth throat and tongue are relaxed.  Believe it or not, the jaw can have a tendency to carry a lot of tension. Take your bottom jaw and move it back and forth from side to side. You can do this even while your singing to release tension in that area.

To relax the tongue, let your tongue hang out of your mouth (like a panting dog), count to 5 (1-2-3-4-5) while you focus on breathing. Now twist your tongue from one side of your mouth to the other. You should feel a pull on the muscles at the back of the mouth just behind your molars.

mouth_palateAnother great exercise to help warm up the throat is to open your mouth as wide as you can and raise and lower the pallet (the dangling piece of flesh in the back of your throat). If you look in the mirror and yawn, you'll notice that  the pallet disappears to the top or roof of the mouth. This is the desired affect you want when practicing this exercise. You will learn to control this movement and it will aid in helping you to achieve those higher notes you are looking for. Eventually all of this will become second nature to you and you will be able to achieve the desired results in about 10 to 15 minutes.

Doing these exercises regularly will help you to become a better singer. 

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