Saturday, December 16, 2006

Vocal performance: it's not about you

Ever been nervous about your vocal performance? Perhaps it is because your voice doesn't understand what you want it to do. Here's a paradoxical truth: YOUR GREATEST SINGING IS NOT ABOUT YOU!

When you make vocal performance all about yourself it leads to self-consciousness, numbness, stage fright, bad vocal technique and disconnection to the audience.

YES, anytime you sing or speak publically, you need to send out your presence and claim the room- but direct your voice TO the one the lyrics speak to and do it FOR the audience and you'll be amazed at your confidence level. Study your favorite singers and see this principle at work. My recording artist clients all use this to great effect both in the studio and on the road.

Here's a current example: My student Maria Standing Rock just graduated Suma cum Laude from Belmont University and did some Karaoke at her graduation party. She sang several great songs but her shining vocal moment came when she sang a song to her mother. She was emotional, but not nervous. Her dad passed away a couple of years ago, but his spirit must have been listening to his daughter and smiling.

Gifts are for giving. That's how they shine best!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Vocal teachers- How to pick the right one

Vocal instruction is an art as well as a science. Every good voice teacher (actually, every good teacher of anything else) I've ever known or read about has their own unique way of teaching. All voice teaching, however, should lead singers to the same basics of vocal production. After all, the human voice in everyone operates by the same anatomical principles.

BUT- singers have unique strengths and weaknesses. I would coach someone whose voice was thin and reedy differently than I would someone who was hooty and hollow sounding. Teaching voice has to be a creative and co-operative team effort on behalf of student and teacher, not just a curriculum of "one fits all". And I learn new ways to communicate healthy vocal principles nearly every day I teach.

Here is the criteria for assessing a vocal teacher's method. it should make your voice feel and work better!! and initial improvement should be rapid. You should not leave a vocal lesson with your throat hurting. End of story.

Here are some questions to ask yourself: does the teaching help you sing with less tension? Do you have enough breath to do what you want to do? Does your throat feel better with less strain? Does it increase your range and your accuracy of pitch and give your tone more resonance? Does it give you more vocal endurance? Do you communicate better to your audience?

If the answers are yes, go with it. If the answer to one or more of these questions is no, be careful. But before you change teachers, be sure that you really understand what the teacher is asking you to do.

There is no substitute for personal vocal lessons and/or someone who is a real vocal producer in the recording studio. But there are good products out there that can help, cds and books you can train with (others as well as mine-I'll be commenting on them on future posts) which can be better than an ineffective or incorrect vocal teacher. No training is better than bad training!