By Diana Drew | Jan 19, 2016 | tagged " Singing Classes, Singing Tips "
Singing is a part of almost every culture in the world; from the tribes of Africa to the monks in Tibet. It allows us to communicate over great distances and share thoughts, feelings and words of great importance. There is so much that can be done through singing, and music in general, that it is truly amazing. Moreover, in today’s society, someone who sings can bring great joy, express immense pain, and show support for many different, significant causes -- some of which may be the catalyst for ‘great change in the world’.
When an individual sings well (in tune, with genuine emotional expression and a pleasurable tone) people want to listen to this type of pleasant, confident and inviting communication. The truth is that with proper lessons, almost anyone can sing and with great success. Singing can help open up the breathing and respiratory passages, train dormant muscles to work at their maximum power, enhance one’s mood, lift the spirits and ultimately increase a person’s self-esteem.
Some Tibetan monks have learned what is called “overtone singing” where they activate the overtones in their voices, singing three notes simultaneously. Thus, each singer individually creates a complete chord. They learn to control the muscles of the vocal cavity and re-shape it while singing, thus intensifying the natural overtones of the voice. In effect, the body is transformed into an effective overtone amplifier. This exercise and practice helps teach focus, patience, and perseverance. Yet, this leaves the question - how can someone learn to do any of this? The answer is: ‘Singing Lessons’.
Singing lessons can bring an individual roughly the same benefits of the Tibetan monk. With the proper lessons and positive encouragement, a person can develop more self-confidence. For someone who enjoys singing, lessons will show them the proper techniques to make real significant strides in their singing, save them valuable time, and maybe make some kind of career out of something they really enjoy doing. The better we learn to sing, the more we can enjoy an emotional freedom that others can appreciate when they hear the beautiful results. With these types of lessons, an individual will be able to share their emotions more powerfully and effectively. Singing can bring people to tears when a singer learns to connect with the depths of their soul and allow their real feeling to show in their singing. Their true life experiences and personality then are free so the listener can hear the unique vocal qualities of the individual. Copying other singers will not achieve these results.
The benefits of singing lessons are astonishing! However, the greatest levels of singing cannot be self-taught. Einstein’s famous quote comes to mind: "The world we have made, as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far, creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them." In relation to singing, we cannot solve our own vocal issues with the same mind that created them. We cannot even hear ourselves accurately the way someone else can hear us. When that someone is highly trained, they definitely hear what we cannot. A great singing teacher can help us achieve the greatest success in singing by saving us time and getting right to the centre of the issues, giving us ways of working the voice that we could never have come up with on our own.
And it is not something that can just be learned from reading a book – a book won’t demonstrate correct breath control, vocal projection, show ‘how’ to use the diaphragm muscles correctly, nor will it vocalize the tensions out of the voice for you. Ultimately a book cannot ‘show’ you how to completely ‘free the voice’. If you want to learn the proper way to advance your talent, become a much better vocalist, and enjoy singing at a much higher level; the only option is to allow someone the opportunity to teach you how.
Not only can a singing teacher make you a better singer, but singing can also bring you into a whole new world of success, adventure, joy, greater self-awareness and noticeable inner confidence.
Vocal improvement can show up in many other areas of life as well: presentations, business meetings, sales, important phone conversations, public speaking of all kinds, acting and, of course, singing in front of any size audience. The more effectively we learn to use the voice, the more the ‘Power of the Voice’ can help us achieve the confidence we need to succeed in all areas of our lives.
CARING FOR YOUR VOICE - AVOID THROAT PAIN
By Diana Drew | Dec 08, 2015 | tagged " Singing Classes, Singing Tips"
In rare cases, the surgeon may make a mistake and cut too deeply into the vocal folds causing permanent damage. The best way to avoid surgical errors is to maintain vocal health so that you do not need surgery.
Some celebrities successfully undergo throat surgery on a regular basis due to improper technique and overuse of the vocal cords. Elton John is one celebrity that openly admits that he gets these surgeries regularly. Most often surgery is successful and vocal health is restored until further damage occurs again.
It is a “wash, rinse and repeat” syndrome for some singers.
Not only is surgery a scary endeavour, vocal pain is not fun to sing with when the nodules have formed and are causing strain and pain while singing.
When you do not know “how” to use the diaphragm muscles to support your vocal tones, it is a sign that you are singing incorrectly. The following training tips will guide you so that you can use the voice powerfully without injuring the vocal cords when belting out a tune. That being said, there is nothing that can replace taking weekly private lessons to form good vocal habits with a teacher that really knows what they are doing.
Tip 1: Breathing exercises
No matter the genre or the type of singing you do, before you hit the stage, you need to do some breathing exercises to control your notes, and relax the diaphragm muscles to achieve optimum performance. You need to sing scales to prepare and balance the muscles so you are ready to perform at your best. One such exercise involves a 5 minute “open-eyed meditation”. Conduct these and other vocal exercises for 15-30 minutes and you will feel more confident and relaxed.
Tip 2: Do your vocal strength training: cardio and core
It’s good to have a workout plan especially when you are about sing rock as this genre especially aims to test the physical limits of your body and vocal cords. Cardio exercises expand your lung capacity while core strengthening gives you greater support. You will need this when you sing the “screaming” notes or climatic music phrases of the song. Use your diaphragm to its full extent to support these powerful tones. A good voice teacher can show you how through demonstration and mind’s eye visualisation. Knowledge and practice, practice, practice is the key.
Tip 3: Know Your Notes!
You need to know the notes of the song so that you can sing in the tune. Knowing and practicing your intervals will also help tremendously. Really knowing the spacing between notes is of utmost importance. Singing a high-note in a song will compliment your sound cohesiveness, in fact, it is as important as tuning guitar to keep your sound in sync with the other instruments and sound attractive to your audience. Knowing your notes accurately gives you more confidence because once you think the pitch (have direction and aim), you can hear it in your mind’s ear and the execution of the note will be more accurate.
Tip 4: Plan Your Set
If you know that you'll be singing a few high-pitched songs, it’s good to plan the next song to be quite an easy, lower-pitched song to “pace yourself” and your vocals. This allows you to rest as you sing. However, if you’re entire set is high-pitched, then, this can cause you unnecessary stress. Singing is about having fun. Sometimes it’s fun to challenge yourself and sometimes it’s fun to do a song that rolls off your tongue, so-to-speak. You’ll want to mix up your set with challenging songs and easier songs to mix it up for the audience as well.
The Bottom Line
You can try ‘vocal tips’ to help guide you, and yet there is nothing that can replace proper in-studio vocal training on a regular basis. You will learn ‘good vocal habits’ that you will have for life!
Knowing how to sing well involves practice and learning to use muscles in a certain way that may be not activated without good technique. Very few people are born with a natural singing ability. If you’re one of those natural talents: lucky you! However, you may still need to use the above training tips to be able to use your voice powerfully; at its optimum without injuring your vocal cords. Even people with ‘natural talent’ can improve their vocal functioning with proper regular vocal training. It’s all about nurturing habits that work for us instead of against us.
If there is one vital thing that you have to protect when singing, it is your instrument: namely your vocal cords.
Singing songs without having done proper exercises, to strengthen your vocal cords, over the long run will injure them and may even scar your vocal chords for life. Julie Andrews from the ‘Sound of Music’ is a perfect example of someone who can never sing her high notes again as a result of a bad vocal surgery. When the chords are strained and damaged over a long period of time, vocal nodules form on the inner edge of the vocal folds which does not allow them to connect so that they can come together to vibrate. The surgeon then must slice the protruding vocal nodule off of the chords so that they can once again connect as healthy vocal cords do.
PROFESSIONAL TIPS: HOW SINGING LESSONS IMPROVE YOUR SINGING
By Diana Drew | Nov 10, 2015 | tagged " Singing Classes, Singing Tips, Vocal Groups "
1.) Breathe correctly: This is highly important for our vocals and needs good muscle training. Inhale using primarily the nose. Mouth breathing can cause unhealthy breathing habits such as ‘over-breathing’ which can cause you to gasp for air between phrases.
2.) Believe in yourself: Don’t let negative/fearful thoughts in your head hold you back from feeling fully free to express yourself. Sometimes we say things like, “I don’t want to make a fool of myself.” Everyone has negative thoughts, but we don’t need to listen to them.
3.) Sometimes allowing the fear to exist (instead of fighting it) and singing despite your fears works well. You could also repeat an empowering thought to yourself such as “Just do it” or “I can do it” over and over in your mind which can override the negative thought.
4.) Study other professionals: Watch the overall posture, attitude and movement of professional singers. Learn from their mistakes and strengths. We can learn from others. Take notes.
5.) Take private lessons or vocal group classes: Just like in sports you need an excellent coach, so too in singing, you need a highly qualified singing coach to teach you techniques that will help you improve your voice and teach you good vocal habits to last a lifetime.
Diana Drew is a professional, trained singer who earned an honours degree in music performance at York University. She has also received formal training in voice, acting and she plays five instruments. She has worked professionally in television, radio, film and musical theatre.
Diana has been developing Lead Singers since 1988. She is a Breath Control Specialist who teaches anyone above age 6. She uses innovative singing instruction - intuitive, affirmative methods that produce amazingly impressive singers that sound completely 'natural'.
At her teaching and on-site recording studio, Diana also conducts Vocal Groups and Vocal Power Groups. Here students are matched with similar age group participants to inspire, develop friendships with like-minded learners and have fun! Students in the Vocal Classes learn the aspects of melody, harmony and counterpoint as it pertains to group singing. They learn to collaborate with other singers to create beautiful vocal styling together!
As singers we are always trying to discover new ways to improve our voice - increase volume, eliminate nasality, improve pitch and breath control. Whether we are a professional singer in a band or someone who simply loves singing along to the radio, there’s always a good reason to learn how to improve your singing. The better we sing, the more fun it is and the more rewarding the feedback from others.
Here are a couple quick tips that will help you sound better, and make singing more enjoyable for you and others listening to you sing.