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Why You Have Tension & Strain When You Sing (and other reasons high notes are hard)

The Holy Grail for singers is the ability to sing without strain and tension throughout the entire expanse of your range while finding a free, powerful, resonant and vulnerable sound. Simple right???? I’m rolling my eyes right now – you probably are too. I feel you. I mean, if singing like that were simple, you’d be doing it by now. You would never strain going for high notes, you would never tense up at the end of a long phrase, you’d never feel anxious about what sound was going to come out – it would be amazing! The thing is, there’s a really good reason you’re frustrated, and guess what? It’s not your fault. Odds are, nobody ever told you about The Negative Feedback Loop Of Tension! I was reminded of The Negative Feedback Loop Of Tension recently when I got this message from a member of my virtual voice studio named Frankie. He writes:  “Just found your Chanel and I am hooked so far. I do need help with one thing. I have so much strain and tension and it will not go. I have watched hundreds of videos, honestly if not near thousands. When I push more and

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How To Find Your Most True And Organic Sound

I often hear from singers who say “I am having trouble finding my own sound”. Have you ever felt that way? For commercial singers (recording artists and musical theater singers) it can feel like you don’t quite know what lane your voice fits into, or what kind of singing or genre is the most organic for your voice. If you’re an opera singer, it can feel like being unsure of what fach you are in or what repertoire you should be singing at this stage of your artistic development. It’s an interesting concept, the idea of finding your own sound. It’s an exploration that involves discovering and accepting the true nature of our singing voice, which is no small feat. When we are younger, most of us grow up emulating the sounds our favorite singers make. When I was a kid (and I’m about to date myself here) I wanted to sound like Whitney Houston. I don’t have to tell you. . . . there’s no way a 10yr old white girl from Florida is gonna sound like Whitney Houston. But damn if I tried! Oh, I manipulated my voice, I pushed, I darkened it and in my head it sounded

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Perfectionism: The Thief Of Good Singing

Sometimes the things that improve our singing the most have nothing to do with singing at all. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to the standards we set for ourselves and why I say that perfectionism is the thief of good singing. We all want to sound good but at what point does that tip into perfectionism, and how can you know? Here are a few questions to ask yourself: Do I set standards waaaaay higher and more demanding for myself then the standards I apply to my friends/colleagues/family? Do I ever find that I have all-or-nothing thinking where I feel “almost perfect” as a failure? Do I ever have difficulty taking pride in my accomplishments because I am so focused on tiny perceived mistakes or imperfections in my work that I have trouble acknowledging the larger achievement? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then you, my friend, just might be a perfectionist. Welcome to the club! Illustrious members include Steve Jobs, Mozart, Flaubert so you are in very good company. The thing is, while perfectionism may work for some people, it is mostly disastrous for singers. When we feel we have to be perfect

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Business Advice For Singers

I want to share a little piece of business advice for singers I learned later in my career that I WISH I’d learned from the very start. It’s not the kind of business advice that has to do with managing your dollars and cents. Rather it’s a foundational concept to managing your mindset around the business of your career as a singer. It is this: I am not just a performing artist, I am a business. Tattoo this on your forehead so that you see it every time you look into the mirror, it’s that important! Say it out loud: I AM A BUSINESS I’ve noticed that the mindset most of us start out our singing career with is not a business mindset, it is a “starving artist” mindset. It is a mindset of lack. It is a mindset that doesn’t generally take risks or invest in growth, and those are two of the most important predictors of success in any field. My own experience as a young singer and my experience working with all of you has taught me this: When we are in the “starving artist” mindset, we have a really hard time taking risks and investing in

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How To Transition From Chest Voice To Head Voice Smoothly

Does switching back and forth from chest voice to head voice give you anxiety? Want to know how to transition from chest voice to head voice smoothly and reliably EVERY SINGLE TIME?  If your answer is “Yes!”read on . . . . First off, you are totally not alone. The ability to transition from chest voice to head voice smoothly is the source of SO much insecurity for so many singers. And second, I don’t blame you! The middle voice can be a tricky part of the voice to negotiate and downright scary without good tools. Today I have some insights that will help. Many singers and voice teachers call this part of the voice “the break” because that’s exactly how it sounds and feels to so many of you. . . . like a fissure in your mechanism preventing you from moving fluidly from one register to another. And boy can it feel scary. . . . . like trying to cross the Grand Canyon without a bridge! Personally, I hate the term “the break”. I don’t use it to describe this part of the voice and I encourage you to toss it out too. You see, the words

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My Best Advice For Singers

Every so often I am asked what my best advice for singers is, and I always find the answer hard to articulate  – as if one sentiment could possibly encapsulate all that I want to say! The question came up again recently and has been on my mind.  And then it came to me. . . . . The best advice for singers I can possibly give is SO macro. It’s not about the specifics of breath support or finding resonance. It’s not about learning the right repertoire or understanding your voice type. It has to do with perseverance and dedication. The art and craft of singing, whether you are doing it at the professional level or as a passionate recreational singer, is a process that is and will always be evolving within you. To be a great singer and a great artist is to embrace that process. Become a lifelong learner of your craft.  That, my lovelies, is my best advice for singers. So as summer comes to an end and we’re all back from our lazy summer days (hopefully a little rejuvenated from any travel or vacation time we took), it’s the PERFECT time to get rededicated and