By now you’ve probably heard about Straw Singing – all these YouTube voice teachers and IG singing influencers posting videos about how it will save your voice. Some are even selling $75 “special” singing straws!! (don’t get me started). Now, working with straw exercises can be helpful to alleviate tension and vocal fatigue. . . .BUT. . . .the reason why I think it’s complete BS and why I’m not hopping on the Straw Singing bandwagon is because it’s a BANDAID on a MOSQUITO BITE. Why, you ask? Because it doesn’t address the real problem!! There’s so much bad information – and “fad” information – out there and I don’t want you to be misled. So this Thursday I went LIVE in my FB Group (The Pro Singer Success Collective) to give you some real information about Straw Singing. We talked about: What Straw Singing is, why people use it and why it’s useless for singers who care about the health and longevity of their voice and their careers. AND what you should be doing instead. If you weren’t able to tune in for the live broadcast on FB, you can watch right here! If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to
Most people would assume that, to take a singer from good to great, you need to do in-person voice lessons every week for a long period of time. But that’s absolutely not the case. And Grace Theisen is a prime example. Before doing The Intensive, Grace had so much vocal tension, strain, and vocal fatigue in her singing that it kept her sitting on the bench instead of thriving in her singing career. Now, just a few months later, she just celebrated her recent live show recording with this post: “This shit works!!!!!!” . . . . . .These are the results you can get in JUST A FEW MONTHS when you have an expert strategy and a supportive community. You don’t need in-person lessons to do it. You don’t even need to see your teacher every week to do it. And you certainly don’t need to grind away at it for years, inching along – two steps forward, one step back. When it comes down to it, if you’re a talented singer who’s had lots of training, who’s out there hustling (auditioning/recording/performing) and you’re just not seeing results at the level you want in your singing and/or career. . . .
How many of you have felt instances over the last few months where your voice just doesn’t feel “right” or “the same” but you weren’t sick or having allergies and your teacher is telling you that your technique is fine? The culprit could likely be air quality. This has been a rough year for many of us when it comes to air quality because of the massive fires that have affected large parts of the western United States. Even if you don’t live in the immediate area where the fire is burning, wind patterns can cause smoke and particulate matter into your area and you may have been affected. Even as we speak, Southern California is facing another massive fire and I’m hearing significantly more complaints from singers noticing things like loss of vocal range, increased phlegm and hoarseness. If you’re thinking that you might be affected and wondering how smoke from fires and air pollution affects your voice, I wanted to pass along a great article from Dr. Rena Gupta at the Center For Vocal Health. Dr. Gupta shares some really cool videos and images that show you what happens to cords and how their functioning can be impeded
There’s one question I am asked all the time: What’s the secret to great singing? Now, I totally get it. Who doesn’t want in on the secret to greatness? The thing is, there’s no useful, practical answer to this question. While these kinds of broad inspirational secrets are easy to soak in, they are hard to execute. They’re designed to address an insecurity with instant encouragement, without providing any real strategies or substance. As such, they are rarely actionable. Since I’m all about taking action and digging down to guide you in the real work that will facilitate lasting change in your voice so you sing with your full potential, naturally such a question pushes my buttons. There’s a better question though – One I wish more singers would ask me. Here it is… What specific mistakes keep talented singers stuck and struggling? Now THAT’s a question ripe for an in-depth, tactical and actionable answer. Like most things worth learning, the answer can’t be summed up in a sound bite. Perhaps this is the beginning of a book I should write! But for now, we can start the conversation by discussing something talented singers can do to move the needle in
The ways in which we use our bodies in our day-to-day lives effects how we sound when we sing. What do I mean exactly? When your body is your instrument, the way you use it when you are not singing influences how it behaves when you are. An example I like to give is of a tenor I worked with who was extremely tall (nearly NBA tall, well over six feet). He had always been taller then everyone around him from the time he was young. Because of his height, his interactions with other people nearly always required him to look down at the people he was speaking to, round his shoulders, cock his head and neck downwards both to try to make eye contact, and to also make himself appear smaller and less imposing to those he was with. When he would get up to sing, the same physical pattern would appear. . . a physical shortening and collapsing. Singing from this position created tension in his neck, throat and sternum which prevented him from accessing the full breadth and energy of his support, limited his range and squeezed his sound. Yet he didn’t even realize it because that
Sometimes the most efficient form of practicing singing doesn’t involve singing at all. Singing is an athletic endeavor, don’t let anyone tell you any different. We are asking our body to do the same thing over and over again for a desired outcome. Just like a major league pitcher or an Olympic sprinter, a singer’s body is our instrument. And no matter how good your technique or how healthfully you sing, there comes a point where too much practice singing will fatigue your instrument. The common wisdom is that a singer should sing for no more then about three hours a day total, and not more then about an hour straight without a break for vocal rest. But every singer is different. It is so important to know your instrument well enough that you are aware of what it feels like as you approach the threshold of overuse so that you can stop singing before you reach it. After that point, the idea of “mental practice” becomes essential. What is mental practice? Mental practice consists of taking yourself through your music in your mind’s eye (or in this case, ear) in a deliberate and specific way to reinforce your technique and
Tension is the enemy of the singer because it blocks the free flow of energy, breath and sound throughout the body. One very important concept for any singer to remember is that your body is your instrument, not your vocal chords. Anything that negatively impacts the open flow of energy and sound through your body will negatively effect the quality of your singing. . . . chief among these is physical tension. When a new singer comes to work with me, one of the very first things I do is to help them become aware of any physical tensions they have that are getting in the way of their most efficient production of sound. Mother Nature gave humans an incredibly efficient mechanism for producing sound, but singers often do not trust it. Instead they develop habits which they believe help control their sound, but which really just create all sorts of tensions that negatively impact the sound they are trying to improve. Here are 3 of the most common tensions I see in singers and some exercises to help undo them. Jaw Tension – If you have trouble with your higher register, one of the culprits might be that you