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Dealing With Insecurity In Our Singing

Do you ever look at another singer and feel jealous because it seems to come so easily to them? And then you think to yourself how nice it would be to sing like them because if you could do that, then all your insecurity would just vanish? Not to burst your bubble, but in my twenty-five years of performing and teaching, I have yet to meet a singer who does not deal with some form of insecurity. Even those singers who we perceive to be the most talented, have the best technique and who seem to be at the top of their game feel insecure about their voice at one time or another. It’s just part of the experience of being a singer that the majority of us share. Most of our insecurity is tied up with our attachment to the perceptions of others. And I get it, trust me I do. It’s really hard not to be concerned about what others think of us when we’re putting a piece of ourselves and our talent out there into the world. That’s why most of us sing best in the shower or in the car when nobody is listening – we

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How To Sing Without Tension & Why “Why” Matters

Have you ever noticed that so many of the tools and ideas I give you to help you sing without tension have a component of mindfulness in them?  I realized recently that I don’t always explain why I do that, or why mindfulness plays such a big part in reducing tension and the way that I teach. So today I really want to circle back to the “why” of it all and also give you an exercise for how to sing without tension in your own practice. So why is mindfulness so important to help you sing without tension so you can sound better and feel better singing? As singers, our body is our instrument. You’ve heard me say that about a million times, right? And just like a trombone player or a cello player makes sure that their instrument is in good working order, we too need to make sure our instrument (our body) is set up to work our technique as efficiently as possible. For singers, the main thing that compromises our instrument and our technique is tension. I know so many of you deal first hand with the discomforts of tension in your singing and would do

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How To Sing Without A Nasal Tone

It’s coming on summer and one of my favorite things to do here in Los Angeles in summer is go to concerts at The Hollywood Bowl. Hearing amazing music under the stars on a balmy evening with a gourmet picnic and a great glass of wine – well, there’s not much else that can beat that in my book. (If you’re not from L.A. or have never been to The Bowl before, here’s a photo:) Then I realized that The Hollywood Bowl actually plays a huge part in what I teach and how I sing, and THAT makes me love The Bowl even more! You see, so many singers suffer from a brassy or nasal resonance in their sound. How do you sing without a nasal tone? How do you fix a brassy sound? You guessed it . . . . The Hollywood Bowl! In today’s video I will explain how The Hollywood Bowl can help you sing without a nasal tone and rid your resonance of an overly brassy timbre. The ideas in this video were game changing for me when I first learned them, and I’m really excited to share them with you now. You will learn: The

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How To Get Unstuck & Stop Struggling

Is your inner voice really harsh? Does it LOVE to criticize you? Does it constantly tell you how much your are lacking, remind you of all the ways it thinks you are bad or wrong, berate you for doing too little or too much. . . . .is it ever satisfied??? A few weeks ago I wrote to you about a question I am often asked: What keeps talented singers stuck and struggling? Today I have another actionable tool for you as we continue that conversation. This tool will help you get out of your head and move past the struggle by changing the way you relate to your inner voice. You see, when you hear that critical voice, it’s not you. It is not the voice of your true self. It’s the voice of your ego, otherwise known as your “inner-critic”. The voice of the true self so often gets drowned out by the ego/inner-critic that at times the inner-critic is the only voice we hear. But it’s not the only voice that’s there. Learning how to detach from your inner-critic and connect to the voice of your true self can be game changing for improving your singing and getting you “un-stuck”. I know, you’re thinking “Oh

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A Tip To Reduce Tension & Increase Vocal Range

As many of you know, I have a four year old daughter. One of the things I learned from parenting her throughout the toddler years (and now the preschool years) is the value of re-direction. Thank the lord for re-direction!!! I can not overstate how many times this tactic has saved me from being on the receiving end of a major fuss. And for singers, the value of re-direction is just as strong. Re-direction is a really powerful way to combat tension. My favorite re-direction tool is opposition. There are SO many useful applications for opposition in singing. The one I’m focusing on today is using opposition to help singers increase vocal range. In my experience, most singers have much more range then they’re currently able to access. The reason it’s so hard for many of you to make use of the upper reaches of your range is because too much tension builds up around your larynx as you rise in pitch and you get stuck. The idea of opposition can make all the difference in the world in reducing tension in singing to increase vocal range. Watch today’s Blog video to learn how to employ opposition to help you

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One Mistake That Keeps Talented Singers Stuck And Struggling

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

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What Singers Can Learn From Olympians

Using Mindfulness to Improve Your Singing Technique I’m a huge fan of the Olympics, so as you can guess, I’m in hog heaven right now tuning in each night to see the latest from the Winter Games in South Korea. As I watched legendary snowboard champion Shaun White pull off a come-back to get the gold, it got me thinking, as I often do, about parallels to singing. It occurrs to me that training more like an Olympic athlete can help you improve your singing technique. Singing is an artistic endeavor, but in my view, it is also an athletic endeavor. It involves training your body to do the same thing over and over for a desired outcome just as any athlete does. Physically, it is no different then Shaun White training his body to do the mechanics of his amazing snowboard tricks so that when he gets into the competition, he achieves a peak performance that appears effortless. Just like any athlete, a singer’s body cannot do what her brain is sabotaging. While Olympians and pro athletes figured out a long time ago that in order to achieve success, training their mental game is just as important as training

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A Tip To Improve Your Breathing For Singing

Breathing For Singing Is Way Easier When You Stop Taking A Breath!   What if I said that your singing will dramatically improve if you stop actively taking breaths? You would probably think I was nuts. But hear me out. . . . . I hate the phrase “take a breath”.  It implies a certain violence – a grabbing, a taking, a fast manipulation to pull as much air into the body as possible in the shortest amount of time. This inevitably creates tension in the ribs, in the muscles of the abdomen, in the muscles of the neck and throat that surround the larynx and tension in the jaw. In my experience, excess tension in a singer’s body is the number one saboteur of a good sound. By “taking” or grabbing a breath, you are setting up the rest of the phrase you’re about to sing from a place of tension rather then from a place of open release. The ensuing phrase will suffer because you receive much less air then you would if the body was free, open, soft and released during the inhale. Additionally, if you breathe with tension in your neck, throat and abdomen, that tension inevitably continues

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A Simple Physical Awareness Checklist To Improve Your Singing

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

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Mental Practice – A Singing Technique So Easily Overlooked

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