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
Dispelling myths about breath support is like taking a sledgehammer to a cracked foundation. I think most architects would agree that when it comes to building a house, getting the foundation right is the most important part. Without it, the building will not stand (at least not for long!). In the very same way, our breath support is the foundation of our singing. It is from this support that our sound maintains stability. Yet it seems for SO many singers (even those who have had tons of training) a truly solid understanding of this foundation remains elusive. Unfortunately there’s a lot of misleading and contradictory information out there which only serves to confuse more. So in this blog post, I’m going to try to address what I find to be the two most common myths about breath support. Myth #1 – You should breathe into your belly. Noooooooo! When I see these words on paper this technique looks even more ridiculous. Breathe into my belly? I’m pretty sure I don’t have lungs in my belly. If you’ve heard this, it’s because someone has noticed you are taking shallow breaths which pull your chest and shoulders up. The things is,
Let’s be honest. . . . if there were a pill that could magically improve your singing, I’m pretty sure all of us would take it. Who wouldn’t want to skip the periods of self doubt and angst we go through as we struggle to improve our singing? But what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be such a struggle. The more time I spend working with the mind/body effect on singing technique, the more I am convinced of this: The “magical pill” to unlocking the consistency and growth we all want in our singing is in understanding how to use Present Moment Awareness to step out of the old story of what’s wrong and into what’s possible for your voice. Watch this “Before and After” video to see how Present Moment Awareness works in action with my student Carly. The difference in her sound, in how she is able to use her technique and in the way she feels when singing this way is truly wonderful. There’s a quote that I love: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present”. We singers are SO very good
Have you ever felt like you intellectually understand the singing technique your teacher gives you, but your body has other ideas when it comes to implementing it correctly or consistently? Do you sometimes worry that maybe this is as good as you’re ever going to sing? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly every singer I know has been through this at one time or another. You’ve become so good at second-guessing, self-doubt and control that you can’t see the forest through the trees. But the solution lies in your ability to internalize two key truths: Singing is a metaphor for life. And as such, the journey is the thing! We never arrive. Our lives are an ever-changing and constantly evolving odyssey and so too is our singing. It is incumbent on us to figure out how to enjoy the journey because if we don’t, then we’re missing the whole point. Changing your thinking = changing your singing. How and what we think about our singing has a direct effect on what our body does to produce the sound, so get under the hood and begin to understand your mindset. We all have a conditioned set of beliefs (some from our upbringing,
Do you ever feel like your breathing for singing doesn’t work the way you want it to? Do you ever feel like you understand how your breath support is supposed to happen, but then it fails you when you get into a phrase? It could be that you are ignoring one VERY important element of your singing technique that could make all the difference in the world: Your back! In today’s blog video I explain why the back is so essential in breathing for singing and supporting your sound. Once I became aware of my back and understood how to use it when I sing, everything became easier. If you’ve never paid attention to this part of your body in your singing, hold onto your shirt cause everything is about to become a whole lot better! Watch now and learn: Exercises for how to access the full expansion of your back on the inhale Understanding why you shouldn’t focus on your front body when you breathe Exercises for how to employ your back to sing longer phrases without getting out of breath How using your back will help you achieve a clearer resonance And so much more . . .
Have you ever noticed that really great singers always seem to be smiling when they sing? (From top Left: Beyonce, Joan Sutherland, Pavarotti, Sam Smith, Audra McDonald, Placido Domingo, Sutton Foster) Are they all just perpetually happy? Are they smiling because their singing technique is so damn great? Au contraire mon frère – their singing technique is so damn great because they’re smiling!! It doesn’t matter if it’s Beyonce or Joan Southerland, great singers across the board know that the secret to great resonance has to do with “the smile”. Whether they’re opera singers, pop singers or musical theater performers, when the camera clicks mid-phrase, they all look the same, they’ve all got “the smile”. You too can improve your singing resonance by incorporating the idea of “the smile”. When a singer has “the smile”, it’s important to understand that it’s really not about showing off your pearly whites and saying cheese. It’s actually about the shape you achieve on of the inside of your mouth when the outside of your face appears to be smiling. It’s that shape which has the biggest effect on your ability to create an amazing, resonant sound easily. Do you want to know what the
The importance of ‘gratitude’ is often discussed this time of year, and I’ve found a way of using gratitude that can be even more powerful when linked to our singing technique. This isn’t just a “woo woo” theory. I use this idea in my studio and in my own singing technique year round and I can attest to the results. You’ll learn exactly what this is all about, and the four steps to implementing it into your singing technique in today’s blog video: Now I’d love to hear from you. After you’ve done the gratitude and awareness journaling exercise I outline in the video, in the comments below please share your discoveries to these questions: In what ways do I interfere with my body’s efficient design to make sound? (Think about your habits, tensions, ideas of control and manipulation of sound) What would happen if I stepped out of the way? (In what way can gratitude help me entrust my technique to my body’s sound making design?) What feelings come up when I think about the prospect of doing this? Remember, share as much detail as possible in your reply. So many singers come here each week
Halloween this past week got me thinking about the relationship between fear and singing technique. Ghosts and zombies have nothing on the kind of fear that the opening of Gilda’s aria from Rigoletto used to elicit in me. Seriously. . . . there was a time I would rather walk through Haunted Harbor alone at 2am then to have to sing that passage one more time because it exposed every single insecurity I had about my voice and every weakness in my singing technique at the time. So what do you do when you come to a place in a song that exposes the weakest part of your singing technique? What’s your reaction when you have to sing in the part of your voice that you are really insecure about? Most of us do one of two things: we play defense and pull back to lessen the impact of what we perceive as bad, or we play offense and plough through, trying too hard in an attempt to force a better outcome. Both are totally normal reactions to avoid the discomfort of feeling “less then” in the moment. But here’s the thing, these totally normal reactions to our fear and