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The Sensation Of Good Singing

There’s so much content out there with tips and tools for how to improve singing performance. Over the years there’s one key thing I’ve learned. It’s the first step a singer needs to take in order to unlock the potential of their voice. I was reminded of it the other day when I heard this quote by poet Nayyirah Waheed: “Listening is one of the only spaces where you can be still and moved at the same time.”  I love this quote because it reminds me that when we allow the mind to be still and just listen, we create space for transformation. Most singers think of listening as it relates to sound –  listening to the sounds of the instruments accompanying us, the sounds we make when we sing and the sounds we want others to hear us making. This kind of listening is outwardly focused on external sound and our external experience with it. When we are listening this way, we tend to force, manipulate and push our voice as a means of controlling an outcome. But there is another kind of listening. Listening to your body. Listening in this way means quieting the mind so you can

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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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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

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The Power Of The Mind/Body Connection In Singing

You know how I’m always encouraging you to tap into your awareness and cultivate the power of the mind/body connection in your singing? Well, I saw this headline the other day and I had to bring it to you. It’s such a testament to the power of the mind/body connection that if you have ever been in doubt, it serves as a great reminder. For those of you not following the news or who hadn’t heard this story, a group of thirteen Thai boys and their soccer coach were trapped for 9 days deep in a cave after the entrance got flooded. They were without any food, any light or much fresh water until on day 10, an international team of navy seals and cave divers found them, miraculously alive, and managed to get them out after week long rescue mission. It turns out that the boys’ coach, who led them on a hike into the cave when it flooded, trained in meditation as a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a soccer coach. According to a bunch of news sources, he taught the boys to meditate in the cave to keep them calm and preserve their energy throughout the

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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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The Secret To Great Singing – An Interview

Do you ever notice how easy it is to get caught up in the minutia of your singing technique? We spend so much time and energy perfecting and polishing every little thing, seeking out technique tips and testing out performance hacks in hopes of finding the secret to great singing. But in doing so, we can so easily loose sight of what the purpose of it all is. Above all else, we are artists. We are creators seeking to share our experience of the world with others through our voice. “To be an artist is to witness the world. Open your ears, open your eyes. Notice the gifts around you.” That’s a wonderful quote from bestselling author, Dani Shapiro on maximizing the creative process. When we become so consumed with the physical practice of our technique, it can be like walking through a landscape with blinders on. We only see the 10% of the landscape we are focused on, and we miss everything else around us that could be informing our journey. When we take in the world and witness it with an open heart, we reconnect with the creative artists that we are. In doing so, we are much more

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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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StarWars & Singing: How To Sing Without Tension

One of the things many singers struggle with is how to sing without tension. If you know me, then you can guess my response for how to sing without tension has something to do with the mind/body effect on your singing technique. There’s a quote in Star Wars that I love. When Yoda is instructing Luke Skywalker, he says: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Singers, this is your mantra!!! It applies to you in the same way it applies to Luke when he’s stuck in the swamp. When we try, we tend to force, manipulate, over-think and overdo which all causes physical tension. We tense because we don’t inherently trust ourselves to make the sound we want without any excess “trying”. Luke tries to force a solution in the swamp and nothing is working. But when he heeds Yoda’s words, stops trying so hard and trusts his training and abilities, he is able to channel the Force to get the ship out of the swamp. When we are in “try” mode, like Luke, we don’t believe we can get what we want unless we try really hard. And just like Luke, all that trying gets in the

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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