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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 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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Improve Your Breath Support With These Two Singing Hacks

Today I’m bringing you two short and sweet technical tips to help you achieve a more reliable breath support. To improve your breath support, it all begins with words. That’s right. . . . not the air, not your diaphragm, not your lungs. . . . words! The words we use to direct ourselves in our technique and around our support REALLY matter.  Changing words shifts understanding. A new understanding shifts mindset. And a new mindset results in a new physical response which helps your body work for you instead of against you in accessing your most efficient singing technique. I love clever life hacks (who knew a balled up piece of tin foil makes a great substitute for steel wool??). Consider these breath support tips my version of clever singing hacks. They are achieved by merely changing a few words! Watch the video. And if you’d like a more in depth understanding of how to achieve proper breath support for singing, check out some of my earlier posts and accompanying videos on the topic: “How To Sing With Appoggio” has really good explanations and exercises for how to find and feel your support correctly in your body. Understanding and

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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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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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Achieving Lasting Breath Support The Italian Way

Throughout history, there have been many, many things Italians have contributed to culture and society that we just wouldn’t want to live without. Think espresso, the jacuzzi, the Mona Lisa and jeans. (Yes, denim can be traced back to Genoa in the 17th century as being worn by sailors. Who knew?) But given what I do for a living and my creative passion, my favorite of all Italian exports is . . . . . . drumroll please: Appoggio What is Appoggio you ask??? Appoggio is an Italian concept of breath support for singing that has been used by centuries of opera singers to achieve a consistency and stability of breath and tone. You don’t have to be an opera singer to reap the benefits of incorporating the idea of Appoggio into your singing. And don’t worry, singing with Appoggio isn’t gong to make you sound like an opera singer if that’s not your bag.  What it will do however, is bring you more freedom and power through stabling your breath support in each phrase. And THAT is what you want no matter what genre you sing. Are you curious to learn more about what Appoggio is and how to

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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