Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog: October 2008

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things I've learned from other vocal coaches

I went to a workshop last week in Nashville taught by veteran vocal coach Jeannie Deva who came in from LA. I was so happy I went, because she is delightful and I learned some things.

I never want to stop learning. When I expose myself to others in my field, I come away with three things:
  1. New insights and information or corrections to add to my techniques
  2. Confirmation of the techniques I use and...
  3. Fresh insight into why I may think a technique is wrong.
I'd like to acknowledge some of the biggest and most effective things I've learned from other vocal coaches:

From Jeannie Deva:
  • I learned that if you purpose a finger's touch to mean a certain thing, you can affect yourself greatly. Such as... putting two fingers lightly on your Adam's apple and telling it to relax. I even use this in the studio. It helps me not raise my larynx when I'm tired. I've used it with many students with great success.
  • To warm down as well as up!
From the Feldenkraus method as taught by Yochanan Rywerant:
  • That touching my students very lightly can be very useful in helping them dispel tension.
  • That if a muscle is stretched too far or too fast or even perceives that it is approaching it's limit, it can adversely contract, increasing tension instead of relaxing it.
From the Alexander method as taught by Ron Murdock:
  • The amazing and illuminating anatomical connections between the body and the diaphragm and larynx which help me understand the mechanics of the entire voice like never before.
From Jeffrey Allen:
  • He is the originator of the hook- or question mark- shaped voice path which I use to put my PPP method together.
  • To think of breath control and breath support as opposites.
From Jamie Vendura:
  • To suggest that a vocalist use the "Inhalation Sensation" to help develop breath control
From Chris Beatty:
  • The value of wall work
From Florence Henderson
  • To ask God to sing through me when I perform which cures any stage anxiety for me and for some of my students
From Seth Riggs
  • To watch my students for undue raising or lowering of the larynx
From Dr. Susan Miller:
  • The value of the "siren" as part of warm-up.
From the great Van Christy:
  • That there are time-honored vocal techniques which will ALWAYS lead to better voices. I can't tell you how much I've learned from those old "Expressive Singing" books! This is classical training, and I have found most of it to be directly applicable to contemporary singing.
From my own professional coach and voice-healer, Gerald Arthur
  • To watch for "guarded" singing in my students.
  • The value of professional vocal coaching; the incredible healing and maximization of potential that can indeed occur.
To my students:
  • Who never tire of bringing me unique and challenging puzzles! Each one is different, and I have grown as a teacher - and enlarged my bag of tricks! - from exploring what works or doesn't work with each one.
Thanks also to Dr. Dwaine Allision for his chiropractic insight into spinal conditions and positions that affect the voice.

I've learned things NOT to do or teach as well, though I'll not name my sources :) I am also keenly aware that even though a teacher teaches correctly, a student may take that direction wrong or to extreme. So I keep tweaking my teaching, and like all good voice teachers, try to find insight anywhere it may be found. My caveat is: It must work! So thanks again to all who have taught me to teach. What a great joy it is for me to be part of other vocalists' successful journeys.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Utility you may need for a cd burner that goes "missing"

My tech angel just saved my CD burner's butt and I wanted to pass the info on to you.

Somehow, my computer lost the ability to recognize my CD yesterday. I was counting my pennies to go get another CD drive and install it, but called my friend, engineer Ronny Light for advice. He said he had run into the same problem more than once on Windows XP and finally figured out that his CD drive had NOT gone bad. He found a free utility, sent it to me by email and within three minutes I had the problem fixed.

I suggest you backup your computer before trying this:

Note: THIS FIX IS FOR Windows XP ONLY!!. If you have Vista or anything else, don't try it.

First, Click on this link,
then scroll down where it says "Other Registry Patches",
then go about 7 links down where it says "Restore Missing CD Drive".
Click the link, save file.
Find where you saved it, then open the zip file.
Right click "cdgone.reg", click "MERGE" (ignore warnings)
Right click "editreg.reg", click "MERGE" (ignore warnings)
Reboot your computer and see if your CD drive doesn't magically re-appear, just like it never left.

If this doesn't work, you may have a crashed CD drive and need a new one. But Ronny told me that if I had bought a new drive and installed it, it STILL wouldn't have been recognized by my computer. He said that sometimes the registry just gets screwed up. Who would have known??

Thanking God for tech guru wizard angel genius friends like Ronny!! (Everyone needs at least one)

Anyone else have a favorite tech fix for music - related equipment?

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finding Your Voice - how it can help psychologically

The human voice communicates from the inside out. As a vocal coach, I have discovered that when I help someone "find their voice"- the full instrument - this is often accompanied by a fullness and wholeness in the human psyche.

Many times it is psychological blocks that keep the voice small, thin, strained and weak. When a person discovers and feels the vibrations of vocal resonance they never knew or had forgotten they could create, it can be quite freeing for the spirit. The speaking voice can illuminate issues just as much as the singing voice, and healing the speaking voice is frequently a prerequisite to healing the singing voice.

Everyone needs to know their voices are valid. I have become quite sure that to live a truly satisfied life we need to believe our lives have meaning to others. If I somehow come to believe my voice is not 1. allowed 2. heard, 3. valued - I will not sound my voice, or will sound it weakly, thinly or harshly in rebellion of the suppression. After all, what's the point in making pleasing, melodic sounds if there is no reception for the message? My voice gets lost.

The truth is, everyone's voice IS valid! This truth can get muddied in childhood by parents who for one reason or other never really listen, siblings who get more of the attention or when the child even merely PERCEIVES that this is the case. It get lost in adulthood from subtle negative cues from society, abusive relationships, traumatic events and physical illness, mental illness, acquired phobias and emotional disorders or perceptions of unworthiness. But the truth about a voice's validity CAN indeed be learned or re-learned.

This voice I'm talking about starts in the heart. It carries messages that the person must come to believe need to be delivered. This can happen when even one person notices... and begins to be present and truly listen to the person. That means everyone can help!
  • I challenge you to try a little experiment... find one person a day - family member, friend or stranger - carve out a time (even just a few moments) and give them your ear at full attention. Notice the subtle lift they, and you, experience. You may find yourself truly caring about what they say and learning something new. Every ear is also valid, and important. Without ears, voices are rather useless :)
Sometimes the voice needs professional attention. Talk therapy with a great therapist can obviously help, as can free programs like AA and Alanon. Vocal lessons with a vocal coach sensitive to what your vocal tone is communicating can help you discover a voice you never knew you had.

Learning to breathe properly to power your voice, to open your throat channel to clear any tension and to get you focused on communicating messages can help your voice trust itself. It is important to find a teacher that you feel comfortable with. A lost voice will not show itself under intimidating circumstances. It is also, you must realize, a TEAM effort. You must be willing to experiment and learn to play around with things you've never tried. This can lead to a freedom that can make you sing like a bird, and talk where people can't help but listen!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

New music business networking meeting in Nashville

For those of you doing music business in Nashville: There is an interesting new music business networking meeting going on that you might like to check out. Vinny Ribas has put it together. He sent out a recent email that says:
"Hi!
Some of you know about my Music Industry Luncheons already, For those of you who don't, here is the scoop. I have just launched a weekly music industry luncheon series to teach independent artists how to be more successful without the help of a major label. The luncheons are every Monday at 11:30 AM at Corky's Ribs and BBQ in Brentwood. We feature a different speaker every week. The cost, including lunch, is $15.00. See http://www.indieconnect.net for info on the weekly speakers and to reserve your seats. Thanks! - Vinny Ribas"

If you are doing indie music, this may be something worth attending. I have been impressed with the "regular business" networking meeting Vinny hosts on Wednesdays at 11:30 (Corky's) ... business people of all kinds get up, say who they are and what they need, then get immediate referrals and responses of help from the others in the room. I'm assuming there will be plenty of this kind of networking at this new music business meeting. There may be some selling, as well (attender beware :).

Also, fyi... I will be the speaker for the meeting on Monday, October 20th.

...and yes, I'm still on vacation. I pre-posted this so you'd think I was working hard.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Beach Feet Boogie


These were my last year's feet in St. Augustine, Fla.

They will very soon be again.

I'm headed that way for this year's vacation just as soon as I back up my computer this morning.

See ya in a week! (Unless my feet get stuck... :)

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Friday, October 3, 2008

The Ribcage Stretch for the Voice

I just love Twitter- I recently happened to mention that I found a great stretch for the upper back for singers and I got several "tweets" back asking about it... so here goes!

Why we need this stretch:
In the middle of your upper spine is a point which is very important to the voice because of what it does for your breath and your open (or not) throat. It is a physical pivot point. It's about an inch or so below the bottom points of your shoulder blades.

My chiropractor, Dr. Dwaine Allison, says this is also a pressure point for the diaphragm, affecting (and freeing) the nerve pathway. This point must be flexible, and often it is quite tight, especially when you don't know what it does for you.

To see how it works, try putting your hand way up in your back and press your chest forward. I bet you took a breath without even meaning to! Your head also moved back, freeing up the back of your throat.

At a rehearsal for "Runaway Home", our choreographer "Sweet Sue" Kirkes taught a stretch that just happened to be wildly useful for loosening this area up. I've had great success with my students when I add this to our routine before vocalizing. Thanks, Sue!

Here's how you do...
The Rib Stretch:
  • Stand with your hips stationary.. very important. Freeze your hips in one place.
  • Move the bottom of your ribcage forward.
  • Move your ribcage to the side (like a typewriter), not lifting your shoulder.
  • Move your ribcage inwards (bowing your back).
  • Move your ribcage to the other side (like a typewriter), again, keep shoulders level.
  • Reverse directions.
  • Still keeping your hips steady, circle your ribcage around smoothly touching the previous points of stretch.
  • Circle your ribcage in the other direction.
Let me know what you experience! (Please click on the title of this blog post, go to my actual blog site and click the comment link at the bottom of this post.)

ps... follow me on Twitter here

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