Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog: July 2010

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.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Why No Post? Singing!!

Hey there my dear blog-reading friends,

Just wanted you to know I've had to prioritize my time and just did not have a moment for a blog post the last few days. I just did a songwriter round performance with two amazing vocal athletes
Leslie Ellis and Holland Stroud, and had to show myself respectable:) I am trying to practice what I preach, so let me preach a little:

I rehearsed for about two weeks prior to my gig. I practiced this way:
  1. Vocal exercises... 30 - 45 minutes
  2. Full-voice singing ... one or two hours of singing songs I thought I might do.
  3. Physical exercise... 45 min to 1 hr, making sure to physically work out strenuously  3 or 4 times a week (many thanks to my trainer  Ricky Harris) in order to strengthen my core, which is my center of vocal power. Oh, yeah, and in all honesty, so I look better, too (it's a girl thing... and a media world out there!)
Why the intense effort? Because...
  1. I hadn't sung out publicly in a while, not using the full volume of my voice, so I needed to get my vocal stamina up by literally strengthening muscles of my vocal and breathing apparatus.
  2. I have made a quiet vow to myself that if I sing in public, I will sing as if it is the most important audience I have ever sung to. Every listener deserves the best from me, and I want to make sure they leave happy they came.
  3. Uh... OK, I have to demonstrate the effectiveness of my Power, Path & Performance method:) 
  4. I am always, always researching "what works". So I can share it with you...
But I'm back, and should be posting more regularly now. Thx for waiting on me!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Over-thinking Vocal Training... "Trying" instead of "Letting"

When training, don't let your brain flame burn out of control
Some of my most eager vocal students paradoxically sabotage their progress by over-thinking their vocal training. This is a common saboteur in other kinds of training as well...musician, sports, acting, crafts, etc. As vocal coach and producer I find it particularly vexing because I know my client is getting frustrated "trying" so hard to get it. This is the way I help them get around this brain-tangle:

The key is the word "Trying". The voice has too many "parts" that activate it... if you try to apply too many new vocal technique changes manually/consciously, your voice will freeze as frustratingly as a computer with one too many apps working.

"But Judy", a student may say, "you're telling me so many things and I'm trying to remember to do them all - how can I do that?" Fair question, and a common one in my studio because I try to move people along fast.

Here are some points I will share that may help make this process of changing your vocal habits understandable and less frustrating... in other words, More Let and less Try:
  • Vocal training IS a process. You should be able to see some instant progress, but not expect to get it all and be able to remember it without spending some time integrating the training.
  • The voice runs primarily on "auto".  That means you will experience a bit of frustration because you WILL have to "think" in order to do something differently, but you must practice this new way enough that you no longer have to focus on "thinking it" and can just trust your new instincts. This is what vocal exercises, done with excellent form, should do for you. That's why...
  • Vocal exercises will probably be physically and mentally frustrating and energy intensive... in order to do them in a way that will strengthen and coordinate...NOT strain... your voice. 
  • When training your voice, stay present in the moment.
    Don't live in the past, thinking about what your vocal coach just asked you to do, but instead trust that you will integrate the previously suggested change along with the new suggestion. Trust that if you get the previous thing wrong, your teacher will let you know, and will help you re-correct that one thing. Or, as I used to tell my son, don't try to re-order the whole room instantly, just "pick up the sock closest to you".
  • The good news is that Power, Path and Performance training is "synergistic". Meaning, integrating breath, open throat and communication techniques will ensure that if you get even one small area of vocal techique better, it will start to positively affect other areas. So relax. Let yourself learn, much like a baby learns to make vocal sounds.
Bottom line: Don't try. Instead, let. For instance:
  1. Don't try to make yourself stretch... instead, let your jaw, shoulders, upper back, face, etc. be relaxed, stretchy and flexible.
  2. Don't try desperately to project sound to your audience... instead, let your single-minded, focused intention to communicate with passion cause the body language necessary to resonate sound that causes rapt attention.
  3. Don't try to breathe. Learn how to let go of that which keeps you FROM good breath support and control, and you'll have all the breath you need.
  4. Don't try to be a perfect or speaker. Let yourself learn, being kind and nurturing to yourself as you do so your voice can trust itself.
Does this make sense to you? What is frustrates you in vocal training you've done?

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Taking Too Much Breath for Singing

When you seem to have a problem with breath for singing, you might want to check for a weird problem...maybe you're taking too much breath!

I've noticed myself that if I take too much of an inhale for a power note, I create tension that keeps me from holding back air pressure properly (this is called breath control). Without control... your note is in trouble and so is your throat.

You need to do like Goldilocks (in the fairy tale)... take the breath that's not too big and not too little... but juuussstttt right.

Anyone out there ever recognized this problem in yourself? Do share.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sing In Tune, Whatever Your "Style"

I just read a post at the Lowry Agency blog by artist Sass Jordan titled "Developing Your Own Style". It's a good post; however I have one issue with it. She mentions an artist who jokingly quips "I can’t sing in tune. It’s my style!" I beg to differ.

No matter what your style, you can and should sing in tune. If you have pitch problems your listener will be, to some degree, distracted by the dissonance. This doesn't mean you have to hit every note purely with no slides up or down or bends. Much like a truly brilliant steel guitar player (Robby Turner, Sonny Garish come to mind)... your sliding has to have a "center" of pitch that feels like you know where home is!

Sass makes some great points about style, and I love that she ends with the fact that your should never think about competing with another singer when developing your style. However, neither should you accept your inadequacies as "style". With vocal training, you can do things you never could otherwise.

In this present atmosphere of tuners and digital editing, you can no longer get by with out of tune singing. Sing with excellence.. every time and every place. Then you'll need no excuses. And by the way... lordy, Sass Jordan can SING!

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