Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog: September 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, September 27, 2010

Once A Musician, Always...

It has become my firm belief that being creative is not really an option if a human being is to fully thrive. For a musician to stop making music can be dangerous ground, unless the creativity is expressed differently, say, through painting, poetry, sculpture or other art form. And even then... there's something about sound.

Sound waves move physical tissue, stir hormones, beckon memories and visions of the future. They can alter brainwaves, heartbeats and breath. Sound waves can heal... in fact music therapy has successfully done so since the biblical time of David and Saul. Silence is not always golden, after all. But silence can be broken.

I want to share a personal miracle with you. My sweet husband, John Rodman, who was a brilliant, highly respected professional drummer for over 30 years, has picked up his drums again after laying them down, he thought for good, some 20 years ago. I have watched while he lovingly and painstakenly found, cleaned and shined his vintage Pearl set, bought new heads and sundry other things only drummers know about, and with a quiet joy began to tune them. The music, in my house, is now completely back.

John will play again. It doesn't matter where... but it will matter what, because he's doing it to feel the music. Truly, once a musician... always a musician. If you're a singer, I must tell you it's the same. Music is a gift from God. Use your gift, take it back up, bless the world with it and encourage others to do the same.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Voice Sounding Too Nasal? Tips


One of the most frustrating mysteries of some voices is how to get the excessive nasality out. If you don't know better, you may think that's 'just the way that voice sounds'. I've actually found it relatively one of the easiest vocal problems to cure.

So what causes excessive nasality?

If the throat channel (voice cave) is tight, it will inhibit full resonation of the voice. The limited frequencies make your voice sound like a cheap sound systemn with lousy eq choices. The double ceiling of this cave is the soft palate and the upper nasal membrane above it. Pull your ear up and  back while at the same time lifting your eyebrows and you'll feel the ceiling lift. This is the feeling of the OPEN NOSE. It also explains why a stuffy, blocked nose leaves your speaking voice sounding... nasal!


The counterintuitive secret ...

...to curing an excessively nasal voice is to actually OPEN the nose - not avoid it! - and get your vocal cords resonating in your full mask instead of just in a sliver of it.

I've had singers with perfectly normal speaking voices sound like their noses and sinuses were completely stopped up when they began to sing. I have had other singers whose speaking AND singing voices resembled, to some extent, a kazoo. And I've not only heard other singers who DID have sinus infections or stuffy noses who sounded almost normal when they began to sing... I've experienced that, too.Some years ago I had a national TV show to do which required me to sing my whole album in front of a live audience. I had a cold but was able to actually use the extra resonance for a richer... not nasal or stopped up... vocal sound. Singing this way was powerful but didn't over-tax my vocal cords.

Tips for curing nasal voice:
  • Your posture will affect the nasality of your sound significantly. Sometimes just moving your head back an inch, stretching an inch taller can open the voice cave enough to cure the nasal voice.
  • Eyes have it. Using your eyes activates your vocal ceiling.
  • Literally flare your nose to get use to opening it.
  • Book a vocal lesson in person or by phone for a personalized, individual assessment and solutions to this problem.
So, have you ever had a bout of nasality? What worked/didn't?

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Monday, September 13, 2010

How To Determine Your Vocal Genre

There are times when a singer wants to make a decision to pursue a particular vocal genre or vocal style. Sometimes you want to deliberately learn to sing a new category of song. You may want to explore out of your comfort zone to see if you're missing something you would do well. When going after a commercial career (meaning you're trying to sell your music), this becomes especially important. To make the decision, yourself these questions:
  • What's natural? 
You're trying to find out what genre is the most natural for your vocal ability, which includes "nature" (the size, density and other characteristics of your physical instrument) and "nurture" (your current vocal technique which you've developed).
  •  What does my heart want to do? 
When you sing or hear music that moves you, what genre or style is it? When something genuinely moves you, you can make a safe bet it will have a natural audience who it would also move.
  • What do I want to learn?
What do I want to do with my voice that would move my voice past it's comfort zone? Do I want to learn to sing classical music, authentically deliver folk or country, develop some r&b riffs, find the vocal control to sing jazz or bluegrass, learn to articulate differently for or from musical theater or gospel, power my voice into rock, experiment with the rhythmic and instantaneous rhymes of hip-hop?
  • What's commercial?
What is selling? A much better question to ask would be: What genre is selling that...
  1. my voice can confidently sing or that I want to learn to confidently sing and... 
  2. satisfies and moves my heart.
This is the best way to pursue the business of music. Your priority is on the music, not on the business; you let the music drive the business. To do this, don't over-think it. But don't limit yourself if all it would take to fulfill #1 and #2 above would be some training.

For a great example of music driving the business, discover the amazing story of Eva Cassidy. She chose to do the music that satisfied her own heart, and refused to be catagorized in any particular genre. Though Eva is gone, her music lives on and has garnered the kind of music business success that has made her a true singing legend.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Playing Jerry Foster Radio Show tonight

Just a quick notice for anyone interested... I'll be playing a 2 hour in-the-round with Jerry Foster, Clinton Gregory and Jeff Batson.

The show will be recorded for Neon Productions Radio

Venue:
Commodore Grille    (2613 West End Ave, Nashville, Tn 37203)  327- 4707
Time: 7:00 - 9:00
cover charge: none

Come on out if you want to hear some great music... and don't forget to say hello!

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