Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog: August 2011

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.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Authenticity: Lesson from the Hummingbird

I was watching my hummingbirds today and thought about how much they are like an audience. They may investigate you to see what you are about. If you have a red shirt on they may look for a flower opening for a few moments (which can startle you!). But since you don't have one they will quickly leave. If you have something they want (say a well of sugar water in your palm) they may indeed stay for a while.

The same goes for an audience. You may attract them with a red shirt (or other sparkly, crazy or otherwise interesting promotion and marketing) but if you don't have what they like (music that pleases them) they will leave as quickly as they hovered near you momentarily.

What I have seen work to draw, keep and build an audience is to be something they like, make yourself 'findable' and stay authentic to the music that drew them in the first place. Here's what I would suggest:
  • First of all, be musically true to yourself. Discover what moves you most as well as what seems most natural for your voice. Make that music as well as you can possibly do it. Get training to keep improving on what YOU DO. 
  • Secondly, once you gain an audience's attention, make sure you give them what they came for. Change the recipe and it could spell disaster for keeping that audience. 
On the other hand, if you want to change your musical style or genre because you truly want to grow another way, then just know that you will have to draw/build/keep another audience, unless a few of the people following you like the new sugar water, too. And that's absolutely ok... just know your old crowd may not like your new sound. If this is really what you feel you want to do, patience and consistency within your new sound may draw a new audience.

A famous example of changing musical horses is when Dylan went electric. It took a little time, but he of course went on successfully. Others have not had such a good outcome. As a recording artist, I tried to change to a more groove-oriented sound because I felt constricted with just the acoustic ballad sound I'd had hits with. My first new-groove single was added faster than anything else I'd done in urban markets, but in more traditional markets they didn't like it at all. Then my label (MTM) folded before my audience could regroup. It turned out OK... I focused on songwriting, producing and vocal coaching you:)

What not to do? Don't just do music that you think will sell (unless it fits you). Trying to follow the trends is not nearly as attractive as leading a trend. I know of several successful artists who tried to read the tea leaves and do music they thought would work, but they ended up sounding inauthentic and fake. It didn't work.

Bottom line... be yourself. Change only when and if it's right for YOU. In music as well as life... find those who like the real you! And you'll sleep soundly, too:)

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Speaking with Power of Resonation



I just got off a phone lesson with a wonderful sportscaster (Coach John Bunting- and no, that's not a pic of him, hehe). He has a great voice and great energy and has some fabulous gigs coming his way. We talked about many things but one I wanted to share with you is how to power the voice for public speaking... effectively and safely.

The answer is to use the power of resonation -- NOT of excessive breath pressure. This is of course the same thing we do with the singing voice. Resonation requires access to resonation zones... which means you need your breath vibrating your vocal cords just right and that vibration needs to be able to access all your resonation zones. To gain that access, the throat channel has to be open.

There is one more thing you need to be a powerful speaker. You need to know to whom you are talking, and what it is that you're trying to tell them. Purposing your voice to give a message to a specific target should automatically cause you to use communicative tone colors that do the job of delivering that message.

So to simplify... to speak with power requires breath POWER, a voice PATH through an open throat, and a PERFORMANCE that communicates. Sound familiar? PPP technique works with both singing and speaking voices. To check more deeply into this training, go to the PPP page on my website.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Singing and Chewing Gum

Just a quick tip for you today: One recommendation from the folks at Superior Vocal Health, who make several great products for singers:

Xylitol can help make the voice feel less dry! Found in such chewing gums as Trident, it might make an interesting addition to your vocal kit.

However, I don't recommend singing AND chewing gum at the same time. It's hard to sing when you're choking from inhaling that wad! Just try chewing before performance (that's gum, not tobacco) and let me know what it does for you. Funny thing, I've been keeping gum with me for years out of curtousy to my session singing friends, and have been reaping some good side effects.

Have a great weekend, all!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Planting Seeds and Morning Phone Calls


I just woke up to a great phone call... one of the musicals I wrote with Darren Butler will have an off-off Broadway run this fall!!! "We The People" will be produced and run in small venues in New York City. Small room... small audience, not a lot of revenue, but the exposure to 'musical theater city' will be more than worth it.

I'll be busy now with writing manuscripts of all the songs (I just taught the original cast the songs). I'll have to finally get that new pair of glasses I've been putting off, but it will be a labor of love, hehe.

What I want to tell YOU, dear friends, is that no matter what the talking heads say about the economy of the world, you need to keep planting your creative seeds. You never know what morning phone calls you may receive, just when you think that seed has rotted in hard ground. And your soul will be fed so you can move on to the next seed.

We plant, God waters. We need to keep doing authentic, excellent work, watch for windows of opportunity and then let the chips (to mix metaphors) fall where they may.

May all your good seeds be blessed. Also... you're very welcome to share your dreams here... we'd love to hear about them!

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