Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog: April 2014

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.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How to Practice Your Voice Without Irritating the Neighbors


I received a very practical question in my email this week... Julia in Albuquerque asks,
I live in an apartment complex and like to practice at night. What should I do about the noise? 
Singers sometimes need to do vocal warmups and practice songs in hotel rooms, houses shared by others or on postage stamp lots, artist dressing rooms, public bathrooms, between-set-alleys, band buses, a back corner of the venue itself. How can you do this without annoying neighbors or giving away the sound of your not-yet-warmed-up-voice?

Here are some suggestions:

Cheapest solution: so you don't have to amplify your sound, consider HearFones. These gadgets are like having a PA system that requires no electricity or batteries. Wearing them will also have the added benefit of keeping you from using too much air pressure. You won't like yelling at yourself:) 

Try garnering a little good will by contacting and alerting neighbors about when you intend to practice, being willing to work around times they especially need quiet (working night shift and need to sleep, baby's napping, etc). Your neighbors could become supportive friend-fans!

For an apartment, hotel room or space you don't own, you can try warming up and singing in the shower! You can also try vocalizing into a pillow or window curtains.  However, don't practice in 'guarded stance'. A hunched over, careful posture and numb delivery could lead you into bad vocal technique, causing you to tighten up instead of loosen up!

You can always practice in your car... but if you practice correctly you must be mindful of how you are singing. SO.... don't tailgate, stay away from other cars, or better yet... park and sing!

For your home, you might consider dedicating a space for playing/listening to/practicing music. In my home, my music room is located over my garage, and there is carpet on the floor. It really is a great situation for me and my clients. 

If you want to go a little (or a lot) farther with it, 
OK anybody else got suggestions? What has worked for you?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Speaking Voice Mistakes = Talking Trouble!


Have you assessed your speaking voice lately? Hmm... you could be missing one of the most important tools you have to impact your world... your ability to talk!

Here's how I define a successful speaking voice:
  • It communicates clearly, 
  • creates the desired response in the listener (at an emotional, not just surface, level)
  • and you can operate it without strain!
Here are some typical speaking voice mistakes:
  • Talking too fast (totally counterproductive to communication for many reasons)
  • Not pausing enough for breath, and for the listener to digest what you said
  • Projecting before resonating (sabotaging vocal tone and tiring the voice)
  • Yelling to capture attention instead of drawing the listener in
  • Habitually speaking 'on gravel' (vocal fry)
  • Speaking with too much breath
  • Pacing too much - moving without a reason
  • Monotone vocal delivery
  • Trying to speak over loud noise
  • Mumbling, using muddy articulation
  • Failing to invite response/engagement
  • Using wrong hand language
  • Using no hand language
  • Articulating to strangers or public as if to family/siblings who can finish your sentences
  • THINKING ABOUT communicating instead DOING it
  • Not speaking with eye language
  • Speaking with inauthentic vocal tone (too friendly when message is serious, too serious when message is friendly, etc)
  • Speaking with breath power centered too high
  • Articulating from the jaw
  • Using wrong body or facial language for the message (looks like lying!)
  • Speaking to all rather than to the one
Need (or know someone in need of) an assessment/ corrective lesson? Hit me up. I'm working with some of the top speakers in the world and it's a blast what even one lesson can do.

As always, your feedback on this subject is most welcome. Add to this list of talk trouble if you can!

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Quieting Your Mind for Performance Focus



Our minds are interesting entities. When performing as singers and speakers, there are lots of things vying for our mind's attention... the feel of our outfit, the temperature in the room, the size of the audience, the blinding spotlight, the missing spotlight, that label rep/old boyfriend/girlfriend/cute thing watching, the phone call right before the show or the meet and greet to come, the second verse you're not sure you will remember, the snack you ate in the greenroom, the fact you forgot to go to the bathroom, the importance of the evening, the guitar string sticking out more than the others (how ocd are you??) The more creative we are, the more our minds, like untrained puppies, can be distracted by all kinds of 'shiny things'. We usually have more control than we think we do... but don't know how to take our mental reins.

My guest post today is on Performance Focus, by performance enhancement coach and personal trainer Megan Mullan: (thank you for letting me share your thoughts, Megan!)
Focus is one of the most important mental skills for elite performance success. Unfortunately for too many artists, it is also the hardest mental skill to master. I have worked with many high level athletes and performers, and time and time again we come back to focus.

Though focus has multiple interpretations, for my work I use this definition: It is centering of attention on a single factor, and developing a clear definition of what needs to be done. [Judy adds: The single factor should be getting a specific emotional response from the specific heart or composite heart to whom the lyric is addressed. ]When we are focused everything goes seamlessly, we are truly in the “zone”. However the stress and anxiety of performance can take our focus away, and cause us to be half hearted in our performance, or allow nerves and anxiety to overtake our performance.

Focus takes discipline and commitment. While rehearsing, choose the most important moment in your songs and focus on this. [Judy says: pick the central line with the central message of the song] Especially during an emotional piece, when connecting with the audience and the content of the lyrics is essential for ultimate success. This level of focus and energy can be exhausting. [Judy says: I suggest you practice technically twice as much as you do emotionally] You can practice this focus technique by quieting your mind before each rehearsal and performance. Take several deep breaths and allow yourself to focus only on the rhythm of your breathing- if other thoughts intrude simply let them go without paying them any attention. Practicing quiet breathing will increase mind-body awareness and help with focus during performance.

How To Quiet Your Mind:

1.     Get in a comfortable spot maybe laying down or on a chair/couch

2.     Close your eyes and begin a series of long slow breaths, emphasizing taking breaths from your stomach instead of your chest.

3.     Clear your mind of any thoughts other than your breathing.

4.     If there are any distracting thoughts that come in- simply let them go.

5.     Continue this pattern until you are completely relaxed and able to focus.
Meg Mullan M.A. C.P.T Performance Enhancement Consultant
Personal Trainer
The MindBody Dr.
megmull007@gmail.com
(302)745-7618

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