All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast by Judy Rodman

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. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Gift Suggestions for Singers, Songwriters, Speakers and Musicians UPDATED 2022

...whatever it is, wrap it with love

Do you have singers, speakers and/or musicians on your gift list? Here are some suggestions, updated for 2022:

$25 or less...

$26 - $65

  • Singing In The Studio course (the ultimate professional level course for any singer who will be recording vocals.) Try that coupon to see if it still works: FALL22SAVE25
  • Vocal Production Workshop (for engineers/producers who want to get the best vocals possible out of their singers) For this too.. coupon might still work!
  •  FALL22SAVE25
  • HearFones  I have a limited number in stock right now. (Domestic shipping only, sorry, no coupon. I price them as low as I can.)
  • 1/2 hour vocal lesson with me in-person, online or phone (I'll provide gift certificate)
  • Microphome foam microphone cleaner All of us should have a bottle of this.
  • A limited subscription to Netflix or boxed set of a TV series (for idle hours on the tour bus)
  • A music "fake book" or sheet music
  • Stands - music stand, mic stand, guitar stand
  • iPad stand holder
  • Tickets to a live concert event
  • mini-trampoline for core and wellness physical workouts all voices need.
  • A thumb drive for music tracks and vocal exercises
  • Mp3 speakers (some of the cheap ones sound fine and work with not only iPhones but also Android phones, tablets, laptops, etc.)
  • iPhone adapter (for newer iPhones that don't have a phone jack)

$65 - $250

  • One or two hours of vocal lessons with me in office or online (I'll provide gift certificate)
  • Speaking Voice Technique video vocal training course 
  • My full UPDATED 6-disc Power, Path and Performance vocal training course - again, try that coupon FALL22SAVE25 .  Please specify if you want the course on disc, or prefer the files on thumb drive - or just the digital version
  • A membership subscription to CARTNE music career training.
  • A 'Little Prompter' teleprompter for cellphone, laptop, computer (I love mine!)
  • A JBL Bluetooth Speaker
  • A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as ProTools, Studio One, Logic, Reaper.
  • A course by Bree Noble in music business such as "Profitable House Concerts" (she has several more)
  • Music marketing/promotion training by Rick Barker
  • backup hard drive for recording projects
  • A Cajon, Djembe or frame drum 
  • A new smartphone and/or data package
  • Membership(s) in NSAI (for songwriters), AFM (Musician's Union) or SAG/AFTRA (singer/actor union)
  • Photoshop Elements (An affordable version to create web banners, flyers, edit photos, all kinds of photo uses)
  • Masterwriter software 
  • Gym membership and/or personal trainer (for health, looks AND vocal stamina!)
  • Acting or dance lessons... Google classes and prices in your area, get recommendations.
  • Live performance coaching
  • A microphone - spend some time finding out what is needed. Will it be for stage performance or recording? For a speaker, say a lavalier mic system (this is what I have)? A podcast? There are cheap and more expensive mics for all these applications, do some digging around. An economical time-tested stage or rehearsal workhorse is the Shure SM58 or Sennheiser 835.
  • Mp3 player or speaker (and if you're dealing with the newer iPhone, you'll need wireless)
  • A small mixing board
  • A quality pair of headphones  
  • turntable (LP vinyl player - and hey, discriminating ears love vinyl!) 
  • An instrument case with wheels, or lightweight gig bag
  • Digital recorder 
  • Surprise your performer at a show with flowers!

$250 and up...

  • Funding for my vocal production and/or bgvs (contact me if you'd like to discuss)
  • A series of vocal lessons with me (I'll be happy to provide a gift certificate) 
  • Lessons on an instrument.
  • Mixing board
  • A camera, GoPro or camcorder
  • The Shure SM7B cardiod dynamic vocal microphone (I am now recording bgvs and my podcast on this). 
  • An audio interface - simple, or complex like the Apollo (mine is the Twin - the PC version) which comes with console and plugins.
  • A web or Facebook designer
  • DragonSpeak - Voice Recognition Software  (for songwriters and speech writers)
  • In-ear monitors
  • Stage clothes and/or bling
  • Wireless mic system
  • A photo session
  • CD graphics design
  • A music marketing seminar or bootcamp
  • Funding for video shoot
  • An instrument.. guitar, keyboard, mandolin, violin, etc
  • New road cases
  • Home studio recording gear
  • A live PA system
Gifts of Your time/expertise -
  • Host an outdoor socially distanced karaoke party or guitar pull!
  • Write song charts for your loved one.
  • Set them up on a social network they are new to.
  • Teach them to use some software you know they need.
  • Videotape them for TikTok, Instagram, Youtube Live or Facebook Live.
  • Do or better yet, teach them how to do some video or audio editing, such as with Audacity (free software).
  • Type up and organize their worktapes and lyrics, or convert them digitally and save.
  • Write a song in honor of them them (priceless!)
  • Commit to a number of hours of computer work... updating databases, uploading videos and pictures, social network friending, researching, etc. 
  • If you have a home studio, record a song demo or worktape on them.
  • Carve out special time to listen and critique their song, performance, speech.
  • Give them a day of complete voice rest! Do the talking for them.
  • Babysit or dog sit while they perform, record or attend someone else's show.
  • Attend their online show and invite friends!
  • Recommend their music or show on your social network sites

 Or...get creative. Give to a charity in your loved one's name, buy them a star, make a memory spending some time together in a group Zoom or Skype meeting, or volunteering to help safely deliver food or other goods to doorsteps of those in need!

Now: What do YOU want for Christmas? You can leave a hint here in the comments and then send a link to the post:) I intend to update this list every year... so bookmark this post and check back whenever it's gift-giving time for you again!

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Monday, November 21, 2022

Barbara Kite Interview - Acting Technique for Voices

 

Listen & subscribe on iTunes ... on Spotify ... or anywhere else

Prefer video? Watch on Youtube.

This episode begins with my guest Barbara Kite taking me through a quick centering exercise (you can join us). Then this veteran acting coach generously shares some trade secrets from the world of acting that can help speakers, singers and even songwriters. It's a fascinating subject I've long been interested in, and I think you'll gain some insight that will help you in your next performance.

About Barbara Kite:

Barbara is a New York-trained actress and has worked as a professional actor, director and acting coach in Toronto, New York and Portland for over 30 years. She has helped speakers, actors, writers, film-makers, directors and singers to grow in their art and their life. 

She graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (NY), receiving the Jehlinger Award in recognition of her work. She graduated with an Honors Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University and received a scholarship to study in Poland at the Grotowski workshop as well as at the Film Institute in Lublin.

Her professional work includes over 300 movies, television series, soaps, commercials, industrials and voice-overs, and she has published a book called ‘Great Speakers Use Acting Skills’. She’s a member of National Speakers Association, SAG-AFTRA and the Canadian union ACTRA, and AEA (Actors' Equity Association.

Barbara's professional credits include:
All My Children, As the World Turns, So the Story Goes, Duplicates, Without Warning: Terror in the Towers, Praying Mantis, Under Suspicion and Nowhere Man. Theatre credits (New York and Toronto) include The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Beau Strategem, Hay Fever, Round and Round the Garden, A Little Night Music, The Cat and the Canary, Icarus’s Mother and Trojan Women.

She collaborated with poet/playwright Victoria Sullivan as Co-artistic Director of the Women’s Production Company in New York City where she directed and acted in plays specifically written for and about women. As a speaking/presentation coach, Barbara works as a consultant for various firms as well as conducting private sessions in authentic communication.

Links mentioned:

Need your help:

I could really use some new ratings (5 stars would help raise the rating of the podcast, especially on iTunes).  
  • Go to https://ratethispodcast.com/atv 
  • Choose your app (iTunes if you have it installed on phone, Windows PC or Mac computer)
  • Leave your rating and review.
A big hug to any of you that take a moment to do this. I have 40 five-star ratings but 6 gave three & four stars which are pulling the overall rating down. Thank you for your help! 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Mat Kearney Interview - Making Pop Music Matter

This chat with Mat was pure joy!

Listen & subscribe on iTunes ... on Spotify ... or anywhere else

My guest today wasn’t a musician or songwriter in high school - he was a soccer player ! But in mid-college, he experienced a major paradigm shift in his life, stopped some pretty hard partying and started playing… guitar. Unable to play cover songs well, he began to write his own. That was 1.6 million albums sold and 2.5 billion streams ago. Woah…How did that happen? Listen up as I chat with the one and only Mat Kearney!

Things we talked about:

  • His early life as a skater, soccer player and making up songs to rap tracks
  • Experimenting with a friend's guitar, college with a major in literature
  • How that early life informed what would become his unique musical style
  • His first vocal lessons with me
  • The difference focusing on lyric-to-heart made in Mat's singing
  • The green sticker (that I couldn't find!)
  • How his style morphed from free style rap to folk/pop in a great pocket
  • The core job of an artist
  • A story of creating hit song 'Closer To Love'
  • The pressure of a hit career numbing out joy; rediscovering that joy in reconnecting to vocal
  • Streaming as a financial boon for the recordings he owns
  • His kids discovering his music lessons
  • Writing 'THE' song for Oregon; playing his hometown
Here's his video for"Closer To Love" 

More About Mat

Mat Kearny was born in Eugene, Oregon. He went to California State University (Chico) on an athletic scholarship, but majored in literature. He traveled with his friend al debut album Bullet in 2004.. When Mat showed up at our first vocal lesson, he was a brilliant free-style rapper, writing hip-hop lyrics with healing messages informed by his journey and experiences along the way. But along with words and grooves, there were melodies in his mind, so he wanted to grow his ability to sing instead of just rap. And he was serious!

After a couple of years of vocal training, Mat was signed to a very rare dual deal… on both pop and Christian labels (InPop and Aware?). His first major label release was the album Nothing Left To Lose, which contained some re-worked songs from his debut album (still on repeat for me) ‘Bullet’. A single titled ‘Undeniable’… was at the time the fastest added single in the history of Christian Hit Radio. 

VH1 kept ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ in rotation for 45 weeks, and he headlined the channel’s first ‘You Ought To Know’ tour.

Besides headlining tours of his own, Mat has toured with John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Train, Keane Owl City, The Fray, Jason Mraz, Vedera Newsboys, MUTEMATH, Meiko, Cary Brothers, The Helio Sequence and many more. He has performed in uber major venues including Madison Square Garden and TV show stages including Letterman.

Now on his 6th studio album, Mat has become a multi-platinum selling artist and imho is one of the best live performers out there. His most recent release is the album ‘January Flowers’, his latest greatest co-production with his wife, is a brand new little human!

Mat’s Links:

Want help with YOUR voice? 

  • Check out all the ways I can help you at my website. Be sure and download my (free) 9-page report on vocal health!
  • You can also comment on this blogpost... I'd love to know your questions and thoughts!

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Monday, September 19, 2022

Raising and lowering the Larynx - should you? UPDATED 2022


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How high or low should your larynx be when you sing? This question is steeped in controversy and misunderstanding. However, it's also vitally important. Get it too wrong and you'll have some big vocal problems.

The controversy


Voice teachers don't always agree on what's best. If I understand it correctly (and please note I am not an expert in this kind of training), the Speech Level Singing (or SLS) method of Seth Riggs teaches that you should always have your larynx at the same level that you speak.  However, vocal coach Lisa Popiel suggests that there are times you would be correct to slightly raise or lower the larynx. She names 5 laryngeal positions, from #1 which is very raised to #5 which is very lowered.
  • She suggests that some rock singing and saucy musical theater tends to use a slightly more raised position (#2),
  • while classical, cabaret jazz and some R&B singing requires a slightly lowered position (#4). 
  • She warns that no one should ever use positions #1 (very raised) or #5 (very lowered).
Vocal coach Molly Webb also advises a movable larynx, and discusses the possible origins of the 'stable larynx' training. Quoting her from her article:

The larynx does (and should) move when you sing, and not just for controversial techniques like belting. Even in classical singing, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies have confirmed that the larynx gently rises up on the higher pitches, and depresses on the lower ones.

Here's what I recommend, from my experience with my and my clients' voices: 


As long as you only raise or lower the larynx so that you don't feel your throat or experience strain or fatigue, what you're doing is fine. In fact, as a session singer (or stunt singer, as I call it), I have to do sometimes over-do this to blend with all kinds of voices and styles for recording. Changing the level of the larynx is a way to create more tone colors than usual. Various character roles in musical theater can require more unusual tone choices, too.

In fact, it's not just slight raising and lowering that we need to allow. To accomplish higher notes, the thyroid cartilage which comprises the largest part of the larynx needs to be free to tilt in your neck! Tension in and around the larynx from trying to keep the Adam's apple stationary can interfere with these movements. What's the Adam's apple you say? Officially named the larygeal prominence, it's the pointy front of the thyroid cartilage that sticks out as a bump right in the middle of the neck. It's very noticeable in a man but a woman has a small one, too. I like to call it 'Eve's apple'! The front end of the vocal cords are attached directly behind it.

However, and it's a great big 'however', you should not lower or raise your larynx to the point that you become aware of it. That will give you vocal problems. Most contemporary genre singing really should be in what Lisa Popiel would call #3, the middle position, with the larynx freely and comfortably floating and tilting in the throat.

What can you do if your Adam's apple and larynx are too stationary, not free to move?


Well, a real ninja trick that works here is to get your jaw dropping and moving more flexibly in a bit of a chewing circle. A freer jaw will let the base of your tongue relax so it relaxes its tense restriction on the movement of the hyoid bone, which is the top of your larynx. To paraphrase the old song 'the jawbone's (indirectly) connected to the hyoid bone...'

What can you do if you are raising or lowering your voice box (larynx) too much?


Learning to PULL instead of PUSH your voice, as taught in my Power, Path & Performance method, is the best way I've found to protect your delicate and precious vocal instrument, and will help you immensely. This pulling instead of pushing for sound, among other things, allows the larynx to determine it's best position with no outside interference. Also...

Here is a very effective exercise I adapted for my students from yet another great voice teacher, the late Jeannie Deva:

Lightly touch your adam's apple with the tips of your fingers. Feel for it in the middle of the front of your neck; and ladies it will just be a little bump. Again, this is where the vocal cords are attached at one end, inside the thyroid cartilage. Now, just let your fingers be "brain flashlights" and make a mental intention not to tense the area under your fingers as you sing. It's an amazing tactic when your larynx tries to lift for high notes. Notice how high notes, including higher middle voice notes, just float out almost effortlessly instead of strain!

For low notes, try this to keep your larynx from lowering too much: Stand tall and put your hand on your sternum and try to pull your voice from there. It will help your lower notes sound rich, not hooty, and will feel better, too. Don't bend over or down to get the notes. Be aware of the vibration and keep your chest open.

In conclusion: Go with what WORKS:


These are great voice teachers I've named in this post. It can get confusing, I know, when experts differ. All I can be sure of is what I've experienced that WORKS, and this should be your criteria, too. From my experience, I say mostly just keep your larynx happily floating, actually rocking a bit, in the center of your neck. Allowing it the freedom to move slightly lower or higher should give your voice a wider range without strain!

Want some incredibly effective vocal exercises to get this right? Either book a lesson with me or get one of my vocal training products, all of which include not only exercises, but how to do them.

Want to see more detail? 


Here's a great video tutorial put out by AnatomyZone. For shortcuts, go to:
  • 1:45 min for the hyoid bone.
  • 4:45 min for the thyroid cartilage and the laryngeal prominence (Adam's apple).

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Thursday, September 15, 2022

Douglas Smith Interview: Voltage Brothers to Mercy Club, Working Night Shift

 

Doug Smith traded the limelight to be a flashlight in dark places. Listen in to this beautiful story...

Listen & subscribe on iTunes ... on Spotify ...  or anywhere else

Things we talked about:

  • How we know each other from MTM Records
  • His teenage beginnings as member of the R&B band 'the Voltage Brothers'
  • Lessons learned from opening for Earth Wind and Fire and other experiences
  • How Doug (aka 'Truth') and Paul Scott (aka 'Pjaye')began focusing on record production and songwriting
  • Working at the top of the ladder with artists such as Millie Jackson, P Funk, Van Hunt, Nikka Costa and Prince.
  • His decision to quit and follow his new calling to the ministry.
  • His work with the homeless and solving food insecurities.
  • Coming to understand with total acceptance and joy that he 'works the night-shift'.
  • Creating a new musical venture called 'Mercy Club'.
  • What he has going on right now (lots!!)

More about Douglas A Smith 

Doug was born and raised in Rochester, NY. He traveled the world as a performer before being called to the ministry. In 2012 he opened the doors to Grace Community Ministries whose purpose is to draw souls, cross multicultural lines, eliminate stigmas and form positive faith-inspired relationships. He lives in Rochester with his wife Cyndi and their young children.

Doug's Links:
  • Grace Community Mission Ministries: https://www.gcmmispeople.com/
  • Youtube ‘MercyClubVevo' - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX55Jtl5fx4d5HBvxQlkYlw
  • Mercy Club website -  https://mercyclub.org/home (purchase music and leave a donation!)

 Video for new single 'Don't Shoot':



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Monday, August 22, 2022

An Artist's Job - by Salem Jones


NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear. 

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Salem Jones is one of the best female rock singers and songwriters on the planet. She is also my friend, and a few weeks ago she posted some really deep food for thought on her patreon page. I found it so relevant and relevant for the times right now that I asked her to share it for All Things Vocal, and I'm grateful she said yes. Listen to her voice it on the podcast, or read it below.

******************************

Guest post by Salem Jones:

An artist's job is many things, but at the deepest level, it's to balance. Sure, it's a calling to express and to draw awareness but ultimately the deepest goal is to balance. It's not to be "revered", to be "famous", to be "known", fawned over or wealthy. (That's "celebrity", a whole different animal.) As for being a rock artist, something that I've been my entire life...Rock is a thundering proclamation. It's the circus, a loud lightning-lit dance, an explosive spectacle, and there can be purpose in that. But we are living in a time when the world is quite the crashing spectacle itself, a cauldron of growing confusion & chaos, and an (rock)artist's job - the aforementioned deepest job that we have - is to attempt to balance that.

So now is not the time for screaming hardcore displays of death, fear, and destruction, or any attempts to break physical sound barriers with one's own perceived might. Now is the time to step into being a fulcrum and to find and listen to our inner silence. To let the heart guide us to whatever needs to come out in service. When the world is roaring with chaos, and we are present to being a balancing fulcrum, chances are the sounds that we will bring through will be atypical to what we have brought through in the past. Don't fear that.

Hear the sounds of the ego dissolving. Be vigilantly silent, ever still. Just be. Let the inner worlds speak to you - perhaps through you if they choose - as if your life depends on it. If service to the needed balance is to come through you, it will. Be present to it. For it. Be nothing so that you can be everything you came to be, whatever that is...

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Consider joining in the discussion at All Things Vocal Facebook Group!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Chat with Roger Ryan - Storied Producer of Music for the Soul

 

          Roger Ryan's incredible career stories light up the room - and they're true!!

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear. 

Listen & subscribe on iTunes ... on Spotify ...  or anywhere else


Roger Ryan is an 8 time Grammy, Dove nominated, and Juno Award-winning producer with a ton of top-tier experience. His work as singer, songwriter, performer, arranger, producer and director has spanned a wide range of genres. Directing multiple choirs and small groups, his talents have taken him around the world; Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the Fiji Islands, Vienna, Germany, Milan, the Ukraine, Hungary, the UK and Moscow and more.

More about Roger

  • First Music Director for Gospel diva, Cece Winans
  • Musician with country artist Wynonna Judd
  • He did arranging and production for Reverend Shirley Caesar (known as the Queen of Gospel)
  • Written and/or arranged music for various recording artists such as: Yolanda Adams, Alvin Slaughter, and others.
  • Was invited by actress Ashley Judd to play for her wedding in Scotland
  • Toured Europe as a vocalist with the acclaimed group Take 6
  • Did live performances with artist such as (Just to name a few): Whitney Houston, Faith Hill, Michael W. Smith, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Earl Klugh, Kirk Whalum, Denise Williams, Amy Grant, Kenny Rogers, Fred Hammond, Jackie Velasquez, Crystal Gale, Karen Clark Sheard, Anointed, Desmond Pringle, the Blue Notes.
  • Go to his about page and you’ll find a long list of his some of his work through the years from performing at the White House to arranging and Directing Duke Ellington’s Martin Luther King Celebration, featuring Della Reese.
In addition to all this, Roger has lent his considerable skills to local church ministries, like Minister of Music for Grace Pointe Church. He's a skilled music teacher and has conducted music and producer workshops in several cities. In the early 90’s he founded his production company, After Touch Music, which is where I met him as he and I were working with the same new artist. He is currently involved in numerous recording projects, creating ever more music for the soul.

Roger's Links:

  • https://www.rogerryan.net/
  • https://www.instagram.com/producerroger/

Prefer to watch? Here's the video of our interview:


And finally...
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