All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast by Judy Rodman: April 2009

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!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today Is World Voice Day!

This is a day when the international community of vocalists is celebrating... the voice! According to the official World Voice Day website:
Every year on April 16, otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons and other voice health professionals worldwide join together to recognize World Voice Day. World Voice Day encourages men and women, young and old, to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain good voice habits. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery has sponsored the U.S. observance of World Voice Day since its inception in 2002.

To honor this day, I'd like to ask you, dear readers, some questions:

  • How is your voice feeling? sounding?
  • What vocal techniques have you learned (and from where) that have helped you stay out of the otolaryngologist's office?
  • What are your burning questions about how your voice works and what affects it?
  • What are the ideas you want the sound of your voice to communicate?
  • Why do you sing?
  • How do you maintain the physical health of your voice?
Your answers to any and all of these questions will be shared with the community of blog readers here. We all thank you!

Click the comment link at the website to share your thoughts.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Performance Coach Diane Kimbrough to Speak at Indie Connect Monday!

I know I've done more blogposts this week than ever, (don't get used to it :) but I couldn't let the day go by without giving you this Special Alert:

If you are in or near Nashville and are or will be performing live in your career, you would be nuts to miss next Monday night at Indie Connect. My friend, pro performance coach Diane Kimbrough will speak on live performing- for $5 fee you will get some very expensive information: Here's the Indie Connect Blurb on Diane:

On stage or on camera - making your act as commanding visually as it is musically is what sells.

Think about this. Why is it that people won't spend a dime on an album, download it for free so they can listen to it a thousand times, but be willing to spend $100 to see someone once and then it's over? It's because that live performance is an irreplaceable experience. In a world where instant gratification is at every corner, people are clamoring for something that stirs their feelings. Now, more than ever before, it's all about the live performance.

Live Performance Coach, Diane Kimbrough, currently working with Columbia Records new duo, Caitlin & Will, discusses the artist/audience relationship, how to make it work for you and why it's paramount to success.

When: Monday, April 13th (Next Monday night) 6:00pm

Where: The Closing Bell, 1524 Demonbreun St. Nashville, Tn

Also...If you missed Vinny Ribas' speech last month, he'll be giving two next week:
"Making Money Making Music" - How to insure your music career is profitable"-

If you want to have any measure of success in the music business, you need to know both the music and the business side of things. One of the primary reasons that artists fail is because they don't do the math regarding their performing and their recording income and expenses.

Vinny Ribas has been a sought-after business consultant and is the author of "CEO Secrets - What They Know About Business That Every Entrepreneur Should". He has written business plans and financial projections for artists, independent record labels as well as traditional businesses. He will describe in plain English how to plan and analyze the financial side of your career to insure that you really are making money. He'll give this speech at...

MONDAY April 13th.
11:30 AM at Corky's Ribs and BBQ, 100 Franklin Rd. in Brentwood

And "Booking Yourself"- at the new Mt' Juliet Indie Connect location. Here's the info:

In order to get gigs, your act, regardless of its size or nature, must 1) find the appropriate venues, and; 2) be sold to the entertainment buyers. Until you are in demand and commanding enough money to make it worthwhile for a booking agent to represent you, you most likely are going to need to book yourself. This doesn't need to be an intimidating process if you know where to go, what to do, what to say, how to present yourself and have confidence in your ability to deliver. You will learn all of these things in Vinny Ribas' presentation on "Booking Yourself". Besides being the founder of Indie Connect. Vinny has 20 years experience as an artist, artist manager and booking agent!

He will be giving this speech at...

TUESDAY April 14th.
11:30 AM at Logan's Roadhouse in the Providence Mall, 401 S. Mt. Juliet Rd. in Mt. Juliet, Tn.

PS... I'll be doing that second post on production next week.
Oh, and may God bless you and yours with a very Happy Passover and Easter, dear readers... love, J

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Recording Producer: How Do You Pick One?

Getting the right person at the helm of your recording project is essential to getting the biggest bang for your bucks and your artistic efforts. In this first post of a two-part series, I'd like to offer some factors to help you decide how to pick the recording producer for your next project.

Like a CEO of a company is responsible to the shareholders, the producer is ultimately responsible to YOU. You must pick someone you feel can pick your brain and make an accurate assessment of the project YOU want to record- and get it done within the budget upon which you agree after consultation meetings.

The first thing your producer must do is to help you find and/or possibly write songs (if the producer is a great songwriter), then help you choose the final group for your project. If you are recording your own songs, your producer's informed and objective opinion should help you to choose the best ones for this particular project. There are legalities and credits that must be addressed: If you're new at the music business, your producer should make sure you obtain publishing information, performance rights licenses, etc. from the songwriters and publishers of the songs you choose. If you're the writer or co-writer, care should be taken that you are signed up with a performance rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP or SESAC.

The next step would be pre-production. This involves experimenting with sounds, keys, style and vocal lessons to optimize your singing ability. Sometimes the producer will choose and call a "band leader" into pre-production meetings so that this lead musician can add to the brainstorming discussions. The producer or bandleader will then do music charts for the tracking sessions.

Your producer should be able to design your project to fit within the genre you want to be in. Or like Kurt-Cobain-before-grunge-was-a-genre, if you are confident enough already with your artistic style, your producer should be able to help you make YOU-MUSIC, possibly inventing a whole new musical genre! And "niche music" success has never been more possible than right now, with the marketing and promotion options open to us through the internet and the consolidated corporate music bottlenecks like major labels and radio conglomerates breaking down.

You should choose a producer who you are confident can pick the right team for your project. This would include choosing the best musicians and background singers for the type of tracks you need. Your tracks can be paired down acoustic tracks with only a basic band or a full-blown production with strings and other genre-specific extra instruments. Or it can be electronic or hip-hop music which demands a lot of synthesized sounds you get from gear, which your producer should understand.

The producer should also be able to suggest the right studio, recording engineer and mixing/mastering engineer(s) for your budget and for the quality of "sonic envelope" you want the final mix to have.

And very important: your producer should either be a qualified vocal producer, or have one on the team. Don't spend all your money on tracks and leave the quality of the vocal to chance!

Next post, I will discuss the politics and ethics that you should know concerning your choice of recording producer. If you'd like to know about my production and vocal production services, check out this webpage and contact me through my website.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vocal lessons In Reverse: Focus On The Buzz

At a certain point in vocal training, my students reach new plateaus in vocal improvement by starting at their voice's end result first. I have them consciously focus on creating buzz!

Buzz is not just a music promotion term, you see. It's a synonym for vibration, and for the voice it is all important where that vibration sets in. When vocal sound is created most effectively, the singer will feel a buzzing sensation in the chest, mask, I've heard some people say they even notice it in the tailbone!If we purpose to make a buzzy sensation in these places, we can (if we've developed the appropriate muscle memory before-hand), find our automatic nervous system directing our anatomy to line up and do just that... buzz our bones & sinuses!

We must be careful not to confuse a buzzing mask or chest with throat voice. We must NOT be conscious of buzzing our larynx, unless we put our hand on the middle of our neck and feel it. We must also not confuse the mask buzzing with nasality caused by a closed or tight nose. The masky buzz desirable for great vocal tone has to have an open nose to vibrate.

The buzz, if properly created by supported and controlled breath pressure, will travel as the pitch changes. You sometimes feel it in the skull, eye sockets, cheekbones, soft palate, jawbone, sternum. Just keep the buzz from becoming muted. Unless you don't want anyone to hear you :)

Buzz yourself, and you buzz your audience. They will love the feeling, too!


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Great Vocal: How Long Does It Take? How Bad Do You Want It?

I've been in the studio a lot lately and have become freshly aware that new people are frequently freaked at how much effort it takes to capture a truly great vocal performance.It's harder for men to understand this, but it's kind of like having a baby. The "labor" can be truly intense, but when that "baby is born", you are so proud of your labors you hardly remember the toil! (Well, OK, you might remember but you'd do it all over again!)

First, ask yourself: how bad do you want to land that great vocal?

My son's cat, "Hayes" demonstrates the intense determination you need to muster if you want to land the big fish- a performance you can play back for days with a big grin on your face!
Don't settle for less than the prized goal, given time and money constraints (or a hooded glass aquarium).

OK, then, Prepare for your recording date:
  • Train your voice to optimal condition at vocal lessons and vocal exercises.
  • Practice your songs so you know them like the back of your hand. Experiment with phrasing, melodic variations, keys.
  • Record worktapes of your efforts and playback.
  • Memorize your lyrics, reading them will be like a wall between you and your audience and will negatively affect your performance in other subtle ways.
  • Sing at full performance voice level for at least two or three hours every day for a week before your recording.
  • Drink plenty of water the day before your session.
  • Eat a non-mucus forming healthy, protein rich breakfast and/or lunch before you sing.
  • Keep your mind stress-free, peaceful and calm on the morning before you sing. Don't get into arguments, long phone conversations, don't watch TV, etc.
  • If you think this is like preparing for an Olympic event, you're right.
Now that you're ready, how long should it take to capture that incredible vocal?
  • If you are doing a demo or a budget project, I usually recommend figuring on from one to three hours per vocal. 1/2 an hour is possible, but I wouldn't count on it. Don't put that violin, 4th background vocal, oboe or second guitar on it if that means sacrificing lead vocal recording time.
  • If you are trying for master vocals (vocals good enough for radio airplay) two songs a day is a good goal. Be sure and dress comfortably; if possible, have someone producing your vocals that you trust knows how to get the best out of you, and who empowers you personally. Schedule your recording time when you are usually awake, warmed up and at your vocal best. Noon or 2:00pm is a good start for me, but there are morning folks who sing great at 10:00am. To thine own self be true.
  • Warning: Yes, there is effort involved but know when you're beating a dead horse. You can coax, wait for and give time for, but you can't force a great vocal. For master quality vocals there should be enough budget that if you are sick, not in best voice or mood on the day of recording, you stop, pay the studio for the time and reschedule your lead vocals for another day. That's right, just eat the recording money for the day and chill out. It just kills you to do this but, as I know from experience, you'll come back and be able to get a better vocal in much less time than you ever would by trying to MAKE it happen on a bad day.
Hayes does not give up. He may go eat a snack, sleep or torment the dog. But to this day, he has not given up on landing the big one. Neither should you!

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