All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast by Judy Rodman: 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. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

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 ... 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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