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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two Ways to Rehearse for Best Vocal Performance

Rehearsal for vocal performance can accomplish little- or can prepare you for the vocal event you want to have next time your voice hits the stage. Here are the two ways you need to practice...
  1. Technically: learning the melody, lyrics, rhythms and structure of the song while practicing with perfect form; working out trouble spots to find vocal techniques that fix the issues; working up vocal stamina.
  2. Psychologically: practicing 'performance state'; focusing your mind and your body language into communication mode which authentically delivers the message in the song TO someone specific for the benefit of a listening audience.
When should you practice what?

Practice technically first. Practice psychologically focused 'performance state' less often... purposefully and separately from technical practice. It's hard to drum up the moment, or 'zone', too many times in a row.

Create muscle memory that moves:

Practicing technically of course creates muscle memory. Then psychologically practicing the act of communicating your song TO someone infuses and purposes the muscle memory with feeling and emotion that can elicit emotional response from your audience when you go onstage. Then sing your butt off and Make Somebody Feel Something!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vocal Technique: Why Know Why

When you venture into the world of vocal training as student or teacher you can be quite overwhelmed with all the different methods, systems and approaches... even with vocal teachers, trainers, directors and coaches seeming to teach opposite techniques! This is why you, as student or teacher, should know the 'why' behind the 'what' is being suggested in the vocal training.

Here's an example:
Some say you should inhale from the nose, some say the nose and mouth.
When sounding the voice one needs to inhale in such a way that causes...
  1. ... the nose and throat channel to expand so that vocal cord vibration has full access to alternative resonation zones in mouth, pharynx, etc. An open throat channel will also prevent inhaled air from excessively drying the edges of the vocal cords.
  2. ... the lower ribcage to widen and the belly to expand so that the dome of the diaphragm can easily flatten out as its muscle fibers shorten. This enables the floor of the lungs to come down and draw enough air in quickly and efficiently.
  3. ...the air 'fuel' for  'powering' the voice to be drawn in low. WHERE the air is felt to be drawn in tends to become WHERE the air is acted upon, and for best control of breath it needs to be acted upon (supported by muscle contraction) from as low as possible (the pelvic floor) instead of from the ribcage.
I know some teachers encourage inhaling from the nose. Many sports encourage this because coming in through the nose moisturizes the breath, and it's true that it causes the nose to flare, opening up that part of the throat channel. Yes, a good inhale for the voice can be taken just through the nose... IF you do it in such a way that you make the above three points happen.

However, I've had many new students come in to me who had been taught to inhale from the nose and had become 'chest breathers' instead of 'belly breathers'. This caused them to get all three of the above very wrong, resulting in all kinds of vocal problems for them from incorrect breath support and control. So my choice in "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training is to teach singers and speakers to inhale from both nose and mouth simultaneously. This gives the safest voice-enabling inhale, in my experience.

Who knew? You should, if you are training your voice. Then however you choose to inhale, you'll be able to do it and get the right effects.

I'd like to do a de-mystifying series of posts on the 'whys' of vocal technique. What other vocal techniques have you heard taught opposite ways and/or seem puzzling to you? Put them in the comments to this post, and thank you for joining the conversation!

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Studio mindset: How to move out of analytical left brain

When you are singing in the studio, you desperately need to move out of logical, critical, analytical left-brain mode. Why?
  • Messages go deeper when understood emotionally instead of just analytically.
  • Left brain singing is not as compelling as right brain singing. Think about it... which moves you more -- to hear a formulaic, even, predictable, logical voice with perfectly even rhythmic pattern or an unpredictable, slightly de-constructed voice with conversational rhythmic pattern?
  • You will tend to demand over-tuning and editing of your vocals, not realizing that less is very often more when it comes to mechanically perfecting vocals.
So how do you do it?
  • By trusting your vocal technique, setting yourself up properly so you can feel more than think as you sing.
  • By being able to trust the feedback you're getting from your production team. This lets you enter your creative child mode and get the critic out of the vocal booth.
Have you ever gotten stuck in your left brain in the vocal booth? What did you end up doing about it?

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