All Things Vocal Blog & Podcast by Judy Rodman: November 2023

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, November 20, 2023

Gift Suggestions for Singers, Songwriters, Speakers and Musicians UPDATED 2023

Ya might want to print this list out...

Do you have singers, speakers and/or musicians on your gift list? Here are some suggestions, updated for 2023!

Please note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

$25 or less...

  • Music! Support music creators with a gift that keeps on giving... a single or a whole album project. Here are 8 places you can purchase music online, or go to an artist's website to order (they make more money that way). Or go all-in with the great sound and look of vinyl!
  • My digital or physical 1-CD Power, Path and Performance vocal training course - hey, use this discount code for 25% off!  FALL22SAVE25
  • Free music career training with Taylor Swift's former manager Rick Barker (several offerings on his website).
  • Great Speakers Use Acting Technique  book by acting coach Barbara Kite.
  • Nothing Left To Lose But Everything To Gain book by Natalie Hall of The Hall Sisters
  • The Musician's Essential Exercises - by personal fitness expert Angela McCuiston, owner of 'Music Strong'
  • EarPlanes  (paid ad) - for inflight ear discomfort - they work!
  • A camera tripod
  • The Singer's Mask A special type of good quality, comfortable masks especially designed protect singers from contagious illnesses while singing.
  • The Martian Popping Thing  (paid ad) a.k.a. 'Panic Pete', whatever you call it, I use it to train breath technique; it's also a hand/finger exerciser and a mental stress reliever!
  • A neck scarf or shawl for blocking cold air to tender throats..
  • A music theory book 
  • A flexible  cellphone stand... great for videoing gigs, youtube performances, doing Facebook live videos, etc! 
  • Voice therapist/speech pathologist Joana Cazden's book 'Every Day Voice Care' (paid ad)
  • Guitar Tuner or Metronome
  • Stage wear bling for clothes or hair
  • Mic stand pic holder (maybe add some pics!)
  • A small percussion instrument (tambourineegg shaker, etc.)
  • An immune boosting supplement. There are tons of choices, a couple of suggestions I have include this buffered vitamin C powder -easy on the stomach but powerful; and On Guard cough drops (paid ad) from DoTerra.
  • Mullein herbal extract for help with excess phlegm - Mullein liquid, or capsules (paid ad). 
  • Stainless steel, glass or BPA-free water container... and maybe add a 6 pack of Dole's pineapple juice (great throat soother and hydrator for stage and studio)
  • Lisa Aschmann's 1,000 Songwriting Ideas  (paid ad)
  • A nasal wash system... here's a simple, comfortable one (paid ad)
  • A full length mirror (for singers, singer-dancers, musical theater actors, public speakers)
  • A humidifier or vaporizer. 
  • Pack of instrument strings (find a sneaky way to make sure you know the instrumentalists' preference)
  • Instrument cleaner, polish or string changing wrench
  • Alan Carr's "Easy Way To Stop Smoking" (paid ad) (for the voice and for life)
  • A great read for the road: My friend Barbara Jenkins' book (sure to be a movie) 'So Long As It's Wild'
  • Great training for communicating handwritten notes that impact the reader: My friend Elizabeth Cottrell's book "Heartspoken" 
  • My latest album John and Judy Rodman's "Here We Are".

$26 - $65

  • Singing In The Studio course (the ultimate professional level course for any singer who will be recording vocals.) Use 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) Same coupon for this as well just 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 ($65 - Just contact me for payment info and to request a customized gift certificate.)
  • A music business staple: Passman's  "All You Need To Know About The Music Business" (paid ad)
  • An acoustic cellphone amplifier (paid ad) or, do a google search and you'll find all kinds at all kinds of prices.
  • Physical training packages... local classes or online courses such as Pilates with Kim Saha
  • Membership for speakers in Toastmasters
  • 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 - $300

  • An hour vocal lesson with me in office or online (($125 - Just contact me for payment info and to request a customized 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.
  • The Little Prompter (paid ad) for cellphone, laptop, computer 
  • A JBL Portable Bluetooth Speaker (paid ad)
  • A Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as ProTools, Studio One, Logic, Reaper.
  • backup hard drive for recording projects
  • A Cajon, Djembe or frame drum 
  • A data package for a smartphone
  • Membership(s) in NSAI (for songwriters), AFM (Musician's Union) or SAG/AFTRA (singer/actor union - you must be eligible)
  • 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.
  • A microphone - spend some time finding out what is needed. Will it be for stage performance or recording? 
    • For a speaker, look at a lavalier mic system (paid link). For a podcaster, 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 (paid ad) or Sennheiser 835 (paid ad). 
  • 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!

$300 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
  • Live performance coaching
  • A camera, GoPro or camcorder
  • Better microphones
    • I use the broadcaster staple 'Shure SM7b' (paid ad) for both podcasting and singing. 
    • To have your own mic locker for recording vocals, look at the Slate Digital Modeling Mic. (paid ad)
  • 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's songs.
  • 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 (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 write, perform, record or attend someone else's show.
  • Attend their live or 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 person or online, or volunteering for charity service!

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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My Voice's Gratitude List - updated 2023

My list goes on forever ... 

NOTE: The audio player should appear below, if not, please click on the title of this post and go online to hear. 
Available also on iTunes , Google PlayTuneIn Radio, Android apps

As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I am reminded of a thousand blessings that keep me in a state of gratitude. In keeping with All Things Vocal, here's a sampling of what's on my voice's gratitude list:

  • Finding that creativity has no age limit

I'm finding the older I get, the braver I create. As I worked this year on Runaway Home the Musical -
and then RE-WORKED it, writing new songs to a revised story even after a successful NYC reading of the old one - I'm no longer scared that the last song I wrote would be my best. I'm grateful to learn there's always more where that came from, and I can pass that lesson on to you

  • Knowing that vocal damage can completely heal 

I know this from personal experience, after losing an octave and a half from an endotracheal tube down my throat for an extended time in the hospital. As a vocal coach, that experience has helped me help others. I have seen vocal polyps, nodules, and vocal cord paralysis disappear with corrective vocal re-training. Surgery can almost always be avoided if the damage is stopped in time.

  • Discovering that brick walls are just turning points, and that with time, sadness passes.

Everything I've lost, every dead end in life I've hit, has taught me more than the good times. That doesn't make up for the loneliness, fear and deep sadness that many, for various reasons, face this holiday season. All I can tell you is that from my experience, waste can turn into compost for your life, and for your value to others. Hold on... take the time to process what you need to, and reach for those who care and can help. They are out there, and you are not done yet!

  • Not having grown up with auto tune

I had to learn precision technique and control the hard way... and now it helps me teach you!

  • Conversations with other curious, caring vocal coaches

I have had fantastic conversations, in person and online with coaches including Jeffrey Allen, Jeannie Deva, Jamie Vendera, Lisa Popeil, Joana Cazden, Richard Fink IV, Mark Thress, and many others.  Mr. Allen granted me permission to use his hook-shaped voice path in my teaching, and Joana Cazden suggested improvements to my vocal health document. I love sharing information as a member of NATS  (National Association of Teachers of Singing),  trading lessons and ideas in classical and contemporary voice with singers and teachers such as my dear friend Mark Thress! I'm grateful when a teacher or other voice expert comments on a post in this blog. We may not see things exactly the same way, but these conversations have all given me insight and made me a better and more effective teacher.

  • Great voices and music creators

Without the inspiration of incredibly talented singers, writers and musicians, my voice would be just a collection of various noises. My singing and speaking are influenced by decades of other voices from multiple genres and eras of music. 

  • My vocal coach, Gerald Arthur 

When I moved to Nashville, I found that Gerald was the coach for the top studio session singers I worked with. I got in to see him, and he fit me into one of his 8:30am 1/2 hour spots, which helped get singers ready for their 10am recording sessions. The first thing he told me was to stop 'guarding'. Many of you have received that instruction from me; well that's where it came from. Gerald not only helped me get my damaged voice back and then some, he also taught me how to teach. He showed me that the voice is a deep part of the psyche and that a vocal coach often becomes part-counselor or life coach. I can't imagine teaching someone without loving and caring about them. Gerald gave me that blueprint. His passing left a big hole in the vocal coaching universe.

  • The gift of insight and intuition.

I'm just not that smart. But I know that if we are open, useful wisdom is somehow channeled to all of us from the ultimate source of all wisdom. I'm so grateful to God for taking all I've done in my career, adding other illumination and creating in me the ability to teach voice. I had no idea how fulfilling it would be for me to help nurture other voices and be the wind at someone else's back. Now it blows my mind.

  • Every vocal student I've ever had 

...especially the ones with toughest, peskiest problems. Your patience and your dedication to your training have led to breakthroughs and of course, to solutions for the next student who comes in with that issue. I love you for trusting me with your precious voices, and being willing to go down the rabbit trails we explored until we found your answers!

  •  My husband John and our son Peter 

John makes everyone I work with feel welcome, sometimes stopping by the webcam to say hello! He also helps me to remember to power down at the end of the day and gives me a great reason to. He is my most important critic, sounding board and encourager. He also joined me to create and perform our surprise last album "Here We Are". There aren't enough words for what that album means to us both!
Our son Peter is our most precious legacy. As a photographer, craftsman, digital designer and musician is a creator in his own right, and helps me with all things technical. I can't imagine life without either of them.

  • Listeners

A good voice is said to have a 'gift'. But If no one is there, how can a gift be given? Every once in awhile I still perform in front of listening audiences. I sometimes regale my family and friends with a song or two to get their reaction.  Thank goodness people not only have voices but also ears! I'm so grateful for everyone who has ever come to one of my shows or presentations and I love to take my turn listening to your performances, too! 

  • Friendship, trust, inspiration, and support

My first question about how to sing something came from my fellow session singer/co-writer Carol Chase. She really sparked the idea in me to become a vocal coach. After a few years of teaching, I began creating my first Power, Path & Performance course at the request of producer/friend Dick McVey, who suggested that I record some vocal exercises for people. That was over 20 years ago. People like this have driven me to do things I'd never have otherwise done. Thank you! 

  • Pineapple juice

I had no idea when I poured a little can of pineapple juice into that 13 oz glass of water that it would go on to be my best recommendation for dry or irritated throats! I rarely leave home to sing without it. Oh... and coffee. Without my morning joe, my voice would still be staring at the alphabet rather than stringing it together into sentences:)

  • The transpose button

A big thank you goes up to whoever invented the transpose button on my keyboard! That way my students and I can sing in for instance the key of B, while I play it in my fingers' much preferred Bb or C! 😀

  • YOU

I am very grateful for you, dear reader and supporter of 'All Things Vocal'. You are the reason I do this. If you have a suggestion for this blog or podcast to make it of more value to you please let me know. Your comments and reviews are incredibly important and I am so very grateful to those of you who take the time.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving... 
And once more, thanks for being a part of this All Things Vocal village! 

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JP & Kat-Raio Rende Interview (Part 2): Chipmunks to Charts


Watch video above 


Listen to podcast  on iTunes ... Spotify ... or anywhere else

This is Part 2 of my interview with primetime music creators JP and Kathryn Raio-Rende, owners of Earworm Music Company in New York City. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out Part 1!

* Find the Rendes and Earworm Music: 
* Find their Emmy-winning Sesame Street song video: 

Things We Discussed in Part 2

  • I asked JP and Kat how they got the sound of Kat's vocal for Alvin & the Chipmunks.
  • Practical music charting and some very useful shortcuts, such as the Nashville number system.
  • Singing live for major artists, and the very real stresses when you have to work fast to create arrangements and chose who sings what.
  • I get to share a favorite vocal ninja trick... backing off volume... to save both singer and mic and make the vocal sound better. JP and Kat loved it.
  • We chat gear... and JP introduces me to a mic where I might get my fav Telefunken C-12 sound... the Slate Digital Modeling Mic!
  • We talk about whispering styles and the voice.

Don't forget to subscribe, and look for Part 1 of this interview!

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Monday, November 13, 2023

JP & Kat-Raio Rende Interview (Part 1): Creating Emmy-Winning Music

Watch video above 


Listen to podcast  on iTunes ... Spotify ... or anywhere else

My guests today are primetime music creators JP and Kathryn Raio-Rende, owners of Earworm Music Company in New York City. This is Part 1 of our interview, which is so full of nuggets I couldn't leave out, I decided to break it into two episodes for you. After watching, be sure and check out Part 2!

About JP and Kathryn Rende:

JP and Kat are extraordinarily experienced, successful and knowledgeable about writing, singing and producing for major market media. They also have a ton of live experience. This married duo's earliest major success was winning an Emmy for their song 'Friends With A Penguin', sung by Billy Porter and aired on Seseme Street. Since then, they've written and produced music for several top kids shows on major streaming networks including HBO, Disney+ and Netflix. But they also have had songs sung and recorded by Cardi B, Tori Kelly, Michael Buble’, The Jonas Brothers, Fifth Harmony, Ciara, Romeo Santos, Billy Porter and more. Enjoy listening as we trade stories and strategies, and learn some valuable insider tips for songwriting, studio production, and singing. You'll even hear us trade some marital advice for balancing family and music!
* Find the Rendes and Earworm Music: 
* Find their Emmy-winning Sesame Street song video: 

Things We Discussed in Part 1

  • Who JP and Kat are, and what they've accomplished
  • First music JP and Kat made together 
  • Creating their company Earworm Music 
  • Why they transitioned from writing jingles to kids music 
  • Collaborating with other writers
  • Mentoring and giving new talent opportunities 
  • Transitioning and learning about gear and home studios 
  • The need to know current music business, current and classic music styles 
  • How focusing on one listener's heart affects what we write and record. 
  • Writing for kids about serious subjects for Sesame Street & Tab Time
  • Creating their Emmy-winning song 'Friends With A Penguin', sung by Billy Porter
  • Carving out family time (where no one's allowed to mention music!) 
  • How John (my husband) and I collaborate 
  • How to work for excellence vs perfection 
  • Thoughts on overtuning vs smart tuning 
  • We discuss charts, how to learn songs and the efficiency of the Nashville number system 
  • Kat explains 3 types of singers

Don't forget to subscribe, and look for Part 2 of this interview!

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