Posts By :

Felicia Ricci

Singers, the Mirror is Your Best Friend

About two months ago, I was singing some warmup scales, and my voice just STOPPED WORKING.

The higher I got, the more I felt stuck.

I took a moment, reset, and tried again.

Same weird thing!

Even worse, this second time through, I could feel my throat compensating, trying to push the notes up rather than feel them float out easily, effortlessly.

Crap, I thought. What the heck is going on?

Trying not to get too hard on myself, I took an inventory of my body and how I was feeling.

Breathing? (I took a deep breath and did a quick hiss exercise, counting to 45 seconds.)

Check.

No tension in my lower back? (I draped over in rag doll pose, and let my body hang.)

Check.

Tongue relaxed? (I opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue. Then I flicked my tongue back and forth like a snake tasting the air.)

Check.

Third time’s the charm…

I did the scale again.

NOPE.

What the f(*&$%(*???

Then, luckily, I remembered a tidbit from a voice lesson I had about 8 years ago with a brilliant singer named Victoria Clark (A Light in the Piazza actress extraordinaire!).

During our first session, Vicki gave me a handheld mirror and instructed me to hold it in front of my face as I sang.

“This is your instrument,” she said, as I sang long extended AHs up and down the scale. “Get to know how it looks. And find any places that might be blocked.”

At the time, it was so weird to get an up-close look at my mouth, lips, teeth, tongue, soft palate, and big ol' face. And all while trying to sing. Mostly I had never studied a VISUAL IMAGE of myself while I was singing.

But it was brilliant. I could see, first hand, what my “instrument” really looked like.

When we sing, the sound resonates (or “echoes”) in our faces. That’s where we feel and perceive the sound, and where tiny adjustments can have a huge impact on your singing (or, conversely, can create blockages).

Flash forward to two months ago, during my mini singing meltdown — thank goodness I remembered my first lesson with Vicki.

Immediately, I relocated from my kitchen (where I usually practice my singing) into my bathroom, where I flipped on the bright vanity lights.

I peered at my face, then attempted to sing the scale again.

BINGO!

It was so subtle, but I could see it, clear as day.

For whatever reason, the right side of my face was ever-so-slightly drooping. And when I opened my mouth wider to check out what was going on inside, I realized that the right side of my soft palate (and only the right side) wasn’t fully raised!

How crazy is that?

So subtle, but enough of a difference to compromise my ability to resonate on higher pitches.

I was surprised for a moment, but then it made sense. When I’m tense, or working hard at my computer, I tend to clamp my jaw, particularly on the right side. And if I’m particularly swamped, this starts to be my “neutral” face position. This lopsidedness greatly compromises my singing, because my resonant space (literally, my face) clamps down and create shapes that are not optimal for singing.

So what did I do?

Everything I had in my singer’s toolkit, designed to stretch out my face and raise my soft palate, including:

  • Several “Lion’s Yawns” (yawn while sticking out your tongue) and jaw stretches
  • Using my fingers to gently massage my jaw and cheekbones
  • Doing a K-INHALE exercise repeatedly (where you say "K" and then inhale in a quick, surprised manner), expanding my soft palate and releasing UP

….and gradually, I could feel (and SEE!) the changes happening.

My right side slowly perked back up….and guess what?

No more pushing. No more straining. I was able to resonate on those higher pitches, clear as a bell, without any strain.

I’m relaying this anecdote to you because I want you to remember: the mirror is your best friend!

You don’t have to obsess over studying yourself every time you sing, but you can absolutely use the mirror to explore your instrument and troubleshoot when you feel blocked.

A mirror can be an amazing tool for figuring out (1) where tension creeps in during your singing, especially in terms of your jaw or soft palate, (2) where you might have unevenness in your face and mouth (in terms of right vs. left sides).

I hope this tip empowers you not to stress out when you feel tense while singing, but instead to methodically figure out what might be causing the tension, blockage, or struggle.

If you enjoyed this tip, or have an anecdote to share with me about your own singing-mirror detective work, be sure to leave me a comment!

Until next time....

xo Fel

Free Webinar Invite + New Video!

Hi dudes! In today's video, I CONFESS! What do I do to warm up my *own* voice everyday?

But first, an invitation direct from me to you --

This Sunday, I'm republishing my free singing webinar series -- "Unlock Your True Singer Potential: Yes My Dude, You CAN Become a Good Singer!" Learn more here.

The series rolls out in 3 parts and includes almost 90 minutes of free lessons, all starting this Sunday, April 10 at 12pm EDT!

Follow-up lessons are Wednesday, April 13 @ 6pm EDT and Sunday, April 17 at 12pm EDT. If you can't make the live chat, it's cool -- I'll keep the replay link for the lesson videos online for about a week.

**HERE'S THE REALLY COOL THING: I'll be there on each rollout day to live chat with you in the comments section!!!**

LIMITED SLOTS AVAILABLE -- SIGN UP HERE TO GET ON THE EXCLUSIVE LIST!

 

And now, without further ado, here's my latest video entitled "How I Practice My Own Singing (Fel Confesses!)" Enjoy -- and don't forget to leave me a comment to let me know what you think.

Can't wait to see you at the webinar!

xo Fel

How to Fix Sharp Singing!

Sharp singing is when you go for a note but land a little bit too high, which is a hurdle for many singers.

So today I will answer your question: “What do I do if my singing is consistently sharp?”

In this video, you will learn some powerful approaches that will help fix your pitch and make it much more accurate.

Notes are like circles, and your pitch can move up and down the circle. When you’re singing a note, you’re creating a tone that is round. If you’re used to landing sharp, aim at the bottom of the note’s “circle.” This will help “average out” the pitch.

Stay grounded. Literally, stay connected to the ground and remember your lower body! Pitch often reflects your energy and focus. If you're nervous or “floating up” into your head, your pitch can start to drift upward, too. Remember, singing involves your whole body!

Your breath support is your pitch buddy! Thrust your focus down to the lower part of your body -- to your diaphragm. Building on tip 2: you can even picture roots growing from your diaphragm, down to your feet, digging into the earth.

If you’re a singer who tends to go sharp, follow these simple steps and you’ll notice your energy, your focus, and, ultimately, your pitch will start to correct itself.

Do you struggle with sharp singing? Leave me a comment and let me know if these tips helped!

xo Fel

Beginner Singers, I Feel Your Pain! - What Learning Guitar Taught Me About Singing

Learning to play the guitar is hard! I started a couple months ago and now can officially play about 5 chords. (Baby steps are better than no steps.) 🙂

Now that I’m trying to learn a new instrument, it gave me some insights into what kinds of approaches beginners should take when learning how to sing.

In this video, I’ll show you my best tips and takeaways  that will help you grow your singing practice, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced singer.

It’s best to practice in short blocks of time, as often as possible (daily is best).  Progress takes time. Make adjustments, internalize new sensations, but know that you might need to sleep on a new skill or technique before it clicks. It’s better to revisit new sensations every day, even if only for a little while, than to practice for several hours once a week.

Take a break sometimes! Take some time, step away, and sleep on it. Know when to call it a day when you’ve exhausted yourself from practicing too much and return when you’re physically, emotionally, and mentally ready.

Happy practice makes for faster progress. When learning a new skill don’t get down on yourself. Instead, be silly, laugh at yourself, and have fun while you’re practicing. Believe it or not, that mindset shift and positive outlook will lead to faster progress.

If any of you are learning a new skill (singing, guitar, or a new instrument), can you relate to this process? Let me know!

I hope these tips, approaches, and mindsets will help get you to the next level. Good luck!

 

xo Fel

Take My Singer Survey and We Might Skype!

Singer friends! I would love your help with a quick “singer survey” (below). If you complete it, you’ll be eligible to Skype chat with me (totally optional…but I hope you'll be into it, as I love talking with you guys!)

Quick background: I’m always revising my elite training course Singing Transformation: 360 Degrees of Vocal Training. As of now, this course only opens 2X per year, because I put lots of time and attention into the curriculum and course experience.

This course represents me as a teacher and is very comprehensive, designed to grow you into a CONFIDENT and self-sufficient singer. It was developed directly from singer feedback (a.k.a. you guys!) and twice per year I re-open and update the course to reflect surveys and feedback, exactly like this one.

NOTE: At the end of this form is an opt-in to be eligible for a one-on-one interview with me. Be sure to check YES if you’d be interested in some one-on-one Skype time with me, as I’ll be selecting 3 (maybe more) students to chat with after I read your responses!

Survey is open through 3/23/16, so be sure to submit by then!

Thank you for being a part of my ridiculously cool singer community!

xo Fel

What Does Vibrato Feel Like? - How to Sing with Vibrato

When you’re singing, vibrato is that slight oscillation in pitch that varies a note from a straight tone.

In this video, I’ll describe exactly what vibrato feels like and how you can achieve it using some mental adjustments. (Yes, singer buds, it’s primarily a mental process!)

Simply go through these steps to find your own vibrato:

  1. Good technique means good vibrato. As annoying as it sounds, start with good technique. Period. Good breath support creates a seal with your vocal fold so your cords vibrate evenly and don’t leak too much air. A tone that’s leaking air sounds whispery, and that can make it very difficult to layer on healthy vibrato.
  2. Vibrato is felt in the back of your mouth. Migrate your mental eyesight to the back of your mouth, to your soft palate. When you smile or laugh, you can feel it kinda raised, right? Singers who engage in correct vibrato can feel a little flicker or tickle on their soft palate -- and it doesn’t have to involve your throat at all!
  3. When activating vibrato, relax into it. Let your vocal folds chill out slightly. Relieve a little bit of pressure — that’s the feeling that creates vibrato.
  4. Don’t push harder. Vocal wobbles happen when you push down or add more effort on your throat. Your voice box is basically shaking around, causing a large jump between pitches versus a vibrato which is lighter and more subtle. So if you ever get the urge to press down — don’t.

Just remember, good vocal technique will lead to a healthy and pleasing vibrato, but these mental adjustments will get you that much closer to easy, natural-sounding vibrato.

Keep practicing, my friends! 🙂

xo Fel

1 Simple Trick for Easy Singing (Enter: the Fish Lips!)

When it comes to singing, I'm all about shortcuts and easy singing tips! Sometimes the simplest adjustments can yield big results, fast. Enter: Fish Lips!

What are the Fish Lips? It's a simple cue/adjustment that will help your singing get much easier. Because who doesn't love easy singing?

You'll find Fish Lips helpful in the following ways -- they will help to:

  1. Relieve tension,
  2. Neutralize your larynx,
  3. Get your jaw to relax,
  4. Help you sing through your vocal break(s),
  5. Create a less spread, more focused vocal tone.

One way to practice the sensation is to sing lip trills as part of your vocal warmups (check out my quick demo in the video).

Layer this cue onto your practice or song prep, and let me know if it helps!

xo Fel

The Ultimate 154-Song Medley

10 years. Four medleys. Zero cue cards. One take. Read below for an explanation of this crazy video....

This 154-Song Medley video is dedicated to the die-hard fans who started watching me and my lil sister Tessa's weird videos back in 2010! If you're one of these amazing people, you already know what this insanity is: our 3 epic medleys from 2010-2011 strung together, PLUS one more glorious medley (Medley 4!), created and filmed in December 2015.

(New medley song titles are in RED, and start at 6:49)

Making medleys with my sister began while we were riding in the back of a van in Ireland, on the rainiest, most miserable 2006 family vacation of all time. To pass the time and feel less like prisoners, we sang and hummed and strung together 38 songs that we felt just "flowed together."

There was no further explanation. It just had to....click.

Four years later, in 2010, when Tessa was visiting me in San Francisco (I was living out there because I was performing in "Wicked") we realized we still remembered every. Single. Song. And so we decided to record it all from memory, with no notes, in one take.

You can watch that original video here: A 38-Song Medley.

Medleys then became like a drug! Or something truly important to us. We couldn't hang out together and *not* sing the Original 38-song medley, or discuss medleys, or string together new song combinations. All through 2010 and 2011 we would call or text each other and be like "OMG, listen to this medley transition that just came to me..." and then we'd sing or hum, and the other would usually freak out. Because there's just something so satisfying about a medley, ammiright?

And so we created Medley 2.

And Medley 3.

We've exchanged countless texts, word documents, scribbled notes on the back of napkins, to try to keep track of all the song transitions floating in our heads. We've created false starts, uninspired sections, forced connections, and have deleted entire chapters.

What are the rules to a medley? Not much, except: both siblings have to approve of the transition and make sure it works from a lyrical, melodic, or just "musical feeling" perspective. To successfully create a medley, you need to be in the flow. That's the most important part. You have to truly let the transitions come to you, almost from the sky, without forcing it.

Then in 2012, Tessa and I fell a bit out of sync. Life just...got in the way. There were many changes, family and life upheavals, sad and challenging times. We had the memory of Medleys 1, 2, 3, but something was stopping us from moving forward.

"Fel, we HAVE to do a new medley."
"I know, I know."
"What are we waiting for?"
"It's just....not ready yet."

All throughout 2012-2014, Tessa and I tried (and failed) to create the fourth chapter, Medley 4. I was constantly switching careers. Tessa was in college. We saw each other less. There was no time for phone calls. We'd meet up over the holidays, reminisce, laugh and recall Medleys 1-3... but still, we needed time. Turns out you can't rush the process. Medley 4 just wouldn't come.

Medleys mirror life. For many years, we were blocked. Uncertain. Out of sync. Uninspired.

[Cue dramatic underscoring.]

But then..........

2015 has been an incredible year, for both of us as individuals, but mostly because Tessa and I have found a way to reconnect, rekindle that medley flame, and add another glorious chapter to the Medley Saga.

The experience has been thrilling, cathartic, surprising, and has cemented an unbreakable bond between me and my sister.

With this story in mind, we submit to you a horribly filmed, low-quality, mistake-laden, silly, free-associative, and truly unhelpful video that we hope makes you smile, laugh, or think "hey that's weird, but a little bit cool."

This 154-song medley strings together 10 years of medley work, includes all past medleys, plus one new one. It was filmed in one take, and done entirely from memory.

We hope you like it, and that it inspires you to create your own (real, or metaphorical) medley.

Love,
Felicia and Tessa

Fix Your Singing Using Breath - Breathing for Singers

Isn't it frustrating when you feel like you've worked so hard on a certain singing skill, but then when you go to actually do it, you get blocked by tension?

My newest video gives you some powerful imagery, or visualizations, for you to use while you're singing -- designed to fix about 95% of your singing problems!

When I say "fix your singing," I essentially mean: get out of your own way, and rely on your breath to guide you. When you learn how to relax, trust, and let go, singing is finally possible!

In this video you'll get 3 powerful mental images that I use with my students when I cue breath.

I'll also take some time to re-teach you how to breathe for singing -- zooming in on the actual sensation of what breath feels like (which so often confuses singers). Breathing for singers can be tricky to get the hang of at first, but once you understand it and memorize the sensation, you're going to make lightning progress.

Basically, breath for singers feels a bit like you're filling up the "basement" of your belly and butt, and then, on the exhale, like you're pressing down slightly, kind of how it feels when you belly laugh. Definitely check out the video for a more detailed explanation of what I mean.

Learning how to harness your mental focus and get really specific about what effect in your body you're trying to achieve will do absolute wonders for your singing!

Try out these visualizations, and let me know which are helpful!
xo Fel

How to Stay Healthy During Winter (For Singers)

Maintaining good vocal health is especially crucial in the winter months! If you've found that your singing just gets harder in the winter, you're not alone, and you're not a weirdo. The combination of cold weather, dry indoor environments, and nasty colds makes singing in winter harder....period!

In this video you'll learn why it's important to:

(1) Sleep with a humidifier next to your bed

(2) Drink tons of water

(3) Bundle up when you go outside!

(4) Warm up in the shower

(5) Take longer to warm up (in general)

Hope this is helpful! Stay healthy, my friends.

Love, Fel