HOT DISCUSSION TOPICS & FAVES

Featured vids, singer faves & everyday thoughts

If You Feel Stuck, Uninspired, Or Lost

There have been times in my life when I have not practiced my singing. Like, at all.

As with any long term skill, my commitment to singing has had peaks and valleys, especially for the past three years. Sure, sometimes I've felt jazzed, but more often than not I've been in a "bare-minimum-maintenance-whatever" mode. I practiced a couple times here and there, or not at all. :-/

My excuse was:

I'm good...enough. As long as my singing is decent, I can demo things in my videos and lessons. If I lose my skills a little, what's the big deal? It's not like I'm singing for audiences anymore.

(Ugh. Just reading those thoughts back to myself is hard. What an uninspiring point of view!)

And because I felt so uninspired, my singing suffered.

When it comes to singing, or any long-term goal, frame of mind is everything.

When I am not inspired, I lose momentum. When I lose momentum, I stop tending to myself and the things I love. 

In my "good enough" phase, my singing skills began to fade. Stuff that used to be easy (belting, delicate controlled singing, long held notes) took more concentration and effort than ever. The less regularly I sang, the more my muscles forgot what great singing felt like. And tension began to creep in like crazy.

I was treating singing like a chore. Rather than mentally CELEBRATING my singing talent, I was focusing on everybody else's singing. I neglected myself, and was secretly preparing for my downfall.

Oh well, I thought. Time to pass on the torch of singing to the next generation.

This defeated frame of mind was undermining my vocal instrument -- something I'd worked my whole life to grow.

And, let me tell you, it was not a fun thing to witness.

Until, one day, the shift happened.

I'm thrilled to report that I've felt a surge of energy, optimism, and commitment to my voice. I've written about this in a couple of newsletters, so you've probably already heard stirrings from me already, but quick recap...

I'm an ARTIST! I've come to terms with the fact that I cannot live my life not performing! It's simply time to pursue my lifelong dream of writing, recording, and performing my own music. Because if I don't, I will just explode!

My process of realization has been long. It has involved much soul searching, journaling, contemplation, and devoting meaningful time to reawakening my voice.

I know from your comments that you can probably relate to my story.

You are all at different places in your singing/career/life journeys. I know many you have encountered that feeling of plateauing, or not feeling as stoked about singing as you once were.

That is so okay! You are not weird! And you are not doomed! We can totally get the fire back. And here's how...

HOW TO GET THE FIRE BACK INTO YOUR SINGING:

  1. Set a short term singing goal that makes you giddy with excitement. This could be big or small -- as long as it makes you psyched and can happen in the near future. Examples: "In two weeks, I'll record a love song for my significant other." "I'll finally get up and sing karaoke next weekend." "I'll audition for a new agent next month." 
  2. Set several goals for the next 6 months to a year. Mine are: I'd like to share music with my mailing list (you!), write 50 songs, record my first album, and perform live locally in Philadelphia.
  3. Set one ridiculous, so-fun-it-tingles goal. Think of this as your "ultimate dream!" Mine is: I'm standing onstage, looking out at a stadium of people, and we are all singing the same melody together. The feeling I get when I picture this is so warm, electric, and tingly!
  4. Commit 100% to a singer ritual. I say "ritual" because your practice time is sacred. For me, I've been warming up every day, rain or shine, and combining it with meditating if I have time. If I don't have time, I stick to basics: lip trills, diaphragm breathing, jaw, tongue, shoulder stretch (10 minutes is better than no minutes).
  5. Make practice fun and INSPIRING -- and visualize your goals! When it's time to write music I light a candle in my office to stay centered. I also have full view of a Vision Board on my wall, where I've posted inspiring photos, many of them of my favorite female artists. I even put on crazy outfits sometimes! I'm talking gold lamé crop tops and light up LED sneakers (not kidding).

And these days? My voice has come back like a long lost friend. I'M EXCITED, INSPIRED, and COMMITTED, and my singing reflects it.

So don't tiptoe around calling yourself a "singer" or an "artist" or a "musician" or a WHATEVER. Don't tiptoe around your goals. Don't be embarrassed by your dreams. And don't despair when your enthusiasm seems to dip.

Singing is a lifelong process, and we are all in it together.

You don't have to have everything figured out. Look at me -- I'm still flailing around wildly! I have no idea (1) what my timeline is, (2) how exactly my career is going to come together, (3) what my music is going to sound like when I have some "finished" songs, (4) when I'm going to be comfortable sharing it with you guys (soon, don't worry! I know, I am so annoying!).

BUT -- AS I TEACH, SO I DO! I always encourage you guys to go boldly forth, pursuing your passions, so why don't I do it, too! THAT IS THE GENERAL IDEA! Let's not fret about the details right now. Let's get INSPIRED. Then, one foot in front of the other. And the staircase will appear. 🙂

I promise you, it's going to be spectacular!

With love and so much freaking energy,

Fel

P.S. Let me know if you have experienced a dip in your singing confidence and enthusiasm by leaving me a comment! I read every single message. xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do Mean Online Comments Hurt So Much?

Recently I looked at a video of myself singing that I had posted on YouTube about a year ago. For some reason I didn't think about one very challenging aspect of this: the comments!

I love reading your comments on my blog or my instructional videos because they include your ideas, reactions, and suggestions for future videos. But comments on my performances are quite another thing...

For some (not all) of these, I need a different mindset entirely 🙂

I found myself getting pretty worked up. But the weird thing was, certain negative comments STUNG, while other comments didn't faze me.

I wanted to better understand WHY certain online comments are so hurtful, while others are no big deal.

In this video, I'll talk about (1) how the negative thoughts we choose to hear reflect a shadow side of ourselves, (2) how it's important to witness and forgive the negative thoughts that we all carry around within us.

I'll also teach you an easy and effective meditation for overcoming fear and negative thoughts that may be holding you back. It's all about mindset!

Can you relate to this? Have you ever read a mean comment about you or someone you love and experienced the need to respond, defend, or attack back?

Lots of love,

Fel

What If Your Voice is Not Perfect?

Here's a thought... What if the qualities you believe make your voice less than, actually make it cool and interesting?

I've contemplated this question a ton as I venture into writing my own music. So far I'd describe my strange songs as a cross between: Grimes, Lana Del Rey, and Every Broadway Show Ever.

ANYWAY. My vocal background and training is musical theater singing, which means I'm hardwired to think: "These notes (high, low, whatever) need to come out cleanly, perfectly, and without any noticeable variation, damnit!"

And while I still love that I'm able to unify my chest, mix, and head voice cleanly (for the most part) -- and I believe it is important for singers not to be held back by any technical "holes" in their voices --

The truth is: for many genres of music, embracing our imperfections, or the reasons our voices are unique, can unlock a whole world of interpretation, variation, color, emotion, and interesting style choices.

Take it from the Leaning Tower of Pisa: imperfect is cool.

Take it from the Leaning Tower of Pisa: imperfect is cool.

For example, I am naturally higher-voiced, meaning I was born with thinner vocal folds and at certain parts of my range my voice lacks dark undertones. It instead seems to float "on top" of notes, with an almost cutesy sound to it.

When I record my voice in my home studio, I will often adjust my face shape to develop a darker tone -- I open my mouth more, drop my jaw down, and make sure I'm engaging the lower half of my face. I also stand up straight and utilize my chest resonance.

But recently I wrote a song where the character seemed...well?

Vulnerable. Feeling small. Expressing thoughts that were difficult to express.

So what did I do? I recorded a take where I thought, "Let me just embrace ME, however it comes out. Let me use this higher voice. Let it thin out where it wants to, sometimes breaking, sometimes being breathy, and maybe this will better reflect the vulnerable nature of the song."

And the result is...

NOT perfect. 🙂 But (in my opinion) way, way more interesting!

Three questions for you:

1) Have you ever wondered whether "perfect singing" is really "the best" singing??

2) Are there any artists performing today that you admire who don't have perfect voices but who you LOVE to hear sing?

3) Wanna hear my first song? (Currently finishing the mix and planning to post a video soon to YouTube, but my mailing list will be the first to hear it AAAAAH!)

Leave me a comment here on my blog!

Lots of love,
Fel

P.S. I don't often fish for encouragement but, man I could use a little right now! 🙂 Very different process creating music versus teaching or filming tips videos. But onward I go!

Love ya.

Singing Into a Microphone - How to Record Vocals for Best Results

Here's a lil video all about microphone singing! My best 6 tips for knowing how to record vocals for optimal results.

My tips include....

1) Set levels so they're not too high; otherwise you'll max out and distort your vocal recording -- and, worse, try to hold back or sing tentatively to accommodate this too-high setting. Instead, aim for a lower microphone level. You can always boost it later.

2) Get your live monitor/headphone levels right! Singing with headphones always presents its own set of challenges, so I almost always leave one ear outside of the headphones as I'm singing to get some live feedback.

3) Don't forget your breathing DOWN BELOW! The microphone picks up what you're creating up top, however, the work and effort happens via the rest of your body. Don't forget your technique or become a "neck-up" singer in the studio.

4) Be mindful of how distance to the microphone affects the nuance, intimacy and volume of what you're singing. Closer = more intimate. Further away = taller, more echo-y, for louder moments.

5) Learn how to breathe without harsh, noticeable gasps (super distracting -- and in the video I give you a quick tutorial on how to do this).

6) Finally, experiment! Microphones are incredible tools, so don't be intimidated! Just practice and see what sounds good, then trust your instincts. 🙂

In the video I also mentioned that I was using an Audio-Technica AT4040 condenser microphone for $299 - http://amzn.to/29hKetW

Ooh! Even better -- AT4040 plus pop-filter and XLR cable, for $299: http://amzn.to/29gKJVd

Other good condenser microphones....

AT2020 microphone is $99 - http://amzn.to/29lNwh2

AT2020 microphone with USB hookup is $149 - http://amzn.to/29gLqOE

MXL 770 for $75 - http://amzn.to/29fUlDm

My headphones are also Audio-Technica (see a trend here?) and you can find them here: http://amzn.to/29fUiaP

*Please note, these are Amazon affiliate links.

Hope this video and these resources are helpful! Please leave me a comment to let me know whether you've been recording some vocal projects, and whether you'd like more videos like this!
xo Fel

 

How to Face Your Fears - 15 Minute Meditation

This video is different than most of my videos, and to be honest, it was scary to film.

Watch to learn about a 15-minute meditation I use daily to face one of the strangest, elusive, and most overwhelming forces in life: fear.

So many of us deal with fear and negative thoughts when it comes to realizing our dreams, reaching our full potential or, really, just existing in a world that can feel negative and scary.

I wanted also to describe how to meditate (as best as I could) - the actual process - to help demystify the experience. Everyone's journey is different, but here's some insight into what I do.

I hope this meditation for fear is helpful for you. Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Lots of love,

Fel

Healing by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1200048
Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Other cool tracks:

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

 

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

 

 

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

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