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voice finder

How to Be a Great Singer Using Musical Phrasing

In today's video we'll explore the question:

What separates a good singer from a GREAT singer?

The answer, in my opinion, is musical phrasing. 

Good singers get the job done and not much more. They think about individual notes and whether or not they can hit them right, and then stop there.

Great singers think about how those notes relate to each other and how they can sculpt them into something memorable and moving.

This is musical phrasing. And it's tons of fun.

Phrasing can be altered by adjusting the following 4 components:
1. Dynamics (how loud or soft you get)
2. Rhythm (how fast or slow you sing the notes)
3. Onset (how you start the line)
4. Cut off (how you end the line)
(Admittedly, there are some more factors, but those are the broadest and most apparent.)

The easiest component for a singer to adjust and make their singing instantly better is the first one -- dynamics, or singing volume.

Watch in the video below as I explain how vocal dynamics have a huge effect on phrasing.


After that I'll demo a "good" version of "The Star Spangled Banner," followed by a "great" -- or at least better 🙂 -- version that has noticeable dynamic variation.

 

In this video I'll also teach you a simple vocal warmup that will help you rehearse dynamic range and learn to control your volume as you sing.

Please enjoy, and let me know your thoughts on phrasing in the comments below!

(And remember to share this with any singers you know hoping to take their voice to the next level!)

xo Fel

How to Hold a Difficult Emotion While Singing

If you've ever written to me and said:

Fel, when I sing a song I become very overcome with feeling and want to cry, and then I lose my technique.

or,

Fel, how do I show real emotion when I sing?

-- then the following process will serve you incredibly well.

But first, a quick story . . .



This past Friday I attended a business conference, and in one of our small group exercises, I started crying.

Yup.

My attempt at a "business suit"

If that sounds weird, it's because it kind of is. But this was no ordinary business conference. The goal of our group exercise was to relive a past memory and to hold the feeling of that memory in our bodies.

(Among other things, one greater goal of the conference was to expand our consciousness, to learn to hold feelings, and to use these skills in the service of creating heart-centered businesses.)

What does it mean to "hold a feeling?"

To me it means: not buckling under its weight, or letting your mind reactively race in anxious thoughts. Instead, you learn to embody the feeling, hold it in your heart, head, stomach, whatever, without getting freaked.

In turn, the feeling (1) doesn't flee from you, (2) doesn't overwhelm you, (3) becomes a welcomed part of who you are.

As I did this exercise, I realized the process was almost exactly aligned with the dramatic process of getting into character onstage, whether for a play or for a song performance.

Getting into character basically means: are you able to hold the character's emotion -- without fleeing or worrying that "this is too much"?

That's what today's post is about!

So let me ask you: what makes a good song performance?

We're all familiar with the answer: good pitch, pleasant sounding tone, and consistent technique.

Now let me ask you: what makes a great song performance?

A great performance conveys real emotion, vulnerability, and connection. In short, the singer touches the audience in a memorable, true, and vital way.

The first (good performance) is simple. Practice your technique, my dudes, and you'll get there (I'm here to help with that if you need daily guidance).

The second (great performance) requires some special sauce. This sauce is made with the ingredients of empathy, self-awareness, and a performer's ability to hold a feeling without running from it. (Yay Italian cooking metaphors!)

This process of holding a feeling will serve you tremendously not just in life, but in your song performance.

HOW TO HOLD A DIFFICULT EMOTION WHILE SINGING

Step 1: During your song preparation, determine the feeling behind the song (e.g. hope, joy, jealousy, despair, etc.). (These don't have to be "bad" feelings per se, because even joy can feel overwhelming sometimes.)

Step 2: Get centered in your breath. Visualize a connection from your feet to your butt, to your belly, to your heart, to your head, and then back again. At this moment, you are grounding yourself and connecting with your body.

Step 3: Recall a time from your own life when you felt the feeling from Step 1. Close your eyes and step forward. Allow the feeling to overtake you. Feel it in your body. Notice where it lives. Does it have a color? A shape? A direction? Let it come to your body for a few moments.

Step 4. This is the really cool part! Physically take a step back, outside of the emotion. Literally step back, "out of the feeling." In doing so, you return to your grounded state of Step 2. This is called "Second Position."

High-quality graphic by Felicia Ricci

While in "Second Position" consider the feeling. Where did you feel it? What is the positive intention behind the feeling? How might it be trying to help you? (E.g. Is the jealousy trying to keep you safe? Is the joy trying to lead you to fulfillment?)

Take some time to observe and understand the feeling. Is it necessarily "bad?" Or is it just....a feeling?

Step 5. When you're ready, physically return to the original feeling, stepping forward, but keeping your expanded Second Position consciousness or mindset. This means you literally take a physical step back into the original position but you try to retain that feeling of groundedness and expansion.

At this point, it's sort of like you blend the two states. You're able to both understand and "hold" the difficult feeling, simultaneously. As you return to your feeling state, recall the feeling of being grounded in Second Position, even as the feeling comes.

Recall the wisdom you had of accepting the feeling for what it was. You knew that even fear, even jealousy, even _______ (fill in the blank) is an important part of who you are and can exist in you without hurting you.

Step 6. Repeat this exercise as many times as necessary until you and the difficult or overwhelming feeling are best buds! Remember, you can always step out of the feeling to Second Position if it gets to be too much.

This ability to not only feel but to self-regulate and hold feeling in a grounded (and non-reactive) way is one of the greatest performance skills I know!

And while I certainly have good and bad days in achieving this, I'm committed to practicing the process, to serve both my life and my performances onstage.

What about you? Will you use this technique to hold complex, difficult, or overwhelming feelings -- and to ultimately understand and integrate them into your performances (and life)?

Please leave me a comment!

xo Fel

P.S. If you're digging the idea of holding deep emotion onstage, but still want to develop consistent vocal technique to support that goal, I'd love for you to check out my Lazy Singer's Warmups.

These vocal warmups are fun, quick, and effective at growing your voice in just 10 - 33 minutes per day. No complex thinking required. Just a little bit of commitment each day.

Check out my favorite vocals warmups here!

Can Everyone Sing? Here's the Truth.

Today's singing tips video is in direct response to a question I get all the time.

"Fel, can everyone sing? Or only the chosen few??"

Be sure to watch for my answer -- and I'll also describe some recent cool articles / studies about this very topic that are VERY encouraging for singers.

If this topic interests you -- or if you're a singer, at any level, looking to improve your process and truly maximize your potential -- be sure to sign up for my FREE webinar on 10/11/15 which explores this topic more fully and helps you (1) uncover your singer potential, (2) learn the PROCESS behind true singer progress, (3) integrate your mind, body, and emotions for awesome singing, (4) much more!!

To sign up for the webinar is click here.

To learn more about my elite training program, Singing Transformation, click here.

Enjoy!!
xo Fel

P.S. If you know someone who gets discouraged easily or who has been told they just "don't have what it takes," be sure to send them a link to this video!! Spread the love, I always say. 🙂

P.P.S. Oh! And here are links to the articles I mention in the video:

1: http://www.medicaldaily.com/singing-tips-have-certain-skull-shape-and-other-science-behind-carrying-tune-308372
2: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-northwestern-singing-on-key-met-20150218-story.html

3 Tips for How to Sing High Notes

My latest singing tips video is all about how to sing high notes!

In the realm of singing, high notes are one of those things that have almost mythical status - they can be intimidating, scary, and mentally very troubling for singers, which, in turn, compromises vocal technique.

But knowing how to sing properly when it's time for those "money moments" is simpler than you think (although "simple," doesn't always mean "easy"). (But don't worry -- I gotcha covered.)

In this video, I'll give you my top 3 tips for how to sing high notes like a pro, including:

  1. Why you should anticipate your high note BEFORE it comes
  2. Why breath is incredibly important for singing (but especially when it comes to high notes)
  3. How and why you should think DOWN as you go UP

Remember, high notes aren't really any more "special" or concerning than other notes. So it's important not to think of them as "separate" from the notes surrounding them. The mental side of this technique is just as important as the physical technique and prep!

For more info on developing vocal range (in general), check out some of my previous videos in my INCREASE VOCAL RANGE playlist here.

Hope this is all helpful! Please leave me a comment to let me know which tips click with you!

Love,
Fel

P.S. If you have related singing questions, try searching them in the "Search Singing Topics" in the top right of this blog to see if I've covered them. If I haven't yet, definitely leave me the question in the comments section!

VIDEO: How to Relax Your Tongue While Singing

My newest singing tips video gives you 3 suggestions (+ 1 bonus tip) for how to relax your tongue and get it to stay neutral while you're singing!

Two ways to gauge tongue tension are:

(1) how your voice sounds (do you sound like Kermit the Frog?)

(2) How your throat or neck feels (dull pains along your jaw or at the top of your voice box).

If you have tongue tension or a tense tongue, fear not! 3 easy triggers to get your tongue to chill include:

(1) Thinking "UH" while you sing

(2) Pretending you're drunk (not kidding)

(3) Practicing a "conversational" version of your song or warmup

And as a bonus tip? Don't make an enemy out of your tongue! As a singer, it does more harm than good to be stressed out about the body part that's causing you tension. Instead, think positively about your tongue, remember that it's just trying to help, and eventually it will learn to back off and stay out of the equation.

Enjoy! 🙂

xo Fel