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Judy's Blog

Tips & insights on the voice from professional vocalist, vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method

Friday, April 2, 2010

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Singers: Soft First Verses Need To Deliver Impact

I just worked with a singer who has been asked by her producer to sing the first verse of a song softly but not breathy. I think that's good direction, and a way to build a song. But she was having trouble knowing how to do it effectively.

Here's what worked for her and can work for you when you want to sing with a smaller dynamic.. first verse or breakdown 1/2 chorus are common places:

Sing everything with all of you! From your heels to your face... your whole being has to be involved.

You need to support and communicate the lightest places in your song as passionately and purposefully as the highest, longest, loudest notes. This works for all genres of music.

Think about it... do you want the audience to be lightly involved with the first verse? Or do you want to engage them from the start... making them understand something from your very first lyric? Here's a fact...if you don't engage them at the beginning, you'll likely loose them for the rest of the song, too!

Like a great athlete or violin player, even the smallest moves are deliberate and purposeful. If you just sing from your shoulders because the passage is not hard or you're trying for a quieter dynamic, you will not communicate. Don't tense your body, but do involve it. And pronounce your smallest lyrics as clearly as your loudest. Support (as Power, Path & Performance teaches -- without pushing) every note with breath.

Something to think about the next time you want to sing soft. Your comments are most welcome!

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Learning To Sing From Scratch: A Strategy to Fast-Forward A Beginner

There is an interesting fast forward strategy you can take as a new vocalist, which mimics the way people learn to use their voices as children.

1. First, choose the vocal style you want to sing (rock, pop, country, alternative, etc.) based on particular songs you like. Then choose an easy song in that genre.

2. Now listen closely to the artist singing. I find that headphones are good at this point because they help you zoom in on the intricacies of the vocal performance you're listening to. Listen like you're holding an aural microscope to the sound.

3. After listening a few times, start miming with the singer, SILENTLY moving your mouth, face, tongue, etc. trying to imagine in your mind creating the exact sound and pronunciation of the singer you're listening to. Literally let the intent to make the sound teach your automatic nervous system to sing.

4. After you feel confident miming the song, start putting your voice to it. IMPORTANT: If you're wearing headphones, take half an ear off so you can hear what you are really doing. Don't sing with both sides on ... you'll fool yourself.

Let me know if you decide to do this. It's also a great way to learn a new musical style.

Power, Path and Performance training... when voice matters

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Well Behaved High Notes Are More Lovable

No matter what style of music you sing, from quiet alternative to heavy metal, there is a basic "etiquette" that your high notes should follow to be accepted and loved. It's like the stuff we learned in kindergarten. You, as the owner and operator of your high notes, are responsible to ensure they behave:
  1. No pushing... If you are a reader of this blog, you probably know how much I advise against this. Too much air pressure will sabotage the character of your high notes... they'll be pitchy and icky sounding... and may cause harm!
  2. Share the load... High notes need to be supported with adequate breath so they will not leave the brunt of the phrase to the other notes. Chickening out is no way to develop the beauty or control of your highs.
  3. Play nicely with others... notes, that is... If your high notes poke out of the rest of the phrase, all of a sudden loud and shrill due to incorrect set up and follow through, the jarring sound will be heard and felt with disdain (unfortunately too common in soprano sections of choirs and choruses.)
  4. Know when to use your inside or outside voice... If there is a crescendo or decrescendo appropriate to the music or directed by your leader, learn to control your high notes enough so they appropriately obey.
  5. Play a lot... You can't expect your high notes to behave if they never get to play. Do vocal range and control exercises to make them feel confident.
Now, go out and play nice.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

10 Signs Of Bad Vocal Technique

Whether or not you are studying voice, you are still using certain "vocal techniques" which you've learned either consciously or unconsciously from family, friends or music teachers. Here are some signs that your vocal technique is in need of an overhaul. Your technique is bad if:
  1. Your throat hurts to talk after you perform.
  2. You worry about losing your voice from talking or singing performance.
  3. Your voice feels strained after using it
  4. You don't command much attention when you speak or sing.
  5. You never seem to have enough breath.
  6. You can't hit your pitch accurately even though you can hear that it's "off".
  7. Your vocal tone is thin, uninteresting or hollow and hooty.
  8. You can't do certain vocal licks you're trying to imitate.
  9. You can't sing very low or high, your vocal range is limited so your song choices are, too.
  10. Your manager, agent, label rep or significant other who you trust tells you confidentially they are hearing  a problem with your voice. (duh).
I'm here if you need me:)

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Indie Connect Membership Fee Reduction: Gone in 12 Days

Hey folks... thought I'd give you a heads up:

If you are an independent artist who needs to know more about the music business, I recommend an organization called "Indie Connect". Many of you who are also readers of my newsletter have heard me mention it before.

I wanted you to know about the membership fee discount, which will be gone in 12 days. NOTICE: I am a board member but I do not get any compensation from you joining; this is simply a notice I'm sending you for your benefit, if it applies to you. Here's the info:
There are only 12 days remaining before the cost of Indie Connect membeship goes up. The cost of a 1 yr. general membership is $79, but will move up to $99 on April 1. In addition, the cost of an Indie Connect Professional membership will rise from $99 to the still-discounted rate of $129. 
What do you get for your membership? Besides meeting and event discounts, a free Broadjam membership, a long list of discounted services (recording studio discounts, voice lessons, Songsalive membership, etc.) you gain access to a vast library of videos, articles, tools, audio tracks and more. Click here to see the entire library. Keep in mind that every week they add more.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Audition Alert: SAG LA Webisode Show wants submission within two days!

 This just in:


Shoot/Start Date: April 15
Pay Rate: TBD (this is a paid job)
Location: Los Angeles



This is of a spin off of the successful web series "The Ryan and Randi Show."
We are looking for super talented singers and songwriters.
All submissions MUST be original songs.

[MUSICAL PERFORMERS] 13 to 21 years old. Super-talented singers / songwriters for the web series "The Ryan and Randi Show." Bands and Rap artists should also submit. The 20 artists chosen will perform live on the show. We are looking for acts that might break in the next year...We are a union (SAG) series. But nonunion are encouraged to submit.

Heidi Cataldo-Blais
HeidisStudio for Talent
Direct Casting for Talent

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