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February 1, 2015

Singing tips for actors

Filed under: Teaching thoughts/tips,Uncategorized — jan @ 8:09 am

1) I suggest that you warm up your voice – low and high notes daily. Get used to making plenty of sound in both registers.

2) Then really go about the house singing ordinary conversation. Let your voice go high and low, but realize that mostly we sing in our talking range which is a balance between those two registers.

3) Diction! Diction! Diction! I doubt you will reach a point where someone will say, “That is too much.”

4) Open your mouth and move your lips. Not only will that let the sound out and improve your diction, it also will look like you are doing something. You don’t want to be a ventriloquist on stage.

5) Move around the house as you sing – it will be more than your blocking will be in the show, but if your body is free and relaxed, you will sing more easily and the muscle memory will carry over when you are standing still.

6) Don’t fret too much about which register any particular note is in. If it is a full sound and in tune, it won’t matter if it is in head voice, chest voice or something in between. Sing your songs often so your voice gets used to switching registers.

7) Become your character. The audience won’t remember how any particular notes sounded if they believe you are your character.

September 12, 2008

Adults who can’t “carry a tune”

Filed under: Teaching thoughts/tips — jan @ 12:57 pm

Most often when an adult student comes to me for voice lessons because they can’t carry a tune the story is this. When they were children they were told by a teacher to mouth the words because they weren’t singing the notes. They stop singing and are frustrated. Would you tell an child that he/she “can’t do fractions” so just pretend to do the math problem? Of course not. Well, if you work with a child who is struggling to sing, that can be fixed easily, too. It takes a lot longer if you wait for the child to grow up.

And then there are the singers of most any age who make you cringe because they have so many out of tune notes. Most often, it isn’t because the singer can’t hear the notes. It is most often because the co-ordination of the muscles isn’t in sync for them to produce the notes they hear. It’s fixable. It often takes time AND maturity. If you are someone who thinks you can’t sing and you really want to sing, find a teacher who will work with you. Don’t choose a teacher who will say, you can’t do it!

August 19, 2008

What to ask a prospective voice teacher

Filed under: Teaching thoughts/tips — jan @ 7:14 am

I’ve a friend who is looking for a voice teacher. I’ve written this advice:
I’m finding it difficult to put into succinct words what you want to know about a voice teacher. The problem is enhanced by the fact that there is no vocabulary that all voice teachers use – let alone basics that all voice teachers agree on. But let me give it a shot.

There still exists among some teachers the myth that young voices should not be taught the low chest/belt voice. Indeed the bottom part of a woman’s voice sounds like a man. Yes, different muscles are involved than the ones you use singing in the high “head voice” register. There is a lot of disagreement about the register in the middle – but it is basically a balance between the upper and lower registers. You want a teacher who understands all three registers (or some just think of it as two registers.)

Why? From my years of teaching experience, there are two really good reasons. I’ve heard some singers who consider themselves to be classically trained professionals whose voice becomes so quiet when they get down to middle C that you really can’t hear them. The lower registration has never been taught. They have no sound at the bottom. What good is that? Secondly, over the years as I have watched professional singer/actresses, it seems to me that the ones who become ill the most and lose their voices most often are the ones who have no belt voice. The muscles haven’t been trained. They have no strength to hold up singing 8 performances a week.

So, though there are many, many ways to teach voice, you want a teacher who understands registration and wants you to sing it all. I think that is the most important criteria. I think you will also want a teacher who will let you sing both musical theater and classical songs. There are techniques in classical singing that are difficult to master if you only sing musical theater, but at the same time, theater songs are fun. And you want to do it all. Some musical theater requires a classical technique. Some requires a “pop” voice. It will be more fun for you if you have a teacher who is comfortable with both.

The grammar here is sketchy – mixing singular and plural, etc. – but I hope it makes sense.

March 16, 2008

Handy Dandy Vowel Sentences

Filed under: Teaching thoughts/tips — jan @ 3:17 pm

Teeth vowels:
Pete eats meat each week.
Kate gave Dave eight cakes.
Fred sent Ed fresh bread.
Sip this bit with Sid.
Pat’s cap sat half back.

Throat vowels:
Oh, no, don’t go home.
Paul caught frogs all fall.
Ah, Bob’s mop’s on top.
Bud runs some from fun.
Cookbooks would look good.
Sue knew Lou flew, too.

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