Pilar Cragan is founder and principle teacher of the New York Vocal Intensive.
5 Vocal Tips to keep in mind to help you be a better singer.
Vocal TIP #1
A Vocal Tip about “Pushing” and Singing “Sensation”
Many times during a live performance it is difficult to hear your voice, and a singer will “push” the voice resulting in rapid fatigue. In situations where it’s hard to hear your voice due to acoustics, you can also rely on the sensation of breathing and singing. The understanding of physical sensation during singing is developed and memorized over time by learning about your individual voice and doing proper exercises. Studying how your unique voice “feels” will give you the endurance you need to thrive. When you have mastered the sensations of singing, you will be even more prepared to deliver a successful, energetic performance!
Vocal TIP #2
When you vocalize during a practice session make sure you are in a comfortable environment. Practice in a place where you have the freedom to sing out and release, and know that exploring your range will result in the occasional crack or squeak. Vocal exercises must be assigned to improve your specific vocal weaknesses. As an aspiring singer it is your job to make practice part of your everyday lifestyle; vocalizing properly for just 30 minutes a day will provide positive results! Vocal practice will give you the freedom to be confident and creative in your recording sessions.
Vocal TIP #3
Warming up the Voice: It is very important to warm-up the voice before a recording or a performance. When a singer shocks the voice into producing sound by launching into a song without effectively warming the voice, it will only result in vocal fatigue. Vocal warm-up should be slow and gradual. Humming, lip trills and breathing exercises are useful techniques to relax the jaw and neck muscles and to engage the breathing mechanism. It is also essential to get the blood flowing through your body and to your vocal cords with some light physical exercise. Warm-up time is individual and varies from person to person. Your voice teacher will advise you regarding useful warm-up exercises to ensure vocal health and longevity.
Vocal TIP #4
About Holiday Stress: The voice is directly affected when our body is stressed. During the winter months we are fighting to stay healthy due to holiday angst, fluctuating temperatures, tiredness and germs. If you notice that your voice is feeling sluggish, hoarse, or you are coughing, allow for a few days of vocal rest. Stay strong by keeping physically fit, eating well and getting enough rest. This holiday season be kind to your voice and don’t overindulge in alcohol, food or cigarettes. Since you only have one voice, give yourself a gift this season by nurturing it. Happy Holidays!
Vocal TIP #5
Being “in the moment.” During a performance or a recording session it is important to stay both focused and “in the moment” of the song. A student recently prepared a piece she had written for a live performance, using a background track prepared by the recording studio. The student was having difficulty with the timing of the song which translated to nervousness and a weak performance. She was not “in the moment,” and was struggling with feeling and emotion during the performance. Through repetition of the passage in a light voice, combined with focus on these elements, she was able to trust herself and be “in the moment” of her piece. The end result was an incredible performance and a stellar recording!
Vocal TIP #5
Springtime Singing Recommendations. The arrival of Spring brings with it allergies and dryness. For the Vocalist this can mean the difference between a successful and a frustrating recording session. Many vocalists don’t even realize what is happening to them and they may experience an increase in phlegm or a raspiness that wasn’t there before. They may also discover an annoying little tickle that continues throughout the day. Well singers, welcome to spring. The average person may not find this quite as disturbing as the singer because they don’t rely on their voice or depend upon it to perform at its absolute best at all times. Besides allergies becoming heightened at this time, dehydration is almost an absolute risk and therefore must be attended to. To cut back on mild allergies, keeping your home as dust free as possible and perhaps purchasing allergy free pillows, you should also consider a Neti pot. A Neti pot is a small porcelain pot to help clean the sinus passages. Used daily, (sometimes both morning and night if allergies worsen) it can alleviate some of the congestion and actually minimize discomfort. It also supports clear passages in order to avoid the common cold or sinus infection which is almost always a risk especially during spring when our immune systems are compromised. The other factor, hydration is also at risk at this time. The constant fluctuation of the temperature and heating units in our home make it almost impossible to keep hydrated. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of room temperature water (room temperature water is absorbed into your body much more easily than cold water), coupled with a diet of water-rich foods can substantially enhance water absorption in the body therefore assuring re-hydration. Water-rich vegetables such as mixed green salads with fresh veggies with an Olive Oil and lemon juice dressing (stay away from Vinegars – they are fermented and drying), as well as water rich fruits; watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, papaya, Asian pears, pears will not only increase your water intake but will allow the room temperature water to be absorbed more completely because water needs natural sugar molecules to be absorbed more fully. Of course if allergies are impossible to handle you may need to take medications, remember these can be incredibly drying so it is up to you to protect and care for your instrument.
Sign up for an upcoming Intensive in New York. Space is limited. Email Pcrag4@aol.com or call 845-641-7301 for more information! Mention Skyelab and receive 10% off the cost of the Intensive.