Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Oil And Water

An Aquarian might be able to acquiesce at times, one would think.  The thing is, water has more than one state.  It can be liquid, solid, or gas.  It is not so easily penetrable or alterable when it’s ice.  You can chip away at it or break it apart but it takes more effort and force than a few words.  
His few words were something along the line of: “It’s just a dream.  You know you’re going to fail, don’t you?”  This was said by my father after my band had done about three solid months of rehearsal and writing arrangements.  No days off.  One thing was for certain.  The band sounded great and the agency in Atlanta had work lined up for months.  Six nights a week.  No weeks off.  Midwest through Southeast and in 13 states.  The agency was professional, successful, and established.  The producer had become a friend.  He still is.  
We barely had enough material for a four-hour gig and the call had come in.  Opening in Muncy, Indiana, tomorrow.  We covered tunes by Tower of Power, Earth, Wind and Fire, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chicago, Wings, Boz Scaggs, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Average White Band, Rufus, and others.  We had professional standards and one of the tightest horn sections—ever.  Our attacks and releases were both always sounding laser-synchronized.  
Sorry.  Not just a dream.  Hard work at a manic pace to achieve the level of music we were at.  Fail?  Sorry.  Every week, our money increased.  An eight-piece touring band.  The ninth equal pay increment (after agent’s fee) was the equipment payment.  In the 70s, a ten thousand dollar P.A. system was quite state-of-the-art.  Didn’t fail.  So, as with a few things, my father and I were oil and water.  Still, he was supportive in other ways.  One of the vans was financed by him.

Dreams Are Good But,

Monday, October 08, 2018

What Should A Singer Work On?

How is your: posture, breathing, tone quality, range, endurance, articulation, practice technique, vocal use, control, confidence, and your musicianship?

More specifically, use the following, to get some ideas or maybe to uncover what you could learn more about:


1.     Is your posture stiff when you sing?

2.     Are you relaxed when you sing?

3.     Do you slump when you sing?

4.     Is your head up when you sing?

5.     Is your head down when you sing?

6.     Is your head in a relaxed position, facing forward when you sing?

7.     Is your head tilted when you sing?

8.     Are your shoulders down when you sing?


1.     Does your chest expand?

2.     Is your chest stationary?

3.     Does your abdomen move with your breathing?

4.     Do you force your abdomen in?

5.     Do you force your abdomen out?

6.     Do you fill up with air?

7.     Do you run out of air?

8.     Do you over-breathe?

9.     Can you feel your diaphragm?

10. Do you exercise to improve your lung capacity?


1.     Is your tone clear?

2.     Is your tone raspy?

3.     Is your tone strident (harsh)?

4.     Do you feel you sing from your throat?

5.     Do you feel you sing from your abdomen?

6.     Is your tone breathy?

7.     Does your tone crackle?

8.     Do you start tones with an aspirate attack, hard glottal attack or a normal one?


1.     Does your voice have a register break (does it “crack”)?

2.     Can you sing in full voice in: head voice, low middle voice, high middle voice, and chest voice?

3.     Do you have one area of a register break or multiple areas?

4.     Are high notes difficult?

5.     Do you feel tired, hoarse, raspy, or breathy after singing?

6.     Are all vowels easy to sing on all pitches?

7.     Do you think you “mix” chest voice and head voice?

8.     Do you have head voice, chest voice, and a break in between?

9.     Do you have head, middle, and chest voice with no breaks?

10. Can you sing in full voice, light production, and breathy quality in every range?

11. Do you have “one voice”, fully controllable and functional throughout the range?

12. Can you easily sing at all dynamic levels (soft, medium, loud, very loud)?

13. Do you know the one thing that will stop your voice from breaking?


1.     Can you sing without tiring?

2.     Can you sing for forty-five minutes without tiring?

3.     Do you have to take frequent rest periods when you sing?

4.     Do you know how to improve endurance?


1.     Can you pronounce consonants correctly?

2.     Can you pronounce vowels correctly?

3.     Do you enunciate clearly?

4.     Do you under-enunciate?

5.     Do you over-enunciate?

6.     Is your enunciation appropriate/typical for the style of song you sing?

7.     Do you have an accent, foreign to the language in which you sing?


1.     Have you been taught how to practice in the most efficient way?

2.     Do you do vocal exercises which help you to sing well?

3.     Do you do vocal exercises which seem to do nothing for your singing?

4.     Do you know how to warm up your voice?

5.     Do you know music, music theory, and use this in your practice?

6.     Do you sing songs from start to finish over and over?

7.     Do you isolate problem areas in sings and do what is needed to improve those?

8.     Do you record yourself and listen objectively to the recording?


1.     Do you lose your voice?

2.     Do you get hoarse?

3.     Do you ever yell or scream?

4.     Do you stay well-hydrated?

5.     Do you have caffeine, anti-histamines, or alcohol?

6.     Do you take drugs or smoke cigarettes?

7.     Do you sing in smoky places?

8.     Do you frequently speak in the bottom of your voice (or on a fry tone)?

9.     Do you sleep 8 hours a day?

10. Is your body in good health?

11. Do you sing when you are ill?


1.     Can you sing on pitch?

2.     Can you sing with and without vibrato?

3.     Can you sing at every volume level?

4.     Can you sing with emotion?

5.     Can you sing with no emotion?

6.     Can you sing in front of people?

7.     Can you sing with fear, but sound like you are not afraid?


1.     Do you practice enough to sing with confidence?

2.     Do you regularly perform?

3.     Do you sufficiently prepare for auditions?

4.     Do you sufficiently prepare for performances?

5.     Do you record video and audio of yourself to ascertain whether you do what you intend to do?

6.     Do you work to correct what is wrong and record your performance to verify it is corrected?

7.     Can you be objective when watching or listening to recordings of yourself?


1.     Do you understand melodic intervals?

2.     Can you sing successive melodic intervals in tune?

3.     Do you understand harmonic intervals?

4.     Do you hear the difference between major and minor intervals and/or chords?

5.     Can you identify: diminished chords, augmented chords, sus2, sus4, altered chords, 7ths, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths?

6.     Can you write down music that you hear on manuscript paper?

7.     Can you identify instruments when you hear them?

8.     Can you identify duple meter and triple meter?

9.     Can you notate rhythm?

10. Can you sub-divide the beat while singing?

11. Can you hear chord progressions and know what you have heard?

12. Can you hear how the melodic line you sing fits within the chords?

13. Can you hold key when singing a capella?

14. Can you sing a chromatic scale a capella and in tune?

15. Can you sing all intervals in tune, if they are called out to you?

16. Can you sing harmony in a group, without being thrown off by other singers?

17. Do you understand music terminology (nomenclature)?

18. Can you write a song?

19. Can you write lyrics which fit with the chords and rhythm of a song “bed”?

20. Can you sing with karaoke, with a band, and/or with an orchestra?