Friday, July 26, 2019

Dangerous Words For Singers


There are some dangerous words. They look innocuous. They aren’t. They are dangerous and we need to not pretend otherwise. Words which we might say are opposites aren’t really. The idea of “opposite” or “dichotomous” is based on perception, interpretation, evaluation, and the significance which you, yes you, assign something.

What does this have to do with singing? Everything. Why? If the game of golf is 99% mental or even 90%, then it would stand to reason that the art of singing would be in the high 90th percentile, also. The skill involved in singing does involve the physical, but hopefully, it is your mind which is driving that singing machine.

This is both good and bad. The good part is that you have the potential of control and of learning everything you need to know, to be the best singer who has ever lived. It is as bold of a statement as you wish it to be. What you don’t know is murdering your singing. As if that is not bad enough, you are working harder to stop yourself than you are to improve yourself. A goal with excuses is like driving down the road with one foot on the gas and the other pushing on the brake pedal. This is worse than simply standing in your own way.

I am the biggest liar I know, but I have accidentally discovered something. “Because”. When the word because is preceded with “I cannot”, it becomes the setup for the joke. The punchline is coming. Get ready to laugh. I cannot be a great singer because ________________. I did not start early enough. I did not practice enough. I have no talent. I have no discipline. I know nothing about music. My father will kill me. My wife will decapitate me. My dog peed on the carpet. I cannot afford lessons.

I cannot, cannot, cannot… Excuses? Justifications? Rationalizations? Bull? Yes. One of the most common lies I have told myself is that I am not good enough. Why did I get hired to sing in a show in Las Vegas and was never fired from it? Someone thought I was good enough. 1,100 people filling that showroom did an odd thing every single time I sang. They smacked the palms of their hands together. What were they thinking? They didn’t agree with my idea that I wasn’t good enough. Maybe that’s good, but how did I get onto that stage? Deep down, I knew I was better than I needed to be. It must be true because I was there, and I have a video of myself to prove it.

Forget about not saying “cannot”. Do something about the word which follows the “cannot”: “because”. Let’s break that word in two. What does that give us? Be cause. What if it were an order that you give yourself? Be the cause of your life, not someone who is in apathy, who does nothing. It is so easy to be the opposite of “cause”: be “effect”. Is it really the opposite, though? For now, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that no one is going to take the wheel of the car you are driving through life. You’re in the driver’s seat!

The word, “because,” is a setup. It is the joke. The joke is on you! It is not a funny joke and this is not a funny situation. We are living in a world which is influenced far too much by propaganda, ignorance, apathy, and hatred. This cowardly new world would have you to believe that only opposites exist and that gradients are only to be found in your local paint store. This has been set up to not only control you, but also to use a principle of kung fu, which is to use your own momentum against you and to keep you in a state of quiet compliance. There is a game of opposites. I say good and you say bad. I say day and you say night. I say right and you say left (or wrong). There are many shades of white and gray on the way to the absence o reflective color that we call black. So, it’s not all black and white and, as long as we think that way, incremental and continual improvement will never occur if you think such things do not even exist. You have been and are being played against yourself and you may feel like you’re drowning and that it’s all hopeless. It isn’t hopeless until you have absolutely quit. Is this a conspiracy theory? Something tells me that you know it is not.

Whether or not you think you are affected by the current state of society is of no matter, if you are not affected by it as an artist. Being cognizant of something that you had nothing to do with, might just free you up enough to think for yourself. When you can think for yourself, you can see that the picture goes deeper and wider and taller than the one painted for you on the news. What you put in your mind may take up residence there and have a bad effect or a good effect, depending on what it is. You can’t be positive all day every day. It’s impossible. Batteries have a positive side, but also a negative. Supposedly the electrons flow from negative to positive. You might try being like an electron when you feel negative and move over to the positive side and don’t get stuck in the middle.

Blackboards (remember those?) have erasers. Computers have a delete key. Software can be installed or uninstalled. If your mental software is outdated or corrupted, uninstall it. Get a new program which works. How can you tell? Does it move you toward your goal, or away from your goal? You do need a balance in life but not every diversion is worth your time. Recreation is necessary. Re-creation. Making yourself new or better is recreating. So, mix metaphors if you like. Make whatever analogies you like which serve you and your purpose and goal. Remember the power of “because”. “Why? Because we like you.” – from the old Mickey Mouse Club, when it was still politically correct to like someone.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Singer - Is Your Larynx Too High?

If your larynx is too high, you will sound harsh and you will strain your voice and probably have a bad crack or break and will NOT have the use of all your actual range. Can you imagine the freedom you feel from having range, power, flexibility and endurance? If your larynx is too high, you will be inadequate to yourself and to others, as a singer. You won't be all you can be.

If your larynx is too low, you will sound like a cartoon character, instead of like a singer. You will have trouble articulating your words and you will not be understood by most listeners. I know how to help you get your larynx in the position to afford you your best sound, range, power, endurance and more. It takes a little time and a little practice. Are you up for it? It's not a question of whether it will work for you; it is a question of will you work to achieve your best?

DURING YOUR FIRST SINGING LESSON

One voice lesson with me and you will have this revealed: The anatomical structure of the larynx and how the muscles, ligaments, and cartilages function for singing. HEY! If you are a singer, you should know more about your "instrument". I do not give trumpet lessons to people who own NO functioning trumpet. See what I mean? If you understand HOW it works and WHY it works, then you will also understand WHY we do vocal exercises and which muscles are used in that process.
You come to me with something you want handled. Are you deficient in range, endurance, power, flexibility, musicianship, or something else? If you do not have a severe physical issue preventing you from singing, in the last several decades I've helped others and I KNOW that I can help you. The vocal technique I use has a track record of success, as do my students who have had the work ethic to apply what is needed. One of the BIGGEST deficiencies many singers have is that of MUSICIANSHIP. Melodic intervals, harmonic intervals, melodic and harmonic ear training and an understanding of music theory, to the extent of being able to apply it can put you light years above and beyond many singers who are afraid of the the very term: MUSICIANSHIP. HEY! It is music you sing. How well do you fit in with it?
In five to ten minutes, I KNOW if your problem is faulty vocal technique or a lack of musicianship or something else going on that is IN YOUR WAY of being a better singer or even the BEST singer you can be. I can show you how to most efficiently and effectively and expeditiously how to improve.
You can NOT learn this from a book or videos. Here is why: Books and videos may have perfect information in them, but if you are not already properly trained there is a SEVERE problem! Books and videos cannot hear you. They cannot evaluate specifically what you MUST do to improve. They cannot give you the right exercises in the right order or tell you how long to do them and when to rest and when to not sing and WHY your voice CRACKS. Not someone else's voice, YOUR voice. It is technically called a "glottal stroke"! WOW!
When I teach, I teach the person in front of me, NOT an imaginary singer whom I have imagined should sound the way that I think they should!!! It is your voice and what you do with it is your choice. I can show you how to take care of it and use it to your best advantage but I don't try to change it or make you sound like someone else. I can help with style, vocal technique, musicianship, and I only help you to improve. You may have more talent than anyone has ever allowed you to know or believe. I don't bury you in a pile of data or make you learn things that you don't need.
Three of my teachers were world class. Hundreds of dollars per hour they charge. I do NOT do that. They did NOT teach style or musicianship, though. It is my choice. I'm here to help as many as I can. That's all.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

EXCERPT FROM THE FREE SINGING BOOK




EXCERPT FROM THE FREE BOOK ON THIS BLOG:


RATE YOUR SELF WITH THIS TEST

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being excellent and 1 being poor, rate yourself on the following:

1. INTONATION  - Are you on the note, above it or below it?

2. RANGE  - Can you get the high notes, the low notes and the ones in between?

3. ENDURANCE  - Do you get vocally tired or last for a long time?

4. ARTICULATION- Are your words clear and easy to understand?

5.  VOCAL USE versus ABUSE – Do you experience any pain, hoarseness, loss of voice, during or after singing?

6. SING IN KEY - Can you “carry a tune”?  Can you sing without switching keys?

7. CONNECTED VOICE - Does your voice “crack” or “break”?  Does it sound like you switch gears or hear a drastic sudden change in your sound?

8.  BREATHING - Do you know how to breathe?

Without hearing and seeing you, I cannot assess your problems but I can offer some advice on each topic. 


A.I. - Apathy and Ignorance

Have you heard of AI, artificial intelligence? I've read a little about it and if it is anything like flowers, I like the ones which have had life in them or still do MUCH better than the artificial ones.

So, this A.I. thing could also stand for APATHY and IGNORANCE, two things which you might think should not exist in this century BUT THEY DO!!!! I could pretend to not know what I have learned from 8 physicians (one was an ENT) but then I would fit in with many other people who are too IGNORANT to give useful advice and are too APATHETIC or irresponsible or too negligent to to re-educate or to educate themselves by learning a little science.

You see, people, there was a time in history when people thought that the earth was flat. Well, it is. In some places but overall, it is a sphere (shaped like a round ball). So, there were singers who thought that if you mixed science with art, you would destroy the art. AI - APATHY AND IGNORANCE. Would you still pretend that Santy Claus was who you were told he is, if you caught Daddy dressed up like him on Christmas Eve? Sorry, but I can not pretend that I am ignorant or apathetic, when I'm not.

You can pretend and imagine all kinds of things which have nothing to do with singing but those are just symptoms of apathy and ignorance. This begs the question: Who were the sources of what you believe is true, regarding singing? Were doctors and modern medical science a part of your educational sources? Was simple physics a part? Did you sit in awe of your guru teacher, while being confused and bewildered and brainwashed?

If you take science out of the equation, you probably will not die but you might have some problems like: vocal nodules, hoarseness, laryngitis, loss of voice, BAD endurance, a very limited range, or a big break in your voice that you cannot get rid of, because you don't know how. I had all of the above, other than nodules, at times, until I gained the knowledge I needed. I was able to sing 6 hours a night, 6 nights a week and did it with NO fatigue, hoarseness, or ANY problem AFTER I learned what actually does work.

Learning how the voice works and how to use your voice may be easier if you never were the victim of apathetic and ignorant singing teachers. You may have to clean out the "room" of the trash in it before you can see the walls, the floor, and the ceiling. In other words, myths, lies, and misinformation must be let go of, to make room for truth. It might take some courage to release the things which have been holding you back. Are you ready to get better?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Singing Tips and Tricks

Want some tips and tricks to sing really well?

Here are some: "Sing from your diaphragm. Place your tone in the mask. Take the biggest breaths you can and make a hissing sound with your tongue as you exhale." Make sense? Any doctor on Earth knows that your diaphragm is your INHALE muscle and does not force out your air. You do not ever need to force out your air (other than on your birthday) but if you do, you will be using these ABDOMINAL muscles: rectus abdominis, triangularis sterni, oblique and transverse abdominal muscles and also the internal intercostals (between the ribs). THIS HAS BEEN KNOWN BY DOCTORS SINCE THE 1700s! So, do you sing from your diaphragm? Not only is it impossible, but your diaphragm has NO proprioceptive nerves, so you CANNOT even feel where it is and it is mostly NUMB! If you think you can, see a doctor because something else would be giving you that sensation.


HEY! It's not my fault. I did not invent or create the human body but WHY did someone come up with the phrase telling you to do the impossible - "sing from the diaphragm" ? Ignorance? Yes. Stupidity? Maybe. Absence of being a true professional, due to negligence? Yes. You do not have any real or magical air valves in your head which allow you to place your tone anywhere than maybe up your nose. Can you sound nasal? WHY would you want to?


Sound travels how fast? About 750 miles per hour. What is the mask? It is an imaginary area of your face but it doesn't matter because you will not and cannot place your sound in a mask, unless you stick one on top of your face. Sorry, but truth is truth and science is science. What about the breathing tip? It is a trick, which has nothing to do with what you do when you sing and is a waste of your time. Air is RARELY the issue for why singers don't sound great. RARELY! If you fill up with air, you will tense up, trying to hold it back and your tone will sound shaky or uneven, so do not do that!

First Meeting

When I first meet with a new singer, I know they are probably going to be nervous. Some aren't, but most are. One of the first things I do is a little anatomy lesson, regarding the "singing instrument". It is a complex machine. There are also some things about it, which are simple. One simple thing is that the vocal folds (they used to be called vocal cords) have to vibrate in close enough proximity and not "fly open" and if they do this, your voice will not "crack" or "break". Cracking and/or breaking is caused by the inability to maintain the bringing together of them (it is called adduction). Many, if not most, people have a break in their tone quality, as they ascend from chest voice to head voice. It is not a lack of strength which causes the crack; it is a lack of coordination. It is usually caused by the larynx rising as the pitch ascends. Untrained muscles inside the larynx contract when the larynx is up, as it is when we swallow something. They are just doing what they normally do when the larynx is up. It works very well for swallowing, but not for singing. If we can make some sounds which use the sternohyoid and sternothyroid muscles, we can learn to use those and ultimately achieve laryngeal stability, so that the larynx does not rise as the pitch rises. What happens then? No more cracking and a lot more usable vocal range. Maybe (if you're VERY lucky), you have no crack in your range but you have other issues. There are solutions to those, too. A little knowledge and a lot of practice can take a person a long way. Some have made it to Broadway or to a record deal. Others have been on The Voice and other fun TV shows.

What else? Maybe you're a victim of some common and confusing myths about singing technique. We can clear up common misconceptions and get you onto a road which might lead you to a better place.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

GET YOUR FREE BOOK NOW!

HEY!  Want a free primer for singers?  It's called Karaoke, No Chokey.  It means so that you don't "choke" when you get up to sing, by making a fool of yourself.  In the little book is a primer on vocal technique that works.  I know vocal coaches who charge a lot, to teach you the same things.  How much?  $500/hour,  $450/hour,  $350/ hour.  I AM NOT KIDDING!!!  I know them personally.  I paid $175/ hour in the early 1990s in Las Vegas.  Want something for free?  Get it before I change my mind.  It's called Karaoke, No Chokey on the first page of the site.  You can download the PDF!  Want it?  Get it! https://practasing.com/

Seven Things


Everything you know, you taught yourself.  What?  Wait a minute!  I had teachers.  Yes, you did but they didn’t have anything to do with your assimilation, your utilization, and your participation.  Maybe they got you to try or to participate or they tried to motivate or inspire you.  We’re not taking credit away, but it is your mind and your brain which did the work, so do not diminish yourself by blaming someone for teaching you something that you then grasped and used.  You got it.  You have it and it’s yours.

So, what is more important, the concept or the nomenclature?  If you want to converse with someone about something, if you both know the terminology, it might be easier, but you should know that the concept is more important than what it is called. 

There is a huge amount of terminology in musicianship, yet there have been many people who can play piano or guitar and know little or nothing about music theory, as far as they do not or did not know what things are named but could function as well or even better than those who do.  If you want to know music theory, you can.  Anyone can learn it if, and only if, it is taught in such a way that it is not dependent upon having something I call prior knowledge. 

The drawing that I did (above) is based upon the work of the late great Richard Miller.  After having explored this little paradigm, I discovered that there not only is more to it, but there is also at least eleven more categories affecting a singer’s success and performance.  The seven, above, are still a great place to start.  All seven work together as a synergistic whole but each can be addressed, separately for the benefit and the improvement of a singer.  Every aspect should be sufficiently developed so that it doesn’t act as an impediment for a singer who is lacking in some way. 

Some would argue that you only have so much talent and there is no more available to you.  If your musicianship is weak or if your vocal technique is weak, you will sound like you are not talented.  Guaranteed.  What is talent and how can it be measured?  We can make up tests for musicianship.  I took a hard one, when I got accepted to Berklee.  How could we measure artistic imagination and how could that be improved?  You are not a rock, even though there is a huge amount of motion in a rock which you cannot see with the naked eye.  You are more flexible, pliable, malleable, and changeable both physically and mentally than a rock.  What?  What does a rock know?  You’d be surprised by the intelligence contained in a rock, but that’s another story.  After all, there is Rock Music, also.

If we start with the idea that everything can be improved, we at least have hope.  Without hope, we have nothing.  Let’s count on hope and then put some things to a test.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Lemon, Tea, Honey, Baloney!

Early on, as a singer, I had frequent sore throats. These were actual infections, not in the vocal folds, but instead, in the pharynx. Singers and others often give advice for singers and encourage things like lemon, tea, honey, or the super specialized preparations, such as a product called "throat coat". Well, seekers, maybe it's time for a little anatomy lesson and maybe even some nutrition advice.
I've been an avid reader of nutrition books and publications since 1979 and have picked up a few things along the way. I've also had conversations about such things with some students who happened to be: an ENT, two GPs, a pediatrician, a fertility doctor, an orthopedic surgeon, a research physician, and a few others. If you have studied with me in private, you would have seen a medical chart of the pharynx and the larynx. On it, you see that down in the larynx begin two "tubes". One leads to the lungs and the other to the stomach.
When you swallow ANYTHING, unless you choke on it, it goes down the esophagus. It does not get near the vocal folds, which you may call the vocal cords. The epiglottis covers the opening to the lungs when you swallow and it works perfectly most of the time. The vocal folds are BELOW, or underneath it.
I also had two speech therapists study with me. They started using my vocal exercises and found them to help their patients faster and more than the ones they used from their schooling. One vocal therapist let me borrow a film of people with swallowing disorders, and one person with none. These were done using a fluoroscope. I could see how it functions. I confirmed with several doctors the things I have said, such as - there may be some benefit in a nutritional sense from some preparations, but they must first be processed by your digestive system and then enter the blood stream to have any actual benefit.
Sprays do NOT touch your vocal folds. There is an exception. If you are crazy enough to inhale and you choke on the spray, the spray will get on your vocal folds and it will HURT!!!! It hurts bad enough when you choke on water or on your saliva. Multi-vitamins have some benefits: A for mucus membrane health, B for many things, including healthy tissue in the pharynx, C for cell wall and capillary strength and many other things. I have several references available for more detail on these, including the amounts to take. Want to know more?