Aug 09

Ask an Expert: Teri Danz

ask an expert

Ask the expert is a new service here at MyVoiceExercises, where users can submit questions to our panel of vocal experts. Today’s expert features Teri Danz,a professional singer/songwriter and recording artist with numerous record credits, national press (Women Who Rock Magazine), and over 15 years of performing and recording experience.
[MVA] Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into the vocal coaching industry?

[Teri] I’m a recording artist and songwriter, had a club hit in the early 90’s, national press (Women Who Rock Magazine), headlining gigs, and also write articles for music magazines. Classically trained as a flutist, I was fortunate to study voice with great people, have a master’s in education, and a BA in Speech Therapy. I started coaching after doing a trade with someone who wanted to improve her voice and have been coaching ever since.

[MVA] Do you specialize in helping people develop a specific type of voice? For a certain genre of music?

[Teri] Yes, only pop technique -meaning no opera or classical. I coach all pop genres – pop, rock, R&B, gospel, jazz, country, folk, etc…

[MVA] Knowing that you’re based in Los Angeles, have you worked with any big names out there that we might recognize?

[Teri] I’ve worked with some names that you will know – Jared Lee on Chrysalis and Adam Bones on Merrifield Records (started by one of the guys from The Bravery)

[MVA] In your experience, what is the most common bad habit that novice singers develop?

[Teri] There are many, but expelling all of their air when they start to sing. This happens when you pull your air into your throat creating a gag reflex, and you then have to expel your air. The result – you’ve just started to sing, you’re out of air, and the gag reflex creates a panic feeling. Not good… You also lose vocal tone that way. Another is pushing air to hit notes or for more volume rather than dropping the jaw to hit the correct placement.

[MVA] If a novice singer came to you looking to transition into a more professional role, how would you coach them out of this bad habit?

[Teri] First, get in control of breathing and air supply (do breathing exercises). Second, your chest should be held up (with shoulders comfortably back)so that you can support your air. Then learn to drop your jaw and not expel to get correct vocal placement.

[MVA] Our readers are always looking for easy wins. Can you suggest one exercise that they could do today, which would improve their singing voice?

[Teri] Practice dropping your jaw and not expelling air when you sing. You get more volume and resonance with this technique.

About our expert
Teri Danz, Ed.M. is a pro recording artist, LA premier vocal, audition and performance coach with record credits, national press (Women Who Rock Magazine), and a degree in Speech and a Master’s in Education. A published writer and author, her new book “Vocal Essentials for the Pop Singer: Take Your Singing from Good to Great”, has just been released by Hal Leonard Corporation. Her articles have appeared in Electronic Musician, EQ Magazine, Roland and Boss Users Group Magazines, Guitar Player, and many more. www.teridanz.com

Jul 21

Sing High Notes With Confidence and Precision

Many singers want to know how do professionals sing high notes with such strength and richness. The notes that fall within your normal speaking voice range are easy to sing, but higher notes are notoriously difficult for beginners.

If you’d like to learn how to sing high notes without compromising your vocal quality, use these tips to get started:

How to Sing High Notes: Finding Your Upper Limit

You can find the upper limit of your vocal range by slowly singing higher and higher notes until you can no longer sing in comfort. The highest note you can sing without straining your voice is the upper limit on your natural vocal range.

Use a guitar, piano, or other properly tuned instrument to help you identify the notes in your range. Play a note, then match your voice to it. Keep doing this until you reach the top of your range.

Singing High NotesAny notes above the top of your vocal range will require some practice. The goal is to learn how to sing high notes with good vocal control and without straining your voice.

How to Sing High Notes: Spanning Your Vocal Break

As you reach the top of your range, you will notice that there is a point where your voice changes in quality. The deeper notes are sung in your “chest voice”, which is close to your regular speaking voice. This is the voice that resonates deep in your throat or chest.

At some point, your voice will shift to a lighter, airier sound that reverberates in the top of your throat or back of your mouth. Some people describe this voice as nasal, but that’s not accurate. This higher, thinner voice is known as the “head voice”, because it resonates higher in your head.

The point where this switch occurs is known as your vocal break. Beginning singers find it difficult to sing notes immediately above and below this break, but with some practice, you can learn to bridge this break and sing most songs seamlessly.

How to Sing High Notes: Improving Your Head Voice

There are two major steps you can take to improve the quality of your head voice. First, you’ll need to develop your “mixed voice”, which is a combination of your chest and head voices.

The mixed voice is the result of practice; most people don’t come by it naturally, but experienced singers incorporate it so smoothly that it’s impossible to tell when they switch from chest voice to head voice.

To strengthen your mixed voice, you need to sing the notes around your vocal break. As you sing progressively higher, you should practice using a bit less of your chest voice and a bit more of your head voice. You can practice this skill by paying attention to where each note resonates in your throat and mouth, and putting slightly more emphasis on the “head” notes as you go along.

Over time, you will learn to place the notes where you want, making the transition from chest to head voice very smooth.

How to Sing High Notes: Breath and Diaphragm Support

The second part of singing higher notes with ease is learning to use your breathing and diaphragm to support the high notes. Without breath and diaphragm support, your head voice will sound thin and reedy. With breath and diaphragm support, it will sound rich and strong like your chest voice.

Practice rationing your voice as you exhale a note, not letting it out too fast. This will help you sustain high notes and give them just the right amount of breath support.

Your diaphragm is the muscle in your stomach area that flexes when you laugh or exhale sharply. Practice flexing it as you sing to give extra support to your high notes for a more powerful sound.

With your full vocal range and the power of your breath and diaphragm behind you, you’ll soon learn how to sing high notes like a pro – and how to belt out money notes your audience will never forget!

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Jun 21

The Secret Voice Exercises Celebrities Don’t Want You to Know

Many would be actors and actresses dream of becoming their favorite superstar. They dream of becoming the future George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston or Nicole Kidman.  They work hard going through drama school and acting classes to perfect their acting skills.

Just as the superstars of their dreams, delivering those believable performances on screen and stage involve more than just acting.  Actually, acting alone would get them nowhere.  They have to be able to articulate their voices and speech along with their facial expressions as well as their entire body movement.  Perhaps that is why acting classes integrates voice exercises for actors into the training.

Voice exercises for actors involve four important areas.  Breathing that provides fuel for speech, throat where the voice box is located, mouth muscles where the lips and tongue helps to shape the words and finally, the mind/body influence which involves a lot of positive thinking.  Voice exercises for actors are where it all begins to bring out that natural acting talent.  It helps to get rid of the nerves that clutter the voice, the stammers and the tense jaw and lips.  The beginning of the exercises is aimed at opening up the lungs for more breathing space.  It improves posture and promotes mental focus.  The objective is to drain the nervousness away to make the actor more self-assured and confident in front of the audience or camera.

An audience normally pays to be entertained.  They want to laugh, cry, be jolted and shocked or even challenged and inspired when they watch the actors and actresses delivering the storyline.  It is a temporary escape for them.  An audience cannot be engaged if they are struggling to hear what the actors and actresses are saying.  Clarity of speech is much important than being loud.  Voice exercises for actors are designed to help identify and use the mouth muscles correctly to deliver clarity of speech.  Further to clarity, intonation helps to make an actor’s presentation more interesting.  This is achieved through the varying of tune and pitch of the actor’s voice.

There are several exercise designed for actors to perfect their voices.  One called ‘Spanish Onion’ is an exercise to relay the mouth muscles and make them more flexible.   Another is called ‘Big Toffee’ which helps the words to come out more clearly by working the tongue, lips and jaw.  Last but not least is an exercise that is most common among singers which is called ‘sirening‘.   It is designed to gain energy and tune in their voices.

Practice make perfect.  Working through the voice exercises for actors regularly will help to improve an actor or actress’ performance and definitely lend them more possibilities of getting noticed by the audience and the movie-makers.

May 16

The Secret of Voice Yoga

Voice yoga is the in-thing now to dramatically improve your singing voice, whether you are just a beginner or have had advanced vocal training.  This new technique incorporates the use of an ancient Asian practice of yoga with western voice methodologies to transform your voice.

In Sanskrit, yoga means ‘to unite’ and voice yoga understandably comes to mean a vocal union.  It is a state of unison that every singers, actors and speakers seek to attain in order to have that beautiful, resonant voice.  Your voice is your essence which is pure, perfect and unique.  Your voice can soothe, calm and even heal when its full subtle power is unleashed with the help of a yoga workout.  You are using the power of yoga to help strengthen and enhance your voice.

Voice YogaThe difference between the traditional yoga exercise and voice yoga is the breathing exercise.  Instead of the normal exhalation of breath, you use the voice to sound our exhalations.  Voice yoga deals with breath activation, stress and tension release, chest expansion and so on.  By uniting your voice with yoga movements, you can experience the release of your authentic voice from a deeper connected place inside your body.

You can expect to enjoy the following benefits from voice yoga:

  • You learn exactly what your vocal range is and why it is dependent on the shape, number and quality of the sinus cavities in your head.
  • You discover how to create the best unencumbered tone in your voice when you are in control of your muscles.
  • You notice that your voice becomes pleasant and melodious.
  • You feel the difference in your own body with less muscular effort and less tension.  Singing feels healthy, beautiful and under your control.
  • You find that your power of concentration increases as you are less distracted by the effort put into your vocal performance.
  • You will find that it actually helps your overall health in addition to your vocal health.  Some may even find that it helps to cure throat conditions.

Your voice is your calling card especially if you are a singer, public speaker or an actor or actress.  It is unique to only you and adopting voice yoga will help you to become more entertaining and compelling by aligning your voice with your personality and inner self.

May 09

Singing Exercises for Actors

Anyone who loves to watch those romantic movies from Bollywood would definitely notice that every leading actor and actress can sing. Yes, hunky heroes from Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan to all time great like Amitabh Bachchan can sing. Even former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai can sing pretty well. In Hollywood, you’ll witness singing sensations in the likes of Nicole Kidman, John Travolta, Renee Zellweger and now miraculously even Tom Cruise can sing too!

Guess that’s where all the vocal coaches earn their bucks by giving singing exercises for actors. Just as every singing sensation wants to go into acting, so does every acting superstar want to add another feather to their cap by singing. Vocal coaches are engaged in helping them prepare their vocal chords and establish a good vocal technique so that they can sing. Singing exercises for actors helps them to produce a balanced tone especially when they have to hit the high notes apart from controlling their volume and clarity. As every individual is different with different voices, an experienced vocal coach will prescribe the appropriate singing exercises for actors to workout.

Voice Exercises for ActorsA solid foundation in the basics of singing is essential towards achieving a great singing voice. As the voice is the only living instrument to generate music, it can be cultivated, improved and cultured to sing on key. Voice control exercises will normally focus on the 5 basic components to singing which are pitch, rhythm, breath, voice and diction.

Voice control for singing is more complex and requires more refined exercises in order to strengthen the voice in a safe manner while reducing the habitually dependency on existing bad singing practices. Singing exercises for actors promotes effective control of breath, flexible speech organs, adjusting tempos and speeds, volume and pronunciation of words and vowels. Vocal coaches will train the actors according to their choice of style and type of singing such as classical, pop, rock or perhaps country. Each type of music has different demands on the voice control and production. Every individual’s unique voice demands differing approach to overcome their limitation.

Yes, everyone actually can sing but just needs the appropriate assistance to remove the restrictions that are preventing them from singing beautifully. Actors and actresses are no less the same and with singing exercises for actors, they not only sing on key with greater accuracy but with greater passion and confidence to captivate the audience and their fans.

May 02

Singing Exercises for a Public Speaker?

Voice Exercises for SpeakersWould you actually recommend singing exercises for speakers? Yes, indeed it is recommended to help them ground their voice which is to speak from their diaphragm and not their throat. It won’t make much difference if the audience cannot actually hear what the speaker is saying. Speaking too softly can take away their concentration to the presentation as they try to determine what the speaker is saying. The constant fading of sentence can certainly deter the audience’s interest in the whole presentation.

It is important to maintain clarity and it is equally important to develop a strong voice. Of course a strong voice does not mean screaming at the top of the voice but merely delivering them from the lungs. This is where all the singing exercises for speakers come in. Singing exercises for speakers will certainly help to prevent any possible damage to the voice cord and promote the proper use of the lungs and diaphragm for a stronger and clear voice.

Here are several steps to some singing exercises for speakers that can help them develop their voices. This exercise is called ‘belly breathing’ which is a great way to expand the lung capacity to generate that full and rich voice to captivate the audience’s attention.

  1. Sit upright and place one hand on the stomach and the other hand behind the back. Just imagine two hands on top of each other but separated the torso.
  2. Take a deep breath as if attempting to push both of hands out as far as possible while they are still placed in position. It takes a lot of practice and lung strength to make the back move and with practice it would happen ultimately.
  3. Exhale quickly without making any sound. Any noise during the exhalation process is an indicator of tension in the voice cord.
  4. Breathe in again with the hands still in place.
  5. Then exhale again but this time, say the first letter of the alphabet.
  6. Repeat this exercise with all the alphabets until the letter Z. As the exercise progresses with each alphabet, the voice should get loud and stronger while still breathing normally.

The voice does not need to be built up like body building which takes years to develop from a small physique to a huge mass of muscles. But just adopt a regular practice routine with the above singing exercises for speakers and build vocal agility and endurance in the quickest time to make that professional speaker voice stand out.

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Apr 11

Foods to Eat Before Singing and How to Eat Your Way to Success

Foods for VoiceYou may not want to believe it but the foods that you eat before you sing can actually help or hurt you. When signing you are using your diaphragm and if you eat too much and become full or you don’t eat the right food you can have a problem taking in a deep breath which makes it hard for you to hold a long note. This doesn’t mean that you have to go all day without eating. You should actually eat a small snack about two hours before you sing. If you’re a learning to sing then you need to make sure that you are keeping your strength up and eating all the right foods, so that you don’t make yourself sick.

When you are thinking about what to eat before you sing, you should eat something that is light, stay away from foods that are considered heavy, this will make you full and make the breathing techniques that you learned harder for you to do, which in turn will make hitting the high notes more difficult for you also. Some things that you should stay away from are dairy products, which will create mucus to back up in your throat, which makes it harder to breath and will also make your voice sound off.  One of the best things that you can drink before singing is warm water; this will help keep you and your vocal cords moist and hydrated.

You should avoid drinking anything that is carbonated as it will cause you to have a lot of air in your stomach, which again makes it harder for you to hit the notes that you need to hit. You should also avoid drinks with any caffeine because it causes your mouth and throat to dry out, which will make your voice sound scratchy. You should also avoid any fruit that has citrus in it, as this also will make your throat and mouth dry.

When you do drink something you should make sure that it is warm and not cold. Drinking something that is cold will make your throat close up, which makes it so that you feel like you have to swallow when you are trying to sing.

With all the foods that you shouldn’t eat before singing listed above, what is actually good for you? Here are some of the foods that are okay for you to eat before you start signing. Good foods to eat are chicken, fish, almonds, eggs, and rice. You can drink warm drinks as long as there is no caffeine and they are not carbonated. You can also try mixing honey in with your water and gargling with salt water. All of these things are used to soothe your throat before you start to sing. Watching what you eat and drink will help you being out your natural singing talent.

By avoiding the foods that are listed above and keeping yourself hydrated, and only eating a light meal two hours before you sing, all of these tips will help you reach your singing potential.

Apr 04

The Five Components of Vocal Production Every Singer Should Know

The human voice is a very complex instrument. Since you can’t hear what your own voice sounds like you need to have a teacher that has a really good ear for picking up the different sounds that your voice is making. Knowing the components of vocal production makes it easier for the student to understand how to use their voice to the best of their ability. The main topic of this article will be what the voice is made of on a physical level, what the different variables of the voice are, and how to manipulate these variables to produce the best possible sound.  If you want to be able to record and produce your own musical production, the this information is the best place to start.

The physical attributes in your voice are the muscles in your larynx. You also need to consider your tongue, teeth, and lips. It is important to understand though that while the physical parts of anatomy listed interact to form your voice, you voice is still produced using your entire body to produce a nice singing sound. When you take voice lessons your coach should teach how to use each and every one of these components by practicing different exercises.

The actual muscle part of your voice is your vocal cords. The vocal cords are covered in a layer of mucus that looks almost like jello. You need to bring these cords together in order to produce any kind of sound. If you don’t bring these cords together close enough you won’t be able to produce the right sounds. Your throat muscles also can’t be interfering with the constriction of your vocal cords. If this happens you need to start drinking more water so that you stop having this problem; you should drink at least eight glasses of water per day to properly lubricate your vocal instrument.

You also need to have air to produce sound. Having the right amount air intake will make all the difference in your singing voice. If you are not taking in enough air you will produce a weak sound, which means that you will have to work harder to make your singing voice strong and clear. Without having enough air you will also wear out your voice a lot faster. Learning how to take a deep breath might be challenging for some. You have to learn how to relax your muscles so that you are able to expand more of the lung area. It’s not about taking more air in, it’s about learning how to control the air that has already been brought into your body.

Another major component to your voice is space. You need to be able to have space in your throat for your larynx to work properly and to the best of its ability. You need to learn how to relax your throat muscles so that there is no tension or constriction pushing on your larynx.

If you work on everything that was discussed above you will be on your way to have a rich and healthy voice. Teaching your voice to do what you want it to do is going to be a very slow process. Eventually you will be able to do these things naturally, but in total transparency, it will likely take you a very long time and a lot of dedication to reach this goal.  Be sure to record your musical talents on the best music laptop, so that you can edit, mix, and maybe even add a video to your music production.

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Mar 28

Little Known Natural Ways to Recover a Lost Voice

Lost VoiceNo matter how experienced a singer is, at some point he/she will need to find a method that will help recover a lost or overused voice. There comes a point in every singer’s career where they have to put on a performance with a voice that is filled with mucus and is tired.  For whatever reason you might not be performing in top form. With that being the case, here are some all natural remedies that you can try, so that when you have to perform you will be able to sing in top form. All of these natural remedies will start helping your tired and overused voice immediately to help restore your vocal cords and to clear your throat of any mucus. Best of all you don’t have to worry about any side effects that harm your body.

Herbs work really well on your throat. You can use herbs as a gargle or a tea. Using herbs as a gargle will give you better and more immediate results. Herbal remedies will help in coating the muscles of your throat and remove the mucus and other contaminants stuck in your throat. Using herbs as a tea will work as well, but the results may not be immediate and you may also have to drink the tea repeatedly for you to get the same results as that of gargling. Also when you gargle or drink the herbs you need to make them hot; the heat will help in relaxing any sore and swollen muscles in the throat. If you are drinking the herbs as a tea then you can also consider adding some honey to help in coating the overused muscles.

Herbs that work the best for your overused and tired throat and vocal cords are Cayenne, Slippery Elm, Turmeric and Sage. All of these herbs have healing properties for swelling and pain. If you combine all of these herbs they can also be very helpful with laryngitis and any hoarseness caused from an overused voice. You can find any of these herbs in a health food store, but make sure that when you are purchasing them you buy the herbs that are not stored in alcohol. The alcohol content in some of these herbs can be very high, which is not good for your voice and it can also make you lose focus while you are singing.

You also need to keep your body in good physical condition. If you don’t have enough energy in your body then none of the remedies mentioned above will help you. You need to keep in mind the food what type of food  you eat. If you are not eating the right foods it will be harder for you to maintain your voice. You need to eat foods that will help your throat and vocal cords stay strong and minimize the risk of mucus build up in your throat.

Mar 21

What Everyone Ought to Know About Picking a Vocal Coach

Vocal CoachIf you want to become a better singer, or if you are trying to become a professional, or even if you have a child that wants to sing, you need to find a vocal coach to teach them how to make their voice stronger and to show them how to do the correct breathing exercises. However, finding the right vocal coach though may prove to be stressful and time consuming.

When you are looking for the right coach you need take careful stock of the options available to you. You don’t want to go with the first person that you find. Ask around with family and friends and see if there is anyone that they can recommend. Look in the yellow pages and call everyone that you can find. Make sure you meet with good prospects in person and talk to them about your wants and needs. You can let them what you expect from them, and they in turn can tell you what they need and what they expect from you as a student. See if there is any way that you can do a lesson before you sign a contract with them.  This way you can see how they teach and how you interact with them.

When you have narrowed down your search to about three potential teachers, you can then research what their previous students have to say about them. Ask them for more than just one referral, you should get at least three referrals, this way you can have a better understanding of how the teacher is.
Narrow this list down further to two potential teachers.  You should set up an interview with them. This way you can meet them in person and ask any of the questions that you may have. Some of the questions that you should ask are: what kind of education or training they have received, how much singing experience they have, how long they have been teaching, and last but certainly not least is what style they teach their students.

There are of course other questions that you should ask like where they studied, who their coach was, where they have performed. You can find anyone with a music degree or education, that doesn’t make them a good teacher, or even a good singer. You also need to find out if the style that they teach fits the style of singing you want to learn.

Once you have had the basic questions answered you can start going into more detail and learn specific details about the lessons. For instance you are going to need to know how long the lessons are, what the price is per lesson, what will be taught in the given time frame, what techniques will be taught. Find out if the lessons will include warm ups and scales and if there will be choreography and coaching on how to react when on stage.

When you have all the details hashed out, you can then go and start your lessons. You will find that having the right vocal coach will help you tremendously in preparing you for a career as a professional singer. You will learn many things from your vocal coach, as long as you have chosen wisely.

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