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Simple Steps For Overcoming Performance Anxiety

MIXDOWN MAGAZINE ARTICLE

We all love doing what we do. Singing and playing music. A big part of this is getting up on stage and performing in front of a crowd. For some of us, this is extremely daunting and frightening prospect. But inevitably, it is something as a singer you will have to do at some point. In this month's article, I'm going to give you some helpful advice, tips and hints on how to overcome performance anxiety and keep that demon away forever.

Confidence in Your Own Ability

The number one and most important rule to overcome performance anxiety and gaining self-assurance is to make sure that you have 110% confidence in your vocal abilities to hit every note, in every song that you are going to perform. If you haven't got complete conviction and confidence in your voice then you are not ready to contemplate getting up on stage, yet. This can be likened to driving an old, unreliable car. You will not feel very confident about driving if you own a car that may or may not start. And even if it does, there is a good chance that it will probably break down before you reach your destination. You will no doubt feel very nervous about driving it and go out and buy a car that is reliable and will give you total assurance that it can take you from A to B.

The same goes for your voice! If you cannot sing a song or a particular part in song, change that part of a song or the key of the song so that you can sing it with confidence and conviction. Or go out and get the necessary training, skills and knowledge to enable to sing whatever you desire.

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Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

Once you can sing every note of every song that you're going to perform, you must Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse, everything that you are going to do up on stage. And I mean, absolutely everything!

This includes - walking on and off the stage; holding the microphone and correct microphone technique; interacting and speaking to your audience; stage presentation and your movement and interaction with other band members on stage. Everything must be rehearsed.

It is also a good idea to choreograph or even write down how you want your live set to unfold. Write down on the set list when you are going to speak and interact with the crowd. And practice what you are going to say to the audience so that you are not tripping over your words or looking like a dill when you're up on stage.

Check Yourself

Once you have got points one and two down, you're well on the way to conquering your performance anxiety. At this point, it is now an excellent idea to video your whole performance to see what you sound and look like. You need to critique your video performance and write down the points that you think need improvement, require more rehearsal or fine tuning and look at anything that may need to be added, left out or that you can change for the better.

NB. If you feel the need to, you can even post your video performance up on Facebook, YouTube or other form of social media. But beware! There are a lot of narrow-minded people out there who like to post negative comments, just for the sake of it... even about great performances!

Now back to rehearsing, rehearsing and more rehearsing! Once you are happy with your new and improved video performance it is now time to take it to the people!!

Start Small

Once you are confident in your performance ability, you now need to start doing this in front of people. I don't mean getting up on stage just yet. I mean to start perform in front of one or two close friends or family who are going to support and encourage you. Do this at home or in the rehearsal studio. Once you are fine with this, then start to increase the amount of people that you perform in front of. Invite more friends, family, band members, partners, and friend of band members over to the rehearsal studio or hold an intimate show in your garage or living room. Do as many of these performances until you feel comfortable being in front of people. It is imperative that you do these performances regularly - at least once a week.

Once you are confident with all of the above, it is now time to go out and play in front of a live audience.

Take it to the People!

It is a good idea to start with the secret show firstly. And then possibly play a few shows on quieter nights of the week like a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. There are also lots of open mic nights where you can gain valuable stage and live performing experience. Ask to play at a friends party or even arrange a party yourself where you can perform. The main point to reiterate after you have gained confidence being up on stage, is to keep doing it regularly and start performing in front of bigger crowds. Try to perform at least once every two or three weeks because if you leave it for an extended period of time, you will digress back to where you started in regards to your confidence level.

If you follow the simple steps and guidelines then, there is no reason why you cannot perform in front of the biggest crowds at the biggest venues.

Summary

1. Develop and gain 110% of confidence in your vocal ability.
2. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!
3. Critique your performances for improvements.
4. Start of small.
5. Take it to the people.

By Peter Vox


Surviving the Silly Season and Weather Changes

MIXDOWN MAGAZINE ARTICLE

Yes it's that time of year again! ALREADY! The silly season, the Christmas season, whatever you want to call it. This time of the year can be especially hard for singers. We are dealing with Christmas parties, late nights, lack of sleep, busy schedules, more alcohol, more food, more social engagements, more travelling, more people to interact with and ultimately more stress. On top of all this, there is also the usual seasonal changes and weather elements to contend with. My hay fever has been wreaking havoc the last few weeks! So, it is unsurprising that it is so much harder to sing!! DCART

So in this month's article, I'm going to give you a few handy tips and hints that as a singer will help you survive the silly season and the changes in the weather.

SURVIVAL TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

1. Sleep and rest. You're probably saying, "yeah right, this time of the year... highly unlikely!". But try to get as much sleep and rest as your body requires. Some people need more sleep than others. This is especially important for singers as this is the only time that your voice is completely at rest and not working. Because you will be socialising as much more at this time of year it is likely that from the moment you wake up, you will be speaking and conversing. This means, you will be utilising the same vocal cords you do as when you sing. Sleep is imperative for singers for vocal rest, recovery and to recharge the vocal cords and also the body and mind.

2. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water during the day but especially if you're drinking alcohol. Drink alcohol in moderation and try to alternate a glass of water with every few alcoholic beverages  that you have.

3. Eat well. It is the time of the year that eating badly can become norm. Not enough time, crappy finger food, late night eating, skipping breakfast and junk food left sitting around the workplace, rehearsal studio or home. The human body is a machine and you are only going to operate and function as well as what you put into it. If you put bad fuel into a car it will run badly and the same goes with your body and voice. Try to eat the best that you possibly can and in moderation. Include as much as fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. During this time, a good quality multivitamin can greatly help you out as well as Vitamin B if you need a pick me up - particularly after a big day or night!

4. Regular Practice. Keeping your voice and chops up this time of the year can be difficult but try to keep your regular vocal practice and singing regime. If you miss a day, try to do a little bit more the next day if possible. Practice makes perfect and is especially important if you are gigging around this time of the year

5. Learn to Say NO! It is a busy time of the year. Running around, social engagements, shopping, Christmas parties, family gatherings, deadlines and so on. Learn to say NO to unnecessary commitments and engagements. Say NO to activities that you aren't interested in so you can free up "me time" to practice, recharge, stress less, to do whatever it is you want now and then!

TIPS FOR SURIVING THE ELEMENTS

Hayfever. If you have ever suffered from this, you know that it can be especially bad at this time of year. Especially in Melbourne, I have been in Austria (Yes, the fields are alive with the sound of music) in the centre of a field of wildflowers in the middle of spring and not had a single hayfever symptom. But in Melbourne! That's another story!

Natural eastern medicines are great but a couple of Telfast tablets really do the trick for me, plus they also keep me awake. Nasonex nasal spray - I cannot endorse highly enough. Not only does it clear the nasal passages but it is an amazing care for postnasal drip if you suffer from this, as I do. Flushing your nose and sinus cavities with a saline solution to clear any mucus build up or pollen with a sinus rinse bottle is also highly effective. You can purchase this from a chemist.

If it is a very windy day, try to avoid going outside or alternatively, go to the seaside where the air is fresh and doesn't contain a lot of pollen. Try not to rub your eyes or nose and stay hydrated.

Heating and air-conditioning. Both of these can cause havoc to a singer and can have a very drying effect on your voice - making it especially difficult to sing. To function correctly, your vocal cords require lubrication to make them vibrate together evenly, smoothly and correctly. Air conditioners are particularly notorious for having this drying effect as they suck all the moisture out of the air. Try to replace the natural moisture in the air by replacing a moist towel in front of or on top of the unit (keeping safety in mind). You can also  try using a steam humidifier. These are fantastic and give the same effect as being in the shower. Again, you can purchase one of these cheaply from your local chemist and as always be sure to drink plenty of water of you are in this sort of environment.

Pollution or bad air. Pollution, bad air, second hand smoke, dust and pollen all cause numerous irritations including asthma, hayfever, dermatitis and other allergic reactions. In this modern day and age, we are dealing with so many more man-made artificial pollutants. For god's sake, the automobile was only invented 130 years ago, there was no cancer 80 years ago, we sprayed chemicals underneath your armpits every day to keep you dry! These are all chemicals and pollutants that can affect your body and voice. Work out what works for you, go natural and organic. Or simply just take a walk in the park or the beach and inhale some fresh air. I have traveled South East Asia extensively and a lot of people wear dust masks out in the street to avoid these sorts of reactions.

In summary. Finally, a good GP or chemist can also help you out with a lot of different information to make your singing fun and easy throughout this time. I know that most of this isn't conducive to the rock'n'roll lifestyle that we think that singers need to lead. But realistically, you are only going to sound and sing as good as your voice and body feels. So get in touch with your body. If it feels good, do it. If it doesn't, then change the way you do things or what you are doing until it does.

Enjoy your Christmas and take these tips on board and your singing will benefit because of it!

By Peter Vox


VOX Merchandise is HERE!

Guys and Girls! Look Great in the latest cool VOX merchandise.

Let us keep you looking cool as the weather heats up and say goodbye to Winter and hello to Spring in style.

Our latest clothing range is designed especially for all our VOX stars complete with our unique logo and includes:

Hot hoodies in rockstar black - lightweight, relaxed and perfect for those cooler nights....or early mornings after those late nights?!
Traditional tees you can wear any time and all day and our comfy baseball caps which look great with any outfit.

VM6

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You don't have to blow your budget to make a statement this season!

BASEBALL CAPS (black) $10
VOX T-SHIRTS  (royal blue) $15.
sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XLarge
VOX ZIP-UP HOODIES  (black$25.
sizes: Small, Medium, Large, XLarge

Plus Postage and handling prices as followed per single item.

Hoodies

$10 Australia
$30 North and South America
$40 United Kingdom and Europe
$25 Pacific and Asia

T-shirts and baseball caps

 $5 Australia
$15 North and South America
$20 United Kingdom and Europe
$13 Pacific and Asia

We are currently taking orders!

Order Now


Don't Miss the Final Student Concert of the Year!!

We are so excited to announce our last student concert of 2014!!

For those who came to our previous concert, you already know how talented our singers are and what a great afternoon of entertainment is on offer! Thank you for supporting your loved ones (and ours) and coming out to see them perform - we cant wait to see you all again. For those that couldn't make it last time, we hope you can come along and see our brilliant performers as they hit they stage to give you an awesome show once again.
And being the final concert for the year we are going to make it one to remember!! Not only are our students performing but as a special first time event, our very own VOX singing teachers will also be performing live on stage, showing off their expert singing skills! You don't want to miss this!!
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Stage-concert
 
There will also be prizes given away at the end of the show to our VOX students in appreciation for their hard work and dedication throughout the year and as always the chance to chat with our teachers and meet the man behind it all, Peter Vox.
 
WHEN: Sunday, 1PM November 30th 2014
WHERE: Bridie O'Reilly's, 29 Sydney Road, Brunswick, VIC, 3056
 
Mark the date in your calendar music people and join us for some great live performances, food and drinks to celebrate our students and the end of another year.
 
See you all there!
PS. Here's the link to the event! http://ow.ly/EDSeR

Knowing Your Voice

MIXDOWN MAGAZINE ARTICLE

How and what should I sing? What genre best suits my voice? What do Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, James Hatfield, Beyoncé and Adele all have in common?

Even though all of the above vocalists sing in completely different genres, they all sing with passion and feeling! They all have fantastic technique, their own unique style, voice and personality that comes through in their music. And most importantly they all thoroughly enjoy the genre of music that they sing in.

Do you think Mick Jagger has enjoyed singing “Satisfaction” for the last 30+ years? My word he has!

If he did not enjoy the genre of music he was singing, he would have quit a long time ago like so many singers before him.Choose a genre or style of music you truly love.

How many times have you personally experienced, heard or read about that a band has broken up or a member has left the band because of musical differences? Countless times I'm sure! First and foremost and very importantly you need to pick a genre of music that you truly enjoy and have an immense passion for. Purely and simply because if you don't enjoy the genre of music that you are performing, you will not want to continue doing it for very long. You will lose motivation very quickly and subsequently quit. How many times have you done this with a hobby or sport in your younger years?

If you are currently singing in a particular genre of music for fame, fortune and success, you are doing it for all the wrong reasons. You should be singing because you thoroughly enjoy it and you have a message that you want to get across to a greater audience.

Know your range and pick the right keys to best suit your voice.

Now that you have decided on a genre of music that moves you and that you are truly passionate about, you need to find out what your voice can do and what range and keys best suit your vocal abilities.

Please do not be intimidated by the ability of the singers, the genre or style of music that you are influenced by. For instance, the Rolling Stones were greatly influenced by early American Rhythm and Blues. Their first album included all Rhythm and Blues covers except for one original composition. On this very first Rolling Stones album, Mick Jagger transposed some of the keys of the songs higher and lower. He arranged them to best suit his vocal range and ability so that he could sing them with maximum effect, passion and feeling. A great example of this is their version of “Route 66”.

It is important to find out your range. If you are a Male you will have either a Bass, Baritone or Tenor voice register. For Females your voice register can be either Contralto, Alto or Soprano. This simply means whether your voice sits in the low, middle or higher range. It is also very common for these vocal registers to overlap; for instance a male may be a baritone light tenor. Which is a mixture of the middle and higher rangers. Your singing teacher should tell you what type of voice you have on your very first lesson as this important information will ensure you pick out songs in keys that will best suit your vocal ability.

The great news for all singers is that in every genre of music there is always low, middle or higher range singers. You just need to find your voice and use it to the best of your ability.

Listen to your voice.

When you are singing, hear where your voice sounds and sits the best within your range. If you sound thin, strangled, and muddy or constricted you are probably singing in a range or a key that does not suit your vocal abilities and natural voice. If it sounds bad, don't use it. Sing in the part of your voice that makes you sound the best.

Feel your voice.

Pay particular attention to how your voice is feeling. If you feel pain, discomfort, scratchiness burning, irritation, fatigue or feels strange in anyway then it is not right. You are most probably singing in a key, register or a style of music that is not conducive for your vocal health. Nor will you be able to present the song to the best of your ability or sing for an extended period of time.

Realistically, with correct technique you should be able to sing at a good volume for 1 to 2 hours without your voice fatiguing. Your voice should feel like it has had a good workout. You should also feel that after some vocal rest - say an hour or two - that your voice feels refreshed and that you are able to continue to sing for a few more hours.

Sing with proper technique.

It does not matter what genre of music you are singing. You always need to remember to sing with proper technique or your voice will not last very long. You need to train your voice as an athlete trains their body to perform to the best of their abilities. Your voice is muscle and you can damage it, fatigue it and wear it out if you do not use proper technique or have adequate strength and stamina to last for the desired time that you wish to sing for. If you think that you are having technique and stamina issues it is important to seek the professional advice from a great singing teacher, one who can provide you with the correct advice and techniques to overcome this. A good teacher should cover the subjects of breathing and support, will customise scales to train, strengthen and improve your vocal abilities and will give you vocal warm up and cool down exercises.

In Summary:-

  1. Choose a genre or style of music you truly love.
  2. Pick keys or find a range that best suits your voice.
  3. Listen to your voice, does it sound good?
  4. Feel your voice, if it doesn't feel good - don't do it!
  5. Sing with proper technique and seek professional advice if you are unsure.

By Peter Vox


Classical Vs. Contemporary Singing

Mixdown Magazine Article

Myth: If you can sing classically you can sing anything. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in the industry.

Fact: There are only two genres and styles of singing! Contemporary. Classical. Period, end of story! They are two completely different styles of singing and so are the methods and techniques required to teach and learn them.

Classical Singing

The first real serious studies of the singing voice started in Italy with the Roman Catholic Church sometime near the beginning of the 13th century. However, earlier forms have been traced back to the late 12th century in Ancient Greek history. Through time the study of voice moved into Germany and then into other European countries. The classical voice was largely trained to sing in opera houses, churches, auditoriums, coliseums and amphitheaters. A lot of these venues were extremely large or outdoor open venues with no modern microphone technology for projection and volume. So, they were practiced by the singer with the predominant mindset of having to have a lot of projection, volume and power so that everyone present at the performance, near or far could hear the performance. In short, classical training is stuck in a tradition or an expectation of what 'classical' should sound like.  It is not free to explore and grow the voice like contemporary singing does.

What is the difference between Classical and Contemporary Singing?

As any modern contemporary singer will know, you can still sing at a very low volume into a microphone and sound fantastic.

There is a common theme I notice when teaching classically trained singers. Many female classical vocalists who have some to see me have not known how to sing in their "true" voice. They have never been taught to do this and have only trained in their Falsetto when singing up high. This is what I call "Fake Soprano" or "Falsetto Soprano". On the other hand, many male classically trained singers have never used their Falsetto or have not known what it even is as they have only been taught to sing in their True Voice. Almost all did not know how to use correct mouth placement to produce a variety of vowel sounds because in classical training, they use a 'yawn' or 'round' shape for most vowel placements.

In modern contemporary singing tuition, we use varying mouth shapes for all five different vowels, and there are no sounds that we cannot use! There are no rules in modern contemporary singing except that you need to sing in a key and not hurt your voice. All other sounds are acceptable and are interchangeable depending on music genre, song choice and the individual singer! There is no "one and only" method of singing in contemporary singing and this is what will help you to develop your unique potential to create sounds, in a truly uninhibited way and will allow you to understand how your vocal anatomy works.

The idea that "if you can sing classical, you can sing anything" is a mistakenly held belief that has caused much confusion, inconsistency and even competition within the singing world. If anything is true, classical singing may restrict you from reaching full vocal expression and flexibility.

So, what is Contemporary or Modern Singing? 

Please keep in mind that I have nothing against classical singing or the methods used to teach it. I have personally studied forms of classical and the Bel Canto singing technique. However, modern singing has really broadened and developed the understanding of our vocal anatomy and expanded upon classical singing. Sure classical singing is a useful foundation and a good way to start to learn about singing but it will not give you your authentic voice. Many teachers are stuck in conforming to specific traditional systems but this is very limiting to the singing student. If you understand that the human voice works a certain way you can get it to do many strange and wonderful sounds - just look at beat boxing! A worldwide phenomenon that began with a few brave and talented individuals, but 100 years ago, this would have seemed like alien language or the Devil's tongue! Don't be afraid to experiment with your voice and let it make different and unusual sounds.

Also, a lot of classical teachers say that if you're singing theatre or drama you should be taking classical lessons. Again a major untruth! 95% of theatre these days is sung in a contemporary voice. Listen to Les Miserables, Wicked, South Pacific and so on. "The King and I" was in town not long ago and the main female lead sang all the parts in true and chest voice in a contemporary style. Also, many classical teaches try to cross over into teaching mainstream singing but fall into the trap of letting female singers go Falsetto whenever they want and don't allow their male singers to use Falsetto. In modern contemporary tuition, we try to expand all ranges as high as we possibly can, safely in True Voice and Falsetto. This way, the student has the option to use both of the ranges if need be.

Conclusion 

Do your research on the singing teacher that you wish to see and ask them questions regarding what they can offer and give you as a student. Don't pick a singing teacher because they are cheap or close to where you live. There are great singing teachers available everywhere now online too. It is important to remember that a classical method is a classical method and a contemporary method, contemporary.

BY PETER & RYAN VOX

 


What a Performing Singer Should and Should Not Eat and Drink!

Mixdown Magazine Article

This has to be one of the most common asked questions that I receive as a singing teacher. The subject is generally horses for courses and depends greatly on the individual. For example, it's like asking an athlete to train their body everyday but only eat junk food - the athlete will improve marginally but their body will not recover or repair itself, they won't feel good or get maximum results and eventually the athlete will became exhausted and their body will begin to break down. Singers need to know and work out for themselves what not to eat and drink and when, just like an athlete. Otherwise, their voice will not function to its full capability and wear out. In this month's column, I am going to give you my professional opinion on what has worked for me as a teacher and also for my students for the past 20 years. coffee and cigarettes

So, let's start with the most talked about the subject:

WHAT TO DRINK.
The cardinal rule and the only thing a singer should be drinking is room temperature water! For anyone who is not familiar with the human body and how we are composed: "WE ARE MADE UP OF MOSTLY WATER" (approximately 75%). It is all I ever drink while teaching and when singing. The voice thrives on hydration! Four hours before the show, drink an adequate amount of water and then during the gig, sip only water every 1-3 songs. All of our students know that they have to bring in a room temperature bottle of water to every class.

In the cooler months and winter time, I often warm the water up slightly but not boiling or too hot. I find that this keeps my vocal cords warmer for a longer period of time. If you have a sore throat or colds, there are countless remedies that I have heard and tried. Again, work out what suits you and works best for your needs.

Drinking spearmint tea, peppermint tea or ginger tea with some honey or lemon is always a great soother for a sore voice or throat. I recommend drinking herbal teas that do not contain caffeine.

Slippery Elm Bark tea and Licorice Root tea are also very good and gives the sensation of lining or coating the vocal chords to give you a smooth feeling. There is a brand of tea called "Throat Coat" which have these properties in them.

Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in warm water and honey is also a great for throat soother when you are suffering from a sore throat.

Some performers also like to drink pineapple juice as it strips and clears the mucus from the vocal chords. However, drinks that are high in citric acid can sometimes have an adverse effect on your voice by causing reflux or burning on the vocal chords.

WHAT NOT TO DRINK. Alcohol, any carbonated drinks that contain lots of sugar and any drinks with caffeine in them such as tea, coffee and coke - these will all dry your voice out. If you are consuming these drinks, I highly recommend drinking water in between them to keep you hydrated.

Many singers swear by having a few beers or even a Scotch or two before the show. Personally, I wouldn't do this as it will dehydrate you and alcohol only lowers your awareness of technique and pitch as well as slows your coordination.

I strongly recommend not eating or drinking anything made from dairy products. Try to avoid milk and yoghurt as this will create phlegm which sits on the vocal chords and makes it difficult as a vocalist to sing freely.

Avoid any carbonated drinks as these cause excess air or gas. This can make you want to burp and will cause you to feel uncomfortably full while singing.

WHAT TO EAT. Keep what you eat very simple and plain. You should eat a light healthy salad with some complex carbohydrates like pasta, rice and grains about 4 hours before a gig. The carbohydrates will start to kick in right before the show to give you the energy when you need it the most. Generally backstage before a show, there should be something light like fruit or sandwiches.

Fruit and muesli bars are great as they give you energy and are not too heavy. I recommend that you generally graze throughout the day of a show so you never feel too full and then get something substantial to eat after you have finished performing.

WHAT NOT TO EAT. Please do not have a big, heavy meal right before you're about to sing. A stomach full of food is going to adversely restrict the way that your diaphragm and breath support works and this will greatly affect control of your singing. I don't want to feel full or uncomfortable when I'm singing.

Avoid any hot or spicy foods which may come back up and cause reflux and irritation to your larynx, esophagus and voice box.

Stay away from lollies, sugar and throat lozenges as the menthol and eucalyptus can dry out your voice when used over an extended period.

No dairy products at all as these will create mucus and phlegm and make it harder for you to sing and control your voice.

If anything that you eat or drink is disturbing your voice, don't just consume it!!

CONCLUSION. It may take a little while to establish what foods and drinks works best for you and your voice and what does not. It is also important to eat at the right time too. Be sure to exercise, have a good balanced diet, stay hydrated, don't smoke and drink alcohol in moderation.

Remember your voice is a muscle, it's part of your body. As well as food, other external factors can also affect how you sound such as lack of sleep, chemicals, alcohol and stress. To be a consistently strong vocalist, singers need to take the health of their voice (and body) seriously!

Singers must be disciplined when approaching food and liquids during the days and weeks leading up to shows but ESPECIALLY on the day of or even the day prior to a gig of performance.

The bottom line is to remember the better you feel, the better your voice will sound. You are only going to get out of your voice and body what you put into it!!

BY PETER AND RYAN VOX


Choosing a Key or Register that Best Suits your Voice!

Mixdown Magazine Article

Have you ever sung a song and it just didn't sound or feel right?! Well there is a good chance that the key of the song didn't suit your voice. For example, Johnny Cash who is naturally a very low singer wouldn't attempt to sing Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen in the original key. It is just far too high for Johnny Cash. If Johnny Cash was to cover Bohemian Rhapsody, he would definitely have to sing the song in a lower key, possibly one full octave lower.

aretha2A good example of this is the song “Natural Woman” which was written by Carole King (who is in my opinion one of the best song writers ever). The song originally appeared on her absolutely amazing Tapestry album but was later covered by Aretha Franklin who is one of the greatest singers of all time. Carole King is an Alto and Aretha Franklin a Soprano. Aretha Franklin originally recorded the song in the same key as Carole King. But the producer said that the song lacked passion, feel and that it just didn't sound right. So when Aretha Franklin covered this song she changed it so that is was in a higher key to suit her voice. And that is the version that you hear today. It probably wouldn't have been a number one worldwide hit for Aretha Franklin if the song wasn't taken up in key!

The moral of the story is….

1. Please come to terms with and embrace the tone and sound of your own voice and accept your natural range. In other words, how long or how high your voice can go... for now. you can work on extending your range higher and lower by training it with various scales and techniques but please be patient - everyone's voice and vocal range is different. Kind of like a fingerprint, they are unique, beautiful and distinctive.

2. Teachers generally categorize singers into three different types.
For Males: Bass (low voice), Baritone (middle voice) and Tenor (high voice)
Females: Contralto (low voice) Alto (middle voice) and Soprano (high voice).

Try to find our what your voice is from the above categories mentioned. If you are having singing lessons your teacher should tell you what type of voice you are in the first one or two lessons. If not, ask them what vocal type you are. If they cannot tell you or do not know then it is probably best to find a new teacher! Once you know this information you can now go and choose songs to sing or write songs in a key that best suits your vocal range.

3. Choose a vocal register that feels comfortable and that you enjoy singing in. If you're struggling to sing the song in its original key up in your higher range or you start sounding strained, constricted, forced and does not feel natural - try singing in a lower key! The same goes for when you are singing in your lower range. If you are sounding muddy, muffled, unclear, lacked volume or sound unnatural you are probably singing in a key that is too low.

Remember it is much more impressive to sing to an audience a really basic song in a range or register best suited for you that brings out real emotion and expression than it is to sing a technically difficult song which you can ‘almost do well’ but has no depth. To be a ‘WOW’ singer it requires excellent song choice and one that is in the right key for your voice.

What’s my Key?

Many singers are often eager to emulate their favourite singing idols but forget that these challenging songs were written either by the artists themselves to suit their voice or written by someone else to cater the artists voice. They are not written to suit YOUR voice! Sure, keep practicing singing these challenging songs at home. It will help you improve your voice if done correctly but choose songs that are in your KEY WHEN PERFORMING!

Don't be afraid to experiment with singing in different keys, sometimes even a half step drop can be the difference between hitting that really big high note in the middle of the song or your voice breaking under pressure. Remember, it is not about how high or how low you can sing - it's not a competition - it's about how well you can sing a song that suits your range and really brings out your authentic voice.

Not enough credit is given to using different registers or sounds of voice when singing songs. The best way to sing a cover song is to sing it in a register or SOUND that suits you. That way, you take more ownership of the song by delivering it with your personality and style. Again, don't be afraid to experiment and change up the sound and vocal register of a song. Just because, Dave Grohl sings loud and dirty doesn't mean you have to do that. For example, you could approach a Foo Fighter song in an acoustic set with clearer middle voice sounds rather than belting every second phrase. Also, approach each song depending on the type of gig you are doing. For example, you are singing in a rock and and its loud and hard, you might want to cry more using throat register and crossover register. But if you are doing an acoustic gig, you may have to adapt and use more falsetto or head voice to suit the environment or the mood for the same songs, especially those high notes.

So remember, it isn't about imitating your favourite artists range or tone - it is about finding out what will best suit you and your voice. Knowing your range is imperative when it comes to singing. In some cases, this will require you to change the key of your chosen song whether they are covers or originals. Whatever you do, just listen to and feel what is best for your voice.

Rock on!

By Peter Vox

 


Vox Singing Academy Student Concert - this September!

Student Concert2After the smashing success of our previous concert in June, we are keen to announce that our next student concert is right around the corner on September!

This will be our second last concert for the year and our students are getting ready to give you a show to remember! We are all very excited as we have more than 20 new up-and-coming singers taking the stage to perform for you. So sit back, rustle up some fun and shake off the working week!

Bring all your friends and family and join us for a fun, entertaining and relaxing Sunday afternoon and show your support for our talented students!

You can check its Facebook event page HERE and feel free to join!

So, SAVE THIS DATE and we look forward to seeing you all there!


Are You Singing in Tune?

Mixdown Magazine Article

The cardinal rule as a singer is to sing in tune all, if not most of the time.If you feel like you sing some notes off key, out of tune or you are pitchy, don’t worry - you are not alone. Even the very best vocalists have at times, had trouble with this. I remember, as a teenager seeing one of my favourite singers in a very well known, world wide touring band (whose name I will not mention). The lead singer sounded flat, pitchy and even lazy. It was disappointing to say the least, but it reiterates that everyone, even professionals can have pitch problems.

What are some of the reasons why people sing pitchy or out of tune?

The number one reason why singers occasionally sing out of tune is because they are unable to hear themselves. Some of these reasons can be because:

*You are trying to sing over the top of the band or music that is too loud.
*You cannot hear the chord based instruments or music as a reference for the point of key.
*You cannot hear yourself adequately through the fold back speakers or your in ear monitors.
*You have a cold, flu or virus that is preventing you from hearing sounds correctly.  This can also inhibit the usual control you have over your vocal chords that help you to hit correct pitch.

Another  reason you could be having trouble is that you are having difficulty hearing what key you're supposed to be singing in.
*This will require pitch training using scales played on a piano specifically designed to improve your ear, musicianship and pitch.

Here are a few helpful hints and tips to improve your ability to sing in tune:

1. Hearing yourself is the most important skill and asset a singer can have. I am going to stress the word hearing here. You want to hear yourself sing, not listen! You listen to someone speak and you want to hear your voice sing. Listening takes a lot of concentration. Have you ever listened to an hour lecture? Even on a subject that you're interested in, it is difficult to stay focused and listen for the entire time. A singer must always be paying attention to the music, the beat, the key the song is in, to your own voice and make it all blend together.  Start by closely listening, without singing along, to the singer in your favourite song. Then hum or nar nar along exactly to the melody. When this is down 110% then move along to singing the song with the lyrics precisely.

2. Mimic the exact same sound as what you hear. You can do this with anything - the sound of a car engine, the ring of a door bell, someones quirky joke, anything to start practicing your pitch. Start practicing by gently humming along to your favourite song - this is a fantastic way to start honing your ear. Really focus on copying the exact same sound (tune) as the singer. Then begin singing along with the same tune and try to stay in key for the entire song.

3. Remember, please pick songs that suit your vocal range and abilities. Don't go off and start singing really high songs if your voice does not fall naturally in this range. Pick songs that feel comfortable and natural for your voice. This will greatly improve your ability to sing in key or in tune.

4. Pitching scales are a great way to learn exact pitch to musical notes. This includes scales counting with numbers.  Doing this will teach you to visualise the sound going higher and lower via a sequence of numbers, kind of like going up and down a ladder for your voice.

5. Pitch testing is a good way to continually challenge yourself throughout your entire range. This is done by playing different scales and notes randomly on the piano within your vocal range. This will test you, improve your musicianship and keep your ear sharp and focused.  A good singing teacher should provide the correct techniques to give you the vocal ability, confidence and courage when doing key changes. This means that if you lose your way when singing a song and become pitchy you will have the skills required to self correct and find your way back to the right tune.

6. Fold-back not loud enough? Then this means you can't hear yourself sing through the PA when you do a gig. As a performer this is embarrassing and frustrating but can be easily avoided. Purchasing some in-ear monitors is the only way to be certain that you will hear yourself clearly and adequately at all times. Ensure that your band is not too loud and drowning your voice out on stage. Be sure that you have always got proper fold back that is working. Ask for more if from the sound engineer through the fold back if you cannot hear yourself properly. Please also rehearse in the same fashion.

7. Don't be lazy!  A lot of flat notes can easily be corrected simply by articulating the proper vowel placements. The basic rule is to open the mouth more when singing up high (like going to the dentist), and to relax your mouth a little when singing in a lower key.

8. Use correct breath support when singing. Many untrained singers forget about this resulting in lazy, sliding or flat notes. Remember to always use diaphragmatic support throughout your entire vocal range but especially when singing high notes.

9. Practice, practice, practice or as I say perfect practice makes a perfect performance.

To summarize:

*Hear yourself singing clearly and adequately at all times.
*Pick songs in a key that best suit your vocal range.
*Support all notes correctly using your diaphragm.
*Don't be lazy
*Perfect practice makes perfect performance.

Until next month Rock On!

By Peter Vox


Singing in Crossover Voice

Mixdown Magazine Article

Do you want to sing really high in True Voice?

Have you ever wanted to sing really high in True Voice? But when you attempted to do so your voice just cracks and breaks and goes into falsetto?! Have you ever wondered how the singers in bands like Iron Maiden, The Police, Rush, Karnivool, Sleeping With Sirens, Paramore, Maroon 5 and artists like Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson sing so high consistently for long periods of time? Well I'm going to let you into a little secret. Let me introduce you to the Mixed or Cross Over Voice.

Let’s be frank here, this is not easy! However everyone is capable of doing this with the proper technique, perseverance and persistence. I have given countless students the ability to sing an octave and more higher in their “mixed” voice. Two of my students who regularly use their mixed voice are Kim Benzie from Dead Letter Circus and Christopher de Cinque from Closure in Moscow. Both are great examples of this technique done well.

Okay, So What is  Mixed or Crossover Voice?

Crossover or Mixed voice is not so much a traditional register such as is chest, middle or falsetto registers.   Crossover uses both falsetto and true voice vocal folds at the same time to produce a ‘mixed’ sound or crossover sound.  In other words crossover can help you sing the same notes in the high end of your middle voice or low end of falsetto that you may normally struggle with.  Crossover voice helps to close or bridge the vocal break in your voice (so that it doesn’t sound like a pubescent teenager) as you ascend or descend between false and true voice.  So basically, it’s the sound the voice makes as it’s ‘Crossing Over’ between true voice and falsetto voice.  If done well, no one can tell when you have 'crossed over' between your registers.

Why sing Crossover? DLC2

Because it's fun, invigorating, challenging and once you learn how to do it, it will open up your whole upper register, giving you around a whole octave and more to sing in and use in a true sounding voice. So many more colours, keys and registers are now available for you to use as a singer and artist.  The trouble is, that this slide-over or crossover sound, when done well, is probably one of the hardest vocal techniques to master.  But it will open up many more opportunities to sing in parts of the voice that may have been neglected or never used at all.

But isn’t Head voice my crossover voice?

No it isn’t. Head voice is a lighter, thinner version of your true voice.  So it can be sung anywhere in your true voice register but it often doesn’t carry the same clear tones that the chest or middle registers have.  Crossover is located at the higher end of your true voice range and the lower end of your falsetto range.

Getting started!

There’s an old saying that I like to use in regards to singing practice at home: “practice doesn’t make perfect.  PERFECT PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!”  Before you even begin to start doing higher range singing in crossover you have to make sure that you have established the correct basic singing techniques first.  You must build yourself up physically, mentally and technically.  In other words, get yourself a good teacher that will give you the correct singing techniques to build your voice up first before you attempt to learn crossover voice.

Peter Vox with Christopher De Cinque and Kim Benzie
Peter Vox takes a happy snap shot with his successful students Christopher De Cinque (Closure In Moscow) and Kim Benzie (Dead Letter Circus).

Often for beginners, it may take anything from 6 to 18 months before they can sing like Kim Benzie from Dead Letter Circus.  It really depends on a range of factors but there is a degree of patience, practice and a clear goal required.  After all if you love singing, you don’t want burn your voice out by singing your heart out to songs that you are not yet ready for.  Lets go through a checklist to build up your voice to sing in crossover.

1. Find a great teacher that teaches mixed or crossed over voice techniques.

2. Expand your vocal range as high as it will go in your true chest voice, preferably using crying scale techniques.

3. Expand and strengthen your falsetto range with correct scales and techniques.

4. Properly support all crossover techniques with correct diaphragmatic breath support.

5. Start challenging your voice and try to sing along with artists that use crossover or mixed voice.
Once you have established a solid foundation for singing, you can begin to start doing higher range singing in your Crossover voice. You’ll need to expand your vocal range as high as it will go in your true chest voice, preferably using crying scale techniques.  In addition, work on expanding and strengthening you falsetto voice and range with the right scales and techniques. Also very importantly, remember to breathe correctly.  When doing the Crossover technique it is essential that you draw on your diaphragmatic strength so that you don’t damage your voice.

Okay so how do I do crossover?

I’m going to share with you the secrets to connecting or blending your true voice seamlessly into your falsetto, every time. To successfully accomplish this, there are four main points that you need to do to achieve a smooth and consistent sound throughout your range. I suggest doing the below techniques on an octave sliding scale (1st, 8th, 1st note) on the piano.

1. Always keep your volume crescendoing and de-crescendoing through the entire scale. Do not ever bring your volume down when you hit your falsetto register as this will expose your crack in the falsetto register and we don't want that.

2. Remember that the crying technique is the glue that will connect/glue your 2 registers together seamlessly. So keep sobbing and crying throughout the whole scale, right to the very end.

3.Do not stop moving or sliding through the scale especially before the transition from true voice to falsetto. If you stop or pause before this bridge your voice is sure to crack. Keep moving the entire way through the scale.

4. Finally, keep your neck, throat and mouth relaxed at all times. Let your diaphragm and stomach do all the tightening and supporting of the notes.

The Next Level

Perfect practice, practice, practice! Keep challenging yourself to sing songs that are slightly higher (or lower) in range.  Sing songs that have 1 or 2 notes that are outside your natural vocal range.  These more difficult notes will be your target crossover notes until you learn to master how to sing them (with the help of a coach or teacher).  Eventually these songs will start to feel like they are in your natural range and they won’t be as much of a challenge.  In effect, you’ve actually increased your ability and extended your vocal range.  You should now have the confidence to sing even higher or more difficult songs!!

Remember that this skill is one of the more difficult singing techniques you will learn. But if you like a challenge and are willing to put in the hard work then Crossover Voice will help you to expand your natural vocal range and it will give you much more ability and variety with your instrument. I encourage you to regularly challenge yourself to sing songs that are slightly higher (or lower) in range and that have 1 or 2 notes that are outside your natural capabilities. Crossover is a skill that not many vocalists have or are able to do well. But if you put in the time, patience and practice required to learn this technique you will have gained a unique vocal skill that will set you apart from your average vocalist.

Rock on!

By Peter Vox


Coming Soon in JUNE...

NEW VOX Singing Academy Studio in Highett!!

We are all very excited to get JUNE 2014 underway with our new SOON to be opened Highett Studio!!

We are currently  taking bookings and inquiries for the new Highett studio. Spaces are limited and filling fast!

All the best,
Vox Singing Academy




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