Create the sound you want by choice, not restriction – says celebrity vocal coach Jeannie Deva
Vocal Coach Residency Week Four: 6 October 2010 – by Jeannie Deva
Hello to you all! In this, my fourth week of residency, I listened to three new Peer Review original performance videos – each artist accompanied themselves on guitar (not always easy to do while singing).
Here’s a simple exercise that can help each of you. All my vocal exercises and warm-ups are geared toward one main achievement: to free you as an impassioned artist, confident within the spontaneity of your vocal expression – able to create the sound you want by choice, not restriction.
More Ease at the Top of Your Range
Step One: Say the word “nothing.” Now say it again but this time, maintain the position of your tongue in the “n” position as you sustain the vibration of your voice. Essentially, the upper front of your tongue will be resting upward on the front of the roof of your mouth. As you sustain your voice with your tongue in this position, think the sound into where your tongue is touching the roof of your mouth (called the hard palate).
Keep your tongue relaxed and “fat” as you do this. Do not push your tongue against your hard palate. Think of it as a balloon that drifted up and is resting on the ceiling.
Step Two: Decide on a song to use for this purpose. Now sing the melody of the song with your tongue in the “n” position. This may take some concentration. Think the vibration of each note into the front part of the tongue where it is in contact with the hard palate. You should feel some kind of vibration in that area. It may spread out from that area, but keep your concentration on the vibration where the tongue is touching.
Go through the song as smoothly as you can. You should do it slowly; if it is a fast song, slow it down (this is an exercise) and if it has short phrases, try to connect them, letting your voice sustain the buzzing in your tongue as consistently as you can.
Work on maintaining the same buzzing energy no matter the change of notes. If you notice your tongue tensing, re-focus your attention on the buzz in the front of your tongue as described above and re-do the phrase until you can do it with your tongue remaining “fat”—not pulling up nor letting the back of it plunge down. It should remain relaxed throughout.
Again, this may take some practice since you may have some bad habits intertwined with singing higher or lower notes. If so, these habits (not your potential) can be limiting what you are actually able to do and achieve vocally.
Step Three: Once you have gone through the song in the above manner, re-drilling sections as needed until you have made at least some progress remaining consistent with this approach, sing the song with lyrics. Notice any improvements. It should be easier, feel freer, and some higher areas of range should now be more in your control.
As you continue to practice with this method, you will be able to do it better and better. Try it with other songs, including ones that are more challenging. Stay patient with yourself as you sort out any sneaky bad habits!
My Reactions to this Past Week’s Peer Review Vids
Kudos: Drew Cambell in a live performance video of his original: “Walking by Myself.” Wonderful blues/rock styling and guitar. Drew sings this style well.
Area of Improvement: Unfortunately, the recording quality made it tricky to really hear the vocal due to distortion and picking up mainly the reverb. Further development of his upper range will assist in singing the entire melody range, helping to achieve pitch integrity throughout.
Kudos: Steph – Very creative video as she stands outdoors in the snow singing the song “(You’re Like) Snow on a Christmas Eve.” –self accompanied on guitar. She works well with her voice overall and her performance comes across in a very honest and direct manner.
Area of Improvement: The hook of this song is slightly lost due to a bit of a “throw away” vocal at the end of her key phrase. Work on mentally following through with the end of your phrases so that the lyric is not lost.
Kudos: Ryan – “Fade” (original) – self accompanied on guitar. Ryan’s voice has a beautiful mid-range tone and performs this song with a moody, feeling vocal that is genuine and captivating. His guitar accompaniment works perfectly with the song which is delivered in a manner intimately reflective.
Area of Improvement: The little rasp used on the highest notes in his melody is fine and certainly characteristic of this style and the feeling of the song. This simply needs to be produced with more certainty and ease.
‘Til next week, I look forward to your blog comments!
Jeannie Deva is a celebrity master voice and performance coach as well as a recording studio vocal specialist. She has worked with and been endorsed by engineers and producers of Aerosmith, Elton John, Bette Midler, Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones. Seen on E! Entertainment and TV Guide Channels, Jeannie has been interviewed as a celebrity guest on talk shows internationally. She is the author of the globally acclaimed “Contemporary Vocalist” series and “Deva Method Vocal Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs” CD. Certified Deva Method® teachers are located on east and west coasts of the U.S. and in Sydney, Australia. Deva’s private voice studio is located in Los Angeles where she teaches in-person as well as singers around the world via Internet web cam. Clients include Grammy award winners, American Idol Finalists, singers for Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Sting, Pink, Christina Aguilera and more. www.JeannieDeva.com – www.Facebook.com/JeannieDeva – www.Twitter.com/JeannieDeva