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More Vowel, Less Strain.

It’s vital to work closely with the vowels of your words and learn to identify your own natural pronunciation when you sing – says Celebrity Vocal Coach Jeannie Deva

More Vowel, Less Strain. – 13 Sept. 2010 – by Jeannie Deva

Hello to all of you here in the Peer Review section of Voice Council Magazine! Jeannie Deva here. During the next eight weeks of my Voice Council residency, I will be providing you with food for thought, tips, tools, wisdoms and vocal breakthroughs to help you achieve your goals as a singer and performer.

This week I thought there were some strong performance elements on the Peer Review vids – as well as some things that could be worked on. I’d like to welcome Schables back to the performance arena with a strong song. Randy Lee Holt gave a believable song performance and Shannon and Carlo are coming up the ranks as young singers finding their way into their own voice and style.

In my 35 years of experience as Vocal Coach to many thousands of singers around the world; from celebrity vocalists to developing artists; as recording session vocal coach and private voice teacher, I have always sought those techniques that will bring out the unique qualities of each singer while developing their voice as a fully expressive instrument. The trick lies in how to help a singer rid themselves of bad habits and blocks to their freedom of expression, while finding, developing and maintaining their uniquely identifiable vocal sound. There are many ingredients that go into this and we will explore a good number over the next weeks.

More Vowel, Less Strain

A straining voice is physically uncomfortable and can be distracting for your audience to hear. Your voice is the result of sung vowels. Stressing consonants closes your mouth, causes tongue tension and your breath to be exhaled too quickly and forcibly. Vowels, on the other hand, require a relatively more open mouth and relaxed tongue and utilize your breath more efficiently. Thus the vibration of your voice can occur more evenly and easily. It’s vital to work closely with the vowels of your words and learn to identify your own natural pronunciation when you sing.

For this exercise choose a song and try this:

1. Sing the melody of your song with a smooth sustained “Ah” vowel – no lyrics. Work on connecting the “Ah” note to note and maintain the same pronunciation no matter the pitch. Do not exaggerate the Ah nor arbitrarily hold your tongue in some predetermined position. It must be relaxed and part of your normal pronunciation of Ah. (This may take some practice and sorting.)

2. Once successful with the above, sing through the song again, this time with lyrics. Notice any differences.

3. Sing the song again with lyrics. At any point of remaining strain, stop. Notice what word/syllable coincides with the points of strain.

4. Say aloud that particular word. Find out what the vowel pronunciation is for that word or syllable. (Use your own natural approach, there is no “right” vowel pronunciation other than your own.)

5. Now sing the phrase again. As you do, direct your attention to the vowel sound of the syllables you are singing; let the vowel take the spotlight and embody the melody note.

As you stop pushing on the consonants and focus on the vowel, you should find yourself gaining greater vocal comfort while improving sound quality. Continue working through the song in this manner. The above exercise also helps achieve many other favorable results helping to correct pitchy-ness and improve overall tone. Let me know how it goes.

Until next week – sing on!

Jeannie Deva

VoiceCouncil’s Interview with Jeannie Deva


Jeannie Deva is the Celebrity Vocal Coach seen on E! Entertainment and TV Guide Channels as well as many other television and radio talk shows. Author of the internationally acclaimed “Contemporary Vocalist” book and CD series, as well as the “Deva Method Vocal Warm-Up” CD, she is flown to recording studios worldwide for album vocal production and is endorsed by producers and engineers of the Rolling Stones, The Cars, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac and others. She is the Originator of The Deva Method® – Complete Vocal Technique for Stage and Studio™ and founder of Jeannie Deva® Voice Studios celebrating 35 years of helping singers be outstanding. Past and present clients include Grammy Award Winners, American Idol finalists, members of the Rock legends the J. Geils Band and Foghat, Multi-Platinum Felecia Howse of Bone Thugs n’ Harmony, Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), Broadway leads in Fame, Color Purple, Lion King and Wicked and singers for Sting, Stevie Wonder, Pink, Joss Stone, Christina Aguilera and Elton John. There is a growing network of certified Deva Method teachers in the US and Australia. Jeannie’s private studio is located in Los Angeles. She teaches in house and internationally via Internet web cam. www.JeannieDeva.comwww.Facebook.com/JeannieDevawww.Twitter.com/JeannieDeva