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Practicing Your Singing – Top Tips

It’s time to make rehearsing work for you –says Lisa Popeil

Everyone who wants to master a skill is told, “practice makes perfect”.

But how can you know what to practice, how much time makes the effort worthwhile, and how to gauge if you’re even practicing correctly?

Here’s a list of suggestions to help make vocal practice a thing of pleasure and satisfaction.

Focus. Determine exactly what you need to focus on-
+ easy high notes?
+ singing in tune?
+ power?
+ creating vocal riffs?
+ figuring out harmonies?

Warm Up. When you do lip trills or tongue trills, DO NOT do them loudly and carelessly. Start on your very lowest note and LIGHTLY do the trills to your highest note and back down again. Humming is a dependable warm-up for the vocal folds. Sirens (smoothly sliding up and down) on a vowel is another effective vocal fold warm-up.

The Rule of Five. Follow what I call ‘the Rule of Five’. If you get lucky when experimenting and something AWESOME comes out of your mouth, REPEAT the phrase 5 times in a row perfectly. If you blow it, start over and aim for five perfect phrases. It’s a great method (if a bit obsessive-compulsive!) to make happy accidents into new behaviors.

More is Not Better. Don’t practice if feeling vocally tired or hoarse. It is incorrect to think that pushing past the pain is ever a technique for strengthening the vocal folds. There should be no pain, ever.

Magic. Your goal is to sing songs filled with feeling and magic, not just to do exercises perfectly. There are too many people who can sing their pants off on exercises but cannot sing a song to save their lives.

Record. Record yourself or consider having a professional ear (like a vocal coach with a lot of experience) monitor your progress every so often. Just to make sure your practicing does make perfect!

-Lisa Popeil

Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids from Gina Latimerlo

William Brown – I Can Make a Mess (Cover)

William, you project your voice well, and your emotion comes through clearly in both your face and voice. Keep the emotion running throughout – even when you aren’t singing. Your voice has a really nice resonance, but just a little extra nasality. Try lifting your soft palate (the soft part of the roof of your mouth (in back where that little thing hangs down) to get a more full sound. To lift it up, imagine the feeling you have at the beginning of a yawn. Record yourself while you play with your soft palate in different positions to find the sound you like the best.

Tiffany Schroeder – We Are Young (Cover)

Tiffany, you have a full, strong voice that gives you a wonderfully intense sound. To learn to use your voice in the same strong way on the higher notes (like “fire” and “brighter than” in the chorus), make sure you breathe low (so your chest stays still and only your belly goes out). Then, really support your sound by pushing out the top part of your belly (above your belly button) so that it does NOT collapse in while you are singing. Also, you’re in a really “live” room and a less bouncy atmosphere would showcase your voice better.

James Michael – Give Me Love (Cover)

James, every breath seems to be infused with emotion. Your loud, high notes have great energy and placement, and it would be awesome to keep that on the soft, low notes. Singing soft actually requires the same energy and forward (nasal) focus as loud singing, so keep supporting the sound with your abdominal strength and place the sound forward in your face just as you do for the higher notes. To then make your sound soft, just imagine singing to a spot 1-2 feet in front of you instead of singing to the back of the room. Cool effects!

Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is a top LA voice coach, voice scientist and researcher, contributor to the ‘Oxford Handbook of Singing’, is a voting member of NARAS (Grammys®), creator of the Voiceworks® Method, the ‘Total Singer’ DVD and a new book ‘Sing Anything-Mastering Vocal Styles’ and has taught voice professionally for over 35 years. www.popeil.com





Co-author with Lisa Popeil of Sing Anything: Mastering Vocal Styles is Gina Latimerlo. Gina will be commenting on our Peer Review Videos for the next 8 weeks.

Gina Latimerlo is a polished performer of over 20 years. Teaching and directing since 1995, she opened The Latimerlo Studio in 1998. Her students have performed on Broadway, in touring companies, and have signed with talent agents and record labels. In addition to the main studio, The Latimerlo Studio oversees private voice teachers in over a dozen cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.latimerlo.com