Relax Your Lips.

Vocal Coach Residency Week Six: 20 October 2010 – by Jeannie Deva

Hello to all you wonderful singers! I love our worldwide vocalist community and am pleased that you are here at VoiceCouncil, working on raising the bar of your own vocals. An artist is ever evolving, always seeking to reinvent oneself and achieve more of one’s potential. It is an ever-expanding process. I’m pleased to be of help in this pursuit. This week I had the pleasure of listening to the Peer Review vids of Lauren Tate and Steve Antonsen. See my critiques below -after my vocal tip for the week.

Vocal Tip of the Week

When you sing do you tense your lips? Are you exaggerating the movement of your lips, cheeks or the opening of your mouth? Certain muscles, when overworked and tightened, have a tendency to stiffen the natural workings of the voice. The use of lip tension when singing tends to backfire on singers by triggering tension in the muscles that need to freely work in order to produce the sounds of your voice. This can cause a type of compression of your voice, robbing you of an ease in sound production, projection, wider range and full bodied tone.

The Exercise

1. Try this: Put on a recording of a song you like to sing or a backing track of a song you perform. Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself as you sing. Really put yourself into the song and watch your face, especially your lips and mouth. If you exaggerate the movement of your face as part of achieving the notes, this tension will back up into your throat and you will find yourself pushing against this tension.

2. Remedy: Gently place (but don’t squeeze) the fingers of each of your hands one on either side of your mouth on the sides of your face. Your fingers will be pointing upwards towards your eyes. Sing the song again and let your hands help you to relax the movements of your lips, cheeks and mouth. Of course there will be movement of your jaw as you sing the words, but with this approach, we are working on letting the movement be relaxed and natural.

How does that feel? Do you notice a difference in how you sound as well? (Hint: it should automatically feel easier and better.) Facial expressions should be part of your expression of the song – not to get your voice to work.

My Reactions to This Past Week’s Peer Reviews

Kudos: Lauren Tate – “Use Somebody” (Cover) – Nice arrangement of a tune by Kings of Leon. As a female singer with a Pop/R&B style, covering a male indie/rock band tune helps to make this “her own” and gives it an original twist. Add to it the R&B vocal embellishments which Lauren’s voice easily cascades in opportune moments throughout the song and she has definitely re-invented this song nicely. AND being 13 years old singing for just a year, we have here a wonderful beginning of what I hope to be a great road ahead for her professionally.

Areas to improve: While Lauren’s vocal riffing is good overall with good articulation (all the notes are vocalized rather than smeared over), there are occasional notes that went off in pitch (sometimes sharp, sometimes flat). Also, overall tone is stylistically good. With more development through voice exercise training, the styled tones she’s going for will have added depth, ease and accuracy.

Kudos: Steve Antonsen – “Fool” – (Blues Original) by Midstokee Band. Steve has a cool bluesy voice with generally a great tone and, added plus – he plays blues harp (harmonica) quite nicely! Also, I’ve always been a fan of open tuning on the acoustic guitar—nicely done.

Areas to improve: The video and vocal performance overall would have been more engaging and powerful if I felt like it was being sung to me, the audience. In singing, Steve tightened his lips to each side causing muscle tension in the throat and, at those times, masked to some degree the great tone he has. Check out my vocal exercise above.

Have a great week of singing, and do let me know how it’s going!

-Jeannie Deva

VoiceCouncil’s Interview with Jeannie Deva

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.