Vocal Coach Residency Week Seven: 27 October 2010 – by Jeannie Deva
Greetings! This week I want to thank three singers for their Peer Review videos: David DiMuzio, John Langford and Jerry Jean. See my thoughts on their vocal work below – after my tip for the week.
Are There Really “High” and “Low” Notes?
If you just consider each sound on its own, it is neither high nor low! It’s just itself. Thought of in this way, there are no high or low notes. There’s just sound made by different small, natural and coordinated movements inside your body and determined by the varying speeds at which your vocal folds vibrate.
To achieve a full sound throughout your range, your larynx must be allowed to float in its normal position in your throat, not uncommon to that of speaking. When you speak, chances are you don’t focus on reaching up or pushing down to make different pitches. As well, you probably place more importance on communicating to someone while the pitches and colors of your voice spontaneously flow as an extension of your emotions and concepts.
1) Select a song for this exercise – preferably one you can sing without accompaniment.
2) Choose an object in the room or spot on the wall for your focus.
3) Sing the song directly to this object or spot. Imagine that the object has sentience and is receiving and understanding each sentiment that you’re singing to it.
4) If your attention wavers from the object onto the pitch (thinking up or down), or any of the mechanics of vocal technique, or you get distracted, repeat that part until you can sing the entire song phrase by phrase with your attention directed straight to the object and with the intention that your meaning is received at the other end. Take note of any improvements and realizations along the way.
My Reactions to This Past Week’s Peer Reviews
As it can be a challenge to find songs that are well matched for your personality and voice, even when writing your own songs, I want to give special mention to the fact that each of this past week’s Peer Review artists selected a song well suited to their own voice and style. The feedback I’ve given each below is not only for each one personally, but laced with input that can be of help to any singer.
Kudos: David DiMuzio –acoustic cover of Brandon Flowers “Crossfire.” Personable, simple and direct presentation on video. Wonderful vocal tone. Overall, I enjoyed listening to his acoustic rendition of The Killers song “Crossfire.” By the way, David’s success in his independent album sales is very impressive and he’s obviously doing something right!
Areas to improve: David had difficulty with the upper range of the song which was used a fair amount throughout. With a just little voice training this could easily be solved so that he can sing with ease. Also he seemed to be smiling through much of the song; I couldn’t tell whether the smile was part of his vocal technique or part of the song expression.
Kudos: John Langford – “Can’t You See” acoustic cover of Marshall Tucker Band. OK. This guy can sing. He knows this style and sang with appropriate attitude and a comfortable power that made the song believable and strong throughout. Good use of occasional rasp for added emotion.
Areas to improve: The start of the song took too long to get to. If I was in a rush and by chance encountered this video, I might have turned it off before I got to the beginning of the vocal – which was well worth hearing.
Kudos: Jerry Jean – I’ll Be Here (Original). This video is artistically created with nice attention to detail. Jerry has a lovely and distinctive voice which the song enjoyably showcases.
Areas to improve: This is an impassioned song both lyrically and melodically. If Jerry had performed the song as though actually looking at and singing to someone it would have had more impact. Vocally, there was some extra muscle effort expended in achieving the higher notes of his range (the chorus). There is a difference between sounds used to give more emotion versus using muscle tension to hit the high notes. Learning to sing with the soft palate and back of tongue tension-free would help.
Wishing you a great week of discovery and expression!
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