Top Advice on Singing – Juliet Russell

Vocal Coach in Residence November – Juliet Russell
She’s a singer, composer and vocal coach including for the national hit show, The Voice on BBC 1.

Juliet Russell has performed and worked with artists including Damon Albarn, Paloma Faith, Alt-J, M.I.A, Yoko Ono and at venues from Glastonbury to the Royal Opera House.

In May 2015, Juliet toured the UK, collaborating with local choirs and musicians wherever she performed, creating a unique experience in every venue.

This master performer and educator is our vocal coach in residence for November!

One thing you’d say to a singer scared about singing in public?
Face your fear! Learn a party piece – a song that you and a crowd will enjoy singing – usually something vibey and uptempo – and head for your local karaoke or open mic.

One thing you’d say to a singer with a hoarse voice?
Are you ill or have you been working your voice too hard? Steam, rest and when you start feeling better warm up with exercises that encourage cord closure (e.g. Gi (with a hard G). If it happens a lot, seek professional advice.

Resilience is a core skill for a creative life

One thing you’d say to a singer down-in-the-dumps about ever “making it”?
What could you be doing better or differently? Resilience is a core skill for a creative life.

One thing you’d say to a singer trying to choose just the right mic?
Even though it’s easy to buy online, it’s definitely worth visiting a shop or studio where you can try out different mics before you buy.

One thing you’d say to a singer looking for inspiration?
Inspiration is all around us, we just have to listen and look. There is beauty in the mundane as well as the magnificent.

One thing you’d say to a singer struggling to reach high notes?
Identify what’s stopping you. Is it technical, psychological or a combination of the two? Try whining like a dog and feel your larynx tilting. Move on to vvvv sounds in that position then open up to an ee or oo vowel initially sliding between notes.

One thing you’d say to a singer looking for a vocal coach?
I would look for a teacher who understands how the voice works technically (anatomically) and understands you artistically; someone you can work with to maximize your expressive performance choices, safely and creatively.

One thing you’d say to a singer going into the studio for the first time?
Be really rehearsed before you go in and treat it like a performance.

P.S. Always ask for what you need whether it’s more volume, less guitar, a different mic sound, water or a break.

JulietRussell2

Learn how to use your body and support muscles effectively rather than trying to get power with more breath

One thing you’d say to a singer wanting to vocalize with more power?
You can do it. Learn how to use your body and support muscles effectively rather than trying to get power with more breath.

One thing you’d say to a singer wanting to make industry connections?
Start in your vicinity. Where’s the best venue, the best festival, the best promoter? Build from there. Lots of organisations invite guest artists and industry speakers, search them out and go to whatever you can. Never be afraid to say hello to someone you want to hear your music.

One thing you’d say to a singer about to start their Facebook page?
Start a group rather than a specific artist page or combine your personal and music pages to have more reach when posting. Make it part, not all of your social media strategy.

One thing you’d say to a singer after failing to move an audience?
We all have off days, including an audience. If it happens a lot, look at what you could improve in terms of song choice, performance skills, emotional connection and dynamism.

One thing you’d say to a singer about reaching out to a larger venue?
Go for it. Have some figures to hand about your usual audience size and why you’ll be able to step it up.

P.S. When I was starting out I wanted to play a local festival and after I’d submitted my demo tape (way back when) I phoned to find out if they had listened and whether they were considering me. They told me later that they took a chance on me because I was so keen and really wanted to do it. I kept it friendly and just the right side of stalker.

One thing you’d say to a singer about working with instrumentalists?
Learn the language. Ask for what you want, but also listen to what individuals can add. Creative exchange is a beautiful thing.

There are smaller labels who break incredible artists and major labels who do too

One thing you’d say to a singer wanting to buy their first piece of gear for live gigs beyond their mic?
I recently bought a brilliant vocal and instrumental combined amp that I can use for rehearsals, gigs, with an instrumentalist or backing track, but it wasn’t the one I went out to buy! Do your research then try before you buy.

One thing you’d say to a singer who has a cold but just has to go on with the show?
If it’s not laryngitis, you’ll probably be fine even if you feel below par. Steam beforehand, warm up and if you’re struggling with power notes, see if you can drop a song down a semi-tone or tone.

One thing you’d say to a singer who wants to get signed by a big label?
It’s not necessarily about the biggest label, but the best label for you. There are smaller labels who break incredible artists and major labels who do too. Look for where you feel like you’d fit best, where you like their roster and the way that they develop their artists’ careers.

One thing you’d say to a singer who is down in the dumps over failed relationships?
Write a song about it!


November’s Vocal Coach in Residence: Juliet Russell

Juliet Russell has completed a unique tour which sees her joining forces with a different community choir in locations across Britain. Hundreds of voices performed Juliet Russell’s new album, Earth Meets Sky, creating a series of unique live performances. These have been recorded, filmed, and broadcast throughout the tour on social media. Visit her Website for more information.