Thank you to all who attended our Vocal Health for Professional Voice Users webinar. I was happy to host this as Sherri Zelazny presented on a topic I am so passionate about. Here is the replay in case you missed it! Lots of great information on vocal anatomy, understanding your instrument and how it works, plus vocal pathologies. My personal favourite was when Sherri covered voice myth busters!
Thanks again to Sherri Zelazny from the Surrey Voice Clinic for her wonderful insightful presentation!
Please join us for a free and informative webinar on vocal health. Learn the latest and greatest info on voice therapy, and innovative vocal health strategies from Sherri Zelazny. If you are a voice user or voice professional don’t miss this free opportunity to learn more about your instrument. Bring questions if you have them!
Sherri Zelazny is a Registered Speech Language Pathologist with more than 30 years of experience. She pursued advanced clinical expertise in the area of Voice and Laryngeal Airway Disorders at the University of Wisconsin Madison Voice and Swallow Clinics. Her areas of special interest include voice evaluation and treatment, paradoxical vocal fold motion, voice therapy for Parkinson Disease, and community education.
Alida Annicchiarico is a vocal consultant has been a private voice instructor for over 12 years, based in Vancouver, Canada. A graduate of UBC, a Certified Vocal Mentor Instructor as well a member in good standing with NATS, she has worked with some of the world’s top groundbreaking voice instructors as well as vocal health professionals. She is passionate about helping singers and performers to understand their instrument better and train so they can avoid vocal fatigue or injury.
Click here to register.
I recently had a discussion with a speech therapist who suggested that a lot of singers don’t actually know what their voices look like. Sometimes, it’s only when they are at a visit with the ENT or SLP that they finally get to see the vocal folds on a screen upon examination. She also made me further aware of how important it is that singers are educated in how the voice works and especially how to care for it, after all, it is their instrument. Preventing injuries and voice disorders can be challenging especially considering the crazy scheduling demands on professional singers these days. However, I agree that it’s crucial singers are educated on the importance of maintaining vocal hygiene because by doing so it can minimize the risk of vocal health issues later. Not only that, it can ensure longevity in their career.
So what is ‘vocal hygiene’ anyway and what steps can we take to make it happen? Vocal hygiene is the practice of maintaining and caring for your instrument both on and off stage. A lot of times we as singers are more focused on the music, the songwriting, the performance, the audience, the rehearsals…the list goes on and on. Those are all very important aspects to the art of singing. But equally important are steps we can take to maintain our instrument. Here are just some of the ways to keep your vocal hygiene in check:
Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. Simply put, if the body is healthy, the voice is healthy. Ensuring you get restorative sleep nightly, and maintaining a nutritious diet are both contributing factors to vocal hygiene. With nutrition it is all about researching what works best for you. If you suffer from acid reflux or allergies (which can effect the vocal folds) seek advice from a medical professional. Whatever you put in your body affects the voice, so avoid toxic substances. Physical exercise can help increase your lung capacity and can contribute to better stamina when singing on stage. Plus it gives you more energy and awareness of posture which is important in singing. So taking steps towards a healthy lifestyle definitely counts towards vocal health.
Commit to overall hydration. Vocal folds work much better and don’t fatigue as fast with moisture. Hydration doesn’t mean chugging down huge amounts of water the day of your performance or lesson. Rather, experts suggest that a commitment to overall hydration (daily intake of water) is much more efficient. You want to keep your vocal cords moist all the time. If you live in a dry environment, or suffer from dry throat, steaming the voice has been recommended by vocal professionals as a way of keeping the area moist.
Exercise your voice daily. Daily vocalizing sessions to warm up the voice are so important. But also vocal development and honing in on the areas of the voice that are challenging to develop on your own. For example areas above the chest area (as we refer to as the “mix” area or even head voice) can be difficult to sing into without any training. A qualified voice teacher will be able to assign you specific exercises to warm up the voice but also increase your vocal balance in those difficult areas.
Work on your speaking voice. How you use your speaking voice on a day to day basis counts towards vocal hygiene. If you are speaking aggressively or shouting excessively, or using it way too much, you are more likely to fatigue your voice. If your occupation requires you to speak for long periods of time, ensure you are speaking with enough pitch inflections. Moving your voice in pitch will allow it to not just stay in the same position all day. (Imagine just standing in the same position all day long and not moving around much). Vocal cords needs to be stretched a little here and there and using more than just one pitch to speak on will allow more movement.
Take time for vocal rest. If you use your voice frequently throughout the day in your occupation, or for singing or public speaking, be sure to take time out of your day to rest your voice.
The process of keeping your voice healthy requires awareness and commitment and can be quite challenging. Start today to make small changes in keeping vocal hygiene in check. Your voice will thank you for it!
Are you a singer who really wants to get better at singing riffs? A riff (sometimes called ‘run’) is a stylistic pattern of descending or ascending notes on one syllable at a rapid pace. Riffs in contemporary music have their origin in gospel and jazz and can be found in the genres of R&B, country, rock, dance, pop and even more recently contemporary musical theatre. Find an easy and short riff pattern to start and follow these tips:
Step 1: Pick an easy riff with not too many notes, from a song you like. Play the riff on piano or guitar to make sure you have all the right notes. Or simply ‘break it down’ listening to it in smaller sections. Count how many notes there are.
Step 2: Sing the riff with a consonant on each note, such as “buh, buh, buh, buh buh” or “nuh nuh nuh”. Take vibrato out and sing it on a straight tone only so there is more clarity on the notes.
Step 3: Take the consonant out and put a gentle glottal stop on each note (such as “ah. ah. ah.” or try it on “m. m. m.“ to get your voice to feel that separation between each of the notes within the pattern.
Step 4: Take the glottal stop out and just use a pure vowel such as “uh”, “oh” or “ay”.
Step 5: Start to speed up the riff, slowly increasing the tempo until the notes are all clean. Don’t merge any of the notes, if you have done that, then you have sung it too fast. Try not to push too much air while singing the riff. (This will help you keep that resistance of air pressure to be able to sing several notes in succession at a quick pace)
Step 6: Repeat the riff many times until you have it smooth. Repetition of the riff pattern will also build muscle memory on how to move from one note to the next with a clear separation of the notes. (versus clumping the notes altogether)
To get better at riffs, practice riff scales on a regular basis. Download “Funky Vocal Licks” by John Fluker on iTunes. Natalie Weiss’ web series “Breaking Down the Riffs” on youtube is also super fun! Keep listening to Gospel, mowtown, R&B, Jazz and artists who riff quite a bit. (Callie Day, Karen Clark Sheard, Smokie Norful, Steve Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Usher, Tori Kelly, Jessie J, Demi Lovato just to name a few) Even if you are a country, pop or musical theatre singer, listening to Gospel or R&B will help you gain a better ‘ear’ for riff patterns. Before you know it, you willl be riffing effortlessly!
Dealing with singing breathy?
Welcome to my site! My name is Alida and I am a certified and qualified vocal coach, singing instructor, mentor and consultant. I work with recreational singers, singer/songwriters, touring artists, musical theatre performers and many other professional voice users.
What have I been up to lately? Coaching and training major label recording artists preparing for tour, mentoring other voice instructors, doing webinars on vocal health, and also continuing to work with film/tv actors.
I am passionate about helping singers to achieve vocal wellness, vocal balance and sing amazingly well. As a result, they can sing for longer periods of time and avoid injury or strain no matter what genre they sing. All it takes it hard work and dedication and consistency in their training!
In her best selling book Mindset – The new Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck outlines the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is the belief that what you are capable of is a fixed trait, like eye colour, you’re born with it and you can’t change it. Whereas a growth mindset is like a muscle, when you put in the hard work and effort, your abilities can grow and flourish.
Singing is an activity that is notoriously known for being either you have “it” or you don’t. In other words, the genius singers were singing from the moment they were born.
Yeah right, nothing can be further from the truth. Btw, check out this great diagram:
Getting back to singers….take any genius singer and Wikipedia them and find out about how long they have been singing for and their training and background….
And even if they and “talent” (whatever that means) they were most likely brought up in an environment that encouraged singing daily (whether at home church or school)
(Ps…parents don’t ever discourage your kids from singing even if you think it sounds bad….children need to be encouraged to use their voices….more on that in a later blog)
When it comes to growing as a singer here are some SHIFTS that need to happen:
1) train – work with a qualified singing and voice professional weekly or bi-weekly
2) learn from the constructive feedback that you’ve been given – record your lessons so you can practice daily -find out what you need to improve on
3) embrace the vocal challenges – it’s not always going to be easy, keep going, keep working – the challenges are what make you stronger as a singer
4) keep going…did I mention keep going?
5) view other’s success as inspiring – don’t worry, there’s room for everyone!
6) When you hear a good singer, L I S T E N! Get inspired!
7) One more thing…ignore the haters….and only work with people who offer you constructive feedback and effective tools!
Alida is a vocal coach and singer/performer based in Vancouver, Canada and has been teaching private voice lessons for 10 years. A graduate of UBC School of Music, Alida is also a Level 5 Certified IVA Voice Teacher.
What if there was a miracle cure for all of your vocal troubles? Well there kind of already is…
The number one game changer for singers is vocal technique, that’s right, you’ve heard it before, technique technique, technique….
As much as we try to avoid it, we may be bored by it, confused by it, don’t want to bother with it, wanna warm-up and go straight to songs, have better things to do like scroll through insta feeds….
The truth is: your voice needs a daily workout.
-When we avoid technique, we’re avoiding the problematic areas that will show up for us in the songs…so you will always ‘miss the mark’ if you just keep practicing the song only.
-Technique prepares you for the challenges you face in the song!
-Also, it helps prevent vocal fatigue and injury…it makes singing easier!
Wanna game plan?
book your next voice lesson
record your vocal technique exercises with your phone during your lesson
practice those tools daily BEFORE you hit the songs
THEN…wait for my next blog….it’s coming soon….
in the meantime keep do steps 1-3
Alida is a vocal coach based in Vancouver, Canada and has been teaching voice to singers for 10 years. A graduate of UBC School of Music, Alida is also a certified Advanced IVA Voice Teacher.
“Today April 16th, 2018, marks World Voice Day! This day was established 19 years ago to raise awareness of the importance of vocal health and to share resources on vocal science and pedagogy. There are several events happening today across Canada and around the world. Take a moment to read up on the voice and reflect on what your voice means to you! The World Voice Day motto for 2018 is “Make the Choice to Cherish Your Voice“. What steps can you take today to ‘cherish’ your voice?
We still tend to believe that someone is a great singer because they were born singing great or they have ‘natural talent.’ (There’s a term that’s thrown around a lot.) But that isn’t true, it takes work, training and also effective coaching. Here are just some of the ways we can improve our singing:
Find a vocal coach:
Work with a qualified voice teacher frequently to make sure you are on the right track with your voice. At the end of your lessons be sure to ask your voice coach what to work on specifically in your practices.
Keep your practices short, focused and productive. Following along with your lesson recording is generally a good way to start. Then taking sections of a song and working through the challenging bits. If you are doing too much all at once your voice may get tired. So it’s a good idea to make your practice regime shorter and more frequently throughout the week. Technique should come first, especially if you are still trying to build a balanced voice and are the beginning stages of vocal development.
Listen to great singers:
Don’t be afraid to listen to genius singers, in fact, build a playlist of them! Singers from all genres of music and not necessarily mainstream artists. Consult with a professional on which singers would be a great reference or inspiring for you to listen to. While listening, take note as to how they are singing. What is their vibrato like? What is their range like?
Keep your voice healthy:
Vocal rest, hydration, sleep, vocal technique are all proven ways to make sure your voice is in healthy shape. If you aren’t sure if your voice is healthy, consult with a voice therapist or medical professional.
“When people say artists are born with talent, you’re not. You have to really learn and really practice.” – Ed Sheeran on Jonathan Ross Show (2014)
Change your mindset:
Focus on the milestones you have achieved with your voice, take note of how and what you have improved on – then you are more likely to head in the right direction with your voice. Constructive criticism is best, so work with a qualified vocal coach to ensure you are getting the right feedback. Don’t let your ‘inner critic’ take control over your vocal progress.
Stop the comparing:
Since no two voices are alike, it’s impossible to sound like another singer. It’s wonderful to listen to great singers and get a reference for what they are doing vocally. But at the end of the day, it’s about finding your own voice. Comparing isn’t constructive, it only confirms that you ‘can’t’ do what the other person is doing. Instead take baby steps towards improving your own voice and choose songs that challenge you, but that are not overly difficult at first. Then work towards more difficult material once you have had enough training and guidance.
Test out what you have learned – find an open mic, or if someone asks you to sing, SING! Test out the waters and see if you can trust what you have learned and practiced!
Try out group singing:
In addition to working on your voice in a solo capacity, group singing is a wonderful way to connect with others but not only that, you can improve your musicianship. Learning new songs, and harmonies, having to blend with other singers are just some of the ways that make group singing fun.
Alida is a singer, vocal coach and music educator based in Vancouver, Canada. A graduate of UBC School of Music, Alida holds an IVA Advanced Certificate in voice teaching. Alida has been teaching voice for over 9 years to clients from the Lower Mainland as well as across Canada and worldwide. To book a lesson with Alida click here.