Improve your vocal performance

By Cari Cole

Singers want to sound good when they sing live.  Whether you’re aiming to be a rockstar or diva, or just want to sound better, did you know that with just a few tweaks, you can make significant changes.  Here are my singing lesson secrets that I’ve found to make a huge difference for singers when they step on a stage.  For each of you, depending on your vocal goals, one or more of these may be your key to transforming your live vocals. These secrets will improve your sound, ease tension and stress (big negatives for your voice), power up your vocals and range, and give you more vitality and even health (your healthy body supports a healthy and strong voice).

1. Power Your Voice.

a.    When you sing, open up your mouth wider.  What happens is your jaw goes lower, and then so does your larynx.  The result is less effort but more sound.  Why?  It gives you more breath control.

b.    Sing on the vowels – minimize consonants.   You’ll discover that the vowels provide the real power and resonance, so let ‘those vowels ring (and don’t get hung up on those consonants)!

c.    Dip-thongs – be careful.  What’s a dip-thong?  That where you’ve got two vowels in one. There are 3 of them: A (ay-eee), I (eye-eee), and O (oh-oo).  Here’s how the rule for handling these.  Sing on the first vowel.  For the second, just barely touch it.

2. Heal-thy Body, Heal-thy Voice.

I’m always talking about vocal health and that’s because vocal health is so important to having fabulous live vocals.  Of course, vocal health also is connected to being healthy in every way, so health is a big topic for me with singers.  Don’t forget, singing is physical, and you, as a singer, are an athlete of those muscles that allow you to vocalize – and breathe – so taking good care of them will garner great vocal results!

a.    Sleep or tons of napping.   Deep sleep is the best thing for your voice – but if you can grab lots of small naps, that’s really good too.  After dehydration, lack of sleep is the biggest cause of voice issues.  Organic passion-flower (two capsules) is an herb which can help quiet your mind and relax you, to help you get to sleep (although by itself, it won’t make you sleepy).

b.    Water –  Yes, dehydration – such a simple thing to remedy – is the first reason for voice problems.  I advise you to drink eight or more glasses of water daily.  That water will support your voice’s flexibility, tone – and even increase your range!  Yep, that’s right. A little H20 is like rocket fuel for your voice.

c.    Fresh Vegetables and Fruits. Yes, eat those veggies and fruits – not having them will make your body fatigue easily and it’s well known that when you don’t eat well, you’re more prone to getting sick. Who wants to cancel a concert because you got sick at the last minute? I advise more fresh veggies, fresh fruits, and less packaged and processed food. Instead of grabbing for that Kraft mac and cheese (not real food) – make fresh salads, or vegetable soups – and get some fresh fruit in at start and end of every day. I start my day with a fresh berry and almond milk smoothie (and a scoop of Greens First!) Also good is Vitamin D and Vitamin C on a daily basis (but remember that regular Vitamin C can cause reflux, so try Soloray Crystalline Powdered Non-Ascorbic Vitamin C instead.)

3. Away with Tension and Stress.

Nothing kills a performance and your voice more than tension and stress! a. Away with Stress 

  • Stress is a state of mind. It happens when you are resisting what is (or circumstances outside of you that come up unexpectedly.  The best way to have control over how you react or how you handle stress is to Meditate –  Ten minutes a day will make a huge difference
  • Try taking passion flower, which is an herb, and can be used three times daily (comes in capsules – 2 for each time).  Passion flower is a “nervine” which provides nutrition to your nervous system and will absolutely take the edge off your stress, but it won’t make you drowsy the way some medicines will that have the same effect.

b. Away with Tension 

  • Did you know that tension causes contractions in the muscles of your voice and limits your range and power? There are three modalities I use to do away with unneeded tensions:
  • Yoga and stretching and weekly baths with Epsom Salts.
  • Massage is not a luxury for a singer. The small muscles of the voice must be released on a regular basis, especially if you perform often. Leave one day between the massage and your performance.
  • Acupuncture is amazing for the singing voice if you can handle the needles (they are super skinny and you barely feel them at all). It is very effective for vocal problems as well.

4. Supercharge Your Emotions.

Year’s back, I was performing at an event with huge numbers of stars in attendance and on stage, so I was more nervous than usual – it was a big stakes appearance and I wanted to impress.  I thought – what if I take it up a notch and express my emotions on a new level than I had before? 

I wanted to give my emotion to the audience in an authentic soulful expression of my performance – more than I had before.  I wondered if that would make a sensational impact? I got up to perform in front of all these stars – heart going a mile a minute, stomach churning – breathing deeply and decided – from deep within myself – to give something from my heart in a deeper way than ever before

What happened?  Well, I don’t really know during the performance because I was so much in ‘the zone’ that I really can’t recall.  But when I ended – wow  – the whole audience stood up and gave me my first real standing ovation

On that day, I learned that performance is truly about giving yourself to your audience – yes, great vocals (and I had worked out a fab finale, in fact) are important, but it’s how you share yourself with your audience that really makes all the difference.  And the real secret is: what you want for your audience to feel, you must supercharge your emotions and feel it yourself

When you intensely, definitely and genuinely give – beyond what you possibly think you can – the audience will get it and your performance – and your live vocals – will totally rock.  What works best for you?  Do any of these tips hit home?  Try them and let me know how it goes!


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