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Your guide to making the most of

Your guide to making the most of

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  • 1. LearnHowToSingBetter.com Presents...The Voice Idol X Factor Your guide to making the most of your audition and ! achieving your dream 1
  • 2. Dare to DreamIt all looks so intimidating: the lights, stage, cameras, studio audience, televisionaudience, judges. Oh, the judges! They nitpick every little thing. And that’s even withSimon out of the picture!How do the contestants on TV’s biggest singing shows manage the pressure, rise abovethe competition, and make it into rarified air?The “dirty little secret” is that they each started as regular Joes or Janes, just like therest of us. They dreamt of the big time, which gave them the drive to work hard andprepare themselves. A poised vocal performance is not something you are merely born with—raw talent is a small part of the equation. Rather, it is something you can achieve with training, practice, and coaching. Keep Reading... Inside you will learn more about breathing with your diaphragm, warming up your vocal chords, increasing your range, improving your technique, and maximizing your opportunity to perform.! 2
  • 3. Breathe, Relax, and Warm Up Master the fundamentals of singing to get the most out of the “musical instrument” that is your bodyYour body is a musical instrument. It produces notes when air flows through your vocalchords, into resonators throughout your upper body, and out your mouth. Making thisinstrument work properly for long periods of time requires the air to come from the rightplace and pass through vocal chords that have been properly warmed up. Let’s look atthis in some detail. The DiaphragmThe thoracic diaphragm is a large muscle that sits just below the lungs at the bottom ofthe rib cage. It acts as a pump to expand and contract the lungs during the breathing process. Professional-level singers train the diaphragm to control the flow of air to the vocal chords to produce notes and tones. They know that, if they were to use the small muscles in the throat to control breathing, their vocal chords would incur undue stress.! 3
  • 4. Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises As with any muscle, training makes the diaphragm stronger. A great way to start is to lie on your back and think of filling your stomach like a balloon while feeling your diaphragm with your hands. From that position, you can practice letting the air out slowly (as if there were a hole in the “balloon”); all at once; and in short bursts. Keep your mouth relaxed and teeth closed. After repeating those exercises several times, move to a standing position, and try them again. You may find them to be a little harder while standing than they were lying down. Be sure not to involve your shoulders or your chest in the breathing process. You want to focus on staying relaxed and pushing the air up with your abdominal muscles. Vocal Warm Ups Just as it is important to stretch and warm up before working out at a gym, any singing practice session or performance requires a vocal warm up. This is also a good time to focus your mind on the task at hand and tune out distractions. Vocal Warm Up Exercises Start with one of the most basic sounds a human can make: humming. Your lips should be closed but loose, and you should feel like you are pushing the sound gently with your stomach. Spend a few minutes feeling comfortable before moving on.! 4
  • 5. Next, try lip rolls. Imagine you are trying to make bubbles underwater, or imitating anangry bull. You will need relaxed lips and diaphragmatic breathing to make your lipsmove freely while making a “brbrbr” sound. Again, spend some time with this exerciseand resist any temptation to rush it.Lastly, we want to use scale singing to begin the transition from making silly noises to producing notes and actually singing. Go through different notes in a relatively easy range, American
  • 6.   Idol
  • 7.   Winners maintaining awareness as to how your vocal chords feel. As they start to feel warmed up, 2002 Kelly
  • 8.   Clarkson slowly expand the range of notes. Eventually, 2003 Ruben
  • 9.   Studdard you will want to reach both the high and low 2004 Fantasia
  • 10.   Barrino ends of your known vocal range. 2005 Carrie
  • 11.   Underwood 2006 Taylor
  • 12.   Hicks Increasing Vocal Range 2007 Jordin
  • 13.   Sparks In televised competitions, contestants must sing 2008 David
  • 14.   Cook a variety of songs to test their overall mettle. If, 2009 Kris
  • 15.   Allen after honing your singing fundamentals, you 2010 Lee
  • 16.   DeWyze want to increase your range, there are steps you 2011 Scott
  • 17.   McCreary can take to increase your vocal range. Find a 2012 piano or keyboard and establish the notes at the Phillip
  • 18.   Phillips 2013 highest end of your range. Without forcing Your
  • 19.   Name
  • 20.   Here anything, play the next higher note and attempt to repeat it with your voice. If that works, try oneor two more. Repeat the same practice on the lower end of the range. It is important tobalance range exercises at both ends of the comfortable range. Should You Hire a Personal Coach?A personal vocal coach can provide personalize attention and customized instruction.He or she also requires a substantial financial commitment; private lessons are oftenexpensive. Such a commitment can be a good thing: you will become invested in yourtraining and, therefore, less likely to avoid practicing. Also consider that you and yourcoach must work out mutually acceptable schedules, and you will only have access tohim or her during these time.Alternatives for folks with more limited budgets and/or a need for more flexibility includejoining a church or community choir, online vocal lessons, computer-assisted singingprograms, and software tools for ear training. The upfront expense for the trainingproducts is higher (though financing is often available), but you end up spending muchless per lesson, and you can take them on your own time.! 5
  • 21. Improving Your Technique Speech Level SingingTrain your throat muscles to relax with the Speech Level Singing technique. Youremphasis will be on keeping your larynx steady and in a low position at all notes in yourvocal range. This forces you to use your diaphragm to breathe properly. Alexander Singing Technique Singing puts a surprising amount of stress on the back, neck, and head. The Alexander Technique helps you focus on how you are using your body. Once you find a balance between your back, neck, and head, you can then balance your whole body. This leads to proper alignment of your resonators (see sidebar on the next page) and a more relaxed approach to singing.! 6
  • 22. Singing High NotesVocal
  • 23.   Resonators When singing high notes, feel the air go from your Chest belly, through your vocal chords, and on to your head resonators—the oral cavity, nasal cavity, and sinuses. Tracheal
  • 24.   Tree Imagine the sound pushing against the top of your Larynx head before coming out, merely passing by the vocal chords along the way. When done the right way, you Pharynx should not feel any strain in your throat. Oral
  • 25.   Cavity Nasal
  • 26.   Cavity Singing Falsetto Sinuses Falsetto means “false voice” in Italian, referring to the fact that it is not really your normal voice, but one that is outside of your normal vocal register. When you force the air up from the diaphragm, concentrate on not forcing the throat muscles. The goal is to make your vocal chords vibrate on their outer edges. The sound vibrates on your head and not on your chest: if you place your hand on your chest, you shouldn’t feel it vibrate. Singing Vibrato To learn how to get a regular, pulsating change of pitch, a good drill is to sing one note that is easy for you while pumping with your hand at a location right under your ribs and immediately above your belly button. Once you get used to this feeling, you can train your diaphragm to sing this way on command. Developing Perfect Pitch The ability to recognize the precise frequency or musical note is a skill that the top concert performers have honed. It is a learned skill: almost anyone can develop perfect pitch. To train, repeat the sounds of an instrument; practice at night so your nocturnal subconscious can process the information; and practice one tone repeatedly until you memorize it. ! 7
  • 27. Show Time! Preparing Your ActWhen choosing a song, consider the fit between what you sing well and what the audiencewill respond to. Magic happens when a singer is able to bond with the crowd, and thesong is an important ingredient to the mix.Also, don’t underestimate the importance of stagecraft. Your clothes, hair, movement,and stage presence all factor into how you “market” yourself to the crowd. Before theperformance is the best time to test a new hairdo or shirt and solicit feedback,particularly from people you don’t know who can provide an unbiased assessment. Day of the PerformanceAll winning performers on TV exude passion and engage with the audience. Summoning your passion from within starts before a performance, requiring focus to “get in the zone.” Plan to spend quiet time alone before the show meditating and/or visualizing your connection with your audience. Fifteen minutes should be sufficient to achieve the proper mindset. Do your best to stay in a positive frame of mind. Thinking! 8
  • 28. negatively drains energy and leads to stage fright. Conversely, positive thoughts lead to confidence and help you engage with the audience. Use your sense of humor as a guide. It is also important to talk as little as possible prior to your performance, in order to maintain the freshness of your voice. Keep your focus on good posture and proper breathing. Perform vocal warm-ups first thing after waking up. Then silently rest your chords all day until another warm up session just prior to the show. From a dietary standpoint, certain foods and drinks can hinder your act, while others can help it. Avoid dairy products, coffee, spicy foods, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, icy cold foods, and large amounts of alcohol and junk food. Hot tea or hard candy can help your voice. Never eat less than one hour prior to a performance, and stick to fish, vegetables, fruit, rice, meat, and clear liquids. During the Show The key to a great performance is engaging with the audience. Your job is to relate the passion you feel for your music to the crowd (and judges). Passion comes from within. Getting it out requires your authentic personality to emerge. Throw in some entertaining banter between songs. Project your confident singing voice to the people in the back row. And don’t forget to smile! You’re living your dream!All images used in this document are licensed under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license. Photo credits go to the following Flickr users: Freedom to Marry, kwalk628, mtanne, TheCosmopolitan of Las Vegas, serena_in_VA, thomaswanhoff. The photos are for illustrative purposes only. None of the artists pictured endorse this guide or this website in anyway.! 9
  • 29. Visit us online to learn more• We have a popular free online guide to better vocals and performances• Our reviews cover the best online, computer-aided, and audio singing products on the market• We frequently update our blog with product updates and news from the world of singing LearnHowToSingBetter.com Dedicated to helping the world sing better !