When I'm talking to you like this, I'm talking to you in a vocal register called chest voice.
But if I talk to you like this, I'm talking to you in another vocal register which is called falsetto.
So I want you guys to try some of these vocal registers with me. First in your chest voice, guys and girls just say “Hello, my name is Justin.”. Of course use your own name though. Here we go. That was great.
And now the mix is a kind of vocal register. It's actually more than one thing which is why people get confused about. It's not just one mix but it's some blend between the chest register and the falsetto or head voice register that you guys already felt.
So what I'm going to do for you right now is do, in my speaking voice, a really smooth transition from my highest falsetto down through a bunch of mixes and then into my chest voice so you guys really can get in your ear what a mix sounds like just in my speaking voice. So here I go.
If I go, way up here in my falsetto, if I'm talking to you way up here in my falsetto and then I come down a little bit and start to add a little bit of mix to my voice, I get something like that, but then if I bring it down a little bit further I get a little bit more vocal cords and I get a little bit thicker mix right here, and then if I bring it down more and add a little bit more mix I get a sound like this, and then if I bring it down a little further I get a sound like this, and then if I bring it down a little further and add vocal cords I get it sound like this, and I'm back in my chest voice.
But if you want to mess with that, that would be pretty cool, right? A smooth transition just in your own speaking voice from chest to falsetto or back and forth, that's a really awesome thing if you have that kind of coordination. That's what we want to get.
So now how does this apply to a song? So many artists have this great mix sound where they're going up to high notes. But it doesn't seem very difficult for them. They don't seem to be pushing or straining very much. They're probably using a mix.
So then how do we find that middle ground? We need to know what the mix is, how am I getting a smooth transition between those, what's the x-factor, what's the missing ingredient to making that mix work. Here's the thing that nobody will tell you and is really the truth.
So, usually what I'll say is: guys down here, ladies up here. But the mix is the thing that makes the ladies sound real real strong in their head voice and the guys sound real real high and light. It blends the two together, actually.
So today I'm not going to separate. Today guys and girls are going to be on the exact same pitch. But to do this I'm going to tell ladies when to come in. We're going to start down with the guys and I'm going to tell the ladies when to come in with this exercise.
Here's your goal. We're going up in pitch. You're not going to push breath and spread out. And you're not going to flip to falsetto or head voice. You're going to keep it in a light, compressed, easy mix.
And you guys know that our continuing mission here at New York Vocal Coaching and Voice Lessons To The World is just to give you the best possible vocal information. We know that not everybody can afford great voice lessons. We know that the best vocal information is not really available to everybody all around the world.
So we're trying to help you guys by giving you a lot of this great information, hope it helps; which is why I'm so excited to tell you guys about a brand new app that we're going to be releasing for iPad, iPhone, hopefully more.
This app is going to have a lot of free videos, a lot of free articles, tons of great tips for you guys as singers so that you can just keep growing and keep building towards your dreams of being the best possible singer that you can be.
And Donna writes, “Dear Justin, I go to a performing arts high school. And my voice teacher says I don't have what it takes to be a good singer. I'm so discouraged. I feel like giving up. I always thought I had a good voice but I guess I'm wrong.”
And to anybody out there who had an abusive voice teacher, a person who was negative - doesn't matter if it was a friend, family member, somebody told you you can't sing, somebody that told you you shouldn't sing, somebody said it's not a good idea for you to sing that you just don't have what it takes but you're just not good enough - I'm sorry.
And so for somebody to tell you that you're never going to be any good at it, I can just tell you it's flat-out wrong. Not only is it incorrect, wrong but it's also wrong to stifle somebody's gift like that.
You go and learn how to play the piano in a negative environment. That wouldn't be the best but you could do it. You could have somebody saying “No, that's not… that's not good. That's wrong.” and you could still learn how to play the piano.
So if you're crushed down in your mind, Donna and all, if you're crushed down in your spirit, there's no way your voice can really soar. It's always going to be tight. It's always going to be hesitant. It's always going to come out and be judged.
And so we can't have that. We can't have a negative environment. And any good voice teacher knows that.
So if your voice teacher said that to you, honestly I'd encourage you to find a different situation because you need people that are behind you 100%. So I'm behind you 100%, Donna, and I encourage you on that.
The voice is no different than that. It's a series of muscle coordinations on the inside of the larynx as well as the breathing. If I want to get my voice in great shape, I absolutely can. Anybody can train these muscles if they're willing and if they're disciplined. Anybody can do that.
So Donna, you can do that. And everybody, you can do that.
Now I will admit this. There's a thing about talent versus discipline. There are really some singers who are just sort of naturally great athletes - the kind of people where… if you were just walking down the street and you saw somebody, they look in great shape and you say “Hey you must work out, right?” the person says, “No, I never work out at all.”
There's other singers and other athletes who maybe weren't so natural but they wanted to work for it really hard, they wanted to train their muscles and they wanted to do everything that they could do to be the best that they can be.
This kind of person has the potential to be as good and as athletic vocally as just about anyone. So you don't want to have any natural limitations standing in your way. Actually you want that to inspire you to go even further with your discipline and to really work on it.
Now again you're not going to be able to do that in a negative environment. But if you get into positive environment and you work really hard on your vocal muscles, you will in time get to be a very good singer.
So whether or not the actual voice is pristine, we need to have you, Donna. We need your voice to come out. Even if it's got some flaws right now, that doesn't matter. That's not what we really love at the end of the day. We love you.
Now I will finally mention, Donna and all, that you must sing.
All right. There's no lukewarm reactions to singing. If you ask somebody “Well, do you sing? Are you a singer? Do you like to sing?” you're either gonna get this reaction “Oh yeah, sure. I'm a singer and I take voice lessons and I love it and you know I enjoy singing.“ or “Oh no, please no! Don't make me sing. I can't sing.”
The reason why that is is because singing is just so native to who we are. Everybody somewhere deep inside wants to sing. But maybe they were told that they can’t. Maybe they were told that they shouldn’t. But they're wanting to sing somewhere even if they're terrified.
They lost their chance to give the world or just give the people in their life their gift of singing because of what somebody else has said. I've had so many people come through the studio with an abusive voice teacher, a negative voice teacher with friends, family, somebody telling them they can’t, somebody telling them that they shouldn’t.
So Donna and all, I want you guys to be one of those people: one of those people who does not listen to the negative messages but pushes right through that, does the work and ends up being the singer that they wanted to be.
So today, more than ever, we encourage you not to lose that joy, not to lose that passion. Get with a great voice teacher who's going to stand behind you, who's going to believe in you, not somebody who's going to knock you down and tell you that you can't do it.
Well, thank you Nora for that great question. And man alive, I've heard that Adele song more times than almost any song in voice lessons. Everybody loves to sing that song. And so I think it's good that we talk about that today because it's so common.
But I do have an idea here, Nora, about why that might be so tough. And it's the deadly “I”.
The “I” vowel in singing is one of the hardest vowels. It's a culprit for so many vocal problems. And a lot of times when… a song… you know, you feel like you have those notes, “I know I can sing that note, so why is this song so tough?” A lot of times it's the “I” vowel.
It's really a kind of mean vowel and I'm going to explain why it's so so difficult to sing.
But unfortunately, it's not only difficult but it's also very common because every time I have a song about myself ,“I”, I'm gonna have to sing an “I” vowel. So we're going to talk about why this “I” is so deadly.
不運にも「アイ」は難しいだけではなく、自分のこと（「アイ」= I ）について歌う時は「アイ」を使わなければならないので、とてもよく使う母音でもあるのです。ですのでこの「アイ」がどうして強敵なのかについて話していきましょう。
Now the first reason is it's a mouth vowel, right? And as we're moving up to high notes the sound can be in the mouth or out the mouth. The sound has to get more in.
Our chest voice and our low notes can go out the mouth directionally with the airflow. But as you move higher you must, must, must move the air in and to the back and also perhaps up and into the nasal resonators. It's essential for the instrument to function well.
The other thing is it's a spready vowel. Now we've talked about spreading before. And the spread of the lip corners of “I”, the way we speak “I” is another problem. That's going to be guiding the air out the mouth.
Now bright vowels tend to raise the larynx a little bit more. And you know also we've talked about before, spreading. So we don't want those bright vowels to be moving up and tight. And that's another problem with that “I” vowel.
So now what am I doing to fix it? Again, I'm making sure that the lip corners are staying more neutral. We're not letting them go. We're keeping them more in so the vowel doesn't get out the mouth as much.
And so let's try that together. Do a spread “I” vowel for me. Just do “I”. Okay, now do “I”. Nice. Go ahead and spread again “I”. Right. Now “I”. Good. So that's going to help you fix the mouthiness of that “I” vowel.
So you’ve got to have it a little bit more up in the head than we would usually speak it. That’s going to feel super weird. The “I” vowel that we sing on high notes is the least like itself when we speak of any vowel.
So here we go with an exercise together, guys down here “MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI”, and ladies up here “MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI”. You're gonna have that M and W helping you keep the “I” in the head. Here we go.
Go ahead and put that in your song work. You could do something like “MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI MWI” to feel that and then go to the words, “Never mind, I’ll find someone like you”, so we got that sound more contained.
Now if you guys will just indulge me for one second, I just want to talk about one other deadly “I” that singers face.
And that's the “I” of the ego that we get when we sing either we're thinking our sound is just so awesome and everybody ought to listen to me, me, me, or we think “Oh, I'm just not good enough” “Oh, I just… I'm never going to make it” “Oh, nobody ever thinks I sound any good” and the focus is on “I”.
And if the focus is on “I” as a singer we're in some really bad territory. And so I want to encourage you guys to make your singing about somebody else. If you got it going on and you just really feel great about your singing all the time, that's the time to give, right?
Or if you're just a, you know, beginner and just starting off and you're just kind of doing it just for you but you don’t, you know, feel good about your sound, dedicate your sound to, maybe it’s a grandma that always believed that you should sing, maybe it's a friend or somebody, dedicate your singing and your practicing and your work to somebody else.
Getting the focus off of the deadly “I” will really help you guys to expand as singers because if it's on you things start to deteriorate fast but if you give the gift of singing then it's going to give back to you in some awesome ways.
Get with a great voice teacher in your area and don't stop working hard on your voice. Don't stop giving away your sound to other people. If you give the gift of singing you know it's going to give back to you.
People are afraid to do it. People approach glottal with trepidation and are worried because of what they've been told that a glottal sound is going to hurt them, is going to ruin their voice so they can never speak or sing ever again.
When they open another muscle the posterior cricoarytenoids (Whoa!) opens them up. And then the interarytenoids shut them back “huh”. And then if I have again “Uh oh”, I get that click. Now that's what it is.
So you probably have heard this sound. Every time you hear a “I”, “A, E, I, O, U”, I'm getting that “Ah ah ah”, and the “Eh, Ee, I, Oh”. All of that has that glottal stop (It's called a glottal stop sometimes) before you hear the sound. So that's what it is.
Now if you have an injured voice, if you have nodes, if you have polyps, if you have a fatigued or raspy voice, if you're sick, if you're just very very tired vocally, probably a glottal you can see why that wouldn't be such a good idea. Slapping the vocal cords shut not always such a great thing.
But the problem is people have gotten overly fearful of this sound when it actually is a part of our natural speech. But you know, many medical voice doctors as well as speech therapists will recommend not doing a lot of that glottal edge when you are vocally fatigued. And we should follow their advice because again it is very athletic.
Or I'd have to say “(H)Uh (h)oh, (h)I spilled my (h)ice cream”. If I wanted to really avoid the glottal I need “(H)Uh (h)oh, (h)I spilled my (h)ice cream”. I have to really avoid that versus “Uh oh, I spilled my ice cream”.
それか声門閉鎖を本当に避けるのなら “(H)Uh (h)oh, (h)I spilled my (h)ice cream”* と言わなければならないでしょう。それに対しての （声門閉鎖を使って）“Uh oh, I spilled my ice cream” です。
A lot of singers can't even do it as they go up higher. If I'm doing an exercise just if I did it on an “Ah”, and I was singing “Ah” a singer that can't do a glottal or doesn't have enough compression might do “Hah”. They can't do “Ah”. It's always “Hah”. And they can't even get the chords shut to start the sound.
So singers that lack compression will not be able to do that glottal. We can use that glottal to build some of that compression to learn how to get the chords shut with moderation in our vocal technique work.
Now again this is not for everybody. If your voice is already too squeezed, too gripped, too strained, if you’re vocally fatigued, if you've got a vocal injury, these sorts of things, this is not the thing to be doing.
Don't just be glottal until the cows come home. We need to build the skill and then you got it.
So for those who may lack compression in the voice this is going to be a great exercise. But again, I don't want to be getting angry letters. I don't want to hear you know that this destroyed your voice. If you do this moderately and if you do this well, this is actually going to help you.
We're gonna do an “Uh oh” exercise. All it is is this “Uh oh” right? I'm not gonna do it loud. It's like my speaking voice “Uh oh”. So I don't want “Uh oh”. I don’t want to be blasting air. It's just a gentle “Uh oh” on pitch so that we know that we get the chords shut.
All right, so guys are gonna be down here, “Uh oh”. And ladies up here, “Uh oh”. And we're just going to go up and down the scale with light glottals just to get this skill built in your voice if you don't have it. Here we go.
So that's it. Just a little baby glottal, not doing that too hard, just a baby glottal to get the sense of compression. I want you guys to graduate from this fast. You're not again not glottaling up a storm all day because our glottals - a friend or a foe - they can be both, right?
So, Krista and all I hope that that illuminates your mind about the world of glottals and what they can do or not do for your voice. If you guys have questions that you'd like to see us answer on the show, you can send an email to Questions@VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
So we just encourage you don't lose that joy, don't lose that passion, don't let people tell you you can't sing. You know that's not true. Keep working hard on your voice and get with a great voice teacher in your area.
That's a great question, Thomas. Because I know that a lot of our viewers are more pop rock or maybe classical singers but there's also a lot of Broadway singers out there as well. So we want to talk today about aspects of musical theatre singing.
So with Broadway musicals and with musical theatre songs, the songs are almost always trying to drive the story. They're trying to tell what's happening in the story, what's happening with the characters, maybe what the character wants, maybe tell about the action of the story.
Now another thing about Broadway musicals, especially these days, is the stylistic diversity.
Broadway is an amalgamation of so many different styles of music. Some traditional and even classical, some pop, rock, R&B, country even. Especially these days we're hearing a lot more of the contemporary sounds in Broadway.
And then you have Broadway singing just straight up as it's always been. Classic Broadway tunes, show tunes, and then also jazz music is a very big part of musical theatre. So you really have almost every style of music in the musical theatre repertoire.
Because of this we need to have our neutral larynx coordinations, as we've talked about in the past, as one of our key elements. In other words, I need to be able to sound like myself, right? If I am using my neutral larynx I sound the most like myself.
And I sound like myself. So it really is accessible for my broadway-style communication.
Now since Broadway has a little bit more of those rock elements, I might have to do a little more high or rock larynx in certain situations. What if I took "One Song Glory" from Rent. Which is more of a rock musical.
And I get a little bit more into my rock belt in that scenario.
Now of course, like I say, musical theatre also has some of the more low larynx or traditional styles present. Right after I might have gone to see Rent I might actually go and see something like South Pacific, and I have "Some Enchanted Evening". And I get a more low larynx coordination.
Now on the topic of the different sounds that you hear, it's not that we always need to sound good in musical theatre. And that's something that gives musical theatre often a very bad rap. Is that people think that Broadway voices are sometimes really nasal and twangy and you get that sort of Broadway kind of sound that is very stereotypical.
Now of course that's not always true. But part of the reason that it gets that bad rap is there are moments where we do want to welcome into the equation character sounds and character singing. So these are sounds that are purposefully not beautiful sounds, that are sometimes an element that's necessary in musical theatre.
So that's the reason why we'll sometimes hear this sort of Broadway or twangy character voice. There's not just the twangy character, there's many characters. But that's the reason why, is sometimes in Broadway singing we do need to add character to the voice.
Now finally vibrato is an element of a lot of Broadway singing. Pop and rock do not use as much vibrato as say classical, but musical theatre will use more than pop rock and a little bit less than classical.
Les Mis being a little bit more of a legit musical. We have the song "Stars" and you can hear I'm gonna add some vibrato to it and take it away too. You can hear that Les Mis would be an example of a Broadway show that uses a little bit more vibrato.
I have to add a little bit of vibrato to make it a legit or more traditional musical theatre sound. So that's another aspect of musical theatre singing. Is it's just a little bit more vibrato than a lot of the contemporary sounds would have.
In New York and and in the Broadway world you have to make sure that you're telling the story first. I know tons and tons of good singers, great singers actually, that just don't get cast as much as those that bring the acting to the equation with their Broadway singing.
So with musical theatre you really want to make sure that no matter what you do, with whatever you're focused on with your musical theatre Broadway sound, you're making acting- storytelling, having objectives, knowing who you're talking to, knowing what you want, knowing what the scene is about, put that as your number one and your Broadway singing is going to go to the next level. Because it's always gonna be your number one.
So Thomas and all, I hope that's been helpful for you guys today as singers. If you have questions that you'd like to see us answer on the show you can send an email to: Questions@VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
And we just encourage you not to lose that joy, don't lose that passion. If you guys are doing Broadway singing we just encourage you to get out there do some auditions, get in a lot of shows, expand your repertoire, get with a great voice teacher in your area.
Now that's a very good job of keeping it real open for me there, Max. Because tension is such a broad term that there's so many different videos that I could do, and I will do, in the future on tension. Because it could be a lot of things.
But today I'm just going to pick one for you guys so we can start to eliminate vocal tension from your sound.
And the one we're going to be talking about today is jaw thrust. There's a tendency among singers, a habit really, of having jaw thrust. It's the following kind of movement, this... [Demonstrates jaw thrust] ...in the singing.
But nobody really wants to and so to increase compression in a way that's not positive one could jut the jaw forward. And that will cause greater compression on the cords. So you crack less but the sound is tight.
The other thing it does is bring up the larynx. We've again talked about how the larynx being high isn't always a bad thing. But if the jaw is the one that's bringing it up, that's of course not a good thing at all.
If we jut the jaw forward, we're going to increase the size of the pharynx, but again, not in a good way, in a way that causes a tension and limitation. So those are the reasons why somebody might have jaw thrust as a part of their singing.
It's kind of sloppy, it's kind of stupid. I just want, duh. And it's not about the jaw being open per se. It's about it being released. Duh. And so when you feel that sort of idiot kind of feeling, Duh. One more time, try that for me… That's nice.
So you're gonna feel like a real loser here. I hope there's nobody else in the room listening to you. I hope you're in the privacy of your own home for this one. But let's try this sound, just again go duh.
And you can see that I'm sliding my voice. From 1-3, 3-5, 5-3, 3-1. I'm not moving my jaw at all. Look at it one more time before we start. ”HUH - HUH - HUH - HUH” I totally have my duh position. So here we go, let's try it.
Awesome stuff. So, you can feel what it is to have no jaw thrust in your sound. Some of you might need a mirror for that. Because this is another one of those things where it's tough to know that you're doing it.
If you have to jut the jaw, probably you're tensing the larynx, probably you're tensing the cords, and probably you're using too much air. So you might have to go back and examine your breath support as well. That's a good way just to work out the voice.
But I'm not going to address this in the way that you guys probably think. Because there's a tip that I'm about to give you which to me is actually one of the best possible tips that I could ever give away.
Now obviously I'm not going to have you guys going out there on stage singing way off-key. That's not our goal. But the problem that people have is putting too much emphasis actually on staying on pitch.
Now clearly one of our first steps as a singer is can we just match the pitches, can we stay on pitch. But very soon after that all the way to when you're an advanced elite singer, pitch should not be on the pedestal if your goal is to try to stay on pitch as a singer. That's probably one of the worst possible focuses that you could have.
And that just does not seem intuitive, that does not seem right that I would be saying that to you. That we don't want to value pitch. But today I would like to take pitch off its pedestal for you guys.
Now here's the reason why. If I put technique on the pedestal the pitch will soon follow.
その理由はこれです - もしテクニックを一番に考えれば、ピッチはついて来るのです。
What people do all the time is they're trying to stay on pitch so much, pitch is on the pedestal. So maybe you can get up to the note, maybe you can sing perfectly in tune. But what manipulation did you have to do in your voice to get it on pitch? And that is causing big problems.
If I'm making an adjustment to my breathing, to my larynx, to my jaw or tongue, to my resonance, to the vocal cords themselves. If I make one of these adjustments, oftentimes the pitch suffers for a little bit.
If you can be flat and sharp for me, if you can put technique as your number one and risk being flat or sharp, then very soon that pitch will fix itself and then you're going to have perfect technique and be on the right note. That is what we want.
Fine. But what if I have a problem that most singers would have up through here...
“You raise me up
So I can stand on mountains
You raise me up
To walk on stormy seas”
Now I'm just straining a little bit on purpose so that you can see what I might end up doing if I hadn't coordinated those notes. What if I just took it away? Do that exact same approach, but took it away...
The other thing is make sure you're recording your voice lessons. If you're just taking the exercises and having your voice teacher work with you and then trying to remember what it was, you may be having pitch problems because you're not listening back to the adjustments that your teacher was making.
The next thing is make sure that you're recording your practices as well. So if you do a practice, listen back. If you had technique as your number one, were you on pitch or weren't you? You can go right back and verify if you are recording what you're doing.
But as you're working on this with your teacher and on your own, just make sure you have some way to verify, whether you actually are on pitch so that our final product isn't you guys going out on stage and singing flat and sharp, but perfectly on pitch and with great technique.
So, Verena and all, I hope that's been helpful for you guys today as singers. If you have questions that you'd like to see us answer on the show you can send an email to: Questions@VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
We just encourage you not to lose that joy, don't lose that passion. Don't let people tell you that you can't sing and don't let them tell you that you can't sing on pitch. You know what to do to fix it.