But I know what you guys are thinking... ”Wait a minute, Justin. Diphthongs? I thought this was a family show, I don't know where this is headed, diphthongs?” But I promise you it's not what you think, okay?
Then, of course, we move to diphthongs. Ah-ee. We get two for one.
There's also even something called a triphthong although this is a little bit more uncommon. If you have like a cockney accent, you might have an Oh governor. Oh. A-ah-oo. Oh governor. Right, so you hear three vowel sounds within one vowel.
Let's try to find out together why diphthongs could be a problem, okay. When you're trying to hold a long-phrase or a long note I should say, and you are singing on a diphthong, you're actually changing the resonance quite severely when you move from vowel to vowel.
As we change vowels, the resonance in our head changes quite a lot. And that's going to make sometimes a quite a big interference in the note that we're trying to do if we go too quickly to the second vowel in the diphthong. I'm going to show you what I mean by this.
If I'm trying to hold a long note or have a long legato phrase, the change in vowel could really interfere with my note or with my legato line. And that's why voice teachers so often harp so much on diphthongs so that line and so that sustain doesn't get interrupted by the second thong, okay.
So that's really what we're trying to do is not let the second thong interfere with the first. We're trying to stay on the first vowel in a diphthong pair as long as humanly possible and then cut it off with the second.
For example, if you're going to have a country accent, you're gonna be doing some country or some bluegrass, a lot of the sounds are going to have a diphthong. Like the word "day", right? Day. That has a second vowel sound on purpose. Day-ee. Right?
Now if I did... “Ou-wt tonight” That wouldn't be the song. It's purposely, “Ou-oot tonight”. And so sometimes in pop songs or musical theater, a lot of styles have songs that specifically go to that second thong on purpose.
So Nicole and all, you can see now a little bit more information on diphthongs and how you can control them so that they don't interfere with your legato line so that you can hold that front part of the thong and cut it off at the very, very end with the second thong.
And we just encourage you to download the free iPhone and iPad app. Hopefully for more in the future. But we've got a lot of free resources, tips, articles, a lot of stuff there to help you guys improve as singers.
Thank you so much, Mikey. And obviously today is a special episode, our 50th episode. And I just want to thank you guys so much and just let you know that we are so blessed and grateful to be able to be a part of your vocal journey.
And I thank you so much for the kind e-mails and messages that we get from people all over the world. It’s really, truly an honor to be a part of helping you guys to sing and to being there on your vocal journey. So thank you for joining us for these 50. And here’s to many many more.
And he says, “How well do you play the piano?” And I say, “You know, pretty well.” He says, “Do you think you can sightread and play well enough to play an audition?” And I say, “Yeah, I think I probably could.”
And the monitor says to me, “Now, you know who that is, right?” I say, “No. I don’t know who that is.” He says, “That’s one of the most influential casting directors of all time. He has cast films, TV shows, Broadway shows.” He says, “You better get ready.”
And I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life. Because here I am, two weeks into the city, and I’m playing for big stars as they walk through the door for this audition. I just couldn’t believe that I was playing for a bunch of people that I knew.
And somehow I survived this. And somehow I had the audacity at the end of it to say to the casting director, I said, “Don’t pay me.” I said, “Take two headshots and call me when I’m right for something.” And he said, “Okay, alright.” So he takes the pictures.
But he says, “You know, Justin. We saw something in you. We think that you have what it takes to be a really great vocal coach. We saw your work, we saw how you interacted with the singers. We just sensed that you could be a great vocal coach.”
And I thought, “A vocal coach… that’s the last thing I would want to do.” But because this guy saw this in me, somebody that knew what he was doing could see that potential in me. I... that day... went from pursuing my dreams to walking into my destiny. I found out what I was meant to do, what I was called to do in this life in a sort of miraculous way.
One is that you can say “Never say never.” Right? I mean, I said I would never be a voice teacher, never be a vocal coach. And now this is what I live for. I live to help as many people around the world learn how to sing as I possibly can in the time that I’m given in this life. That’s my purpose in life. And I said I would never do it. So I guess you can say “Never say never.”
The next thing is, if you’re going after your dreams, you will definitely end up finding your destiny.
So many times it’s just so easy to just give up on what we have in our hearts. You just say, “Oh, that can never happen. You know, I don’t have what it takes. All these people told me No.” You know, that’s why we always say, “Don’t let people tell you you can’t sing.”
And it’s not just singing. Anything that you have in your heart, you have to go after it. It’s not that it needs to work out exactly how you wanted to work out. But if you’re going after your dreams, either it’s going to work out just how you thought, or you’re going to go smacking into your destiny that you never thought, that’s going to use your talents and gifts.
People are going to see - if you’re going after your dreams, if you’re bold enough to go after your dreams and tell people, “Take two headshots and call me when I’m right” - people are going to know that you have something. And they’re going to see the potential in you. And there’s no way you’re gonna miss out on your destiny.
The next thing it showed me is that things happen in A New York Minute. How many singers have I seen… and artists, just struggling, struggling, working so hard - they wanna give up, you know, they get discouraged, they get frustrated.
And then in my time as a voice teacher, I have seen people who just thought “I will never make it. This will never happen for me.” BOOM! Then it happens. They finally get that breakthrough. They finally get what is was they were after.
So these are things, I guess, that my story in becoming a voice teacher has taught me. And so far our special episode 50 today, I just wanted to tell you guys about how I became a voice teacher and you know, again, we’re so grateful.
Now why do we even need this? For one thing we need this if we’re gonna be doing some classical repertoire that uses Italian or maybe Spanish or if we wanna speak those languages we need to “Rrr...” roll our R’s.
And also it makes for a great vocal exercise. So, those of you that already know how to do this, hang in there for the end because we’re gonna do an exercise together where you get a chance to work some tongue trills. They’re really great for the voice.
And then finally... Is there any sound that you guys really don’t wanna be able to make? We know that on this show we’re gonna cover every sound that there is out there over time. And we wanna be versatile with our voices. We wanna not have limitations. We don’t wanna have sounds that we can’t do.
One is repeating words that kind of have the sound of it like say the word “Butter”. If we say “Butter, butter, butter...”, It kinda puts the tongue in that trill kinda place. Try that out. Say “Butter” a bunch of times. Here we go. That was nice. So you feel that “Butter...” right?
So first of all, the front. Here’s what we have to do with the front. First of all, we need the jaw and mouth relaxed and then the tip is going to come up, not to meet the teeth. If you’re meeting the teeth, you’re too far forward for the trill.
We’re trying for the alveolar ridge, whoa, that is a part of the hard palate. It’s a little further back from the teeth. It’s not the gums, it’s not the teeth, it’s a little further back on the hard palate. That’s your alveolar ridge. That’s where the trill is going to take place. So that’s one thing you really have to know.
But now we need to know the sides and then also the back. So here’s the sides. The sides, as I say, they have to be able to curl up. You have to curl your tongue on the sides to, first of all, meet the teeth. Let’s try touching the sides of the tongue to the teeth. Probably the molars. Right. Okay.
So you’re gonna meet the sides of the teeth. This is not how to do it, but the first step to doing it.
When you do the actual trill, it’s going to be inside the teeth. But first, meet the teeth with the sides of the tongue. That’s good.
Okay, So if you’ve got that, now just think about a few of these sounds that you may have heard. This is kind of a retroflex tongue, this "err" sound that we have a curl and a pull back of the tongue, "err".
Or Austin Powers Dr. Evil does the “I’m still hip. I’m still cool, taka, taka, taka...” that sort of “huh” of the sides of the tongue. You’ve gotta engage that when you’re doing “Rrrrrah!” or else that won’t stabilize things. So that’s what you gotta do with the sides.
So we have that “Chh, chh”, the back of the tongue also engaged. That’s one of the great things.
If you are trying the “Rrr, rrr”, that D or R sound in the front, “Rrr, rrr”, and then you engage “Chh, chh” in the back, “Chhrrr, chhrrr...”, you’re also curling the sides, “Chhrrr, chhrrr”, that is how you’re gonna be able to find the trill.
One more bonus tip for you. If you try another trill like a lip trill, “bbbb...” some people can trick themselves into doing it by feeding their tongue through that trill, “bbbbrrrrr, bbbbrrrrr”, and using the one trill to influence the other. That’s just another nice trick for you to try as you’re experimenting.
We’re gonna go up and down with a tounge trill. This helps with your breath support. It helps with your flexibility, and with your registration because we’re making an even sound, even volume, even production all across the range.
So Anthony and all, I hope that’s been helpful for you guys today as singers. If you’ve got questions that you’d like to see us answer on the show, you can send an e-mail to Questions@VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
And if you guys like these videos, I just encourage you to download our free app for iPad, iPhone and hopefully more in the future. So many great tips, videos, articles, more stuff to help you guys grow as singers. So check out that free app. And you can also visit www.VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
And I'll give you a chance to ask questions later. But our question for this week comes from Sophie M. in Nice, France. And this is actually part three, the third and final part of our Vocal Fry Trilogy.
But it's a very specific fry coordination, stylistically, that we're going to learn together today. This is something very cool, it's something that can make you sound even more authentic with your riffs, and with your pop, rock, R&B; stylization, okay.
We can start our pitches with the lowest of tones first, and then springboarding into whatever pitch that we want to do, again for style or for the note. So last week we really explored what is it to fry into the note to have the onset be the vocal fry.
Now this is so subtle and so cool that if you can hear this and get this right in pop music, you're going to really have an awesome stylistic benefit. So this is one of these very subtle things that I want you guys to start hearing.
And so you asked me, Sophie, about the song "Gravity”. So I'm going to take a look at it. I'm going to work through this and show you this thing that I'm talking about which I'm going to call a fall-off.
You guys… heard… I like to invent terms for things that are in pop music. But we talked about a slash which is actually a grace note. But you can call it a slash when we sort of have a quick note into another. But this is going to be a fall off where the note falls off into a fry.
Now there it is. There’s the fall-off. “Till the moment I’m gone” Do you hear that? I didn’t just go “Till the moment I’m gone” or “Till the moment I’m gone” but “Till the moment I’m gone”. I go down into the vocal fry for a second and then keep going. “Till the moment I’m gone” and there’s your fall-off. Let’s look further.
It's a very, very cool little nuance to pop. You're going to hear it in Sara Bareilles. You're going to hear it in tons of artists. And if you can learn to do this, it's tougher than it looks, you're really going to have a new benefit to your sound.
And so I'm going to create an exercise here for you guys today to help you get this, alright. We're gonna do "way way way" on an 8-8-8 and then down as if we're going down an octave to 1. And we're gonna go down all the way into the fry.
Now today since we're gonna be up in pop land, I'm not going to separate guys from girls. Everybody's gonna be on the same pitch today. And do your best to slide down into the vocal fry that you now know.
Excellent work. Amazing work on that new concept of falling down, falling off, into vocal fry.
Use it mostly for your style, but it's also good for technique. Because if you have registration where you can move from sky-high notes to low notes quickly like that, that means that there's not so much of a separation in how you're using your air and your sound between registers that are far apart. It's very, very good coordination if you can do it. And it looks like you guys did a great job.
So, Sophie and all, thank you so much for that question. And 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 I also encourage you guys to download our free iPhone and iPad app. There's tons of free resources, tips, articles, lots of stuff there that hopefully can help you guys take your singing game to the next level. And you can also visit www.VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
It's a great question, Sidd. And you're right to assume now that the vocal fry can do great things for us technically, with our high notes, with our style, the works. So today I'm going to show you how the vocal fry really applies to style and to technique.
So just a little recap, last episode we talked about what is the fry, right? The fry is a register beneath our chest voice where the cords make a sound that's a little bit different than normal singing which is a sort of [vocal fry] sound, right?
Now we heard last time some sort of crazy examples. Elmer Fudd in my speaking voice, that's an excessive vocal fry. And then Britney Spears actually gets a bad rap a lot for excessively using vocal fry in her singing voice. So we heard some of the extremes. But now for something that's a little bit less extreme.
When you're doing a pop, rock, R&B; or even country song, the vocal fry is very, very present throughout, often. Right? And a lot of times what we do is start the note with a fry, right? We begin the pitch with a low vocal fry and then enter into the note. And this typically happens when the word starts with a vowel. It doesn't have to but that's typically when it happens.
So what I'm going to do now is do a song by Ryan Adams called "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and I want you guys to see if you can hear all the times that I'm using my vocal fry to get into the notes. It's a kind of cool, stylistic, and technical effect.
I could have just done... “Oh my sweet Carolina” But I do... “Oh my sweet Carolina” And it helps me to not only get into that pitch in a compressed light way, but it also is a cool stylistic effect for our more contemporary sounds.
Now let's talk about how this can really benefit us technically. That song is not all that high. But what's cool is when I'm entering through a fry I have a light connected sound. Connected meaning not going to my falsetto.
So even though that goes to... “Oh my sweet Carolina” If I did want to go sky high with it the vocal fry could help. “Oh my sweet Carolina” ”Oh my sweet Carolina” “Oh my sweet Carolina” “Oh my sweet Carolina”
We're just allowing the naturalness of that fry to help assist us with closing the cords. It's called medial compression and the vocal fry helps us with that medial - to the center- compression, right?
So you heard what it is stylistically and you heard me sort of messing around going sky-high with it. Now I'm going to give you a chance to do an exercise that will help you both with your style and technique all at once, where we're going to enter in through the fry and I'm going to actually let you go sky-high with this.
So the exercise will be this... “OH - NO - NO - NO” So you start with that fry... “OH - NO - NO - NO” So that's gonna be guys down there. Ladies up here... “OH - NO - NO - NO” Right? And we're going to go up and down together on "Oh no no no". Okay, so here we go!
Spectacular stuff. So you see that that you can use the fry to find a light, compressed sound going up and down. You're going to use that for your technique, sometimes. And you're going to use that for your style, sometimes.
But, Sidd and all, I hope that's been helpful for you guys today as singers. And 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 I also just encourage you guys to download our free app for iPhone, iPad, and more in the future. It's got free videos, articles, tips, resources for you guys to help you take your singing to the next level. So check out the app or visit www.VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
And it's a very important vocal concept - so important that I'm actually going to do a vocal fry trilogy. For the next three episodes we're going to take three different questions all about the vocal fry so you guys really understand it and how it can benefit your voice.
And what happens is the vocal cords shorten via the thyroarytenoid muscle. Whoa. Alright, they shorten and fatten but they're also kind of loose and there's a way to make them phonate in a sort of loose yet compressed fashion, where we get a kind of fried sound.
Now another question that people have about this voice is, is it bad for you? It sounds like it would be... does it not? The vocal fry, that [vocal fry] sound, that sounds like that's really going to be destroying or ruining my voice.
Now it could be damaging if you do it excessively, if you do it all the time, if you do it without other variety in your voice, if you're never speaking on the airflow with nice sound and tone but you're always just down here in your vocal fry and you're just a little bit too cool for school and you're always talking in the fry, okay that's not going to be so good.
Now is the vocal fry good for you? In fact, yes, right? We just heard a sort of crazy example of the vocal fry in a song. But I'm going to show you in these upcoming episodes of the vocal fry trilogy how we're going to need the vocal fry for our style.
We know that one of the things that we struggle with as singers is “How do I find something that is solid yet loose at the same time?” The vocal fry is going to become one of our great answers for solving that particular issue. And like I say, wait till these next episodes. We're going to work on it together.
Now some of you are just going to get this right off the bat. Like I say, it might be something that you're [Vocal Fry] already talking with if you've kind of got a cool voice, you might be talking with a fry already. But other people may not know how to get into their vocal fry.
And I want to give you guys a chance to practice the moment when your chest voice moves over into vocal fry. Again it's lower than your chest voice, so you're going to feel your voice want to drop into vocal fry. And I want you to try to let it.
I also encourage you guys to download our free app. It's for iPhone, iPad, hopefully more in the future. Lots of free resources, tips, articles, videos - so, so much for you guys, to help you guys as singers. So check that out or visit, www.VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
And you guys don't know about Bel Canto, I really hope you go and research this a little bit or find a teacher that understands Bel Canto. So much of what we know about vocal technique comes from Bel Canto. It's not everything, but it's really really one of the very finest vocal technique systems in the whole world. So check out Bel Canto.
There's the chest voice, the head voice, the falsetto, the mix, vocal fry, flageolet, whistle voice. There's many registers. We're going to talk about all of them in great detail as we go forward into the future.
So there's a lot of terms that are sometimes used to describe this. There is the passaggio, also like I say known as the passage or transition or bridge or break or that place in my voice where it cracks so horribly and miserably that I want to crawl into a hole and never show my face to the world ever again. There's tons of terms that we can use to describe that passagio event.
But what I'm going to do today is show you first with a song how to navigate the passaggio and then give you tips on how to navigate it and then give you an exercise too, for men and women on how to navigate the passaggio, Okay?
Now this song here is called “Oh Del Mio Dolce Ardor”. It's a very common Italian art song that many of you classical singers may know. I'm going to navigate the passaggio in this song to show you what that sounds like. This is by Gluck.
So there's tons of ways that I could navigate a passagio poorly. But really, Bramato Oggetto” the one where nothing really changes and the air zips inside my head - that's the one that we're looking for for navigation of the passaggio.
We don't want to go to falsetto. We don't want to get too light or for females too heady of a head voice, right? We don't want to get too light or airy of a phonation right at the passaggio. We want it to stay solid enough.
Now I'm going to give you an exercise. First we're gonna have men coming up. And I'm going to switch and change to the ladies going up. And give you an exercise that helps you do some of those things that I just mentioned, just built into the exercise. All you have to do is do it. You don't have to even think because it's built into the exercise.
Take a listen to this. “ma-awn-nawn-nawn”. Okay? the bottom is wider, the top is smaller and more contained. That's what we're looking for for the passaggio region. So this exercise is going to help you to do that.
Fantastic work, guys! So you can see that we use the same qualities of how to navigate the passaggio as we go across it and then that's how you're going to bridge the gap into your high notes and give them size without giving them strain.
We got some great tips there and also some practical exercises for you to feel that slimmer, more contained shape. That's going to help you bridge that gap and not have that miserable cracking or shifting in the voice right when you don't want it to the most.
So, Reg 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. Get with a great voice teacher in your area that can show you classical technique or contemporary technique or hopefully both. And don't let anybody ever tell you you can't sing. You and I both know that is not true.
You can also... I encourage you guys to download the free app, Voice Lessons To The World, the app. Tons of free articles, tips, resources right there for you guys that hopefully help you take your singing to the next level.