Goals for my first 3-6 months of singing

I’ve now had a couple of lessons with my new teacher and I need to set some goals about what I want to achieve with my singing. I’ve decided to set myself a task to complete the following within 6 months.

  • Build confidence in my own singing to perform at an open-mic night
  • Be able to sing a set of 8 songs (early choices include Dock of the Bay – Otis Reading, Sweet Home Chicago, Wish you were here – Pink Floyd, but this list will grow)

To meet these goals, I’m going to commit to:

  • Weekly lesson in person with a singing teacher in London
  • Minimum twice a week singing practice of at least 30 minutes, ideally 3 – 4 times

I’m hoping by setting my goals fairly low and keeping the timeline flexible, I should be able to meet these within the available free time I have (and balancing with my other Guitar study that is continuing).

Controlling Breathing – Simple exercise

So in my very first lesson with my teacher, one of the first things he picked up on was my breathing. When told to take a deep breath, I would puff my chest out make sure I take in a lot of air. Apparently this is very good for sportspeople, but not so much for singers.

The correct breathing technique basically involves pushing your stomach outwards while breathing in and then holding that position while exhaling. The following exercise helps to control the exhaled breath:

  1. Stand up, feet shoulder width apart and the body relaxed. Keep your eyes and head roughly horizontal.
  2. Take a deep breath, pushing your stomach outwards to allow air to flow in.
  3. Hold the breath for 3 seconds
  4. While keeping your stomach in the same, outwards position, breath out as gently as you possibly can.
  5. Continue this for as long as is comfortable.
  6. Repeat 3 or 4 times.

I was able to get a few times between 35 and 55 seconds (approx)

I hope this helps somebody else learn about the different ways a human can breath in

A second teacher ?

Right or wrong, I’ve decided to also sign up to Jeannie Deva’s online school at Artistworks.com

I’ve had a lot of success with my guitar playing after spending the last 9 months working with Paul Gilbert on the same site, so I thought I would compliment my weekly, in-person, singing lessons with additional work from Jeannie. The format of the site is quite unique where you submit video’s of yourself completing the lessons and the teacher will create a video reply for you. I hope it works!

I will make sure I post my experience with the first video here, once I get over my shyness of making videos of myself singing.

Diary of a new singer

Hello all and welcome to this first post in my singing diary.

I’ve just started singing lessons with a teacher in London and I’m hoping to set meet basic goals for myself to achieve in the next 6 months (which I’ll post about later)

I’m hoping by writing this diary I encourage others to take up singing and also can learn from my mistakes. I’ll be as open and honest as I can and I’ll try and include some snippets of my lessons (pending teacher approval).

I will also include tips and techniques I learn along the way, which I hope will be useful for others who are starting to learn to sing.

Some background on me – I’ve been playing music on and off for about 20 years. I have been playing guitar and drums in a few rock/punk bands since around 2005, but have never even attempted to sing. I’m starting from pretty much zero in terms of singing ability. I was in a covers duo in Melbourne before I moved to London and although we had a heap of gigs, I really felt that we were limited because I was unable to sing.

So – here’s to hoping that I can set and achieve my goals. Good luck with your own journey!

Open Mic Nights

One of the best ways to help you become a confident singer, is to find a local Open mic night in your area and get up and have a go.

By singing on stage in front of other people, you will gain the confidence you need and also keep you inspired to keep pushing yourself and learning new material.

Open mic nights generally will include a number of people that are also learning to sing or improve their singing and you will find heaps of support.

So what are you waiting for? Find yourself a local Open Mic or Jam Session, pick a song or 2 and have a go.

Questions & Answers with Head Coach: Brett Manning

Q: Is it OK for me to sing when I have a sore throat?

A: Depending on what’s causing it, singing with a sore throat can be catastrophic. I tell my clients, “if it hurts to swallow, don’t sing!” Conversely, if it’s a mildly soar throat, consult your doctor (it’s a good idea to find a good ear, nose, throat specialist in your area and build a relationship with him) and then use your best judgment. Dry air, singing abusively, and viral/bacterial infection are some of the more common causes of a sore throat. Some people just wake up with a sore throat every day of their life. I’ve found that the majority of those people have acid-reflux, which means they are burping up stomach acids while they are sleeping or sometimes even while they are awake. For most, however, this happens in the night, so they may be completely unaware of the problem. They then wake up with a scratchy, raspy voice and a sore throat. There are numerous web sites directed to the problem of reflux. Let me recommend a couple:

Because a dry throat is often a sore throat, consume two to three quarts of water every day. I actually drink up to a gallon or more a day. If you live in an arid climate, sleep with a humidifier next to your bed and try to warm up your voice in the shower. The moisture is an incredible help for your voice. Also, learn to breathe in through your nose as much as possible. This will help moisten the air before it reaches your cords.
The next concern is vocal abuse. Some of the causes are singing too high and too loud for too long, screaming, yelling at a football game or concert, talking at the top of your voice in a noisy crowd, breathing cigarette smoke (first- for second-hand), doing voice impersonations that are extreme or that cause strain and talking or singing with a raspy, manufactured sound.Whenever my throat is sore from vocal abuse I try to get some vocal rest, drink plenty of liquids, and then rehabilitate my voice with gentle exercises like humming, lip bubbles, and tongue trills.

If you get laryngitis and your tone starts to ‘skip’ or ‘cut out’ in the middle of a sustained note, you really want to get serious vocal rest. Most of all, ALWAYS consult your physician if things don’t clear up rapidly. By this, I mean, if you get a sore throat in the morning and it clears up by noon and doesn’t come back (this occasionally happens to me) then there’s usually nothing to worry about. Otherwise, call the doctor, because if this condition is medical and you don’t get help, no amount of vocal rest will help. I personally prefer herbal immune system remedies, but do what works best for you.

Q: My voice cracks as I sing higher. Is there any way to get rid of that little break in my voice?

A: What you are experiencing is a “disconnect” between your chest voice and your head, or falsetto, voice. The way to connect these two voices is to develop an ability to blend these two in what is known as the “mixed” voice. This is taught in detail in the Singing Success Program, but there is an exercise that you can try right now.

First, sing up to where your ‘break’ occurs. Now drop down a couple of notes and sing in a whimpering voice with the word “nay” and gently climb up in you range. If you keep a slight crying sound you’ll notice the tone climbing behind your soft palate and settling more into your head voice. All this should happen without breaking. Obviously, it is very difficult to teach this without your ears being employed in the process, but you may still want to give it a try.

Q: Can I improve my tone quality?

A: Tone quality improves when the correct musculature is engaged in the singing process. Feel underneath your chin with your forefinger and slide it inwards to the point where your neck meets the muscles under your chin. Now swallow. Notice how your larynx (Adam’s apple) raises up and the muscles under your chin tighten up as you swallow? These muscles that are engaged in the swallowing process are opposed to those engaged in the singing process. The use of these muscles while singing creates a myriad of problems that can take years to correct if left unchecked. For good tone quality, you must learn to sing without the outer muscles of the larynx. Doing so will set free your natural voice, drastically improving tone quality and ease of use. Naturally, the Singing Success Program contains techniques that will help you do this.

Q: Is it really possible to teach style?

A: Until now, there really has not been a comprehensive system of teaching vocal style. There have been scales played to reflect certain genres, such as the Blues Scale, but that’s really not enough. Brett Manning worked with hundreds of brilliant vocal stylists to co-develop training techniques based on their various skills. Using these techniques you can develop style skills so prolific that you’ll be able to reinterpret any song you wish into a unique masterpiece. Think of it this way: As a singer, you are the artist and the final “painting” is up to you. Brett Manning’s style training just gives you more colors to work with.

5 quick Tips to help your singing

  1. The use of a recorder to check if you are singing in key is the best way to learn how to stay in pitch. It will show up any mistakes before you are stuck with them. If you are not tone deaf, you will progress very quickly with this method and it will help you keep track of your progress!
  2. Correct breathing and confidence makes a good singer.. Your confidence will come out in your singing and your audience will pick up on this straight away.
  3. Technique and fluidity in going up or down a scale to the highest and lowest edge of the vocals makes an excellent singer.
  4. Practice daily. If you want to see a noticeable improvement in your singing, then this is a must. There is no reason not to sound like some of the best!
  5. Your vocal is also a muscle. Like any other muscle in your body, when exercising you should always warm up and cool down. A lip roll is an easy way to cool down you vocal after singing.

The Complete A-Z of Singing

A = ARTICULATE
B = BUILD YOUR SONG PERFORMANCE
C = COPE WITH UNEXPECTED SINGING EVENTS
D = DARE TO TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
E = ENERGY NOT EFFORT
F = FEATHERS
G = GET OVER IT and GO FOR IT
H = HUMMING
I = INCREASE YOUR AIR SPEED
J = JAW TENSION
K = KEEP IT CLEAN
L = LIFT YOUR DIAPHRAGM
M = MONEY NOTES MATTER
N = NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT
O = ONE VOICE
P = PLACEMENT OF YOUR TONE
Q = QUIT SINGING THROUGH YOUR NOSE
R = RESONANCE
S = SING THE STORY
T = THINK SING
U = UNIFY YOUR VOWELS
V = VOLUME AND POWER
W = WISHING
X = (E)XERCISE YOUR VOICE REGULARLY
Y = YOUR STYLE
Z = ZEN

For more details on how to improve all of this, click here