Exercise Those Pipes

Get that voice swoll

If you want to be one of the great singers then it is essential that you exercise your voice daily. If you take any days off then your voice will take an immediate turn towards bad habits.

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Man exercises his pipes while exercising.

It is vital to your singing career that you find a way to sing every day. The easiest way is to learn guitar and accompany yourself. You can also look up karaoke versions of all of your favorite songs on YouTube. The best way to make sure you’re keeping up with good technique is to join a choir either through school, church, or community-run choir. There are many ways to find local choirs in your area you can try using Meetup, or check in local community boards like at your local library or other places like that. You can also hire a voice coach if you have the money for it. The price can range anywhere from $40 on up to $150, and even higher potentially, for a half hour lesson. Schools are a great place to look because graduate and undergraduate students will be the cheapest and still have a lot to offer. There are also some studios that have multiple students which has the added benefit of occasionally running recitals so you can perform in front of others. Regardless of how you choose to sing make sure it happens every day.

Getting sick is one of the few exceptions because sometimes you physically can’t. You still can sing, but it is possible to damage your voice under those circumstances so be careful. If it hurts don’t do it! You will more than likely need sometime to recover back to your full voice afterwards. A lot of technique can go away when you are on vocal rest and it is different for everyone which areas are affected. It is up to you to figure that out. For me I lose my breath control first, so I usually do a lot of breathing exercises to get my lungs back up to full capacity. One of the things that affects most people is called vocal fry which is a creaking sound you can make by closing of the back of your throat and phonating. It is common in most people especially in the morning but it is even more common when you get sick. So do everything you can to talk in a higher voice after getting sick and most importantly if it hurts or wears you out then stop doing it.

Make sure you practice every day and you can become one of the great singers. I have a friend who could possibly be the next Justin Timberlake or Sam Smith because he has a serious passion for singing, and more importantly he practices every single day. So make it happen and reach your g

 

Starting Your Own Music Group

It isn’t easy starting out brand new. There are many things to keep in mind when you are trying to create a band, a choir, a musical, or any other collaborative musical idea you might have. It may seem intimidating at first but just do one thing at a time and it’ll be easy!

First decide on how committed you want to be to this project, and how much time you want to commit. Think about who else you might want to get involved in it as well. Starting something with people you are already friends with is great but sometimes tapping the talent in your community by holding public auditions can also be great. Also think about how leadership will work. Will you be making all the decisions? Will it be a group effort? Someone usually needs to lead the rehearsal so that there is a clear agenda and everyone is forced to work instead of just hang out and chat which will happen frequently.

You’ll also want to start think about necessary equipment that you’ll need. Most groups get what they need over time. You more than likely can’t afford hundreds of dollars of high quality sound equipment, nor should you spend that much before working with your group for a little while. But an amplifier and a set of microphones and a sound board will only run maybe $300-400. This shouldn’t be super difficult to get over the period of a year or so possibly earlier. A lot of venues will already have at least some simple equipment so that you can go mostly acoustic for a while and earn some money for the group.

That brings me to my next question. What kind of venues do you want to perform at? Bars and coffee shops? concert halls? on the street corner? All of these are great venues and, outside of the concert hall, are pretty cheap to rent out. Some will pay you to perform, Some will need you to rent the space. Some will require you to give them some of the earnings from tickets. Just talk to the manager at various restaurants, bars, and coffee shops and see what you can find out, they’re usually enthusiastic about it if they have the space. Those are the best places when starting out. Concert halls are great as well but they can cost anywhere from $300-1500 depending on the size and popularity, but they’ll also almost always have sound equipment you can use and a live sound engineer for mixing and such.

One of the other biggest things you’ll want to plan on is music. You will want to have a few pieces already thought up before getting into it. I think it is probably best to plan out at least 30 minutes worth of a show before starting the group. That way you’ll know exactly what genre you are doing and be able to explain that to the other members that you invite to join you. If you aren’t super sure on what you want or what you want it sound like then at least have an idea of what you want help putting together so you can all create it yourself.

I highly encourage creating your own group so that you can share your creativity with others. You’ll find yourself learning so much and growing so much as a person when you work on music with others. Definitely try as many different musical things as you can to see what you like the best. Try being in choir, a musical, a band, get some guitars and jam with some friends and you’ll be surprised the ideas and creations that you will make.

 

Singing Healthily

Let’s talk about vocal health and fitness

Vocal health and fitness are two incredibly important things to pay attention to when you begin your vocal journey. There are many rules you’ll need to follow if you want to stay fit for performance.

Rule #1

If it hurts don’t do it! This may seem simple and obvious but many people develop habits that can be very harmful to their voice especially when attempting high pop music. Many famous singers such as Sam Smith, Adele, Meghan Trainor, and Justin Timberlake have developed problems that were serious enough to need surgery (source). This is from improper technique and overuse. Now if you’re famous then you can afford to fix these issues though I’m sure it is still an unpleasant experience. Avoid anything straining and stop singing when your voice gets tired or hurts.

Rule #2

Drink a lot of water! The vocal folds need proper moisture to be able to work without causing injury. Drinking water as you’re singing or right before isn’t enough. You need to stay hydrated throughout the whole day. Authority Nutrition recommends using the 8×8 rule, which is 8 glasses of 8 ounce glasses per day. Others recommend halving your weight and drinking that many ounces. You also want to avoid things like soda, acidic or sugary juices, alcoholic drinks, tomatoes, spicy food, and some people say milk. Acidic food and drink cause acid re-flux and heartburn issues while singing, and dairy can cause extra phlegm to build up in the throat. If you are drinking while singing drink room temperature water so that your voice stays warm and loose. Try not to drink too much though because it can wash away important mucus that your vocal chords need to protect themselves.

Rule #3

Be mindful of your speaking voice. Believe it or not but speaking can actually be more strenuous on your voice than singing. A lot of singing habits are built while you talk. Something called vocal fry is common in many people. Vocal fry is that low crackly part of your voice that you feel in the top of your throat and happens to most people in the morning or when your sick. It is one of the most damaging things you can do to your vocal folds and will make all singing really tough on you. Try doing high sighs and yawns in the morning if you start to feel that fry creeping in. Or just try speaking in a high part of your voice and it should start to mitigate. Avoid shouting and raising your voice for extended periods of time. Parties and concerts are the worst times to talk to people. If you are in a job that requires a lot of talking make sure you’re breathing well because it will help you stay in good vocal placement and save those chords!

Rule #4

Take a break from vocal activity. Many singers will take a vocal rest period for a day or so where they avoid talking or singing all day as best they can and just let the vocal folds recover. That way they can rebuild themselves and be in perfect singing shape.

Rule #5

Practice makes permanent! When you practice make sure you are practicing every thing with good healthy technique because if you have practiced one part over and over in an unhealthy way then you will be singing that part unhealthily over and over. I’ve never liked the phrase practice makes perfect. Instead it should be perfect practice makes perfect. 

Rule #6

Breathe! Practice breathing. Focus on good posture and breathing in a way that expands your rib-cage. Nothing too high so that your shoulders move or too low so that your belly looks pregnant. If you’re having trouble with a part of your music and it feels stressed or pained then try adding more breath you’ll be amazed at how many things it can help.

Rule #7

Exercise! This one might seem unnecessary but singing requires a lot of fitness. You need to develop lung capacity so that you’re not getting out of breath while on stage or wherever you are performing. Having your body in shape will help you keep your stamina while you’re performing so that you can do those long performances.

Rule #8

Practice, practice, practice. Make it a habit to sing every day at least 30 minutes each day and you’ll start feeling all those benefits quickly and maintain all your good vocal habits that you are working on. It is okay to take a day off every so often of course but if you stop for too long then you’ll break the habit.

Use these rules and I promise you that you will start to notice a big difference in your voice and even your overall health. Singing is not just about impressing your friends or becoming famous but it is a way of life! Singing leads to happiness, healthiness, and spreading joy and emotion to all those around you.

Come and Sing With Me!

I always hear people say “Oh I can only sing in the shower,” or “I can’t sing, I’m completely tone deaf.” I get so tired of hearing these excuses! Everyone can sing to some degree and shouldn’t feel discouraged before they even really try. I love hearing new people sing. I enjoy the uniqueness that every single person brings to the table. Music is the love of my life and I wish everyone would join in with me.

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I advocate for singing because it is so fun and easy to join in song with other people. Whenever Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing comes on everyone always starts jamming out, and it’s always a fun time.

So don’t be afraid! Get out there and make music. Learn an instrument! Go out to a karaoke night somewhere! If you love it then do it and we can all enjoy the unique voice that everyone was born with.