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.

 

Advertisements

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.

Discovering Your Voice

Think of a song that you like and hum a few bars of it. Try to feel the sensations in your cheeks and nose and any other sensations in your face or throat. Keep your teeth apart while you hum. You should try to feel like you are yawning inside your mouth. Put a hand on  your Adam’s/Eve’s apple and try to feel that it is relaxed and low. No tension allowed there! Put more breath through your hum keeping all of these things in mind. You may start to feel extra vibrations called a vibrato. This is a natural sensation that means that you have completely relaxed your voice and are singing in the most healthy way for it. This is one of my favorite ways to warm-up and really explore the way my voice fits inside my instrument’s natural space.

The great thing about singing is it facilitates a level of body awareness that is otherwise hard to understand. After you start singing for a while you start to detect any discomfort in your face or throat and with the proper exercises you can start to alleviate that discomfort. Here are some stretches you can try out before singing or even just at the start of your day.

  1. Reach your hands up as high as you can you should feel it in your shoulders and upper back.
  2. Reach up as if your holding a large beach ball and bend at the sides and feel the stretch in your sides and rib-cage.
  3. Put your hand onto the side of your neck just above your clavicle and turn your head to the side feeling the stretch from the base of your cheek all the way down to the top of your shoulder.
  4. Breathe in as if you are sucking quickly through a straw then breathe out as if you are yawning, this will stretch and relax your larynx
  5. Breathe in on a nice yawn and then breathe out sticking your tongue out all the way, this will also relax your larynx and stretch the soft palette and tongue.

These will help you stay vocally healthy, relax your neck, larynx, and resonant space. These will help more than just singing as well! Talking is one of the hardest things on your voice, much more than singing in fact. If you ever have a big presentation, or a long day of customer service work, or anything where you need to speak a lot these will be a great help in decreasing fatigue.

Now hear are some good warm-up exercises that can help you explore your instrument and begin getting your voice placement in a healthy and comfortable place.

  1. Hum up a perfect fifth, which is the same interval as the first two notes in twinkle twinkle little star, slide up through the notes and back down. Don’t go too fast or too slow on this one. Let yourself feel buzzing in your nose and cheek bones.
  2. Now blow a raspberry on the same interval. Up and down smoothly. This can be hard for some people so if you need, you can put your fingers on the corners of your mouth to keep the muscles tightened. Make sure you are putting a lot of breath through this one. You’ll feel a lot of tingling in your nose and cheek bones after this.
  3. Using a comfortable vowel such as ee (usually ladies prefer this one) or ah (usually men prefer this one), sing a major triad, otherwise known as a major chord, a musical example would be the chorus in “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” by the Beatles. On the triad hold that top note and then go up another step and then back down the triad. This will help stretch your range a bit so those high notes can start getting easier.
  4. Sing down a major scale and then up the scale to the fifth on an ooh. If this helps you would be singing Do Ti La So Fa Mi Re Do Re Mi Fa So Fa Mi Re Do. This one should be started somewhat high in your range. This will help smooth out the different parts of your voice. For males falsetto and for girls your high voice, or head voice, should start to kind of blend into your lower voice. Your voice will probably crack on this one but that is okay. Let it happen and work to mitigate that until it is mostly gone. This will help ease all sorts of tension and it’s my personal favorite warm-up.

You should have a good place to start for improvement now! Something else to start understanding about your voice is that you aren’t going to be amazing immediately. This is a never ending journey. You won’t sound like Justin Timberlake or Adele overnight. It is totally okay to try and sound like them if that’s what you want, but just remember that your voice is always going to be unique and that is okay.

Learning anything new can be frustrating at times, but if you take it in stride, day by day, you can allow yourself to improve and really start enjoying the instrument that your were given!

Why should I even sing?

The health effects of singing

If you’re here then you have asked yourself that very question. If I am not a good singer than why should I even bother? Why should I allow myself to be vulnerable with something I’m not even good at? Well there are many answers to that. My question to you is do you enjoy singing? If the answer is yes then,

giphy

Singing promotes so many wonderful things in the body. We can become aware of the way our body works. You breathe deeply and let your abs contract against your lungs to push all the air out to belt out those high notes. You get that feeling in your upper cheek bones and it starts to feel almost tingly. When you nail that tricky part of the song that took you many times listening to figure out. All these things promote a lot of healthy things in your body that you are probably unaware of.

Breathing is an essential part of life but taking in these deep breaths and using them to push out sound can have a relaxing effect on the body. It also helps circulate the oxygen to your whole body and brain. The brain receiving more oxygen can effectively making you smarter!

That buzzing feeling you get in your cheeks and nose can help prevent allergies. Also it can help your sinuses be healthier and help prevent illness.
Most importantly, when you start enjoying your singing it does so many different things to your brain. It helps you develop new synapses between neurons and stimulates those right brain muscles which is the creative side of your brain. It boosts confidence as well and can make you an already better and happier person.
And don’t take my word for it! Check out this article from the BBC that speaks about all the many healthy aspects of singing.

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.

boysingingintomic

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.