By Cari Cole
When Lady Gaga was training for her Oscar performance early in 2016, she decided she wanted to make a serious impression. She was, after all, singing the “Sound of Music” — I mean who covers Julie Andrews in front of millions of people at one of the entertainment industry’s biggest events of the year? But she was super smart. Because she knew that in order to be at her best and to even hope to make an impression, not to leave any stone unturned. So she hired a voice coach to train her voice every single day for 6 months. And, it worked. She blew everyone away. Mission accomplished.
So, obviously, not everyone can hire a coach every day for 6 months, but you can kick your own ass(every day) for 6 months and blow your own corner of the world away — and Mama’s gonna show you how, right now.
6 Steps to Vocal Freedom in 6 Months:
1. Sing Every Day
There is a saying — that if you want to be good at something, do it every day. In the case of your voice, this is absolute truth. Daily practice does in fact make perfect.
Action Step: Increase vocal exercising to a daily practice. Start with 30 minutes, work up to 50. The singing voice grows exponentially with practice.
2. You Are An Athlete, Train Like One
Singers are athletes of the small muscles of the voice and breathing. Your voice is a physical instrument inside your body. The state of the body in part determines your vocal ability, agility, dexterity and strength. Just like an athlete who trains and works out everyday to improve technique, form, skill and strength, a singer who wants to experience the capability of their voice should do the same.
Action Step: Train like an athlete. With commitment regardless of outcome, with vigor (enjoys the sport of it), with a regular routine, and dogged determination (you’re going to need it to keep it up!)
3. Say “No” To Vocal Tension
Tension is the enemy of the voice. Especially in the muscles that surround the vocal instrument. Too much tension constricts the voice making singing difficult, and can lead to vocal problems. Make a concerted effort to decrease tense muscles. Here’s how in 3 steps:
Action Step: To effectively decrease vocal tension, Mama suggests to you the regimen I put my singers on. I’m going to keep this simple ‘cause it works really well:
- Massage or acupuncture twice a month (or mix and match.) Find a vocal masseuse if you can, or just a really good one who can concentrate on the neck and jaw muscles. Go for deep tissue if you can take it – works wonders at freeing your voice. Acupuncture is a great additional tool for getting to deeper tensions that massage doesn’t – like you tongue and vocal muscles etc. The combo of one massage and one acupuncture session per month does the trick. Space them out — one session every two weeks.
- Yoga. Then do yoga twice a week to stretch out your overall body and muscles and to retain the effect of the massage/acupuncture sessions.
- Baths. Add on baths with Epsom salts twice a week and BAM. There you have it — more vocal freedom! You’ve got this!
4. Stop Forcing, Start Allowing
You’ll get much more out of your voice, if you go in the direction it wants to go in. Stop forcing your voice to sound a certain way, and start allowing it to come out. Treat your rehearsals like a grand experiment. Add riffs, runs, held notes, breathy and belt-y notes to your palette. Try things. Look for your signature in your sound.
Action step: Record yourself a LOT. Listen back and get yourself in the drivers seat, but think Porsche, not Jeep. Comfort is key. The key to vocal freedom is singing where and how you sound (and feel) best!
5. Stop Trying To Be Anything But Yourself
Gaga says to “Celebrate all the things you don’t like about yourself – love yourself.” The only way you will become the best version of yourself is to stop being a copycat and start being you. I see it all the time. Singers who are trying to be something they’re not. They over-sing because someone told them they under-sing. They sing too loud because someone told them they have a soft voice. They sing high notes because they think they are supposed to and end of constantly singing out of their range. Hey, I’m all for improving voices, don’t get me wrong, I do it all day, everyday and wholeheartedly believe in it (and it works) — but I also help singers be themselves and find their own voices. It’s the only way you’ll stand out in the crowd.
Action Step: Spend a few weeks singing with your own voice. Don’t force it to sound any which way. Record and listen back. What do you hear that you might have been missing?
6. Believe In YOUR Voice
You can sing until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t believe it, no one will. Confidence is about owning your voice and who you are. It’s about believing in yourself even when no one else does. Every voice has a journey. Just set out for it like you would a trip. Know that by the time you reach your destination, you’ll be ready. Remember, your voice is a vehicle to express your emotions and thoughts with others. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about believing what you’re saying ;).
Action Step: Every day say this to yourself out loud: Every day I gain more courage to be myself. And listen to Mama Lion’s “I’m Ready”
Hurry, Vocal Freedom Circle starts on December 5th!