3 opportunities to move forward with your singing in 2019

3 opportunities to move forward with your singing in 2019


Are you looking to improve your voice, move forward with your singing, or make it a bigger part of your life (or even your career)?

If so, let me tell you about three ways you can work with me in 2019.

 

Watch the video >>>

Or here’s the scannable version >>>

 

The Artist Within programme

What is it?
The Artist Within programme has been running for about a year. Through the programme I work on your voice, mindset and accountability – so you can achieve all the things that you want to do, but didn’t think were possible.

We really dig deep, using the principle that when you really tap into the artist inside you it becomes much easier to create goals and plans and put them into practise – even with a busy lifestyle.

This is for you if…

  • You’re a serious musician, and want to take your singing to the next level.
  • You want to be a part-time or full-time professional singer
  • You want to write your own songs
  • You need a plan to get there!

Case studies
One singer launched her part-time singing career within six months of leaving a corporate job, and is now doing shows and playing clubs. She didn’t think it was possible.

Another is an actress. She’s been on lots of TV, but she wanted to have more versatility with her voice. She was able to create a demo showcase for her agent that meant that she could actually be put forward for different positions or different options for her career.

A third singer on the programme has dropped his work week down to four days created his own recording area. He’s rehearsing his band and getting songs ready to go out to publishing companies.

 

The Online Singing Academy

What is it?
The Online Singing Academy is an online membership, with regular live group coaching, 12 months of video training and other learning content, and a private community with support from myself and a  group of wonderful singers. You can learn in your own time, from the comfort of your own home.

This is for you if…

  • You’re trying to fit your hobby, beginner or intermediate singing into a busy lifestyle
  • You’re on a budget
  • You want to put your feet in the water without a huge commitment

If you think it’s not possible to actually have that one-to-one specific help online, then please be assured, it absolutely is. I’ve been training people, one-to-one, for several years now online and it’s just as effective and often very much more convenient.

 

FREE vocal assessments (worth £150)

** limited to the first 5 respondents **

What is it?
In the vocal assessment I’ll listen to you sing and look at what’s going on with your voice, give you useful feedback and create a plan of action for you.

This is for you if…

  • You want to have your singing assessed by me personally
  • You’d like a one-to-one session with me before committing to a programme of study
  • You want to know what you need to do to move forward with your singing

How it works
There are two ways to do this:

  1. Send me a recording.  If you have some singing already that is recorded, you can send it to me to assess.
  2. Have a video call. We’ll arrange a mutually convenient time and have a call over Zoom.

 

Next steps

All you need to do in order to get more information about any of these or to claim one of the 5 free vocal assessments is to email me, angela@angeladurrant.com.

 

Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.


5 ways to use posture to improve your singing: practical exercises

5 ways to use your posture to improve your singing


How important is posture in your singing?

Answer: very! And the reason why it’s so important is that one of the biggest subtle problems that will affect your tone and your tension is your posture – especially your head and neck alignment.

If you’re seated every day at work (whether it’s at a computer or – like me – at a piano!) it’s especially easy to start slouching. Your shoulders roll over, the neck comes up, and you end up with an incredibly bad posture just for your everyday back alignment – let alone for singing.

So I’ve got five different ways to help you improve your head and neck posture today. To start to stretch those muscles out, pull them in a better direction, and help you to see a difference in the way that your tone is coming out, or in the way that you’re articulating your sound.

Watch the video >>>

Or here’s the scannable version >>>

The thing that is constricting you is not the note, and it’s not your talent: it’s your posture.

You need to develop your understanding of how sound works and flows through your body, and your ability to put your body in a position that will enable sound to vibrate and resonate more freely.

Get your head and neck into alignment

[Watch the video from 2:46 to see how this looks]

Your whole body is a supportive structure in your singing, and singers often don’t really pay that much attention to it. For example, if you’ve got a microphone in front of you, you will probably be pulling your head forward as you sing. That can cause immense problems with strain, tone – and even pitch. Problems with your back muscles, the anchor muscles in your shoulders, and down into your intercostal muscles, and even your lower abdominals, will all have an impact on your singing.

But the first thing that you need to know is about proper head and neck alignment.

  1. Take a neutral posture and then put your thumbs on your clavicle and your fingers under your ears. Stretch up in between and you will probably feel all your back muscles really stretch, especially if you’re used to slouching.
  2. Just do a little bit of a stretch into that and feel that.
  3. Now take those fingers and just pull up from the back of your head slightly. Feel the stretch in the back of your spine. In this position you can move around and feel that softness and how much your head will turn further to the left and right when you’re just lifting up behind the back of your ears.
  4. If you can feel that pull down the back, that’s a clear indication that you’ve got slouching shoulders and some muscles that are overcorrecting.

If you’re in that normal, safe position and you can feel that stretch down the back of your spine, that’s fine for singing.

 

Position your neck and head for the type of music you’re singing

[Watch from 3:58]

Your head and neck posture and alignment can be different if you’re singing different styles of music.

For example, if you’re a classical singer, you can afford to drop your chin very slightly. The reason is that this actually lowers the larynx and the voice box, which creates a typically classical sound.

If you’re doing pop or contemporary you can afford to lift your head, but only very slightly.

Now, I’m going to say a caveat here: when you lift the head in pop music, the first thing that tends to happen is that the chest comes forward, the neck takes a lot of strain, and the back of the neck is crooked. So the most likely thing that’s going to happen if you are singing popular contemporary is that you’re going to feel an enormous amount of strain, a tight tummy and a lot of extra pressure and constriction around the laryngeal area, vocal folds and swallowing muscles.  It’s going to cause you to feel very tight and constricted in your tone.

So, where does the pop or the contemporary singer position their neck and head?

Slightly chin up. Not right up – and not out. (It’s that outward posture, where the jaw is jutting out, that becomes most troublesome! All the tension comes to the back of the tongue. You’ll find it hard to articulate sound, your tone will get constricted.)

If you are doing stronger upper middle singing (belt), you’re going to want to be in a slightly anchored or raised back position, where you can feel that the top of your spine is a little bit longer.

Raise your chin, neck and back muscles. Stand and lean back slightly, so you’re drawing yoursed up a little bit taller and not collapsing in the middle. This will keep your whole vocal tract and resonance area free for that sound to keep vibrating as you’re singing.

 

Watch yourself!

[Watch from 9:12]

Getting some awareness around your own posture can be really insightful and provide a starting point for you to start to change it for the better, or find someone to help you improve.

Use a mirror Can you see your own bad habits? Not unless you can see yourself! So put a mirror in front of you and you can start to see what’s going on with your posture.

Record yourself singing on video and play it back. Watch yourself singing and pay attention when you’re doing certain phrases. What are you doing with your head and your neck? As you go to a top note, do you pull your chin around and go forward? Do you tighten the shoulders?

If after watching yourself you can see what you need to change, brilliant! Go change it.

If you don’t feel it works for you (or it throws up other problems), then you need to find a vocal coach.

 

Make an inventory of your posture

[Watch from 14:21]

When you’re standing up to sing, use this checklist:

Are your feet hip width apart? (they should be!)

Are you locking your knees or your back? (if so, you need to relax a bit)

Is your head over your shoulders? (You don’t want it jutting forward or pulled back)

Are your shoulders relaxed, so that when your arms are hanging loose you can feel that there is a diamond of support in your tummy? (If you feel you’re collapsing in the middle, that will affect your neck and head alignment, and consequently your voice.)

When you’ve got correct posture, it will not inhibit your larynx production, vibration or how your sound is being produced.

 

Get some feedback

[Watch from 15:45]

Sometimes we need somebody to help us correct our posture.

If you’re struggling with posture, it’s invaluable to have somebody give you feedback, so that you know exactly how to improve.

Once you’ve had an assessment of your posture you’ll be able to:

  • See where the problems are
  • Make a plan in order to correct your posture
  • Test out your voice and your performances after correcting all of those things
  • Notice a big difference in your singing!

Remember, you are the instrument.

Paying attention to that instrument, understanding how it works and taking care of it is going to make a big difference to how effectively you’re going to be able to use it.

 

Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.


How to unlock the power of your muscle memory

How to unlock the power of your muscle memory


Are you the kind of person who can learn things quickly and remember them very well for a short time (perhaps for an exam), but would struggle to recall anything in detail a month later? Or are you the type who takes longer to learn something, but still remembers it years afterwards?

And how does your memory impact on your singing?

We use the front part of the brain for last minute cramming. It’s about taking in and regurgitating information. Singing is more about recalling a feeling. If you feel certain pitches in certain places, you’ll experience where the pitch is and you know that you can go back to that feeling again.

Finding the power of your muscle memory

Somebody I taught once said to me, “I’m listening for a feeling… I know that probably sounds weird.” I can understand why she thought it sounded odd – because what kind of sound does a feeling have? But there is a tangible inner memory that your body can recall: that place it operates from when it’s you’re working at your best capacity. There’s a tangible sense, there’s a tangible flow and a tangible energy around it.

Because when you’re learning a musical instrument or singing, you’re using a different type of memory: your muscle memory.

Take tennis players. When tennis players are playing at the top of their game, they might not be able to remember what they did in those moves and in all those moments during their practise. But all those shots that they did and didn’t make, all the small adjustments that they did took them bit by bit to a place of working out energetic balance in what they were doing to get from here to there.

Navigating towards the sound you want

Singing is very much like that. Sometimes we see something we want to achieve, say, a new song, or a particular area of the voice that we want to work in, and we see a kind of vague picture of the end result. It has a feeling. We’d like it to sound like this. We’d like it to feel like that. It’s as if we’re standing on the jetty and we can see Paradise Island that we’re trying to reach.

But we just don’t sometimes realise how far away it is. We judge we need this much fuel, but then we get halfway and realised that our perspective was off and we really need this much fuel.

When we become more experienced we become like the good captain of a ship, who can look at the waters after they have sailed the same seas back and forth for years, and even when the sea seems calm, can feel the direction of the wind and know that there’s a storm brewing. When we are learning, some ‘storms’ that come up are not necessarily very obvious to us. We suddenly reach something that we just haven’t got the skill to do and we need to learn how to navigate towards it – and train our muscle memory as we go.

Are you missing this key element?

Our early experiences of learning can condition us to learn with a cramming mentality. When I had to sit exams I would use my photographic memory. I could imagine a picture of the pages in my mind, go into the exam and start to write them down.

But when you learn in that way all you’ve got is information. You’re missing a key element: implementation. When you’re learning to use an instrument (including your voice!) you need to add the element of daily practise so that you can store the information in your muscle memory and recall it at any time, at will.

Think about your PIN number. Can you easily repeat your PIN out loud, or do you need to move your fingers to recall it? If you’re in the second camp, that’s your muscle memory at work.

When you need to rewire your muscle memory

But what if you’ve inadvertently stored the wrong information in your muscle memory? You’ll be playing that misinformation out, and not getting the results you want. Sometimes it’s a case of rewiring your muscle memory: you need to search out new information at that point to retrain, the neuro pathway.

You need to find the right techniques and exercises to practise on a regular basis so you can store the right information in your muscle memory – and start moving closer to being able to recapture that feeling time and time again.

Looking for more support, guidance and encouragement with your singing practise? Join us over at the Online Singing Academy.


A new perspective on high notes

A new perspective on high notes


Today, I want to talk to you about singing higher.

Now, I’m not coming at this from a usual angle, so bear with me. What I want to talk about is why we struggle with singing higher – what’s really going on.

Go on YouTube and you’ll see so many videos telling you how to sing higher.
How to belt your notes.
How to sing this, how to sing that.
So much about singing higher and increasing your range.

And yet, you’re still struggling.

With such a huge amount of information out there, why are you still struggling with singing high notes? Because fundamentally, you’re not looking at high notes with the truth of what they are.

When we think of high notes, one of the biggest problems is that we’re imagining all our notes outside ourselves. We hear our sound inside our bones, and as an echo back from the walls around us. We don’t always come to things with the perspective of physics or the perspective of how things really work. But unless there is something physically wrong, the capacity to be able to actually stretch the voice out and increase range is common to all humans.

So, what can you do to prove this to yourself?

 

 

1. Lose the baggage

There can be a lot of baggage around the jargon of singing. Even the phrase ‘high note’ has some baggage around it: we imagine that something that is high is out of reach. So what are we likely to do to try and bridge that gap? We’re going to make some effort as if we’re lifting heavy weights. We’re going to strain and stretch.

But is the note actually out of reach? Well, no it’s not.

You need to rediscover how you can make singing easy for yourself by understanding some ways that we use our voices outside of singing. Understanding how the voice works and bringing simple exercises into the mix can help you understand singing in a different way.

 

 

2. Do these exercises

Watch the video from 04:23 for the exercises.

When you do these exercises, you notice things suddenly feeling so much more doable – because there’s less thinking. You create those sounds all the time, every day, in your talking voice. Because we don’t think it’s difficult, we allow the voice to work as it was naturally intended. We think the thought; the voice responds and moves into position; we create the sound. We’ve learned it by habit, by copying, by nature.

 

 

3. Stop striving

When it comes to singing, you need to stop striving.

Are your high notes really high? Or are they just a new space? Are they just new positions that you need to feel and find and experiment with?

Allow your perspective to shift towards listening from the inside out, and shaping and creating those sounds from the inside out.

Once you’ve got a handle on that and you’re not striving and straining for something outside yourself anymore, you can start to harness your voice in a more artistic and creative manner. And a more healthy one too.

So, until next time, have fun experimenting with your talking voice, with different sounds, and allow that to inform a new perspective on your higher range notes. I’d love to hear how you get on!