Singing when unwell

Singing when unwell can be challenging, but there are ways to minimize strain and still perform effectively. Here are four tips to help you manage:

1. Stay Hydrated

  • Drink Water: Keep your vocal cords well-lubricated by drinking plenty of water. Aim for room temperature or warm water, as cold water can constrict your vocal cords.
  • Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol: These can dehydrate you and irritate your throat.
  • Steam Inhalation: Inhale steam from hot water to soothe and hydrate your vocal cords. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil for added relief.

2. Warm Up Gently

  • Gentle Warm-Ups: Do gentle vocal exercises to warm up your voice. Start with humming or lip trills to get your vocal cords moving without too much strain.
  • Avoid High Notes: Refrain from singing high or loud notes during your warm-up. Focus on the comfortable part of your range to avoid further irritation.

3. Modify Your Technique

  • Sing Softer: Reduce the volume to avoid putting too much pressure on your vocal cords. Use a microphone to help project your voice if needed.
  • Focus on Breath Support: Use proper diaphragmatic breathing to support your voice and reduce strain on your throat.
  • Articulation and Diction: Enunciate clearly to ensure your words are understood without having to push your voice.

4. Rest and Listen to Your Body

  • Vocal Rest: Limit speaking and singing outside of necessary performances to give your voice a chance to heal.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your voice feels. If you experience pain or significant discomfort, it’s best to rest entirely and seek medical advice if necessary.
  • Avoid Whispering: Whispering can strain your voice more than speaking softly, so try to speak in a normal, quiet tone instead.

Taking these precautions can help you preserve your voice and reduce the risk of further damage when you’re not feeling your best.

10 pop songs for boys under 10

Teaching boys under the age of  10 to enjoy singing lessons and singing.

  1. Start with Fun and Playful Exercises: Introduce singing through fun exercises that engage their imagination and playfulness. Games like “Simon Says” where they mimic vocal sounds or animal noises can be great warm-ups. Encourage them to sing along to their favorite songs or cartoons, making it enjoyable and natural.
  2. Provide Positive Encouragement: Building confidence is crucial at this age. Offer plenty of positive reinforcement and encouragement. Celebrate their efforts, no matter how small, and focus on progress rather than perfection. Create a supportive environment where they feel safe to explore their voice without fear of judgment.
  3. Incorporate Visual and Kinesthetic Learning: Young boys often respond well to visual and kinesthetic learning. Use visual aids like diagrams of vocal anatomy to explain concepts in a simple and engaging manner. Encourage physical movements that help with breath control and vocal projection, such as stretching or pretending to blow bubbles. Incorporating movement into singing can make it more dynamic and enjoyable for them.

By combining these approaches, you can make learning to sing a fun and rewarding experience, setting a strong foundation for their musical journey ahead.

These 10  songs are popular, catchy, and have relatively simple melodies and lyrics, making them suitable for young boys to sing along with and enjoy.

Number One: Hound Dog by Elvis Presley

This is a very repetitive song and has a small vocal range, making it very easy for young boys to learn quickly, sing and enjoy.

Number Two: Here comes the sun by the Beatles

Always check the key the song is in and if that key suits the child.  Sometimes you may need to raise the key to make it easier to sing in their vocal range.  Remember, these voices are still immature and they don’t have the vocal chords that an adult male has, meaning they are not yet able to sing really low notes.

Here is the Beatles version, as well as the same song in a higher key.

Number Three: Count on me by Bruno Mars

Number Four: Rip Tide by Vance Joy

Number Five: Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas

Number Six: It’s a good day to have a great day by Russell Dickerson

Number Seven: Can’t stop the feeling by Justin Timberlake

Number Eight: Footloose by Kenny Loggins

Number Nine: Fireflies by Owl City

Number Ten: Lanterns by Birds of Tokyo

Singing Strong end of year concert

After an amazing year of music making in the Singing Strong Vocal Studio it is now time to celebrate with an evening of song from singers both young and old, new and seasoned performers.
This concert will be an opportunity to sit back and enjoy an evening of a wide range of styles of music as well as supporting singers in their musical journey, wherever that may be.
Saturday 2nd 7pm  VRI Hall, Queens Parade, Traralgon

Billie Eilish

Hi! it’s Mary from Singing Strong and welcome.

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about Billie eilish’s new song,  “What was I made for?”  from the Barbie movie. I have not been to the Barbie movie, I haven’t had time to go and see it yet. I’ve had lots of people telling me it’s a great movie and I plan on going to see it, but there’s some great music out of this movie, in particular the song “What was I made for?”

Billie Eilish and her brother Phineas are great songwriters, they are so well versed in using music that appeals to a wide audience.  I respect the work.  I have a personal reason:

One: because I am a soprano and I love to sing higher.

Two: it’s not belted. Everyone talks about belting, we’re going to belt music everything has to be yelled and yes that’s good to a point, but it’s only one feature of the whole voice.

When I first heard the song I was just thrilled that she was using a light soprano voice to sing this song. Now having said that she has made a stylistic choice and I think it has a lot to do with the style of the song,  you know being with Barbie dolls as a child or you know that Barbies,  these were around when I was young, so I think she added all the breath personally,  I think it’s a creative thing of history or nostalgia and looking back.  That’s my interpretation.  When they recorded that, you have to think about what is happening that she has an incredible lot of air over the vocal chords and that is going to challenge you. I would question how many times did she do each section? How long did she have in between the takes.  Did she have breaks for the voice? She could have done it in  only one take, but it would be very taxing on the voice, pushing so much air. You have to remember she’s in front of the microphone, it’s really close and the technology we have now to be able to you know manipulate the sound and create what they wanted to achieve.

Thank you Billie Eilish for encouraging young voices to sing with a high light soprano voice.  Music and singing doesn’t always have to be pushed or belted.

Seeing Miss Saigon at the Sydney Opera House

Hi it’s Mary from Singing Strong. I had a lovely excursion to Sydney a couple of weekends ago for my daughter’s 22nd birthday. We had the most wonderful time in Sydney I haven’t been there for, I’m trying to think, it’s been over 20 years, so I’m starting to give away my age a little bit here, but that’s okay.  We went to Sydney and we got to walk around circular Quay. We walked around the Opera House and walked around to Sydney Harbor Bridge. This was amazing. I always love to watch the fireworks on New Years Eve from Sydney, so it was lovely to actually walk around there. We also went to Bondi Beach. My daughter is a Bondi Rescue fan and we went there and had a look at all of the area of Bondi Beach. We also went to Manly on the Sunday which was the most beautiful weather but incredibly busy, Sydney is just exploding with people, but it was really lovely, we had a great day.

We went to the Opera House on the Saturday night to see Miss Saigon. Miss Saigon has been around since the 1980s, but I had never seen it for whatever reason I didn’t manage to get to see it. It’s composed by the same people who composed Les Miserables. It is very different but musically as exciting as Les Miserable. If you haven’t seen Miss Saigon I would highly recommend it. Now it was very confronting I have to say, but the music was amazing. The young girl who played the role of Kim is literally 18 years old and has been plucked out of the obscurity and she was just incredible.  The thing that I really valued and got so much enjoyment from even though it’s an incredibly sad story was the calibre of the singing and I have to say well done Opera Australia for putting this on. The singing was just world class, and I can say that honestly because I have been to a few different places around the world. The technicians are to be congratulated on the sound quality, there was so much going on in this show but it was just fantastic. The singing was incredible.

Now I know a lot of people are not so much music theatre fans and prefer contemporary pop music and that sort of thing and there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s some great singing.  I’m going to be talking about that in the future, how pop singing is just amazing, but this night, I don’t know whether it was just the thrill of being at the Opera House. It was such high quality singing, so well-rehearsed,  such strong powerful in control voices that could sing a huge dynamic range who were singing, this incredibly low music and then she has this beautiful high soprano coming through on some of the songs, it was just amazing.  The show is coming to an end in Sydney, but it’s coming to Melbourne so if you are a person who lives in Victoria and you haven’t seen it I would highly recommended it.  It is not for children, it’s like I said incredibly confronting. We just need to be careful with what we are exposing our children to. If you haven’t seen Miss Saigon you must go.  I’m not going to do any spoilers, not going to tell you that the actual show itself because there’s some incredible things that happened on the stage that just flew my mind.

Well done to the production team and everyone who was involved. I’ve seen a lot of shows in the last 12 months now that we’re out of covid. I’m trying to go and see everything and I have to say out of all the shows that I’ve seen recently that is like number one at the top, can’t get any better, at the moment I to find a show that is a higher level vocally. It just blew my mind. if you are in Victoria and have an opportunity it starts on 29th October. It’s not that far away, please go and see it, you will absolutely love it. As I said it is very confronting, very sad, but just an amazing show. Please go and see it. You can watch it online, but I just don’t think you get the same experience.  There’s something about live theatre that you get a totally different experience.

Well done everyone at Opera Australia, I loved it.

St Patrick’s Day

Folk music is music from a country, usually composed and performed by the people of that country.  There is Australian folk music (think of Waltzing Matilda) American folk music (Home on the range) and if you named a country there would be a well known folk song from there. Most folk songs are very old and the composer is often anonymous, because we just don’t know who originally wrote the song. I love the folk music of Ireland.  The most well known folk song from Ireland is “Danny Boy”. I have linked some videos down below if you would like to sing along.

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A new term

I started this week on Monday singing at 3 Anzac day services around Traralgon. I feel this is a real honour and privilege to be able to participate in the ceremonies in this capacity.  A big thank you to Sophie, one of my students, who sang at Tyers.  The crowds were very large this year, which was wonderful to see. Two years ago we were standing out the front of our neighbours house with the last post being played by a family member. I felt very proud to be able to sing the National anthem. Australia is a wonderful country, and we should be grateful for what we do have, in spite of all the turmoil going on in the world. We should also be extremely grateful to those who  have defended and continue to defend our country.

I have absolutely loved being back in the singing studio this week. Students were very enthusiastic to get back to singing, and it is so good to be pretty much back to normal. I love that I get to work on such a variety of songs with my students – whether it be Itty Bitty Kitty Unicorn with my very young students, to Titanium or All of Me, to Time to say Goodbye.  I have an extremely limited number of places available for lessons, so get in quick if you would like to have singing lessons. Whether it be just for fun, or you would like a serious career in music, get in touch with me and we can discuss how I might be able to help you.

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Here are the songs I mentioned in this blog post

Pretty Itty Bitty Kitty Unicorn can be found at the Full Voice Website

Songs for Valentines Day

I hope you have a wonderful Valentines Day

Here are some love songs throughout time that you might enjoy listening to.

Adele Lovesong

composed 2011

At Last

composed 1960

Beyonce sings Ät Last

Tell me the truth about love

composed 1938

Jocelyn Freeman: Tell me the truth about love Benjamin Britten

Loves Philosophy

composed 1905

Dedication (Widmung)

composed 1840

Confidence

Singers need to have confidence.

What is the true meaning of confidence?

Confidence means feeling sure of yourself and your abilities — not in an arrogant way, but in a realistic, secure way. Confidence isn’t about feeling superior to others. It’s a quiet inner knowledge that you’re capable. Confident people: … know they can rely on their skills and strengths to handle whatever comes up.

When people are listening to music or watching a performance, the experience is that the listener is focused on the singer first. That means that the instrumentalists are more in the background.

That means, if we are singing solo, the pressure is on us to perform well.

Singers must remember lyrics and work with an instrument that we don’t always have control of. We don’t get the feedback like you do when you are playing an instrument external to our body.

It is harder for us to sing higher; we have to be in great shape, feeling well. If you want a higher note on a piano, you simply push the key.

The singer is the one who must connect with the audience. We are the ones telling the story.

That is stressful, as it can be difficult to make that connection, especially when we don’t feel fully confident in ourselves.

Confidence is about making sure we are as prepared as we can be before going on stage.

If you are worried about aspects of your singing and don’t have true confidence both technically and expressively, there can be the concern about failure.

True confidence comes with mastering your instrument technically. This means feeling good about what you want to sing on a regular basis, whatever that is.

When the singer makes a mistake, it is noticed. Of course, we will always experience mistakes on stage, it is part of life. No one is perfect. But we need to have the confidence to be on stage, present our songs, and be confident, so that when we have those moments, we can shake it off and keep going.

Confidence is knowing you have the flexibility and versatility to sing what you want to sing.

You need to know your songs well. You don’t want to be struggling to remember lyrics, or not knowing what the melody line is. You need to memorize your songs, so that you don’t have to worry about reading them.

Mental confidence comes from doing something a lot, so much that you have prepared yourself and don’t even have to think about it.  You can’t be worrying about whether the note will be there.

You also must give yourself permission to fail, and you also need to give the audience permission to not like you. Remember that you won’t please everyone. Not everyone will like you.  And you must let go.

There will be some in the audience who will love you, and you need to sing for those people.  Remember its not about you, its about your audience and how you are there to connect with them.  Don’t worry about yourself, connect with the lyrics, the emotion and what you are trying to share.

 

I hope you have experienced the joy of connecting with a singer and being touched by the song they are singing. You are in the moment with them. If there is a wrong note, so be it. They just let it go and keep sharing. That is what is important.

That is what great singing is about.

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Sing like Adele: Easy on me

Today we are going to have a look at a very small section of Adele’s song Easy on me.

We are just going to do the very beginning of the chorus:  Go easy on me baby.

There are a couple of things to look at in this small section of the song.

It’s a great song, and if you haven’t listened to the whole song you can click on this link to listen to it on you tube.

The song is in F major, and this phrase begins with the tonic note, which is the beginning not of the scale -F and then you sing up a fifth, or leap up, which is the fifth note of the scale which is C.

You will find fifth intervals in lots of songs. Intervals are important to practice so that when we sing them, we land accurately on them.

Practice on the sound ng, which is the sound at the end of the word sing. The sound is closed (the tongue and soft palate are together) but you can open your mouth when you sing. This aims the sound into the front of the face.

You want to glissando (slide) up and down.  As you go up, think more like you are landing on the note rather than revving up a hill.

 

Onsets

When you are attacking a phrase, especially one that begins with a vowel, there are a number of different ways you can sing it.

  1. Clean onset: the vocal chords come together cleanly with the sound to make a smooth, light and clear sound. To do this, connect the two words go-easy, like one word to keep it smooth.
  2. Aspirate/breathy onset. Air is pushed through the vocal chords to make a breathy, airy sound. Adding a h also makes it even more breathy.
  3. Glottal onset. The vocal chords come together quite hard to make a very strong and hard sound.

 

 

A great book for beginning singers

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