SINGING IS SERIOUSLY SIMPLE Valuable Tips, Tools and Techniques for All Singers About the Writer of this

Ebook, Al Koehn Al Koehn is recognized throughout the world as the teacher and coach of top recording artists, tv and movie personalities and actors. His powerful "Vocal Visualization©" techniques are being used by singers in all genres of music. For over 30 years Al Koehn has taught private singing, theory, composition and performance techniques in Florida. Al holds degrees in music education, drama and voice development from Murray State University, Kentucky with extensive graduate work at SIU and Michigan State. He taught high school and university choir, drama and humanities for 11 years and has been teaching voice, public speaking and presentation techniques in St. Petersburg, FL for over 26 years. He was "on the road" for 9 years as a single singer-keyboardist. Literally hundreds of speech and singing students have worked extensively with Al over the years. (I set this up as a series of questions and answers because I find this method very effective for readers to follow and understand.) Al Koehn Index 1. Open your throat and hear the difference in your singing. 2. The "chest" voice and the "head" voice #2 3. How to move easily through the female "break". 4. How to keep from singing flat 5. How to avoid singing with a nasal sound. 6. Should you try to develop a vibrato? 7. Does "belly-breathing" make me look fat?

How to sing better in the morning. What are vocal nodules. 1. and how can you avoid them? 18. So you sing off-pitch. 19. How to develop your own unique vocal style. How can I tell if there's a problem with my vocal cords? 17. Just how bad is weed and smoking for the singer? 13. Imagine holding a solid sheet of plywood in front of . through which the sound has to travel in order to get out of your mouth. What is that all about? Think of the throat as being a tube. I like my coffee. What should you eat before you perform? 11. How does alcohol affect my singing? 14. This tube is very pliable. 10. leaving just enough room for air to pass through in order for us to stay alive and to speak. What foods should a singer avoid? 12. and tends to close itself much of the time. What should you take for a cold? 9. How do you develop a good vibrato for your kind of music? 20. otherwise we would die. You can see that the throat is much more practiced in being closed than open. Why you need to warmup your voice with exercises before performing.8. Singing is one of the very few activities which requires the throat to be wide open (yawning is another). Is that bad? 15. I thought the throat was always open. When we swallow it closes completely. How can you extend your high range? 22. 21. Some great tips and techniques on breathing and breath control. (Question) I keep hearing about singers having to open the throat. What can you do about that? 16.

3. 2.. When we take the feeling of the chest voice up too high in our range we begin to strain. What is the chest voice? Teachers have coined several terms to describe the different vocal sounds and the feelings we get when we make those sounds. Chest voice usually applies to the sound and the feel we get when we sing in the lower part of our range. and is most easily fixed by . and refers to that part of the voice which sounds lighter and more feminine. You have mind control over the opening of your throat. but all I get is a strange abrupt change in quality from a rich. The head voice is often the term used to delineate the sound of the higher notes being sung. I am a girl. Falsetto is a term applied mostly to male voices. The sound would be cut off. When you sing feel as if you are yawning. imagine the uvula hanging up very high.a speaker. Apply this concept to your throat when you are singing. Cut a bigger hole in the wood and more sound comes through. think it open:. whiney sound. I hate that. It is often breathy and weak but can usually be strengthened through vocal exercises. The best singers use the falsetto to great advantage. so I usually strain my lower voice trying to reach the high notes without getting that break. Use it often. and to become hoarse. Don't neglect yours. and the back of your tongue lying very low. Is there any help for me? This is a universal problem with female pop singers. and a small amount of sound would come through.. full sound to a shrill. Then the full sound can get through and out your mouth. Take the wood away and the sound comes out of the speaker in all its glory. and I try to move smoothly up from my chest voice into my head voice. Drill a small hole in the wood.

The sound. When I sing up high I tend to sing flat. This can be corrected by a relatively simple surgery. and muscles will strengthen and coordinate themselves with exercise. using an oo vowel. For the singer.working with a good vocal coach or teacher. most nasal singing is caused by lazy muscles at the back of the throat. A good exercise for this is to work with the consonant K and then work . The most common physical cause is having a deviated septum. (Wow! I m a poet. People tell me I sound nasal. you have avoided this part of your voice so long it has become weak. If the tongue rises up and. the top of the throat lowers while we sing. the instrument is the body. Trying to make the high notes too fat makes them flat. (TIP. When you sing. however. Most instrumentalists take much better care of their instruments than the singer does of his body. Chances are. or. They do move up and down when we swallow or yawn. including the back of the tongue.) (TIP: It is very important to imagine the vocal cords as being very low in the throat. Is this something I was born with.) 4. nasality occurs. or can I change that sound? Excess nasality can be caused by a physical deformity. Second: sing scales and phrases down from your head voice into your chest voice. Remember that the voice is run by muscles. feel as if you are singing through a yawn. Try sliding down. or a misshapen nasal cartilage. However. ) 5. What am I doing wrong? You are probably keeping your sound too big and fat as you move from low to high. I do have a couple of tips. First: sing a lot in your head (high) voice. color and feeling of the voice must become progressively thinner (not weaker) as we move up. Singing from high-to-low is much more beneficial to your learning than practicing from low-to-high. even though I m not straining to hit the notes.

You can toss big rocks (heavy.it with the vowels uh and oh . I have heard singers say that you should always expand the belly outward when you sing. If you are popping the microphone. popping consonants) into the stream. Vibratos are like fingerprints. A five minute daily workout with these sounds should clear up your nasality in a short time. Keep your posture straight and no one will notice . I almost never hear a professional singer in any area of music who does not have some sort of vibrato. koh. Think of the vowel sounds as moving water in a stream. but these are exceptions. my belly will stretch even more. Yes. kuh. I sing heavy rock. but is deadly for singing. some wide and operatic. and not collapse inward. kuh. soft consonants) which will still be seen (heard) and yet not disturb the flow. Most good singers have vibratos which are unique to them and to their style. and it just does not fit the music. P s. Any comments? Yes. Keep your T s. Vibrato comes in many sizes and shapes. and I m afraid that if I do that. I ve noticed that most good rock. L s. stopping the flow. K s. or you can toss leaves (light. Your vibrato should always spin unless you choose to turn it off. pop and blues singers have no vibrato. (TIP: Guitar and keyboard players have almost a built in bad posture. This works fine for playing. M s and N s quick and light.) (TIP: Vowels do not waste breath. I hate to hear vibrato in my voice. kuh and koh. You are not listening close enough. Muscles do not work like this. I m a little fat around the middle. there are times when we need to turn off our vibrato in order to create a certain style or emotion. Consonants do. 6. G s.) 7. koh. you are wasting your breath. while others are small and fast.

. 9. muscles and spaces of the neck and head in order to achieve quality and volume. Be aware. Digestion is of utmost importance to this. There are two basic reasons: When the stomach is full the diaphragm can t move down completely for us to get full breaths. however. I usually can t sing well in the morning. etc. and the primary job of the body is to stay alive.) 10. Why is that? When you wake up after a night of singing there is usually a layer of mucus covering your larynx. (Put only enough salt in the glass to lightly cover the bottom) (TIP: Think of the vocal cords as the sound source. but it has to vibrate into and around the guitar box to get quality and volume. The vocal cords make the sound.that your are expanding your belly. but they will negatively affect your voice. They may make you feel better. deep thought. 8. I know it s harder to sing after a big meal. During digestion we suffer from a noticeable lack of energy because it is being used for that purpose at the expense of singing. but I m not sure why. As the sound vibrates in and around the box it gains quality and volume. but the sound must then vibrate in and around the bones. Try gargling with warm salt water to remove it. like the strings on a guitar or the speaker in a speaker system. Check your stress level. The speaker without the box sounds very small and tinny. The guitar strings make the sound. consequently when digestion is taking place shortly after a meal the body routes energy from all areas of the body to help with the process. What should I take for a cold Whatever works for you. Many colds are responses to stress and emotion. This is a protective layer the body has placed over the vocal cords as a reaction to the shock of singing. that all over-the-counter cold remedies are detrimental to good singing.

This dries your vocal mechanism and causes problems in all areas of your singing. What about smoking? NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! 13. If you are drinking. The smoke is taken directly through them into the lungs. Fruits are always good. Definitely avoid milk and dairy products before singing. avoid food that make you feel "heavy. Not good. they gum up the vocal works. However. The two most common reasons for pitch problems are singing with a faulty instrument and failing to create the sound in the mind before singing it. What about drinking alcohol or smoking weed? Moderation is the key. 14. 12. Can I do something about this. Weed (pot) is very rough on the vocal cords and throat. Just don't do it a lot. Everyone's system is different. you're probably drinking too much.11. Many people have give . Remember the purpose of all "highs" is to screw around with the mind. What about caffeine? Caffeine is a drug and an acid. What foods should a singer avoid. You don't need to stop drinking coffee. You can be a good judge of that. Do you really need to do that while you are performing? Room temperature tea or water is best for the singer when performing or rehearsing. Alcohol dries the throat and vocal mechanism. and start to feel an uncomfortable dry throat. or do I just have to live with a "tin ear?" The percentage of singers who just can't sing on pitch is very small. and can make you sleepy. My band complains that I occasionally sing out of pitch. and needs to be neutralized by the body s stealing water from the mucus around the larynx (vocal cords). 15." or seem to remain in your stomach for a long time. Red meat takes longer to digest.

and above all. angry. Not creating the melody in your head before you sing it. trying to sing too high without knowing how. Going sharp is usually caused by pushing too much energy. Letting your current health problems (a cold. depression. 5. THE GENIUS OF THE SINGER DEPENDS MOSTLY ON THEIR ABILITY TO MENTALLY "HEAR" WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT TO SING. like a fortune teller looking to the future through a crystal ball. If you don't hear yourself well through the monitors you are in danger of pushing your voice so you can hear it.not by a "bad ear. etc) affect your singing. and not understanding how to care for the voice these are almost always the causes of poor pitch. etc can cause you to sing flat. singing in the throat or nose.. This could take you ...and worked with them." when actually they could have continued singing professionally for years. exhaustion." The main causes of singing off-pitch are: 1.. not being "with it" that night. etc) affect your singing. anger. Letting your current mood (happy. If you sing a gig the day you lost your job. 3. the singer must think ahead. a headache. Not knowing the song really well. Poor breathing habits. Are you singing with a "smile in your heart? (That sounds like a Fred Astaire movie title) An internal "smile" does wonders toward keeping the pitch from going flat. sadness. constipation. a hot room. Pitch problems are almost always caused by poor singing habits. trying to copy the sound of singers with radically different voices. 4. Also. had they known the facts.up singing because they believed they had a "tin ear. (Do you REALLY know it?) 2. sad. chances are you will sing flat a lot.

VERY FEW PEOPLE ARE TOTALLY UNABLE TO SING ON PITCH. but a little might be just the thing to relax you and get the best performance. dull) rather than higher in your forehead? A throaty sound often becomes a flat (pitch) sound. (They tighten the cords. Too much alcohol or weed. 9. if you feel most comfortable hearing a little reverb . 14. Is your monitor placed so you can hear yourself clearly in relation to the rest of the band. Are your nerves under control.way flat or sharp. Are you singing with an open throat? When the back of the throat (the bottom of the tongue and the top of the throat pinch shut our pitch can be affected. Are you getting enough breath to finish the phrase. 13. In the studio you MUST be totally comfortable with the sound through your headphones. A true "tin . The same with very cold drinks. Also. Are you feeling your sound down in the throat. Be very fussy about this. 10. Being unusually nervous can cause us to push the voice and go sharp. When you run short of breath at the end of a phrase it's hard to stay up on pitch. You're the best judge of that. Too much will be a negative. Are you having that problem in rehearsals? If you are pushing your voice there you are establishing a habit which could continue when you are on stage or in the studio6. pitch will probably be affected. Don't let a producer or engineer tell you what s best. Drinking hot drinks loosens the cords and makes it harder to stay in key. If the earphone sound is not balanced the way you want it. 12. Learn correct breathing techniques. ask for it.) 11. 8. (Husky. 7.

Prolonged hoarseness isn't always caused by nodules or polyps. you need to warm up. Surgery is not often required. see a specialist! 17. If this is happening. The best way to get rid of them is to stop singing for a while. see a specialist now. What are they? Bad news! The inner lips of the vocal cords (where the sound is made) are very tender. incorrect singing habits and straining into the high range. Any time you are hoarse for an extended time (say. and then begin to develop better singing habits. nodules will usually go away when we stop rubbing and irritating them. 10 days or so).! 18. get another opinion. these blisters are usually caused by poor breathing habits. (If this information is valuable to you. my voice is working pretty well. Sore throats are just simply sore throats. and on my course. .ear" almost never occurs. I keep hearing about vocal nodules. and my voice doesn't seem to do what I want it to. Like a blister on a finger or toe. But hoarseness indicates problems with the vocal cords. For example. check out Al's SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL SINGING at http://secrets-of-successful-singing. and we can raise blisters on them if we aren't careful. and if your doctor recommends it.com) 16. You have just described what could very well be a major problem. as presented by good private vocal teachers. Almost everyone can learn to sing on pitch. drainage from sinuses or irritated tonsils can also cause this. I m hoarse a lot. or sing in public. I never warm up. Prolonged hoarseness is a good sign of nodules (or polyps) . See a specialist if you are hoarse for 2 weeks or more. Are warm-ups that important? Any time you are going to rehearse. but usually by the second song of the evening.

Try that. and should cover light humming in the lower register. A good vocal warm-up should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Many students have come to me with the sole purpose of developing their vibratos. If you . My SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL SINGING contains a terrific warm-up for all types of singers. Singing songs will not do the job! Does the jogger or basketball player start without a warm-up? no. breath) are mastered (this can take years). It just doesn't seem to develop along with the rest of the voice. and how can I get one? Often.any activity which requires a well-tuned creative mind and coordinated physical activities deserves a warm-up. What is the vibrato. 19. natural-sounding vibrato is not complete. Now.and neither should you. but most of us are performing now. singing a bunch of "h's" on one note until you run out of breath. The vibrato is the most elusive of all the attributes of a singing voice. but rather. and for a good reason a voice without a smooth. the only thing standing between an excellent voice with good quality. That is me.. stable breath support. Many excellent voice teachers (including several of mine) teach that the vibrato will appear naturally. and need that precious vibrato as soon as possible. the low and high notes. without any special exercises. and some more involved melodic passages to get the creative juices flowing. control of volume and a workable range is the VIBRATO. balance. coordination.. range. This is true. do it again only this time don't separate the notes with the breathy "h". once all other elements (quality. the vowels. One is manufactured by bouncing the breath as we hold a note. This feels a lot like singing a series of "h's" (ha-ha-ha-ha-ha). "bounce" the repeated sound on your breath (ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-). How do I get one as soon as possible? There are two types of vibrato.

(Bad preachers often use this effect. skull size. a little sharp-a little flat."God will get you if you don't watch out!") Once you've got the idea. try to remember how a very old. recording the voices of many excellent singers in all fields of music. Now. This is a good reason why many teachers feel that the vibrato will develop naturally as the voice finds its own unique self-image. "shaking" a vibrato into it as you sing. and the results show that vibratos are actually movements in pitch up-down. range and control If a singer isn't getting enough . palsied person with a shaky voice sounds. but is more dependent on pitch fluctuation. Your natural vibrato will be uniquely yours.. but until you find your own. body shape. sing that sentence with the same palsied shake. shape and other elements of the instrument (the singer's vocal cords. natural sounding vibrato is made of some "shaking. fitting your voice perfectly. 20." or breath pulsation. Got it? OK.. pay special attention to the following information: A smooth. you need to understand that THIS IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL SOUNDING VIBRATO." Make your voice shake as you speak. (Katherine Hepburn is recognized for speaking this way. a very special and unique part of your voice will be false and manufactured. etc. Now. or if you have no vibrato at all.) Try saying v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Studies have been made. You may be able to emulate another singer's vibrato very well. The distance the pitch varies depends on the size.updown.have trouble with this. etc. "I am going to town. What is the best way to breathe as a singer? This question is important.) These variables dictate that "every singer's true vibrato is unique to that particular voice. try holding a long note. If you are currently "shaking" your vibrato. and must be addressed by any singer who wants to achieve professional quality.

that's the way we were made to breathe. we always need a reserve to call on for high notes. my chest rises up and expands when my lungs fill. Actually. most mere mortals (non singers)take in about one half the air they are actually capable of. we can drive with full power and control until it runs completely out of gas. Then we begin to notice that our parents. . and I sing until I need another breath. The chest must remain high and still during inhalation. not up. Any noticeable expansion should be in the area of the lower rib cage and the stomach not the chest. It's just that there is a better way a much better way to inhale. This continues until we are around six or seven years old. or make it louder. even though they feel like they're packing it in. but for singing. Watch a young kid breathe and you'll see their bellies move in and out. You're not doing anything wrong. Almost all people breath "shallow. even at the back. You mean my belly should come out when I breathe in? Exactly. but they expand downward. Here are some relevant questions and answers concerning this problem: So what am I doing wrong? I take a breath in. That's weird. In fact. How can I improve on that? The secret lies with something you just said: that your chest rises up when you breathe in. How can my chest stay still when my lungs are in there? Don't they expand when they fill? Yes. With a car. I pack all the breath in that my lungs can hold.breath upon inhalation the "fuel tank' is always near empty. or when we decide at the last minute to hold a note longer than usual. When we breathe correctly our stomachs become "fatter" all around. Not really." meaning they don't fill their lungs completely up on inhalation.

feeling your hand rise as your stomach expands all around. Chances are it will take in just the right amount of breath to do the job." You should never pack the lungs completely full. Always be prepared to catch a small breath in order to finish a phrase. so the lungs can't fill completely. Think ahead. and put your hand across your navel. then repeat this whole thing twice more. Since we all learn by imitation. etc. is that really true? Absolutely! Raising the chest to breathe limits the downward movement of the diaphragm. Then stand up and do it (6 times).deep and healthy breathing. but keep with the exercise daily and you will begin to breath at the belly. It will probably be a lot harder to do when you stand up..family and friends breathe by raising their chests. (They learned the wrong way when they were children. we imitate. What if I run out breath during a phrase? You should never put yourself in the position of completely running out of breath. Belly breathing allows the diaphragm to drop much farther down. (Diaphragmatic breathing) You said I can get up to twice the amount of air in with each breath if I do it this way.. This (like eating too much food) will get in the way of good singing. Al. Catching that small breath is preferable to losing tone quality and energy . thus letting the lungs fill up entirely. provided you are "belly breathing. and we screw up one of nature's wonderful gifts. Just be aware of the length of the phrase you are going to sing. Breathe deeply 6 times. how loudly you will sing. A good way to practice this is to lie on your back on the floor. Come on. Your sub-conscience has been breathing for you all your life. How much breath should I take in for singing? Most of the time you shouldn't have to worry about it. or another hard surface.). You'll know whether or not you can make it through the phrase.

singing an Ah. This doesn t mean it should get weak.because you chanced trying to make the whole phrase on one breath. 21. then progressively thinning its sound as it moves up the range of notes to the highest sounds. As you move higher notice whether the feel of your voice seems to rise toward the top of your head. but don't open. thin on the top. If you bump across the break into your falsetto (girls: head voice) don t worry. you should find yourself going higher and higher before having to go into the falsetto-head voice. It will extend in range as you continue to do the exercise. This thinning does not mean pinching the sound. The trick is to open the mouth and throat wider and longer (more vertical than horizontal) for the high notes. Give me some pointers on how to extend my high range. It's something like shooting a rifle bullet through a bazooka. or fatten. you put great strain on the throat and vocal cords. There are only new . or closing the mouth or throat. You limit the range. Feel how your voice wants to thin as you move up. The voice must contour itself like a triangle or a Christmas tree fat sounds on the low end. but rather thinner. How do I develop my own unique vocal style? I quote the old quote: "there's nothing new under the sun". the actual sound. and you will see that they open W-ID-E when they sing their high notes. It should do this. (Watch the best singers. Don t strain your voice. just keep going. Closing the mouth and throat for higher notes is the worse possible thing you can do. Slide smoothly up as high as you can comfortably go and then slide back down. you pinch the sound and you risk vocal "burn-out. 22. As you work with this exercise daily. In fact the mouth and throat opening must open even more when we sing higher." A great exercise to extend your high range is to start on a low note. Fat on the bottom.

The cool way Steven Tyler pronounces certain vowels.and on and on. It just ain't so. they have built an arsenal of funny stuff. the ballsy attitude of Reba . This doesn't mean that we lift whole finished phrases. Just don't try too hard to sound exactly like the original . What is unique about their humor is the way they use this collected material." Every great artist is influenced by others They collect and file into the subconscious bits and pieces. and that very little of what they do in their routines is completely new. This certainly doesn't condone duplicating another's style. the feeling of Stevie Wonder's riffing.ways of putting old stuff together. lyrics. So. so the singer needs to listen and collect. and they call it up and put it together in constantly changing new ways to make new routines or fit the occasion. Too many singers take pride in insisting that everything they do stylistically is totally their own original idea. Great comedians will tell you that they have spent years collecting funny lines. the way Christina Aguilera fuses the blues with pop. This is their "originality. Cover material is your teacher. riffs and progressions and claim them as our own. just as the comedian constantly collects and files things which have already been said and done. and begin to integrate the things we like into our own style in our own unique way. Don't ignore it. Steve Vai or Paul McCartney. In other words. concepts and jokes from other sources. But drawing on the creativity of others and consciously or unconsciously using what has already been done in totally new ways is today's "originality". But it does mean that we should constantly be aware of what's being done by others. Ask a guitar or bass player and they will often freely tell you their influences and often even show you where they "stole" from Hendrix. ideas and techniques they learned from others.

yet powerful. Guaranteed to bring noticeable improvement to your singing in a very short time.com ©2008 Vocalvision Florida . visit: http:// secrets-of-successful-singing. enjoyable. To find out more about this terrific set of recorded lessons. techniques and exercises to take you to the next level in your singing ability.singer. we need a you!Al Koehn's SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL SINGING is packed with more information. Easy to understand. or you will receive a complete refund. We've got them. This recorded course gives you 10 comprehensive and complete vocal sessions which cover all important aspects of singing.

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