• Singing: The Simple Health Tonic

    Tonic: Boost, pick-me-up, energizer, refresher.

    It is an interesting mysticism that surrounds the concept of singing. It is a natural expression of our body and yet somewhere in our history the act of singing became segregated from the masses and was allotted its own category as a profession. It truly is a wonderful art form, but what about the rest of the human race who are not or did not intend to pursue singing as a profession? Does this mean we should not sing? Our singing voice is a natural extension of our speaking voice and able to carry our emotions, thoughts, and feelings out of our bodies. So how does this affect the body and mind if we unintentionally or intentionally silence our voice? It could be very detrimental, but on the other hand, if we recognize that every BODY was meant to sing, then we may have rediscovered the simplest healing tool ever.

     

    Physical Effects of Singing

    Release of Endorphins

    Singing is a natural antidepressant as it releases endorphins, your body’s “feel good” brain chemicals. The release of endorphins are associated with feelings of pleasure as well as stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Endorphins also boost the immune system and relieve pain providing you with an overall health benefit.

    Increased Oxygen

    Singing encourages deep breathing which draws more oxygen into your blood stream. Oxygen provides your brain with the much needed food for its functioning. The many benefits include: improved concentration, provides increased energy, and stimulates areas of the brain involved with memory, learning and concentration. Oxygen is your greatest and first source of energy. It is the fuel required for the proper operation of all body systems. It also calms the mind and stabilizes the nervous system.

    Toned Muscles

    Singing improves your musculature. It encourages better posture, tones the abdominal and intercostal muscles and the diaphragm. Singing also exercises many of the muscles in the face, head and neck, reducing muscle tension and promoting increased relaxation.

    Relaxation

    Singing promotes relaxation. By concentrating on breathing, lyrics, posture, and interpretation of a song, the mind is taken off of other aspects of life. Singing is like a built in stress-free zone. The physical increase of oxygen, the coordination of musculature, and the release of endorphins combine and lend itself to a feeling of relaxation as you sing and has lasting effects afterwards.

     

    Start Singing Now

    Even being aware of all these amazing benefits of singing, there may still exist the fear of being heard or sharing your voice. You do not have to perceive yourself as a “good” singer in order to start reaping the many benefits of singing, and the only way to improve is to actually start doing it! Here are a few suggestions to get you going so you can start accessing your very own built-in health tonic today.  

     

    • Put a playlist together of your favourite songs and sing along in the shower, car, or anywhere you like! Then take the next step and download lyric sheets and karaoke tracks from the internet and practice singing your favourite songs this way. Singing songs in this manner, increases your connection and understanding of the vocal process.

     

    • Humming will have just as positive an effect! You don’t even need music, make up your own melody and just hum and vocalize however you want. Pick a pitch and sustain a vowel such as “eee” or “oooh” or “oooo” or “aaah”. Something as simple as singing a nursery rhyme or happy birthday will provide you with all the same benefits.

     

    • Then if you want singing to be a more prominent aspect of your life consider joining a choir, taking singing lessons, jamming with friends or numerous other ways you can begin releasing your voice regularly.

     

    The key to this simple health tonic is like anything else, you just have to do it. Try to see how you can fit singing into every day. It can be as simple as humming a tune or singing along with a song, to feel the immediate positive effects. It is a cumulative process too, if you add a little singing every day, the effects will grow and deepen. Sing for yourself, for your own fulfillment, sing for your overall well-being and happiness. You can tap into your own built-in health tonic right now. All you have to do is simply sing.

     

    “Music is one of the longest standing self prescribed therapy in history.”

    – Erin Seibert, Music therapist

     

    Author: Tammy Frederick


  • 5 Vocal Tips for Karaoke!

    1. Vocal Exercises

    Practice your karaoke songs with vocal exercises to develop your technique with the song. I suggest doing liprolls and trills many times with your songs to develop consistent vocal quality. And its also fun! If these are tricky for you, sing your songs with Koo's.

    2. Piano Recording

    Karaoke can be a challenge because the backing music does not have any melody(the notes the singer sings) in the track. This can be easily over-come by asking/hiring a piano player to play the melody notes of the song while the karaoke is playing. You can use this combined track to practice with and you will find a huge improvement in your ability to sing the song well!

    3. Connect to the Story

    Although it may seem obvious, many singers when asked don't actually know what their song is about. Look at your lyrics, read them out loud, and think about the story and the person who is singing it. Then try to relate to the story with personal experiences that may be similar in emotional nature. If you sing your song with more emotional investment, it will positively affect the quality of your performance!

    4. Warm up, Cool down

    Your voice is a part of your body and a fabulously coordinated instrument! If you take some time to warm up before you do karaoke, including singing your songs with tip 1, it will have a dramatic affect on your singing. Also, be sure to cool down your voice at the end of the session. I know very few people will think of doing this, but doing some gentle humming or liprolls will re-balance your voice for the next day and keep you healthy for more singing in the future!

    5. Hydrate During the Day

    Your voice is a mucous membrane that requires adequate hydration to function properly, ie: allow you to sing well. A singer needs to be drinking water all day in order to have adequate hydration for their cords and then continue to sip on water throughout performing to wet the back of the throat and maintain hydration. Remember that other types of drinks can be de-hydrating, so be sure to balance with equal intake of water to counter this!

     

    "I hate it when I'm singing a song and the artist gets the words wrong."

     

    Find more simple tips on my instagram at www.instagram.com/simplysingstudio

    Author: Tammy Frederick


  • 3 Steps to Identifying AS a Singer

    Many of us like to sing, but have been taught that we are not a "singer". Or that singing is only for a reserved few. But, really we all have vocal cords and a Body and thus we are all equipped with the instrument to sing. Singing is really a practice of developing coordination, much like learning anything.

    But, if you really love singing and feel like you aren't a singer, I would suggest that you play with the idea of identifying AS a singer. What this means is changing your belief that you aren't a singer into the belief that you ARE a singer. The practiced shift in the mindset will bring you into alignment with all the right steps to release your voice.

     

    Start with these simple steps :

    1. Create a vision board, box,  binder, or a computer file and start to collect lyric sheets of the songs you would love to sing, or sheet music. Add pictures of the artists who inspire you, etc. Write out what it is you want to do as a singer, really envision it and practice that as a mental rehearsal.

    2. Read Blogs about singing and watch YouTube videos and simply immerse yourself in the world of singing. There are lots of resources for sheet music and lyric sheets and karaoke's, dive in and have fun.

    3. Begin to sing on a regular basis, as you make it a habit, you will make continual progress, you will feel good, you will have fun, and more importantly you will be affirming your identity each time that you are a singer.

    A "singer" is simply someone who sings, it isn't a finish line. If you are practicing singing each week, which includes shower and car singing, you are in fact a singer. It is a lifelong process, not a destination.

    As you think about singing, study it, and do it, you are embodying the Identity of a singer and as you feed that identity, you will want to sing, study, and do it even more. Creating a fantastic self-affirming "Singer" identity loop!

     

    Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. ~ James Clear

     

    Author: Tammy Frederick

     


  • Increasing Your Range - 5 Easy Tips!

    The key issue that interferes with a wider vocal range is the engagement of the throat and neck muscles around the larynx. These exterior muscles are strong and can pull your larynx up as you move to higher pitches. However, the key to effortless singing is to keep these muscles relaxed so that the vocal chords, housed inside your larynx, are free to adjust forwards and backwards to your desired pitches.

    Here are 5 Easy Tips to help you keep the muscles around your larynx relaxed and therefore increase your range.

    1. Try bending your knees as you approach higher notes. This will help the mind focus on going down and helps release these muscles.

    2. From there, take it a step further and bend over from the waist, looking toward your toes as if you are going to pick the high note up off the floor. Keep your torso flat so you are not curling your body.

    3. Imagine pitch moving forwards and backwards. Your vocal chords adjust forwards and backwards on a horizontal plane so this will help you mentally stay in alignment with what your physiology is doing. When you feel pitch move up and down, what you are actually feeling is the vibration or resonance of the pitch moving up and down.

    4. Speak the lyrics of your song first, then sing them. This will give your body the opportunity to feel how the words move your breath and mouth before adding pitch. This can make a huge difference right away. Then when you start to sing again try to continue to maintain the feeling of speaking, but now you are speaking on pitch.

    5. Focus on the story. What is your song about? Who are you talking to in the song? What are the emotions and what do you need from the other person? Once you have done the other 4 tips, give this one a try. By taking your mind's focus off the technical aspect of singing and onto the story you will be more connected to the song, more relaxed, and your voice will release more easily and naturally.

    I hope you enjoy trying all of these!

    Author: Tammy Frederick


  • Developing Good Pitch

    Everyone has good pitch. Everyone’s brain and ear is capable of hearing and matching pitches.  So if this is the case why do we sing out of tune at times or a lot of the time? There are a few reasons why this occurs and being able to sing on pitch is not elusive to you as so many people think. The term Tone Deaf is thrown about very casually, but it is actually pretty rare for someone to actually be diagnosed with Amusia the medical term for tone deafness. In the majority of cases, singing “off pitch” at times is merely from a lack of vocal coordination.

    Let’s define what one might describe as “good” pitch?  First, your ear and brain interpret a pitch that is being played by a musical instrument then the vocal cords match the pitch. In order to sing a note on pitch the vocal cords simply need to maintain their connection on the note that is being asked for. Your vocal cords are two folds of mucous tissue that extend horizontally across the larynx. When you are silent, the vocal cords rest in an open position. When you begin to speak or sing they come together or connect and begin to vibrate. The main reason for pitching problems is lack of vocal flexibility. Two factors that greatly affect vocal flexibility are air pressure and muscle tension.

     

    Air Pressure

    We sing or speak on our exhalation. Sound is created when air passes through your vibrating vocal cords. Different vowels cause the body to exhale different amounts of air. A narrower vowel such as “e” or “oo” creates less air pressure. A broader vowel such as “uh” or “aw” creates greater air-pressure. Likewise, if you sing loudly you increase the air-pressure and if you sing softly you decrease the air-pressure. The more air-pressure the vocal cords have to handle, the more challenging it can be for them to maintain their connection on a given pitch. When there is more air-pressure than the cords can handle they either separate completely, that would be the dreaded “crack” in the voice, or the cords start to peel open or adjust backwards. This results in a slightly under-pitched sound. Likewise, the cords can adjust to far forward thus creating a slightly sharp sound. To help manage your air flow practice singing your songs on one word such as “koo” or humming it on “m”. We sing on our breath so the smoother the inhalation and exhalation the smoother your singing will be. Also, practice singing your songs at the volume you would speak at, supported but not pushed or breathy. Once you build consistent muscle memory you can begin to increase the air pressure to add more dynamics to your voice.

     

    Muscle Tension

    Muscle tension is a big culprit of pitching difficulties. Muscle tension occurs when the neck, tongue, and jaw muscles start to squeeze the larynx as a singer ascends in pitch and begins to “reach” for notes. Once these larger muscles engage they begin to pull the larynx up making it very difficult for proper vocal cord connection. In order for the vocal cords to adjust easily to pitches these larger muscles should remain relaxed allowing the larynx to remain in the same easy position it sits in when you are speaking. Remember the key to staying on pitch is maintaining the right vocal cord connection. Be sure your neck, tongue, and jaw muscles are relaxed as you sing through your songs. I suggest watching yourself in the mirror, this way you can see what kind of tension you may be exerting. Also, practice speaking the lyrics of your song. Then try singing your songs as easily as you speak them. Minimizing muscle tension will allow the vocal cords to easily connect on each pitch.

    Your ability to sing with “good” pitch has to do with how you are affecting your vocal instrument. If you can, seek out professional training and start training your voice. Also, you can begin to apply the tips provided above. Believe it or not, we were all born awesome singers. It will just take some time, practice and patience, but success is inevitable. Focus on your vocal development and you will make all the right moves. Vocal flexibility is our goal, go slow, practice properly and build your skills gradually. And most of all have fun exploring your instrument!

    Author: Tammy Frederick



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