Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Efficient Exercising Of The Voice (Vocalizing)

Have you ever seen a beginner lifting a weights at the gym? Have you noticed how they usually tense and strain just about every muscle of their body except for the one they’re attempting to exercise?

Take someone attempting to do a bicep curl, for example. Often times, along with the curl - you’ll see a strained neck, face and back. And though this might all be yielding some results, it couldn’t possibly be yielding the same amount of quality results that would be obtained if this person would find a way to do the bicep curl in a way that almost exclusively engages the bicep. After all, this is the muscle that is being targeted – is it not?

What about you as a singer? When you are exercising your voice (vocalizing) are you engaging your face, neck, jaw, tongue, abs, back, legs and other big muscle groups beyond those you intend to exercise? If your answer is yes – don’t worry – you’re in good company. The truth is, most of us innocently do this. But again, don’t worry, there’s good news! And that is that we don’t have to do that!

Whether it’s vocalizing or doing a bicep curl, once we’re reminded that isolating the muscle group we’re working on will give us better results – we can immediately make the adjustments necessary to facilitate this isolation. Maybe we need to decrease the weight (in the case of weight lifting), maybe we need to decrease the volume (in the case of singing) or maybe we just need to realize that what we’re attempting to do isn’t as difficult as we think and that less is actually more. Maybe for some of us, tensing and making faces is a way of showing how passionate and into it we are and we need to let go of trying to impress others.

Whatever the adjustments we need to make, we now know that when we are making faces, turning on our neck, squeezing or pushing excessively from our abs, tightening our jaw and/or tongue – we’re not giving our voice much of a workout – instead, we are giving a workout to these external muscles that we aren’t interested in developing at the moment.

So from now on, lighten the load and volume of your voice until you can isolate and exercise the tiny muscles and ligaments within the larynx. Don’t let vocalizing show excessively on your face, neck or body. You can use your eyebrows as an indicator – are they moving as you vocalize? You don't want them to be - again: it's your voice, not your eyebrows that you're working out.

When you can vocalize with a neutral face across your range - you can be sure that the muscles you are intending to develop are getting the workout. And when this is the case, I assure you: you’re making progress you can count on.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Singing is easy AND singing is challenging

It's hard to grasp, but singing is neither easy nor difficult. Well, to state that in a way that is closer to the truth, the act of singing is easy and simple, but the act of learning a song and singing it well is pretty challenging.

You see, the act of singing can be as simple as speaking - just making sounds like we do all day when we speak, except in singing we use a wider range of tones, notes and volumes (dynamics) - the thing is we also have to learn rhythm, feel, tempo and delivery and that's when things get complicated.

 That's why vocalizing and singing have to be divided. When we vocalize, we connect with the simplicity and ease of making sounds, but when we sing and practice songs we incorporate the emotional dimension to the art of singing.

 So contrary to what I might have said before, singing is not easy or hard... singing is a mix of both. The real conclusion is that it take a lot of practice, dedication, commitment, love, discipline and freedom to deliver the song with love in a way that can connect. Make no mistake, focus... which is hard for us humans is the main ingredient of the craft and art of expressing song.

 May you be clear and committed to the fine art of SINGING!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Some Correspondence

From E: Hey!

Just saw your clips - great stuff. I've been struggling to get a grip on the high-larynx low-larynx thing, but finally I'm getting there.

One short question though, how does "chestvoice - mixed voice - headvoice" relate to high and low (or mid) larynx?
And how is this connected to range?

And is the "bridge" when the larynx goes from high to low - and you reach another octave?

Thanks again for great tips!

Musiciano's Response:

Hello E,

I am glad you are enjoying the clips. There is no relationship between high/low larynx and head/mix/chest voice.

The bridge has nothing to do with the height of the larynx.

The sooner you stop thinking about things this way, the better.

The reason why we don't want to raise the larynx is because we don't really NEED to in order to sing through the bridge. In fact, the voice works much better when we don't. Keep your larynx in a neutral position and learn to allow all the pitches within your range to unfold from there. Then you can play with larynx height. A neutral larynx means muscular freedom and independence (breaking the relationship you ask about) and that's the goal of efficient vocal development.

The less you need to do in order to get the most you want is the best direction to go in. Doing less inside the throat in order to sing is the quickest way to get more. More is not better, less is more.

Warm regards,



From D: Hello!!

I've been following your channel on youtube. Just would like to give some feedback
and say how thankful I am for the wonderful tips, exercises and peace! they've been great.

I've spent several years skipping over the basics of singing and grew frustrated as I didn't achieve the singing I would like to.

Right now, I've put myself in a strickt (and fun) regime where I am focusing on
building a strong and solid foundation. I so identify with what you called silent foundation.
I realized several problems I have are due to tension, especially in tongue and abdominal muscles. Your videos for neck,jaw and tongue release are doing wonderful things here.

A quick question, if I may, in my inhale I still hear some noise, as the air rushes in.

Is there any specific exercise you would recommend to avoid that?

Best regards,

Musiciano's Response:

Hi D!

I'm glad the videos have been helpful. Thanks for the positive feedback, I appreciate it.

To work on a silent inhale, cover both of your ears and inhale deeply in a way in which you can't hear a thing. It should be totally silent. Inhale deeply and then exhale slowly while covering both of your ears - no sound or tight feeling.

Do this until you get used to it and it should train your body to inhale in a relaxed and silent way.

Let me know how it works for you.



From F: hi musiciano, alright so it seems that both of us can't be on in the same time, anyway i'm following your vocal routine, i'm doing the ''low larynx'' exercise, not sure if i'm doing it right,here's a vid and tell me if i'm doing it right or wrong

why my voice keep breaking to falsetto? is it because my vocal range is low?
so if i practice the low larynx everyday, would i able to produce great voice?

Musiciano's Response:

Hi there,

I know this response is late, but I just got a chance to review your videos.

Your voice breaks into falsetto because you are using too much force on the lower end of your voice. You can make the same low sounds with 1/10th of the effort you are using now.

Just practicing the low larynx everyday will not be enough to produce a great voice. That would be great, but it is a fantasy.

My guess is that you would greatly benefit from guidance from a professional who once was where you are now and now is where you would like to be in the future. Those are the best teachers.

I once was where you are now yearning to be where you would like to be, but that will take a great deal of time, devotion and patience. It will also cost you some money -- like it cost me.

You see, getting a great voice is about a lot more than just wanting it - it's about never giving up and doing whatever needs to be done to discover it. It's about action, about experience more than it is about thought. So the answer is to work at it and vocalize. A teacher can save you a lot of time - if you can get one.




From M:
Hey, thx for the videos! learned a lot from u. :) i have a few question. Before, i cant sing without trying hard. Now, im following your teaching it felt more relax but the problem is i cant sing loud and i keep on cracking if i tried to sing higher. My question is:

1) Will i get to sing higher when i just allow it to crack(i tried really hard to relax) ?
2) Can you explain to me how vibrato occurs? i really like your explanation on how vocals work. hope u you will do a video on that too.
3) Will my singing improve when i just allow it to crack?

looking forward for your answers. :)

Musiciano's Response:

Hello M,

Thanks for your good questions.

To sing higher you need develop flexibility within your larynx, how? By vocalizing at low volumes throughout your range regardless of sound quality. The more you lightly and thoroughly exercise your voice, the more flexible it will get and you will gradually expand your range. It usually takes a great deal of time. That's the TRUTH of it.

Vibrato occurs when everything is relaxed and functioning naturally. There is no such thing as absolute consistency anywhere in the universe, everything vibrates and wavers, vibrato happens when things are functioning naturally and the wavering of the pitch is an indication that you are not forcing your singing to be something manufactured.

It depends on a lot of things, if you're ALLOWING it to crack, and not making it crack, you will become familiar with where things go off balance and will be able to make the minute adjustments to correct the cracks. Cracking is due to imbalance... not that there is anything wrong with imbalance and if you didn't have any, you wouldn't be writing me... we all have imbalance, we just have to seek to get as balanced as possible.

The solution to all your questions is vocalizing... warming up and doing the vocalization routines and doing the PHYSICAL and actual work. You have to get physical and explore your voice... if you just sit there and ask questions, nothing will change. Learning to sing is all about EXPLORING and to do that you have to get physical! Singing is a physical activity, not an intellectual one.

That said, let me know if I can be of any further help... even if all you have is a million other questions. ; )


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Obsession With Power, Fame, Recognition and The Media

I cannot tell you the amount of times I have sang for a person or a group of people whether it's at work, on the street, for a friend or a family member and I've heard the question "Why don't you audition for American Idol?"

I cannot tell you the amount of times I've had people who have read what I've written whether it's an article, a blog entry, a poem, an essay or something else and have heard "Why don't you write a book?" or "Why don't you write for the newspaper?"

I cannot tell you the amount of times I've done an acting skit or something and people tell me "Why don't you move to California and make movies?"

I cannot tell you the amount of times people have seen professional pictures of me and ask me "Why don't you become a model?"

All of these questions are very nice and flattering and I love to hear them because they are indicative that people see something in me that has potential to shine on a large scale. That's very nice and very sweet. What people don't usually know is that I've auditioned for American Idol three times already, I've tried to write many books, I've tried to come up with something to submit to newspapers, I used to dream and years ago made a plan to move to California to make movies and I when I was in the greatest shape of my life I had thought about becoming a model.

No offense to anyone but I had already thought of all those things. None of those thoughts, ideas or questions were or are original.

The truth is that these thoughts, ideas, suggestions, questions and beliefs have been injected into our veins by our culture and the media. Well-spoken people should be on TV, good singers should be famous, good-looking tall men or women should be models, good writers should have books or articles, good actors should make movies and on and on the list goes. Beautiful kids should do commercials, good-looking and talented people should be famous, good dancers should be behind Madonna, people who know three languages should be traveling, people with good taste for clothes should be in the fashion world... well, you get the point. It's so cliché by now that at least for me it verges on nauseating.

These ideas come from so many distorted perceptions we get... it's funny because we have been indoctrinated to associate power, fame and recognition with happiness and success. In fact in our culture, there is no other model for success that does not involve large scale recognition. The manager is successful, the owner is successful, the famous actor is successful, the CEO is successful, the president is successful, the entrepreneur is successful, the host is successful. People like secretaries, clerks, janitors, mail-men, barbers, etc are only successful IF they work for someone highly successful or IF they are making a lot of money.

So there you have it, success = recognition.

The more people that click "Like" on this note on Facebook, the more "successful" I am. Success is a matter of numbers.

Can we wake up from this long induced and deeply embedded dream? Can we release this obsession? Can we see how untrue it is? Can we get past this craving for the spotlight that makes us feel bored and miserable everyday? Can we be our own heroes and our own stars? Can we let go of the fantasy?

I sure as hell have! It's enough. : )

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Singing without the outer muscles of larynx

The first thing you have to do is develop the muscles inside the larynx so that when you sing any given pitch the muscles inside the larynx have the strength, flexibility and conditioning they need to work without the help of any outer muscles.

You do this by increments. The first thing you have to do is accept that your intrinsic muscles (the inner muscles of the larynx) are not developed yet to sing the pitches your desire (those loud high notes) without the help of the outer muscles. So you start at point one and develop them from there. Point one means a light and easy voice that does not require the help of any of the outer muscles. To make sure that they're not helping you out look at yourself in the mirror when you vocalize and make sure that not a single muscles on your face and/or neck is showing any activity. When you make sound this way it means that the intrinsic muscles are doing the work, instead of your face, neck, jaw or tongue muscles. By the way, the tongue can be trickier to monitor so vocalizing with a finger in your mouth on a single vowel slide and making sure that the tongue is not moving at all (the tongue should not be involved in the pitch creation process... it is an outer muscle that should only be used for vowel and consonant shaping).

When you let go of all your external muscles you will feel that you have no control over the voice, because you are so accustomed to using them that you'll feel at a loss when you let them go.

Only when your outer muscles are relaxed are your intrinsic muscles doing the work (which makes them become stronger, more flexible and conditioned to work independently) and are you on the road to vocal freedom.

You have to be able to put the quality of sound in the back-burner and give sole priority to muscular independence and efficiency. Whenever you are using your face, neck, tongue or jaw muscles to produce sound you are making those muscles stronger! The vocal folds are very very small and if you want to make them stronger you have to make sure that they are working independently.

If you vocalize with muscle efficiency in mind instead of sound you intrinsic muscles will become a lot stronger and more flexible and your voice will be conditioned to work more efficiently. Vocalizing is a million times more effective than singing songs for improving the voice because you don't have to focus on words, emotion, phrasing or performance. In vocalizing you're building your skills and in singing you are using your skills. The more built your skills, the better your singing. So building your skills first is the way to go!

If you want to learn more about this, there are many excellent books out there that you can read. But I would recommend that you start with a simple one and as you learn read other more technical ones. Start out with "The Rock-and-Roll Singer's Survival Manual" by Mark Baxter. It will help you a lot.

Remember, it takes time to build your voice. I hope this helps.

Why We Can't Sing Well

Let's see if we can keep this simple and practical. Here's the list of why most of us can't sing as well as we hope.

1 - We are trying to use our favorite singer as a reference - doing this inextricably leads to trying too hard and becoming easily frustrated. Just like you can't look exactly like someone else (even if you wear make up, do your hair and have surgery done) you can't sing exactly like someone else (even if you stylize your voice, use tension and change your vocal approach). The solution is to understand that you are a unique individual who has a unique voice. You can't sound like your favorite singer just like your favorite singer can't sound like you! Be fair! (This is usually an extremely difficult pattern to break)

2 - We are not released enough - the most common reason for not developing our true potential as singers is because we are too tense. The big muscles (arms, shoulders, chest, stomach, back, legs) are usually tense... these are somewhat easier to release through stretching and movement. These big tensions usually lead to forcing the voice, something that doesn't go well with the tiny, tiny vocal cords. They just don't work well when forced. Even harder to release, and more subtle are the tensions in the neck, tongue, jaw, mouth, lips, face and throat. If these muscles aren't release there will be great difficulty for the vocal cord to operate well with the air. These are extremely hard to detect and subtle tensions when one isn't being guided by an excellent teacher. The solution is to release the body, neck, jaw, tongue and throat -- this can be hard to do because it will inevitably expose all our vocal inabilities. A teacher can be of immense help in the area.

3 - We are not developed enough (our vocal cords are not flexible enough, strong enough and coordinated enough) - if your vocal cords aren't developed enough, with a good balance of the high and low registers, the is no way you will be a great singer. There is no way to develop the tiny muscles within the larynx if you are not released enough. If you haven't released enough to insure that the vocal folds are getting all the attention and development you will never develop the voice. You have got to overcome all unnecessary tightness in order to really start developing. There is no two ways about it. We may not be happy with how we sound when we have released it all, we might crack, sound weak, thin, whimpy, shaky, uncoordinated and very crappy. This is when the TRUTH of the matter gets exposed. Most of us are way too afraid to allow this radical exposure to happen -- this is why most of us never learn to really sing well. We are just too reluctant to hearing the truth of our released voices. The solution is to RELEASE and allow the muscles within the larynx to work independently and develop. If we never allow this, we never really grow. It's that simple.

Okay, that's about it. Another point that's critical to mention is that the role of the analytical, rational mind in this is simply to remain quiet and do nothing. Ideally, this is an entirely experiential process, it's got to do more with sensation and it is a very objective and natural process. Our analytical minds just tend to jump in and judge, condemn and distract us. It takes a highly objective and mature person to be able to bypass the ultimately useless comments of the mind and stay focused on the HEART of the matter. The most power the analytical mind has is the power to make COMMENTS, which is no power at all. Why? Because the comments have nothing to do with the ACTUAL REALITY. They're just freaking comments!!!

Staying objective and natural is the fastest way to true growth and harmony. If you want to learn how to sing, you have got to shut up and do the work. It's super essential, it will save you years of time and will work like the magic you've always dreamed of. Of course, it will take TIME. Development takes time, no matter what it is we are referring to. How long? Well... the sooner you shut up and do the work, the sooner you'll find out. And when you truly shut up, it won't matter to you!!!

What good and healthy singing feels like...

Hi all...
For some reason I just came up with the idea of writing this article. It is not a technical overview of the process of singing, but more a log of personal opinions and experiences I've had with singing. I believe that it is a relief once in a while for a singer in training to veer off the overly technical mind. I am not suggesting that you should abandon your job as a singer to learn the most about how the voice works and train it to be an instrument that is reflective enough to respond to thought without anything getting in the way of the process. That said, here is what I believe:

Good and healthy singing feels physically, mentally and emotionally stimulating. Good singing feels just like that, good. There is absolutely no pain involved. This type of singing comes from the magic of allowing the voice to sing itself and not making it do what we want, but letting it do what it wants to do! In other words, the best singing comes from NOT trying too hard. If you are trying to hard you might want to reconsider your technique or approach to singing because you are not doing the most important thing in art: TRUSTING YOURSELF.

Trust is a very big thing in good singing... and I don't mean the trust that says "This high note will come out" but the trust that doesn't say anything, the trust that goes directly to where it wants to go... the relaxed, free and natural way. Learning to sing well is in my opinion synonymous to learning how to trust your voice. Again, if you trust your voice you will not force it, you will allow it to flow out of you.

It takes time getting there, and patience is an invaluable quality for the singer, impatience leads to getting ahead of oneself... meaning that you will reveal your limitations by forcing yourself beyond them. Do only what you can, because what you can't do, you can't do no matter what. Your voice can do more things than you know, the trick is to discover those things by exploring your true voice. Your true voice is the one that sounds like you and not like somebody else! Imitation is a very limiting practice for a singer. It takes time to find your true voice, but don't forget that this is the main task of the good singer -- no faking allowed. Nobody likes fake people. Faking your voice is offending. Be yourself... it's the only way to be unique.

When you vocalize I suggest you start out with what feels easy and free... then as you challenge yourself a bit more make sure it feels just like those free and easy sounds.

As you are singing DO NOT LISTEN TO YOUR VOICE... the way it feels inside is far more important that the way it sounds to you! Once you hear a sound it has already been produced and if you listen to yourself you will attempt to manipulate it and get in the habit of trying. Focus on the feeling, both physical and emotional that you are experiencing, that way you will get out of your own way and allow your artistic message to flow naturally: without interfering. If you think you sound horrible let it be! Being yourself is more important than sounding like you would like to sound. What the audience wants from a singer is not to hear how good he sounds, but how he feels about what he is singing. Not how he feels about his sound, but how he feels about the message he is delivering. Stop trying to impress people, bragging is unimpressive to say the least. Doing with no pretense is brave and very admired by the audience. If you allow the audience to see that you were born to sing the song you're singing, that everything that is coming out of your mouth is exactly what you intended to achieve they will listen to your message and will connect with it.

I'm done with this... I've just discovered many thing that I thought I should share with you fellow singers!

Keep singing!