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Bump Day

It was my birthday recently.

It wasn’t a secret, but I’m not one to shout from the rooftop about it. I like celebrating birthdays, but not necessarily with the whole world – the introvert side of me 🙂

This year is pretty different for me – I’m a pregnant birthday girl.

My tummy’s becoming bigger and I never been this heavy – 55kgs! Eek! I’ve been hiding it the last few months as best as I can. However, running out of clothes to do just that, I felt it was time to just embrace my “beer-belly” look. I’ve decided to make my birthday, the official ‘bump’ day!

According to various sources, I’m at point now where my baby can hear my voice, and mothers should at this point start talking and singing to their baby. My baby might have been hearing too much singing and be begging for less, given my profession. LOL. He must also be trying to figure out the weird sounds he’s been hearing everyday when I make silly sounds while teaching and training others with their voices 😛

Anyway, I thought I’d share a little on what it’s like to sing while pregnant.

Stamina

I realise my stamina is definitely not as good as before – simply because I tire out more easily these days, which of course affects the breath support, and fatigue can also cause inadequate vocal fold closure. That said, it isn’t anything an afternoon cat nap can’t cure. Only problem is, when I work full days, which happens pretty often, there simply isn’t time to take one!

Breath Support

There are changes to how long I can sustain my breath support. Singing powerfully isn’t a problem, but holding notes long feels different – a lot tougher, though not impossible at this point. I can imagine when the tummy gets much bigger however, and takes up more space, it’ll eat into the space required for my diaphragm, rib cage and such to expand and keep open as required in sustaining notes later.

Nasal Congestion

It’s bad enough that I normally have to live with sinusitis. However, with pregnancy now, I also have pregnancy rhinitis! I’d normally treat my sinusitis with Avamys and saline nasal sprays, but ever since I got “knocked up”, I have to ditch the Avamys entirely, and the saline sprays don’t work so well alone. It seems the hormonal changes (higher amounts of estrogen) during pregnancy, causes swelling of mucous membranes in the lining of the nose, while the increase of blood that happens when one is pregnant, contributes to the swelling of tiny blood vessels in the lining of the nose. To put it simply, thanks to those changes, more nasal congestion. Argh!

This has affected my sleep tremendously, it’s hard to breathe comfortably while sleeping that’s why. And lack of sleep of course, doesn’t do anyone good, whether you sing or not.

Lack Of Sleep

But that’s not the only cause for lack of sleep on my part.

There’s also the need to have to go the washroom more quite a few times in the night. Prior to getting pregnant, I’ve never had to make any toilet trips in the middle of the night. How I miss those days :_( Sometimes when I make such a toilet trip, I find it hard to go back to sleep after, which only means less hours of sleep. If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know by now that lack of sleep is definitely not good for the voice!

Acid Reflux

Then there’s also the reflux. Boo hoo.

This has been an ongoing there for me even before getting pregnant, so you can imagine how this is somewhat magnified with pregnancy, where most women are more susceptible to heartburn and acid reflux. Thankfully, it’s not an everyday thing, but the nights when the reflux is bad, my husband would be asking me the next morning,”What happened to your voice, baby?”. I’ve lost my voice because of recurring reflux before, so I’m surely not digging this so far.

Hydration

I’ve always been the forgetful type when it comes to drinking enough water in a day. But now, it’s almost impossible to forget – my throat dries up and feels like it’s cracking real quick in the day as a reminder. LOL. This shouldn’t be a surprise though, because of the increase of blood and amniotic fluid, a pregger’s need for water would naturally be greater. It just means more inconvenience and more toilet trips for me though. Bummer.

So, I know I’ve made it sound like being pregnant is real shitty for any singer – but no, it really isn’t.

These are simply symptoms of which one can manage, and manage better with singing! 🙂

As for now, I’m gonna continue singing and belting all the way through my pregnancy.

By admin

Emceeing For Cambridge English For Life 2017

When Cambridge English For Life first approached me to host their annual dinner, I knew they were a close-knitted fun bunch.

From the very first meeting, the whole team was very involved, and there was so much planning into making the dinner creative, fun and exciting for all the attendees. Most people would outsource this sort of arduous tasks to event companies, but these guys were determined to get personal!

I dig people who take ownership of their craft, work and/or responsibilities – so I was gamed.

Because of that, I took the job, despite the fact that the event was gonna happen during a really busy period for me. I literally had to jump from my full-day-back-to-back vocal coaching to hosting one event to another. I was also in my first trimester of pregnancy – feeling low grade nausea all day and extreme fatigue was an everyday thing at that time. Needless to say, my parents were worried and told me to cut down on work…haha. They’ve been saying that since I got pregnant! 😛

I was more worried about how NOT to look pregnant while hosting the event and singing a couple of songs on stage to entertain the crowd that night. I’ve always thought pregnant women look sexy, but I was at the point where my little bump looked more like I haven’t been going to the gym and been drinking beer all my life – I didn’t feel the least bit sexy.

Failing to fit in any of my dresses for such an event was quite depressing at first. It was tough finding the right one to hide my tummy and not look sloppy. One might wonder why I care about appearance so much. It’s simple – I put a lot of effort in emceeing an event successfully and looking presentable IS part of the job!

Speaking of which, I created a programme on emceeing events successfully – “Expert Emcee Secrets”. Looking presentable was included in the syllabus, along with a hell lot of other things that every emcee has to do to host an event successfully 🙂

I got down to every small bit, including what’s in my cue card kit and how to open and close and event with a big bang (no matter what the occasion) how to handle protocol (and disasters), how to “speak from your heart” and not depend on cue cards, how to keep your audience engaged & etc. There is somewhat a “formula” to it, one of which can help any emcee to easily ensure a smooth-sailing event with happy clients and attendees, shine while at it and simply have more fun despite all the hard work. And most importantly, get you even more gigs.

Will talk more about that in due time…muahahaha. Until then…

By admin

The Challenge: Can you really cook a healthy meal in 5 mins (the length of a song)?

Hello! 🙂

The last few months haven’t been easy – not just because of the busyness, but also because it’s been tough keeping these huge secrets to myself!

Surprise #1

My baby’s almost out – my online training programme! I’ve been spending a lot of time on this, had a lot of fun putting this together, and have included loads of content there that’s gonna make it easy for anyone to pick up singing and improve their voices from home. It’s the programme I wish I had when I was trying to find and unlock my voice – if I had everything in one place, and learnt all the techniques in one place, I would have achieved the vocal power, flexibility, tone, range and character I wanted much earlier. There are videos, audio tracks & even notes in the programme – you can imagine how long it took for my team and I to put all this together! 🙂 I wanted to keep this a surprise, but at the same time I was really excited about sharing it…make sure you stay tuned by dropping your details at www.janiceyap.net . You’ll also find free vocal training videos there, available only for a limited period of time.

Surprise #2

My second baby is on its way.

I am pregnant 🙂

Not that this has been a lifelong dream, but this was a really pleasant surprise – it happened sooner than I thought. But hey, I’m grateful.

Obviously, I didn’t want to spill the news any earlier because everyone says the first trimester is so risky and all. But the baby and I have made it safely past the first trimester, so phew! What a relief.

This was the reason why the last few months have been tougher than usual too. Imagine, a super busy schedule, plus the filming and putting together of the online programme, plus pregnancy symptoms! Eek! This is also why I haven’t posted any gym/work-out photos lately – it’s hard to imagine how just few months ago, I had toned abs and a flat stomach. I’m not feeling very sexy these days.

That said, being super busy and pregnant lately has gotten me worried. Am I working too hard? Am I eating well enough? Am I doing my baby good? I spoke to Elaine from Chopstickdiner.com about this, and she being an ambassador for healthy food, insisted that I eat well, especially through this period.

This seemed like an impossible task for me, as I sometimes only had less than half an hour to eat in between work, and healthy isn’t easy to find and also seems to take too long to prepare. So, I told her to come into my office and show me how. Hah!

And come in and show me, she did.

She said it’s possible to prepare a healthy meal in 5 mins.

So I challenged her to finish preparing a healthy meal for me in less before I could finish singing a 5-min song.

She accepted the challenge.

Surprise #3

Check out what happened:

 

 

By admin

3 Habits To An Unhealty Voice (Vlog)- Sound better now by avoiding these habits!

Do you lose your voice easily?

Often suffer from vocal strain?

And often find your voice sounding scratchy and weak?

Sound better now by avoiding these habits!

Yo! Since I’ve shared quite a lot of vocal tips on singing and vocal techniques that can help you improve your voice, this time I thought I’d share 3 habits to an unhealthy voice. If you’ve been practicing any of these habits, it’s time to put an end to it because if you’ve been doing any these enough, it could cause some vocal damage and the quality of your voice to deteriorate over time. *gasp*

So avoid these habits at all costs! 🙂

1. Throat Clearing

This is a common habit – a lot of people practice this almost every day, without giving it much thought. This throat-clearing business however, is not good for your voice. It causes a lot of unnecessary tension and pressure on your vocal cords and most of the time, many do it out of habit, rather than because they really need to. The next time you feel that tickling sensation in your throat, try to resist the urge to clear your throat. Instead, swallow or drink some water. Most of the time it’s not phlegm that’s caught in our vocal cords. Most of the time it’s just the feeling that we need to clear the throat, and once we get that started, it drags us into a vicious cycle of keep having to clear our throats, over and over again. So if you’re having phlegm in your throat the next time, it might be better to cough it out VERY gently (not to the extent where you feel like you’re coughing out your lungs or blood), or let it take its time to get out or dissolve on its own.

2. Whisper

If you find yourself whispering pretty often – STOP! Whispering also causes unnecessary tension on the vocal cords. If you find yourself constantly in an environment (at work or even at school) where you always have to whisper just to communicate with others – it’s bad for your voice, especially if you do it often enough. Just imagine, putting all these unnecessary tension on your vocal cords, on your little muscles in your voice box every – the constant tension can eventually lead to inflammation of the vocal cords and even vocal damage as a result of the formation of vocal nodules from too much inflammation. We don’t want that!

So instead of whispering the next time, try speaking quietly (or softer) instead. And there is a difference to whispering and speaking quietly! When we whisper, there’s a lot of air exhaled as we speak, and a lot of tension on our vocal cords when we whisper. However, when we speak quietly, the vocal cords are phonating as we’d normally do when we speak, with less pressure and tension. So, differentiate the two for yourself – determine if you are whispering, or if you’re speaking softly the next time, and always chose to speak softly rather than whisper. This is important especially at times when you are ill. If you’re already unwell, your having a sore throat, or you’ve been having a cold/flu and your vocal cords are already inflamed, or you’re losing your voice – the worst thing you can do, is to whisper. If you see an ENT (Ear, nose & throat) specialist, he/she would tell you the same.

The best thing to do when you are losing your voice or when your vocal cords are down (inflamed), is to KEEP QUIET ENTIRELY. Get yourself a writing board or a writing pad and communicate with others by writing on it instead of speaking. It sounds silly, but at times like that, if you want a speedy recovery,  you need to do whatever it takes to shut your voice down and just allow it to rest completely – NO SPEAKING OR SINGING, and definitely no whispering. Just by muting yourself completely for a few days,  your voice would be able to recover more swiftly than you can imagine.

3. Vocal Abuse

There are many ways that vocal abuse can happen.

Bad Technique

Most of the time, vocal abuse is caused by bad vocal technique practiced over a period of time. When people think about vocal techniques, most would assume it concerns only the techniques that we’re using in singing. However, the vocal techniques that we use as we speak is equally important, if not even more. This is because we spend more time speaking then singing through out the day, and if we’re practising bad vocal technique when we’re speaking, the effects on the voice could be tremendously negative.

Take whispering for example – someone who whispers often throughout the day would find his/her voice deteriorating and tiring out much faster throughout the day as compared to another who speaks with good vocal projection and good engagement of his/her vocal mask.

Of course the question is, how do we know if we’re practicing bad vocal technique? It’s simple.

If you find yourself experiencing vocal fatigue (your throat feels dry no matter how much water you’ve been drinking or strained and hoarse) even though you’ve only been speaking for a couple of hours, they are signs that you’re practising bad vocal technique. When we use good vocal technique, the voice is able to sustain for hours without fatique, strain or loss of tone quality.

Diet

This one’s a little tricky because every individual is different.

For some of us, taking a lot of spicey food could be the trigger for a lot of phelgm in our throats. For others, it could be dairy products and more. Only you would know exactly what sort of consumables can trigger such a reaction in you – excessive amounts of mucous/phelgm to be produced in your nasal cavity or your vocal tract. If there are foods and/or drinks that causes such reaction for you (and for most of us, it could be alcohol), avoid overconsuming any of such foods and/or drinks, especially when you’ve got a presentation or vocal performance coming up. You want to make sure that your voice is in its top form and its performance and/or delivery is not disrupted by the production of excessive mucous/phelgm.

Lack Of Sleep

If you don’t sleep enough, you’re not doing your voice any favours. Sleep is the best way for the body to rest replenish and recuperate. And this is true for the voice too. It does the same for our vocal cords. When we sleep, we allow the body to do whatever it needs to do help remoisture the vocal cords again, the vocal cords to take a break and etc. That explains why the moment we first wake up, is usually the time when we feel like both our nasal and vocal tracts have most mucous – hence the urge to clear our throats and such.

Sleeping allows the body to recondition the voice back to it’s healthy (and moist) form, so that we can produce good vocal phonation again the very next day. To put it simply, getting enough sleep is a great way to keep your voice healthy. How much sleep is enough? It varies from individual to another, but generally 7 – 8 hours of sleep is good, but should you not be able to get those full 7 or 8 hours at all, it’s best to steal some sleep whenever you can. It’s better than not sleeping at all, for sure!

If you know you’ve got a presentation or singing performance coming up, make sure you get good sleep not just the night before, but nights before if possible 🙂

Keep these 3 habits in mind the next time you use your voice – run away from them as far as possible!

If you want your voice to perform at its top form, at its 100% best, you’ve gotta keep it healthy.

There’s no better person to do this than you.

By admin

Speaking at Toastmasters’ Annual Conference – “Shine!”

The last two weeks have been crazy – been working around the clock, more than 12 hours out and running about most days, making my brain and fingers simply too tired to blog about anything by the time I got home! Haha…

But I’m not complaining. I always think having work to do is fantastic, especially when it’s work that you love to do 🙂

Part of the reason why I’ve been so busy is because I’ve been working on a new project lately, of which I can’t wait to share with the world! Muahahaha….I’ll blog about that another day. That, coupled with the events, talks and vocal lessons I have to conduct recently have rendered me completely lifeless by the time I got home. My poor hubby and Fergie (my alaskan malamute) have been very much neglected 😛

Thought I’d just drop a quick one here since the photos are out from my talk at the Toastmasters’ Annual Conference, “Shine”. It was a district conference, so quite a number of Toastmasters (both experienced and new) turned up and I did a “Voice Out!” Session with them 🙂

Despite it being a brief session, I’m happy to say that with their amazing particpation, we managed to achieve the “3 components of A Powerful Sound” in their voices! We worked on improving their vocal projection, intonation and expression using specific vocal techniques to help them project their voices more effortlessly, increase their vocal range and flexibility in intonation and having more character to their voices.

Needless to say, by the end of the session, everyone (every single person in the hall) was not only speaking back to me on stage with a better projected voice and better vocal range, but even singing high notes that they didn’t think they could reach! 😀 The smiles and satisfactions on their faces having accomplished these were priceless. I am so happy whenever I’ve helped another realise their true vocal potential.

The pursuit of a great sounding voice always starts by one first realising their true vocal potential – the seeds have been planted and I’m sure they’ll grow.

We all had a good time and we owe it to Selina, Kay & Kingston from Toastmasters to have put this together. And of course, also to Moon & Adam from our UYV Team, who’s been working alongside them to make this happen.

If it wasn’t for them, I would have had less time to breathe…so thank you, guys! 🙂









 

 

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Bump Day
Emceeing For Cambridge English For Life 2017
The Challenge: Can you really cook a healthy meal in 5 mins (the length of a song)?
3 Habits To An Unhealty Voice (Vlog)- Sound better now by avoiding these habits!
Speaking at Toastmasters’ Annual Conference – “Shine!”