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By admin

How To Improve Your Vocal Control (A Quick Tip)

 

What does it mean to have good vocal control?

There are so many ways to gauge a singer’s vocal control – you could look at his/her vocal range, flexibility, power, dynamics, breath control and so much more. However, one of the quickest ways to see if your vocal control’s pretty solid or not is to simply look at these two things.

Your Access To Your Full Vocal Range

Are you able to access your full vocal range? Can you sing in all of your vocal registers – Chest, Mix, Head and Whistle? And are you able to sing every note comfortably and accurately in pitch? Are you also able to transition between all notes with a good mix (no vocal breaks heard) and also with intentional vocal breaks (with vocal breaks heard for the purpose of vocal effects)?

Your Ability To Control Vocal Dynamics On Every Note 

Are you able to control the vocal dynamics on every note in your full vocal range? Can you sing and sustain those notes both softly and loudly? More importantly, can you turn the volume up and down as you sing as if you’re turning a volume knob? Being able to make precise adjustments to the dynamics of your singing shows good vocal control 🙂

How To Improve Your Vocal Control

A Quick Vocal Tip:  

Practice your vocal dynamics for every note in your vocal range.

Sing every note in your vocal range one by one. With each note, start soft and then do a crescendo (sing from soft to loud). Once you’re reached the peak of your crescendo, do a diminuendo (sing from loud to soft).

Practice it a couple of times so you can do this without your voice breaking and the transition of volume is seamless. This helps you practice not only the breath but also muscle control needed to make precise and intentional changes in the voice while sustaining a single note – which is pretty much a LOT of vocal control 🙂

An Extra Vocal Tip:  

Try singing the notes with different vocal characters, by using different Vocal Gears (Anchor, Frost, Cry & Belt).

A singer should not only be able to hit all the notes in his/her vocal range, in different vocal dynamics, but also in different Vocal Gears, as this will provide a singer with more flexibility in expressing different vocal interpretations for any song.

Try sustaining the characters of every gear for each note sung – this again, will help strengthen the muscle memory needed to help a singer improve his/her vocal control.

We’ll talk about other ways to improve vocal control another day. Until then, you can post your comments or questions below!

By admin

Because Cool Clothes Matter

One of the greatest challenges in pregnancy less talked about is finding clothes that will see you through maternity.

When a woman realises she’s pregnant, no matter how vain he or she might be, vanity will take the back seat for a while as she priorities the well-being of the child she carries. Mother instincts just kicks in and somehow you’d learn to put the baby  first in every way.

With so many other pregnancy symptoms that a woman has to go through (thankfully mine wasn’t and isn’t too bad so far) and all the preparations that comes into preparing a home for your little one and in being a new mom, dressing well or even being concerned about dressing well seems less significant.

But, NOT TO ME! 😛

I believe dressing and grooming yourself well through all stages of life is important, no matter how old you are.

I don’t believe in spending beyond your means to do that, but within your resources, to always look your best and present the best of yourself. While most people would think it’s only important to do that when there’s a special occasion or only to impress that special someone, I believe that one should always look their best for themselves – because it makes us FEEL GOOD.

If you feel like shit (uncomfortable or look at yourself in the mirror and hate what you see), it’s gonna be hard to feel good about yourself. So why not dress and look good always, so you can always feel great about yourself and go about performing your daily business better? 🙂

That said, this isn’t so easy when maternity hits. For a number of reasons. Your body’s growing at quite an unpredictable rate and their changing in so many parts throughout the whole time – your breasts, your tummy, your legs and butt & etc. Then there’s also the whole challenge of finding non-aunty-looking-maternity-clothes, and of course, the ridiculous prices that are normally associated with maternity clothes.

In the first few months, when the bump is kinda tiny but sticking out like a beer belly, I simply wore baggier tops over low-waist tights. None of my usual high-waisted pants and usual body-fitting dresses could fit. And even if some of them were they stretchable, I didn’t want to be mistaken as a skinny girl with a beer belly. Ew. I made the trip to a couple of maternity stores at that time to hunt for pants with stretchable waistlines. I was quickly disappointed at how few the options were and how expensive every piece cost!

I bought a few then because I could afford them, but I quickly regretted and I must say, I never wore them out.

They were too ugly.

It was one of those purchases you made because you thought it was necessary, only to realise that even “necessity” wasn’t good enough a reason to rock such bad fashion.

When the second trimester hit, I realise my baggier tops are quickly shrinking and I’m running out of clothes again. But the goods news is, my bump was beginning to look like a bump and I don’t have to keep my baby a secret anymore! 😛 The tummy now is much bigger, so much so that wearing baggier tops just makes one look fat and sloppy. So instead, I decided to embrace my new curves with stretchable tops and dresses. They are great because they are comfortable and because they are body-fitting, they still show your great physique (in other parts, at least), without showing off too much skin, which may not be fantastic while being pregnant. After all, your start to have all sorts of other new things showing on your body, like stretched skin, veins popping out, skin darkening at some areas, swelling and etc – gosh, maybe I shouldn’t reveal too much. The point is, wearing clothes that still flattter the rest of your body and show your bump without revealing too much is ideal in this trimester.

Now, upon the third trimester, I find it harder to find stretchable tops and dresses that can fit. The bump is simply way too big to fit into most of them. At this stage, I’d say I’m feeling pretty MEGA. Huge. Heavy. Mobility’s also quite a problem – I’m not strutting my usual catwalk very well, and definitely can’t event stand on my high heels for more than 10 mins, what more walk around in them. I can’t even get up from up my bed or any lower-height seats decently. It feels like I’m doing a Britney Spears show-it-all everytime I get out the car, or a Sharon Stone’s leg cross (as in Basic Instinct), because it’s hard to keep my legs together with all the space my tummy’s taking between them and keeping my legs crossed on anyside too long actually hurts!

So this is the season, where again, new options of clothes have to be hunted down to accommodate such inconveniences or should I say, hide your unglamorous new habits. I was sure I would find the right stuff to do just that, although I probably wouldn’t find them easily and all in once place – I have pretty much gone through my whole maternity without actually wearing anything from maternity brands, but I wasn’t looking forward to this whole process yet again.

Fortunately, that’s when Laimage Maternity and I “hooked up” 😛

After they sent me a couple of pics of their clothes, we met up and I was happy to own and wear some of their latest. More than that, I’m genuinely happy to share it with anyone who’s just entering maternity and are looking for decent-looking maternity clothes!

So, check it out.

Here are a few of their newest additions:

Green nursing dress: http://laimagematernity.com.my/…/maternity-nursing-dress-w…/

Black outfit: http://laimagematernity.com.my/product-category/work/

If you want more, just visit LaimageMaternity.com or find them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Laimagematernity/ 






 

 

By admin

How To Sing With Less Cracks (Watch Your Tongue)

 

Did you know that the tongue could be your worst enemy when it comes to singing?

As usual, I’ve been receiving tonnes of questions on how to improve the vocal mix and vocal connection and sing with less or without cracking. I’ve dropped many vocal tips on these, both on my blog and also through out my live sessions on Facebook via my Thursday Q&A shows, “Talk Thursdays”. However, here’s another one that you can definitely try out of which is a lot of fun 😛

It’s all about the tongue. Your tongue.

If you find your voice cracking every time you move from your low to high range and can’t seem to make bridge from your chest to head voice smoothly, you might wanna watch your tongue.

Tip #1: Don’t “swallow” your tongue

Many singers often find their voices cracking and can’t seem to overcome the vocal break areas in the voice because they “swallow” their tongues!

Use a mirror (or your front-facing camera on your phone) and have a look at yourself as you sing from your low to high notes. Does the back of your tongue dip lower and backwards more and more as you go higher? And do you feel like your voice gets heavier rather than lighter as you go higher? Normally when one “swallows” the tongue, while holding on to the chest voice, a singer would feel like the voice is getting heavier as they try to sing louder and higher across their vocal range. This weight carries on to the point where it suddenly flips into a light-sounding head voice (falsetto), and the contrast between the volume and tone quality of the chest and head voice becomes really obvious – resulting in the vocal break (cracking).

Tip #2: Stick your tongue out instead.

Instead of allowing your tongue to dip lower and backwards as you sing from your low to high notes, try to keep it neutral. However, if you find your tongue is already doing exactly that (dipping lower and backwards), you might want to stick your tongue out instead – this will probably get it back into it’s neutral position. The idea’s to get the tongue out of the way so that we can move through all our vocal registers (from chest to mix/middle to head and to whistle) without cracking. When we speak, we don’t normally “swallow” the tongue (at least, most of us don’t) – which is why if you try to speak all the notes throughout your vocal mix (or middle register), you’d find it easier to bridge your chest to head voice seamlessly 🙂

Tip #3: Back of the tongue lifted only slightly.

If by appling tip 2, your voice is no longer cracking, you can avoid this next tip. Otherwise, carry on! If your voice is still cracking despite the sticking out of the tongue, chances are your tongue is still somewhat dipped (lowered) at the back, hence still contributing to the cracking of the voice. Try lifting the back of your tongue but only slightly – this should help adjust your tongue back to a relaxed and “out-of-the-way” position for you to sing without cracking. Be careful not to overlift it as overlifting the back of the tongue can distort the sound of your voice (making it sound more nasally than it has to, more childlike or even squashed) as you pull the larynx up unnecessarily.

Once you get your tongue in the right position, practice singing from your low to high notes and vice versa smoothly, over and over again. This will help you get in the habit of positioning your tongue correctly so you can go through your vocal mix better and iron out all those vocal breaks 🙂

If you’ve got any questions, I’d be happy to help. Just holler.

By admin

Emceeing for Nokia & 3 Types of Social Energy

Everyone has a soft spot for Nokia phones – at least those from my generation.

My first cool phone was a Nokia. So you can imagine my excitement few months back, when I was asked me to emcee the launch of the new Nokia range of smartphones!

When I agreed to take the job, I was newly pregnant. Having low grade nausea all day along with extreme fatigue was an everyday thing. The toughest part was not coping with these, but coping with these symptoms without showing them to my clients and students while at work!

One might wonder why I would even bother to hide how I really felt (which was down right pretty shit) – the answer is simple.

I never want to be a energy-sucker, not if I can help it 😛

 

You see, when it comes to social energy, I find that people often fall into 3 categories.

  1. Energisers
  2. Robots
  3. Energy-suckers

 

Energisers

Energisers are people of whom you enjoy being in their presence or company. They’ve got great social energy. They often speak clearly and are cheerful and confident. One would think all energisers have to be extroverts or are the noisiest of the bunch in any social event, but some of these energisers exuberate their energy in calmer and cooler ways – they’re simply pleasant to be around with, in a laid-back way. They practice great body language and are very likeable. You’d normally feel refreshed or recharged being around energisers and always look forward to seeing them again.

 

Robots

Robots are people of whom after having made acquaintance with or exchanging conversation with them, it’s like it never happened. The moment of contact was so unmemorable that it didn’t leave a good or bad impression – it left zero impression (nothing). They are often people you forget you’ve ever met (you don’t remember their name or even their faces) because the social encounter with them was really THAT mundane. They’re people who are like robots (unfortunately, not remarkable ones like R2D2)  – they function and were there for whatever they needed to do with you at that time, and that’s it.

 

Energy-suckers

Energy suckers suck the life out of you when you come into contact with them. They always appear tired, lifeless and are usually extremely slow. They often talk really soft, sound muffled or talk and react very slowly too, which can downright be annoying, especially when you’re really busy or you’re in a hurry. Most of all, the body language they use is so dead you wonder how they are still alive. People who are genuinely sick or unwell do not belong to this category – I’m talking about healthy people who have a talent in draining life from everyone around them because they just suck (their personalities, their ethics, the way they communicate & etc). I know it sounds cruel, but if you’ve encountered enough of these energy-suckers in life, you’d know exactly what I mean. They’re like Rogue from X-men – the only difference is that they don’t have to touch you to suck your energy and take all of your life force. They do it just by being around you. You’d always remember them, because you pray to God you’ll never ever have to see them again.

I’ve always made it a point to never surround myself with energy-suckers or be an energy-sucker myself. I’d never say “yes” to hanging around or working with a person if he or she was an energy-sucker. I’ve come across enough of them to know that despite however great their portfolios or ideas may be, nothing good ever came out of spending time with them or working with them. Why? Because people with such low energy levels are generally takers and talkers (not to mention, bad ones too), NOT doers.

Birds of a feather flock together – if you’re a doer or want to be a doer, you’ve got to be a doer yourself and surround yourself with doers, the energisers! 🙂

Being genuinely sick and tired during that period, if I had really shown low energy through out the meetings and rehearsal during the event, it wouldn’t have been a crime.

Still, I believe you can always make a person’s day better (especially when it comes to work) by being a giver – an energiser. The energiser is a doer because the energiser constantly makes effort not only to stay energised but also to energise others. Being the energiser can be tiring, but being the energiser is both beneficial to the giver and the receiver. The giver forgets or distracts himself/herself from his/her lack of energy or fatigue (and usually feels better as a result), while the receiver feels energised, inspired or motivated by the giver’s presence – which makes for a more pleasant experience of time shared together.

Being an introvert myself, I’d think that’s pretty darn important. Otherwise, I’d really rather just spend time alone, doing my own stuff! For an introvert, it’s tiring enough being around people all day, what more people who suck the life out of you.

Fortunately, the whole team I worked with for this event were energisers too – I definitely felt bettter rather than drained working along side them. I guess good energy is always contagious and it never hurts to give some and spread some.

Which energy group do you belong to?

And who are you surrounding yourself with?

Whichever energy group you belong to, remember – it’s a choice.

By admin

How To Sing With More Swag

 

Have you ever struggled singing faster paced songs in tempo and with attitude?

If you’ve always found yourself singing groovier songs only to sound anything but groovy, you’re not alone.

While many singers may have successfully increased their vocal ranges wide enough to give them the vocal flexibility to take on any (or most) songs, many still struggle to sing songs with swag convincingly. Why? Because singing with swag boils down to adding “feels” to a song through variations of phrasing, dynamics, punctuation, tempo, improvisations & etc.

As you can see, it’ll take more than 5 minutes to cover all of these. Which is why, today we’ll only focus on singing with swag from the aspect of punctuation 😉

Let’s use Gnarl’s Barkley’s “Crazy” as an example.

Check out the first way I sang it in the video – that is an example of singing without swag. Singing like that not only kills the song (in a bad way), but it also lacks character and does not inspire confidence in a singer because it’s so easy to run out of tempo at any time.

The Key: Punctuation

To give the song the groove it deserves, and to add attitude to the singing and making sure that you stay in tempo, there is one thing we can work on for a start. Yup, you guessed it – punctuation.

Determine The Parts You Wanna ‘Punch’

To add punctuation to a song simply means to give certain parts a little more of punch (accent/emphasis). The punch can be delivered with an increase of volume and attack. Most groovy/funky/fast-paced songs have punctuations and when we pay attention to where these punctuations are added and follow them, you’ll find that it’ll be far easier to keep in tempo and give the song the groovy feel it deserves.

Clap or ‘Da’ The ‘Punches’

Once you determine the parts that should have more ‘punch’, it’s time to clap out the feel of these punches. Alternatively, you can scat it out with “da” for now. Watch the video to get a better idea on how to do this. If you’re not familiar with the song I used as an example, it’s best you have a listen to the original first. Click here to listen to the original.

By clapping out or “da-ing” the feel of these punches, we get ourselves use to not only the rhythm of the song, but also the accents we’re gonna add to certain parts of the song as we sing it. When we do get use to feeling the song in this way, musically, it would translate quite naturally as we deliver it in lyrical form.

You’ll notice that punctuation is not only used in faster parts of the song, but even in the slower (or more “stretched-out”) parts of the song, like the chorus. By adding the punches, we can even do the vocal riffs better, as not all notes in a vocal riff is sung with equal emphasis. Some are punched with a little more volume, attack and hold, before we trickle to the other parts of the vocal riff. For example, the second time we sing “Cray zeh eh eh eh eh…”. The parts in bold are punched and sustained more than the rest of the word.

This will take some practice, but in time, as we add more punctuation into the singing, it’ll definitely help you sing with more swag, keep in tempo no matter how complicated the groove of a song may be, and even help you scat better in future.

We’ll talk about other ways to add swag into singing another day 😉

 

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How To Improve Your Vocal Control (A Quick Tip)
Because Cool Clothes Matter
How To Sing With Less Cracks (Watch Your Tongue)
Emceeing for Nokia & 3 Types of Social Energy
How To Sing With More Swag