Perfection is always in the future for a perfectionist.
For you, my dear singers, your own perfect voice is just 5 steps away in the present!
The 'perfect' voice in this instance means getting your real true sound, (that is often times trapped inside you), outside for us to hear.
A Technically perfect...
That is, and always will be, your unique sound.
The Background of Discovery
During my career I wanted to improve my vocal technique and take my singing to the next level.
I'd heard about this well known and highly respected singer who was now starting to take students.
I knew that she was expensive too so it was a huge financial commitment and I remember losing a lot of weight at the time by missing meals to pay for lessons!
My voice did improve dramatically and it was a career changer, but my first lesson went something like this:
Teacher: Sing something for me
Teacher: Don't sing anything for a moment just make this sound 'sssss'
I did 'ssss'
Teacher: No, again, like this: 'ssss'
I did 'ssss'
Teacher: No, again
I did 'ssss'
This went on for nearly the whole hour and I wanted to cry in frustration. What did she want? Why did she not help me, or explain? I always recorded my lessons so that I could play them back and go over things during my practice.
I eventually made the correct 'ssss' once. And that was enough. I only did it once in that first lesson, but when I played back the recording of the lesson I eventually realized the sound she was after.
The fact that she couldn't express this in words just meant that I would have to learn to do it, so that I could in turn instruct others in this fantastic technique. And believe me, it is fantastic.
So I developed the 5 steps to the perfect voice.
Before You Start
I want you to understand that you may think you are doing the right thing with your technique, but chances are you are doing it completely, and actually may not even be doing it at all! What am I talking about?
The diaphragm has to control your lungs in order to control the air as it enters and leaves your body. This will give your sound, your voice and you control. Control of your breath, control of your emotional singing, and control of your communication with us your audience.
By moving your stomach in and out you are not necessarily connecting your diaphragm with your lungs at all. In other words, it is possible to move your stomach in and out and yet still just be singing from your throat.
Doing these 5 steps will get you to hijack your own body and make it work in the right way!
I will admit that the exercises are a bit weird at first so be warned :)
Real Human Success Stories
I once taught a 54 year old man. He was given 3 lessons with me as a Birthday gift. He had been singing all his life in choirs and groups, but had never had a vocal lesson in his life.
I had to get started on the 5 Steps in the first lesson which is not something I would normally do at all as I like to explain the breathing first and let that sink in to the muscle memory. But time was of the essence, especially when I heard him sing. He had the most beautiful baritone voice, but it was trapped inside his body. His real tone had not yet been accessed.
I think he was a bit shocked and dubious at first about the whole Air Flow 'funny' exercises, but he promised to give them a go.
I asked him not to sing at all for 2 weeks and just do these exercises as often as possible and definitely right before and after sleep. He promised he would.
After two weeks, he came for another lesson. He ran into the room saying, Giselle, Giselle, my voice, I don't believe it, I can't believe it. I sang this morning for the first time in 2 weeks!
I was worried deep inside as I wasn't yet sure what had happened to his voice! I smiled and said, “well don't say anything, just sing to me”.
His beautiful baritone voice had opened up. The sound was warmer, more flexible, louder and softer and truly magnificent. I was overcome with joy for him. He had worked hard for just 2 weeks and the results were dramatically amazing.
He had accessed his true voice for the first time in his life. Age 54.
The Student with No Voice
I received a phone call from a mother.
“ I've heard that you can cure all vocal problems and make people sing with their true voice. Is this true?”
“Please help us. My daughter is 16, she has been having vocal lessons for 4 years but for the last month has been unable to sing anything!She is not ill, she can talk, although it is husky, but she has lost most of her range. It has disappeared!”
I said I would listen to her and see if I could help.
Her voice had indeed 'disappeared'. She had a few low notes, one or two in the mid range and then some whistle tone at the top!
It was shocking to hear but I had to keep positive for her sake, although I was doubting myself every step of the way. This was serious.
She knew about breathing from her former teacher, so I started her on the 5 steps exercise straight away.
Again I instructed her to only do these exercises for 2 weeks, no matter how tempting it might be to try out her voice sooner. She promised me to be faithful to the 2 week rule.
After 2 weeks she came for a lesson.
Over one octave had reappeared in her vocal range. They were healthy notes and I was again shocked by how powerful this simple exercise could be. I sent her away for one week this time.
Same deal. Exercises only. No singing.
Within one month her vocal range was completely back, and her excitement and relief palpable.
She went from strength to strength and even increased her range by a few notes at both the top and bottom of her voice.
Apart from these two examples, every single student of mine has benefitted from this simple yet powerful exercise.
You are just 5 steps away from hearing your own true voice, perhaps for the first time!
The '5 Steps To The Perfect Voice' Exercise
There are 5 exercises, or steps, to do to reach your goal:
Title Sound Hint
The Pizza Exercise Tz Spitting
The Snake Exercise Sssss Strangling
The Sleeping Exercise Zzz One Note
The Bee Exercise ZzZzZz Three Notes
The From Bee To Thee Exercise Z-vowel Any Vowel, Any Note
How to do the Exercises:
I want you to stop thinking about beauty of tone or in fact tone in general, and start thinking about AIR FLOW. The way the air leaves your body.
1. The Pizza Exercise Sound = Tz Hint = Spitting
Say the word 'pizza' as the Italians do, with a 't' sounding before the 'z's.
Put the palm of your hand about an inch away from your mouth and take a big singer breath in.
Push the air from your body using your lower abs as quickly as you can sounding the 'Tz' through your front teeth.
You should feel some lovely fresh moisture (soft spit) on the palm of your hand.
When you have mastered The Pizza Exercise, you are ready to move on.
2. The Snake Exercise Sound = Sssss Hint = Strangling
Repeat the Pizza Exercise, then:
Say the words 'hissing' concentrating on the 'ss' part of the word.
Put your hand around the base of your neck on your collar bone, palm down. Bend your head down as far as it can go towards the top of your hand and take a big singer breath in.
Push the air from your body using your lower abs as quickly as you can sounding the 'sssss's through your front teeth.
You should feel some lovely fresh moisture (soft spit) on the back of your hand.
When you have mastered The Snake Exercise, you are ready to move on.
3. The Sleeping Exercise Sound = Zzz Hint = One Note
Repeat the Pizza Exercise, and the Snake Exercise, then:
Say the words 'buzzing' concentrating on the 'zz' part of the word.
With your hands by your sides, take a big singer breath in.
Push the air from your body using your lower abs sounding the 'zzzz's through your front teeth using a small amount of tone and a huge amount of air.
Think of the air from your lungs, carrying the tone with it en route as it passes through your larynx and leaves your body.
You should not be making a sound that is beautiful or clear in tone. You should sound like a buzzing bee BUT with mainly air in the sound and not tone.
When you have mastered The Sleeping Exercise, you are ready to move on.
4. The Bee Exercise Sound = ZzZzZz Hint = Three Notes
Repeat the Pizza Exercise, the Snake Exercise, and the Sleep Exercise, then:
Using your 'zzz's from The Sleeping Exercise, use 3 different pitches up and down, still concentrating on Air Flow sound rather than tone. For example, A B C up and B A down.
The air flow must be continuous, and not stopping between the pitches, or crescendo-ing through the different pitches like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. Just smooth continuous air flow.
Again, push the air from your body using your lower abs sounding the 'zzzz's through your front teeth using a small amount of tone and a huge amount of air.
Think AIR FLOW, AIR FLOW, AIR FLOW.
When you have mastered The Bee Exercise, you are ready to move on.
5. The 'From Bee To Thee' Exercise Sound = Z-vowel Hint = Any Vowel, Note
Repeat the Pizza Exercise, the Snake Exercise, the Sleep Exercise, and the Bee Exercise. then:
Using the breath/tone sound from The Bee exercise, this time stay on one pitch only.
Go straight from this sound and open your mouth on to a vowel sound, I recommend 'ah'.
Again, push the air from your body using your lower abs sounding the 'zzzz's through your front teeth using a small amount of tone and a huge amount of air, then flip into the vowel continuing the air flow. Resist the urge to 'back off' the sound. Keep the air flowing past your larynx through your open mouth.
Think AIR FLOW, AIR FLOW, AIR FLOW.
Welcome to your 'true' sound.
Congratulations on finishing the Five Steps Exercise.
From now on, do all 5 steps in order.
Remember that in order to see great results, you need to be doing each step correctly, otherwise you will be 'practicing in' the wrong way to sing.
The way to know that what you are doing is right, is to think of a compressed air sound. Not dissimilar to air coming out of a car tyre. In other words a lot of air trying to come through an opening that is not big enough – like through your teeth and a small mouth opening.
To watch the Five Steps Exercise being done by me, just follow this link:
But I Just Don't Have The Time For This Exercise.
YOU DO, as it takes under 20 SECONDS!!!!
When To Do This Exercise
Last thing at night and first thing in the morning (after a glass of water!).
Thereafter, as many times a day as you can manage without doing your own head in!!
Talking of heads....you might feel slightly light headed after these 5 steps.
This is perfectly normal and is due to lack of oxygen to the brain and simulation of slight holding of the breath over a period of time.
This feeling, should obviously not happen when you are singing normally with your mouth open.
Please only do the 5 steps once through each time.
Your brain will appreciate it and your vocal improvement will be more rapid.
Within only 2 weeks, you will hear a definite bettering of the following:
Length of phrases sung in one breath.
Volume of vocal tone.
The ability to sing well under stressful situations.
The more often you do this exercise, the greater the improvement of your voice you will see.
Watch full video below.
The way to put this exercise into your songs is a whole other thing, which I will write about in a future blog.