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Lzzy's Ultimate Vocal Tips

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  • January 04, 2012
    Posted by in

    This one is to all the aspiring singers! So many of you have contacted me lately for vocal advice. So, I thought I'd share some of the rules and exercises that I live by, that were passed to me from my incredible teacher Mr. Steve Whiteman.

    Keep in mind, that these rules are a part of a lifestyle choice, not a quick fix or magic feather. I decided that I want to have a 25+ year career being a singer, and that means thinking long term, practicing, and using common sense.

    For example; if I don't warm up one night, or drink beer on stage... I'm probably gonna be fine, the set will be good, it won't kill me. Hell, I might even sound great! BUT, if I make a habit of Not doing a warm up, and drinking everyday. I cut my career length by more than half (I've seen it happen to friends of mine). So, all of these things below are a part of my daily choice to be the best singer I can be, and my goal to still be singing' when I'm Mick Jagger's age!

    Enjoy!

    Basic Rules
    1. COMMON SENSE: First and foremost, know your boundaries, and if it hurts Don't do it! Hurting is bad! Nothing I do hurts. Even the guteral stuff that I do never hurts... Vocalizing should never be painful!

    Listen to your body. If you are tired, go to sleep. If your voice is feeling fatigued, shut up;). One of the traits I got from my mom is the gift of gab. I need to make a conscious decision, everyday not to yap my head off all day long. Which is hard when you're the lead singer and spear head of the operation! Ha! If you have a cold, be cautious, drink lots of water, and try not to cough all day. Get lots of sleep! Try not to stay out til 4 am unless you know you can sleep in! And don't have a crazy drinking night unless you know you'll have a day to recover. Use common sense, it'll save your voice!

    2. BREATHING: Breathing is paramount!! You must support your breath with your diaphram (your burping enabler) and surrounding muscles (if your stomach has ever hurt from laughing hard these are the muscles). It helps to imagine you are breathing from your stomach. Try not to lift your shoulders when you breath. When you take a breath, imagine the air filling up the bottom of your rib cage and your stomach (for girls, act like you're trying to keep up a falling down strapless bra).

    Never use your throat to support, scream, or squeeze out your voice. This is how you get nodes and polyps which can permanently damage your voice or completely destroy your ability to sing.

    Ok... If you want a breathing exercise you can do right now:
    Stand in front of a mirror, make sure you are standing up straight (imagine you are being hung from the ceiling by your head instead of being supported with your feet), shoulders down, and relaxed. Take a breath, and support the air with your diaphragm, now let the air out in a hiss noise like you are a snake, focus on supporting your air, and making sure that you feel no squeezing in your throat. Do this in bursts of five Taking a breath in between each hiss {ss..ss..ss..ss..ss} Remember, shoulders down, breath with your stomach and lower rib age. Another way is to trade the "ss" for " "ha". {ha..ha..ha..ha..ha}

    3. HYDRATE! A dry voice box is death! Lots of water!!! Seriously, pound lots of room temperature water throughout the day and well before your performance. Water makes your voice flexible so that you can bend and stretch notes with ease. I know doctors say 8 glasses for normal people. But I say at least 11 (or as many as you can pound) for us singers! Avoid alcohol and drinking too much coffee, it's very dehydrating. That goes for soda/pop too! Not only are sugary fizzy drinks dehydrating as hell, but the bubbles will make your stomach very uncomfortable while trying to sing and rock out on stage.

    Scientifically, your vocal folds are the first to dry out and the last to get hydrated in your body. When you drink water, it's gonna take at least 20 mins to even get to your vocal folds, and if you only drank a small amount, it'll get soaked up somewhere else in your body before it even reaches your folds.

    Means more trips to the ole can...But it's worth it in the end!

    4. FOOD: I've never been the type of singer to avoid certain foods like the plague. But again, you need to pay attention to your body. If you have any allergies to food, or trouble with certain foods, obviously avoid those. One of my rules is to have my meal at least 2 hours before I have to sing. Going onstage and trying to work your diaphragm on a full stomach isn't enjoyable. You feel sluggish and sometimes you can get the dreaded "Vurp" where while you are singing, some of your digestive juices come up as a burp/vom situation. Very gross, and not good for your vocal folds at all! I do suggest that you do eat right. Lots of hydrating veggies and fruits, and decent portions of lean protien, Because our body's are our instrument, if you eat crappy, you feel crappy. And I hate feeling crappy when I have to go out and rock a million faces!

    5. Exercise: I'm gonna be honest here and say that I hate exercise, and for years the only real physical exercise that I got was from rocking out on stage. But what I noticed when I started doing a bit of cardio and core training is that my body felted better. My body felt stronger, therefore my stamina on stage was stronger.

    Again, our bodies are our instruments, and when they break, you cant just go to Guitar Center and get a new one.

    6. TOOLS:
    Resonance areas-
    Knowing how to navigate through the different areas of your voice will help you trouble shoot when you have a cold,and also help expand your range by discovering all the different possibilities of your unique voice.

    Think about when your singin in the shower and you hit a certain note and it reverberates off the walls, or if your singing or talking near a piano or a snare drum and you make it hum. It's the same type of concept. You are using the space in your body to create warm, shrill or round sounds to better express your art through voice.

    The gutsy vocal stuff that you hear me do is a combination of my head and chest resonance that I developed over years of practicing and getting to know my body and my boundaries.

    Head Voice-
    This is similar to falsetto, but not limited to just your higher register. You're using your head cavity to carry the reverberation of your air giving it a light and clear tone.

    Chest Voice-
    Same as above but your chest cavity. You are using your body to create different tones and characters to your voice.
    **I suggest you get a vocal coach to be in a room with you to help you find your unique areas... YOU have to recognize how it feels and learn how to navigate Your Unique areas. What feels one way for me, will feel different for you.

    Our voices are like fingerprints, each unique. No two alike. It's so important to find your own voice and never just try and imitate someone else's.

    A simple excersise you can do to get started:
    Find an instrument for your reference, a piano, guitar etc.
    A piano or small keyboard is easy even for someone who doesn't normally play an instrument. Just finger around on the keys to find a nice comfy note. Now, match the note you are playing with your voice. It should feel like the air is flowing up and across your soft palate (near your tonsils) Hold it out for as long as you can, but dont get crazy, when you run out of air or it becomes uncomfortable, stop. Move to the next note up, and do the same thing. Continue up the keyboard until you've reached your highest comfortable note. Comfort people! This is not a contest. When you've reached your highest, begin to descend down again, eventually passing your comfy middle note your started on, and ending at your lowest clear note. Do this everyday, not only will your voice get stronger, but you will also train your larynyx memory, which means that eventually you will be able to Feel when you are hitting the right notes because your larynyx already knows where to go. And eventually, in a pinch you will not need a reference instrument when you do your warm ups and cool downs. You should make this a routine everyday!

    Warm up/cool down routine-
    It's important to warm up, and equally as important to cool down

    Warming up is what's going to get you physically and mentally ready for stage. I have a handful of exercises that I do before stage. Doing a warm up gets your voice prepared for the show ahead. Checking your tone, your pitch, your balance, your breathing. Doing a warm up faithfully before every performance also is a huge part in vocal preservation... So that you can continue doing what you love and don't hurt yourself by developing bad habits.

    Cooling down is doing some of your light vocal excersises directly after your performance. (Think of it like an olympic runner... After they run 5 miles they walk and stretch before sitting down.) This helps get your voice back to neutral.

    7. TROUBLE SHOOTING:
    When you have a cold, or allergies. The best remedies are the simple ones. No special tea, or tonic, or whiskey. Here are all the tools you need.

    Rest-get lots of sleep, force yourself to take a nap, and no talking Water- lots and lots of water and fluids to flush you out, and if your taking any cold meds, the water will help combat the dryness that they cause.

    If you have a phlegm problem, adding some lemon slices to your water will help cut the mess. The lemon also adds a boost of vitamin C (lemons have more C than oranges) to your routine. Do your warm ups, and evaluate what areas of your voice are weaker from the cold. You can use your resonance areas to work around the trouble spots. You might sound a little different than you do on an ON night, but at least you'll be able to pull the show off!

    Once you get on stage, don't think too much about the fact that you have a cold. I've noticed that most times, I'll lose myself in the moment of a live show, and I'll have a great singing night, because my body forgot that I was sick. Which leads me to my last tid bit....

    8. MENTAL STRENGTH:
    This is the most important. Even if you are sick or not having the best day, when you hit that stage, forget about it. Don't think about whether your singing ok, or whether your in a bad mood, or if you have a cold.

    Don't think. Just do.

    You've done your warm ups, you've hydrated, you got your rock boots on, and are ready for the show...so just do it! Don't hesitate for that high note! Even if you miss that note, and least ya went for it! Be confident! The mind is a powerful thing. If you know you can do it, you Can!

    Thank you all for inquiring! I hope this was helpful.
    Remember, You all are the heart to my soul! I Love you madly!

    Lzzy

    News
LZZY's picture
on January 4, 2012 - 10:07am

This one is to all the aspiring singers! So many of you have contacted me lately for vocal advice. So, I thought I'd share some of the rules and exercises that I live by, that were passed to me from my incredible teacher Mr. Steve Whiteman.

Keep in mind, that these rules are a part of a lifestyle choice, not a quick fix or magic feather. I decided that I want to have a 25+ year career being a singer, and that means thinking long term, practicing, and using common sense.

For example; if I don't warm up one night, or drink beer on stage... I'm probably gonna be fine, the set will be good, it won't kill me. Hell, I might even sound great! BUT, if I make a habit of Not doing a warm up, and drinking everyday. I cut my career length by more than half (I've seen it happen to friends of mine). So, all of these things below are a part of my daily choice to be the best singer I can be, and my goal to still be singing' when I'm Mick Jagger's age!

Enjoy!

Basic Rules
1. COMMON SENSE: First and foremost, know your boundaries, and if it hurts Don't do it! Hurting is bad! Nothing I do hurts. Even the guteral stuff that I do never hurts... Vocalizing should never be painful!

Listen to your body. If you are tired, go to sleep. If your voice is feeling fatigued, shut up;). One of the traits I got from my mom is the gift of gab. I need to make a conscious decision, everyday not to yap my head off all day long. Which is hard when you're the lead singer and spear head of the operation! Ha! If you have a cold, be cautious, drink lots of water, and try not to cough all day. Get lots of sleep! Try not to stay out til 4 am unless you know you can sleep in! And don't have a crazy drinking night unless you know you'll have a day to recover. Use common sense, it'll save your voice!

2. BREATHING: Breathing is paramount!! You must support your breath with your diaphram (your burping enabler) and surrounding muscles (if your stomach has ever hurt from laughing hard these are the muscles). It helps to imagine you are breathing from your stomach. Try not to lift your shoulders when you breath. When you take a breath, imagine the air filling up the bottom of your rib cage and your stomach (for girls, act like you're trying to keep up a falling down strapless bra).

Never use your throat to support, scream, or squeeze out your voice. This is how you get nodes and polyps which can permanently damage your voice or completely destroy your ability to sing.

Ok... If you want a breathing exercise you can do right now:
Stand in front of a mirror, make sure you are standing up straight (imagine you are being hung from the ceiling by your head instead of being supported with your feet), shoulders down, and relaxed. Take a breath, and support the air with your diaphragm, now let the air out in a hiss noise like you are a snake, focus on supporting your air, and making sure that you feel no squeezing in your throat. Do this in bursts of five Taking a breath in between each hiss {ss..ss..ss..ss..ss} Remember, shoulders down, breath with your stomach and lower rib age. Another way is to trade the "ss" for " "ha". {ha..ha..ha..ha..ha}

3. HYDRATE! A dry voice box is death! Lots of water!!! Seriously, pound lots of room temperature water throughout the day and well before your performance. Water makes your voice flexible so that you can bend and stretch notes with ease. I know doctors say 8 glasses for normal people. But I say at least 11 (or as many as you can pound) for us singers! Avoid alcohol and drinking too much coffee, it's very dehydrating. That goes for soda/pop too! Not only are sugary fizzy drinks dehydrating as hell, but the bubbles will make your stomach very uncomfortable while trying to sing and rock out on stage.

Scientifically, your vocal folds are the first to dry out and the last to get hydrated in your body. When you drink water, it's gonna take at least 20 mins to even get to your vocal folds, and if you only drank a small amount, it'll get soaked up somewhere else in your body before it even reaches your folds.

Means more trips to the ole can...But it's worth it in the end!

4. FOOD: I've never been the type of singer to avoid certain foods like the plague. But again, you need to pay attention to your body. If you have any allergies to food, or trouble with certain foods, obviously avoid those. One of my rules is to have my meal at least 2 hours before I have to sing. Going onstage and trying to work your diaphragm on a full stomach isn't enjoyable. You feel sluggish and sometimes you can get the dreaded "Vurp" where while you are singing, some of your digestive juices come up as a burp/vom situation. Very gross, and not good for your vocal folds at all! I do suggest that you do eat right. Lots of hydrating veggies and fruits, and decent portions of lean protien, Because our body's are our instrument, if you eat crappy, you feel crappy. And I hate feeling crappy when I have to go out and rock a million faces!

5. Exercise: I'm gonna be honest here and say that I hate exercise, and for years the only real physical exercise that I got was from rocking out on stage. But what I noticed when I started doing a bit of cardio and core training is that my body felted better. My body felt stronger, therefore my stamina on stage was stronger.

Again, our bodies are our instruments, and when they break, you cant just go to Guitar Center and get a new one.

6. TOOLS:
Resonance areas-
Knowing how to navigate through the different areas of your voice will help you trouble shoot when you have a cold,and also help expand your range by discovering all the different possibilities of your unique voice.

Think about when your singin in the shower and you hit a certain note and it reverberates off the walls, or if your singing or talking near a piano or a snare drum and you make it hum. It's the same type of concept. You are using the space in your body to create warm, shrill or round sounds to better express your art through voice.

The gutsy vocal stuff that you hear me do is a combination of my head and chest resonance that I developed over years of practicing and getting to know my body and my boundaries.

Head Voice-
This is similar to falsetto, but not limited to just your higher register. You're using your head cavity to carry the reverberation of your air giving it a light and clear tone.

Chest Voice-
Same as above but your chest cavity. You are using your body to create different tones and characters to your voice.
**I suggest you get a vocal coach to be in a room with you to help you find your unique areas... YOU have to recognize how it feels and learn how to navigate Your Unique areas. What feels one way for me, will feel different for you.

Our voices are like fingerprints, each unique. No two alike. It's so important to find your own voice and never just try and imitate someone else's.

A simple excersise you can do to get started:
Find an instrument for your reference, a piano, guitar etc.
A piano or small keyboard is easy even for someone who doesn't normally play an instrument. Just finger around on the keys to find a nice comfy note. Now, match the note you are playing with your voice. It should feel like the air is flowing up and across your soft palate (near your tonsils) Hold it out for as long as you can, but dont get crazy, when you run out of air or it becomes uncomfortable, stop. Move to the next note up, and do the same thing. Continue up the keyboard until you've reached your highest comfortable note. Comfort people! This is not a contest. When you've reached your highest, begin to descend down again, eventually passing your comfy middle note your started on, and ending at your lowest clear note. Do this everyday, not only will your voice get stronger, but you will also train your larynyx memory, which means that eventually you will be able to Feel when you are hitting the right notes because your larynyx already knows where to go. And eventually, in a pinch you will not need a reference instrument when you do your warm ups and cool downs. You should make this a routine everyday!

Warm up/cool down routine-
It's important to warm up, and equally as important to cool down

Warming up is what's going to get you physically and mentally ready for stage. I have a handful of exercises that I do before stage. Doing a warm up gets your voice prepared for the show ahead. Checking your tone, your pitch, your balance, your breathing. Doing a warm up faithfully before every performance also is a huge part in vocal preservation... So that you can continue doing what you love and don't hurt yourself by developing bad habits.

Cooling down is doing some of your light vocal excersises directly after your performance. (Think of it like an olympic runner... After they run 5 miles they walk and stretch before sitting down.) This helps get your voice back to neutral.

7. TROUBLE SHOOTING:
When you have a cold, or allergies. The best remedies are the simple ones. No special tea, or tonic, or whiskey. Here are all the tools you need.

Rest-get lots of sleep, force yourself to take a nap, and no talking Water- lots and lots of water and fluids to flush you out, and if your taking any cold meds, the water will help combat the dryness that they cause.

If you have a phlegm problem, adding some lemon slices to your water will help cut the mess. The lemon also adds a boost of vitamin C (lemons have more C than oranges) to your routine. Do your warm ups, and evaluate what areas of your voice are weaker from the cold. You can use your resonance areas to work around the trouble spots. You might sound a little different than you do on an ON night, but at least you'll be able to pull the show off!

Once you get on stage, don't think too much about the fact that you have a cold. I've noticed that most times, I'll lose myself in the moment of a live show, and I'll have a great singing night, because my body forgot that I was sick. Which leads me to my last tid bit....

8. MENTAL STRENGTH:
This is the most important. Even if you are sick or not having the best day, when you hit that stage, forget about it. Don't think about whether your singing ok, or whether your in a bad mood, or if you have a cold.

Don't think. Just do.

You've done your warm ups, you've hydrated, you got your rock boots on, and are ready for the show...so just do it! Don't hesitate for that high note! Even if you miss that note, and least ya went for it! Be confident! The mind is a powerful thing. If you know you can do it, you Can!

Thank you all for inquiring! I hope this was helpful.
Remember, You all are the heart to my soul! I Love you madly!

Lzzy

Comments

AleStormer's picture

OMG LZZY!! I really loved these tips u gave to us, people who dream to be singers like YOU one day!! There's something in your voice, your personality and strength that makes me go MAAAAAADD. I love u, I really DO! I started listening to the band this year thanks to one friend, and I must tell that I owe her A LOT, because since I've started listening to you I became addicted to HALESTORM! PLEAAASE COME TO ARGENTINA ONE DAY!! We're really expecting you to come! Lzzy u r awesome, please please COOME TO ARGENTINA!!! LOVE YOU LZZY, LOOOVE YOU HALESTORM!!! ♥ ♥ Ale from Argentina =)
redorange's picture

Thank you so much! I am performing soon with my band in Leicester and have noticed that my voice hasn't been as strong as it should be. I have been trying out your vocal tips and WOW! They are really helping, now all I need is some more confidence and everything will be great! Thanks Lizzy!!!
chloejinx's picture

Thank you sooooo much Lzzy! I've been looking for some good singing tips for ages because I really want to improve my singing voice :)
wildman1's picture

I'm recording vocals in the studio next week! These tips will come in handy!
jakk3's picture

your voice is like a caterpillar, it starts out small and cute, but then when it has gotten what it needs, it takes some time but it will turn into something even more beautiful.
Mrs. P's picture

Dear Izzy, My voice student sent me your link, and I am very impressed. Your advice is right on target to all who want a long career singing. I always start my students with breathing, and I'm constantly telling them to hydrate - nice to hear my advice being echoed by someone to whom my students can relate. Keep up the good work! I have no doubt that you will have a long and successful singing career. Yes, our voices change as we age (the high C's are no longer in my repertoire), but if you keep listening to your body, keep following the basics and keep learning, you will be able to sing all of your life. Rock on! Mrs. P (Green Hair's teacher)
linkinallica's picture

Thank you so much. This will help a lot.
ChipDiMonick's picture

Thanks for taking the time to share these tips, Lzzy! Those of us in the trenches, playing small, smoke-filled bars with no vocals in our monitors need all the help we can get. You rock, girl!
Junewinds13's picture

Yes!! I love this!! So many people diss vocal technique because they think it's non-essential or even counterproductive to singing, but it really does wonders. Now I have something to shove in my future students' faces when they doubt the effectiveness of voice training. Way to go!
JSal's picture

This is all stuff I've heard a thousand times before, but somehow it hits harder coming from an actual rock star and someone who's an amazing vocalist and someone I'm a huge fan of, rather than from some random vocal coach. Give me the water and lemons! Oh, and if you have the time (given you even read any of this :D), check out my band 24SANCTIONS. Here's a link to our myspace page: www.myspace.com/24sanctions. You guys are one the many superb bands that inspire us. Thanks for the tips and the overall awesomeness. - Joonas S / Helsinki, Finland