Ready for your next audition? Going on your first audition? Losing sleep over said audition? Here’s some tips from Alexia, one of NYC’s top voice teachers to help you out!
1.Pick The Right Repertoire
Picking the right repertoire is my number one must for going into an audition. Of course, there are exceptions when we are asked to learn something new for an audition, but as much as possible, it is important to audition with something that you love to sing and know very well. If you walk in with a song or aria that you just started memorizing a few days before, it will show. Set yourself up for success! Sing repertoire that shows off your best qualities, and that you can still sing well even when you are not feeling your best. Being able to focus on the feeling and meaning of the music in an audition, rather than on hitting all the right notes, will set you apart. Also, try to sing something that you have performed before. Singing something only with your teacher or by yourself is very different than performing in front of others. If you have not had an opportunity to perform something before an audition, try to get a group of friends or family together to try out some of your repertoire. That way you can feel more prepared and confident to do your best.
- Dress Your Best
Being confident is a key factor in having a good audition, so wear a dress or suit that you feel great in. Wear a color that looks good on you and makes you shine. Don’t be afraid to let your audition outfit show your personality, it will help the panel get to know you better. For ladies, make sure to avoid a neckline that is too low or a dress that is too short. Stick to a hem that is right at or below the knee. A tasteful piece of jewelry is always a great option, but avoid jewelry that is too flashy or moves around a lot when you sing. Anything you wear should enhance your performance, and not distract or take away from your singing.
- Fuel Your Body
Singing is a sport. It requires your whole body to be able to perform well, so you need to fuel your body in order to have the proper energy to perform. It is important to have a protein packed meal before an audition or performance. Carbohydrate heavy foods like pasta or bread will not give you the proper energy to get through a performance. My go to pre-audition meal is a grilled piece of meat with steamed vegetables and a small potato. This leaves me feeling satisfied and energized to take on an audition, without feeling overly full. One food I always avoid the day before an audition is garlic as it tends to dry out the vocal cords.
- Stay Hydrated
Making sure your vocal cords are properly hydrated is very important. On the day of an audition make sure to drink lots of water. Two things I always have before an audition are pineapple juice and coconut water. Pineapple juice contains an enzyme called bromelain which reduces inflammation in the nose and sinuses. It helps my voice to feel strong and healthy. I also never go to an audition without coconut water in hand. I find that it gives my throat an extra boost of hydration and keeps me hydrated for longer periods of time. ( A trick I use for combating dry mouth is to have some sour gummy candy before I need to sing. )
- Don’t Fight With Your Nerves
The largest problem most singers face when auditioning is nerves. My advice for dealing with this is don’t fight it! Being nervous is a natural response and is OK. Nerves are something that everyone deals with. My suggestion is rather than spending your energy trying to make yourself stop being nervous, allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and know that you can still perform through it. Nerves and adrenaline can actually add an extra boost of energy to your performance or help you hit that high note. Don’t put too much pressure on one audition. There will always be another opportunity. Take each audition as a learning experience because no matter the outcome, no one audition can define you as an artist.
I can’t count the number of times a student has told me, “I can’t sing with vibrato, I’m a pop singer;” or “I can’t sing an aria, I’m a musical theatre singer.” Admittedly, I was once a victim of this kind of thinking. I would say, “I can’t belt, I’m a legit singer.” Lies! I’m here to tell you that this kind of thinking is wrong. A singer with the right training can safely sing whatever style he/she wants to sing. How? Easy, technique.
Technique is technique, regardless of style. Once a singer has learned the technique they can branch into any genre. When I say technique, I do mean the meaty, gritty boring stuff that makes a good singer an exceptional singer. Soft palate, tongue placement, diaphragm, support, placement of the sound, vibrato, ironing out the different registers, vowel sounds, consonants, etc. This is tough, and sometimes boring work. But it yields the results, because every single style of music uses this same technique. There are only minor differences.
Jazz singing has a brighter sound, with minimal vibrato. Pop has a shallower sound, again with minimal vibrato. Musical theatre (depending on the song, but generally) has more vibrato and a taller sound, plus you have to act. Classical singing has lots of vibrato and a much taller sound. But if you don’t know how to engage your soft palate, place your sound, or control your vibrato, you limit yourself. And why be stuck doing only one thing when you have the potential and ability to do anything?
So now the question remains, can you learn how to do this? Yes, just find a good vocal coach. Someone who will work on building your voice with you. Again, it’s tough work, so you need to find someone who you trust and can work with for a long period of time. The work never stops, but if you’re passionate about being a versatile vocalist you will grow.
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How Adjusting Your Voice Can Completely Change It’s Quality and Sound
Most seasoned singers know that warming up is one of the most important tools to keep a voice healthy and maintain your tone. Vocal Timbre, or as it is described as the quality of that tone utilizing complex overtones, or sound waves, is that unique “something” that gives color and personality to your voice, and how it is recognized.
Think you can’t sing? I disagree.
If you struggle to carry a tune, chances are you aren’t tone deaf, but that some part of your voice is just a bit out of whack. Your voice is an incredibly complex system that requires all its parts to be in balance to function smoothly.
While there are many reasons to start voice lessons, a stronger instrument isn’t the only thing you’ll leave the room with every week. At any age, the added benefits of developing your singing instrument are numerous, but I’ll start you with 5 things you will also be learning while attending your voice lessons.
Music to Your Home is proud to work with the best, brightest and coolest musicians in NYC so we’ve been picking their brains about music lessons. The latest interview was with Kiyan T., who took the time out of his busy schedule consisting of teaching, recording and performing to answer these 10 important questions every parent considering singing lessons for their child should know.
1) What advice would you give to parents who are considering getting vocal lessons for their children?
Kiyan: Make sure to speak with the child beforehand to see what they’re into as far as genre, or what they see for themselves musically, in conjunction with your own opinion. This way, you can know what you’re looking for in a teacher.
2) Why do you think vocal lessons have become so popular over the past few years?
Kiyan: Thats a large question! I think there’s a large correlation to singing and the high-glam pop star image that technology permeates into media. Its important to remember that singing is art, technical, and requires an instrument (the human body) to be understood and mastered, with plenty of love and passion!
3) What is the right age for a child to start singing lessons?
Kiyan: I would say no younger than 7. Maybe an unusually intuitive 6 year old?
4) How much daily practice time does it take to become a great singer?
Kiyan: I don’t think a “daily” regiment is the answer. You need to love singing, and feel that natural inclination to express through this medium, in order to have the desire to practice enough to become “great”, however many hours that takes.
5) Are vocal warmups important? If so what are you favorite to do?
Kiyan: Honestly, I talk so much that by the time I have to sing, the voice is already warm. I enjoy warm ups in minor keys that feel like musical lines. This gets the ear going, as well as a sense of carving out a phrase.
6) Do you think having a piano at a vocal lesson is important?
Kiyan: It makes it much easier, yes, but I have done Skype lessons without a piano for many years without a hitch.
7) What do you love about teaching voice lessons?
Kiyan: I love that, in my self-centric life as a recording artist, I get to take all of my musical faculties and apply them to another person. Its a rewarding balance of ego for me in the sense that while on my time, I will ask you to think of music the same way I do (visually, kinesthetically, emotionally), which leads to so much growth. I often find my approach just catches people off guard in how absolutely simple it is.
8) What was your most memorable teaching experience?
Kiyan: I was in college, and I had a student come to me completely unable to match pitch. I’m talking: I play middle C, and he sings the F# two octaves below. After two or three months, I said “listen, I don’t know if this is going to work. I’m starting to feel bad taking money from you when I can’t even get a single note out of you.” He wouldn’t have it, and insisted that we continue. It was only after research on overtones from the piano as opposed to the human voice did I realize that all I had to do was use my voice as reference. I had him doing a major scale, in solfege, up and down, and unaccompanied in two weeks. What a huge triumph this was!
9) When and where was your most memorable performance?
Kiyan: My first solo show in New York was a highlight for me.
10) Who are the singers that have inspired you?
Kiyan: Too many to list, but: Patti LaBelle, Beyoncé, and Edita Gruberova.
Kiyan T. is available in NYC for voice & piano lessons. Contact us today to schedule yours!
Unlike the guitar, saxophone or piano, when it comes to singing, your body IS your instrument. And we all know that taking care of our bodies is not only paramount to living a healthy life but also helps you sing to your full potential. So when it comes to the idea of little kids starting voice lessons there’s a bit of confusion so allow me, someone who started formal singing lessons at 5 years old and with not a nodule in sight, to clear up any misconceptions.
Let’s begin by saying that most likely your 6 year old isn’t chomping at the bit to sing Italian Art Songs. If they are? Cool, we’ll cover that so read on. They probably enjoy singing the soundtrack to the latest Disney hit or Taylor Swift song. Either way, professionally trained voice teachers know that working with voices that haven’t matured yet require tapping into a skill-set and repertoire that accommodate an undeveloped body and mind.
Our philosophy is pretty simple, we think kids playing music, any kind of music, is igniting that part of the brain those newspaper articles are always talking about, so we’ll teach any song a kid wants, and we’ll show them how to sing it in such a way that they are laying the groundwork for correct vocal technique while having fun! Yes, it’s possible!
The first song I learned how to sing was the theme to Sesame Street. My teacher knew I loved it, it was simple, familiar, and I enjoyed practicing it every day. I eventually moved on to show tunes, ran through the Les Miz book, the Rogers & Hammerstein classics, discovered the Tapestry record, was introduced to Italian Arias and opera, fell in love with jazz, all the while rock and folk rested closely in my heart. But the point I’m making is that every genre I sang as I grew up, I was always using proper technique because my teachers recognized the right repertoire to suit my age and growing body.
Kids today have shows like The Voice to inspire them- and that’s amazing, but some of those contestants have no formal training and are actually straining their voices pretty badly. You can hear a lot of them “sitting” on their vocal chords, putting all that tension on the throat where it doesn’t belong. That’s the damaging stuff we are avoiding with proper coaching.
So are we looking to have your six-year old work on their belly breathing and tongue position? We’ll get there over time, but for now that child will enjoy singing their favorite songs while the seeds to formal training are planted. And you can rest easy knowing they’ll be no permanent damage in sight for your young musician.
For in-home singing lessons, visit our singing lessons page.
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