Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Making of a Music Room

There are two places in my house that I go when I need to be creative: the first place is my office, a small room that is built into our master bedroom. This is where I currently sit, writing this post.

The other place is my beloved music room, which just experienced a facelift! When my husband and I were looking for houses and found this one, there was a great bonus room towards the front of the house. The moment I saw it, I knew it would be my music room. It was a long-time dream come true. I remember when I was a kid, riding in the back seat of my parents' car and day-dreaming about having a house of my own someday. I would look at each house in whatever neighborhood we were currently passing through and decide if I could live there or not. The deciding factor: could I imagine a piano peeking out of the front window? If not, I knew I could never live in that particular house!

So a music room in my real-life grown-up house was non-negotiable, and thank God, my husband agreed! We moved into our house in 2008, and the first piece of furniture that was delivered was my beautiful baby grand piano, my wedding present from my husband. Unfortunately though, the music room didn't get much work done to it to help define it as a creative space.

Two weeks ago was my birthday, and my husband and I went to Ikea to get supplies to redesign my music room and make it what it is today. I never knew how handy my husband was until he spent the weekend putting together my new and improved music room! Voila! Here are some pictures of my new space!

This first picture is the first view of my music room you'll see when you walk in. My grand piano takes center stage, but the curtains really make this space! It's amazing how a few panels of fabric can change a room!

Turning to the right of my piano is my new built-in space that houses my keyboard and shelving and storage for music books. This cozy space is also a great place to write as well.

These are my handy "magazine racks" that house my piano and vocal books. I have been needing these for so long and actually held off on buying new material because I had no place to store it!

Finally, I like to make little signs with one word phrases to help me stay on task when I'm spending time in my music room. This is only one of them, but I also have signs that say "music", and "believe", and "inspire".

Now I appreciate my music room even more because it really has taken my creativity to new heights! I enjoy teaching students in there or even just sitting down to log in some good old practice every once in a while.

Do you have a space where you go to be creative? I hope it is filled with good things and little reminders that inspire your own creativity!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ten Ways to Survive (and Thrive) in Choir Rehearsal

For the last vocal workshop that I hosted, I wrote some new material that I thought would be relevant to choir members of any age. It is my top "Ten Ways to Survive (and Thrive) in Choir Rehearsal". I thought I'd share them here today:

1. On your way to rehearsal, perform several warm-up exercises in your car to ready your voice for singing.

2. Make sure you come prepared with your music in a binder and pick up the music you will need for the evening's rehearsal.

3. Bring a pencil and use it! Make marks all over your music to help you remember rhythms, notes, breath marks, etc. (Note: that's why you use a pencil, so you can erase!)

4. Make sure you sit next to someone who knows the part you are supposed to be singing well, then copy them!

5. Be an active listener and an active learner.

6. Increase your energy by sitting up tall in your chair with feet uncrossed (I know, this takes some getting used to, but I promise you'll be more supported and sing better).

7. Bring water and aim to drink the entire bottle throughout the rehearsal.

8. Ask questions if you're unsure of a certain part.

9. It's ok not to use your full voice for the entire rehearsal. When you're learning your part, sing quietly. When you know your part, then practice in your performance voice.

10. Have fun making a joyful noise unto the Lord!

I hope these tips help you soar through your own choir rehearsal with ease! Happy singing!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tonight: Free Vocal Workshop!

Just wanted to let everyone in on a great workshop happening tonight!

Discovering the Voice in You: Part 1
Presented by Kristin King
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Calvary Christian Center
1687 W. Granada Blvd.
Ormond Beach, FL 32174

This workshop will be located in Calvary's choir room, which is located at the back of the main building. It will cover the basics of singing including how our bodies produce sound and how you can strengthen your voice through warm-ups. There is also a Q&A segment where participants ask their vocal questions. The best part is that the workshop is free! If you're in the area and would like to get some free education on developing a great singing voice, I hope to see you tonight!

Also, for those choir members out there (of any choir, not just Calvary's), I will be presenting "Ten Ways to Survive (and Thrive) in Choir Rehearsal"!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Danger of Oversinging

Hello my faithful readers!

"Where have you been?" you may ask. Well, let's just say that life has gotten very busy around here. I thought I was busy before I started my business! Little did I know...

Anyway, today I want to talk a little on the lines of the danger of over-singing. The praise team singers at my church have been hearing about this from me for a couple of weeks because we've all gotten to hear ourselves from the live feed in the church's recording studio after a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night.

The result has been hilarity, people groaning, and hiding their faces in their hands (oh, wait, that was me!). The reason: no one that I know of enjoys hearing their singing in raw form. Especially when the monitors and acoustics and house sound give the illusion that we sound so good. Let me tell you something: electronics in this day and age cover a multitude of sins!

So while we hate to hear what we really sound like to the online world, the praise team singers have all taken away some valuable feedback about their individual voices.

Rule #1: Know your words! Sure, you may be able to hide it from the rest of the congregation, but the individual mix doesn't lie. If you don't know your words, it is glaringly obvious in the studio.

Rule #2: Try to avoid over-singing. Since most of us singers have a false perception of what we sound like when singing with a group, we tend to over-compensate by singing louder and LOUDER. It may be a lack of being able to hear ourselves in the on-stage monitors or trying to keep our volume matched to the singers around us, but over-singing only tires out the voice, drains our stamina quicker, and unfortunately doesn't sound very good in the live feed.

The best way to not over-sing is to practice those songs you will be performing in a place where you can perfectly hear your voice. Memorize the way your body feels when performing at the appropriate volume. You should feel relaxed and carry a nice, resonant tone. Continue practicing this way as often as you can by yourself before it is time to perform on stage with others. If you practice often enough, your muscles will develop muscle memory. Then, when you finally get on stage, utilize this memory to sing the exact same way you've been practicing, even if you can't hear yourself. If you feel yourself straining in any way, know that you are probably over-singing and allow yourself to return to that relaxed state and normal volume. Remember that you are not competing with other singers as much as you are trying to blend with them, so if someone else's volume is constantly dwarfing yours, ask if you can both try to sing on the same volume level (the nice way of asking them to bring it down!).

Over-singing without knowing you're doing so can diminish your vocal stamina over time, especially if you're not singing with vocal secret weapon #3: the diaphragm. Also, it can keep you from sounding as good as you know you're capable of singing from all that hard practice!

Keep on singing, friends!

Friday, June 10, 2011


It was a little less than two months ago when I started this blog and made mention of my dream of becoming a self-supported full-time musician.

Now after coming to the close of my first full week of being in business for myself, I can say that I've never been happier! I echo those other entrepreneurs who say, "I only regret that I didn't start sooner!"

This week has been extremely busy for me and nothing short of amazing. It involved teaching six lessons (not counting two tomorrow), leading a choir rehearsal, recording in my church's studio, and singing for a television program. Yes, I'm busy, but I'm also so happy and deeply fulfilled because each and every day of my week has involved music. Ahh, how long I've waited for this moment!

The great news is that it's only going to get better. I am getting ready to double the number of students I teach in my music studio within the next couple of weeks! God is really opening the doors of abundance and it's nothing short of amazing because all I did was step out in faith and pursue something I love!

Every time I teach a lesson, I can't believe that I'm getting paid to do this job. It's not even work to me, just fun, fun, fun. I'm reminded of the Scripture from Proverbs 18:16, which says, "A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men." I can certainly say this is true in my own life thus far. I am so grateful for the opportunity to pursue my dream at this present moment.

Because we're never promised tomorrow, I hope you're doing all you can to pursue your own hopes and dreams on this beautiful Friday! Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vocal Secret Weapon #3 (Final Installment)

Ok, so far, you've learned about the first two vocal secret weapons: #1- water and #2- the articulators. Today I will discuss the final and most critical vocal secret weapon. This weapon will literally make or break you as a singer depending upon how you use or don't use it.

I hope all the singers reading this have already figured it out.

Vocal Secret Weapon #3: The diaphragm (Did you guess right? If not, that's ok. Read on, friend.)
This singer is most definitely using her diaphragm!

When I say diaphragm, I am talking about the muscle underneath your rib cage that separates the chest from the abdomen and aids in breathing. If you don't already know is now, breathing correctly is very important in singing. When you learn to pull in the abs when singing, you will engage the diaphragm muscle. Using your diaphragm in singing will improve your breath support, tone, vocal power, etc. That I can guarantee. Failure to use your diaphragm can help you prematurely kiss your singing voice goodbye. Scary, huh?

Here's the problem: so many, many singers think singing is done from the throat up. I seek to shatter this misconception once and for all!

Singing is a full body experience! You should imagine the sound shooting straight up from your firmly anchored feet and coming straight up through the top of your head.

Your throat and vocal cords cannot handle the strain of singing heavily day in and day out. They are not built to do that. But, if you pull the power of the sound from your diaphragm, you remove the strain from the throat and cords and increase the longevity of your voice. Your diaphragm can handle strenuous singing. Use it!

In my book, The Complete Book of Beginning Vocal Technique, I define the diaphragm as "your singing muscle". It is probably the single most important factor in determining how long you'll be able to keep up singing. The first question I always think to ask when someone tells me they're having trouble with singing is, "Are you using your diaphragm?"

Now that you know what the diaphragm is and why you should always use it when singing, I'm going to tell you how exactly to know that you are engaging the diaphragm. Here are some basic stretches that will help you feel the diaphragm at work:

1. Stand with feet hip-width apart and take a deep inhaling breath while raising arms in a circle. Stop the inhale when your arms are fully lifted. Pause a moment, then exhale as you release your arms back down to your sides. Do several of these exercises, working to pull the stomach towards the ribcage as you inhale. Notice how the stomach feels at this moment when it is fully engaged. This is how it should feel when you are singing correctly using your diaphragm.

2. Raise elbows and arms to a table-top position. Gently twist from side to side while pulling in the abs. Notice the deep contraction of the abs as you twist. This is what you want to feel when you are singing.

3. Now, try singing through any song and make a conscious effort to engage the abs as you sing. When you are correctly using your diaphragm, your throat should feel open and your tone should sound free.

The trick to making singing with the diaphragm a lifelong habit is to consciously make an effort to engage it every time you sing. Soon enough, you'll automatically engage the diaphragm and get the added benefit of a freer singing voice.

I hope you've enjoyed my mini series on vocal secret weapons. More importantly, I hope you're using them! As always, post a comment if you have any questions and I will get back with you. Thank you again for reading and happy singing!