Saturday, February 27, 2016

Choosing the Right Key for Your Song

I'm not going to spend a ton of time on this topic, but rest assured, it is a very important one.  Have you ever tried to sing your favorite song from the radio, your mp3 player, or whatever and find your voice isn't quite up to the challenge?  It's frustrating, right?  So, you probably just give up and think, "I can't sing this one" and move on to something else.

Here's a little known secret: the real reason you probably can't sing the song is because it's not in the right key for you.  That's not to say with a little practice and working with a skilled vocal coach you could never sing it in that key.   But why waste the time and energy when you can just try it in a different key and experience much faster success?

Many times, I work with clients who do not want to change the key of the song they are attempting to sing because they view it as exposing their weakness or something.  I don't see it that way at all.  I think changing the key to fit your voice as a singer plays to your strengths.  So, never be afraid to do it, especially if it allows you to sound better, pretty much instantly!

I am also learning this lesson in my own life.  I'm currently in the songwriting stage for upcoming music projects and am very mindful (this time around) about the keys that I write my music in.  Not only do I need to be able to sing them skillfully when it's time to record, but I also need to make sure the keys of my songs will sound great when I have to perform them over and over again to a live audience.

One of my unreleased songs, "Faithful Father" started out in a higher key.  As I was piecing together lyrics and music, I decided to lower the key a half step, just to see what it sounded like.  Voila!  It was like a different, much stronger singer performing.  The song found its perfect key and my voice found its best sound.

So the next time you're tempted to give up on a hard song, do me a favor and try it out in a different key.  Lower it or raise it depending on your needs.  I bet it will make all the difference!

Happy Singing!

For more tips like these, and a structured program to get you singing at your best, check out my book Ten Weeks to a Better Voice here.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Singing and Homeostasis

I never thought I'd get into science.  It was not my "thing" in school.  Dissecting frogs, learning the names of the bones of the body, trying to solve [impossible] chemistry equations--not my cup of tea!

However the older I get, the more I appreciate science because it actually has everything to do with singing well.  How do I know this?  I've experienced it firsthand.

This past weekend, I had my first performance of a song off my new album, Make Something Happen.  All day on Friday, leading up to the performance, I determined to practice so I would go into the performance feeling completely confident and fully warmed up.

Around noon, I was driving in my car and practicing the song along with the recording.  Only, my live performance was not coming out well.  I couldn't sustain the high notes, much less gather the energy to reach them in the first place.  I was a bit scared that I was having an "off" day with my voice, which is a totally normal thing, by the way.  I just didn't need to have one on a day I was performing solo.

Lo and behold, I found myself remembering a word from 6th grade science class: homeostasis.  I instantly realized what my issue was.  I stopped practicing because there was no use in frustrating myself even more and I arrived home and immediately made myself a sandwich and fruit for lunch.  The reason I wasn't singing well?  I was hungry.

Now, all the people who know me are laughing right now because they realize how true it is that I'm "off" when I'm hungry, but I have the science to prove it!

Wikipedia defines homeostasis as "the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant".   In other words, the human body is constantly trying to balance itself to make it more efficient.  That's why you need so much food each day, but not too much food or you'll start to gain weight.  That's why you need so much sleep but not too much sleep to provide energy for your day.

Here's what happened after I ate.  I let my food settle and then went into my music room to resume practicing my song.  I practiced 4 times before the actual performance, and they were some of the best practices I'd had.  Before the show, I made sure I ate another nutritious meal, this time dinner, and then I had a cup of tea and honey and some water.  My performance turned out great!  I felt energized and my voice held up beautifully.

Here are some quick tips to think about if you're practicing for a performance and your voice is not holding up:

1.  If you feel faint, do you need to eat something?  Try eating a light meal and be sure to include some fruits or veggies, both of which contain vital water and nutrients.

2.  Are you completely satiated from your last meal?  Wait to practice singing for an hour or so to allow your food to settle.  Otherwise, you'd better practice alone because you'll be belching through the whole rehearsal.  Gross!

3.  Are you just worn out?  You may not have the luxury of a two hour afternoon nap (who does anyway?), but can you fit in a cat-nap?  My absolute favorite naps are between 15-30 minutes long.  They get me over the mid-day slump and I wake up much more energized and ready to take on my day.  If you don't think you'll wake up after half an hour, set a timer beforehand, then snooze away.

4.  Are you stressed?  In my book Ten Weeks to a Better Voice, I talk a little about the effect of stress on singing.  And yes, stress definitely affects singing.  One of my favorite ways to combat stress is to get some fresh air.  Lucky for me, I live in Florida and can usually get in a walk outside most days.  If you're not able to get outside, take a ten minute break from your music and walk inside.

All of these tips will help you reestablish homeostasis in your own body and hopefully help you practice and perform at your peak!

(Don't try to sing when you're hungry!  Go eat a quick snack or meal, then get back to practice.  Your body will thank you.)

Friday, February 5, 2016

Dreaming and Doing

2016 feels like a banner year already!

For those of you who don't know, I recently released my debut music project Make Something Happen into the world.  It became available digitally several weeks ago and on Wednesday of this week, I received my CDs in the mail.

(Here I am making a silly face, but I promise I was really excited about this!  If you would like to hear more about my project and the stories behind the songs, visit my website,

Sometimes I can't even believe this project is out.  It was so much work, but truly work that I enjoyed doing every step of the way.  I especially enjoyed the 4 trips to Nashville I made in 2015, all related to my growing music business.

Make Something Happen is a project I'm so proud of because all of the songs are from the deepest places in my heart and soul.  If you want to know how I feel about God and life in general, listen to this project.  It feels like I'm wearing my "heart on my sleeve".  And I'm ok with that.

I will leave you with this because I think it's very appropriate to my life and my music in this season:

"The only way to do great work is to love what you do." -Steve Jobs

I am really loving what I'm doing!  Probably because I've been dreaming of doing it for a long, long time.