How to transition from a theatrical singer to an authentic pop rock voice

As a vocal conditioning and performance coach. I regularly receive inquiries from singers that have found that the theatrical vocal style they have developed is now restricting  their ability to sing other styles of music with full confidence.  

Many of these singers have become frustrated or concerned at been type cast ie as been only suited for musical theatre type rolls. Which is fine if you aspire to performing in Broadway type musicals.

But what many of these singers want to know is how to reduce the time it takes to learn how to transition a theatrical dramatic voice to become an all round singer capable of singing pop/ rock/ and beyond!

The question is a good one, and I will do my best to provide some tips and free advice to help you learn how to make the smooth transition from a theatrical dramatic voice to been capable of authentically singing other styles of popular music.

First lets understand the general differences of the three main vocal styles, ie Opera, Musical theatre and Popular music (Country-pop rock,blues, heavy metal metal) etc

Operatic voices:

Desirable operatic vocal characteristics differ greatly between male and female singers.

Typically to be a successful male opera singer requires a broad deep resonating voice capable of extending the chest voice into the upper register with a minimum of mix or head voice added to the sound. The desirable characteristics for a female opera singer on the other hand is to develop a voice with bell like clarity where the high notes are mainly produced with maximum head resonance, primarily designed to ensure that the frequency range of both the male and female singers carries above  the orchestra to the back of the opera house accapela, (without microphones).

Musical theatre singers, are known for the dramatic often exaggerated manor in which they deliver a vocal line. There vocal delivery is adapted to match the broadway esque style of the music arrangement.

Typically Broadway songs are structured, written and arranged in a less than conversational style and the larger than life arrangements resemble a more modernised  version of an operatic performance.

Alternatively Pop, rock, blues, country singers etc tend to adopt a more laid back casual approach to their vocal delivery due to the more conversational song writing styles in these genres of music.

In essence there vocal styling is based on a conversational approach to singing, this style approach can be used to create raw, in your face vocal deliveries and performances  that allow the individual character of each singers voice to be easily heard and developed.

In popular music styles its the individual character of the singers voice that the audience is drawn towards and identify with. This is why we can have a number of personal fave singers in our record collections, because each singers voice has its own individual charm, from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen- to Michael Jackson – Billy Joel or Elton John or Dave Grohl or from Whitney Houston to Mariah Carey, to Amy Winehouse to Beyonce etc these singers all understand how to make the most of their conversational singing style.

Vowel styling:

Another big difference between theatrical singing and conversational pop-rock vocal styles is how the singers in each genre approach there vowel shapes.

Opera singers tend to utilise the widest broadest purest vowel sounds and while they do employ subtle vowel modification to allow the voice to change registers the objective of a male opera singer is to retain a manly voice throughout his range. That’s why a male tenor opera singer dose not normally sing higher than a c5, because in order to sing higher they would have to modify the vowel sound further and in the process they would be forced to reduce the width and girth of their manly voice on the highest notes.

IE “Nessun dorma” performed by Luciano Pavarotti

In performance, the final “Vincerò!” features a sustained B4, followed by the final note, a sustained A4. One main difference between opera singers and musical theatre singers and of course pop singers is that typically a tenor opera singer is never required to sing anything higher than a mens high C (C5).

For female opera singers, the desired voice type is the soprano in particular the highest soprano voice is known as the coloratura soprano. Coloratura sopranos are capable of amazing superhuman feats. The voice is extremely agile, singing short passages that ascend as high as the 3rd F above middle C (and in a few cases even higher). A particularly fine example is Lucia in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. 

Theatrical singers employ a broad vowel sound (closely mirroring operatic vowel sounds) in order to produce a larger more dramatic vocal tone. How-ever the larger and broader your vowel shapes become the more difficult it becomes to sing in an extended chest voice, ( ie refer back to  the previous Luciano Pavarotti example)
When a theatrical singer is required to sing higher notes up around mens a#4 or ladies C5 etc typically the singer will start to employ a lighter voice and utilise a combination of head voice or even falsetto to further extend their vocal range. This produces a vocal tone that is softer and while it is a desirable effect for musical theatre it typically sounds very out of place in a pop or rock performance etc.

Pop singers tend to approach there vowel sounds as though they were using there every day speaking voice, and only tend to broaden the vowel shape when they require a larger sound ie holding a power note. Pop/ rock/ country/blues/metal  singers enjoy all-most total freedom in regards as to how they approach there vocal production. The only standard rule of thumb been that regradless of how you approach your vocal production  remember to ensure that your extended voice ie your high notes need to retain a solid connected sound to your chest voice.

The vocal requirements for popular music singers can often be more challenging ie a rock or pop singer maybe called upon to scream or sing full vocal passages above a mens c5 or C6  for women.

How you go about forming your vowel sounds and where you choose to place or position your sounds in your throat (vocal placement), are largely down to what works best for the singer, and best compliments there natural vocal style.

Here is the two biggest challenges that most theatrical singers face when learning how to make the transition from musical theatre to singing pop or rock, country etc.

A. Learning how to approach singing in a more conversational style. This means that particular emphasis needs to be placed on how they form there vowels and consonant sounds. If the vowel sounds are pronounced to broadly the sound will end up splating as the singer ascends higher into his or her range. While this condition is true for every singing genre generally popular music arrangements span the largest vocal ranges of any singing genre. So its very important that pop rock and metal singers learn how to modify there vowels properly to maintain a connected tone over music that spans a vocal range sometimes as wide as 3 and 1/2 octaves.

B. Learning how to smoothly extend their upper register by using  vowel modifications to retain a conversational quality to their voice, while maintaining a solid connection or mix with their chest voice. The latter requires regular strengthening and conditioning of the vocal chords to safely load the desired amount of healthy tension to the chord so that the voice doesn’t flip over into a light theatrical heady voice.

Both skills can be learnt given enough time and patience.

Here’s an exercise that will help you make the transition from theatrical singing to pop singing much easier.

Learning how to develop these new kinds of vocal co-ordinations will not only improve your ability to authentically sing in popular music styles but also provide your theatrical voice with greater power and provide you with additional options and choices to improve your vocal dynamics.

1. Starting on a comfortable note closest to your speaking voice. Vocalise on a “hey”  sound  using your chest voice and progressively increase the pitch of the start note until you are just below the point in your voice where the voice wants to break or flip over into falsetto. Don’t yell aim to perform the exercise on 60% of your full volume potential. Remember to avoid sounding overly dramatic or stiff, keep the tone and style of your voice relaxed and conversational!

2. Cut back on the air that is passing over your vocal chords and aim to reduce the size and the width and the weight of the sound until you can comfortably extend your “hey” sound one or two notes past your previous break area. When you’ve sang as high as you can comfortably without straining then go down the scale again until you reach your start pitch and relax and try to sing one or two notes lower than your starting  pitch. Repeat the exercise again as often as appropriate and rest for twenty minutes in between practises.

This exercise will teach you how to safely extend your chest voice range over time without straining. A strong chest voice is very important if you want to sing popular music and is the required foundation for acquiring the vocal strength and flexibility to produce enough mass in the vocal chords so that your higher notes (in head voice have a mix of chest and head and sound fully formed).

As always if you think you would benefit from one on one coaching to help make this transition easier then get in touch via phone, email, carrier pigeon etc.

Better singing everyone.

Constrictor Muscles, The benefits of learning to sing without waking up your neighbours

This Rapid Vocal Results, blog addresses, the mechanics of how constrictor muscles work and how they can negatively impact on our vocal production. Very fitting for my first post for 2016, as it’s a big subject lots to tackle and its vital need to know info for every singer!

Regardless of your current level of singing ability, I am sure you will have experienced the frustration of going all out to sing a middle or high note with power and as you begin to produce the note or the scream you notice a feeling of tightness or squeezing in the back of the throat and correspondingly your voice simultaneously looses much of its dynamics, volume, tone etc and begins to sound small and choked off? If it has happened to you before on stage, or during a performance you will know exactly what I am describing and the negative effects it can have on your confidence as a performer.

That’s what happens when you use the big bulky muscles of the throat to support your vocal production. When you incorrectly sing this way , you’re going to automatically wake up the neighbours i.e. the “Constrictor muscles”.

Waking up the constrictor muscles is not the best idea when you sing, because it automatically reduces the internal diameter of our throat and significantly reduces the size of the resonating spaces (think, various mini amphitheatres or sound board areas) inside our throat whose job it is to naturally amplify and add rich over tones  to our sounds when ever we vocalize.

Put simply; Incorrectly engaging the Constrictor muscles when we sing sets up a vicious circle where the outcomes are always going to be the same:

A. Decreased volume.  

B. Severely impaired or muted tone. The poor singer sounds like they are being strangled.

C. The brain will recognise this restriction as a blockage in our throat and will automatically send the singer a message to push more air to remove the blockage and that unwanted excess air has to be held back by the vocal chords who will forget immediately about their singing duties and instead will tense up to withstand a barrage of hurricane like wind blasting at our vocal cords.

I am sure that you will agree, that any or all of the above aggravating conditions are less than ideal for melodic vocal production! When any one or all of these conditions is present in a singers voice, it’s a sure sign that the constrictors muscles are been incorrectly engaged in the job of vocal production.

If your reading this post and find yourself identifying with this unhealthy vocal pattern, don’t worry it can be resolved and remedied with some simple exercises to retrain these pesky constrictors muscles to remain switched off while we sing.

Before we go any further and suggest a remedy to the above vocal problem. Lets first understand what the constrictor muscles are and more importantly the vital role they play in our everyday lives to ensure our survival.

What are constrictor muscles? Where are they located? Why do we have them?

In simplified terms the constrictor muscles can be found inside our pharynx. Because these constrictor muscles are much larger than the micro muscle groups that are responsible for producing all aspects of our pitch, tone, volume and vocal effects ie grit rasp etc. Singers often make the mistake of feeling a strong connection to these big muscles when they sing.

The pharynx is, one of the major components of the anatomy that makes up our neck. Best described as a fibro-muscular tube forming part of both the digestive and respiratory systems and also plays a major role in our speech and singing production.  The pharynx is divided into three major sections extending from the base of the skull to the cricoid cartilage of the oesophagus.

The nasopharynx, the oropharynx, and the hypopharynx (also known as the laryngopharynx) lie behind the cavities of the nasal passages, mouth, and larynx respectively. Various micro muscles support the function of the pharynx, and these muscles and nerves are continually sending tiny electrical impulses (communication signals) via both sensory and motor nerves connecting to our cervical spine.

Singers that have experienced problems with compression in the cervical vertebrae brought on through previous blunt force trauma episodes i.e. sports, car accidents, falls etc. Can find these blunt force traumas have negatively affected the healthy function of the nerve roots and the various blood vessels involved in regulating pharyngeal function this can have a big impact on the mechanics of a singers healthy vocal production. As both respiration and digestion are served by this area, serious problems can arise as a result of trauma to the neck, or degeneration and chronic dysfunction in the cervical spinal region. So if you’re a singer it’s really important to maintain your overall body health but especially back and neck function, and I definitely recommend that you include back and neck and laraynx stretches as part of your vocal warm up routine or back stage warm up pre gig.

The constrictor muscles and their location

There are six muscles which play a significant role in the function of the pharynx three of these muscles are circular and are constrictors, and three of these muscles are longitudinal (run lengthwise) in orientation and form an inner muscular ring. The three major muscles which constrict the pharynx are the superior pharyngeal constrictor (SC), the middle pharyngeal constrictor (MC), and the inferior pharyngeal constrictor (IC). The arrangement and position of these muscles has been compared to three stacked pots as they form a circular pattern one on top of the other.

Constrictor muscles are largely responsible for changing the shape and position of our throat to ensure food is correctly guided and moved to our oesophagus and later down to the stomach. In simple terms constrictor muscles ensure that,  food ends up in our stomach as opposed to in our wind pipe! The problem is these same muscles can wreak havoc on our singing voice if they are incorrectly used to support our vocal production.

The SC (superior pharyngeal constrictor) connects the lingula of the mandible (lower jaw bone) to the hamulus (hook-like end) of the medial pterygoid plate. The MC originates from the hyoid bone’s greater horn. The IC (inferior pharyngeal constrictor) is connected to the thyroid gland and nearby cartilage and continues along with the oesophagus. All three constrictors join in the middle to form the seam known as the pharyngeal raphe. There are gaps formed by these three muscles to allow for certain structures to pass through.

When we sing, we need to know that if we incorrectly squeeze on the big bulky muscles in our throat in an effort to falsely support our vocal production, we will automatically switch on and engage the series of constrictor muscles and it will be virtually impossible to maintain our desired and coveted open throat position for singing.

Please note creating and maintaining an open throat when we sing is the absolute key and cornerstone foundation to allow the voice to smoothly connect up between our chest and head voice etc. A closed throat chokes off our available vocal tone as well as our range.

Pharynx muscles can affect nerve function

This is important, if we incorrectly squeeze and rely on the big bulky muscles in our throat to reach higher pitches or to artificially increase the volume or tone of our voice we run the risk of squeezing or compressing our laryngeal nerves.

The internal laryngeal branch of the superior laryngeal nerve passes through a gap between the MC and IC (inferior pharyngeal constrictor) along with the superior laryngeal artery from the superior thyroid artery. Finally, below the IC, the inferior laryngeal nerve and the inferior laryngeal artery are granted passage through the muscle. Excessive stresses, strains, create inflammation, and can lead to dysfunction of the muscles in this region. This can have significant ramifications for nerve function and circulation both to the pharynx itself but also the larynx and the thyroid. Conversely, inflammation or dysfunction in either of the latter two structures can greatly affect pharyngeal function and severely restrict the healthy closures of our vocal chords.

There is never a good reason to apply excessive force or tension to your vocal chords because you run the risk of not only damaging the vocal chords themselves but also the nerves that carry out the communication signals to the chords, this can result in a number of extensive vocal ailments, that i won’t go into detail on right now but one of the worst is a partial vocal paralysis of the chord its self. This can be brought on by a number of conditions, including a trapped laryngeal nerve etc.

Tom Keifer from the eighties Rock Band Cinderella experienced a similar vocal condition to the one I have out lined here its can have a debilitating effect on the singing especially in the upper register, it can require expert surgery to remedy and can take years to recover even then most ear nose and throat surgeons will agree that a singer that has experienced a partial paralysis of the vocal cord will never regain 100% of their original vocal cord function.

While there are multiple contributors that can cause partial paraylis of the vocal cords, including viral damage, etc. Singers need to understand that we can help maintain the health of our voice and lessen the risk of experiencing a partial cord paraylis by ensuring that we learn to sing in a healthy way that dose not place excessive pressure on our laranygeal nerves.

Worst case scenario. A Partial paralysis of the vocal cord means that the micro muscles that are responsible for producing vocal cord mass and vocal cord closure are weakened and one side of the vocal chords operates less efficiently than the other and due to the partial paralysis one side of the cord is unable to handle the same work load as before, leaving the voice unbalanced and prone to vocal wobbles and speed bumps cracks in the note etc.

Vocal exercise to re-train the constrictors muscles to switch off

If you think that your incorrectly engaging your constrictor muscles when you sing and its preventing you from reaching the full potential of your singing voice try this simple exercise to turn them off.

 A. Starting on a low note four or five notes above your normal speaking voice vocalise on a lar sound, make sure you have  a wide smile and 3/4 dropped jaw and yawn into the sound.

Then while maintaining all three actions simultaneously ie the smile and the yawn and the lar sound simply let your voice slide down again back to the original pitch of your speaking voice.

Observe as you descend in pitch were you able to maintain your lar sound with your 3/4 dropped jaw yawn? If you found that the back of your throat was closing as you slid down in pitch. Simply add more yawn and combine it with your lar sound until you can complete the exercise while maintaining your open throat position.

Then proceed to start on the next highest comfortable pitch and repeat the exercise over again. It takes time to retrain the constrictor muscles to remain switched off when we sing. Be patient it takes time to re train this type of unhealthy vocal habit.

For best results i recommend that you use a piano or guitar or similar musical instrument to accurately produce your starting pitch for each vocal slide. If you don’t have access to a music instrument like the above, there are lots of free software piano programmes online that you can use to help to make these exercises fun and enjoyable.

If you are having difficulty getting your constrictor muscles to behave and think you would benefit from one on coaching to reduce the time it takes to train the correct habits and vocal co-ordinations your welcome to contact me, via phone or email.

Better singing everyone.


Conditioning and Performance Coach.

Turning a sterile performance into stunning. (Becoming a method singer)!

Hi everyone as a vocal conditioning and performance coach. I get to work with a lot of great singers of all ages and levels of ability. From absolute beginners to established recording artists and touring performers.

One question that seems to come up regularly among my new students and also with new aspiring artists, is:

How can I learn how to deliver a more powerful or electrifying , show stopping vocal performance? I want my audience to really sit up and connect strongly to my music.

The top singers from any musical genre, have the ability to simply make you believe and feel every word that they sing. These kinds of singers enjoy career longevity, ie they sell more records and book sold out tours. They also enjoy massive loyal fan bases that offset shallow -short lived fickle trends in music!

Chances are you can still recall where you were and what you were doing , when you first discovered that special singer or artist that seemed to reach right into your soul and connect so powerfully with you ,that they made you want to run out and buy there album or single straight away?

As a Singer. Thats the power of learning how to connect deeply to your emotions and allowing the emotions to seep into your vocal performance, ( put simply the vocal chords are an incredibly expressive instrument) capable of conveying not only a melodic message but also an emotional message to your audience. 

When singers learn how to tap into there emotions and use them as a performance tool.They are capable of deliverying a performance that not only sounds good but can capture the audiences collective hearts and imaginations!

If you’ve been following my previous blog’s then you will know that there are multiple components to master, in order to be able to deliver an authentic, electrifying, or compelling vocal performance. Regardless of your particular chosen music genre the vocal techniques and perfomance methodology are the same! 

Check out my previous blog’s to gain a good understanding of how the voice works including tips on how to make you a better singer.

1. Vocal Mechanics
First and foremost a singer needs to learn the correct vocal techniques to allow the vocal chords to vibrate freely when they sing on any pitch in there vocal range. This also requires a good understanding of how to engage your diaphragm to support your singing voice, to ensure that when you sing, that your using the correct minimum tension on the vocal chords balanced with the minimum amount of air passed over the chords so that the voice can resonate freely.

Typically if your a beginning singer and have had no previous singing tuition, most of my students learn to dramatically improve these two cordinations in the first 6-8 weeks of coaching.

Okay now that we’ve addressed the importance for the basic mechanics of the voice to be able operate freely and naturally.

We can move on to the 2nd component of how to learn to deliver powerful compelling vocal performances.

2. Becoming a method singer (Learning how to colour the voice with real emotions).
Put simply; great singers (share a lot in common with great actors). Both are entertainers, both draw on there ability to portray the full range of human emotions to deliver a compelling heartfelt performance. Both singers and actors have to allow themselves to become emotionally vulnerable, in front of an audience in order to deliver an authentic performance!

 To become a great singer we need to be able to draw on our full range of human emotions and
learn how to colour the voice with these emotions when we perform so that the audience is not just hearing our words they are literally feeling the corresponding emotions through our voice!

How- to tip for singers to improve there ability to convey emotions through there voice.

A. Never try to manufacture an emotion, when you sing.
ie if your singing a song that is sad try to let the sadness creep into your voice, (draw on your own past experiences)  and experiment with how much emotion you can add at the vocal chords with out over loading there ability to operate freely.

B. Use this exercise to experiment with all of your emotions, ie happy, sad, angry, excited, scared  etc. A good singer needs to be able to access the full range of there emotions.

C. Find a balance point that allows you to convey the desired emotion through your voice and still allow the vocal chords to operate freely and efficiently. This is important if you add too much emotion in your voice your central nervous system will believe you are feeling what you are telling your brain to feel and the vocal chords will respond accordingly.

This is not so good if you are over doing a sad emotion because you might trick your central nervous system into crying for real which will disrupt not only your vocal chords but also your breathing, this kind of excessive emotional overload will actually cause your vocal chords to loose there vocal coordination and prevent your voice from singing freely.

The same goes if your singing heavy rock . Dont over do the angry emotions etc.
(remember we want to add just enough of that authentic emotion) so the vocal chords transmit a healthy kind of angry energy and sound but we must avoid intentionally, exerting  excessive tension on the vocal chords because the voice will loose all ability to maintain its melodic edge.

The above exercise is really valuable to help you discover the just right amount of emotion you can add to your voice and still maintain your vocal freedom and vocal control. Introducing the right amount of balanced emotion to your voice has one additional performance benefit it actually stimulates and energises the vocal chords to become more flexible and your chords can produce additional vocal effects, that the audience can feel as much as they hear!

Method acting definition.

a technique of acting in which an actor aspires to complete emotional identification with a part, based on the system evolved by Stanislavsky and brought into prominence in the US in the 1930s. Method acting was developed by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg in particular, and is associated with actors such as Marlon Brando and Dustin Hoffman, etc.

Once you get really good at been able to call up your emotions to colour your voice you will begin to discover a whole new range of subtle variations that you can introduce into your vocal tone.  In other words you will have discovered new tonal colours that you can incorporate into your singing voice to improve your story telling capabilities and allow you to make stronger connections with your audiences.

As always if you think you need help to draw on your emotions while singing, or if your not sure if your doing the exercise correctly? Your welcome to email me, or call me with your questions.

Some singers will find this exercise easier to do than others. That’s because every singer is different we all have different vocal challenges that we need to over come in order to be able to sing and express ourselves freely.

Better Singing everyone.

How to perform, at your best during a singing competition or band audition

As an experienced vocal conditioning coach and artist development coach, I  often work with singers of all ages and music styles to help these students to develop there performing voice so that they can successfully compete in singing competitions. 

In fact over the years I’ve worked with and coached singers from NZ Idol and XFactor New Zealand. 

Now this article is not intended to go into great detail on every nuance of how to train and prepare to deliver a winning vocal performance for a singing competition. That would take too long. For those that are interested I provide a full artist coaching and development service, called “Audition King”. More details here https://www.rapidvocalresults.com/#!singing-audition-tuition/ctul

Essentially the Audition King service is a highly comprehensive Artist development programme that includes helping you to select audition songs that complement your natural vocal style and your vocal strengths. The singer receives expert performance coaching tips and guidance as we work line by line through the audition songs to ensure the best possible vocal delivery. The Audition King programme, also focuses on providing you with the tools required to become a professional level entertainer, including microphone handling techniques and how to set up eq mix on a vocal channel, how to act on stage, how to be yourself during the audition, how to exude the right kind of confidence to catch the judges eye etc.

Regardless of whether your looking to compete in a karaoke singing competition (down at your local bar), or whether your auditioning for a local band or whether you dream of competing with the nations best talent, to win a lucrative recording contract, like the prizes offered on a nationally televised talent show. There are ten main areas that you should focus on to help you deliver the very best performance you are capable of here’s a quick overview.

1. Song choice 

Before you do anything else making the right song choice for your voice is critical!

Select a song that fits the natural style of your voice. IE. If your voice is naturally low, then choose a song that show cases the strength you have in your low register.  If your voice is naturally high then the same strategy applies.

Try to follow the 80/20 rule.

Select a song that sits in the strongest part of your vocal register 80% of the time. It dose not make sense to choose a song that is too big for your current level of singing skill.

Tip don’t choose a ballad just because you think a slow song is easier to sing, often its the slower songs that require the most breath support and vocal consistency to deliver a show stopping performance.

2. Sing only what you know well.

Too often singers will listen to a song on the radio and think because they can hum a long to the song (or because they can sing it softly under there breath) that they can sing it just as easily in full voice during a real performance.

This is not always the case the only way to ensure you can deliver a great performance is to put the time in and practice the song at proper performance volume (ie in full voice) until the process of singing that song has become ingrained into your muscle memory. (This is why its much easier to sing your old favourite songs, because they almost sing themselves (muscle memory is developed) compared to the difficulty singers experience when they try to sing a new song for the first time in front of an audience.

3. Good singers even the professionals will only perform songs that they know they are capable of singing. Remember you can not fake vocal strength you either have it or you don’t. I’ve seen singers make inappropriate song choices (because its there favourite artist) and choose a song that’s obviously way to big for there voice! The result is that the singer delivers a bad performance and can even be traumatised by the experience! This kind of negative experience  can really knock your singing confidence and may take a long time to recover from!

4. Don’t forget to breathe through out your performance (it sounds obvious) but at all costs avoid holding your breath during guitar solos and music interludes, holding your breath while you wait for the vocal line to come back in is a sure fire recipe for a vocal melt down, this could take the form of poor timing missed lines, a break or crack in register or both. Learning how to breathe from the diaphragm is the only way to ensure that you correctly produce the right kind of air compression required to support your singing voice through out a performance.

5. Staying on pitch

Most beginner and intermediate level singers I’ve worked with initially require some work to develop a good sense of relative pitch. If your not sure whether you have any pitch problems then chances are you are not listening and paying close enough attention to your vocal production. 

If your not familiar with the term “relative pitch” refer to the link near the top of the page and read my blog article dedicated to that particular subject.

Training tip to improve your relative pitch: 

I recommend that you record yourself singing along to a backing track, using a smart phone app or a digital recording app like garage band etc  You can find  free backing tracks of your favourite popular songs on you tube etc. On playback pay close attention to your vocal recording and its ability to stay in tune with the main chords of the song. Ie dose your voice clearly follow the melody line of the song? Improving your awareness of “Relative Pitch” starts here.

6. How’s your acting skills?

Its not enough to just be a great singer these days, if you want to win over the crowd and the judges you need to become a confident performer. This is where body language comes into play. I’ve performed in front of large audiences, and on television and to be honest I still get the odd case of butterfly’s before show time!

But the trick is to use that nervous energy to your advantage. What dose your performing body language say about you? Are you happy to be there on the big stage and putting the audience at ease with your sense of confidence and control. Or are you unintentionally sending signs of discomfort and distress like you’d rather be any where but here?

Performing tip:

Like the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, develop a habit of practising your singing and performance moves in front of the mirror. Or even better set up a video camera and record your rehearsals. 

Pay particular attention to your body language and if you look stiff and uncomfortable while your singing chances are your voice will sound stiff and uncomfortable too!

7. Memorising lyrics

You can have the greatest voice but if you flub your lines then your going to score low points in any audition. A few years ago I was called up to sing for New Zealand’s only Van Halen tribute band called “5150” I had to learn and memorise 18 songs in six weeks! It was a major under taking and on the night it all came together bar one!. (Having breathed a big sigh of relief having nailed all of the challenging songs and never putting a foot wrong). We launched into Ice cream man and I realised as my vocal cue came up I had forgotten the first line in the opening verse and had to get my guitarist to provide me with a verbal reminder) Oh well no bodies perfect!

A. Write out your lyrics

B. Recite them as a poem or a story

C. Try and create pictures of the most exciting part of each lyric line in your head. These pictures will help you recall each passage.

D. Repetition listen to the song over and over again and speak the lyrics or sing them softly until you’ve created a muscle memory of how the song goes.

There’s nothing worse than been half way through a song and forgetting the lyrics!

8. Pre gig nerves (butterfly’s) 

Everybody has had them it can range from a slight flutter in the stomach right up to full on stomach cramps (at the extreme end of things).

A case of the Butterflys before stepping out on stage is natural. But its important to deal with them the right way to minimise the impact they have on your ability to deliver a strong vocal performance.

Performance tip: Breathe deeply and gently release all the pent up air from your lungs using a continuous sssssss sound.

Stretching can help most yoga stretches are very beneficial for singers.

I teach my students a modified form of these stretches called “singers yoga” The purpose of singers yoga is to help maintain a stress free environment in the areas of the body that are especially important for proper vocal production!

9. Rhythm  

Developing a strong sense of rhythm is super important for a singer because like every other player in a band we need to be able to count bars and measures to ensure we start our vocal lines on time and finish on time. No audience or judge wants to hear a great voice that’s out of time with the rest of the band.

Once again most beginner and intermediate singers require some work to improve there ability to count time. Its much easier to sing along with a karaoke backing track relying on the highlighted cues to keep you in time with the song, it becomes much harder and more challenging compared to counting time and memorising instrument cues when you perform with a live band (to ensure your singing in time with a band)!

10. Developing a confident performance mindset 

Henry Ford said it best “whether you think you can or whether you think you cant, your right”!

Visualise the positives of delivering a great confident performance. Obsessing over a difficult part of the song for too long actually increases your anxiety levels and increases the probability that something will go wrong!

Performance tip:

Develop a simple mantra for your self that you can repeat over and over again, at times of stress to help increase your confidence and reduce pre gig nerves here’s some examples:

I feel good and I sound good and if I give my best performance tonight I will be happy!

This is my time to shine I’ve done the hard work now lets go out there and have fun!

If you have a big audition coming up or your entering a singing talent competition follow the above tips and remember there are two things you absolutely cant fake on the night!

1. Muscle memory know your songs inside and out. 

2. Vocal Strength (put in the time to strengthen and condition your voice)

If you would like to learn more about any of the topics we’ve discussed today or have a private discussion inregards to the challenges you experience with developing your performing voice then, send me an email or give me a call.

Better singing everyone.


The #1 Golden rule for building a power house singing voice

Building a powerhouse connected singing voice.

I’m a vocal coach that specialises in working with singers to help them strengthen and condition there voice to improve not only there singing technique but also their vocal power and (tone) and of course range.

I thought I would share with you a golden rule that beginner, intermediate ,even professionals singers often forget or neglect to follow, that can really help to reduce the time it takes to develop or maintain a powerhouse singing voice.

If you don’t follow this golden rule be warned the consequences will catch up with your voice sooner or later! This can really impact on your ability to build a powerful rock metal, or pop singing voice. Even worse your voice could actually loose its power and the strongest part of your natural voice your (chest voice) will begin to break down which will make it harder for you to connect your chest and head voice into one long powerful connected register.

This one tip will literally save you days weeks months even years of vocal frustration, because when you go to scream or belt out high notes (there is no way to fake vocal strength, you either have it or you don’t)!

Let me start off by pointing out the obvious, not everyone that wants to become a singer is born with big thick vocal chords that can support a big sound. If your lucky enough to be born with big thick chords and you want to be a singer then good for you.

Providing you receive some form of correct vocal training and coaching early on to learn how to safely strengthen, and condition your voice your vocal growth and progress can be very rapid and assured. 

However if your dream is to be a singer and you were born with a weak voice and or under-developed vocal chord strength. Then singing even an easy song can be a real challenge and you will struggle to sound good or stay on pitch.

How do you know if you fall into this category of singers?

1. Your voice probably cracks or wobbles in pitch when you sing higher or lower than your natural speaking voice range. 

2. You sound good singing the lower notes of a song but cant hit the high notes without using falsetto (and it just doesn’t sound right).

3. Your voice lacks that radio friendly tone and can sound thin airy and breathy or unfocused.

4. You struggle to hear your voice over a band or even when accompanied by a piano or acoustic guitar.

5. Your voice blows out quickly and becomes tired after 1 to three songs and you loose the ability to hit high notes the voice suddenly disappears altogether in that part of your range.

6. Voice lacks power when you sing and you have to strain to make a bigger sound.

If you found yourself nodding and identifying with any of the above check points.

Don’t give up, if you really want to become a singer and your dream is to have a career in music you can!!! It just means that initially you will have to put more effort into strengthening and conditioning these under-developed singing muscles.

First of all everyone’s voice is different no two sets of vocal chords are exactly the same size or length,  and of course the resonating spaces in singers also differ greatly in size and dimensions, ie throat, pharynx, windpipe, jaw shape,  sinus head cavities, upper chest resonating spaces etc. 

If you want to learn about the various elements that combine to determine and influence the unique identity of a singers sound. Refer to my earlier blog article:

If your new to singing and have a weak voice that cant hit the high notes or suffer from any of the vocal challenges I listed above. Then you can really do yourself a favour by following the #1 golden rule to reduce the time it takes to develop a powerhouse voice. 

Spend at least 15-20 minutes of each vocal exercise session on exercises to develop and strengthen your low notes and upper notes of your chest register. 

Sing or hum a simple scale ie a major scale DO, RE, ME, FA, SO, LA, TE, DO, on all of the vowels ie, lar, la, ee, o, u.

Start the exercise on your lowest comfortable speaking note, and repeat each scale position ten times, before moving on to start the scale a semitone higher than your original starting note. Only move on to a higher scale position when you can sing all the notes in the scale without wobbling and your voice is able to stay connected and there are no breaks or cracks. Once you can do this correctly, then continue up to the next highest starting postion and so on. Only sing as high as you can and still remain connected!

If your voice breaks into falsetto then stop and start the exercise again lower down the scale where you can stay connected! 

(If your not sure what a scale is and not sure how to perform this exercise properly) I highly recommend taking a lesson or two to learn how to develop your voice safely and correctly. If you don’t do the exercise correctly you can expect little or no progress and lots of frustration!

Be patient don’t rush through these exercises they are the foundation for making you into a stronger singer! (if you want to scream or belt out high notes) with power then you need to strengthen and condition your chest voice to properly promote a fully connected vocal sound. Otherwise you will find it next to impossible to connect your chest voice and head voice into one long seamless register).

There are no short cuts (for singers with weak chest voices to be able to connect up the chest to the head voice correctly)! If you avoid strengthening up your chest voice your high notes will flick over into falsetto every time!

Alternatively, If your an experienced or professional singer that is experiencing loss of power in your chest register or your finding the gap is growing wider between your chest and head register the solution to remedy the vocal weakness is going to be the same. Follow the #1golden rule for building and maintaining a powerhouse voice. 

Sirens are a highly effective exercise for reducing the gap between chest and head and helping to maintain and build the strength of the connection between both the chest and head voice.

Once again if your not sure how to perform a siren safel and correctly i recomend taking a lesson to learn how to get the best results from this exercise.

Note if your a singer with a naturally strong low chest voice, and you are having problems developing the conection between your chest and  head voice register, I will cover this topic separately in an up coming blog.

Put simply if you want to develop robust power in your voice and produce more tone and weight into your higher notes and screams then you need to remember to build your voice from the ground up. Strengthen up your chest register and spend time working on specific exercises designed to safely stretch and extend the range of your chest voice. The higher you can sing in chest the easier it becomes to connect into a solid head voice. Once you’ve built this connection you can begin to really strengthen up the power of your head voice screams.

Singers with big powerful voices that produce warm rich tone even into there highest notes, ie Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Sebastian Bach (ex Skid Row) Axl Rose (Guns N Roses) or Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) Melissa Etheridge or Bonnie Tyler and Beyonce Knowles, etc have one thing in common with each other. All of these singers were either born with strong chest registers or they trained to condition and build the strength in the lower, middle and upper chest notes first.

The mechanics of how high notes in head voice are produced. 

In order to sing higher notes above your natural chest voice range . Your vocal chords will begin to thin out so that they can stretch and create higher pitches ( known as head voice). Singers with powerful rock voices are able to scream and take more of a full bodied sound through into their higher notes, because they have taken the time to build up the strength and the mass of the vocal chords in the lower and middle and upper chest register. As the vocal chords begin to thin out the added size and thickness or (mass of the vocal chords) are able to thin down and still have enough mass to produce a fuller sound. 

Reminder use it or loose it!

Singers that ignore the development of there lower registers will end up with a big problem later on. 

Firstly low notes will lack power, and will have little or no resonance (warmth), this means the voice will sound breathy weak and wobbly (no singer wants that)!

Secondly, high notes will sound thin (because the required muscle mass of the vocal chords will be lacking) and when the chords thin down to produce your head voice screams the result will be a shrill tone that nobody will want to listen too.

Many professional singers as they get older develop noticeable weaknesses in there upper chest register because they neglect to maintain the strength of this part of there voice, they create a bad habit where they begin connecting into there head voice at a lower place in there range. IE Sebastian Bach from Skid Row and Rob Halford from Judas Priest begin to develop noticeable problems in connecting there upper chest voice to there head voices, if you don’t maintain the strength of the upper chest register you will begin to notice that the place where you would normally connect into your head voice becomes a lot harder to get too.

The answer is simple if you want to develop a powerhouse voice and take a bigger fuller sound into your high notes and metal screams then remember to spend sometime during your vocal exercise sessions to strengthen and extend the range of your chest voice. Not only will you develop a powerful mid range voice. This will also help you build a solid connection into your head voice and establish a powerful connected tone from your lowest note right through to your highest note just like the pros do!

Better singing everyone.

If you want to learn more about the topic we covered or discuss your voice with me email:  paule@rapidvocalresults.com

Connected Voice “The vocal equivalent of Chasing the dragon”

The Connected Voice “The vocal equivalent  of chasing the dragon”

When I was a young kid growing up. I was hooked, on listening to my favourite rock, metal singers.  I was always blown away by the power they had in there upper register, I mean these singers, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Brian Johnston (AC/DC) Robert Plant (Led Zep) etc, seemed to have an un earthly ability to scream and sing with grit and rasp through out their entire range even into their highest screams!

After long hours of listening to the records and struggling everyday, unsuccessfully to hit even the lowest notes with power, ( my voice was so weak every time I tryed to sing anything four notes higher than my normal speaking voice ( my vocal chords would automatically jump into falsetto) My Mum Dad and sister all told me to stop making that horrible racket  and told me not too kindly i might add, that my voice wasn’t made to sing like that!

Needless to say I became really frustrated with my singing voice, and vowed somehow, someday that I would discover the secret these singers use to make it easier to scream and belt out high chest voice notes with ease. Even more importantly I made a promise to my self that one day I would be able to sing those same notes with power too! During the eighties and early nineties there seemed to be no shortage of amazing rock singers in the USA and in the UK and many other parts of the world  that had these amazing powerful voices and high vocal ranges.

I became obsessed with learning there secrets, I watched loads of videos of my favourite singers performing live and paid close attention to there vocal technique ( One thing they all had in common was how easy these singers made it look when they hit the high notes)!

(During this time) When I tryed to sing any kind of high note it felt like I had an elephant sitting on my chest and I experienced a massive amount of resistance at my vocal chords ( my chords felt like they would never stretch any further) and no matter how much I experimented with different jaw positions or changed how I breathed or tryed out ridiculous facial expressions my voice still sounded weak and tiny! Clearly using this kind of approach to developing a powerful voice was not the answer! I quickly came to the conclusion that I must be missing the vital secret  but what was it?

After about six months or so of practising everyday, I wasn’t making any improvements at all! I could only hit high notes in a weak breathy falsetto ( definitely not the powerful rock sound I was after)!

About this time I met a young singer (we will call him) Westie. He was barely 18, we both had discovered this amazing band TNT they were from Norway, they played heavy melodic rock,  there singer Tony Harnell, had the most amazing voice on the planet, he had grit and power and could scream at the top of his lungs and just when you thought he couldn’t possibly sing any higher he would scream out even more. At that time Westie was struggling to sing anything over about eight notes above his speaking voice without cracking into falsetto I was in good company or so i thought…

Six months  later I ran into Westie again he had a big smile on his face he literally couldn’t stop grinning. We both had a mutual love of melodic metal, (Judas Priest), (Pantera) (Slaughter) ,(TNT) etc. Except that he could now sing the high notes with a connected powerful voice!!!!!!

Just like my favourite rock star hero’s, Westie, had developed amazing power and tone and had dramatically increased his vocal range over six months. I was amazed and envious (when he sang or screamed he sounded every bit as good as the rock singers we both idolised)! 

I asked him how he did it ? Westie kind of shrugged and said I don’t really know, I just relax my throat  and it kinda feels different and my voice just opens up and all of a sudden i can sing much much higher and it all fells connected! 

Little did I know back then that Westie was referring to the sensation of experiencing a full connection (or connected voice)

This was the turning point for me as a singer, because having witnessed the dramatic transformation and rapid vocal results that are possible when you master this technique. In six months Westie had gone from having eight usable notes in his voice to a little over three and a half octaves of connected voice! 

So do you want to know the secret to unlocking your full vocal range and making it much, much easier to increase your power and hit those high notes with ease?


Here’s how it works….

Your chest voice is only capable of stretching so far before your vocal chords become so tight and stiff that they loose the flexibility for the chords to vibrate freely. Freely vibrating chords produce a rich warm pleasing tone to your chest voice. There comes a point where your vocal chords wont stretch any more (ie there is no give in the chord to stretch any further)! At this point you loose all melody in your voice and you are simply yelling like you would when you are cheering on your favourite sporting team! (this is very harmful to your chords and sustaining this kind of vocal output causes trauma to your chords (in the short term) they will swell up,  in the long term abuse leads to nodules and other serious vocal disorders! For more info checkout my blog  Shouting or singing?

Your head voice is by contrast that higher pitched part of your voice that on its own sounds thin and whiny ( a little child on a playground swing yelling at the top of there lungs “weeeee mommy look at me” hopefully you get the idea?. The higher sound is produced because the vocal chords have lengthened out and have been thinned down to produce a whole new vocal register which is more bell like in tone because its largely made up of higher frequencies, (referred to as head voice).

Singing in a unconnected head voice is relatively easy for most people but it lacks power and is often mistaken for falsetto because the two sound remarkably similar to the ordinary ear. It becomes more confusing for a singer because as they slide down from head voice and try to connect into chest voice (95% of beginner or intermediate level singers) will experience a disconnect or a cracks in there voice. check out my blog’s to learn more on this and related topics 

Free blog articles on how to produce rapid vocal results.

So hopefully we’ve now established that continuing to sing in two completely disconnected vocal registers will not provide you with any noticeable improvments in vocal quality or power!

Here is how to establish a fully connected voice:

The answer is very simple.

All of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilages  that are responsible for creating pitch, volume, etc are all housed inside your larynx ( Adams apple located in the middle of your throat) its visible in men and not usually visible in a women. When you swallow you will feel the larnyx move up and down on its own.

So as you vocalise or sing on a scale you need to learn how to make your sounds with out disturbing the larynx (so that it is free to move on its own). (ie as you ascend in pitch the various muscles etc inside the larynx  automatically adjust the thickness and length of the vocal chords. As you near the end of your chest voice register, the larynx will automatically begin tilting forward, (this sensation) will feel like the larynx is moving around, the key is to remain relaxed during this process and let the larynx complete the tilt on its own (this is often referred to by vocal coaches as “Bridging” or in classical terms its called the “Passagio” we will refer to it simply as a larangeal tilt or laranyx tilt.

But what happens with most beginner and intermediate level singers is that they incorrectly squeeze around the larynx either because they are uncomfortable with the sensation of movement, or because the cartilages and muscles that operate this tilt mechanism initially lack the strength to fully complete the laryngeal tilt on their own, (the inexperienced singer incorrectly squeeze’s with the muscles in the throat, as if to apply force, to push the larynx into the tilt position). This excessive force results in a very weak chest to head voice connection because the laryngeal tilt is not in proper alignment or correct position within the throat! 

As a vocal conditioning and strengthening coach I teach you the correct techniques to make it easier to allow this laryngeal tilt to reach its proper alignment position.

But for those of you that cant afford access to one on one coaching, or want to figure it out on your own, here’s a quick run down of the key areas that need to focus on inorder to allow the laryngeal tilt to fully develop.

1. Posture / You must have correct posture, stand up straight shoulders down, reduce any un wanted tension in the neck, back and chest.  

2. Diaphragmatic breathing/ proper breath support is key for preventing unwanted excess air from passing through the chords and disturbing the process of the vocal chords allowing them to automatically stretch and thin out before during and after the laryngeal tilt  coordination. Breathe in nice and deep and remember to relax the abdominal muscles as you breathe in and as you do so expand your rib cage to 3/4 open postion and hold that expanded ribcage position for the duration of the note or scale you are singing. (this is your diaphragmatic support).

3. Vocal tract placement / maintain a wide open throat 3/4 yawn position. (this helps you to hear the connection and feel it more easily when it happens. *yawning helps to raise your soft pallet up so the chest and head sounds can mix more easily.

4. Vowel sounds, vocalise on a bright sounding ah ( like a doctor tells you to say ahh)

5. Vocalise on the ah sound using 1/4 volume ( this helps to initially reduce stress and unwanted tension in your neck, jaw, and chest and back, to provide the freedom and stretch needed for the larynx muscles to co-ordinate the laryngeal tilt. 

With time and practise the muscles responsible for coordinating the tilt will get stronger and it will become easier and easier to complete the full larynx tilt and achieve maximum connection strength.

Once your larynx can fully tilt to the correct alignment position, you will gain range and vocal quality almost instantly. It will take some time spent in ” the vocal gym” to improve the flexibility and strength of your chords) but for the average person you will be amazed by the rapid vocal results you will achieve in just a short time of training.

Safety message !!!!!!!!

This is very important your larynx is an incredibly delicate mechanism capable of great feats of vocal athleticism. It takes time for these muscles and cartliages to develop the strength to fully complete the laryngeal tilt  (or larynx tilt) Be patient don’t force it if the larynx doesn’t fully tilt to the correct position on its own it means the muscles that control the tilt action need to be safely conditioned using specialised vocal isolation exercises to improve there strength and flexibility. Do not use brute muscular force to complete the tilt action!!! you can seriously damage your voice as, well as tear the larynx mechanism muscles!

If your finding it difficult to achieve the proper connection, email me or call me and arrange a time for some expert guidance and coaching so that you can learn how to let the larynx perform the tilt safely.

Better singing everyone! 


I dont really sound like that do I?

Hi everyone, this blog is going to tackle the topic of how our hearing works and why our ears can trick us into thinking that our singing voice sounds better than it actually is! Hence the often heard exclamation “I don’t really sound like that do I”?

If you watch TV talent competitions,  I’ am sure you’ve witnessed one or two train wreck singing auditions? You know the ones where the hapless singer is so convinced that they are the next big singing talent etc. Typically the singer struts into the judging room and exudes huge amounts of confidence, only to be shot down in flames during their audition by the judges! 

The first response from the contestant is usually wide eyed astonishment that the judges don’t recognise their singing talents. “OMG what do you mean I cant sing”? I’ve heard me sing plenty of times I sound amazing ! At this point the judges usually share some painful truths, like Dog that was really bad, or that was pitchy, etc. The contestants are often so unprepared for these comments that they storm off the stage vowing to go it alone and become a mega star on there own! Its not until the contestant finally gets the opportunity to view the play back of their audition that they finally hear an accurate representation of how they really sound when they are singing. So why do our ears play tricks on us? Why dose our own voice sound sweeter and richer to our own ears?

If you’ve ever heard a recording of your own voice – on a voice mail or from a family video, etc, You will already know that the sound you hear in your head when you speak or sing is completely different to the sound that is heard by everyone else in the room. Why is that, and why do we tend to prefer the voice we hear in our heads?

For most people, there are few things that are more painful than hearing a recording of their own voice. We often don’t sound like we think they should.  The sound captured from raw recordings usually contains more treble frequencies and the actual sound of the voice is thinner, higher and doesn’t match up with how we sound in our own heads!.  

So, are our ears playing tricks on us? Maybe the microphone and recording is wrong? 

Well unfortunately the raw recording doesn’t  lie! The way we think we sound isn’t how we really sound to everyone else.  

How we hear and perceive our own voice is down to how the sound waves travel through our inner ear and how our ears interpret the additional internal vibrations that are bouncing around our chest cavities and inside our skulls 

Every sound we hear—cars driving, bees buzzing, people talking, and audio recordings—can all be attributed  to the waves of pressure moving through the air. Our outer ears “pick up” these sound waves and funnel them into our head through the ear canal. They strike the ear drum, which starts vibrating, and those vibrations travel to the inner ear, where they’re translated into signals that can that can be sent via the auditory nerve to the brain for interpretation.


The inner ear doesn’t  just get stimulated only by external sound waves coming down the ear canal. The ear also picks up on vibrations happening inside the body (resonance), and it’s a combination of these two things that makes up the sound you hear when you sing and talk.

When you speak, vibrations from your vocal cords resonate in your throat and mouth, and some get transmitted and conducted by the bones in your neck and head. The inner ear responds to these just like any other vibrations, turning them into electrical signals and impulses sending them to the brain. When you speak, your inner ear is stimulated both by internal vibrations in your bones and by the sound coming out of your mouth and travelling through the air and into the ears.

This combination of vibrations coming to the inner ear by two different paths gives your voice (as you normally hear it) a unique character that is not present in other conducted by air sounds, In particular, your bones enhance deeper, lower-frequency vibrations and give your voice a fuller, bassier quality that’s lacking when you hear it on a recording.

“When you hear your own voice as you talk, you’re really hearing multiple sound sources at once,” You’re hearing the sound that’s coming out of your mouth,. but you’re also hearing the sound bouncing around inside your own skull, which is conducted by your flesh and bones directly to your inner ear.”and the vibrations or resonance that is been amplified in the resonant spaces present in both your body and head. As singers, this is particularly useful because with practice we can learn to produce additional body and head resonance (vibrations) to colour our voices also referred to as improving our mix!

Flesh, (muscle tissue) etc, is better at transmitting low frequencies than higher ones, which makes you think your voice sounds lower than it does to other people.

How does my hearing work? Skip this bit, if you dont want to delve deeper into the science of how hearing works and how to prevent hearing loss)

Human Inner Ear

The outer part of the ear (called the pinna) channels sound travelling in the air into the ear canal. Some higher pitch sounds are enhanced by the shape of the ear canal as they reach the ear drum. Sound is transformed into mechanical vibration at the ear drum.

The eardrum is attached to a chain of three hearing bones that act as a lever enhancing sounds, while transferring the signal through the middle ear to the inner ear. The third bone in this series of middle ear bones is called the (stapes), and it is attached to the oval window, a thin tissue covering and entry point to the fluid-filled inner ear (the cochlea).

The cochlea is a snail-shaped tube within the skull that contains sensory hearing cells. These sensory cells are situated on a flexible membrane tissue – the basilar membrane. When the oval window vibrates the basilar membrane and sensory hearing cells are displaced.

Two of the important sensory hearing cells are the outer hair cells and the inner hair cells. Outer hair cells act like a biological amplifier/attenuator, boosting soft sounds and dampening loud sounds. Inner hair cells transfer sound information to the auditory nerve.

The auditory nerve transfers sound information to various brainstem and auditory cortex regions in the brain so that information can be processed and sounds can be interpreted and identifed.

Common Problems with our Hearing System

Conductive Hearing Loss

An excessive build-up of ear wax in the ear canal can reduce sound transmission and hearing in an ear. An Ear wax blockage is best treated by an Ear Specialist, Ear Nurse Specialist or trained Audiologist. Gently swabbing the inner ear with a cotton bud or similar made for purpose item can help you to reduce the wax build up. Note that swimmers are typically prone to large build ups of ear wax, if your a singer and you swim as part of your fitness regime i recomend that you invest in some wax ear plugs and a swimmers cap to keep them firmly in place.

The presence of fluid behind the ear drum (otitis media or ‘glue ear’) can cause hearing loss by reducing movement of the ear drum and middle ear hearing bones. Although this condition usually resolves within ten weeks without treatment, advice should be a General Practice physician.

Otosclerosis is the abnormal growth of the hearing bones in the middle ear. Usually the stapes becomes fixed to the oval window and interferes with sound transmission into the inner ear. Otosclerosis is sometimes treated by surgery or through the use of hearing aids.

Singers that are experiencing some form of hearing loss either through a genetic condition or through enviromental factors can learn to adjust and use body referencing* (the system of determining pitch through closely monitoring the body resonace) ive worked sucessfully  with a number of singers with noticable hairing impairments and taught them to how to improve their ability to reference picth using this Particular method.

Sensory Hearing Loss

Inner ear sensory hearing cells may be malformed or become damaged.

Outer hair cells, deteriorate over time so that only about 70% are intact by 70 years of age. This can result in reduced hearing of high pitch sounds.  I recomend that anyone who regulary exposes there ears to loud sound sources over 70db should invest immediately in hearing protection devices. Once the hairs have been bent over or effectively damaged hearing loss will ensue!

Early signs of hearing loss include experiencing high pitched ringing sounds in your ears, especially apparent after atending loud concerts etc!

If your a singer and or musician  you dont need me to tell you how important your hearing is to enable your ability to sing in key and perform on pitch!

(Authors note) I have been singing and performing for over thirty years now with loud bands, and my hearing is about 98% entact! My hearing has been preserved because i follow two basic rules, every reheasal i use ear plugs ( i use potentiated ear plugs these are special ear plugs that are designed to reduce noise levels but still allow you to hear a full range of high ,mid,bass frequencies). Failing that ordinary foam ear plugs from the chemist, or from industrial health and safety shops are a must for loud rehearsals! Heres an idea if your practising that loud ask the band to turn down (too many musians end up with permanent ringing in their ears also know as tinnitus). 2nd rule always wear ear plugs, or other hearing protection devices at Nightclubs and music concerts or anywhere where you are continually exposed to loud sound sources of 70DB (decibels )or greater. I have even been known to disapear into a toilet and grab some toilet paper and fashion some make shift ear plugs for impromtu events where there are excessive amounts loud music or loud environments! Ie stock car racing etc.

Exposure to excessive noise will accelerate damage to outer hair cells causing a greater degree of hearing loss!

Damage to inner hair cells can occur due to excessive noise, and also from ear disease or degenerative conditions. These inner hair cells also contribute greatly to our sense of body balance, so there are multiple reasons to safe guard your hearing!

Taking precautions now to preserve your hearing may seem very un-rock n roll . But its the only way to ensure that you can enjoy a life time of hearing the full range of the frequencies that make up our musical spectrum!

If you choose to ignore the above advice and continue to expose your ears to excessive loud noise and unfiltered noise abuse! Then the likely hood is that you will investing in a hearing aid in the near future (no BS that’s telling you like it really is).

Hearing aids are most effective at compensating for reduced function of outer hair cells, which is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. If the function of inner hair cells is very poor then a cochlear implant may provide better hearing ability. How ever many types of hearing aides artifically amplify sounds and they do not pick up the full range spectrum of sound frequencies that our ears can detect, this means the sound is metallic sounding and very atrifical / not ideal for musicians who rely on their ears to make a living. 

Drop me a line if you have any questions or want to learn more about the system of using body referencing* to improve your sense of pitch.

Rapid Vocal Results come through a combination of hard work and understanding the science of which vocal exercises work best to stimulate chord growth for your voice! Your hearing is super important dont take it for granted if you really want to reduce the time it takes to grow your voice you need to be able to hear and feel when your vocal chords are vibrating fully this way of vocalising is the fastest way to stimulate the growth of your vocal chords.

Better singing everyone.

Off the shelf singing programmes vs customised coaching, which one is right for me?

Hi everyone, as a vocal conditioning and strengthening coach. I often receive emails, from singers, that are struggling to stay motivated and have become disappointed or frustrated because there voice, is not developing as fast they want it too. These singers often ask me to recommend a good off the shelf “learn to sing programme” that would help them to speed up their vocal development.

Whether your an absolute beginner or a seasoned singer / performer. Every singer will experience some frustration in regards to the time it takes  your vocal chords to respond to the proper training exercises before they measurably improve their strength and vocal flexibility.


No too voices are built the same, refer to my earlier blog entitled  “Can anybody learn to sing?”. The voice is a muscle and in this case the muscles that are responsible for creating pitch, and volume and range are comprised of tiny micro muscle groups. These muscles require specific targeted exercises in order to isolate the correct micro muscles to stimulate improved strength ie: (growth).

If your serious about reducing the time it takes to develop your voice, keep this phrase in mind “The voice is a muscle”. It requires a customised vocal strengthening and conditioning programme to obtain Rapid Vocal Results. 

There are some well designed home study singing programmes on the market, but they are catering for a particular segment of singers, and are essentially guaranteed to generate some stunning customer testimonials, but they wont work for severely undersized voices, here’s why! 

Singers who are born with well above average thickness and length in there vocal chords, (the lucky 10% of the population) will find that the muscles that make up there voice will respond well to any type of structured vocal exercise programme. In fact these kinds of singers seem to make effortless gains in range and power with out having to really work at it. These singers will experience satisfying vocal gains from any off the shelf learn to sing programme.

The remaining 90% of singers fall into a number of categories, which will quickly determine there genetic potential for their own personal vocal growth.

Remember I said earlier  “No too voices are built the same”?

Off the shelf vocal coaching programmes  are designed to target singers that have at least average or above average thickness and strength in there vocal chords. This natural strength is required at the onset of training to ensure the right muscles are worked out and the correct technique is performed to stimulate and encourage the desired vocal muscle growth.

Singers who are born with slightly under average vocal chord thickness, length and strength ( 30%), can still obtain significant vocal improvement in there range and vocal power. Remember your vocal growth results are all dependent on how thick your vocal chords are and how much tension your chords can withstand and how much you are able to improve the chords flexibility in-order to stretch to reach higher notes. These types of singers can achieve satisfactory results from a home study vocal exercise programmes but usually require additional one on one coaching to fine tune their vocal technique and ability to correctly isolate the singing muscles to stimulate proper growth and development.

The remaining 60% of beginner or intermediate singers are the focus of this particular blog.

These are the singers that work harder than anybody else, have probably purchased a number of home study learn to sing programmes, but always seem to fall short of achieving real break through’s and improvements to there singing or screaming voice. 

These singers ( i will refer to as hard gainers) thats the term given to body builders that lack th e natural size or genetics to quickly build muscle or put on muscle mass, will achieve little or no real vocal improvement through a home study singing programme. Put simply there vocal apparatus lacks the basic minimum strength and flexibility required to perform the exercises properly with out straining (thus they will end up only strengthening the big bulky false muscles that are used incorrectly in singing and receive little or no actual real vocal progress.).

Here’s the NO BS part.

These singers (hard gainers), are born with below average strength and thickness and length of there vocal chords. They could also be subject to medical or breathing disorders that can make singing more of a challenge. Put simply the vocal chords and tendons and ligaments that make up the voice are undersized and or underdeveloped. For these singers there is no quick or easy fix to magically transform an underdeveloped voice into a world class voice.

But before you throw in the towel completely and take up another vocation perhaps knitting? Here’s some ideas on how to reduce the time it takes to develop your singing voice to its full potential!

Find a vocal coach, that can provide you with a thorough vocal diagnostic service. Refer to my blog “The million dollar question, that every new singer wrestles with!”

If your one of those singers out there that purchased an off the shelf singing programme and puts in a lot of study and regular practise but your voice seems to make little or no progress. I humbly suggest that you find yourself a knowledgeable vocal coach and get some skype coaching or face to face coaching instruction to target the problem areas. 

Always start with a full vocal diagnostic session, this will help you to gain a clear understanding of what your future vocal growth potential is and the customised vocal gym programme you need to follow to really kick start and stimulate your vocal growth.

As a vocal strength and conditioning coach. I have helped a number of less than gifted singers over the years to achieve there vocal performance goals, through customised vocal training programmes that are designed to target and isolate the underdeveloped vocal chords, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments that make up the voice. 

Essentially if your born with below average strength and sized vocal chords, it takes time and patience to re balance the voice, through vocal resistance training and flexibility exercises, this process is combined with neurologically designed exercises to encourage the correct muscle co-ordinations to take place to make singing easier. There are no short cuts but the training programmes are fun, challenging and exceptionally rewarding for my students.

Buying an off the shelf home study programme can help you learn better technique, and provide you with a foundation of the basics but if your serious about obtaining Rapid Vocal Results, find your self a knowledgeable vocal coach that has experience growing undersized voices!  

Then be prepared to sweat it out in the vocal gym!

Please feel free to email me to learn more about my Rapid Vocal Results, strengthening and conditioning system.

Better singing everyone.

Perfect Pitch or Relative Pitch or close enough to it?

What is perfect pitch?

Absolute pitch (AP), widely referred to as perfect pitch, is a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.

What is Relative Pitch?

Relative Pitch tells you how pitches relate to one another to create the language of music. Another way to explain this would be to say that you understand and can follow the distance between two or more pitches to understand how chords and melodies and harmonies are made.

While not every body is capable of developing Perfect pitch, 99% of a healthy population is capable of developing reliable Relative pitch. 

As a vocal coach. I often work with beginner and intermediate level singers, that experience noticeable difficulty in-regards to been able to sing in tune and stay on pitch.  These students have often been referred to incorrectly as tone deaf.

If you’ve read my previous blog’s you will already be familiar with my unique approach to developing a students voice . If the student is serious about fast tracking there vocal development. I always recommend that our first session spent together includes a full vocal diagnostic. This, Vocal Diagnostic Session includes a series of special exercises to determine which muscle co-ordinations are assisting there vocal production and serves to identify any unhealthy muscle behaviours or bad techniques that are preventing the voice from performing freely.  

Pitch problems are a serious issue for many singers, regardless of what’s causing it. No audience in there right mind will enjoy a performance where the artist repeatedly sings sharp or flat.

There can be many different reasons why students struggle to sing in key or correctly match pitch. This can include a variety of hearing disorders, and or  bad vocal technique, but more often than not the most common cause of pitch problems boils down to the singer simply not been familiar with the interval distance between the various notes of the scale or chord. 

Problems with pitch are very easy to diagnose, in fact any difficulties singing on pitch or maintaining correct pitch (especially in the most comfortable register closest to your natural speaking voice), immediately provides a good vocal coach, with a whole bunch of useful data and cues about what’s going on internally within the mechanics of the singer.

If you’ve ever played guitar you will know how challenging it can be to tune the guitar by ear (especially when you are tired). Most guitar players who tune there guitar by ear, would use a method like the one iam describing below.

Starting at the fifth fret on the sixth string (biggest E string assuming this string is in tune) they would fret the note which results in creating a reference or guide tone  to help them tune up the next open string below (A string). With a little bit of patience and gentle turning of the tuning pegs the goal is to match up the picked sound created on the fifth fret of the E string with the sound of the open A string.  The preceding string is in tune when the guide tone and the open A string vibrate in harmony creating the same frequency  or pitch. The correctly tuned A string is pleasing to the ear and resonates at a 110Hz. (since this blog is not about how to tune your  guitar but how to develop a better sense of vocal pitch for your voice lets get back on topic).

In my experience singers can become over reliant on using there ears to identify and follow along with guide tones.


That’s right you understood me correctly. Put simply too many singers out there rely solely on there ears to determine if they are on singing on pitch. That’s not good for any singer because our ears can play tricks on us and the result is often a note that is sung flat or sharp and is instantly recognisable as been out of tune with the songs melody!

Singers who place an over reliance solely on there ears to determine pitch will find it especially difficult to sing in tune or on key in a noisy environment. As for example when there  on stage and panic will quickly set in when they realise they cant hear themselves properly to begin with!

How we hear and perceive our own voice requires its own full length blog. Watch this space.

Now the singer faces a real dilemma they are nervous to sing because they cant hear if there in tune with the band, this often results in singers experiencing stage fright, or over compensating by singing louder than there voice can maintain for the duration of the show in order to make themselves heard above the mix and this last scenario is a sure fire recipe for inducing  a bad case of excessive vocal strain. 

What’s the solution I hear you say? How do I develop perfect pitch or at least improve my sense of pitch to enable me to make it easier to sing in key in a noisy environment?

The answer is resonance. When you sing your body produces sympathetic resonance frequencies. 

IE. Low chesty notes when sung correctly will produce resonance which are felt as additional vibrations in the chest, (Thoracic cavity) your body functions very much the same way as a speaker cabinet dose. The initial sound of a speaker is made at the voice coil, the sound then gets amplified again over the surface of the cone, but the real amplification (extra volume is produced from the sound bouncing around inside the cabinet). Its a very simplified explanation of the similarities between the human voice and  the audio speaker, but you should get the general idea. 

Experienced singers understand how to tune in there awareness to recognise the resonant sounds the body produces when they are singing. The extra resonance that can be produced by the body is responsible for adding richness and warmth to every note you sing.

Since each note you sing is generated at its own unique frequency measured by the number of times per second the vocal chords or folds are required to vibrate to create a desired pitch ( Frequency of sound is measured in hertz).

Experienced singers learn to recognise the unique resonant vibration associated with each new pitch and create a library of basic resonant pitches they can use in a performance to help them as internal guide tones.

Now here’s the no BS part of today’s blog. Its not necessary to memorise every pitch and its unique resonating frequency that’s too hard and most singers personalities are way too easy going for that kind of hard work. 

The easier approach to developing Relative pitch is to memorise octave pitches and there corresponding resonating frequencies. Do this by singing a pitch and then tune in to the corresponding vibration (body resonance). Make a mental snap shot of what the resonant vibration feels like. Start at your lowest note in your speaking voice make an ahh sound and tune in to the vibrations you feel in your chest. Repeatedly sing this note over and over again until you learn to recognise correct pitch of the note by matching the desired note with the body’s resonating vibration. Then simply work your way up your range comfortably until you can sing the same note eight notes higher (that’s the octave). Once again tune into the sensation of the vibration your body makes when you sing this higher pitch on an ahh sound. Practice sliding between the two pitches ie C3 to C4 and learn to use the body resonance vibration as a back up to assist your ear in determining correct pitch.

Skip to the tip to improve pitch recongnition:

Here’s a great tip to help reduce the time it takes to tune into your bodies resonating frequencies. Grab a pair of ear muffs or ear plugs, or even cotton wool, or simply place a finger gently in each ear and sing or speak in your lowest comfortable chest voice. Notice how your body will produce vibrations across your chest starting at your lowest notes usually super low notes will produce a vibration in the pit of your stomach mid range chest notes are felt across the top of the chest. Higher notes whether sung or spoken will produce pleasent vibrations at the base of the neck, and behind the cheek bones.

The higher you sing the more the body resonance will be felt in the face, particulary behind the cheek bones, and moving into the forehead, really high notes produce vibrations at the top of our head (the crown) and even out the back of the head. Have fun experimenting with body resonance and using your bodys in built vocal tuner. 

Better singing everyone.

The million dollar question, that every new singer wrestles with

Hi everyone. If I had a dollar from every new singer that asked me the following question. I would be a very rich man!

“If I take singing lessons can you teach me to learn how to sing and sound like my favourite singer”?

Okay here’s the no “BS” answer to that question. 

Your ability to make sounds similar to your favourite singer is largely dependent on six crucial factors.

1. Vocal chords

Your vocal chords would need to be similar or the same approximate thickness and length as your idols vocal anatomy.

2. Physical similarities in muscle and anatomy structure.

Inside your head, throat, and thoracic cavity, (upper chest area). There are a million in one variations going on in regards to the size and shape of your resonant cavities.

What are resonant cavaties? (areas where the vibrations of sound are amplified and rich over tones, called (harmonics) are produced, these additional harmonic frequencies in the voice  among other things are responsible for creating the unique signature vocal tone of the artist.

The uniqueness of the sounds produced by your favourite singer, depend largely on how thick there vocal chords are to begin with. When a singer is born and blessed with above average thickness and vocal chord length (longer vocal chords than the average person) they are said to be natural singers. Your vocal range is dependent on how efficiently your vocal chords can thin down to reach the higher notes while also maintaining enough thickness in the chord to produce a pleasing vocal tone. Lots of people, can thin there vocal chords down at the expense of the audience to produce awfully high shrill sounds that are on pitch, but the vocal chords have thinned out so much (because they lack the required natural mass) to make these notes usable in a singers range. No audience wants to sit through shrill thin high notes that lack musicality! Would you?

3. The resonance cavities inside our skulls, and upper chest, vary greatly in size.

Put simply the bigger the body parts (usually) means the bigger the accompanying resonant cavities will be.

Singers that are born with a wider face and squarish jaw lines will naturally have much bigger resonance cavities to work with compared to a singer that is born with a narrow face and or a underdeveloped jaw line. This also means that a singer with a wider jaw and  larger face will naturally have a bigger resonance area to play with in the back of there throats. These types of singers will naturally produce distortion sounds more easily than their narrow faced countreparts.

* (look out for an upcomming post on how to create safe healthy distortion).

4. Diameter of the wind pipe.  

Singers like Sebastian Bach, or Brian Johnston from ACDC or Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, are likely to have been blessed with a wider than average windpipe, this provides these type of singers with added volume, and additional options in regards to making it easy to produce rumbling chest distortion sounds with minum thought and effort. In essence the wider the wind pipe the easier it is to create the right type of air compression bubbling up between the chords to produce distorted sounds and the safe kind of chord compression needed for healthy heavy metal screams!

5. Power house singers are usually under five ten for men and five feet five inches for women in height, is this just a coincidence?

The answer is no, power house singers are created through favourable anatomy design. Shorter singers under six foot are born with naturally shorter tendons and muscles and ligaments. These shorter thicker tendons and ligaments provide an immediate benefit for handling higher levels of physical resistance and improves the persons ability to perform physical exercises and activities that require more body strength to really excel in performance.  The taller person has thinner tendons and ligaments and muscle tissue because the muscle has a greater surface area to stretch and attach to the bodies skeleton.

*(Singers like Sebastian Bach are an anommaly in regards to his height, he has a shorter neck and thicker wider throat when compared to most people of similar height).

How do shorter tendons and ligaments benefit a singer?

If your born with above average thickness in size and length of the vocal chords, the next part of the equation is to develop the conditioning and strength for the tendons ligaments and cartilages that are responsible for anchoring the larynx these I refer to as the “micro muscle groups”.

The micro muscle groups are the tiny muscle groups that are really responsible for producing pitch, range and volume. 

The benefits of having shorter tendons ligaments and muscles should be self explanatory? They are literally thicker, and can handle greater levels of initial tension, for longer periods of time, with out displaying signs of fatigue. This is very important because these micro muscle groups are literally responsible, for anchoring the larynx and reducing all the unwanted excess muscle tension in and around the throat. This then allows the larynx to correctly tilt forward  (often referred to as a laryngeal tilt) on its base and lengthen out and thin down to stretch the vocal chord to produce higher notes in our vocal registers. 

The higher you sing or scream for that matter the more tension the micro muscles need to handle to anchor the voice and allow the laryngeal tilt to continue unimpeded. Hence singers with naturally thicker and longer vocal chords can stretch further and maintain enough mass to make these sounds musical and pleasing to the audiences ear.

6. Vocal technique

It doesn’t matter how big or small your vocal chords are if you don’t know how to use them               safely and correctly your voice will never reach it’s true potential! I’ve seen plenty of naturally gifted singers struggle with bad technique. I’ve witnessed some exceptional singing performances from singers that weren’t blessed with big vocal chords, but simply work harder at strengthening up the micro muscles to compensate and over come their genetic short comings. 

Okay so some of you reading this blog post are feeling pretty good about now. Because your identifying that you have been born with some or all of the traits that naturally completent producing a strong singing voice (Healthy singers DNA).

Some of you are reading this article and are feeling that sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach because you’ve identified that you lack the natural strength or size required in these singing muscles to produce the sounds you want to make?

The good news is that with some notable exceptions. Most people born with average size vocal chords or under average sized vocal chords can learn to isolate and strengthen up the micro muscle groups that are responsible for correctly producing your singing voice. To learn whether your voice is going to take a little or a lot of work to realise your singing goals I highly recommend finding a vocal coach that offers a full vocal diagnostic service. 

I recommend that every student should invest in a vocal diagnostic session prior to commencing singing lessons. This way they will obtain a clear understanding, about how much work and effort it will require to reach their own individual vocal development goals.

There are plenty of vocal coaches out there that are just in it for the money and will tell you what ever you want to hear. As long as you can afford there services. I reckon this approach stinks! 

At Rapid Vocal Results. I pledge to always give you a no “BS” frank appraisal on your vocal genetics. My goal is to tell it, like it is! I want to help as many singers as I possibly can to reach their vocal goals and realise their

music career aspirations!

Better singing everyone.