There Is No Problem!

I’m going to introduce my basic philosophy on Life in this little entry here… and apply it to singing of course
Okay…ready? Here it is:

There is NO problem. There never was and never will be.
Don’t like that last note? Didn’t get a breath in time? Messed up the lyrics?
It is just not a problem!

I always noticed that for really talented (please review my first blog entry in this series on my pov on “talent” if you’re interested) …Okay, for really open, flowing and skilled musicians,
improvisation was the art of discovery and recovery!

Climbing out on a limb, becoming obviously a little lost and
recovering beautifully! Finding any path back to key equilibrium and moving on!
Doing this quickly and efficiently! Improv!

Improvisation can also be applied to Life, singing, making love, cooking, finding a good dentist etc.

SO, lets review (already?)
I’ve just hit a clunker note/ there’s a cute person in the front row/ I don’t even FLINCH/ there’s a famous movie director in the 2nd row/ I sing another note close to the last one that creates the impression that I MUST’VE clearly hit that last note on purpose/ then, find my way back to familiar territory/ WALLAH!….saved my musical ass once again!

No problem, no pain or thoughts about hitting a “wrong” note that really did go against the key and feel of the song… just for a second! Just a weaving dance of notes that fly and float around the key, the melody flying about in and out of what I’m singing…all is well!

AND it sounded fine AND the sax player compliments me on some very interesting improvisational choices and he especially loved the dissonant notes and there’s no problem!

So, coming up with ways to NOT hit a bad note can become a dogmatic technical uncreative point of view that hinders your discovery and consequently your learning to recover!

Becoming an accurate singer is, of course, a good idea. And one should be able to sing what one hears in one’s head on command: I agree. But in ANY moment, if that does not happen for whatever reason….it’s no problem.

It never was! It never will be.

Pressure off to be the perrrrrfect singer before you can have the time of your life performing for the folks???

Revealing yourself,
essentially vulnerable
and as naked as you can be,
to the world
is:
FUN!

Don’t make something that is so much fun a problem.

This is Divy Nelson for
The Singers’ Daily
Austinvoicelessons.com

(since 1492)
PS: it is important to have sung about 10 thousand scales in every key during your hourly practice, if you are a beginner.
Just thought I’d throw that in. Its like the steering wheel on your fancy car. More on scales later..

Ain’t None Of Your Business!

You THINK you know what you sound like.
Yes you doooo.

Butcha don’t. You Can’t!
Know how I know? Cuz acoustically I’m way over hear, listening to you project towards me (hopefully).
You are inside your body listening through bone and tissue and not in the correct spot to hear yourself at all!
Its that simple! Plus we are looking at you and that can take up more of our attention then anything else.

Plus throw in a little judgement and its over!
Its too hard to tell the real impact a voice being driven by YOU has! Plus, if your good, you’re too busy driving to notice.

I know, for myself, that I am way too close to my own process to be objective.
I wish someone had clued me in about this long ago. I’d have relaxed a lot!

For the last 15 years, when I get offstage, I ALWAYS have someone close by give me 2 seconds of feedback.
“How was it?” Because I honestly do not know! I can hardly remember! I was too busy singing.
So I depend on someone I trust giving me quick, objective feedback.

For the first ten years of my ‘singing with the band’ career the only feedback I got, besides “Divy, that was great” was “well, it was kinda hard to hear you because….” and then I’d get to hear how all my vocal efforts were mostly drowned out by a band playing all over itself and not being able to hear itself play!

This prompted me to be the Queen Of Amazing Monitor Systems. Much to the annoyance of most of my drummers. They being directly behind me and in the line of fire from my VERY clear monitor speakers. My drummers could hear me as well as I could. I trained a lot of young drummers to play underneath in THE number one supportive position, as the rhythm section, and not all over the front line as a soloist.

Anyway, the point is, as you stretch and strengthen and mold and expand a beautiful singing voice you cannot tell what you really sound like. For that matter you can NEVER tell what the effect you had on your audience really was. Most honest performers know this much.

Letting a performer know what they made you feel and think during their performance is always great feedback for them. And letting them know what the overall effect was, how you perceived they effected the audience, is SUCH welcome feedback. Even if its just your opinion, its another point of view the singer cannot really have themselves and would love to know about.

So, if you can, be generous with yourself: get real feedback about what you just did onstage. It’ll help you relax, learn and strive for more. It’ll get you to not question your performance so much after its done!

Remember: While your growing a new voice…its none of your business what you sound like! Its too early to tell anyway!
Trust your amazing vocal coach and just keep a goin’! If you don’t like what you sound like on your rehearsal CD then just
remind yourself that it DOESN’T MATTER!

It really doesn’t.

Not right now anyway….give yourself the gift of trusting your feedback people and relax. Keep working it.
Trust the process!

This is Divy Nelson for
The SIngers’ Daily

AustinVoiceLessons.com

Does Your Mom Think You Sing Great?

Its Important.

Its important to have people around you that believe in what you love to do regardless of the “reality” of how well you do it.
All your friends and family, when you do something you love to do, something that makes you feel like a million, should be applauding!

Sometimes, if family doesn’t know what support LOOKS like, you have to spell it out. There’s no shame in that. Maybe they’ve never known!

Its okay now to say “Hey, I know you have your own idea’s about how someone should sing but: I’m taking voice because it gives me SUCH joy. I could really use your support. It would look like this: no matter WHAT you really think of my voice….you clap….you smile and you let me know you SUPPORT my efforts! It doesn’t matter if the notes are GOOD OR BAD or anything in between. Just that you support the arc of my learning to do it! And thank you!”

I have students memorize these little public service announcements all the time. Mostly for family, so they get the support they can use. Not criticism they can’t digest or even relate to.

Does it really matter how perfectly you sang? If your form was exact when you took a jump on your horse? That you skydived solo instead of piggy-backing along with an instructor? Does it really matter if you hit a clunker when you were pouring your heart out onstage??? In the bigger picture of Life does it matter? Will we remember the note or the HEART?

My Mom said to me yesterday that I was a really great writer. Well, I know I am not a really great writer. That’s my current point of view but she convinced me enough and I got excited about writing my blog more often! There was a direct result of the support she had for me and that is now effecting you!

Support is unconditional. It has no other agenda. It is kindness up close and personal.

I really love my Mom.

🙂
This is Divy Nelson for
The Singers’ Daily
May 2009

Sentimental Notions

I get sentimental. I think about all the amazing people I’ve trained to teach and facilitate voice over the years, where they are now.
Some are having children (Yay Sarah!) some are moving, some are helping with other family matters but, most are still teaching voice.

So many people still making a decent living with almost no overhead and loving their lives, making music all day long.
THAT is a satisfying thing to know. That I built into the program all of the simple small business techniques that have always worked well here in the states.

I am obviously proud of this, and should be.
I’ve watched a lot of programs promise people a lot of things, including “you will make a living” and fail over and over.
And there’s my graduates, still functioning in a musical capacity while making a living.

Truly warms my heart!

SO, the vocal tip for the day is: MAKE SURE TO REST!
Lots of questions lately about hoarse and tired singing voices.

There is only one answer: rest.

I’ve always advised to trade talking minutes for singing ones, meaning: For every word you DON’T speak you’ll get 5 extra notes at your gig or recording session. You might become the Silent Sage when not singing but, hey! whatever it takes!

Even friends of mine who’ve had lazar surgery have had their “nodes” or vocal calluses come back after just a short time back at work. So control the problem where u have control. Make sure the first 2 songs of each set are instrumental, one other band member can sing at least one song per set, don’t show off your biggest notes in chest voice more then ONCE per night and don’t talk over the house music on the breaks!(or in the morning…no talking!) and rest, rest, rest….

These habits will ensure vocal health.
We’ll chat about changing your speaking voice to also help in this as well.

Happy, Healthy Singing!
This is Divy Nelson for
The Singers’ Daily

May 2009

Shouldn’t Singing Like A Bird Be The Pre-requisite To Teaching Voice?

Being able to sing can come naturally or you can learn how! That’s the good news. I’m in Austin, TX and there are some AMAZING vocal coaches here. Intense and professional, the folks here are from inside the music world with resumes to prove it.

Some are traditional and some not (like myself) but everyone is very sincere and doing great work.
So my question today is: who should be teaching voice and advertising that they do so?

My other question is: if you are advertising that you facilitate peoples voices shouldn’t you be able to sing really REALLY well? And understand the voice, how it works, basically?

And be able to answer vocal anatomy questions at the very least? And have an arsenal of wonderful things to vocalize so your students can learn quickly?

What I’ve noticed about vocal study is that it changes people’s lives almost always. No matter what level they’re at vocally an entire transformation begins to take place when the student begins to practice.

Almost everyone notices this and will sometimes comment, saying things like “This isn’t JUST about voice, is it.”
Posed as a question but given as a statement the student is actually asking us if we realize how profound taking voice can be!

For all the coaches I’ve known trained and met over the years the answer is “YES!” We do see how totally transforming taking voice can be for everyone concerned! Especially us or we wouldn’t continue for as long as some of us do!

The tears of joy after a first performance. The frustraion and tears of terror heading into that performance. Going past all previous limitations. Yes, we get it! We know the territory well and it can be sublime.

Its an HONOR to facilitate something that is held in such high esteem by so many cultures around the world.

Now: when people very innocently inquire about vocal study it is important to deliver what they’re looking for. Even though we know much more will be given and received! The voice is the vehicle for this growth and that’s where we put our attention and focus our expertise.

Make sure there are no hidden agendas or any other motivations for getting clients into the classroom.

Even the requirement of the coach to make a decent living can interfere with the delicacy of the process.
Simply allow those simple facts of life and don’t worry about it at all. That’s part of the job. No worry!

It is not possible to facilitate voice without being a real singer yourself.
Glamorous breakthroughs do not last.
Be wary of claims of super quick fix’s that give your voice everything without any practice or work.

I can actually have ANYONE singing quite well in about 5 minutes. But again, it doesn’t last without real, ongoing study and practice. The body requires time to integrate newfound flexibility and strength (and a million other things).
So please be wary of groups saying they are going to deliver your voice to you when they are actually just getting you excited about the POSSIBILITY of gaining your true voice!

Its just common sense, really.

By the way Skype Vocal Sessions are working GREAT! So if you’d like to take a lesson with me online email me at
divynelson@gmail.com and we can set that up.

This is Divy for
The Singers’ Daily
May 2009

The Break

I’ll only touch on this briefly as its such a hot topic all the time.
The striation of tissue (that DOES NOT VIBRATE LIKE THE REST OF THE VOCAL CHORDS) has been affectionately called “the break” because it sounds like one. The lightness of the “head” voice stops and the “chest voice” begins right at a place in the middle.

At this exact point no sound happens for a 100th of a second and it seems, as the quality changes form head to chest, that one trips over, or clunks over or smoothes over or SMEERS over (this is when you cover it up and it seems as if its not there, which it still is, of course, anatomically speaking) something.

The vocal break.
Tarzan’s calling card!

The never never land right in the middle of your range.
For some its totally no big deal. A natural quality in the voice not to be worried over or studied. Some people play around with it, use it. Jump over it, pull and stretch it. No big deal!

For some its HELL!

If you are in hell with your break, and you get all scardy cat as you go up your range, like a jittery horse, knowing something you can’t possibly surmount is … coming SOON! And you start pulling your artistic punches, pulling back instead of choosing what’s right for the SONG, the LYRIC and your audience…. this blogs for you!

THE most important thing to remember is….just sing the song. Make that the most important point of focus.
Let your emotion and story telling ability lead the way. And…….(here it comes….)…………………….

…… relax.

Its just a song. You’re just singing. If we hear your break, guess what? We have one, too! So our body recognizes a natural phenomena when it hears one!

ALso, its not ugly OR pretty, it just IS. Its in your vocal anatomy so just get used to it.

To practice controlling the areas on either side of it…pin-point (on the piano) the notes just before it clunks and just after.
Be quiet, soft and relaxed as you plot your break. Allow the vibration to naturally break from one thickness of your vocal muscle to another. Give yourself a bit of time with this. You can do it.

Then practice and strengthen the three notes on either side of the break. In the lower head voice and the mid chest.
Then smeeeer over the break area just for fun… from the top (head) down and from the bottom (chest) up! Play around with these two area’s and get used to the feel of going over that striation of tissue! You’ll sound a bit ‘yoddely’ at first, it’ll bring out the country SANGER in you’all! Go ahead and be Tarzan and learn to love and control the “Oh my god isn’t my break right around here?” zone.

This is just one of MANY little ricks to get yourself nice and friendly with the break area.

Then you can CHOOSE to jump to your head voice (for men “falsetto”) from chest voice.
Or you can CHOOSE to extend, with a little effort, your chest voice. Stretching it past the break area. OR you can pull that falsetto bown below the usual breaking area and get a reall smokey, Mezzo sound.

This came up in a Skype session with a student from Florida yesterday so I thought I’d mention it! LEarning how to traverse the break area is simple part of learning to sing with me. Its never an issue.

Love to all and remember, just because someone once TOLD you you had a “middle voice” its anatomically confusing to say that around your body! Your body only knows whats REAL, not what’s conceptual. So stick with what the body already knows is natural and you’ll stop babying your voice so significantly.

Sing like a kid! Get over yourself!

SIng well and without any fear.

CIao for now.

This is Divy Nelson for

The Singers Daily
May 2009

Friends

Now, in this new season of my life, I’ve ended up with the friends I started out with. Even some from high school (thanks to Facebook!)

Some old friends have become new friends. We grew apart then came together again. Some of the newer ones are more like Brothers in Arms. Man what we’ve seen and been through… it’s quite a bond.

But mostly I’ve got the friends and family I started with…
The Long Haulers. Through thick and thin.

Everyone in between seems to have drifted or self-destructed. Either way, they’re gone.
Even if they’re breathing, we’re not friends. Even in the knowledge of Oneness we don’t connect.

That’s just the way it seems now.

Singing, then, saves my heart its breaking routine…over and over.
For I ‘ve had this thought for so long, of loyalty and platonic friendship being somehow sacred.
When they leave it breaks my heart.

I think that’s left over from the playground but I don’t know for sure.

Singing by myself I put these people, whom I thought comrades, into the lyric. I sing to them and for them.
Its a joy to bring myself to tears…while singing to them.

I’m so easy.

Somewhere, I convince myself, they must hear me. How could they not?
Such a plaintive, tearful rendition of “It Had To Be You” or “Smile”…
Or One of my original compositions written specifically for an old, departed (at least from MY life) pal.
Oh my god the tears doth flow. What a sap.

And after singing the requiem for them I FEEL BETTER!
I do!

Singing, just the physical/spiritual act, is so balancing and cleansing.
I pour my entire desire for them through the song and ‘poof’ I’m free…
free of the whole, heavy syndrome of
perceived loss.

Ahh the Daily Singer…that’s what I am. I sing daily and it heals me totally.
Why would anyone want to learn to sing?
Hmmmm Good question! To be famous?

For me its the only church in town. The one that travels with me.
But, on occasion, when I do sing in a church, I can really bring the house down,
knowing how much God sings to himself. Telling Himself its all worth it.
That we will all sing and heal and play in the garden together
once again…

and be friends.

This is Divy Nelson for
The Singers Daily
May 2009

The Singers Daily

This blog will be about singing and voices and learning how to sing and keeping your voice healthy once you know how!
It will also be a forum, I hope, for questions to be answered and topics to be explored about your voice!

During private sessions and in vocal performance groups people usually ask really great questions. Most of the time we are so busy vocalizing and performing that answering these inquiries takes a back seat to the very practical focus on singing. So here I”ll try and address some of those radically cool questions and take my time doing it!

The only time I make super sure to take the time to really delve into the deeper end of the singing pool is when I’m facilitating a singer to become a Vocal Coach. We really get into it then. I think students would love to sit in on these training sessions sometimes. They’re pretty fascinating.

If you’re already a singer or a vocal student with me or with someone else ask questions anyway…its FREE!
Singing is NOT rocket science so, getting another opinion is smart….because,vocal coaches basically get it, and if they can EXPLAIN it and EXEMPLIFY IT for you clearly, YOU WIN! So do they…or they can talk about it in a way that confuses the HELL outa you and you wanna quit. That sucks. Everyone loses.

Anyway…this blog is a freebie!
My usual prices for answering vocal questions are quite a bit higher! Plus, I’ve been at this for about
28 years so, it miiiiight be worth it!

Maybe?

TOPIC NUMBER ONE: TALENT
As far as I can tell on the topic of “talent”…
there is no such thing that I can find in anyone, anywhere. As far as I’m concerned its a myth.

It was always very dis-empowering to have someone say how wonderful my voice was but that, since I was so mega-Uber talented, well, that implied that I didn’t have to work at it. And that OF COURSE I was performing, being so talented made it super easy, RIGHT?

Nope. It took years for me to finally abandon what I thought I got out of holding onto stage-fright. Years I tell ya.

And making my voice my life meant constant and relentless focus on music with a total immersion into the expression that is singing. EVERY-frickin-DAY!

Not in a bad way…I mean it was a total joy! All I wanted to do!
I just say it that way because people sometimes grumble if they have to spend an hour per day practicing or rehearsing.

Lets break it down…

There is desire. There is the body (your voice) and the ability to express.
What any of us chooses to do with these elements is just that, our choice.

Slowing the process down momentarily, to see how these elements interact is essential to mastery.
Once this process of observing the body/mind/vocal energy combo dance is relaxed into ..abilities seems to soar!

So , in getting REALLY good at this did I, all of a sudden, become more talented? Or just more aware?

Was I born with more “talent” or did my environment and deep past encourage more awareness concerning the subjects of music, music education and vocal expression?

Awareness is essential in the “learning to sing really great” game. When you are performing and recording you grow your awareness of your self and your voice. Your level of vocal AWARENESS determines your level of artistry. It even determines how you are perceived.

This is not really understood by many so we should probably talk about it for about three years.
Or, just sing a LOT….a lot a lot.

Being seen as “talented” always helped my career, of course! But it was really just a judgement I used to my advantage.
I’ve trained many people with average or slightly above average voices to be absolutely astounding.
And had a blast doing it…
We worked on their… awareness!
Awareness of what?….TUNE IN NEXT BLOG FOR….the next…blog entryyyyyyy!
Okay: First blog in this series complete! Cool.
And I think that’s a LOT for the very first entry. I hope this sparks some healthy discussion and some great questions on being an amazing singer/speaker or vocalist of any kind.

Hey, so, what if you sang a quick tune right now (even if its quietly) just because you can?

This is Divy Nelson for
The Singers Daily
May 2009