Tag Archive: Sing Like You Speak(TM)

Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

Singing As A Rhythm Instrument
by Sally

My singing student Sharon is a drummer. However, her knowledge of drumming and feeling the beat has not yet translated into her singing.

I found this very curious until I realized that she was not using her lyrics rhythmically. She was not saying the lyrics clearly and precisely nor was she saying them on the beat. There was very little energy in how she sang the lyrics.

It’s amazing how much Sharon’s pitch and tone quality improved when she used the lyrics as a rhythm instrument. The improvements in pitch and tone happen because of the attention to clarity and precision of rhythm – plus the new infusion of energy. The she had to listen more closely and get deeper into the music.

The following is the sequence we used in her lesson to get Sharon thinking about the lyrics as rhythm.

1. Speak the lyrics in rhythm clapping with each syllable.
2. Speak the lyrics in rhythm clapping on the beat.
3. Speak the lyrics using consonants to define the rhythm.
4. Sing the lyrics using consonants to define the rhythm.

Yes, the rhythm is in the consonants. Vowels do not have a rhythmic function in singing. We sustain pitch on vowels but we do not create rhythm with vowels. As one of the Sing Like You Speak phrase exercises – commercial for your vocal technique – states, “I sing on the vowels but I get paid for the consonants!”

Consonants define our communication. Consonants are the action of our words. When used with an understanding of rhythm, they can also define the rhythm in a song.

Listen to Jason Mraz. He uses his singing voice as a rhythm instrument. Listen to how he uses his consonants to highlight the rhythm. Plus you can understand every word he sings!

It’s helpful to get to know the potential of each of the consonant sounds and their rhythmic quality. Play around with lazy diction and then over articulating. Careful not to distort your mouth movements when over articulating. Allow yourself a generous opening inhale to activate the low abdominal muscles that are the power behind your consonants.

Different consonants have different qualities. Not just sound quality but also tonal quality. Their percussive impact and use are also slightly different one from the other.

P’s are good to Pounce on the beat
B’s bounce on the beat
T’s articulate pitch well and end words cleanly
S’s get you through the beginning consonant to land on the beat with the vowel
K sounds are sharp
R’s bounce from the R to vowel
F’s clear the way for a strong vowel
M and N are softer more elongated consonants and yet when you listen to the Jason Mraz song he uses his N’s very effectively as rhythmic definition.

Check it out right now using these phrases from Fly Me To The Moon. Play around by varying the percussive use of the consonants. You will notice how the meaning of the lyrics morphs with your articulation.

Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars

There are endless variations to how you can articulate and punctuate rhythm. This means that there are endless ways for you to make the song purely your own.

Sing Like You Speak(TM) candle exercises thoroughly embed the muscle memory needed to use your consonants in a powerful way. Get Sing Like You Speak(TM) Power Exercises to learn how.

Have fun! Fill the air with your singing. Music is our best hope for a peaceful planet.

Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

Your Body-Your Instrument-is Smarter Than Your Mind
by Sally

Your body is smarter than your mind. Your body is your singing instrument. So why does singing seem to be so difficult? Sing Like You Speak™ is here to teach you it ain’t necessarily so.

Breathing is completely natural. You are reading this, so your breathing is working – you are alive.

And yet when it comes to singing, we second-guess or even doubt the body’s natural ability. We actually override nature by overthinking the process and relying on the mind to ‘figure it out’ instead of trusting the natural process of breathing and phonation. We actually invite the mind to participate in a perfectly natural process.

Does this sound familiar?

You take an inhale and you immediately think, that isn’t enough air to get through the phrase! So you push and pull at the muscles of your abdomen to “help” your singing process.

But guess what? You run out of breath even faster!

That’s what happens when you take a subconscious process – breathing – and make it a conscious process.

The purpose of your inhale is to open the whole instrument. It is to open your resonators, release the jaw and larynx and open all the way down to the lower back and abdominal muscles, thus activating those powerful muscles that will naturally work to propel breath and sound easily through your open instrument.

When I was developing Sing Like You Speak™ my contemporary vocal technique, I could not ignore the fact that singing is natural. And if singing is natural and breathing is natural – what makes singing so difficult?

Makes singing difficult…

Voice teachers who tell you to manipulate and force the physical instrument
Trying to imitate most singers recorded after 1997 where the singer has been recorded (first was Roy Vedas Fragments of Life) and then a sound engineer has manipulated the voice for better pitch, tone quality, rhythm. You are not listening to a voice but to an electronically altered sound that cannot be imitated by the human instrument.
Myths or false thoughts about the effort involved in singing
Trusting the mind and not the body

Sing Like You Speak™ always uses the natural physiological process for simple, healthy signing. Your inhale is to open the instrument. Done right, releases the jaw, tongue and larynx, opens resonators and activates the very intelligent low abdominal and back muscles. That sound like a lot to do but it can be achieve with one thought.

When I have new voice students who has studied voice with another teacher in the past there’s always a conversation that goes something like this.

Student: That’s it? That’s all you do to inhale?

Sally: Absolutely! A simple opening inhale.

Student: But how do I get enough air to sing a long phrase or to sustain a pitch?

Sally: With a simple opening inhale. It seems you want to feel how much effort you are using to breathe.

Student: Of course. The effort tells me that I’ve gotten a good inhale.

Sally: Aren’t you taking lessons to learn how your singing can be effortless?

Student: Well, I didn’t really believe that it could be easy. My last teacher taught me to push out on the inhale and pull in like crazy to exhale.

Sally: Yes, that’s typical old-school teaching. Let’s experiment with a simple, opening inhale.

First step is a simple, opening inhale…

Align your instrument collarbones wide, head on top of the body
Release the jaw and tongue
Feel as though you are opening your instrument all the way to your bottom
Blow the breath out and simply observe how the abdominal and lower back muscles are working – just observe to not interfere.
Use the above breathing process for our experiment proving how brilliant the body can be. No pushing or pulling of belly muscle allowed!

Experiment 1

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale saying an FFFFFF
Observe what muscles are working

Experiment 2

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale saying a VVVVV (be a motorcycle)
Observe what muscles are working

Experiment 3

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale saying a ZZZZZ (be a bumble bee)
Observe what muscles are working

Experiment 4

Perform a simple opening inhale as described above
Exhale sighing an MMMMM
Observe what muscles are working
What did you observe?

If you were able to perform the simply opening inhale then with each experiment you felt a different set of muscles working. The physical intelligence of your instrument chose which muscles to use. Your physical intelligence simply knows what to do. Your mind cannot possibly figure out how to use different muscles for different consonant sounds.

I love the fact that my physical intelligence takes over the singing process when I allow it to. Taking the process out of my mind and putting it into the body where it belongs lets me focus on the music, on phrasing, on character, on enjoying the massive vibration of my sound and having a blast doing so!

Click here for the best voice lessons on the web!

Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak(TM) is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

You can see and hear some of Sally’s clients on Broadway stages, Off-Broadway, in Musical Theater – Regional, on Major Label Recordings, the Conan O’Brian show, A Prairie Home Companion and in Federal Courts, the PA House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate.

3 Studio Techniques to Get Better Vocal Performances from Any Singer
by Sally
Originally Published by SONICSCOOP

Singer: “Let’s do 1 more take, please.”

Producer: “Ok, I’m running out of tracks here. TAKE 54!”

Those are actual words spoken to a vocal student of mine by a producer in a recording session. It was not actually the 54th time recording the song; it was a sarcastic outburst from a frustrated musician.

The most charitable reading of the producer’s remarks is that he was failing at being playful or funny, rather than succeeding at being cruel. But regardless of his intent, his comments brought the absolute end of any productivity in the studio that day.

It was also the end of my student’s relationship with the producer—and mine. Never again will I subject a voice student to such carelessness or cruelty. I had told the producer before we set up the session date that my student was very inexperienced and needed support and encouragement. How could I send another student back to him?

Even with an experienced singer, a producer’s job includes giving support and encouragement when it is required. When you approach a vocal session with encouragement and support, a singer will perform with so much more confidence. The results of the recording session will be much higher quality and may even include that magical spark that makes a recording into a real work of art.

There are many small ways a producer or engineer can inadvertently yet deeply undermine a singer’s ability to perform in the studio.

Singer: “I am so nervous!”

Producer: “Well don’t be.”

This too is not the right thing to say! The singer already knows it isn’t helpful to be nervous and is thinking, “Yeah sure, but how?”

Stage fright and nerves can be the death of a singer’s spontaneity, creativity. Nervousness grips at a singer’s instrument—the body—and can quite literally strangle the voice and stop it from vibrating fully.

So let’s take a look at some specific practical techniques a producer can use to help a singer through a recording session.

1) Mindful Breathing

Fortunately breathing—specifically, mindful breathing—can keep singers in the present moment, keep them in the music, and keep them from freaking out about the end result.

It has been repeatedly a proven that mindful breathing lowers the heart rate and blood pressure while increasing brain function.

To give your your singer a nearly instant mental and physical “reset”, guide him or her through this simple mindful breathing exercise that can be taught in a moment, with benefits that will show after just 3 repetitions.

-Inhale by opening down into the body to the count of 4

-Suspend the breath by suspending the open body to the count of 5

-Actively blow the breath out to the count of 6

-Repeat a minimum of 3 times

Pause and try it right now for yourself and see how much it changes your perspective and calms your own nervous energy. Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of fine and exhale slowly and firmly for a count of 6.

I’ve seen this very simple bit of mindful breathing bring a singer back off the ledge. For more on calming stage fright take a look at singlikeyouspeak.com/stomp-out-stage-fright and encourage the new and inexperienced singers you work with to take a look at these techniques for themselves in advance of their first sessions with you.

2) Help the Singer to “Sing to Someone They Know”

A singer who isn’t really in the song, who is just phoning it in, instead of really getting down and dirty with the song, is a singer who isn’t communicating. And if music is about anything, isn’t is about communicating an authentic emotion or perspective to an end listener?

“Sing it like you’re talking!” is a popular saying among producers for good reason. Unfortunately, unless they are students of a course like my Sing Like You Speak™ series, they are once again thinking “Ok, but how?!”

Here are 2 simple instructions to get a singer communicating through the song, and singing like they are talking to their BFF.

Ask the singer to decide who she or he is talking to and what is his or her relationship to that person. If the person they choose does not bring out the best for the song, ask the singer to use someone else just for giggles and listen to how their tone of voice changes.

Ask the singer to “say” the lyrics very clearly, and with meaning. This does not mean over enunciating by working the jaw too much. It means focusing on getting the simple, clear meaning of the words across.

Ask the singer “What makes you begin singing this song? What happened the moment before singing this song that you are responding to?” This helps them get into the “story” behind the song and focus on what the performs really means.

3) Help the Singer Catch their Breath

When a singer is running out of breath way too fast, it’s usually due to nerves that interfere with getting a deep inhale. I have 2 very simple exercises to unlock a singer’s breathing.

Pant like a dog. This forces the singers breath down into the abs that are meant to propel breath and sound through the body.

Be Santa! Say, “ho, ho, ho!” imitating a good belly laugh.

Even better yet, real laughter will always do the trick. Just be sure not to make a joke at the singers’ expense or you too could find yourself with one less vocal client coming back for deeply productive and supportive sessions with you.

Summing it Up

Sally Morgan teaches singers to unlock their talents and find their true voice at SingLikeYouSpeak.com

The techniques I have shared here have served my students and me very well over many years.

They are simple, practical, and everyone can use them. As an empathetic producer, you can use these tools to establish connection with a singer, and help them connect with the end listener.

Help them learn techniques like these, and you will be the hero of every vocal session that comes through your doors!

Sally teaches singing voice lessons in NYC and worldwide on ZOOM.


Online voice lessons http://SingLikeYouSpeak.com/onlinelessons

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