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.

Sally@SallyMorganVoice.com

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