A couple months ago I wrote an article on how to hold a difficult emotion while performing -- without breaking down or losing it.
But because it's a complex subject, I wanted to follow up with a video explaining exactly how to do this.
Today's video tackles the "acting" side of performing a song. How do you embody real emotion while you sing -- without buckling under the weight of that emotion?
In the video below, you'll learn:
If this sounds weird, don't worry -- I'll walk you through each step!
Was this video helpful? Will you use these techniques when you perform? Are you ready to take your performing to the next level?
Let me know what you think!
**Editors Note: As of August...
If you've ever written to me and said:
Fel, when I sing a song I become very overcome with feeling and want to cry, and then I lose my technique.
Fel, how do I show real emotion when I sing?
-- then the following process will serve you incredibly well.
But first, a quick story . . .
This past Friday I attended a business conference, and in one of our small group exercises, I started crying.
My attempt at a "business suit"
If that sounds weird, it's because it kind of is. But this was no ordinary business conference. The goal of our group exercise was to relive a past memory and to hold the feeling of that memory in our bodies.
(Among other things, one greater goal of the conference was to expand our consciousness, to learn to hold feelings, and to use these skills in the service of creating...
“We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” --Archilochos
Last month I began performing onstage with my musical improv group Thank You, Places: An Improvised Musical at the Philly Improv Theater. Every other Friday we make up a one-hour musical, on the spot!
If you're thinking: That sounds hard, Fel is so BRAVE! -- well, I have news for you:
It freaking ter-ri-fies me.
Seriously. I think I was more nervous on February 17, 2017, our opening night, than I was when I first went on for Elphaba in Wicked (and that's not a joke).
The face of a woman doing everything she can not to freak out
Why was performing made-up songs so psychologically stressful for me? You already know the answer, I'm sure:
No preparation means you have nothing to hold onto, no rules to follow, and no way to anticipate the challenging parts of a song.
In contrast, if you want me to do "regular"...
You know what bugs me most? When singers don't realize their full potential -- not because they're incapable, but because they don't have the right tools.
In our online singing community there are over 90,000 singers who tweet me, email me, leave awesome comments -- you name it! And I can sense the love-hate relationships they have with their voices.
They have spent years (decades, even!) spinning their wheels and not making lasting progress.
Maybe you can relate. You're a singer with boatloads of potential, trying to piece together the "clues" of how singing should feel. But you feel way more frustrated than triumphant.
You see progress, then setbacks. You learn tips and tricks (possibly from me, on YouTube :-) ), but nothing truly STICKS.
You don't know how to put it together in the right order.
Your voice comes and goes, never seeming predictable.
You start to worry: "Am I just not cut out for this?"
"Do I have to be blessed with that elusive 'it' factor that makes singing...
This video is about my favorite singing "hack" - modified lyrics! This easy singing tip will give you the most bang for your buck, even (especially) if you're a beginner.
If you've watched my "How to Sing Chandelier by Sia" video, or any others in my pop song series, you know that I like to take regular English words and translate lyrics into singer-friendly vowels. Why? It can do WONDERS for your singing.
When you rewrite singing lyrics with more "open" vowels, which are easier and more resonant to sing, they become a million times easier for singers to tackle.
What's more, it makes your singing tone less closed or pinched, and more open, rich, and resonant.
I get tons of requests to translate specific songs, which I will keep doing in future, but I also wanted to give you my guidelines so that you can do it for any song that you like to sing!
Be sure to download my .PDF summary so you can check out the best singer vowel translations and start singing in with a more open,...
Vocal tension is the #1 culprit of strained singing, vocal fatigue, burnout, and vocal problems! These 3 warmups will help prime you for relaxed, open, free singing.
Remember: if you're someone who experience lots bodily tension (like yours truly!), singing without tension is possible -- you just have to incorporate relaxation techniques into your vocal routine.
The 3 vocal warmups in the video below are:
(1) The Teapot Hiss - eliminates lower body, ribcage, and lower back tension that can creep "up the chain" and affect your voice.
(2) The Scary Lion's Yawn - busts jaw, tongue, neck, and throat tension, all in one!
(3) "Oh, Wow!" - a simple warmup to reinforce a relaxed jaw and open throat.
Try these simple vocal warmups and let me know if they help you relax and free up your voice! I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.
Also -- stay tuned for my vocal warmup series called "The Lazy Singer's Warmups," coming soon! Sign up for email updates to the...
Singer buds! Many of you have talked to me about the incredible amounts of tension you experience while singing, and I want to help!
I've been cooking up some cool warmups that (1) Relax you, (2) Open your voice, (3) Get you LOVING on yourself and feeling confident. :)
(I've been trying to come up with a title for these, I'm thinking "Let's Get Singer-High"?)
Anyway, I wanted to give you a short 'n' sweet preview of one warmup that will get you to:
(1) Open your voice and relax your throat and larynx
(2) Lift your soft palate while relaxing your jaw
(3) Look at yourself in the mirror and think HEY I LOVE MYSELF!
And here it is!
The sung line is "I LIKE LOOKING AT YOU" and the musical pattern is 1-1-3-2-1-1.
Here's the nitty gritty:
(1) Look in the mirror while you do this. It will help to make sure....
(2) You keep the back of your mouth open and relaxed the whole time, kind of like you're yawning. So you sing "I LIKE LOOKING AT YOU"...
There have been times in my life when I have not practiced my singing. Like, at all.
As with any long term skill, my commitment to singing has had peaks and valleys, especially for the past three years. Sure, sometimes I've felt jazzed, but more often than not I've been in a "bare-minimum-maintenance-whatever" mode. I practiced a couple times here and there, or not at all. :-/
My excuse was:
I'm good...enough. As long as my singing is decent, I can demo things in my videos and lessons. If I lose my skills a little, what's the big deal? It's not like I'm singing for audiences anymore.
(Ugh. Just reading those thoughts back to myself is hard. What an uninspiring point of view!)
And because I felt so uninspired, my singing suffered.
When it comes to singing, or any long-term goal, frame of mind is everything.
When I am not inspired, I lose momentum. When I lose momentum, I stop tending to myself and the...
Here's a thought... What if the qualities you believe make your voice less than, actually make it cool and interesting?
I've contemplated this question a ton as I venture into writing my own music. So far I'd describe my strange songs as a cross between: Grimes, Lana Del Rey, and Every Broadway Show Ever.
ANYWAY. My vocal background and training is musical theater singing, which means I'm hardwired to think: "These notes (high, low, whatever) need to come out cleanly, perfectly, and without any noticeable variation, damnit!"
And while I still love that I'm able to unify my chest, mix, and head voice cleanly (for the most part) -- and I believe it is important for singers not to be held back by any technical "holes" in their voices --
The truth is: for many genres of music, embracing our imperfections, or the reasons our voices are unique, can unlock a whole world of interpretation, variation, color, emotion, and interesting style choices.
Take it from the...
About two months ago, I was singing some warmup scales, and my voice just STOPPED WORKING.
The higher I got, the more I felt stuck.
I took a moment, reset, and tried again.
Same weird thing!
Even worse, this second time through, I could feel my throat compensating, trying to push the notes up rather than feel them float out easily, effortlessly.
Crap, I thought. What the heck is going on?
Trying not to get too hard on myself, I took an inventory of my body and how I was feeling.
Breathing? (I took a deep breath and did a quick hiss exercise, counting to 45 seconds.)
No tension in my lower back? (I draped over in rag doll pose, and let my body hang.)
Tongue relaxed? (I opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue. Then I flicked my tongue back and forth like a snake tasting the air.)
Third time’s the charm…
I did the scale again.
What the f(*&$%(*???
Then, luckily, I remembered a tidbit from a voice lesson I had about 8 years...