Hey singers, I’m headed up to the studio for today’s episode. And make no mistake, this is one you won’t want to miss. Because today, we’re exploring the top five worst mistakes that we can make as singers. Hi singers, I’m Justin Stoney the founder of New York Vocal Coaching. Welcome to Episode 105 of Voice Lessons To The World. Today’s question comes from Rochelle K. in Sheffield, England. Rochelle writes, “Dear Justin, I’m new to singing and I want it really bad. What should I watch out for as I’m getting started?” Awesome question Rochelle. Whether you’re just starting off or you’re an elite pro there are some common pitfalls we need to watch out for. So today let’s explore the top five worst vocal mistakes. The first mistake is getting loud to achieve high notes. Pretty much every singer wants to have nice high notes, right? Well, of course Justin! What kind of question is that? [ hits piano ] Well, it’s one thing to want something. It’s another thing to know how to get it. You can’t just say, “Come here ya high notes! I want you now!” But that’s exactly what the body tries to do. When it comes to high notes the body will try a bunch of desperate and misguided stuff. Increasing the breath pressure Raising the larynx Squeezing the extrinsics And, spreading the embouchure. Which results in something like this- [ loud singing without technique ] When we’re really looking for something like this- [ singing with technique ] When you’re working on your upper range, check in on a few things. 1. Breathing How is my breathing? Am I pushing air? Or am I using that small smooth steady exhalation? 2. Larynx What’s up with my larynx? Is it skyrocketing upwards for every note? Or is it staying a little bit lower and more relaxed? 3. Extrinsics Am I tensing my jaw, my tongue, or my neck for higher pitches? Or can I stay loose and free in those areas? 4. Embouchure Do I have to spread my lips for every high note? Or can I stay fairly neutral in the front? Now I’ll admit there are some of you out there who don’t use enough volume when you sing. If that’s you, I’m gonna have to ask you to do me a favor. I’m gonna have to ask you to Make A Joyful Noise! No more holding back, no more being timid. No more second-guessing. Just you, noise, and joy. Let it out. But once you’ve done that then you’ve got to follow the rules like the rest of us. Next mistake is neglecting falsetto and head voice. Singers also typically want a strong and powerful tone. So they focus on chest voice, mix voice, and the connected registers of the voice. And they neglect all the other registers. Whoopsies… Massive vocal mistake. My beloved singers, don’t neglect practicing your falsetto and head voice. They represent so many of the important aspects of your vocal best. Like, increasing your range, your cricothyroid function, [ hits piano ] (whoa) Keeping your voice free from injury, vocal flexibility, decompression, vocal agility, riffs and runs, and vibrato. This list could go on and on. In a certain sense, every note should enter and exit through falsetto and head voice. In other words if you can [ sings vocal exercise ] Then before you know it you’ll find yourself ♪ Wavin’ through a window ♪ at all your adoring fans mobbing your car and they’ll be like ♪ O-o-o-o-h ♪ Next mistake is trying to sound good. Look, if you want to be an accountant be an accountant. I’ve got nothing against accountants. I love accountants. Why? Because an accountant has to get it right. And when the accountant gets it right, life is sweet. But when the accountant gets it wrong, then you’re in a lot of darn trouble. Easy as that. But if I were an accountant myself, then I wouldn’t be able to wait for my vocal practice every day. Why? Because singing is one of the few places in life where it’s not about being right or wrong. Singing is a place where sound, sound that comes from you, sound that comes from your soul, is allowed its full freedom. But we miss this so often. How are we missing this? Instead of singing like artists we’re singing like accountants! And what’s worse, we’re thinking about our voices in this way, too. My friends, we’ve just got to stop thinking of singing as something that you’ve got to get right. The truth is, you can’t get good at singing if you’re not willing to make bad sounds. In fact, your best sounds are a blend of all the bad sounds that your ears don’t want you to risk. Yet without risking chest, how will you ever be ♪ strong ♪? Without risking falsetto, how will you ever be ♪ flexible ♪ ? Without risking twang, how will you ever be ♪ shiny ♪? Without risking low larynx, how will you ever be ♪ free ♪? Without risking slow, how will you ever be ♪ fast ♪? Without risking the crack, how will you ever be ♪ coordinated ♪? Without risking the ♪ flat ♪ and the ♪ sharp ♪ how will you ever be ♪ on pitch ♪? The moment you stop trying to sound good might be the exact turning point in your vocal life. That’s the moment when you finally break free from the prison of your own ears and self-judgement. The moment when you finally say, “I’m a singer, deal with it.” Next mistake is “practice schmractish”. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Easy. You just take the NQRW train to 57th St. and you walk half a block. [ hits piano ] Ha. But of course you’ve got to practice, practice! In my experience, singers are willing to practice. That ain’t the problem. The mistake is how they practice. Here are some examples. 1. Never practicing vocal exercises Vocal exercises are designed to push, stretch, and isolate things in a way that songs cannot. Make sure that at least some of your practice is devoted to your vocal exercises. 2. Picking impossible songs. Sometimes people think, “If only I could master this one insane song then I’ll be able to sing anything”. False. It’s actually best to sing a wide variety of songs. Ideally, you’ll choose songs that are an achievable challenge. Ones that stretch you without straining you. 3. Barrelling through Whether it’s exercises or songs, don’t just barrel through without stopping. It’s much more effective to drill the areas of the voice that specifically need the work rather than just plowing right over stuff. The best practice session doesn’t have to be long. 15-20 minutes can actually get the job done if you’re truly focused on what needs improvement. So don’t let your singing be an “ish” when it should be a swish. And don’t just shmracktish when you can practice… shish shish shish shish… Last mistake is giving up. Hearts are fragile. And people’s hearts get broken in many different ways. But I want to tell you what breaks mine. “Justin, I wanted to be a singer. But I lost the love for it.” “I was practicing every day for a while there, but you know life happens.” “I used to love singing but my parents told me it’s not practical.” “I thought I had a good voice. But my friends all told me I suck.” “I took a few voice lessons once but the teacher didn’t really help me so I thought I was a hopeless cause.” My sweet singer, I’m sorry for what happened to you. But honestly, no matter what happened to you, you need to sing. Your soul is desperate for it. It’s like in the great stories. The ones that really mattered. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. Because they were holding onto something. “What are we holding onto Justin?” That there’s some good in your singing voice. And it’s worth fighting for. So that’s why if you’re game, it’s time for this week’s Voice Lessons To The World Challenge. Your challenge this time is simply to turn away from your wayward vocal past my child. Flee from your vocal mistakes and receive vocal grace. For mistake number one, we’ll start with some fun, practice your scales! But I want you to do them like this- [sings vocal exercise] That’s right. I want you experiencing what it feels like to get softer to go higher. For mistake number two, use the “oo”. Practice your falsetto and head voice. The “oo” vowel is the headiest vowel. So I want you to “woo”. ♫ woo ♫ Good for you! For mistake number three repeat after me, “I, Justin Stoney, hereby vow to make a complete and utter lunatic of myself.” For mistake number four it’s not about more. I want you to be honest with your practice plan. Are you practicing hard or are you practicing smart? And finally, for mistake number five I pray that you thrive. Remember, your voice is not going to give up on you. It’s laughed with you. It’s hoped with you. It’s screamed with you. It’s wept with you. But it has never given up on you. So don’t you give up on it. Let us know how you’re doing by keeping us posted on Facebook, Instagram, and all the usual suspects. Here’s some other things that I hope keep you thriving on your vocal journey. For voice lessons or Skype lessons with the NYVC Staff visit us at NewYorkVocalCoaching.com. If you’d like a vocal course that you can do at home check out the Voice Lessons To The World Vocal Course. This twelve part program takes you on a singing journey from beginner to master level vocal exercises. You can find it at VoiceLessonsToThe World.com. Or if you’d like free vocal tips sent to you each day, sign up at DailyVocalTips.com. And now, here’s Justin with this week’s vocal benediction. Your life is no accident. You’re here on this earth for a reason. And your soul, your thoughts, your voice, all of them have great purpose and meaning. Don’t make the biggest mistake of all by thinking that you are a mistake. No, my friend. You are loved and that’s what makes you… …just right.