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Voice Lessons with Rebecca Schwarz

me throwing a cushion

Voice Lessons – Your journey into vocal strength and courage by exploring and sharing your singing.

Private Voice Lessons

If you do vocal training with me I have a journey, either with voice lessons online or voice lessons Birmingham that involves a lot of exploring and sharing your singing, with me and with others when you are ready.  It goes like this…

1) You get the confidence to sing for me.  You are brave and vulnerable by sharing the things that you know need to improve.  (You can choose to use a video sharing app to get feedback between your private voice lessons.) 

2) You attend the group class, (called the Vocal Explorer’s Class or VEM), and explore and share your voice there.  You get to know the group and feel increasingly comfortable with them.  These are twice a month, online.   

You share a bit of a song for the group.  It is just a bit of a song so you don’t feel too exposed. 

3) You attend the song sharing session online and sing a whole song.  These are approximately 4 times a year.  It is a relaxed affair but still more formal than the mini sharing at the end of the classes. 

4) You sing in front of other people in real life (irl as my 11 year old would say).  It is no big deal because you’ve done it so many times online. When lock down is eased I very much hope to return to hosting vocalist concerts. 

I didn’t realise that I was setting up a journey when I set up steps 2 and 3.  The plan was to make the most of everything being online.  

Now I know it’s a massively helpful journey into confidence building and I have no intention of changing it.  I love that we have a community. 

Group Voice Lessons – Exploring and Sharing Your Singing.  What Happens…

We always have a chat to check in on where everyone is and so people get to know each other. 

Then everyone turns off their mics except me whilst we warm up and do vocal explorations.  

Singers are welcome to share stuff with the group if they want to and I do ask them to share bits of exercises, they can choose not to if they are feeling shy. 

Class on 10 May 2021 

My plan was to explore high singing but in typical ADHD style I veered off course. This is a description of our recent group singing lesson.

The Secret Laugh*

As we were all saying hello Mary talked about a funny story which made me think about the secret laugh and how laughing can benefit us all in singing.  So then we shared some more funny stories.  We explored talking in “neutral” and then speaking with the secret laugh

You can hear the secret laugh in this advert. (notice that the last actor on this advert doesn’t do the secret laugh but the others all do when they say “this is M and S….”. 

Extending our ranges upwards 

Then we looked at exploring our higher ranges.  I videoed some of the class to share on Youtube but when it got more interactive I stopped recording it as the singers need to feel safe and that it is a private space.  

First of all we did some SOVT exercises to get our upper register going.  For more info about SOVT see my blog HERE or a more detailed explanation HERE.

Then we did my favourite exercise for finding higher notes, (often in whistle register, for more info about whistle see HERE) throwing a cushion and whooping. 

The explorers were surprised that they were able to sing higher when they were following me  but I’ve been using this with singers for over a decade so I know that it works.

The Power of Play

The explorers were surprised that they were able to sing higher when they were following me  but I’ve been using this with singers for over a decade so I know that it works.  That video isn’t for the public but you can view it HERE.

Then we played with being animals that had high pitched voices. That was pretty funny. 

Then we explored different voice qualities, (whiney, shouty, breathy, pretend classical).  When the singers felt their throats “tighten or feel strange” they raised a hand and when their voice felt “wrong” or their voices stopped they raised another hand.  When they raised their hands I shouted out the note that they were on and they wrote it down. 

At the end of exploring everyone shared which was easiest for them.  As expected their style of singing influenced which voice quality was easiest.  If you want to know what I mean by this you’ll have to send me an email and I’ll write a blog about it.  

One other thing that came up was that because we are working with them muted they all had different interpretation of the qualities we worked with.  When one singer was doing “shouty” and was hitting crazy high notes.  I knew I had to hear what she was doing.  What she had found was really nice and “singy” but not what I would call shouty.  It was what I would call “mix”.  I was really pleased.  She was hitting really high notes in a great mix, so from now on I will say “shouty” to her and that will get her to her mix.  

Then we did a song share, or bit of a song share.  

Mini Song Share – the special extra part of the group voice lessons

Session by session the singers are getting to know each other and build a trust and an understanding of each other’s challenges.  Everyone shared a bit of a song and they were all so much more confident than they had been when sharing at the previous class, just  two weeks earlier. 

We discussed ideas for one singer to explore as she is going to sing at her sister’s wedding. 

Then Mary said that she had never shared a video of herself singing online.  So of course we dared her to use the private Facebook group to do that.  It was up within the hour and now Mary has shared a video of herself singing, online.  I suspect it won’t be long till she is sharing them all over the place. 

* The secret laugh is a technique from Estill Voice Training  that is meant to widen the ventricular folds.    I use it to counter any tension that comes in when our throats “tighten”.  It’s totally normal to be nervous in voice lessons and this can lead to that tension. This is often what people mean when they say that they feel they are “singing from the throat”.  The secret laugh is a brilliant technique but it can be hard for adults to find something funny.   

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