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Creation and Appreciation of Culture and the Arts

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The most important lesson that you can learn as a singer is that you need to view your voice as your instrument. Just the fact that it’s in your body doesn’t give you automatic mastery over it. You need to train in how to play it just the way you a train on a piano or a saxophone.

Merely singing and practicing doesn’t give you real mastery over your voice. You need a voice training coach to show you the ropes. Even professional singers make plenty of mistakes when they skip their training.

Still not convinced that a voice coach could help you improve your singing? Here’s a quick look at the kind of corrections that a voice coach can help you make.

For a stronger voice, open your mouth

Have you ever noticed that top class singers open their mouths far more than they seem to need to (look at Doris Day singing Que Sera Sera in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much )? When you speak, you don’t ever feel the need to open your mouth wide. You can get by barely moving your lips. This kind of lip movement doesn’t work when you need to sing. The more you learn to sing with your mouth open, the more powerful your voice will become.

How do you practice for this? Opening your mouth wide isn’t necessary – opening it long, is. Singing coaches offer an effective way to practice opening your mouth long. They give you an object like a cork wine bottle cork that you’re supposed to hold in your between your jaws so that your mouth isn’t able to close. You practice singing this way until it becomes natural to never let your jaws close up too much.

The more you practice this technique, the more natural and powerful your voice will sound.

How to sing powerfully without straining your voice

Professional singers make a subtle movement that helps them sing better with less voice strain – they gently tip their chins down. This usually goes against the intuitive way to sing more powerfully – tipping your chin up. While tipping up does work over the short term, it can gradually begin causing voice problems.

It can be difficult to practice singing with your chin pointed down. Your instincts will often keep trying to get you to point up. The more you practice this, though, the more power you will get with minimal voice strain.

Do you find it hard to sing a vibrato?

Contemporary music requires a touch of vibrato on certain notes. The ability to sing your notes with a restrained vibrato is a great sign of an evolved singing technique. How do you train for this difficult technique?

There’s an easy way. You need to get in front of a mirror and stand up straight. Press down on your chest with both hands while you try to raise your chest up. Next, you need to breathe deeply and then exhale without letting your chest fall. Once you’ve achieved the right position, you need to sing a note and hold it as long as you can. As you sing, you need to imagine the air in your throat bouncing around like a marble. This should help you achieve a decent vibrato.

-George deGeyter

MAndolin

Live shows are the backbone of the music industry. From Metallica to Madonna and Gaga to Green Day, most of today's icons are as famous for their explosive live performances as they are for their album sales.

Finely-tuned stage shows aren't just for superstars, either. With file sharing growing at an ever-increasing rate, playing live is fast becoming the emerging artist's main source of income, and a skill that any budding musician needs to master. Of course, getting up to play in front of an audience can be a nerve-wracking experience at the best of times, and one that can even become a chore for some musicians. These five tips will help to give your live playing extra punch, and make sure your show stays fun for audience and performer alike.

Get into the music

If you're not absorbed by your playing then the crowd won't be either. Appearing to enjoy yourself onstage – even if you're secretly terrified – gives your audience the cue to enjoy themselves as well. Let yourself get lost in the music: move about, jump around, close your eyes during the tender bits; whatever works for you.

Respond to the crowd

Involving the crowd in your performance is a key part of a successful live set. However, different crowds respond to different actions, so be prepared to think on your feet if you feel you're losing them. For example, if people sneak off to the bar during your between song banter, then cut it down a a minimum for the rest of the set.

Don't fear mistakes

It's impossible to completely avoid onstage mistakes – even the biggest acts make them. If you can accept that fact and learn to calmly carry on when slip-ups occur, you'll find it much easier to settle into your performance. Remember: most of the time the audience won't even realise you've gone wrong.

Give the audience a focal point
A gig is as much a visual performance as it is an aural one. While having a conventional frontperson isn't a necessity as such, you do need to think about that the crowd sees while you're performing. Audiences subconsciously focus on the centre front of the stage, so by putting your most charismatic band member in the middle you'll be giving them what they want without them even realising.

Practice, practice, practice!

There's no substitute for practice. Working on your songs until they become second nature frees you up to fully concentrate on your performance, and will give you a visible self-confidence boost too.

Playing live music is easy, but playing it well is extremely hard. These tips should give you a solid grounding to launch your playing career, but as a musician and performer you'll never stop learning. Ultimately, live performance is all about confidence. If you know your material is good, and you know you can play that material well, then you're setting yourself up for some excellent gig experiences.

-Andy Walton