The singer's tool belt is a way of talking about the various styles and techniques you can bring to your vocal performances to give them character. This course covers a number of techniques and styles of inflections. In this video, Lari gives an overview of how to approach your tool belt of tricks.
- Singers and athletes have a lot in common. I think about athletes a lot when I'm working as a singer and when I'm talking to singers. Like athletes, different bodies have different natural abilities and those abilities and talents can be developed and grown and stretched. But many times, a successful competitive athlete is born, just genetically they come into the world with certain attributes, physical and mental attributes that make them good at a particular kind of race, or a particularly good swimmers.
Singers are born to some degree, in that your, the physiology of your instrument, may have naturally certain sound or certain ability, kind of flexibility. You may just be naturally attuned to the nuances that can be accomplished with the musculature of your respiratory system and inside your throat and your tongue that make you just naturally good at manipulating the tone, the sound of your voice, so that you can achieve cool effects and different kinds of sounds.
But whether you are born with that natural singer DNA or not, you can acquire skills, you can grow your range, you can stretch just like any other athlete, who can train and get better and push the limits of what they're able to do. I call it the singer's tool belt, because what we're going to do is, one at a time, we're going to kind of pull out and examine very closely these tools, some singers call them tricks, the tricks that they can do.
I call them tools, because they are very much instruments that you can study, come to understand and practice using, so that you get better and better at using that tool. And once you've mastered that tool, you can kind of keep it in your tool belt and pull it out and use it when you choose, when you want to accomplish a certain sound or a certain effect. And the more you practice, just like any other kind of muscle memory, the more you practice it, the more it will come to live naturally in your body and in your mind and it will be more and more accessible to you.
So we're going to pull these tools out one at a time and look at them closely, hear what they sound like, listen to some very accomplished vocalists use them, and we're going to practice using them ourselves. So, remember, you are a vocal athlete. Your instrument is flesh and bone, it is malleable, it is trainable, it's expandable, and it's constantly evolving, because your instrument is living tissue.
So, something you might not be able to achieve today, you may very well be able to achieve next week, or next month, or even next year. So think for a minute about what your unique strengths are, what you naturally do well and do easily. What do you like to do? What are some songs that you like to sing, why do you like to sing them? What part of your voice or what features of your voice do you like to use and show off? And then think for a second about what some of your weaknesses are.
Where you would like to train more deeply. What you'd like to accomplish. Having a good mental picture of what you want to do, of what your goal is, is the first step to accomplishing anything. So what we're going to do is, one at a time, we're going to look at these tools, we're going to practice each tool a little bit, demonstrate some dos and don'ts, always keeping in mind that the bottom line, the priority is to do all of our work in a healthy way.
Nothing should ever hurt, just remember, nothing should ever hurt. If any part of your body mechanism hurts or is uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable, stop, take a break and revisit it later. Make sure that you aren't fighting some kind of cold or illness that's compromising your instrument. You especially don't want to do this kind of deep work when your instrument is anything less than 100%.
You always want to warm up. We've got a nice collection of warm up activities that you can tap into, pick what your favorites are, and make sure that any time you approach work on these tools, that you are well warmed up, your body is stretched, your posture is in a good place, your alignment is right and you are prepared and ready to sing. We're going to practice these tools a little bit, and then your job will be to continue practicing with the goal of muscle memory.
So that you can eventually use these tools without thinking, you've done them so frequently, you've repeated them so many times that they become part of your muscle's memory, and you know exactly what to do without thinking about it. They're a lot of fun, it's fun to play with these tools and I'm interested in hearing what tools become your favorites.
Note: This course was recorded and produced by ArtistWorks. We're pleased to host this training in our library.
- Singing harmony and straight tone
- Crafting your vocal tone
- Using vibrato and messa di voce
- Working with the chest and head voice
- Singing in a low or high register
- Selecting a microphone for live performance and recording
- Understanding the Nashville Number System