Ok, imagine a time when we all had to stay indoors. A time when all we did was bake, work from home and check out other people’s homes through the power of the screen. My only sanctuary was my recording booth. We all entered very committed relationships with live streaming services like Zoom. Ok I know, we don’t have to imagine because we lived it. Did you vow to write that novel? Did you decide to pick up a new hobby? All those acrylic paint pourers, I am looking at you!
Picking a new VoiceOver tool
Well I did the same thing but I said to myself in a conversational VoiceOver style that it had to be something to do with VoiceOver. So then I thought, what else could I add to my vocal tool kit? I realised there is one area of vocal work I have avoided. Until now….Singing.
Sing out loud
So I decided to take singing lessons. Now, I sang at school in shows and hymns. But at some point someone told me I couldn’t actually sing. And so I did what ever child does, I took that completely to heart and head and stopped singing. I danced and would sing-ish the words in performances. But never completely really sang. And so I did a bit of rapping and some of you lucky ones have heard my “Lets get ready to rumble.” But sing? Me? Goodness me NO!
Leaving my voice comfort zone
In my job as a VoiceOver artist, singing has been requested at times especially for character work. And yes, a little humming or a tuneless song are all well and good. But an actual song. It was when my dance teacher (who is a proper amazing singer and been on stage at the Palladium) said that I had a nice voice and bet I sang well. I shook my head and very firmly said, “No! And that was the end of that voice adventure…until…
Learning voice skills in lockdown
And then lockdown happened. The first one of 2020 I mean. I scrambled about a little late to the toilet roll party and settled into a sort of non routine. I took out my “things I would love to do if I had more time” list and singing was right at the top. I was a little out of my comfort zone but well non of us were going anywhere.
That very same day I was followed on my Instagram account by voice coach expert Lydia Flock. She is the a rising Queen of Vocal health Education. As well as a member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, the British Voice Association and association member of the National Association of teachers in signing, Lydia is due to quality in Vocal Massage Training with the Voice Care Centre. Fancy! And she is the founder of Flockstars, teaching all singers of all abilities to reach their key. I liked her holistic approach and I liked her birds of a feather approach. So I took the pitch plunge!
Lydia Loves a Lyrical Lesson
So I had a word with Lydia to see how she could help me. Could she help me? I was a little nervous in our first session. I have to admit that while I can talk in front of an audience of thousands, singing to just one person other than myself in the shower was daunting. Lydia was amazing and calmed me straight away. We started off discussing what I hoped to achieve (confidence to sing in front of others), my voice experience so far (decades of voice over acting and producing/directing) and why I haven’t explored singing so far (see above). But hurrah, Lydia was kind and patient and focused immediately on the areas I needed to work on. Vocal muscle re-training and unlocking the shapes I needed to get to the right sounds.
Since I started singing lessons with Lydia, I’ve come to focus on my voice and vocal exercises in a different way. There are techniques that have been great for me to wrap my lips and mouth around. And I have loved the sound of the penny dropping as Lydia helped me realise aspects about my larynx, that I had never known before.
Top 5 Tips for the Beginner Singer
I am so pleased to say that while I am not aiming to challenge Adele to any singing prizes, I feel much more confident in voicing a lot more in the form of singing. Because of that, I asked Lydia to share with me some tip for singers who are at the start of their singing journey. Heads up - this is stuff is gold dust. Which is your favourite tip?
#1 ACTIVELY listen to singers you like
Get really curious about your favourite songs. How does the artist shape their vowels? Do they “scoop up” or seem to “fall off” notes sometimes? What makes the song so good? All of these questions will help you start thinking in more detail about how you might like to sound as a singer. This can really help you to set clear vocal goals.
#2 Get curious about your SPEAKING voice.
How fast or slow do you speak? Do you notice when you change pitch? Finding sounds in our speaking voice that are familiar is a really useful way to connect to your singing voice. For example, finding your higher register might include playing around with an owl sound on a “oo oo” or a “wooo” as if something exciting has just happened.
#3 Find a TEACHER
For beginners especially, working on your singing voice can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! I recommend beginner singers find a singing teacher or vocal coach they vibe with and commit to regular lessons and practice. Your teacher is your guide and is there to help you overcome those hurdles of vocal challenges and potentially not fully believing in your voice.
#4 Practice REGULARLY
Learning singing involves motor learning skills so it is crucial to practice regularly. Our voices are just like any other muscle in the body. If we don’t use it, we lose the skill. You wouldn’t expect yourself to run a marathon without having run in 5 years! Singing is the same way. Even just 5-10 minutes a day of practice will add up!
#5 Check your vocal MINDSET
Constantly telling yourself negative things about the way your voice sounds will get you nowhere. Thinking you can sing is the first step to singing success. Play around with believing that the way you want to sing is how you will sing. Work on uprooting any negative beliefs around your voice as much as you work on vocal technique.
Sing your heart out
I am biased because I love having singing lessons with Lydia and now as we head into the second lockdown I look forward to more learning online with her. Her encouragement and exercises have helped not only my singing but also speaking as well. I have really been much more mindful about pitch, positioning and poutting! Take a session with Lydia and you'll see what I mean.
Keep Voicing and please get in touch with any questions,