New York Vocal Coaching Podcast Ep. 28: With All This Time
Posted Saturday, March 21st 2020 by Greg Kefalas
In this tricky time, Matthew talks about how to stay involved with music and build your vocal skills. From free resources to vocal challenges, he gives ideas on keeping inspired and finding musical fulfillment and expression.
Hello everyone. I'm Matt, and welcome back to the New York Vocal Coaching Podcast. So as we're all very well aware, there is this pandemic going around, COVID-19, that is changing the way that we interact with each other, our voices, our careers, et cetera, et cetera. It's something that was completely unprecedented and we're still trying to figure out how best to use our time and deal with the situation around us. So I wanted to talk a little bit about how we can use this restructured way of living to continue to work on your voice, work on your skills and your expression as an artist.
So the first thing that I want to say before I even dive into any of this is thank you so much to those who are on the front lines of what's going on with everything, people working in hospitals, nurses, anyone working in emergency clinics or wherever. Also those who are postmen and women still delivering mail, people still working in the grocery stores and keeping everything stocked so that we're able to go out and buy supplies, also to the teachers who are teaching online all over the world, continuing to give an education. And I'm sure I'm missing people, so I apologize for that, but thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you're doing in trying to keep some sense of normalcy and some smoothness to the way that we see the world and how we are living it. One thing that I will say in regards to all of this is, we're learning of so many ways that we can use technology, amazing ways to interact with one another, still be very productive with the work that we have to do, and how we conduct ourselves online.
So there is one big perk there. And a lot of the, actually all of what we're going to be talking about today, uses some form of technology, so that you can be, whether it's in your house, maybe you're not working as much, or you don't have a commute now, so you have a little bit of extra time at home and you can use that time to study, train, practice, whatever it may be, so that you feel like you're still being fulfilled as an artist. So here are a list of ways that you can continue to invest in your singing and your music. The first one, which some people may not realize is online lessons. So us teachers at New York Vocal Coaching have been offering online lessons for quite a while now. And with everything that's going on, we have moved to all of our lessons to online. In some ways that could be strange, thinking you're not physically going to a space to learn singing or being one on one with the teacher there, but they run just like normal lessons.
And I've had many students who've tried it for the first time so they can continue to sing, and they've really enjoyed it. They haven't quite expected or thought of what it could be, but it always works out well. And the students come out saying "Well, we got a lot done. There was a lot of progress made there." You work on the same skills, you work on whatever songs you want to work on. So there are very few restrictions when it comes to online lessons and the progress is the exact same. So I encourage you to consider taking some online lessons that way you can still be involved, still be working with your mentor and coach, and building your voice as much as you possibly can through all of this.
The second tip, which may be a little obvious and doesn't use technology as much is practice. Take this time and practice a little bit more than you have before. Maybe work has swamped you in the past, maybe the commute makes it really difficult to practice and with some extra time, take some of that and reinvest it right into that practice time. And what I found is I have some students that come to me and say "Oh, well, I've only been able to practice 10 minutes here or there during the week. Maybe I sang three days a week." And I would talk to them and say "The more you practice, the more encouraged you will be to practice."
And that's because if you take, let's say 45 minutes a day, and you're working on a certain skill, but now you're starting to click into that skill. Maybe you're working on vibrato and it's starting to get easier. You're going to say "Whoa, that felt really cool. I like that sensation. I want to keep on working on it. What other skills can I build into now that I'm getting the hang of this one?" So then working 45 minutes a day may turn into an hour just because you love the success that you're seeing and the progress that you're making. And you can start small, it doesn't need to be working an hour each day, every day, if you're starting from only practicing 10 minutes for three days a week, but give just a little bit more over to that practice and you'll be encouraged in such a big way to continue to increase that time until you're feeling really darn good about your voice and the work that you're putting into it.
This will also give you a very big sense of enjoyment and fulfillment with everything that's going on. It gives it that sense of normalcy that we're seeking through all of this. And it's just enjoyable to be able to sing the songs that you want to sing in the ways that you want to sing them. So our next tip is listen and mimic. Pick your favorite singers and groups and to listen closely. So whether this is on Spotify, YouTube, anything like that, wherever you like to listen to music, copy and mimic the sounds that you hear and really, really focus on what you're hearing. So copy their vocal qualities, copy their vocal volumes, copy their vocal intentions, their pronunciation, whether they're breathy, where they have vibrato, anything like this.
Now we're not saying that whenever you sing this song, you need to sound exactly like the original, but here's why this is important. Being able to copy, gives you such a deep understanding of the rules of that genre. So say you really enjoy listening to Beyonce, who is very heavy in the RnB, pop, gospel genre, as you listen to her, you're going to say "Oh, she's doing this vibrato here, and that's what fits the genre she's a part of." And that applies to any type of singer you can think of. So learn those rules and you'll get a very strong sense of style and where your voice fits into the genres you enjoy to listen to. On that same line, along with the listening, find a way to watch. There are tons of videos on YouTube of live recordings of these performers. Watch them live, see what they're doing expression-wise, see how they're interacting with the crowd, and then you'll begin to pick up on that and journal it if you want to.
Write down what you're noticing, what's working well, what you enjoyed that that artist does, and it will inspire your performance so much because you get to make it your own and you get to experience what really works when you're on a stage and interacting with the audience. So a challenge that I will give to you is find new artists that you've either barely heard before, or really haven't heard before at all. And you can fall down the rabbit hole of once again, your favorite music streaming service, YouTube, wherever, and I challenge you to find two new artists you haven't heard in one of your favorite genres, so a genre that you're already comfortable with, and two new artists in a genre you aren't familiar with.
So maybe you love rock, but you haven't listened to country much, find two new singers in that country genre, doesn't mean you have to love it, but just be aware of them, just know what else is out there, and then find two more in the rock genre that you haven't been too familiar with. This week I've rediscovered The Cure and American Authors, and I haven't really heard much from them in the past, but just by listening, I thought "Hey, this is a pretty cool vibe. I like where they're going with this." And now I have a few new people to listen to, and learn from, and experience. And I would suggest you do this each day. It doesn't take too long, because a lot of times, if you look up one of your favorite groups, there's a list of suggested bands, wherever you may be, and you can just find a new one from there. "Oh, that name is new. Let's take a listen to that person and see what we got there."
And keep on doing that each day, write down the list that you're making. And it will be really interesting to see at the end of the week, the next two weeks, the month and onward past, what we're dealing with now, if that becomes a daily habit, how much you'll be able to experience and take in from all these different performers. So the next one I have for you is learn a supplemental skill. There are a ton of skills that supplement singing, making you express yourself to a higher degree, make it easier to sing as a whole, creates the full package of being a singer and a performer. So that could be acting, playing a different instrument or a new instrument, reading sheet music, learning to write a song, memorizing and finding monologues, yoga, dance, the list goes on and on.
There are tons of different things that help with this whole idea of singing. And see if you could find a way just to experience this world for now. Maybe you can't go to the store and buy a new instrument, but maybe you have a guitar sitting at home, or a flute, an oboe, a trumpet, maybe you have a piano there, or a keyboard that hasn't been used in a while, and you can find some sheet music online, free beginner sheet music and tutorials online, that can start to push you into reading sheet music and starting to play these instruments for the first time. Of course, there are tutorials online having to do with yoga and dance, stretching routines, tons of monologues you can find online. Immerse yourself into these skills, look for those resources, and you'll find that when you come back to the singing, there is a different option, or different options, of how to express yourself and how to make the most of the music that you have.
They all really coincide in a big way to give you the best set of skills you can have as a singer. And on a similar note there, stay on the lookout. So many communities have come together in light of this pandemic to offer whatever, different services, different classes, and that's in singing, that's out of singing, that's all over the place, colleges are offering free classes. Stay on the lookout with where you can find these, I know I found a bunch of just scrolling through my Facebook page, also looking at different news outlets. One of the ones that's come up is the Metropolitan Opera is streaming a free opera each day, this week they did La Bohème, they did Carmen, and I'm not quite sure of some of the others, but it's such a great way to see an opera up close, if you've never experienced it before, or if you love it and just want to see a little bit more of what it has to offer.
So I definitely recommend you check out the opera, Metropolitan Opera, and to see what streaming they have today. And if you don't like it, that's okay too, at least you've experienced something new. And if you love it, then that's awesome. That's another way that you can learn and listen from experts in the opera field. Bands are also streaming online performances, they are making concerts that are online. There are individual bands that are putting out music, sooner rather than later, just to give us something to listen to. And those are all over the place, whether they're on Facebook, they're on Instagram, anything like that. And it's really good quality. I mean, it's cool how much we're taking advantage of the technology so that we can make this happen in such a big way.
Going back to the idea of learning how to dance, I know Broadway choreographers that are putting how-tos and teaching their choreography on Instagram or Facebook. And it's just the coolest thing. They walk you through it step by step. It's like you're in a Broadway audition. And there's no better training than you could get in your own home, dance-wise, than by learning it from the people that go and do it and audition each day and adjudicate these auditions. So be on the lookout for that such a cool resource.
There are also other studios and membership websites that are offering deals or free modules to learn and stay involved in the community. So maybe you've seen someone who teaches piano online, and now they have a free course here, or maybe there are talks online from a bunch of different teachers on how to make the most of online lessons or anything like this. The opportunities are growing, they are definitely out there, so just stay engaged and involved, and these will come across your dashboard like crazy. Take advantage of all of this and take as much out of it as you possibly can. And you'll love such a varied array of where you can go for different training and different experiences that you're not used to, or haven't been able to get in the past.
The last thing that I'll say that isn't just about singing is invest in you. So this is an odd time, it's a confusing time, and we're all trying to get through it together. So if needed, take that time and invest in resting, getting more sleep if you feel like you're deprived of sleep, going for a walk or a hike, getting outside alone, just out of the house to get some sunshine, just to get some fresh air. Use some of this time to replenish your mind, soul and body. And without it, we can very well all go crazy in some way, shape or form. So you want to take that time and the freedom you can find to give back to your overall health, to your creativity, to your connection with others around you, whether that's just with your immediate family in the house, or just reaching out to a friend on the phone and having a conversation, finding ways to stay connected to the world around us in a way that works best for you.
And I know that's vague, but as you continue to go each day, it's going to get easier and easier to find what works best for you, what brings the most comfort, and what's the most productive as well. And through this health in the mind, soul and body, you can pave your way to be the best singer. If we are very worried about a lot of things or stressed, and we're not finding that time to unload that stress, it's going to be tough to continue to sing the music that we want to sing and feel genuinely good about it. There's going to be something that always feels just a little bit off, and we want to make sure that we are starting from a clean mental slate or as close to clean as possible to be able to give our voices and our bodies the best that we can.
So that's quite a list there. It's going to give you a lot to mull over a lot, to think about. I heavily, heavily encourage you that if you have questions on these or other recommendations that you reach out to us at email@example.com, that's firstname.lastname@example.org, bring your questions, your concerns, your thoughts on everything that's going on. And please know that we're here for you as you continue to sift through what's out there and make the most of your time and as we tackle and conquer this together. As a finishing note, I'll say, please, everybody stay healthy, stay safe, continue to make the music that you love to make, find what brings you joy, even through all of this, because all of that is just so, so, so important. All of us at NYVC are thinking of you through this difficult time and please stay healthy. Thank you so much for listening. And we will be back very soon for more.
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