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Three Tips to “Instantly” Improve Vocal Technique

by Wenger Guest Author Shaun Johnson, of Band Geek

1. Warm up the right way
When warming up for a performance, try to concentrate on the middle of your range.  Working into the highs and lows of your voice too early often restricts ease and may push a vocalist into habits detrimental to vocal improvement. Tongue and jaw separation, diphthongs, and centered pitches which are worked on in a comfortable, middle range provide a simple template to return to as an ideal reference while vocalizing further.

2. Stay consistent
Try to give equal weight to every note or word in a song. Oftentimes, a high note that one might be stretching to reach or a low note that seems outside of comfortability is not the actual issue.  Rather, a tiny word or color note that seems unimportant in a phrase may be causing a singer to shift out of consistency … like a marathon runner who, rather than running a race smoothly, kneels every 100 meters. Working on consistent notes and phrases lessens tiredness – much like in the case of the aforementioned racer – and puts the singer in an easier place to create.  

3. Use hand gestures to smooth out dynamics
Your voice, like a piano, is one continuous instrument, across the whole dynamic range. And like a piano, working on switching from soft to loud doesn’t necessitate a change in the instrument.  Practicing moving effortlessly from loud to soft and back without becoming either “precious” or “bombastic” can instantly improve power and interpretation.  Your mouth position and breathing do not have to change as this change often takes a singer out of utilizing their instrument to it’s fullest capacity.  Try hand gestures – a smooth, movement of a hand back and forth across the front of your body as you move from loud to soft and back (for instance) – to remind yourself that both loud and soft are equally weighted and produced. 

Shaun Johnson is a Top 5 Billboard Artist who wants to bring masterclasses to everyone.

With this in mind, he created a new initiative called Band Geek.  The name is a nod to the title once given to those with an unquenchable passion for music (Shaun is a child of the 80’s).

This new program hopes to bring both band and choral workshops to under-served communities utilizing both Shaun AND the music professionals who help make a career in the Arts possible.

I felt compelled to introduce students to those I work with – the vocal coaches, jazz professors, producers, clinicians, managers and others who make my life as a full-time musician possible.

Although I’ve participated in hundreds of masterclasses, I see a great need to bring this experience to communities not typically served by a tour’s scope, not typically reached by the world class musicians I am lucky enough to work with each and every day. 

I believe the best lessons, specifically catered to a particular group of students, are through in-person workshops – not just with an artist – but by all of those who make the artistry possible.

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