The Triumvirate of Vocal Resonance

Many vocal pedagogues address vocal resonance in only an indirect manner with their students, using visualizations, imitation of the teacher and the like to get their points across.  This method can be haphazard and give singers just a partial understanding and, thereby, only partial access to crucially-necessary resonance, limiting not only the beauty and health of their voices, but also future career opportunities.  It is a much better approach to address the individual aspects of vocal resonance one by one and then work systematically to combine them into the overall technique.

There is a triumvirate of vocal resonance that needs to work in tandem for the optimum health and beauty of the classical voice.  The concepts themselves are well-known:  a lowered larynx and expanded pharynx; an expanded soft palate and oro-pharynx and nasal resonance/ring.  These are the areas where it is possible to expand the pharyngeal resonance chambers and thereby alter the sound of the human voice for the better.  It is imperative not only that each of these areas be taught to expand in the correct manner, which takes detailed, concentrated work, but that these concepts then be trained to work together.

This idea is impossible for some singers to grasp.  “How can I maintain a high soft palate and back space while having frontal resonance?” “How can my larynx stay low when my soft palate is raised?”  Both are questions I have often heard in my voice studio.  I, too, was taught as a young singer that I had to make a choice between forward resonance or back space, a lowered larynx or a high soft palate, that the ability to maintain two or three of these openings simultaneously was only for the gifted few.  While it is true that some singers can open all of these resonance spaces naturally, it is absolutely possible for everyone to learn open these resonators and thereby drastically improve their voices.  Eventually, the very oppositional nature of the necessary expansion become a guide for singers, as they learn it is that expanded, relaxed, open space that is necessary for their optimum sound.

The exercises of the Swedish-Italian Technique that I have offered and explained in detail previously, when learned correctly and practiced with precision, are extremely effective in training the triumvirate of vocal resonance.  It is important for each concept to be learned individually and then combined.  An experienced, knowledgeable teacher is needed to help guide the singer in the process.  Advanced singers can pick up these exercises, grasp the fundamentals from the teacher more quickly and then work on their own to effect positive changes, but beginners and intermediate singers do require more consistent, hands-on instruction and reinforcement.

Below are several exercises that work on the triumvirate of vocal resonance.


The ng exercise trains correct nasal resonance while the soft palate is raised.  The pop on the held 8th should be sudden and this initial “ah” should be held as the soft palate continues to lift and widen and the back wall of the mouth expands.  After achieving that openness, maintain it on the descending arpeggio.  The cough off is a quick, easy expulsion of excess air through an open pharynx, initiated by an abdominal kick.

1 – 3       rest          3 – 5       rest         5 – 8 (hold)

ng       cough off     ng       cough off    ng               (keep singing)


8 (hold)  5 – 3 – 1

(pop)   ah –   –   –   –   –   –  –


Laryngeal Tilt

This can be experienced passively by dropping the jaw, monitoring the position of the larynx with gentle fingers and very slowly closing the jaw, allowing the larynx to remain in the same position.

In singing, the larynx must be dealt with delicately, always going for the relaxed open feeling of the beginning of the yawn.  The larynx should not be pushed or held, but gently encouraged.  In the slow, three-note exercise below, the first note should be sung with the larynx in its normal position.  On the slide up to the second note, the larynx should be encouraged to relax and drop to a lower position without manipulation.  That relaxed, lower position should be maintained on the final note.  This is to be done low in the range initially and taken up higher when mastered, with the understanding that the larynx will not release down as much for higher notes, since the larynx itself has to be in a slightly higher position during their execution.

1                      3                      1

ee – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

slide                slide


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Crucial, Common Technical Mistakes Made by Singers

As a voice teacher, I see a number of the same mistakes being made time and time again by various singers who come to my studio.  These issues crossover to all voice types and are often so small that they are not even caught by teachers and coaches.  However, they do make a real impact on technique over time, so it is well-worth raising your awareness level to ensure that you are not making these errors

Breathing too often

It is very easy to start taking too many quick, unnecessary breaths when singing both vocalises and repertoire.  This may seem like a harmless issue, but each new breath requires the singer to reset every single muscle involved in vocal technique – breath resistance, oro and pharyngeal space, laryngeal position, etc.  Unnecessary breaths make extra work for the singer.  It is much harder to reset for quick breaths than slower breaths at the ends of phrases, run the risk of unintentionally losing your hard-earned technique with this bad habit.

Breathing too often is indicative of the fact that a better, deeper and more relaxed breath needs to be taken at the beginning of the phrase.  Isolate your breathing patterns to ensure that you have the best coordination possible and are utilizing the strong reflexes of the rib cage to help “breathe your body” for you.  Once you have improved your breathing, slowly work the deeper, more relaxed breathing into singing your vocalises and repertoire, stopping and making certain to give yourself enough time to get an ideal breath at the beginning of every phrase.  If you still feel the need to take extra breaths to make it through a normal-length phrase, you have support/breath management issues that you should address with an accomplished teacher.

Over-expanding in rib cage

Once singers get introduced to using the rib cage in breathing for singing, it can be tempting to begin over-expanding the rib cage and forget to release the abdominal wall simultaneously.  There are two main problems with over-expansion in the rib cage.  Firstly, it makes it very difficult to expand in the back when singing, an important part of breath resistance/support, because there is nowhere for the back to expand – it is already too close to its maximum expansion point.    Secondly, it increases the tendency to lock in the rib cage, which keeps the air from flowing freely out of the lungs and has a detrimental effect on the resultant tone quality.  The abdominal wall has its special role to play in breath resistance/support for the voice, so when it is left out of the equation completely, the tone suffers as a result.

The best type of breathing for singing is always balanced between releasing in the abdominal wall and expanding in the rib cage.  One key for you to notice is that it should feel integrated, as if the parts are working in tandem together.  If your rib cage and abdominal wall feel like they are working against each other, you should try to find expert help with your breathing.

Not getting rid of excess air before inhalation

The best coordination for breathing is predicated on having the lungs empty enough of air to trigger the breathing reflex, which expands the rib cage automatically.  However, many singers use very little of the air in their lungs to sing and then have excess sitting there, taking up the space needed by fresh, oxygenated air.  When the lungs sense that they need new, oxygenated air and are unable to bring enough in, a singer feels suffocated.  This feeling indicates to the singer that s/he does not have enough air, when the very opposite is true.

It is important to get rid of excess air before taking in the next breath.  This can be easily accomplished by doing the cough-off, a technique described by Enrico Caruso of using a quick, abdominal kick inward after a musical phrase is completed.  The cough-off expels excess breath, helps stimulate the breathing reflex and prepares the way for a deeper inhalation.   It is a tool that you can effectively utilize to ensure surplus, waste air is expelled efficiently.

Attacking the staccato

Another very common mistake that singers make – from beginners to advanced – is attacking the onset of staccato notes with glottal strokes.  A staccato simply means that the note is short; nothing more, nothing less.  No special onset is required.  It is releasing the note rapidly after onset that creates the desired effect.  However, the need to make the note short affects singers on a psychological level and often drives them to use unnecessary and unhelpful glottal strokes.

Awareness of this issue is the first step.  Then, you must retrain yourself to perform a balanced onset of the vocal cords and release the note quickly afterwards.  Singing the notes as part of a legato phrase first can help, as does working on the thin edge function of the cords.

Important – it can be tempting merely to add an “h” in front of staccato notes, in order to ensure that glottal strokes don’t occur, but that is the wrong way to solve the problem.  Using an “h” consistently without guidance can lead singers to develop an aspirate onset, just as problematic in the long run as the use of glottal strokes.  The ideal is the healthiest coordination of the breath and vocal cords together that is called the balanced onset.

Not energizing entire musical phrase

It is very easy for singers to forget to use enough energy on certain notes in a phrase, while energizing the rest of the notes.  The under-energized notes are often pick-ups at the beginning or the final notes at the end.  It is also common to under-energize lower pitches, even in the middle of a phrase.  These notes are easy for a trained ear to identify, because they don’t have the openness and vibrancy to match the other pitches.  Sometimes, the notes even have a different vibrato, coloration or dynamic level.  But it can be very challenging for a singer to identify under-energized pitches without assistance.

Working with a knowledgeable teacher or coach can help you identify specifically where you are lacking in energy and allow you to rectify the problem.  Once you are more aware of where you are likely to under-energize, it will be easier to work through other repertoire and locate problem spots.  Then, it takes concentration to rework your support in a more consistent manner.

In general, it is important to understand that, for the very best singing, support has to be consistent throughout the musical phrase.  That means it has to be present from the moment prior to initiating the tone (after inhalation is completed) until the moment after phonation ceases.  Picking it up part-way through or supporting only for the high notes will never suffice.  That is why it is important that you, the singer, always be aware of your support system and constantly perfect it.

Not keeping support flexible

Yet another error many singers make is to overdo the support.  This often happens to those singers who took longer to become active in their support systems and, quite specifically, in men.  Once they discover approximately what the muscles are supposed to do, they work too hard, holding the respiratory muscles in place, which locks the outflow of the breath.  Since the whole point behind support is to control the continuous, energized outflow of breath to sustain a longe phrase, this over-muscling is counter-productive.  Tone emitted using a locked support system can never be as beautiful as it should be and will, in fact, shut down the pharynx and have other detrimental effects on the technique.

You should always try to work in gradations when addressing your support system, making sure to keep everything supple and moving all the time.  An organic, balanced coordination of all the elements is the goal.  Support needs to be flexible, so that it can subtly change and adapt to the needs to each individual musical phrase.  It is an excellent idea to do your best to master reflexive breathing discussed in previous articles.  This can then serve as a guide for the best coordination for inhalation, which makes it easier to access the best coordination for singing itself.


By keeping an eye out for these issues when practicing, you will ensure that you do not fall into the common mistakes that trap many an unwary singer!


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Accepting and Understanding Feedback

Accepting feedback is challenging for most people, but is a necessary part of being a singer.  Because we don’t have the ability to hear ourselves and assess our own techniques, we need regular feedback from others.  We also get feedback all of the time from teachers, coaches, friends, family, colleagues, agents and auditioners as a matter of course.  Raising your comfort level for taking in and processing feedback will make your long journey as a singer a much healthier one on emotional and vocal levels.

Positive feedback

Accepting positive feedback is often extremely difficult for singers to do.  Singers tend to be perfectionists and don’t want to admit they are good until they are almost perfect.  That makes it difficult to acknowledge progression along the way.  However, it is very important to recognize and celebrate the small accomplishments.  They are a crucial part of keeping your spirits up and spurring you on to further success.  Without these small steps, the larger steps towards a wonderful vocal technique are out of reach.

One easy way to start recognizing the positive feedback is to keep a journal of the compliments you receive.  Write them down as soon as you can, because they are easy to forget.  As you record them, realize that the person who gave that compliment to you really meant it and made an effort to communicate it to you.  Therefore, the comment deserves your full consideration.  When you have a bad practice session or a bad audition, read through the compliments to lift your mood.  This type of written record will help you develop more perspective on your singing and carry you through the low times.

Negative feedback

All singers have to put up with negative comments – all singers.  Even the greatest singers have had terrible things said about their voices.  But they did not let those comments stop them from pursuing their dreams.  They remembered the comments, as singers do, but they kept working on their singing, until they reached their goals.  The next time you get a negative, hurtful comment, keep that in mind.

Consider the source

All feedback is not equal.  You always have to consider the source.   The constructive feedback of a knowledgeable, experienced teacher who knows your voice is very different from the thoughtless, sarcastic comment from a hungry auditioner who is only thinking about lunch.  Those who hear you just once are reacting to their impressions of the day, filtered through their own understanding.  Since that understanding can vary greatly from those who know the ideals of the different voice types well to those who know very little about classical singing, it is always better to take most feedback with a huge grain of salt.

Ego also plays a huge part in those offering feedback.  If you are singing for someone with the same voice type, that person might be much more critical of you for that reason alone.  S/he wants to feel superior and picks apart your performance to that end.  If you remind an auditioner of an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend, for example, you might be rejected purely for that reason alone, despite an excellent audition.

There are also voice teachers, not very accomplished at teaching, who blame the student for his/her lack of improvement.  This is quite common in universities and many extremely talented singers give up their professional ambitions as a result, which is a loss to the classical singing world.  If your teacher is consistently negative about your voice and singing and you are not improving, realize that the teacher is blaming you for his/her inability to help and it is probably time to change teachers.

Differences for women vs. men

Because there are so many more women singers in the classical music world, we are therefore subjected to more negative feedback.  It is unfortunate and very unfair, but true.  The next time you do an audition and there are 20 other sopranos for one role and two baritones for two roles, realize that any feedback you receive is going to reflect the fact that every tiny flaw will be scrutinized in the women’s voices, but not in the men’s voice.

True feedback

A lot of negative feedback can be discounted as more reflective of the giver than you the singer.  But if trustworthy sources with expertise and your best interests at heart offer feedback that you don’t like or doesn’t fit with your opinions, be open to giving the feedback some real thought.  This includes changes in fach.  Ask yourself if it could be true and something you need to modify or address.  They could be giving you extremely important information that you need to further your vocal technique and career.  Ignoring this type of helpful feedback will only hurt your singing in the long-run.

Trusting yourself

In the end, it is up to you and you alone to decide what feedback you will believe and allow to affect your opinion of your own voice.  Before you take every comment made to you as the gospel truth, consider the source, the source’s possible motivation and ask yourself, “Do I really believe that to be true?”  (Try to determine the difference between believing and wishing.  We singers all wish for certain things, but need to face the reality of the instruments with which we were born.)  If you don’t believe it to be true, toss it aside.  If you do, act on it by improving and moving upward to a new level of technical accomplishment.  After all, singing is always about constantly assessing, improving and perfecting the voice, in order to bring the highest level of artistry to the stage.  It is a never-ending process.


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The Challenges of Teaching Big Voices

There are a number of unique challenges to teaching big voices.   Large voices are more complex in nature, and there are more variables that can play into taking their development to a professional level.  The impressive nature of their instruments can lead mediocre teachers to excuse vocal faults, believing the voice will be appreciated anyway.  Because of this, it is incumbent upon large-voiced singers to understand that their needs will not be met by every teacher.   They need to keep an eye out for areas of their technique that might be overlooked and underdeveloped.

Vocal problems that are relatively easy to diagnose in small and medium-sized instruments are often much harder to determine in truly big voices.  The problems present themselves in different ways.  Without the requisite experience of teaching other large voices, a teacher can easily mistake one issue for another and lead the student down the wrong technical path.  To work effectively with large voices, a teacher has to be willing to admit that s/he does not necessarily know the correct issue right away and be willing to experiment and find out over a few lessons how that particular voice works.  More experience of hearing the voice should help clarify what the underlying technical issues truly are.  Getting feedback from the student is also a huge help in helping the teacher understand the instrument inside and out.

Good teachers are open to listening to the technical concerns of their students and addressing them in the voice lesson.  This is, in fact, an important part of the process and can clarify the reasons behind certain vocal issues for a teacher.  After all, the singer is the only one who can actually feel what is taking place during phonation.  The feedback of a sensitive singer can play a crucial part in constructing a wonderful vocal technique, so don’t be afraid to speak up.  It is your voice and you have every right to ensure that it is being developed correctly.  The right teacher will listen and respect you for it.

Once well on the way to developing a healthy, working technique, there is the ever-present danger of not going far enough when addressing various technical aspects of the voice.  Because large-voiced singers can often make a lot of sound relatively easily, subtleties can be accidentally overlooked when the voice starts coming together.  It is imperative that all of the necessary components of an excellent technique are addressed and enough time is devoted during practice sessions for the muscle habits to change.  A slapdash effort is not enough.  Here, it is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that the singer understands what the goals are and how to reach them.  It is the responsibility of the singer to make sure that s/he understands and works towards the goals assiduously, while remaining open and free.  Singing is all about refining the basic principles.  From a technical standpoint, there is nothing else to work on but these basics.

Spinto Tenor

I had an extremely talented spinto tenor come to me recently for lessons.  He told me that he was having issues with his top and with sustaining phrases.  He studied previously with a well-respected teacher and understood all of the necessary components for an excellent technique intellectually.  Many of those components were included as part of his technical coordination, but not all of them.  Some of those that were included were not taken far enough to make the necessary differences in his technique and sound.

This tenor was familiar with the thin edge function, having worked on it in the past.  But he had moved away from reinforcing the concept in his practice sessions and had gradually reverted using more thick mass of the cords.  This is common in singers who don’t take the time to reinforce the concept consistently.  When I took him through the thin edge exercises in his first lesson, reminding him about the correct way to execute the vocaleses, his voice changed dramatically.  As the excess weight dropped away, it gained in size and beauty, taking on a wonderful sheen and polish.  He also found his top was now easily accessible again.

There was still an unusual raspy, static-like sound in this tenor’s voice, the cause of which I was not able to identify immediately.  But I knew his soft palate was “lazy” and was not high and wide enough, so I addressed that.  As his soft palate expanded, I was able to tell that he was lacking in the necessary expansiveness in other areas of his oropharynx and pharynx.  He was doing some expansion, but not enough.  Opening the back and sides of his oropharynx added additional color, size and freedom to his sound.  The same lack of full release of the larynx was true, as well.  The larynx was a little lowered, but not enough and not consistently.  Working on a lowered, relaxed laryngeal position changed the voice even more, increasing the size yet again and, interestingly enough, removing the previous raspy sound.  His voice was now clear as a bell, gorgeous, rich and very resonant.  Through this process, his breath issues disappeared on their own.

This tenor will continue to work with me to learn the full extent to which he needs to apply these concepts and to find the precise balance.  This was clearly an example of either (1) the failure of the previous teacher/s to push a large-voiced singer to implement the required technical changes, (2) a lack of understanding of on the part of the singer of the degree to which the technical changes had to be taken or (3) the failure of the singer to practice intelligently and reeducate the existing coordination until the new habit became second-nature.


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Building a Voice – Lyric Mezzo

Great voices often come to new studios in bad vocal shape, usually the result of poor training.  That was true of an extremely talented mezzo who came to my studio about five months ago.  Having been encouraged by her previous teacher to take chest voice up well beyond the first passagio, her voice was over-weighted, small and she had difficult accessing her top.  The sound was detrimentally affected, leaving her with a pressed, strained, raspy quality that completely hid her true potential.  Of course, her last teacher did not think very much of her talent, because he did not know how to help her develop her magnificent instrument appropriately.  All of his technical instructions just drove her to press on her voice more and more.

Having learned that not all voice teachers are equal, this mezzo did a few trial lessons with various teachers prior to committing to her next teacher.  At her trial with me, we worked specifically on releasing the excess weight and she was able to feel a positive difference in her voice immediately.  When applying that concept to repertoire, her voice felt much healthier, to her great relief.  Because of the drastic difference in how her voice worked in only one lesson, she chose me as her new voice teacher.

Motivated and bright, she was amazed right away the efficacy of the thin edge exercises in her first committed lesson.  In fact, she stopped dead in the middle of doing the first exercise and said, “Why in the world does doing this make my voice feel so much better?”  I explained to her the mechanics behind the concept, which was completely new to her, but understanding allowed her to grasp its importance.  Her voice had a tiny bit of natural ring, but working on correct nasal resonance allowed her to release her need to press her voice, giving her sound more natural ease.  We worked on applying both of those concepts to music in the first several lessons and as she said, they made her singing “feel better than it has in years”.

Practicing the exercises at home reinforced the changes made in her lessons.  She was learning to release the excess weight and to sing based on resonance vs. breath pressure.  Then we addressed her registration issues, working on transitioning to a mix of head and chest voice at the right point for her voice type.  Her lower middle and middle were naturally a little weak, making her slightly reluctant to let go of her old approach.   But she noticed after several weeks that her middle voice was filling out quickly and coming into balance with her already strong chest voice.  Her high range also benefited greatly from less excess weight, making her high notes freer and easier.

Then it was time to address expanding the resonance spaces.  She worked assiduously on teaching her soft palate to extend higher and wider when singing, which, combined with her correct nasal resonance, removed strain from her vocal cords.  The higher soft palate freed her high notes.  Relaxing and lowering her larynx automatically increased the dark color of her vocal instrument and allowed her entire instrument to function more effectively.

This mezzo was well-versed in abdominal breathing, but had never learned balance the work between the abdominals and rib cage.  We worked on freeing her rib cage, so that it was able to expand and contract easily and reflexively.  She worked to incorporate this new type of breathing into her practice sessions and lessons.  Once she was able to use her breathing mechanism correctly, she was ready to learn about a support system that included expanding in the back and activating the pectorals.  Implementing a reliable, suitable breath management system is now her next challenge.

With each of these steps forward, the mezzo’s voice grew in size and freedom.  Soon her voice gained in clarity and beauty as well.  The raspy quality, a result of too much vocal weight and sub-glottal air pressure, disappeared and her voice began to take on a healthy sheen.  It had become apparent (even without the right type of support) that she had a very large, middle weight, lyric instrument, capable of taking on the wonderful French mezzo repertoire, along with the standard Mozart, Handel, Rossini  and Strauss roles.  With continued lessons, her voice will only keep on improving by leaps and bounds, allowing this impressive instrument the chance to be heard in the future at its very best.


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Studying With Your Voice Type

There is a belief held strongly by some teachers and singers that a singer should study for at some point with his/her own voice type, e.g. a tenor studying with a tenor, a mezzo studying with a mezzo, a lyric voice with a lyric, a dramatic voice with a dramatic, etc.  The rationale behind this is that the teacher will have special insight into the workings of the particular vocal mechanism that a teacher of a different voice type would not.  There are teachers who base their teaching careers on this premise.  However, the principles of a healthy vocal technique do not vary appreciably from voice type to voice type, as will be explained below.

It is easy for the uninitiated to believe from the wide range of sounds that the human throat can produce that the techniques to create these sounds must consequently be quite different.  In fact, I was taught this concept in college.  But it is actually the size and shape of the vocal cords themselves that are responsible for creating the particular voice type and the size and shape of the resonators that add warmth, color and size to an instrument.  These set, inherited factors cannot be altered, except by false manipulation that leads to poor-quality singing.  What remains the same for all voice types is the basic technique of how to sing healthily.

All voice types, from the highest coloratura sopranos to the lowest basso profundos, need to learn the same healthy approach to singing for their voices to work at an optimal level.  While the results are vastly different, the technique is basically the same – use of the thin edge function, a released, lowered larynx, an expanded oro-pharynx, employment of the ng ring, a free tongue and jaw and balanced, energetic breath management.  The importance of learning how to implement these concepts correctly with the help of a talented, knowledgeable teacher of any voice type far outweighs any specific insight of a mediocre teacher of the same voice type.

Are there special concepts that pertain to certain voice types and not to others?  Yes, there are.  However, a truly excellent technical teacher will be able to discern what is needed and address any imbalances just as well, if not better, than the average teacher of the same voice type.  The best teachers continue to learn as they teach, constantly increasing their knowledge and understanding of singing and voices.  They notice patterns in students with the same voice type and become very adept at recognizing the aural symptoms of malcoordination in the vocal mechanism.  There can easily be as wide a range of different issues within one voice type as between the different voice types themselves.  Many teachers are only able to address issues that they themselves overcame.  That is why it is of paramount importance to put yourself in the hands of a teacher with a clear understanding of a complete and vocal healthy technique, regardless of voice type.

I witnessed an excellent example of a teacher able to help a singer despite very different voice types.  In college, a highly-accomplished lyric baritone teacher had a particular high soprano as a student.  This soprano enjoyed singing musical theater and had come back to school in the fall with some vocal issues, despite having studied previously with this teacher.  I first heard her sing in chorus and did not think highly of her voice, even though other students who knew her assured me she had a beautiful voice.  At that point, she sounded husky and her vocal production was effortful.  However, after two weeks of lessons, her voice began sounding more polished and her high notes were freer.  Two weeks later, the excess weight ( from singing musical theater in the summer) dropped away and her voice gained in ease.  Two weeks after that, she was singing extremely well and had fabulous, shimmering high notes.  This excellent teacher was able to turn her technique around quickly and effectively, despite being a completely different voice type.  That is the type of instruction that the very best teachers can offer.

Therefore, find the finest voice teacher you possibly can, one who is consistently learning and evolving as a teacher, and concentrate on building your healthy technique.  An intelligent, talented teacher can identify your current issues and address any specific challenges pertaining to your voice type and to specific repertoire.  The teacher’s voice type in relation to yours is much less important than the teacher’s ability to understand all of the requisite vocal coordinations and convey the concepts successfully to students.


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Combining Choral and Solo Singing Successfully

As explained in a previous article, the technical demands of choral and solo singing are very different from each other.  Here are some important tips to ensure a heavy choral rehearsal schedule will not unduly affect your hard-won solo technique.

Beware of your vocal part

Because of composing requirements, choral parts are often written for more the extreme voices, e.g. very high sopranos and tenors and very low mezzos and basses.  If your natural vocal fach does not fall into one of those categories, then the tessitura of your choral music part will be less than ideal for you.  Knowledge here is power.  Once you know your part can affect your solo technique, you can work to mitigate the effects.

For 1st Sopranos and Tenors, your part is likely to have a number of high passages that are not balanced out by enough lower and middle voice singing.  This can lead to the common “high, white, bright” approach, due to a raised larynx and shut-down pharynx.  While some teachers approve of this approach and even train their singers this way, it goes directly against the fundaments of classical vocal technique, which systematically trains a relaxed, lowered laryngeal position and open, expanded pharynx.  This maximizes the size and unique colors of an instrument, while training in the healthy mechanics of the vocal protection and laryngeal tilt.

For high voices, singing the 2nd Soprano or Tenor part is often the better choice, if possible.  It isn’t as showy, I know, but the lower tessitura takes strain off of the larynx and vocal cords that an artificially high tessitura can lead to.

For Altos and Basses, the opposite problem is usually the case.  Your part is likely to be very low with little upper voice singing.  In this situation, it is very easy to get away from the thin edge function, overweight the voice and pull the tongue back in a misguided effort to create more oro-pharyngeal space.  That type of sound is bigger and more colorful in your own ear, but actually sounds muffled or held to the listener.

If a 1st Alto or 1st Bass part is available, that is a better option for baritones and many mezzos.   With the expanded range of notes sung, that can aid in balancing out the temptation to add too much unnecessary vocal weight in your lower range, making your high notes difficult.

When it is not possible to change to a different part or the part is quite difficult, pay close attention to the music and identify places to take a short break from singing.  Note passages that are only high or only low for several phrases.  Do you feel any strain or changes to your solo technique when singing those back to back in rehearsal?  Are there other passages in which you feel strain or unusual adjustments?  These are the places you need to be aware of.  Observe at the musical requirements there – dynamics, words, phrasing, etc. – and then listen to your section.  Figure out the best place to drop out for a moment to give your voice a break without changing the sound of the section as a whole and where you can sneak back in again.  Experiment during rehearsals to see if it works and if your voice feels better.  Continue to find other similar places in the music to take a short break until you feel that you can sing with your normal solo technique during rehearsals.

Don’t forget your breath resistance

Let me reiterate that it is extraordinarily easy to sing without support in choral rehearsals.  When sitting for extended periods and singing with others, maintaining your normal breath resistance for solo singing can seem unnecessary.  But it is crucial to overcome this sense of apathy.  When the breath resistance changes, vocal coordination changes and the voice itself does not function in the same way.  In order to use your choral rehearsal time to help versus hinder you, it is crucial to ensure that you are using your normal coordination for breath resistance.

Practice before and after rehearsals

Since choral rehearsals are often long, this may seem like a strange suggestion.  However, reinforcing your solo technique prior to a choral rehearsal is a great way both to warm up and remind your vocal mechanism exactly how you want it to work during the rehearsal.  You don’t have to sing for an extended period of time – 10 to 15 minutes will usually do.  Choose exercises that will help combat the tendency of your choral part as mentioned previously.  Make sure to pay attention to your breathing and breath resistance for singing.

After the rehearsal, if your voice is not tired, go back into the practice room and do several of the same exercises to balance out your vocal functioning.  Sing a little bit of repertoire, including the parts of your voice that will be less utilized in the choral rehearsal.   Just a few minutes will reinforce the right vocal coordination.  If your voice is tired after your rehearsal, wait until it feels rested and then go into the practice room and work carefully through your technical exercises then.


There is no quick, guaranteed way to maintain your solo technique during choral singing.  But getting help from a knowledgeable teacher, knowing your own instrument, making intelligent choices based on personal experience and reinforcing the best vocal habits consistently can help keep your choral obligations from interfering with your crucially important technique for solo singing.


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Being a Creative, Artistic Singer


The life of the classical singer is complex.  Singers are required to make significant technical and musical strides forward during their extended development process, as well as artistic ones.  Of the three, the artistic strides are by far the most often overlooked, especially the singers themselves.  But they are not overlooked by auditioners, management and directors.  Lack of an artistic finish is used to winnow otherwise exceptional singers from contention for gigs, roles and long-term contracts.

How do you work on your artistic development?  It is an individualized process, so there is no generic answer that fits every single singer.  However, below there are some general guidelines that can help you discover your own, unique process.

Get out of denial

This is the first step – to realize that you actually need to work consciously to develop your artistry.  Doing a few performance classes, workshops and concerts are not an adequate substitute.  Pasting some generic gestures on top of every aria you sing does not count as artistry.  You need a systematic way to explore your music, your characters and yourself on an emotional level that feels safe and is productive.

It is easy to believe that you are the exception to the rule and do not need to work on your artistry.  But that is just an ego trap set, which lulls you into a sense of smug complacency.  Just like everybody needs to develop and maintain a healthy vocal technique, everybody needs to work on their artistry – everybody!  It was consistent, effective, imaginative work that made the great operatic and art song interpreters what they were.  Maria Callas used to literally practice six or seven hours a day, day after day.  It isn’t humanly possible that she was singing for that extended a time.  Clearly, she was working on musicality and artistry the majority of the time, contemplating different possibilities and refining her approach.  She became a legendary singing-actress because she developed her natural talent to a high level, not just by accident.

Finding the right tools

There are not a plethora of tools specifically for singers available to help you become a more expressive and effective artist.  The best way is to research the resources available for actors and instrumentalists.

Formal acting training for singers is invaluable!  By its nature, it is designed to break down inhibitions and make you more spontaneous, as well as more creative, open to possibility and able to express emotions.  There are acting classes in most communities.  Avail yourself of several classes and discover how they can help you refine your artistry.  Don’t expect dramatic progress (forgive the pun!) right away, but instead a gradual peeling away of layers.  If acting classes feel uncomfortable for you, that is actually quite normal.  They aren’t supposed to be comfortable, but should give you the structure and guidance to challenge you to push past your usual boundaries.  However, if you do feel any strong emotions or memories arising as a result, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified therapist for assistance.

Acting training is so critical for singers, because it teaches you how to develop a complete character and portray that character in a realistic physical and emotional way to an audience.  Singing is emotionally based.  Audiences can tell very easily if a singer truly feels the emotions about which s/he is singing.  Great artistry reflects life, real situations and real feelings, allowing the audience to relive their own emotions in the mirror of the performance on-stage.  To become an artist of the first order, you need your own way to express yourself with complete honesty in performance and transfer that honesty to your body and voice.  Formal acting training offers a number of wonderful, time-tested tools to do just that.

It is also extremely helpful for singers to delve into the extensive musical training that instrumentalists undergo.  It is the combination of music and language that make up the singer’s medium.  The musical side can never be ignored.  Vocal coaching is simply not enough.  Don’t settle for being told what you need to do – learn in depth about your options and decide for yourself on the basis of knowledge and experience.  Listen avidly to all types of instrumental music.  It is crucial and exactly what my students tell me they don’t do.  Listen, listen, listen!  Become as sensitive as possible to music.  Hear how much phrasing, emphasis and dynamics can enhance musicality and affect your emotions.  These are the tools with which you want to become intimately familiar in order to be a true singing-artist.  Immerse yourself in music of the various musical eras, so you can understand their norms and appreciate their nuances.  Research other ways that instrumentalists develop their own musicianship and try those, too.  The better a musician you are, the more you will develop as an artist.

Of course, you also want to listen to the great singers as much as possible.  They are your ultimate role models, your shining examples of what is possible.  But don’t just listen and imitate.  Listen critically and break down what they are doing musically with phrasing, diction, emphasis, etc.  Figure out what makes one singer different from another artistically.  Which would you rather emulate?  Try applying these musical ideas to your music and see what you think.  Analyzing these subtleties requires time and attention, but will give you much greater understanding of how detailed you need to be when developing your artistry.

Daydream often

An extremely important part of artistic development is having free time to think.  But in our world of constant interruptions, 24-hour news and multi-tasking, it is easy to keep so busy we don’t have the time we need to be creative.

Creativity doesn’t sandwich itself neatly between appointments or phone calls.  We have to court the Muse gently in a place without external distractions… and then wait patiently for inspiration.  That requires dedicated quiet time to think inventively about our music, the meaning behind poetry or prose, characters, motivations, life experiences and, indeed, our own emotional connection to the music, text and dramatic intent.  Take on the challenge of being a truly creative artist by bringing to life the same type of interesting, complex, three-dimensional characters in all of your music.

By being quiet and waiting for inspiration, you will join an extremely illustrious group.  The great classical composers lived in quieter world, listened to the inspirations inside their heads and wrote them down, crafting them through into the magnificent pieces of art that still live today.  Perhaps J. S. Bach with his multitude of children did not have a quiet home, but he only had to leave the noisy children with their mothers (lucky man!) and go to one of his churches to think and create.  Genius flourishes in quietude with the right nourishment.  Give your own inspiration a chance by including enough creative solitude in your life.  That is the only way to develop into a true artist.

Be specific

A major mistake many singers make in trying to developing their artistry is lack of specificity.  We as individuals are not generic stereotypes.  You can tell who is walking down the street simply by their gait.  So why would all of your characters walk exactly the same way… and, coincidentally, exactly the same way you normally walk?  They wouldn’t, of course.  Take the time to develop specific gestures, postures and other body language for characters, even in art song.  This is exactly what you learn in formal acting classes – how to flesh out a complete, realistic, differentiated character with a life history, experiences good and bad and then to express that character physically.

Learn how to be specific with your text as well.  Words have great power and words carefully chosen for librettos and poems are well-chosen and meaningful.  Take advantage of everything the words can tell you about the character and add in your own subtext based on your creative musings and inspirations.  This subtext can change according to a number of factors and it is in fact one of the highest artistic achievements to be able to develop multiple emotional approaches for the same operatic role – truly allowing the character to live and breathe like a real person.

Think outside of the box

The previous ways are the more conventional approaches to training your artistry, but there are countless other possibilities you can find both in real life and by the miracle of the internet.  Open your mind and see how creative you can be.  Maybe listening to someone read the poem of a song you are singing in his or her native language would give you insight into the natural emphasis of the language or the emotional possibilities available to you.  A character’s gesture, body language or attitude on a movie or TV program can become inspiration for a particular operatic character.  Someone you know can give you ideas for a character’s motivation.  Mixing the personal experiences and characteristics of family and friends can bring to life interesting and complex characters quite quickly – just make sure to change enough so that no one recognizes him or herself!  Books and other researched writings offer descriptions of people, situations, historical realities and social history that can be enlightening and give you far more material for your imagination to work with when developing characters.

Personally, I find a great deal of inspiration listening to trained actors from the UK speaking, both as themselves and in character.  I don’t mean just Shakespearian actors, though they can be a revelation, but regular actors, as well.  The vocal training there for actors is unsurpassed and they are able to express such crystal-clear differences in meaning simply by changing vocal inflection ever so slightly that I am continually amazed, delighted and inspired as I listen.  Many of the great composers tried to express spoken vocal inflection in their melodies.  Having a better understanding of the enormous range of vocal inflections allows you to delve into discovering the various meanings these composers built into their music – a fascinating study.

The fine arts can also provide ideas.  A Debussy song can be inspired by the mood of an impressionist painting – just move past the obvious and make very specific choices.  A famous sculpture could offer the starting point of the physicality of a character.  Go beyond the arts, as well.  Having a very bad cold helps you understand a consumptive’s suffering.  A nasty co-worker’s habits can inspire those of a villain.  A crazy neighbor can force you to experience the visceral nature of extreme frustration.  Getting stranded in a car in a snowstorm brings to life the realities of a Parisian garret.  Your own life experiences can give you insight into the difficult choices operatic characters make.  Inspiration is everywhere.  Life itself is inspiration for the creative singer!  Let your imagination run wild, learn and develop the appropriate tools and then translate life directly into your performances.  Then you will be a truly artistic singer and the classical singing world will benefit as a result.


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The Triumvirate of Vocal Support

The majority of singers that come to me have learned some way to support their voice from previous teachers.  But almost all of them exclusively use abdominal support to do the critically important job of controlling the outflow of air from the lungs through the tiny, fragile vocal cords.  These singers were not taking advantage of utilizing the other two areas of the body and that form the triumvirate of vocal support.

It has long been known that the number three is special.  J. S. Bach and many other composers have used it heavily when composing music, many world religions have three deities or one deity divided into three parts and the human body itself has the number three occurring with great regularity in its physical organization (see here).  Three is the minimum number of legs needed to support any sort of workable stool, table, etc.  Therefore, it is not surprising that the ideal breath management system for singing (or vocal support) is composed of three areas of the body – the abdominal wall, the back and the sternum.

There are important advantages to having three areas involved in breath management.  Distributing the required work helps prevent muscle fatigue and gives the singer more vocal stamina.  The amount of work can be finely adjusted between the three, allowing for finer levels of vocal control.  And having three points of support creates a triangle, each point reinforcing and balancing the other.

Two important areas of support that most singers are unaware of are the back and the sternum.  The back I am referring to here is not the entire back, but a specific pair of muscles called the serratus posterior inferior.  This pair is located in a layer of muscles called the intermediate muscles of the back.  The intermediate muscles lie underneath the superficial layer of large back muscles that you can feel underneath your skin.  The serratus posterior inferior muscles begin at the spine towards the bottom of the rib cage and continue down into the lower back over about four vertebrae.  Largely rectangular in shape, they expand upwards and outwards away from the spine (in a northwesterly direction on the left-hand side and northeasterly direction on the right-hand side) to insert into the bottom few ribs themselves at the outside edge of the back.

The serratus posterior inferior are specifically designed to lower the ribs during expiration.  That means it is relaxing and lengthening on inspiration to allow the ribs to expand upwards and outwards and working and shortening on expiration to bring the ribs back down.  By taking advantage of the unique function of this pair of muscles, singers can slow the rate the ribs are lowered during singing and be able to control another aspect of the breathing mechanism and thereby, the breath management system.

To do so, singers need to be able to relax and expand in the lower rib cage upon inhalation, but not expand too much.  Overexpansion makes it more difficult to engage the serratus posterior inferior muscles on exhalation when singing – an easy expansion is all that is required.  As the lungs make their elegant transition from inhalation to exhalation, singers should take advantage of the innate function of the serratus posterior inferior muscles by consciously engaging them and expanding them directly outwards, slowing and controlling the rate at which the rib cage is lowered and the rate at which the breath exits the lungs.

Getting in touch with the serratus posterior inferior muscles can be a challenge for many singers, especially men.  They can seem very remote and inaccessible at first, but be patient with yourself.  These are muscles that no one normally tries to control on a daily basis, so learning to control them is a process.

Visualizing the location of these muscles is the first step.  Next, put your arms behind your back with the backs of your hands on their approximate location.  (You can find the bottom of your rib cage by poking around in the abdominal region and sides and then follow it around.)  Finally, simply gently ask those muscles to work and expand outward when exhaling.  It will feel like active work, but it shouldn’t feel terribly difficult.  You don’t want to completely suspend the movement of the rib cage, just slow it down!  Keep focusing on outward expansion and you will at some point begin to feel the muscles respond to your requests.

After you have experienced this specific activation of the serratus posterior inferior muscles, it is time to work on refining the coordination.  Making sure that the muscle pair is relaxed when inhaling, keep gently encouraging the muscles to expand outwards consistently during the entire exhalation with the stretchy feeling of trying to pull on a very thick, new rubber band.  When taking the next breath, completely release the muscles (though it can help to think that the muscles are releasing back inwards towards the spine, they are actually releasing upwards and outwards with the movement of the ribs) and then start engaging and expanding over again on the next exhalation.

With practice and persistence, singers are able to experience the engaged, consistent, outward expansion of this pair of muscles and apply it as part of their breath management system for singing.  This allows for many amazing vocal benefits other than superior breath resistance.  It is definitely worth the work required to attain this additional part of the triumvirate of vocal support.

P.S.  In case you were unconvinced of the importance of the number three, I actually used it as an organizational concept in this very article.  The majority of the paragraphs consist of exactly three sentences and several ideas I put forth I supported with three arguments.  Use of three in this way gives a sense of balance and order to which our minds instinctively respond, perhaps because our own bodies themselves are organized around the same numerical concept.

Part II

The third crucial part of the triumvirate is the sternum.  Like the back muscles, it is also significantly less utilized and rarely taught as an important part of support.  When it is addressed, singers are merely told to raise their sternum, which leads them to lift the sternum in an upward direction (towards the ceiling).  This elongates the front of the torso, creating a stretch in the muscles of the entire abdominal wall and adding unnecessary tension exactly where there needs to be relaxation for a low inhalation when singing.

So, what has to happen with the sternum instead and why is the sternum important when it isn’t even a muscle like the other parts of the triumvirate?  Those are excellent questions that I will address here.  True, the sternum is not a muscle.  It is the long bone attaching to the top seven pairs of ribs in the middle of the front of the body via cartilage and also articulates with the collarbones (clavicles).  The sternum itself is not one bone, but two bones fused together with a very small portion of cartilage at the bottom.  So when we singers refer to the sternum, we are not referring to the entire sternum, but instead to the very top, triangular portion of it called the manubrium (which means handle in Latin).

The manubrium, and indeed the entire sternum, are attached to various different muscles.  The important muscles for our purposes are the pair of pectoralis major muscles (pectorals) that lie across the entire breast area in the layer of muscles just above and on either side of the sternum, inserting into both the sides and top of almost the entire sternum.  Only the very top portion of the manubrium where it articulates with the collarbones and the very bottom part of cartilage at the very bottom do not attach with the pectoralis major muscles on both sides.  That gives the sternum the ability to affect the pectoralis major muscles quite easily, which is extremely helpful for singing.

When thinking that the manubrium is very slightly moving either directly forward (straight ahead) or directly backwards (behind) when singing, the entire sternum moves ever so slightly and the pair of pectoralis major muscles gets activated as a result, giving a great deal of added stability to the front of the upper torso.  Famous singers like Kirsten Flagstad have described this as feeling as if they had a breastplate on when singing and could literally lean into it.

Getting the manubrium to activate the pectoralis majors in this important way is not difficult.  However, it does take a little patience for singers to achieve.  The movement is quite subtle, but it is movement, consistent and energetic.  The choice of direction of this delicate movement is up to the singer.  Some people can only feel the activation when thinking the manubrium is moving slightly forward, others can only feel it when thinking it is moving backwards and some are successful thinking in either direction.  Experiment to find out what works best for you and then stick with it.  Make sure to keep the movement subtle.  You want to feel activation only in the upper chest area, not in the abdominal wall itself.

The advantages to using the manubrium in this way to activate the pectorals becomes clearer when looking at the triumvirate as a whole.  For breath resistance, the abdominal wall tightens and gradually comes in, helping control the rate of the rise of the diaphragm.  The back muscles widen and expand gradually outwards to help control the rate at which the expanded rib cage lowers.  Thus far, everything is moving and nothing is stable, even though the abdominal wall and back are on different sides of the body and each can use the energy occurring in the other area to resist against.

When you add the final piece of the puzzle, the sternum activating the pectorals, the whole picture changes.  Suddenly, there is a stable part against which both of the other areas can resist.  The two parts turn into three and the shape becomes a triangle, an extremely strong, basic geometric shape, which encompasses a majority of the torso, including both the front and back of the body.  This balances the breath management system amazingly by sharing the work to be done over a much wider area.

There is a special relationship between the serratus posterior inferior muscles of the back and the pectorals.  The activation of the pectorals via the manubrium helps the serratus posterior inferior muscles stretch outward more actively and the stretching serratus posterior inferior muscles help the pectoralis major muscles activate.  Each consistently reinforces the other, offering a sense of stability and giving the singer a range of energetic options for low, middle and high notes.

Both the serratus posterior inferior and the pectoralis major muscles benefit the work of the abdominal wall by creating a stronger platform against which to resist.  After all, it is much easier to control a gradual, inward pull when there is something to pull against.  It is almost as if the more static serratus posterior inferior and the pectoralis major muscles create between their two points a stable, angled wall through the plane of the body (because the serratus posterior inferior muscles are stretching, but with a smaller, overall excursion than the abdominals) and the abdominals therefore have a much larger, sturdier area against which to pull.

The beauty of this triumvirate triangle is that the stability is located at the top of the torso, where there is significantly less motion required and the movement control is located at the bottom, where the rib cage has the ability to expand and the real work of breath resistance is done.  Because there are more muscles working, the work can be distributed much more evenly and accurately.  Each set of muscles can be trained to do exactly what it needs to do without performing double duty and infringing on the work of the other muscles.  Singers end up feeling as if they are doing less work as a result.  In reality, they are exerting the same amount of effort, but the work is being shared.   A system of this type is much more efficient and can be maintained over an entire opera performance or a very long rehearsal.

Using the triumvirate of vocal support versus only abdominal support offers numerous advantages to singers.  The stability of the shared work of the triumvirate is a more complete system of vocal support or breath resistance, which drastically improves sound quality.  It is the ideal toward which all singers should strive and is achievable with correct instruction and practice.


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Audition Etiquette for Singers


Though these are rarely spoken of, there is a set of rules for good audition etiquette.  It can take a long time to learn these by trial and error, so I thought I would lay these rules out clearly to enable people to be cognizant of them and more considerate to their fellow performers.

Keep all advice to yourself

As harsh as this might sound, before an audition is the last time to give advice to any other singer.  It is up to each singer to determine in advance what to do the day of an audition.  This can include special foods to eat or avoid, supplements or medications, gargling or nasal hygiene, exercise, extra rest, extra hydration, etc., etc.  Keeping to a schedule is important for some, whereas others treat an audition day just like a normal day.  The crucial thing is to find what works for you.  Once you do, any last-minute changes can throw everything off.  That is why advice right before an audition is unwelcome.  Afterwards, when there is time to experiment, it is fine to make suggestions.  But the last thing a singer needs to be thinking when walking on-stage to do an audition is, “I should have tried that menthol steam so-and-so told me about on my sinuses last night.”  The singer needs to be focused on the situation and the music.

As a singer, you need to trust in your own experience when preparing for an audition and not be easily swayed.  The history of operatic performances is littered with unusual quirks and customs.  A famous soprano used to eat hot dogs before every Metropolitan Opera performance.  It sounds unorthodox, but it worked for her.  If you feel better singing with nothing on your stomach, you are in the camp of many an illustrious singer, so do that.  Everyone is different and your unique body needs to be honored.

Don’t expect normal behavior

If you are auditioning with a group of colleagues, let everyone do their own thing the night before an audition.  The colleague always up for a beer in the evening might want to forgo it and head to bed at 8 pm.  Someone else might stay up late reviewing music.  It all depends.  Just realize that everyone needs to focus on themselves and you do the same.

If you are dealing with someone else auditioning, give them their space.  I remember one audition I did for which I had to fly half-way across the country and stay with hosts the night before.  After six hours in airports or airplanes, I was tired by the time I got there and really just wanted to rest.  My hosts were delightful people who were fascinated by my being an opera singer, but they did not have any boundaries.  I ended up having to talk to them for four hours, when all I could think of was lying down.  I was too nice to be firm.  Don’t make the same mistake.  If someone wants to take over your time before an audition, just explain to them kindly, but firmly that you have a set of important preparations to perform your best and ask for their understanding.  If you smile sweetly when you say it, they probably will.

Be considerate of others when warming up

On the day of the audition, you will have to warm up and make sure you are ready to do your best as soon as you walk in to sing the audition.  However, you might not have the facilities available to you to do your normal warm-up.  A hotel room at 7 am is not the place to spend an extended time warming up, nor is the bathroom at the audition venue.  Know your voice and develop a short warm up you can do with humming, lip trills, etc. to help get your voice going.  Research ahead of time if there will be a place for you to warm up.  If not, rent a practice room and organize your day to include that.  If possible, ask the audition organizers for suggestions.  By planning ahead, you will be able to make sure that you are as prepared as possible and won’t be warming up during the audition itself.

At the audition

As nice as it would be to chat and have a social hour before the audition, especially if you meet old friends and colleagues, realize that many people don’t want to do that.  Some people are happy to chat and then walk directly in to sing, but others need to focus.  Make sure to respect the needs of others by keeping talking to a minimum and at a low volume.  Remember, the auditioners might also hear you talking, so quiet is best.  If you decide to have an extended conversation, take it out of earshot.

Always dress appropriately for an audition!  Audition dress doesn’t vary much with the whims of fashion.  It is always better to overdress than underdress.  Skirts or dresses for women should be longer than the knee and men should wear ties and at least a sports jacket.  Wear attractive, comfortable shoes that are polished.

When called in to sing for the audition itself, walk briskly, smile, be pleasant, give you materials to the auditioners and get focused to sing right away.  They have lots of singers to hear and you don’t want to waste their time.  Try to seem friendly and approachable, while maintaining professional composure.  Answer any questions promptly and don’t get defensive.  Smile again before leaving and say, “Thank you”.

After the audition, it is best not to hang around.  Again, you want to be respectful of your fellow singers.  Set up times later to catch up with colleagues and leave the venue quietly, feeling that you have done your very best for now and learning everything you can from the experience.


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