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Country Vocals Lessons: Singers Tool Belt

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Singers and
athletes have a lot in common.
I think about athletes a lot
when I'm working as a singer,
and when I'm talking to singers.
I like athletes, different bodies
have different natural abilities and
those abilities and talents can be
developed, and grown, and stretched.
But many times a successful, competitive
athlete is born just genetically.
They come into the world with
certain attributes, physical and
mental attributes, that make them
good at a particular kind of race,
or particularly good swimmers.
Singers are born, to some degree,
in that the physiology of your
instrument may have naturally
certain sound, or a certain ability,
kind of flexibility.
You may just be naturally
attuned to the nuances
that can be accomplished with the
musculature of your respiratory system and
inside your throat and
your tongue that make you
just naturally good at manipulating
the tone, the sound of your voice.
So that you can achieve cool effects and
different kinds of sounds.
But whether you are born with
that natural singer DNA or
not, you can acquire skills.
You can grow your range, you can stretch,
just like any other athlete
who can train and get better.
And push the limits of
what they're able to do.
This whole segment of level two,
I call it the singer's tool belt,
because what we're gonna do is, one at
a time, we're gonna kind of pull out and
examine very closely these tools.
Some singers call them tricks,
the tricks they can do.
I call them tools because they
are very much instruments that
you can study, come to understand and
practice using.
So that you get better and
better at using that tool.
And once you've mastered that tool,
you can kinda keep it in your tool belt.
And pull it out and
use it when you choose,
when you want to accomplish
a certain sound or a certain effect.
And the more you practice,
just like any other kind of muscle memory
the more you practice it the more it will
come to live naturally in your body and
in your mind and it will be more and
more accessible to you.
So we're gonna pull these
tools out one at a time and
look at them closely,
hear what they sound like.
Listen to some very accomplished
vocalists use them,
and we're gonna practice
using them ourselves.
So, remember you are a vocal athlete,
your instrument is flesh and bone.
It is malleable, it is trainable, it's
expandable, and it's constantly evolving.
Because your instrument is living tissue.
So, something you might not
be able to achieve today,
you may very well be able to achieve next
week or next month or even next year.
So, think for a minute about
what your unique strengths are.
What you naturally do well and do easily.
What do you like to do?
What are some songs that you like to sing?
Why do you like to sing them?
What part of your voice,
or what features of your voice
do you like to use and show off?
And then think, for a second,
about what some of your weaknesses are.
Where you would like to train more deeply.
What you'd like to accomplish.
Having a good mental picture
of what you want to do,
of what your goal is, is the first
step to accomplishing anything.
So what we're gonna do is, one at
a time we're gonna look at these tools.
We're gonna practice each tool a little
bit, demonstrate some do's and
don'ts, always keeping in mind that
the bottom line, the priority is
to do all of our work in a healthy way and
nothing should ever hurt.
Just remember, nothing should ever hurt.
If any part of your
body mechanism hurts or
is uncomfortable, extremely uncomfortable,
stop, take a break, and revisit it later.
Make sure that you aren't
fighting some kind of cold or
illness that's compromising
your instrument.
You especially don't want to
do this kind of deep work
when your instrument is
anything less than 100%.
You always want to warm up,
we've got a nice collection of warm
up activities that you can tap into.
Pick what your favorites are and make sure
that anytime you approach work on these
tools that you are well warmed up,
your body is stretched,
your posture is in a good place.
Your alignment is right, and
you are prepared and ready to sing.
We're gonna practice
these tools a little bit.
And then, your job will be to continue
practicing with the goal of muscle memory,
so that you can eventually use
these tools without thinking.
You've done them so frequently,
you've repeated them so
many times that they become
part of your muscles memory and
you know exactly what to do
without thinking about it.
They're a lot of fun,
it's fun to play with these tools and
I'm interested in hearing what
tools become your favorites.