Saturday, April 28, 2012

HENRY REMEMBERS HIS MUSIC

This video is self-explanatory.  My link below will take you to my Facebook page where you can see the video.  

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p.s.   If you cannot play this video, please just go to YouTube, then go to Search and type in the words "Henry memory music".  You must see this video!

MUSIC AFFECTS ALZHEIMER'S IN A VERY GOOD WAY

Yesterday, I was invited to speak at our local Alzheimer's conference here in Chattanooga. I work part time at Elmcroft Assisted Living as an Activity Director and I see first hand how this dreaded disease can affect a person. Alzheimers affects each person differently. No two people think and act the same. But one thing is for sure--loss of memory function is at the top of the list. At this symposium, I spoke of ways that music can be used to help the caregiver bring a better quality of life to their daily routine as they care for their loved ones who have Alzheimer's. First, I want to talk about how music can affect all of us--and especially older adults. 


 - Music is one activity that affects the whole brain. 
- Music heals. They are finding that it can be used effectively in pain management.
 - Music therapy is being used in hospitals during childbirth to complement the use of anesthesia during surgery. 
- Music serves as a distractor. We know that, when caring for people with Alzheimer's, at times we have to use something to distract them from a certain behavior. 
- Music causes the body to release endorphins to counteract pain. 
- Slow music relaxes a person by slowing their breathing and heartbeat.
 - Music reduces blood pressure. Playing classical, Celtic and raga music every day can significantly reduce high blood pressure. 
- Music is good for the heart. It is the tempo of the music that helps. Music's steady beat is what is good for the heart. 
- Music speeds post-stroke recovery. Verbal memory and attention span can improve. I know a person who has had a stroke and now she cannot say her words to formulate a thought. But when we sing, she actually says the words and can even sing! It is amazing to see her sing along with everyone else. 
 - Music enhances intelligence, learning and IQ. We all have seen this in teaching music to children. It also happens throughout our lifetime.
 - Music improves memory performance. Mozart's music and baroque music with a 60 beat per minute pattern activates the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. 


 Well, this is my first post of talking about how music can help a person improve their memory even if they have Alzheimer's. In my next post, I will talk about how music can stimulate and help a person with Alzheimer's remember their past and be able to reminisce, which is very good for the soul.  If you can think of more ways music can help a person with Alzheimer's, please share with us here.

Friday, April 27, 2012

NEW SERIES "BRINGING MUSIC TO SENIOR ADULTS"

In the next few posts, I will be bringing ideas to those of you who are caregivers to senior adults in your home.  Even if you are not a caregiver, you may know someone who is and can share this with them.  


 I know that, at times, you can run out of ideas and activities to do with them to make their lives more fulfilling.  I am here to say that MUSIC can add so much to an adult's life in their later years, especially if they have the dreaded disease of alzheimers.  So, please check back for my future posts.  I will start them tomorrow.  My first tip is to purchase an iPad.  So, stay tuned . . . . . . 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

ANOTHER BREATHING EXERCISE

I hope you have been practicing the breathing exercise I posted this week. I also have another one for you. First, breathe in and count to 4 as you are breathing in. Make sure you have taken in all the breath you can when you are on 4. Then breathe out as you count to 4. Make sure you have emptied out your lungs on the 4 count. Now, that was easy. Do that 4 times in a row. 


 Next, do the very same thing, only count to 8. Then, exhale and count to 8 at the same time. You will now have to start measuring your breath as you inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale your breath evenly and fill and empty your lungs as much as you can. Practice this 4 times. 


Next, do the same exercise only this time, count to 12. This will be much harder. Practice this 4 times also. You will learn to control your breathing as you practice this exercise. Don't forget to breathe deeply using your diaphragm. This is an exercise that our choir practices and it is very effective.

Friday, April 20, 2012

DEEP BREATHING EXERCISE

Breathing is another important factor to improve your singing.  There are effective exercises to improve your breath support and being able to hold out phrases longer.  In this post, I am going to review a very simple exercise you can do.  


All you need to do is take a deep breath and count as you exhale this breath.  So, inhale as much breath as you can, and while you exhale that breath,  count as high as you can until your breath is all exhaled out of your body.  Do it again and try to count to a higher number.  Normally, you can count to 25 or so, but if you practice you can count to higher numbers.  The more you practice this, the higher your numbers should go.  Don't breathe just with your shallow chest breathing, but take deep breaths using you diaphragm and your whole upper body core.  Work on getting your numbers higher and you will be able to increase your amount of breath you can use to sing.  This exercise can be done anytime, so try it.  It can only help you and deep breathing is good for your body, also.  It adds more oxygen to your blood and makes that blood flow better!

Monday, April 16, 2012

SINGING WITH AN OPEN THROAT

I am posting a video of myself singing with an open throat and sustaining notes.  I am singing to a song with "ah", "oh" and "eee".  If you feel you don't sing with an open throat, you can practice by singing along with me and get the feeling of an open throat.  I will demonstrate the wrong way, too, so you can tell if you are just singing with your throat.  You don't want to sing with only your throat.  It produces a thinner tone and you can damage your vocal chords when you just sing with your throat.  If you have any questions about this, please comment and I answer your questions.  Thanks!


SINGING ON PITCH WITH A PURE TONE

Singing on pitch is an important part of developing your singing voice. When I start teaching a new student, many times they slide up to the note, strain their voice to sing the note, or sing the note with no support of their diaphragm. They don't realize the importance of singing each individual note on pitch. Try this exercise to see if you can sing a note on pitch without scooping up or down first. Play a note on your piano, keyboard or smartphone piano app and try to match that pitch. Now, play another note and match the new note. Don't scoop up or down to the note--just sing it dead on to match it. Just think of a bull's eye and hitting the center of it.  This takes practice. Most of us will sort of hit the note, then we adjust it. This is not what we are trying to do. We are trying to sing the note without adjusting or wavering our tone, and it is hard to do. It takes concentration. And the higher or lower the note is for us, the more we need to concentrate. 


 Scooping is a real problem in singing. We may think it sounds good to scoop, but to really does not. (Once we learn to sing our notes perfectly, then we can learn to scoop like the professionals. ) And when more than two notes are involved, most amateur singers just slide down the notes. Each note should be sung as individual notes--no running them together. This takes practice--over and over and over. The best way to hear if you are singing on pitch is to record yourself as you exercise. And when you sing those high notes, do not forget to use your diaphragm when singing the pitches. You will never match them correctly if you don't. When you are singing a 1-3-5-3-1 exercise, watch out for the 5 note! It will be flat if you do not concentrate. Try to imagine that you are an instrument. When played, most instruments hit the note as a pure note. When I am singing (especially in a group or choir), I try to picture that I am a clarinet or an oboe when I sing--especially when we are singing a section where blending is important. Just like an orchestra blends all the instruments together for one unified sound, so should we blend our voices together in the same way.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

THE "MINI EPIDEMIC" - BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR VOICE

Just like any other part of your body, you can damage your voice. Lately, we have been hearing all the stories of how our celebrity singers are having vocal problems. I have heard it called a "mini epidemic". Adele, Keith Urban and John Mayer all come to mind recently. Our vocal chords are not made out of steel or indestructible plastic and cannot be replaced. I have been paying attention to the contestants on American Idol and The Voice lately. I am thinking of one female contestant on The Voice this past week. When I heard her growl, scream her perfect pitches and just abuse her voice as she was singing, I couldn't help but think that her career will be cut short if she keeps singing like that. It is like overdoing anything with your body. You can only exercise and work out and run so much before your body starts breaking down. Everything needs do be done in moderation. And when one does not sing properly (such as singing and straining with your throat instead of using your whole whole body), the throat problems will just come faster. That is why, when starting out, a singer needs to be taught to sing properly by opening up the throat to use the core of the body to sing instead of singing just with the throat. That is where your voice teachers and coaches can help. Just like any bad habit, this bad habit of singing needs to be re-learned and it won't happen overnight. It has to be practiced over and over. I have been singing for over 60 years without throat problems because I sing with an open throat. Just listen to some of my songs I sing on YouTube and you will hear my technique.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post below.

Friday, April 13, 2012

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

If you want to improve your vocal technique, you must practice every day. For those of you who remember singing in school choir (maybe you are still in school choir), remember those vocal exercises that your music teacher would use to "wake up" your voice? You need to remember those exercises. Find a piano app on your phone or iPad and play a note on it as a starting point. The best situation would be if you have a piano or keyboard at home. But if you don't, the phone app works, too. Sing up and down the scale three to five notes at a time. Keep going higher and lower as you sing. It is hard to describe this, so just search YouTube for some vocal exercises and you will know what I am talking about. Maybe I will do a video of a couple of exercises for you so you can follow them. Yes, I will do this for you and play them on the piano. Most people can sing from one octave (which is 8 notes) to 1-1/2 octaves (12 notes). Your goal is to get to 3 octaves (24 notes). This will take awhile and lots of practice. Exercising will also help your pitch placement which is so important.   Look for my exercise video coming soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MAKING THE SONG YOUR OWN

When a new student sings a popular song for me, many times they try to copy the artist singing the song. Most of the time, this does not work. Some artists have a style that is unique to them. When someone else tries to sing that style, their voice does not fit the style, and the song ends up sounding unnatural. If a song has low notes that you cannot reach, you need to change the notes to higher notes found in the chord. Also, do not scoop your notes. This only ends up sounding like you are singing wrong notes. This is why people need voice teachers and vocal coaches. Your voice sounds very different to someone else than it does to you. Another problem is when someone sings along with the artist and not by themselves. The singer gets a false sense of security because they think they are sounding just like the artist. But nothing could be further from the truth. That is why shows like American Idol want the person trying out to sing accapella. They can tell right away if the singer is singing on pitch and there is nothing for the singer to hide behind, like the accompaniment. So, my point is that when you want to sing a song, only sing along with the artist until you learn the song. After it is learned, then you need to find backing tracks without the artist singing and sing in your own style and not the artist's style. You need to make the song your own.

Monday, April 9, 2012

USE YOUR IPAD----A VERY IMPORTANT TOOL!

I received a wonderful gift from my husband at Christmas. He gave me an IPad and I have been able to incorporate it into my music business. And you can use it for your music, too. Here is a list of how you can make yor iPad work for you musically. 


 1. Connect with iTunes to download backing tracks to use for your songs.   Most are less than $1.00 to download, as you know.


 2. Buy some speakers to pump up the volume on your iPad. A good set can cost as little as $25.00 at Walmart.
   
 3. Your iPad can even be plugged into a large speaker and can be used when performing.


 4. Record yourself singing your songs. You can do it on Soundcloud or use your camera in the video mode under your
 "Photography" section.


5. My best tip is going to YouTube and typing in your favorite song and add the word "karaoke" at the end of the song and search YouTube for it. There are thousands (maybe even 10s of thousands) of songs to choose from. Start practicing these songs. If you don't feel comfortable singing them alone, just search YouTube for the artist's version and sing with that until you feel comfortable singing by yourself. 


 6. Take these songs with you to your vocal lesson and sing for your teacher. 


7. When you feel comfortable with your songs, video yourself and put it on YouTube!  Use your Smartphone or Iphone with speakers
to play the music as you sing and record yourself with your iPad.


8. I have recorded every student video that is on my YouTube with this iPad. It is so portable--you just need to have a Wifi connection wherever you go. You can even record in McDonald's.


 You can do all this with your iPad. You can even start a blog on your progression. I am typing all this on my iPad at this moment! If you can think of more ways to use your iPad musically, please comment and share here. I would love to get your feedback. I only have one comment so far and would love to have more. So let me hear from you.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

LEARN TO USE YOUR DIAPHRAGM

When singing, most people who have not taken lessons sing only with their throat and their upper body. It is much like they are talking. But we know that when singing, we need more volume than just our speaking voice. That is where our diaphragm comes in. It is located below our rib cage. There is one exercise I want you to try so you can "feel" it. Just say the word "hey" several times. Don't be shy--say it loudly. Can you feel that tightness under your ribs when you say it? That is your diaphragm tightening up.
 Now, take a deep breath, and you will also feel it. We use our diaphragm for breath control and pitch control. When singing a high  note, a deep breath and tightened diaphragm will help you reach that high note easier. A vocal teacher will help you achieve this. For now, just practice saying "hey" so that you will begin to notice your diaphragm when you sing. Then, when singing, try to get the same tight feeling when you increase your volume and sing those high notes. This is one step in the process of learning to sing well.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

THE VERY FIRST THING

Well, I see you are definitely interested in learning more about the singing voice from your views yesterday. Thank you so much for visiting my new blog and I hope I can give you some pointers to help you improve your singing voice. When I first start teaching a new student, the very first thing I do is find their vocal range. For instance, what is the lowest note you can sing? The lowest note does not have to be with the best voice quality, but it needs to be sung solidly. And then I find out the highest note that you can sing. Again, the quality does not have to be perfect, but the note has to be hit on pitch. It is good to have a piano or keyboard handy so you can find out what the lowest and highest note is. If you don't have either, did you know that you can download free apps on your phone, iPad and computer that will play the piano notes? I usually take the student up and down the scale to find these low and high notes, one note at a time. I play the notes chromatically, so I play every note and have them sing as i play. Then, I can also find out where they sing the strongest. Some people have low singing voices, some medium range, and some have high voices. Usually, a beginner can sing at least an octave (which is 8 notes)and sometimes some will sing more than two octaves (which is 16 notes). When someone takes piano lessons, they always have a lesson book to follow. That is because the piano is always the same and never changes. But have you ever noticed that there aren't too many voice lesson books out there? That is because our voices are all unique and each voice has different strengths and weaknesses. So, teaching vocal singing is is definitely a one-on-one learning situation. I don't want to write too much in each blog because I don't want to confuse anyone. However, if you have any questions about this post, please don't hesitate to ask me in a comment. I will be happy to respond.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

MY YOUTUBE CONNECTION

I have been singing since I was 5 years of age, majored in music in college, 20 years of experience as a choir director and have been teaching voice for 10 years. If you would like to view my YouTube Channel, just click on some of my students' videos in the upper right hand corner of this blog. There you will find several videos of my singing and also videos of my students' singing.   I will be posting more of my students on my YouTube channel frequently. I have an IPad and it has been a wonderful tool in my music. In posts to come, I will be suggesting ways that you can use it when you sing.

MY VERY FIRST SINGING TIP

Lately, much emphasis has been placed on vocal singing.  There are many contests out there on television as well as the internet and we also have Youtube where people can post videos of their singing.  I am here to help improve those voices.  I have made a video of the easiest way to improve your singing voice.  It is as simple as opening your mouth.  Do not forget the little words like "a", "the", "and", etc.  These words are just as important as the main words.  In my video, I sing a couple lines from a popular song the wrong way (not opening my mouth very wide) and then I sing it the right way (opening my mouth).  You can immediately see a big difference.  I am not doing anything different with my voice--I use the same technique both times.  I just don't open my mouth very wide the first time.  If you have any questions about my post, please comment and I will answer your question.

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