Getting Back !!

Degennaro-Front-Iridium-WEB-REVISED

After a long break I am happy to be making my debut at THE IRIDIUM September 9, 8and 10 pm.
I have never done two performances in one night and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous about it. That said, I have been working my technique like crazy and doing all my on line lessons. Yes, its a little weird to be taking my own lessons but I have always felt that the reason I am a successful teacher is because I use this technique on myself first. Its not just a theory or a curriculum that I’ve studied in school, I use and apply it every day to my own career.

The numbered series are the everyday basics to increases strength, range and control and the specialty series does exactly what they say they will! I am extremely critical of all my work and I can say that after months of using these lessons, I wouldn’t change a thing on any of them. (except a few editing mistakes which I’ll get to soon!)

Start with lesson 1 today (its free) , and come to the gig if you are in New York!

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words words words….

words

As I’ve mentioned before, I teach an invisible instrument. Since we can’t see it or touch it all we have to work with is language. The choice of words is critical to the singers actions and understanding. My mentor taught me that if the client doesn’t understand me it is MY fault and I need to continue until they do. Fortunately for all of us, I love to talk… and talk and talk.

I recently had the pleasure of teaching 2 master classes to a group of performing arts students from Charleston South Carolina. The first day we just had time for a basic vocal assessment for each singer, so a little bit of singing from them and a whole lot of talking from me. The second day I was amazed at how much they had understood and were immediately able to apply. They had no time to practice or really do any singing at all in-between classes, so it proves that you can actually think your way into a new vocal behavior. This is also one of the real benefits of a class as opposed to a private lesson. Private lessons and a concentration on technique is an essential part of the diet but at this point in my teaching career I find the class is faster for application and performance.

I’ve said before that 1 session with a personal trainer can change your workouts for life because once you have some instruction and insight you can start a new program on your own. This is especially true for singing since most of us go quite some time with no training, we have many questions that need some answers. Lesson 1 is FREE! Start today.

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Realignment : tipping the scales

scales

I have mentioned in the past that I have had 2 vocal nightmares in my career and it always happens the same way. I stop singing for a while and my speaking voice takes on a new muscularity and before long I’m re-aligned in a bad way! The tricky part of this is that I never really stop singing altogether, and some of the changes feel and sound good. That little bit of thicker beefier resonance on the bottom can be fun, particularly in your speaking voice , and that’s the slippery slope of staying aligned. To be honest there are a few alignment choices available to us. If you really want a thick, open, theatrical sound, you can stay a little wider as you belt and have a more obvious transition into head voice. ( A very common technique on Broadway ) Or, if you prefer a more streamlined seamless range you’ll develop a more closed bell like resonance through the mixed belt. That’s the American Idol formula. Its big, its hot, but its not wide and presentational.

Here’s the bad news about being a singer: the voice is muscle and muscle never stays the same. Its better, it’s worse, but its never the same as it was yesterday, so, we just have to roll with that! You start everyday with what you’ve got and the voice tells you the rest. Everyday alignment shouldn’t be all that difficult to navigate. If you’re singing consistently you should be able to deal with the everyday humanity without much notice. If things are way out of proportion, you have to do a little rehab to get the scales tipped back to where they were.
FALSETTO FIX & SOPRANOS TOO is the repair work for getting the smaller muscles back in the game!!!!! The more difficult it is to get the smaller sounds, the more urgent it is that you address the situation before it gets any worse.

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Those who can – teach !!!

jprg  postcard

I can’t tell you how much I learn when I teach. I know it sounds corny but it’s the truth. If you are in NYC, come to the Metropolitan Room March 30th 9 pm to see my Advanced Workshop performance. 8 incredibly talented musicians perform a very wide range of material from originals to show tunes.
If you are interested in upcoming workshops send info to pdge1@rcn.com

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Muscle in real time …part 2

In the previous post I spoke about being realistic about the time it will take to make the changes you need. It’s not always bad news! There are many problems that will need some rehab , as in ‘stop doing the old stuff and start learning the new’. And there are many issues that can be corrected on the spot. I recently did a guest spot in a performance class and one of the singers was currently performing her own show and was not altogether happy with the performances. I made one correction and the change was so dramatic that it was obvious she was ready to walk right into a new behavior. Those moments are thrilling and inspiring for all still waiting for that ‘readiness factor’.

What impressed me the most was that she then booked 2 hours the next day to re-look at the entire show in her newly released sound. That’s guts!!! And the result was what she was looking for!! My new hero. All within 72 hours. See ??? That’s GREAT news!!!muscle!

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Muscle in Real Time

I was recently working with 2 singers who had some work ahead of them. One of them is quite experienced with some major alignment issues and the other is a beginner with bad ideas of what singing is.  The beginner had a deadline and was not happy that I couldn’t fix it all in 2 lessons so he’s moved on to make other changes . The experienced singer knew before he came that there is a reasonable amount of time you will have to invest to see some results. I use endless dance and body building analogies but those muscles are huge compared to the vocal fold musculature so the recovery time is quick, and we’re not looking to bring any muscle to failure (like a body builder), just to facilitate the movement of choice (like a dancer).

So within  your own voice type or instrument, there are options as to how you want to develop. If your focus has always been range and lean wiry sounds, you will have developed your voice far differently than someone looking for thick volume and power.

Hopefully by a certain stage you realize what your voice is best at and have come to express yourself more comfortably  in ‘your own voice’ , but that doesn’t mean that technical work you’re doing or have been given is gonna help one bit!!

Alignment and overlap is the answer….always!  The more muscle you have the more subtle the problems and changes are going to be. In other words certain sections of your voice seem to be working fine, if not Better than fine, but overall you’re not clicking. you’re tight and tired on top even though you’re loving some of the thick low end. well, the continents have separated and are operating strongly but independently of one another and that just never works. So I always like the 3 lanes of traffic image …(those lanes were the continents but now we’re getting them together). In order for these continents / voices to overlap  we have to take a little pressure/volume off . The volume was the addiction that caused the separation, so , shut up! Mezzo piano, working at level 0, 1, 2, and maybe 3,  Uncharted territory for very many strong vocalists.

All the lessons demand the integration of low, middle and high voice. Mix it up is a specific mixed belt repair and maintenance program.SpecialtySerie

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New DUBWAY RECORDING STUDIO CLASS!!

SummerMailingGrab

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Some GREAT singing!!!

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Bobby Belfry


My friend Bobby Belfry sings live in NYC. Enjoy!!!

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The New Year Resolution: RELAX!!!!

Happy New Year everyone! Once again I need to apologize for the long gap between posts. The Holidays…bla bla etc.

Anyway, one of my resolutions for 2013 is to sing more, and with that is a constant reminder to relax and take it slow, or more accurately, keep it still. The calm is the power source. If you can be incredibly still while taking that first breath you are off to an amazing start but that is a lot trickier than it sounds. We tend to be very aggressive with the breath for many reasons. First of all it just seems too boring to be so passive. Singing is performing and that immediately brings a burden of responsibility to be exciting and electrifying. The secret is that the excitement and electricity lie in the calm. If your larynx is still, low and calm, the sky is the limit as to what you can create. If your larynx is engaged, lifted and tense, you already have a ceiling on your immediate ability.  In 20 years of teaching I have never and refuse to ever use the word support. It implies a muscularity that in general is problematic. You would not believe the gyrations and contortions I have seen people go through for their supposed idea of support and correct breathing. Babies make more noise than any singer could aspire to and they have absolutely no muscle tone to rely on. It’s the freedom that allows them all that glorious sound and their immediate recovery. So, sit down, relax the neck, shoulders, chest and stomach and take a long slow breath. Then exhale, wait s few seconds and try to take the calmest breath possible and let out a long slow Ahhhhhhhh. Feel Good? Oh yes it does!!! Try working like that for about 5 minutes. Slow motion, 1/2 asleep , long slow calm breaths with long released vowels. Aaaaaaaa_____, Eeeeeee____, Iiiiii______ Oooooo______ Uuuuuu_____ Mmmmmmmm______ Shhhhhhh_______. NICE!!!!Now stand up and see what happens.

Happy 2013!

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