Vocal Technique Blog

The New Year Resolution: RELAX!!!!

The New Year Resolution: RELAX!!!! 1024 682 Vocal Technique

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!

Lonna Marie sings SUMMER IN OHIO

Lonna Marie sings SUMMER IN OHIO 480 360 Vocal Technique

Aside from being an amazingly entertaining performance, this is a great example of the vocal technique that I teach: “Contemporary Mixed Belt”
First of all the word Mix obviously suggests that there are at least 2 components involved. They would be ‘head’ and ‘chest’ voice.When the two are mixed (overlapped), its like leaning from one side of the bike to the other, and always ‘look Ma, no hands’!

You can hear Lonna go from the belt to the mix to her head all through the song at her discretion . It looks so easy on her because she has the muscle required. Just like dancers and Ice skaters make it look easy because they are mighty athletes.

Good vocal technique gives you all the options you need to make the emotional connection the song requires. So, start with Lesson 1 (it’s free) and go from there. Lonna personally endorses “Mix It Up” and I will agree, I’m very proud of that lesson.

Have Fun and let me know how you’re liking the series.

Alignment, Alignment, Alignment!

Alignment, Alignment, Alignment! 1024 576 Vocal Technique

So, it feels like back to school, back to basics. As I start the fall semester of workshops I have many new singers and I find the current theme to be alignment. It’s subtle, you can be off in many ways and still be strong enough to function. (I’ve said before that  being very strong can sometimes be a disadvantage.) But, once one section starts to go way off, you’re in trouble. In other words, if the mid to low range gets too thick and open ( aka LOUD) you start pulling apart the overlap (aka mix) and start getting breaks through the next registration, that of course are most easily fixed by yelling,  (aka yelling). Sound familiar?
The Bad News: We’ll probably do it several times in our career.
The Good News:  It’s a very easy correction.

SHUT UP!   Ha ha, but I’m not really kidding. Almost all the pre-work is to be done mezzo piano to piano, volume (and energy level) and when alignment is the problem you need to be even more careful with volume and pressure. Keep the articulation soft, whisper, not with airy breathy sounds, but just to establish the correct volume. You are stronger than you think, that’s where it all goes wrong to begin with.

So, if this sounds relevant to you today, get out a lesson and decide to start with 30% less pressure / energy / articulation. Be a bit lazy and whisper with soft cheeks and begin to sing. You’ll be amazed. And as always, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO MAKE SOME BAD NOISES! You’re looking for change…aka release. Releases are rarely graceful the first time out!

Alec Berlin at Arlene’s Grocery June 25th

Alec Berlin at Arlene’s Grocery June 25th 480 360 Vocal Technique


You’ve seen him on stage with me at Birdland a million times. Plain and simply, Alec is one of my favorite musicians-period!  His new CD Innocent Explanations is amazing. Get it on itunes and Amazon.com. Go see him at Arlene’s at 8 pm.

Lina Koutrakos at Joe’s Pub Saturday 6/2 7:30

Lina Koutrakos at Joe’s Pub Saturday 6/2 7:30 480 360 Vocal Technique

Lina Koutrakos Southern Rain

My friend and colleague and yes, another user of the magic technique!! Lina once again headlines at Joe’s Pub. There have been too many concerts to count but enjoy this video from one of them before you get on the phone for tickets.

Tickets can be purchased online at joespub.com, where customers are able to select their seat from an interactive seat map when purchasing, by phone at 212-967-7555, or in person at The Public Theater Box Office (1 PM to 6 PM) located at 425 Lafayette Street, NYC.
Once purchased, tickets are non-refundable.

Bobby Belfry’s new CD One Lucky Day

Bobby Belfry’s new CD One Lucky Day 480 360 Vocal Technique


Sun Will Shine (not on the new CD….but a great Video of Bobby!)

More music from the VocalTechnique.com family. Bobby and I have been friends and colleagues from the piano bar world for many years and it is a pleasure to share the technique and online lessons with my friends. The video Sun will Shine is from a past cd and live show but I wanted you to see and enjoy him before you go and buy the new one. One Lucky Day is available on itunes as well as Cd Baby
you can keep up on upcoming shows at www.bobbybelfry.com


A Review from my last Concert at BIRDLAND

A Review from my last Concert at BIRDLAND 750 519 Vocal Technique

Patrick DeGennaro
New York, NY

Patrick DeGennaro has been playing the piano since the age of seven. Classically trained, with thirty regional theater productions as musical director, impressive songwriting credits and multiple awards for singing behind him, his return to Birdland for the seventh time was well received. Dressed in jeans, a sleeveless white tee-shirt and sporting a hip rocker beard and major tattoos, he hit the deck with “Standing Up Straight,” one of several songs he wrote. Every member of his hot band was driving hard, the high-reaching energy level delivering a funky, rock blues opener.

With six musicians and two back-up singers, there was plenty of good music to be savored. DeGennaro accompanied himself much of the time, supported by Jorgen Kjaer (keyboard), Alec Berlin (guitar), Tony Ormond (bass), Clayton Craddock (drums) and Yoed Nir (cello). Each player was outstanding and took advantage of every opportunity to glow. DeGennaro performed the vocals, his full-bodied voice easily negotiating the spectrum from soft ballad to soulful rock and from key to shining key.

Jen Heaney and Lonna Marie, both top-rate vocalists, enhanced several songs, particularly “The One” and “I Hear Your Voice in the Rain,” the last of five songs from DeGennaro’s CD, Unbroken. It was one of the night’s best performances and his rendition contained traces of Michael McDonald. Although the entire band was on its game, Kjaer and Nir were deserving of special praise for “My All” and “Michelle,” as was Berlin for his fine work in “Woodstock,” “Why Not Me” and “You Took Me Over.” Craddock needs to be complimented also for “Why Not Me,” and Ormond mustn’t be forgotten for laying down a strong foundation for the whole program.

Two others of DeGennaro’s stellar presentations were “Stay” and “Michelle,” both of which were gentle and evocative. Lyrics such as “We made a promise to be true, stay for another day,” combined with the tender sound of a cello, filled “Stay” with all the sensibility of a classic torch song of an earlier era. “Michelle” is almost always sung as it was written and DeGennaro did nothing to compromise its sentimentality, although the execution was nevertheless his own.

Patrick DeGennaro appears to be capable of singing in any genre. Similarly, he has a range of musicians, instruments and singers that clearly have the ability to extend their reach. As good as the show was, it’s not hard to imagine what the addition of a number or two from the Great American Songbook might have contributed. Singer/songwriters like DeGennaro have begun to blur the lines of what a good standard should be. It will be interesting to see if some of his songs are eventually covered by other singers. There’s always room for another gifted composer and lyricist to broaden the catalog.

Jerry Osterberg
Cabaret Scenes
September 26, 2011

Alicia Krakauer from my Monday Night Advanced Vocal Technique Workshop

Alicia Krakauer from my Monday Night Advanced Vocal Technique Workshop 480 360 Vocal Technique

It’s time to introduce you all to the singers I work with.

STAY Live at Birdland 9/2011

STAY Live at Birdland 9/2011 480 360 Vocal Technique

Im trying to start video blogs so I thought I’d start with me!

Hope you like it,   Patrick


Lonna Marie

Lonna Marie 604 419 Vocal Technique

christmas timeHere’s a new song from Lonna Marie . You know her from my gigs at BIRDLAND (and my CD UNBROKEN …available for Christmas!!!) click the link on Christmas Time

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