Vocal Technique Blog

September 9 at THE IRIDIUM

September 9 at THE IRIDIUM 400 400 Vocal Technique

Patrick DeGennaro at the Iridium

Patrick DeGennaro, singer, ever-creative songwriter, pianist, and educator, not to mention heartthrob, made his debut at the Iridium on September 9, celebrating the release of his EP, “All I Need,” and introducing not only the four original songs on the EP, but also four other songs that he wrote this year. The occasion marked the Iridium debuts of his band members and back-up singers, Alec Berlin on guitar, Jørgen Kjaer on keyboards, Steve Count on bass, Clayton Craddock on drums, and vocalists Jen Heaney and Rachel Sullivan, as well. Patrick was at the Steinway for some of the songs, his own and covers of others’.

As noted when I reviewed his earlier appearances, at Birdland and elsewhere, Patrick’s music mostly concerns love, both hopeful and hopeless. “Anyone Else,” powerhouse and pulsating, and sung with his backups, found him trying hard in a relationship and wondering if it’s worth it or if he and the significant other should pursue other partners instead. In “The One,” on the EP, Patrick considered the “game” that “love is” and that Mr. Right and “the one right now” may be one and the same, and gave us some head tone interludes, something always appreciated. In “Naked Sun,” he sang, with enthusiasm, of sunbathing nude, an increasingly endangered pursuit, on the Fire Island beach, where he completed composing most of his songs. “Why Not Me,” heartfelt and heartrending, from the EP, began with “I hate everybody … except for you,” as he sang, with drive, of unrequited love and, as in some of his other works, ended abruptly.

Patrick’s new “Falling (from a distance … with you),” with the band and the backups, sounded upbeat, but expressed not just anticipation, but pain and hurt as well—“I’m so afraid of you” was a sentiment heard here. “They say that love is not a choice,” Patrick began, singing solo, from the piano, with full feeling, and though the relationship may be hanging by a thread, and despite the heartache, urged or begged the loved one to “Stay,” also on the EP. In title track “All I Need (is to remember … you’re the best thing for me),” on the other hand, he truly cherished and savored the most magical moments in an affair. He was back at the keyboard, and was joined by the band members and back-up singers, for his Aretha Franklin-inspired, surefire showstopper “I Used to Be.”

In his early show, Patrick had yielded center stage to singer Heaney for a couple of songs, and in the late one, which I heard, to Sullivan, with Heaney backing her up. Covering familiar Whitney Houston song “How Will I Know,” with guitarist Berlin, and with soul and spirit, Sullivan handily hit all high notes and low notes, Whitney-style, and her “Gypsy Queen (and her tambourine and the fella that comes in between),” by her musician husband Chris Sullivan, boasted the full colorful throb and wail of music of the Roma.

Patrick included a couple of songs from his 2009 CD “Unbroken,” opening the concert by proudly singing “Standing Up Straight,” a survivor’s song, delivered with verve and in polished tone, and included his haunted, haunting “I Hear Your Voice in the Rain,” in which he replayed scenes of rejection by a loved one. Patrick also gave us a couple of covers of music that he loves. The Beatles’ beautiful ballad “She’s Leaving Home,” was sung and played with elegance and, assisted by both band and back-ups, with his vocal line contrasting with and sometimes, in mixed voice, higher than the women’s. In Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock,” a duet with guitarist Berlin, he both sang, with wonder, of innocence and effectively brought out the underlying hints of the loss of innocence.

Visit Patrick DeGennaro’s Facebook page or http://www.reverbnation.com/patrickdegennaro for further information.

Patrick at The IRIDIUM

Patrick at The IRIDIUM 1024 576 Vocal Technique

Getting Back !!

Getting Back !! 600 449 Vocal Technique


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!

words words words….

words words words…. 275 183 Vocal Technique

wordsAs 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.

Realignment : tipping the scales

Realignment : tipping the scales 1024 768 Vocal Technique


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.

Those who can – teach !!!

Those who can – teach !!! 750 519 Vocal Technique

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

Muscle in real time …part 2

Muscle in real time …part 2 930 1024 Vocal Technique

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!

Muscle in Real Time

Muscle in Real Time 821 628 Vocal Technique

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!!

SpecialtySerieAlignment 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.


New DUBWAY RECORDING STUDIO CLASS!! 550 791 Vocal Technique


Bobby Belfry

Bobby Belfry 480 360 Vocal Technique

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

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