Tag Archives: singing

Voice Teachers Discuss Vocal Performance & Recording

Using the Microphone, Playback, and Recording Process to Critique your Voice and Improve Vocals

recording voice

Singing Well – The Art of Knowing Your Voice

“Just sing it like you did outside of the booth” is what I continuously heard from my producer and sound engineer the first time I stepped into a recording booth. “Okay, I’ll try”, replying out of frustration.

Nothing.

I still was not producing the same vocal ability and performance that I could when I was singing to a group of people in an acoustic room with no amplification. It became more than exasperating. So I took a break. In fact, I took many breaks the first few months that I recorded in the ‘booth’, as we vocalists call it, because I just wasn’t hearing the voice that I knew so well in my head. The microphone had this ability to make me perform in an entirely different way, with an entirely different focus, and it happened on stage too. The difference between performing acoustically versus in a recording booth or through a live feed microphone can take any singer, trained or beginner, and bring them back to square one. I thought I had this whole singing thing “down-pat” until I began to realize that in singing (and most definitely in all music), you never really have it that way at all.

In learning to sing with technique, any trained teacher will teach the student about posture, breathing exercises, intonation, diction and all of the tools for learning how to perform. However, there is so much to learn about the voice, and not all of it comes with a teacher. Each of us have a different timbre, a unique tonal quality particular to ourselves. For most vocalists, pair this with a passion for music and singing, and it becomes soulful. There is absolutely a benefit to learning technique through training with a voice teacher, but sometimes we must learn from experience in order to grow. In this case, while recording in a booth may be frustrating at first, there are many benefits to learning to sing through amplification.

While not getting too technical explaining the art of singing through a microphone, there actually is a beauty and a science to it. As a vocalist, we begin to hear ourselves sing through our own head. Have you ever listened to yourself on a recording machine and thought to yourself, WOW! that doesn’t sound like me at all! It not only is interesting to learn how to “work the mic” but also, how to listen to yourself. You can learn a lot by listening to your recordings over and over, learning what sounds good and what doesn’t.

Play around with the levels of the instrumentation and your own vocals in the headphones. You can make the instrument levels higher if you need to be able to hear them better. Also, you can add sound levels to your vocals so you can hear them better as well. Listening to your singing voice may be one of the hardest things to get used to, but it truly is very important when recording. This is where you start to learn how to work with the microphone and really get the most out of a recording. It is nice to hear a rough mix of your vocals so you can learn where to improve, even if it is just in your own home studio! Here, you can start to learn the difference between your acoustic voice and your recording voice.

Also, it is always about the performance! You may be the best singer in the world but if you don’t perform with your heart and soul, it will come through on a recording. When listening back to your recording, take notice of places where you may be able to improve. Can you show a little more emotion in a certain area? Can you step away from or step closer to the mic to make a portion of the song come to life? This is almost like a dance. It can be difficult in the studio, because you may think you don’t have the energy cultivated in front of a live crowd. But you can access that. Pretend you’re in front of an audience, if that works for you.

Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to ENJOY yourself! Though at times it may be frustrating, this should be fun. It is a great experience and a talent to pursue, and it is more than worth it when you can play your vocals for friends and family and be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

For a more in-depth look at vocals in the studio, check out “10 Tips for Nailing Your Vocals In The Studio” by Jeannie Deva at http://www.taxi.com/transmitter/1108/10-tips-for-vocal-recording.html.

Philly Music Lessons student performances!

Student Performance

Cello and Guitar Performance at Philly Music Lessons

The Importance of Student Performances – We returned this December to the Church of the Holy Trinity, where students performed their best. Playing in recitals is voluntary, but we always encourage students to take part. Its an opportunity for both teachers and students to focus on skills, master new material, and see a piece through to the end. It is also a time to experiment with performing in front of an audience. This kind of challenge gives students a unique sense of confidence. Recitals are also be a great way to practice playing live (work out those butterflies!). Ensembles and duets sharpen musicianship and enable students to gain group experience. Even though they can be a bit nerve racking, recitals tie together concepts in ways that go above and beyond the private lesson. So students, pat yourselves on the back! We know its not easy to get on stage, and we’re all so proud of the work you’ve done.

Into the Performance Archives – For some, this was their second or even third recital. For others, it was their first. Looking back it is incredible to see the progress of those who have returned (even since the 2014 Spring Recital). First timers, you’ll be able to look back at these performances in the future and say, “Hey, look how far I’ve come!” Part of why we keep an archive and write the recital review is so that students can analyze, critique, and appreciate their progress.

Our Fall 2014 Recital Review – This year, the cello made its first appearance. We had a few returning duos and some new – The Glew brothers performed a Coldplay song on cello and guitar, and two adult students played duets from the Mel Bay guitar books. New teachers contributed to the recital as well, including string teacher Veronica Hudacek, and piano teacher Meredith Ferro.

Lilly Huber opened the recital on the piano. Her teacher, Meredith Ferro, has been working with Lilly following classical piano methods, focusing on proper technique and note reading. Lilly played “Minuet in G”, and “Falling Leaves”. Her graceful performance was filled with ease – an ease that has grown since last recital!

Another one of Meredith Ferro’s piano students, Elim Savage, went next. Elim, a beginner, is among one of our youngest students (just 4 years old!). With his first piano lesson just a few months prior, Elim bravely performed “Hiking” with his teacher, followed by a great first-time solo performance of “The Rainbow”. Good Job Elim!

Then, Colton Moran came to the piano. Colton has been a student of our teacher, Alex Maio. This was his first time playing in a recital. Playing with both hands, a feat for a beginner piano student, Colton performed “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick” simply and sweetly (just in time for the holidays!).

Ally Altshuler played us three songs from her growing repertoire: “Bravery at Sea”, “Waltzing Elephants”, and “Animal Band”. Ally and her teacher Joseph Primavera have been working on some pop tunes, while also studying note reading and beginner piano technique. Last Spring, Ally sang and played piano at the recital – Ally, its amazing how far you’ve come in just half a year!

Addie Dash has been working on some pop pieces with her guitar teacher. She chose to play a mellow, acoustic version of “Firework” by Katy Perry. As she and Joe work on guitar technique during lessons, Addie also works on songwriting. Exploring composition, melody and lyrics, Addie wrote an original tune – she played “Black into Light” at the recital. Good job Addy!

Gabe Moran was up next, bringing our attention to the drums. Gabe is a drum student with Alex Maio, and this was his first recital. He kept the beat while playing an 8 bar jam accompanied by some blues guitar from Joseph Primavera. We can’t wait to see Gabe play again with other musicians, as he’s clearly ready to back up his first band!

Jack Hirsh and Joe played “The General”, by Dispatch. Jack has been learning tablature and working on his fret board skills. Jack did a great job with the complicated finger work during the opening of this song. While playing some solid rhythm guitar throughout, Jack also sang the chorus with Joe. Last year, Jack played piano in the recital. He studies both piano and guitar during lessons. Bravo to a first time guitar performance!

Hayden Dash, a piano student with us, played “Best Day of My Life”, by American Authors. Thanks for bringing spunk and personality to this piece and to the recital! Its nuts to think it was only one year ago Hayden played this beginner’s classic (with equal energy!).

Jacob Altshuler played “The Man”, by Aloe Blacc. Jacob started guitar lessons with Joe not too long ago as a beginner/intermediate for his age group. Jacob has worked from guitar books, but has mainly been working with tab recently and right hand picking technique. We enjoyed Jacob’s song choice and his picking skills!

Duncan Glew played a duet with his cello teacher, Veronica Hudacek. Together they played”Etude #5″, by David Popper. Duncan is an intermediate cello student. He produced smooth and clear notes as he performed this classical piece for the audience.

Next, Duncan accompanied his brother, Finn Glew, as they performed “Viva La Vida”, by Coldplay. Finn sang and played guitar. As this was Finn’s first vocal performance, its clear these two are just scratching the surface of their musical collaboration! We hope to see more of this duo at the next recital.

Jessica Lydon has been an adult piano student with Philly Music Lessons for a few years. With an interest in learning chord melodies for popular songs, Jessica has been working on the song “Mad World”, by Tears for Fears. She performed this Donnie Darko tune for us on the piano.

Phyllis Farquhar and Joe Stanczak followed Jessica’s performance with two guitar duets. Phyllis is a beginner guitar student, and Joe Stanczak an intermediate. Both taking lessons with Joseph Primavera, these two played “Ballad”, and “Pretty Pickin'” from the Mel Bay Guitar books. There’s often no better way to make note reading come to life than in the form of duets. Often times, teachers will offer accompaniment for such practice, but we love when our students create their own ensembles.

Joe Stanczak, though a long time guitar student, recently began taking voice lessons with one of our teachers, Marcelle McGuirk. In order to improve vocal technique and better understand the mechanics of singing, Joe has been focusing on vocal exercises. He and Marcelle have begun applying a technical singing practice to his interest in classic rock. Coordinating guitar and vox together, Joe performed “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who for the recital – a first-time vocal performance!

Henry Corkran, who studies guitar with Joe, played “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin. Way back when, Henry was just beginning to scratch the surface of all the great classic guitar riffs from artists like Pink Floyd and Zeppelin. Its clear Henry’s grasp of the fret board is moving along!  Onward, to mastering more great electric guitar lines, Henry!

Derek Mansen, an advanced student studying jazz guitar, performed “Play it Pretty”. He’s been dissecting some chord melodies during lessons with Joe, tapping into theory along the way. Tackling these advanced pieces fosters a thorough understanding of the fret board and scales, and requires mastery of tone and form. Derek played this piece smoothly and evenly.

Alana Gardner closed the show with her heart-felt performance of “Come Home”, by One Republic. Performing on piano and vocals, Alana showed off her singing skills again! Alana has been translating pop music into solo performances, accompanying herself on piano. As a supplement to her lessons, Alana has experimented with recording. Recording, like recital performance, challenges students in a unique way. We’ve got some of Alana’s first recordings here.

To Our Students – When you’re in the thick of learning an instrument, its easy to forget that there was a time when you didn’t know anything about music – when your fingers were sore from holding down a single string, when you couldn’t yet hear intervals, when you didn’t know the names of the notes, or how to make a decent sound come from the strings or trumpet. Taking time to look back will remind you of the process and how far you’ve come. May these reflections inspire you as you continue into the future! As you watched everyone perform this past Fall, with students from ages 4 and up, perhaps you were inspired by those who are just a little further along than you. I know there were some little ones in our audience who were surely doing the same, waiting for their turn in the spotlight!

Music Classes, Saturdays in February

Music for babies and toddlers in Philly

Family music classes for toddlers and babies – Fishtown!

Saturdays & Feb.

This weekend, join us for music at 10am, Jan. 24th

Let’s sing some songs together! This weekend’s music class is for make-ups, drop-ins, first-timers, and Saturday regulars. Email Coco if you plan to attend (if you’re a package holder, you can just show up). Hope to see you!

Here’s a list of upcoming Saturdays:

  • Jan. 24th, 10am
  • Feb. 7th, 9am & 10am
  • Feb. 14th 9am & 10am
  • Feb 21st, 9am & 10am

Saturday Rates:

  • $10 Alumni (if you’ve been signed up with us for at least a month)
  • $15 Drop In
  • FREE First Time
  • $10 when you sign up for Saturdays

Weekday Classes in FEBRUARY:
One more week of January classes! If you would like to sign up for weekdays in February, email us (First-come, first serve – priority goes to those already signed up). Classes are held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am. If classes are full, you can join our waiting list – we’ll add you as spots open up. Classes are $10 each when yousign up for the month. If you haven’t been, you can try us out for free! If you would like to attend as a drop-in for $15 – just shoot me an email in advance.

NEW! Starting In March, Saturday Kids Class ages 4-6:
On select Saturdays, beginning in March, we will be adding a small group class for kids between the ages of 4 and 6 (age range is flexible and open to younger children who seem interested in more in-depth instruction). We will dive into learning notes, train our ears using personal xylophones, and explore the basics with kid-sized guitars. Song as a teaching tool will remain a core component of these classes. If you’d like, you canrequest to join now.

Thanks for coming out this winter!

Claire, “Coco”

Phillymusiclessons.com
Philly Music Babies
P.S. – Feel free tell me your child’s favorite song! I will do my best to learn and play it during classes.

About Saturday Music Sign Ups and Saturday Make Up Policy
If you think you’d like to attend most Saturdays, you can sign up by the month! With a sign up, classes are just $10 each. If you only plan on coming to one or two Saturdays, the drop-in rate is $15/class. We always suggest emailing to check for space if you plan to drop-in. Saturday sign ups will enjoy familiar faces each week and get to make some weekend buds. There are typically 3 scheduled Saturdays per month. Dates will be announced and posted prior to each session. If you need to miss class for any reason, missed class credits will roll over into the next month’s sign up, or can be used towards a free class at your convenience. Happy singing!