Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sing if I have a cold?
As long as your cold is not accompanied by a severe sore throat due to an infection or strep throat, it is all right to do non- strenuous singing. Be aware that your sound may appear to be nasal due to a stuffy nose. By dropping your jaw when you sing, you can help alleviate the nasal pressure, as you focus your attention away from your mask. (The area where most of your nasal sound comes from.)

Should I sing if I have a sore throat?
It is not advisable to sing with a sore throat. First, it is important tofind the cause of the problem. If your sore throat is due to a cold, try to wait until your throat clears before singing. If you have a performance, try resting as much as possible before your show and drink plenty of warm fluids. Try to avoid products that contain caffeine, as they tend to have a drying effect on the throat. If your sore throat appears to be the cause of improper vocal care (yelling,talking too loud or forcing your tone when you sing), you need to re-evaluate your breathing technique and avoid pushing your tone. Also, do not sing out of your comfortable range. 

How can I control my tone from going flat in pitch?
​Try to make sure you are taking in enough air before singing andsupporting the tone during your exhalation. Also, look in the mirror when you sing to monitor your facial expressions. Most have atendency to sing flat if they project the tone too “low” or far back intothe palate. Try slightly raising your eyebrows when you ascend thescale in practice. This will keep you focused on a “lifting” effect. 

Can I sing in various styles by using one warm-up technique?
Sure. If you experiment with a variety of vocal placement in your voice lesson routine, you can achieve many different vocal tonalities. By learning to sing in your chest, mask, and head voice, you should be able to switch from a Classical song to a Pop tune with ease.  

Why is my voice always hoarse after singing in my school chorus?
When you sing in a chorus, you are singing with many other vocalists at the same time. You may not be able to hear your self too well and start to push your tone. Many singers compete with each other in their own chorus to see who can sing louder than the other, therefore adding unnecessary strain to the vocal cords. If you are singing in a chorus it is best to have a “non competitive” attitude. Try to make it a fun learning experience. 

At what age should one begin voice lessons?
There really is not an exact age when to start vocal training. It depends on comprehension and a willingness to learn. I have trained toddlers to senior citizens. Some voices however, will go through changes. For example, a young boy may be going through puberty and experience a crack in his voice. This can be worked through with practice. During this time, he should sing songs that are comfortable for his current range. 

How often should I practice?
That really depends on your vocal stamina. When you begin to train, you should start out slow (maybe twenty to thirty minutes every other day). As your vocal cords become more developed and you are singing with ease, you may want to increase your practice time to forty minutes every day. (Skipping a few days is fine.) If your vocal warm- ups are accompanied by a rehearsal of songs, you may want to cut the practice time in half so your vocal cords do not become over tired. The ideal time to practice is when your voice feels comfortable and you are well rested. 

​I am an Alto; can I learn to sing in the Mezzo-Soprano range?
Most definitely! Everyone is capable of increasing his or her vocal range with the proper technique. At first, it is important that you cultivate your comfortable range with practice. When you are ready, proceeded with mild exercises that take you slightly out of your usual range. (Try the exercise called lip trills or bubbles first.) If you start to feel uncomfortable, practice your usual range again for a few more days before continuing. The same idea applies to men as well (example ­ from Baritone to Tenor.) 

How much air (inhalation) do I need for singing?
​That all depends on the length of the phrase you are singing. If you are singing a short vocal line, you do not need to take such a deep breath as you would for a longer one. Breathing for singing should be as natural as breathing for speaking. You do not want to over extend your air, just as you do not want to take in too short of a breath. When you begin to practice the breathing exercises however, you may want to take in more air than you do for your actual song. By doing so, you are exercising your diaphragm by preparing the muscles for singing. 

How many voice lessons do I need to sing professionally?
That all depends on your dedication to your practice routine. If you feel confident and develop a good tone and repertoire, you could begin singing professionally after several voice lessons. 

Is Breathing for singing is important for a successful vocal delivery?
Yes. Primarily it is necessary that you are breathing properly for singing. This involves using the muscles of yourdiaphragm (the partition of muscles and tendons between the chest and abdominal cavity). When you inhale, the diaphragm pushes downward and contracts as the lungs fill up with air. This action enables the rib muscles to expand outward. You take this breath when you are ready to begin singing your tone. As you exhale and release your tone, your rib muscles and diaphragm begin to relax as you return to your position before the inhalation. 

Let us use the song “My Heart Will Go On,” (Titanic) performed by Celine Dion, as an example. When preparing to take a breath for singing, you should plan how much air you think you will need to carry you to the end of the line. (If you can, try this experiment in front of a mirror.) Inhale as you feel your rib cage expand, immediately begin thinking about how much air you “feel” you need. You may want to breathe a bit deeper at first, especially if you are a bit nervous or are a beginner. When you are ready to sing, expel as much air as needed. Be aware not to push out too much air at one time or your tone will become breathy. 

“Every night in my dreams, (breathe)
I see you I feel you (breathe)
That is how I know you go on. (breathe) 
Far across the distance (breathe)
And spaces between us (breathe)
You have come to show you go on. (breathe) 

Near, far, wherever you are, (breathe)
I believe that the heart does go on. (breathe)
Once more you open the door, (breathe)
And you‘re here in my heart
​And my heart will go on and on.” 

​If you are still having difficulty with breath control try this trick. Cup one hand around your ear (as you would hold a telephone), begin to take a breath for singing and proceed to sing the song. As you begin to expel the air, listen carefully to your tone. Your attention should be on an even distribution of air throughout the phrase; with just enough air to make a smooth ending. 

For more breathing exercise check out track #2 on “Learn To Sing Like A Star” CD. 

How can I learn to sing like an American Idol? 
If you have recently watched the show American Idol on television, you have noticed a variety of singers waiting in line to audition for the “opportunity of a lifetime.” For various reasons, the show has aired some “singers” that sang off key. These “singers” were ridiculed by the judges of American Idol in front of millions of people on television. Do not let this discourage you! If you want to sing correctly, you should start by training your voice. A variety of vocal exercises can help you develop your breath control and strengthen your vocal range (my CD can help). You should also practice singing acappella (without musical accompaniment). While you do this, try to record yourself as this will help develop your “ear” for music. Also, try to perform in front of an audience as much as often as possible (even if your audience is only mom and dad). This will help you get over your stage fright. Be strong, keep a positive attitude, and you too can “Learn To Sing Like A Star!” 

Can conveying dramatic expression through song delivery help achieve a successful performance?
​Dramatic interpretation of the lyrics you are singing in a song can definitely add “life” to the words you are trying to convey. A good example in song interpretation can be taken from Whitney Houstons’s rendition of the song “I Will Always Love You.” In the first few lines of the song you can almost experience Whitney‘s sorrow as she begins the song with a warm, heart-felt entrance. Whitney articulates her vowels as she uses vivid facial expressions while singing.  

“If I should stay, I would only be in your way.
​So I’ll go, but I know I‘ll think of you every step of the way.” 

​As the song continues, Whitney gradually glides her smooth vocals into the chorus as she crescendos (addsvolume) in a pop/bluesy tone. 

“And I will always love you.” 

​Voice Lesson Exercise: If you want to experiment with this technique try standing in front of a mirror and either speak the words to this song (if you don’t know the melody) or sing them. Before you actually begin to sing the phrase, imagine that you are trying to convey your feelings to someone a few feet in front of you. Keep your posture straight, and your head up. 

​Let us begin with the verse. Take a long breath from your diaphragm. (Diaphragmatic breathing is explained more in tracks 1 & 2 of “Learn To Sing Like A Star”-CD.) With this breath you will sing the words “If I should stay.” Now take another breath as you get ready to sing the words: “I would only be in your way”. ​Breathe again: “So I‘ll go, but I know I’ll think of you every step of the way.” When entering the chorus add a bit more volume and open your hands slightly from your sides. Gradually raise your hands (into the shape of an angel) as you breathe and continue into the chorus.

“And I will always love you.” 

​When performing this phrase be aware of your facial expressions. Are you just moving your lips, or are you gradually moving your mouth to accommodate the vowels in the song? This is important to be aware of. You also want to focus on the raising (slightly) of the eye/eyebrow area. This technique enhances the use of facial expressions while adding more depth and expression to your tone. Your face and body are very vital to your song delivery. You could either just stand there or make the song come alive! It is up to you; notice the difference. 

​Is it possible to sing in various vocal styles (Pop, Classical, Country, Broadway)?
Yes! It is all in the vocal placement. It is important to realize that even though you have one voice there are different places physically where the voice can resonate, thus creating different sounds that lead to various vocal placements. The various vocal placements are: chest voice, mask, head voice, and falsetto. The diaphragmatic breathing preparation is the same for all of the vocal placements; however the concentration of air resonance is different during exhalation. For example: When you let air resonate into your chest, you are using the chest voice. This vocal placement seems closest to our natural speaking voice. Chest voice singing is popular in Rock, Country, Pop and Broadway music that requires “belting” (powerful singing). 

​When you focus your singing tone closest to your nasal passages, you are using your middle voice or mask. This placement seems to alleviate pressure when the use of the chest voice becomes too high or strenuous. The mask placement is also common in popular music (Pop) and Rhythm and Blues. 

​When you concentrate your air vibrations closest to the head, you are using your head voice. Classical music or music that ventures into the higher range seems more apt in this category. When first trying to attempt the head voice, you might notice that this placement seems to be somewhat weaker than the chest or mask tones. With constant practice of the head voice, however, it will definitely strengthen. (“Learn To Sing Like A Star” CD includes many exercises to help you with range expansion.) 

​Finally, in the male voice, the falsetto seems to go beyond the head voice creating a thin whispery sound. Tenors occasionally sing in their falsetto voice. It is mostly for an effect. 

Check out track #4 on “Learn To Sing Like A Star” CD for more information on the topic of style. 

How do I identify my comfortable singing range?
(Men and Women) In women, there are three comfortable ranges: the Alto, Mezzo-Soprano, and the Soprano. In a woman who feels comfortable in the lower register, the Alto, the approximate vocal range can begin at the note C below middle C and end approximately at the note G below the note high C. The Mezzo Soprano, in between the Alto and Soprano range may feel comfortable from the note G below the note middle C to approximately the note B before high C. The Soprano, the highest vocal range may feel comfortable from the note G below the note middle C to beyond the note high C. In men, there are three comfortable ranges: the Bass, Baritone, and Tenor. In a man who feels comfortable in the lower register, the Bass, the approximate vocal range can begin at the note F an octave below the note middle C to the note F above middle C. The Baritone, in between the Bass and Tenor range may feel comfortable from the note A an octave below the note middle C to the note B above middle C. The Tenor, the highest male vocal range may feel comfortable from the note C below the note middle C to C above middle C. Piano/vocal demonstration of this topic canbe found on track #3 of “Learn To Sing Like A Star” CD.