It took me a while to choose a song for my musical growth plan. I wanted a song that was challenging (voice cracks on the high notes) yet achievable (no Florence Welch or Whitney Houston). In 2010 a friend of mine played a Youtube video of Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg covering folk band The Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song while sitting in the forest with a guitar, their voices in perfect harmony. Soon after this video was posted on YouTube the sisters (then teenagers) formed the band First Aid Kit and I have been a fan of their music ever since. They have released four albums since then with so many good tunes but Emmylou is still my favorite and the song I chose to perfect over the next couple of months.
My midterm goal was to sing the whole chorus in tune with First Aid Kit.
I was given the opportunity to have one on one voice instruction with Ines our Music in the Elementary Classroom Professor. The chorus starts off on a high note and I found it a challenge to to get my voice there on the first note so Ines gave me some visuals to help me “place my voice” and use my “head voice” (singing voice) instead of my “chest voice” (speaking voice).
Imagining that the sound is coming out of your eyes focuses the sound into your head rather than your chest which will help you to reach those higher notes by thinking above the note
Picturing a person jumping off of a diving board while you sing can help you to project your voice into those higher notes
In order to have enough air in your lungs to push the notes out, put your mouth into the same shape that you would if you were drinking out of a straw. This makes your breath go into your stomach rather than your chest allowing for deeper breaths. You will know you are breathing into your stomach when you can see/feel your belly rising with each breath. If your shoulders are rising it means you are breathing into your chest and not your stomach and your breath will be too shallow.
Originally I had planned on allocating half an hour to my singing practice every day. I found it was difficult to find time each day to practice singing, especially half an hour! I don’t have my car on the road anymore (a place I did most of my singing) so I decided that I would practice every day while I did the dishes, playing the song 3 times, practising just the chorus, a much more manageable time limit.
For some reason I thought that when I took a breath in between lyrics it had to be silent so that the future microphone would not pick up the loud inhale of breath which means that I was not getting enough oxygen to sing. During my second lesson Ines told me not to worry at all about being loud when breathing in. As soon as I focused more on getting enough air in my lungs instead of the sound my singing vastly improved, not only was I able to get enough oxygen I was able to hit the notes and sing the chorus in tune!
My goal for the end of semester is to be able to sing the verse (everything that is not the chorus) in tune. There are some higher, longer notes than the chorus but practice makes perfect.