Ep 38 The Deadly I Voice Lessons To The World


New York Vocal Coaching


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♬ Hi everybody! My name is Justin Stoney and I'm the founder of New York Vocal Coaching here in New York City. Welcome to episode 38 of Voice Lessons To The World the show where we want to help you guys as singers by answering your questions from all over the world. And I'll give you a chance to ask questions later but our question for this week comes from Nora F. in St. Petersburg, Russia. And Nora writes, "Dear Justin, I like to sing the song 'Someone like you' by Adele, but every time it gets to the chorus I feel a sense of strain. What do you think is going on and can you help?" Well thank you Nora for that great question. And man alive, I've heard that Adele song more times than almost any song in voice lessons. Everybody loves to sing that song. And so I think it's good that we talk about that today because it's so common. But I do have an idea here, Nora, about why that might be so tough. And it's the deadly "I". The I vowel in singing is one of the hardest vowels. It's a culprit for so many vocal problems. And a lot of times when a song you feel like you have those notes, you know you can sing that note so why is this song so tough. A lot of times it's the I vowel. It's really a kind of mean vowel and I'm going to explain why it's so, so difficult to sing. But unfortunately it's not only difficult but it's also very common because every time I have a song about myself I'm gonna have to sing an I vowel. So we're going to talk about why this I is so deadly. Now the first reason is it's a mouth vowel, right? And as we're moving up to high notes the sound can't be in the mouth or out the mouth. The sound has to get more in. Our chest voice and our low notes can go out the mouth directionally with the airflow. But as you move higher you must must must move the air in and to the back and also perhaps up and into the nasal resonators. It's essential for the instrument to function well. So you've got a vowel like an I vowel and the I is making the sound go more out the mouth. So on a high note an I is really not a great thing. The other thing is it's a spready vowel. Now we've talked about spreading before. And the spread of the lip corners of I, the way we speak I, is another problem that's going to be guiding the air out the mouth. So we naturally do a spread usually when we speak an I vowel. We can't have that when we sing. The last thing is that it's a bright vowel. A bright vowel would be like an I or an A or maybe even an E. Whereas a dark vowel would be something like an O or an OO or an UH. Now bright vowels tend to raise the larynx a little bit more. And you know we've also talked before about spreading. So we don't want those bright vowels to be moving up and tight, and that's another problem with that I vowel. Alright so we need to learn how to fix the tendencies of the deadly I. I'm just going to show you what would happen in "Someone Like You" if I did it with the spread and with the deadly I vowel and then sort of without. Okay so here's what probably is happening to many, many singers in "Someone Like You". ♪ Never mind I'll find ♪ ♪ Someone like you ♪ You see all that spread and a little bit of the larynx hike and the brightness, too bright. Now what if I slimmed it down... ♪ Never mind I'll find ♪ ♪ Someone like you ♪ It becomes so, so much easier. So now what am I doing to fix it? Again I'm making sure that the lip corners are staying more neutral. We're not letting them go, we're keeping them more in. So the vowel doesn't get out the mouth as much. It may be a little darker but we don't want to worry about that right now. Just think about the smallness of the lips, I. So let's try that together. Do a spready I vowel for me. Just do, I. Okay now do, I. Nice. Go ahead and spread again. I. Right, now I. Good. So that's going to help you fix the mouthiness of that I vowel. But then also, this is a harder one, we need to make sure that it actually gets up into the nasal resonators and that's not so easy. Try this crazy sound for me, say I. Right, pretty good. Try it this way down here, I. Right. Now move it up here, I. Good, better. Now, I. Good. I. Right. So you've got to have it a little bit more up in the head than we would usually speak it. Now it's going to feel super weird. The I vowel that we sing on high notes is the least like itself when we speak, of any vowel. So in other words it's as far away from its natural state as any vowel. So we can't sing I on a high note. We're gonna have to sing more I on that high note. So again... ♪ Never mind I'll find ♪ Much different than... ♪ Never mind I'll find ♪ Which gets out too much. Now I want to give you guys an exercise to fix your I vowels in general. We're going to put an M, which is going to give you that nasal resonance, and a W which is going to give you the slim lips in front of your I vowel. Creating this exercise, MWI. Say that for me, MWI. Right. Try the MW. MW. Good. Now, MWI. Right! So if we put the M and the W in front of the I vowel we're going to teach that I vowel not to get out the mouth so much. So here we go with an exercise together Guys down here... ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ And ladies up here... ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ You're gonna have that M and W helping you keep the I in the head. Here we go! ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ Nice. ♪ That's it. ♪ Good. ♪ Nice. ♪ ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ Right. ♪ Good for you! ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ Awesome. ♪ Great. ♪ Uh-huh! ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ Awesome. ♪ Good stuff. ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ Right. ♪ Good for you. ♪ ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ Good. ♪ Yep. ♪ Good, keep it up. ♪ ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ Yep. ♪ Nice. ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ ♪ Two more. ♪ ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ ♪ Totally nailed it! Awesome job. So we're keeping that M and that W to make you slim and to bring the sound up here for that deadly, deadly I. Go ahead and put that in your songwork. You could do something like... ♪ MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI - MWI ♪ [Melody of "Someone Like You"] To feel that and then go to the words... ♪ Never mind I'll find ♪ ♪ Someone like you ♪ So we've got that sound more contained. Now if you guys will just indulge me for one second I just want to talk about one other deadly I that singers face. And that's the I of the ego that we get when we sing. Either we're thinking our sound is just so awesome and everybody ought to listen to me, me, me. Or we think, oh I'm just not good enough. Oh I'm just never going to make it. Oh nobody ever thinks I sound any good. And the focus is on I. And if the focus is on I, as a singer we're in some really bad territory. And so I want to encourage you guys to make your singing about somebody else. If you got it going on and you just really feel great about your singing all the time, that's the time to give. Right? Singing is a gift so we want to be able to give it away. So dedicate your sound to somebody. Sing for your audience, sing for somebody when you sing. Or if you're just a you know a beginner and just starting off and you're just kind of doing it just for you but you don't you know feel good about your sound, dedicate your sound to maybe a grandma who always believed that you should sing. Maybe it's a friend or somebody. Dedicate your singing and your practicing and your work to somebody else. Getting the focus off of the deadly I will really help you guys to expand as singers. Because if it's on you things start to deteriorate fast. But if you give the gift of singing then it's going to give back to you in some awesome ways. So I hope that's been helpful for you guys as singers. If you have questions that you'd like to see answered on the show you can send an email to, [email protected] [♪] And we just encourage you not to lose that joy, [♪] don't lose that passion. [♪] Don't let people tell you that you can't sing, [♪] you know that's not true. [♪] Get with a great voice teacher in your area [♪] and don't stop working hard on your voice, [♪] don't stop giving away your sound to other people. [♪] If you give the gift of singing you know [♪] it's going to give back to you. [♪] If you guys are in New York you can check us out at, [♪] www.NewYorkVocalCoaching.com. [♪] And if you like these videos you can visit, [♪] www.VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com. [♪] I'm Justin Stoney. [♪] We'll see you next time. [♪] ♬