Canadian Musician - May-June 2022 - Page 32


10 Things I wish I Knew as a Beginner Vocalist & Songwriter

By Léonie Gray
1 . The right tone for yourself Learning to sing isn ’ t always easy , but the performance itself shouldn ’ t be hard work ; it should feel natural and effortless . That ’ s why it ’ s important to find the tone that works best for you and your abilities . I believe that your tone is a mix of your current skills and what feels good , as well as how you like your voice to sound . Recording yourself is very important in that process ; it ’ s definitely a lot of trial and error ! Some tones are c lean and clear , some are raspier , some are rounder . It depends on how you use your vocal cords and how your tongue is placed inside your mouth . The more you practice , the more you ’ ll find your ideal tone .
2 . Using your range correctly Our singing voice is divided into two categories — the chest voice and the falsetto . Your chest voice usually sounds like your talking voice , and the falsetto is your higher range that usually cannot be reached using your chest voice . If you feel like you have to scream to get to a specific note , switch into your falsetto , and practice your transitions between both ranges . The more you practice , the easier it gets !
3 . Vocal runs Vocal runs may seem terrifying at first , but I promise it is only a matter of practice ! The best way to work vocal runs is to first find a song with a run that you ’ d like to be able to do , slow the whole thing down and divide it in small groups . Start with the first group and increase the rapidity of your run as you get comfortable with the notes . Repeat the same process for each group and add them to one another .
Practicing vocal runs often will reinforce your vocal cords , allowing you to create your own runs easier and more naturally in the future .
4 . Finding / creating your style I know we tend to copy what is popular , but trends change very fast and that is why having a style of your own is so important . Just like your tone , find what aligns best with you . You also might be comfortable in something , but as you listen to yourself , you might realize that this style doesn ’ t suit like you thought it would . Do not be scared to experiment .
5 . Prevent getting sick and what to do if you have a cold There are multiple tricks you can apply to your routine to avoid getting sick , but there also are ways to practice your singing as if you had a cold and a very blocked nose . As you practice , imagine you were about to dive in water . Some pinch their nose , some do it with no hands ; do what works best for you and practice singing like this . As you do this exercise , try not to sound too nasally and refocus your air from your diaphragm to your mouth . Practicing this way may help you if you happen to have a cold , but don ’ t want to sound like it .
If you do happen to be sick , lots of rest , hydrate yourself , drink plenty of warm water ! Also , vitamin C , echinacea , and zinc will be your best friends .
6 . The benefits of recording in the morning In the morning , we tend to reach lower notes more easily ! I believe it ’ s a great moment to practice your low vocals to get your cords use to it and increase your range . This might significantly help you to get a raspier tone in your recordings , if you warmed up correctly beforehand .
7 . How to breathe I know it might sound simple , but the way you breathe is so important ! Most humans start their life journey breathing with their belly . As we grow , we tend to breathe from our chest , which is usually a result of stress and also sends a message to your brain that we are stressed / in danger . Belly breathing not only helps you sing properly , it helps avoid tensions in your neck and shoulders .
For an easy way to practice , lay on your back with something light on your belly , such as a tissue box . As you inhale , focus on that object rising before your chest . Fill your body with air . This will activate your diaphragm , which helps you control your exhalation , as well as your singing .
8 . Automatic writing As you start your writing process , I suggest getting whatever is on your mind on paper . Add key words , sentences , and slowly find a purpose to what you ’ re writing . If you like the first draft , you may apply changes to your lyrics to adapt it into a song . If you dislike the first draft , repeat the exercise until you find one that ’ s likeable and workable .
9 . Connect with other artists To connect with other artists is to find talented people to work with ! You get to learn so much from each other and to create music that suits you . There is no need for competition .
10 . The importance of constructive criticism You can be extremely talented , but the effort and investment you put in yourself is the most important . Constructive criticism is the key to improving , especially if it is someone from your industry . Surround yourself with people that are better than you and that you admire . Seek criticism ! Don ’ t be scared to put yourself out there . I know we can have a big ego , but trust me , there will always be someone better that you .
A musician and soul and R & B singer with an enchanting voice , Léonie Gray charms listeners with her modern retro style . Her music oozes with inspirations from Amy Winehouse , Corinne Bailey- Rae , and Feist . She uses songwriting as a therapeutic outlet and likes to contrast difficult and introspective subjects with lighter , livelier music . Her debut LP , Who ?, is out now via La Maison Mère under a Spectra Musique licence .