Carrie Souza

12 steps to your vocal performance:

1) Choosing the right song and finding the right key for you, working within your range and finding your wheelhouse: Singing in the right key is crucial and it is important to find that key before the musicians learn the song in a different key and have to change it later. Singing in a key too low can drag and singing too high can cause pitch issues, breaks or cracks in the upper mix registers. We work with you to go through the song where you naturally feel it. We then look for the lowest part and highest part of the song to make sure you are comfortable and it is right in your vocal range.

2) Mic Technique: Here we go over basic mic positioning, How to hold a microphone as to not create feedback, how to have a clear tone and diction without it being muffled. How to create the right distance not too close or too far from your mouth.

3) Counting a song in, tempos, timing and rhythm and what it means for a singer. Knowing where you are in a song is crucial when you are fronting a band. We will work together to listen to the music to understand the song’s arrangement, knowing when you come in and keeping track of the one at all times, even throughout musicians solos. Working with the musicians to set the tempo of the song is also important as a song that is too slow will loose its groove and one that is too fast can make it very difficult to sing dynamically.

4) Phrasing and finding your unique voice. Learning to express yourself with your true authentic voice and not trying to copy your favorite singers. You can be just as effective in being a great singer without doing all of the vocal acrobatics of runs and melismas. Learning that sometimes less is more and utilizing space and vocal dynamics are important. No need to over-sing. Work with what you have and make yourself shine. Not everyone is Adele or Amy Winehouse, so find a tone that is your unique given gift and emulate yourself!

5) Connecting with the song and telling your story with emotion. You should connect with the lyrics of the songs you are singing to convey a message and tell a story to your audience. If you don’t believe what you are singing, no one else will either. If you connect to the meaning of the song through personal experience, the emotive expression can take over not only reaching the ears of your audience but their hearts too.

6) Breathing Exercises and Techniques: Learn how to breathe correctly and learn to control your breathing so that it is used to the optimal effect when you sing. Learn good posture, abdominal breathing and how to support your voice without hurting yourself or straining your vocal chords and going hoarse.

7) Working with sound people and being able to hear yourself: Don’t be shy, this could be the difference between having a good experience and a bad one. If you can not hear yourself over the loud musicians in your band, you run the risk of having pitch issues. Make sure you ask for exactly what you need in your vocal monitor and learn to signal the sound man if you are having issues once you get into your set. You should never have to put your finger in your ear to be able to hear yourself. If the vocalist does’t sound good, the band doesn’t sound good.

8) Signaling and why it is important/Basic Band Communication: This is another area where you can not be shy. Musicians actually prefer it if you give signals. Learn what to do and what different hand signals mean. There are signals for going back to the top, tagging the end and when you are taking the song out. We will also learn basic musical terms for communication here and vocabulary for singers (head/top, A/B/C sections and lots of other terms that are useful for band communication.

9) Performance techniques & Boosting confidence: It is often times nerve wracking getting on stage the first few or dozen times. Here we will work on affirmations and visualizations to bring up any performance anxieties and conquer them. Remember, the audience is rooting for you and so is your band. You are supported and loved on that stage and everyone wants to see you be successful.

10) Lyrics, memorization and singing without sheets: many vocalists being their book of music on stage and that is ok if you need the crutch to feel more comfortable, however if you stand there reading your music and not connecting with the audience, they will notice it. Learn tips to help memorize your lyrics and learn to get rid of the crutch. Most likely you have sung these songs millions of times and can do them in your sleep, you need confidence, not lyrics! Remember to practice, a lot!

11) Preparing for the stage. Learn what to do to become stage ready. Have a list of the things you will want to put in your “Gig Bag” such as microphone, cords, percussive instruments if you play them, tambourines, light for music stand, Printed out set list, etc. Learn what foods and drinks are ok to eat/drink before and what may cause you to have excess phlegm that will get in the way of singing. 

12) Finding your stage personality and what you want to convey to the audience: Remember, you are not just a singer but now you are a performer and an entertainer. It doesn’t matter how great your voice is, if you stand on the stage like a deer in the headlights or a stiff log, chances are your audience will notice it. The best bands to go see are the ones that are having a great time! Learn how to connect with your bandmates and your audience