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Singing Help #1

free voice arc

The Arc/Arch of Your Singing Voice

A question I received recently from someone looking for singing help made me think about what I call the “arc” or “arch” of your voice. It is an approach to singing that can help carry you through the day without losing the power of your voice if you learn how to adjust the way you modulate your practicing and vocalizing.

The young man who asked me for singing help has never written to me before but he has been watching and using my singing tips and affordable singing lesson videos on YouTube for a long time. I do not mention his name here to respect his privacy, but this post will answer his question because it may also help you to set your voice free in ways that can help you to prevent damage to your vocal cords.

He told me that:

  • He easily vocalizes early in the morning with all sorts of “crazy sirens “(I love that)
  • With his sirens and “crazy scales and trills” (I love that too) he can go up and down 4 octaves with no problems in the morning
  • He can imitate an “expressive voice-actor”

I know a lot of people who would love to be able to do what he describes, so what is his problem, you might ask.

Here are his own words:

  • “Sadly, this state of my voice never lasts very long. It is there for some 2 hours and after, [but] as the day progresses, singing and speaking just keeps getting harder, to the level that I sometimes in the evening can’t produce proper head voice at all, just a pushed breathy sound and my speech feels heavy as well. The interesting thing is that this happens independent of hydration, or how much I’ve been speaking or singing (voice usage) that day and where I’ve been. In fact, if I stay silent the whole day and sing only 1 minute every hour, the same thing happens and I can gradually notice myself loosing my free voice.”

Ouch! I feel his pain. How discouraging to be able to sing so freely in the morning and lose it all before the day is over.

He describes the problem as a difficulty in “achieving phonation” or getting the vocal folds to phonate.

First of all, for those of you who do not know what phonation means, here is the simple dictionary meaning: “to articulate speech sounds, especially to cause the vocal cords to vibrate in the execution of a voiced speech sound.”

As you know, I love to simplify terminology in order to give you the best possible singing help, so an even more simple way of saying it is this: to phonate means to make speech or singing sounds with your voice

In his case, he can easily feel things working for him in the morning. In other words, he is able to phonate without problems. But he told me that by evening he can only produce a tone by pushing and it feels like his cords simply are not able to close at all, as though there is something that keeps them open and stretched so that they cannot vibrate (open and close to make sounds).

He went on to say that he needs to sleep for a full night before the situation improves and that when he takes a nap in the afternoon it improves a little bit.

Without seeing or hearing him, it is more difficult to say what is precisely causing this vocal problem, but here is what I think is most likely happening.

He may be pushing too hard in the morning without realizing it

From what he wrote to me I can tell that this young man loves singing and that he wants to go to the next level with his voice. He loves to spin his voice all over the place, feeling the resonance in the bony structure of his head and loves the feeling of joy that this gives him.

With his great enthusiasm, he gives everything he has in the mornings.

By the afternoon or evening everything is gone. After sleeping his voice is okay again.


  • You must approach singing, vocalizing, practicing and learning with ease and pacing. Ease is the key to sustaining a healthy pair of vocal cords and pacing yourself is the key to creating vocal staying power during the day.
  • In fact, in order to free your voice it is essential that you learn how to work toward your singing goals with ease. If you can spin or sing up and down two to four octaves with what seems like no effort in the morning but then a few hours later you start having problems and then feel like your cords cannot open and close, something you are doing in the morning vocalization is most likely causing them to swell. That’s what happens when vocal cords swell. They feel like they will not open and close. And they swell because of forcing or pushing too hard.

    This can happen even if you don’t realize you are doing it. The symptoms “tell” you the results of the way you are using your voice.

    So, the answer to the problem is that you need to adjust or moderate the way you do warmups, scales, “sirens, or any type of practicing.

    Here is how you can do that.

    Think of Your Voice as an Arc or Arch

    Visualize the way you sing as though your voice were a continuous arc or arch over which you will float or fly or move during the day.

    Think of it as though the first tone in the morning is the beginning of this continuous arc/arch and the other side of the arc/arch is the end of the tone.

    Now think of this arc/arch as something that you cannot cross all at one time, but rather as something that will cause you to pace yourself from the moment you get on it. To “float” over it and keep your energy levels and speed equalized and modulated, you cannot use too much energy too fast at the beginning of the arc/arch (in the morning).

    Think of the entire day as the arc/arch and taking the entire day to get across it.

    This is what you do when you train for athletic events or when you jog or run. You find a pace and a rhythm in your running that is neither too fast nor too slow. You want to get your heart pumping, but not too fast too quickly. You warmup but don’t sprint at first. If you are running a marathon, you find the pace that will enable you to make it to the finish line without collapsing first.

    Singing is like athletics. You must learn to pace yourself.

    In the mornings, begin gently doing soft humming in your middle voice on just a few notes. Don’t spin to the high or low notes right away. Give the vocal cords a chance to “warmup” just like an athlete warms up his muscles before he engages in rigorous exercises.

    After a few minutes of this, begin to add a note above and a note below what you are already singing or spinning. If it feels like you are using too much energy to do this, stop and go back to humming the first few notes. Keep pacing yourself. Only add notes up or down if it is effortless. Sing more softly at first. Pay attention to what your throat feels like. Don’t let the exuberance and pure joy of singing make you neglect to pay attention to what your larynx and vocal cords are telling you.

    Again, pace yourself and think of your voice as that arc/arch over which you must travel for the entire day. Don’t dash across it in the morning. The morning is only the beginning of the arc/arch.

    Stay focused on feeling the ease in singing

    This is part of the singing mindset approach. You must visualize and think about what you are doing before you do it. You must master the sense and feeling of ease by preparing your mindset ahead of time.

    Here is a mindset you can use:

    “My voice is made to last me throughout the entire day. I can pace my energy, my breath, my volume and pitch by letting the morning warmup be like the beginning of the arc/arch or the beginning of the race.”

    Do this, and if you still have problems with your voice during the day then you may be doing something else that is forcing the cords too hard and causing the swelling. If nothing helps, it might be time to see a throat doctor who specializes in vocal problems.


    Singing in Shower Notes

    singing in shower graphicI got an email from a really focused singer in New York. He has been asking questions, making comments and staying completely intent on freeing his voice for a long time and I truly appreciate the way he is discovering the secrets to singing.

    He called my “Believe in the Shower Quick Tip” the “famous shower scene,” which made me laugh, but it also got me to thinking.

    The truth is this: making that video to help you free your voice was a great way for me to overcome my own obstacles and amp up my singing mindset to further free my voice!

    What me, singing in shower obstacles?  Need to free my voice too?  Sure.  I am human after all!

    What exactly do I mean by singing in shower obstacles?

    Well, think about it for a moment.

    What does it take to do something as wacky as that singing in shower video? Here are a few of those answers:

    • Get over the fear of showing yourself in a shower to people all over the world
    • Get over the fear that people might think you are unprofessional (have you EVER seen a master voice teacher do this?!)
    • Get over the fear that the lighting hanging in your shower will electrocute you
    • Get over the fear that what you are trying to teach will not be clear
    • Get over a gazillion other unspoken fears

    So why did I do this singing in the shower “Believe in the Shower” Quick Tip?

    Here is how it relates to you and how to free your voice.

    • I have to set the example, to show you the way to free your voice
    • I need to show you that I so honestly  believe that you deserve to heard that I’m willing to be  “fool” for your sake
    • If I am afraid of doing a singing in shower quick tip lesson, then how will you ever trust me to know how to help you get out of your own shower and sing with more boldness and confidence to the world?
    • There are ALWAYS new heights to achieve to free my voice and I can only take you as high as I go myself otherwise I’m just a phony
    • I’m not a phony
    • You see, I am getting requests for singing voice help from people all over the U.S. and from as far away as South Korea and Poland and I better be ready to take you and everyone else to a new level of liberated singing mindset that will help you free your voice!

    Overcoming singing in shower fear is not the only obstacle I have

    This next part is a very personal confession for me but again, if I cannot lead the way how can I ever hope to help you?


    Obviously making one singing in shower video isn’t going to do the job.  There is a lot of work for me to do in order to be able to launch my Affordable Singing Lessons, and this includes doing follow up emails to subscribers like you.  (If you are not already a subscriber, there are lots of ways to subscribe)

    So, lots of work to do.

    Now here I get into the confession part….but only as an example of how deeply the fear thing can go and how it can stop you from freeing your voice.

    The person who emailed me asked about the updates for subscribers because he has not been getting them.  This upsets me to no end because everything I am doing is to serve you and to help you free your voice.  So when some tech problem comes up I feel like I am failing you.  This is another fear I am overcoming…that I will somehow fail you.

    And yes, if I cave into that fear of failing you, guess what will happen?  I will fail you because I’m locked into the feeling and it takes over my mindset so that everything else that I do that is right won’t matter to me.  My brain will only replay that message:  “Joy, you will fail those who are counting on you for help because technical expertise is not your forte.  In fact, technical problems are what will sink you!”

    Yep.  I battle that obstacle BIG TIME and I’m telling you this now because here is what I am doing about that obstacle:

    • Carving out time from getting the lessons ready so that the subscriber emails and updates will arrive on time without problems
    • Likening my technical obstacles to a singing mindset….a can do, must do, will  do attitude
    • Focusing my energy on finding the right person to take care of these tech things for me
    • Getting rid of self-condemnation if I make a mistake
    • Pushing the fear of failing you out the window, “singing it out of the shower”
    • Wrestling it down mentally and overcoming it for the sake of making sure that my own free voice will help you free your voice

    Free Your Voice upcoming interviews

    One last thought came out of the email I mentioned above.

    The person who wrote it read a great voice about tenors and spoke to the author of that book.

    And I am planning to do an interview with a wonderful retired professional tenor and voice teacher that I met last night at an incredible dinner party with only four people in it.

    The four of us are all musicians, artists, performers, teachers and continually seeking new heights in our awareness of how to free our voices, our art, our thoughts….in short, our lives.

    And we created impromptu music last night that was astounding.  The atmosphere around us was so charged with energy and beauty that I get teary eyed today as I write this because everything was so unexpectedly profound.

    More that that I cannot say at this time, but I will be interviewing the wonderful singing and voice teacher soon.  It will be a lively, enlightening interview and will be part of my upcoming Affordable Singing Lessons series.

    Now, if you have a specific question you would like to ask this tenor or anyone else I interview, please write it below.

    And, if you like this post, please Tweet it and Facebook Like it.  It’s simple to do with the bar on the left of this post.  Thanks!


    I started a series of 10 Free Your Voice Quick Tips today as an introduction to my upcoming Affordable Singing Lessons.

    If this first one makes you laugh, give it a thumbs up, tweet about it, post it on your wall on Facebook or leave a comment or all it!

    This is a new twist to the phrase “singing in the shower” so enjoy me giving you this quick tip from my shower. Yes, my real shower! You have to get over your inhibitions and what you see in this video is something you can do to have fun, release endorphins, use resonance, release your emotions and discover how to “get over yourself.”



    You have a voice inside of you that deserves to be heard.

    Last night this was driven home to me again when I went to a wonderful party at the home of one of my students.

    She and her husband do the most amazing thing and have been doing it for many years. They invite people over to their house for a potluck – they are vegetarians, so this potluck was vegetarian – and everyone who comes to the party gets up and performs something.

    Each person knows that the party is for this purpose, so they come prepared.

    Some people read original poetry or the poetry of other authors, others sing original songs or standards, still others read from a book they are writing or show a framed original photograph or art piece.

    Two People Illustrate Voice Transformation

    The first person is a woman who read several of her original poems. She did not sing but she came up to me after everyone was done performing to talk.

    She had heard me do my Impropera Music in the Moment, knew that I was a voice teacher so I told her a little bit about what I am doing to bring affordable singing lessons to people.

    Then she wanted to know more about the most important voice in the world to her: her singing voice.

    She asked me this question: “So what can you do for someone like me who doesn’t have a voice?”

    This is a question I frequently get asked, so I talked to her a little bit about her unique voice, her authentic voice, the voice that is like nobody else in the world and how her speaking voice and singing voice are one and the same.

    This was a new thought for her and the light bulbs began to go on. [continue reading…]


    I love working with students from various places on the planet and love what Sami Comeau from Canada had to say about working with me via Skype lessons.

    Sami recently graduated from high school but before she did, she and I had the opportunity to work on some important singing techniques, such as breathing with the muscles below her belly button!

    I especially love what she says about singing lessons being life lessons.

    Another student of mine told me yesterday that what I am doing is giving Life Coaching and that I’m her therapist!

    I get that a lot!

    Anyhow, I thought you’d like to see what Sami has to say so you can be encouraged.

    Soon, I will have my new series of affordable singing lessons ready for you and then, guess what? I’ll look for a testimony from you too!

    —- P.S. If you know French, let me know what she says at the end of the video!

    And remember to get VIP Notification for when I launch my new series of lessons.


    Affordable Singing Lessons

    I get so many requests for help with singing lessons that I am constantly looking for ways to help more of you.

    That is why I have set up a VIP Notification page about my upcoming Affordable Singing Lessons launch.

    Your voice, your singing mindset, your singing tongue, how you approach your training, what you want out of yourself, all your fears, all your hopes and hangups shape how you sound and how people respond to your singing voice.

    One thing I have noticed in all the work that I do is this: people have a great desire to get professional help with their singing voices but do not know where to turn.

    They will try every resource they can find, usually on YouTube or some other video site.

    They might buy this course or that course and they make a certain amount of progress.

    But these resources leave them wanting something more, something more tuned into them personally for their singing voice.

    That is why I have decided to launch what I call Affordable Singing Lessons.

    My approach has always been a very personal one, tuned into what you need and what my expertise can provide.

    But, like I said, I get so many requests for help that I wanted to do something more for you because not everyone can afford to take private lessons from me and I do not have enough time to help everyone even if everyone could afford them.

    I’ve racked my brains for quite some time, trying to figure out how I can best serve you and still keep things personal and attuned to your needs because cookie cutter approaches to singing lessons do not work for me.

    So if you want to find out more about what I’m doing to best serve you and your singing voice, click here.


    An old, old song from the 1920’s contains clues for us today about our singing voices.

    According to Wikipedia, “Without a Song” was a popular song with music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Billy Rose and Edward Eliscu, published in 1929. It was included in the musical play, Great Day.

    In other words, it was a successful Pop Song during that era.

    What intrigues me about this song is the message it holds for us today:

    I got my trouble an’ woe, but….
    I’ll get along as long as a song is strung in my soul!

    Why am I telling you about this?

    Well, today one of the people who contacted me was honest enough to tell me what he thought his voice sounded like. I won’t quote him because I don’t want to embarrass him, but basically, he was telling me that he didn’t think that he sounded very good when he sang.

    This is a common problem and I like to get deep down the importance of your singing mindset to solve it.

    Basically, if you don’t like the way you sound, no one else will either and so you will not be able to connect with your audience the way you want to.

    I have written about this before in several different places but I’ll list only one here.

    If you would like to find out more about your singing mindset, just type in that phrase, “singing mindset” in the search bar at the top right-hand side of this page. You’ll find all sorts of articles listed there to help you.

    Meanwhile, let’s get back to your voice and your attitude about how you think it sounds.

    It is crucial for you to find ways to change the way you think about your voice. I cannot stress this enough. The foundation of everything you do with your voice depends upon your singing mindset.

    So I want to give you one affirmation for today about your voice. And I want you to say it out loud to yourself in front of a mirror at least three times a day.

    It may sound silly to you at first and you may feel foolish, but trust me, I know what I’m doing and I wouldn’t lead you astray. What would be the point in that?

    Here is your affirmation:

    “I have unlimited potential to change the way I sound when I sing.”

    That’s all. Just that little phrase, three times a day in front of a mirror for at least a week or maybe longer if you have a deeply ingrained negative singing mindset.

    And do leave questions below after you try this for awhile. This is how I can help you the most. By knowing what you think and what you need.

    Now, to finish up this post tonight I want to get back to the song lyrics above.

    The message behind these lyrics will help you with your singing mindset because as long as you KNOW that you have a song inside of you that is strung there like a harp or guitar or violin string that is just waiting to be set free, you can find a way to release it with the deepest emotions you have.

    So, if you have trouble believing in yourself, in your ability to improve the way you sound, if you want to get the high notes that you desire, if you want to enjoy the sound of your voice, then follow what I suggested above.

    I live and breath in order to help you with your singing voice and it starts with your singing mindset first, so get the help you need and follow what I suggest.


    Why Do You Sing?

    What is your singing mindset?

    I’ve been wondering about this for some time now because the best way I can help you with your voice is to understand why you want to learn how to sing better.  This has to do with your singing mindset.

    I mean, what motivates you to even want to sing?

    If you know the answer to that question, you have taken the most important first step in learning to sing better.

    I’ve been tossing around this question “why do you sing?” for awhile and would truly welcome your ideas about it.

    These are the things I’m wondering about:

    1.  What makes you want to sing?

    2.  What do you get from singing?  (self-value, pleasure, conquering fear, expressing anger/love/confusion/joy, something else?)  In other words, “what’s in it for you?”

    3.  What does singing give you that nothing else can?

    Leave your comments in the comments box.

    Oh, and if you like Singing Mastermind and what I am doing here, please be sure to click the Facebook Like button at the top right hand side of this page.  Thanks1

    Curiously Yours,


    Michael Silversher

    This Bonus Mindset comes from an interview I did with Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter, Michael Silversher, who once took a few singing lessons from me.

    We talked about a subject that I know you will find important to you as you seek to empower your voice by discovering what your authentic voice truly is.

    When we start singing early in life, we imitate our heroes, the singing stars that we love to hear. It doesn’t matter what genre we love, whether it is rock or opera, we want to sound like the voices we hear in movies, on TV, the internet, iTunes, etc.

    But if we stay in that mindset, always trying to sound like someone else, some star, we can never truly find our own authentic voice.

    Here are a few snippets of what we spoke about:

    “Sing from a true place in yourself.”

    “I abandoned all pretense of trying to sound great.”

    “Don’t push yourself to the point that you hurt yourself….push yourself to overcome what is hurting you.”

    “The only fear you have is the unknown, and once you know it, you can’t be afraid of it anymore.”

    We are each a hero to our own truth….if you tell the truth in your own authentic voice, you are a hero.”

    There is much more, so listen to it now.


    Like it? Leave a comment! That helps me to help you!


    Hoarse Voice From Singing

    hoarseness from singingDo you get a hoarse voice from singing?

    I gave a Skype singing lesson tonight and my student and I were doing a serious session about the singing tongue.

    We did a few tongue exercises and then we reviewed a little bit from my first singing tongue lesson post, mostly using the photo below the crazy “I Can Has Cheeseburger” type cat at the top of the post.

    We talked about the importance of the tongue and how it can muffle the sound of the voice if it is pulled back in the throat, forcing the epiglottis down so that the vocal cords then have to work harder to get the sound out of the body.

    And that led us to the subject of what causes hoarseness from singing.

    I have articles about that subject, but I wanted to find something more visual, more alive for her to relate to.

    So I did a quick YouTube search and found this very informative video made by Dr. James Thomas, M.D. in which he does a great job of clearly explaining how a person can get a hoarse voice from singing.

    It is so good that I decided to post it here for you.

    After my student watched the video, she was blown away it. She said that she always thought that a hoarse voice came from singing too long.

    Many people think that way, but it is simply not the case.

    Here is what I told her:

    So you have discovered that the voice doesn’t get hoarse from over singing but rather from not knowing how to use the breath properly to support the tone, or from too much tension in the back of the tongue, right?

    It can get hoarse from over-singing if you mean by pushing the voice to try and sing “over” the hoarseness or the tightness, yes?

    So it is not from singing too much but from not singing with a technique that helps you free up the tension in and around the vocals so they do not get overtaxed, right?

    It was cool to listen to her response to this video that I just had to embed the video here for you own discovery of why you might be getting hoarse from singing.

    The good news is that you don’t have to get hoarse from singing!
    You don’t have to get vocal polyps!

    singing book A MUST HAVE singing mindset eBook for singers, voice teachers, students, choir directors, cantors, actors and more!