Autumn 2009 . All the leaves are Also, in this issue I have Inside this Issue brown… included my article Hoarseness originally published in Canadian 1 All the leaves are brown… Vocal Tip I am thrilled to bring you Musician Magazine. And the current edition of the much more! studio newsletter! 2 What’s Happening? Enjoy! This has been such an Environmental Corner exciting year! I want to 3 The Voice Mechanism thank everyone who has Tammy ☺ Article: Hoarseness come out and supported 4/5 By Tammy Frederick our shows this year. Vocal Tip 2010 is shaping up to be Relaxation 6 Bio Bits… Sutton Foster another great year full of shows and all the details We can hold a lot of tension in our will be released soon. bodies while we are singing or even speaking. Here is a tip to try while you are practicing to release This fall I have been busy excess tension while using your rehearsing for Thoroughly voice. It’s amazing what goes into making Modern Millie a fantastic something effortless… While practicing place your hand musical being mounted in on your belly just above your belly November at Meadowvale button. Bring attention to your Theatre in Mississauga! I breathing allowing your belly to relax and move forward on your am thrilled to be playing inhalation and relax and move in the part of Millie Dillmount on your exhalation. and am having so much fun putting the show Now as you begin to sing or speak keep your belly relaxed. Continue together with the amazing to practice keeping the cast and artistic team. I abdominals relaxed. hope you all can come tammy frederick’s Then, sway your body gently side out for an evening of to side as you vocalize to release voice stu dio 327 king ston road Broadway right in your even more tension. Keep 416.850.0972 backyard! practicing until you can perform firstname.lastname@example.org your songs with little tension w w w . t am m yf r e de r i c k . c om throughout your body. Your body will thank you! What’s Happening… Thoroughly Modern Millie! Tammy is thrilled to be cast as Millie Dillmount in Clarkson Music Theatre’s production of lie! Millie Thoroughly Modern Millie This is an amazing show with an amazing cast! I hope you can all make it out, but get your tickets soon we are selling out quickly! Dates: Fri Nov 20th, 8 pm Sat Nov 21st, 8 pm Sun Nov 22nd, 8 pm Thurs Nov 26th, 8 pm Fri Nov 27th, 8 pm Sat Nov 28th, 2pm & 8 pm Thoroughly Modern Millie is the zany new 1920's musical that will have all of Mississauga dancing the Charleston!! Taking place in New York City in 1922, it is the story of young Millie Dillmount, who is in search of a new life for herself. It's a New York full of intrigue and jazz - when "everything today is thoroughly modern" -a time when women were entering the workforce and the rules of love and social behaviour were changing forever. Based on the popular movie, the stage version includes a full score of new songs and bright dance numbers. Meadowvale Theatre Phone: Phone 905-615-4720 6315 Montevideo Road Fax: 905-615-4721 Mississauga, ON, L5N 4G7 Box Office (Battleford and Erin Mills Parkway) 905-615-4720 ext 2588 http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/residents/meadowvaletheatre/ Environmental Corner Tree-Free Home: As much as possible, create a tree-free home • Replace paper napkins with cloth napkins. • Replace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins (or cut up old t-shirts for great towels) - store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse. • Purchase bleach-free, toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum). • If you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available. • Create and use note pads from once-used paper. • Leave messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board. • Make your own cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper. • If you will be doing construction on your house, search out alternatives to using newly cut wood. The Voice Mechanism ~ How Does the Singing Voice Work? The voice is like any musical instrument. It has a power source (breath), a vibrator (vocal folds), and a resonator (the vocal tract). As the breath moves up from the lungs to the trachea, it moves through the vocal folds, which is housed in the larynx. The vocal folds create the sound in the way that blowing breath between two blades of grass creates sound. As the air passes through the vocal folds, which are closing, suction is created at this narrow space, causing the vocal folds to close. Pressure builds up under the closed vocal folds, causing the vocal folds to open again. As the air passes through the narrow passage, it creates suction, which causes the air folds to close again. This cycle continues, vibrating 261 times/second for middle C. This is how your vocal folds vibrate, and this is called the Bernoulli effect. The sound is created here, at the vocal folds, which are house in the larynx (your larynx is the bony bump on the front of your throat, often called the voice box, or Adams apple). The sound continues up into the vocal tract to the back of the throat, where it resonates, and exits at the mouth. Resonance also occurs in the nose, but only on consonants and sounds, such as the -ing in English words, or nasal French vowels. This is when the velum, or soft palate (if you feel the roof of your mouth with your tongue, feel the hard part-- that is your hard palate-- go further where it is soft and there is no more bone-- this is your soft palate) moves down and the air passes up further into the nasal area. Hoarseness: The Top 5 Causes & How to Avoid It By Tammy Frederick as published in Canadian Musician Magazine. Maybe you are like many singers who have experienced a dry, gravelly sound to their voice the morning after a hard night of singing. You may not be too concerned about this vocal roughness if you are able to rest your voice for a few days, but what if you have to perform again tonight? What if tonight’s performance has to be the best of your life? Now, the state of your voice becomes all consuming. How can I fix it? Is there some miracle liquid I can drink? How much water can I drink before the show? Although there are some tactics that will help ease hoarseness, curing chronic hoarseness permanently begins long before it even happens and it involves dealing with the number of factors that cause it. One: Poor Vocal Technique The number one cause of hoarseness and vocal fatigue is poor vocal technique. If you find you get hoarse after performing or rehearsing it is possible that you are singing with a significant amount of muscular tension, which, pulls the larynx upward and/or pushing large amounts of air through your larynx. The most common reason the larynx goes up is that the throat muscles or swallowing muscles become engaged and pull the larynx up in their effort to help you reach higher notes. When this occurs the larynx becomes unstable and tension sets in. Then, in an effort to continue to sing those high notes you may force even more air through the larynx, increasing the volume, and essentially muscling your way through the range of the song. This can set you up for hoarseness. With all that pulling and pushing and forcing of air, your vocal cords can become fatigued and slightly swollen. When this happens the cords are no longer able to connect properly which affects your vocal control. Solution: Seek out professional vocal training. If you are unable to engage in professional instruction, try some basic practice techniques. Practice your songs quietly, at the same volume you speak at, and keep your breath moving easily. You will have more control over your sound if the vocal cords are able to adjust to the pitches you need without the extra-added musculature. For a simple way to start vocalizing and if you are without a coach or keyboard skills, try vocalizing to nursery rhymes. Their simple melodies are a great way to ease your voice into making sound. If you find yourself challenged by songs in your repertoire a more immediate solution would be to lower the keys of your songs so you can avoid having to push and strain for the top notes in the melodic range. As you take time to develop your instrument you will increase your range and up the key again later. Two: Inadequate or No Vocal Warm-up I have many singers come into my studio with the complaint of chronic hoarseness and when asked if they warm-up before singing or performing the answer is often “no”. Always warm up your instrument. How long would an athlete last if they did not warm up their body prior to competing? Singing through your songs ahead of time is usually not a sufficient warm-up. You need to vocalize into and then beyond the range of your songs. Solution: Warm up your instrument before any performance, recording or practice session. If you work with a vocal teacher you should already have a set of vocal warm ups recorded. Otherwise, find a keyboard and run through some scales using words such as ‘”koo”, “mum” and “woof”. The key to a good warm-up is to make sure you are breathing and not straining. Also include a physical warm-up. Do some general stretching to loosen up your limbs. Three: Smoking, Alcohol and Coffee Smoking, alcohol and coffee all do the same thing to the body, they dehydrate it. In order to function optimally the vocal cords need a certain amount of lubrication. When the body is dehydrated the vocal cords can become dry and irritated, making it difficult for them to maintain an easy connection. More specifically with smoking the heat from the smoke can cause the cords to swell, the cords then become thicker, making it more difficult to sing higher notes. Solution: I may not be able to convince the smokers to quit but my general advice to all is to stay hydrated. Drink water throughout the day. Drinking only during a performance or recording session isn’t enough; your body needs to be hydrated long before you start singing. If you drink coffee and alcohol try to match your consumption, drink for drink, with an equal amount of water. If you like to drink tea for your throat, keep it as natural as possible. I suggest licorice root steeped in water. Drinking liquids at either end of the extreme is not the best choice for the voice, so try to keep drinks close to room temperature. Four: Excessive Throat Clearing Excessive throat clearing can also lead to hoarseness. When you clear your throat your cords come together forcefully. If done excessively they can swell and fatigue. The need to clear our throat is usually a result of excess phlegm or mucous sitting on the cords. Solution: Avoid consuming phlegm-inducing foods such as dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.), chocolate and orange juice. Try to avoid eating right before a performance or practice session. After eating, extra mucous is produced making it hard for the vocal cords to perform optimally. However, it takes a lot of energy to sing, so singing with no fuel in your body can be equally detrimental. Eat a regular meal a few hours before you have to perform and then eat a small snack about 45 minutes before you go on. If you need to clear your throat, cough and swallow instead followed by a drink of water. Five: Illness and Fatigue It goes without saying that if you are sick with a cold or the flu you will not be able to sing at your optimum. In the case of laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx) your cords are not able to stay connected due to the excessive swelling caused by a bacterial infection. If you suffer from chronic sore throats or laryngitis it is safe to say that you will be physically run down because of it. Fatigue will take its toll on the body and prevent you from being able to deal with the stresses faced throughout a day. Our bodies are exposed to bacteria and viruses on a daily basis and if we are well rested our body has the ability to fight them off easily, however, if we are fatigued, under nourished and dehydrated the body’s ability to fight off these invaders is diminished significantly. Solution: The key to vocal health is overall health. It is imperative that you take care of yourself. Eat well, drink water, and definitely get an adequate amount of sleep. Even grabbing a quick nap can make a big difference in your body’s defense system. If you find yourself battling with a cold or flu remember to avoid singing with a sore throat if possible. Give yourself adequate time to rest and recover. It is completely possible to have a vocal career free of hoarseness simply by building great vocal habits. Take the time to adjust your habits and you will be able to deliver a consistent performance every time you perform. Bio Bits…. Sutton Foster Foster was born in Statesboro, Georgia and raised in Troy, Michigan. At age fifteen, she was a contestant on the television show Star Search and also auditioned for the cast of The Mickey Mouse Club. She left Troy High School before graduating (she received her diploma via correspondence courses) to join the national tour of The Will Rogers Follies directed by Tommy Tune. She then attended Carnegie Mellon University for one year, but left to pursue a theatrical career full-time. Foster's first Broadway role was Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease in 1996. She then appeared in The Scarlet Pimpernel and as Star to Be in Annie in 1997. Foster's next Broadway role was Eponine in Les Misèrables in 2000. Foster's big break was reminiscent of 42nd Street when, during rehearsals of the pre-Broadway run of Thoroughly Modern Millie at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, she replaced leading lady Erin Dilly. Any apprehension about having an unknown playing the lead in a nearly $10 million Broadway production was proven unfounded when she opened at the Marquis Theatre to primarily rave reviews. Foster went on to win the 2002 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance. In 2005, Foster starred as Jo March opposite Maureen McGovern as Marmee in the musical adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic Little Women, for which she was nominated for her second Tony Award. She returned to the Marquis Theatre in May 2006 in The Drowsy Chaperone, a spoof of 1920s musicals. She played the role of Janet van de Graaff, a famous Broadway starlet who opts to forgo a stage career in favor of married life. Her performance earned her a third Tony nomination. In 2007, Foster appeared on television in Johnny and the Sprites, a children's musical puppet show, and in a three-episode story arc on the HBO series Flight of the Conchords. Foster starred in Mel Brooks' musical adaptation of his film Young Frankenstein as the German yodeling fraulein Inga from October 2007 to July 2008. She currently is playing Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical, which opened on Broadway on December 14, 2008. For this role Foster won her second Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical and was nominated for her fourth Tony Award, the Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance, and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. She will play her final performance on January 3, 2010 when the show closes on Broadway. Wish, Foster's debut solo album, was released on the Ghostlight Records label in February 2009. The songs range from jazz to pop to cabaret to Broadway.