Saturday, March 17, 2018

Learn Good SINGING Breath Control

English: Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and...
Animation of a diaphragm exhaling and inhaling
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Good breathing technique is crucial for voice control when singing and every self-respecting singer should learn and master this technique. Singers will never be able to sing powerfully, sustain a tone gracefully and sing with passion without mastering good breath control technique.

When you are drawing in breath for singing, breathe from the bottom of your lungs upwards. When good breathing technique is mastered, you will be able to feel the breath all around your lower abdomen, not just at the front. Your chest and shoulders may begin to lift as you draw in your breath but do not let them lift or else the singing voice will sound strained and tensed.

You will be frustrated with your singing effort if shallow breathing is your breath control foundation. Shallow breathing is air stored in your upper lungs where your throat and the upper chest meet. Correct and good breathing technique begins with the diaphragm and the breath support muscles.

The key to the correct use of diaphragm and breath support muscles is the expansion of your lower abdomen when taking in your singing breath. You have to exercise and develop this technique until it comes naturally to you as a breathing habit even when you are breathing normally when not singing.

As you are practicing your singing breath control technique, do take notice of how much noise you make when you draw your breath. This is because many singers believe that a noisy breath is a deep breath which is not true.

When you breathe, take sips of air and not gulps. Silent quiet breathing should be the aim of a good breathing technique. Again, practice silent quiet breathing until the technique becomes ingrained into your natural singing habit.

Noisy breathing is usually caused by a constricted throat and is an obvious indication of shallow breathing contrary to what many singers think. If you are afraid to expand your tummy when you are taking in your singing breath for fear of looking fat, this will lead to having tension in your tummy and your diaphragm with its breath support muscles will not be working at its peak as they ought to be.

Most singers are not even aware that they are holding back all these tensions. One of the most important techniques for good singing is to relax so that you can achieve the so-called 'floating voice'. With so much tension in the singing support system, the relaxed floating voice will be difficult, if not impossible to achieve.

This tension is probably caused by years of stomach in-chest out posture inculcated since young. Now, let's start with a vocal exercise to learn good singing breath control.

Start with taking a few silent quiet breaths. As you draw in the air, expand your lower abdominal all around including the sides and the lower back. Make a mental note of how a quiet breath feels like.

Next, release the air steadily and singing the vowel 'Ahhh' as you release the air with your tummy going back to its original position.

Have you noticed that the vocal sound quality that you have just produced is steadier and has a floating tone attached to it?

It must be emphasized that the amount of air required for good singing is actually very little and so a proper amount of air attached to a note should be just adequate.

Learning and mastering this singing breath control technique will take you on your way to becoming a much better singer.

Friday, March 16, 2018


English: Lionel Hampton during a concert in Aa...
Lionel Hampton during a concert in Aachen (Germany)
on May 19th, 1977
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One great jazz musician was Lionel Hampton. Lionel was a bandleader, actor, jazz vibraphonist and percussionist. He has worked with other famous jazz musicians such as Buddy Rich, Quincy Jones, and Charlie Parker. Lionel was raised by his grandmother in the south before he relocated to Chicago. In the 1920's he started playing the xylophone and drums. His first instrument was the fife drum.

When he was a teenager he played drums for the Chicago Defender Newsboy's band. When he lived in California, he played for the Dixieland Blue-Blowers. The first band that he recorded with was The Quality Serenaders, then he left again to go play with another band, Les Hite band. It was here that he began studying the vibraphone. Louis Armstrong asked Lionel to play the vibraphones on two songs. That is when he made the vibraphone a popular instrument.

While still with the Les Hite band, Lionel went to the University of Southern California taking music. He also worked with the Nat Shilkrer orchestra. In 1936 he was in the film Pennies From Heaven, starring Bing Crosby. He was next to Louis Armstrong but hid by wearing a mask when he was playing the drums.

In 1936 he was fortunate to meet Benny Goodman who came to watch him perform. Benny asked him to join his trio which consisted of Benny, Gene Krupa, and Teddy Wilson. It was then renamed the Benny Goodman Quartet. The year before, Lionel worked with Billie Holiday with Benny's orchestra. This group of artists was one of the first integrated jazz groups that performed openly in society.

Lionel recorded with several groups while still with Benny Goodman, but in 1940 he left to create his own big band. Lionel's orchestra was a hit in the 40's and 50's. "Flying Home" featured an Illinois Jacquet solo that began a new style of music, R&B. The song was so popular that he did another version called "Flying Home, Number Two", with Arnett Cobb. Lionel's music was a mixture of jazz music and R&B during this time. Some great jazz musicians that worked with him during this time were Johnny Griffin, Dinah Washington, Charles Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie.

As time went on, in the 1960's and after, his success lessened. He was still performing hits from the 1930's-1950's. In the 1970's he recorded with the Who's Who Record label, but still did not do as well as he could have.

Going the college route seemed to help a bit. His band played at University of Idaho's jazz concert regularly. In 1985, the named it the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival. Two years later, they named the music school the Lionel Hampton School of Music. It was the only music school at a university that was named after a jazz musician. Lionel kept playing until he had a stroke in 1991 in Paris. Even though he had to stop performing as much, he did a performance at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2001, not long before he died. This jazz music legend will never be forgotten.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


English: A karaoke place in Wuhan, in Luoyu E....
A karaoke place in Wuhan, in Luoyu E. St. 
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Karaoke bars are quite popular these days. People come here to hang out and have fun. The word “karaoke” is derived from a Japanese word and means “empty orchestra”. It started in Kansai, Japan, in 1984, and spread to worldwide popularity. Music of any popular song is taken but the voice of the singer is absent or reduced. So, anybody who is interested can sing along using a microphone, usually, the lyrics are also displayed.Some restaurants also have adopted this concept and they either have their in-house singer or sometimes even visitors can sing.

Before karaoke music came in cassettes only but with technological advances they were replaced with CDs, VCDs, and DVDs.KTV boxes were set up for people to entertain their friends or just to have fun. KTV means karaoke music video where the lyrics are displayed along with the audio track. It has become quite popular in US, Canada, and other Western countries. People love it and it is a good source of entertainment.

Karaoke music popularity:

Karaoke music business has also picked up very fast and now one can find karaoke nights every day in almost every restaurant as it drives people to the place. Small karaoke box has been replaced by hi-fi sound equipment and to make the atmosphere catchier they even put lighting effects and have dance sessions. Now almost all kinds of music are available from rock to pop to hip-hop and even religious hymns. The fun part is watching even those timid and shy ones, after consuming alcoholic beverages become bold and march towards the microphone and sing their hearts out, sometimes even humiliating themselves.

Karaoke Machines:

Computer karaoke is also quite popular among the youngsters. Those who are shy to perform in front of people can now be a star and sing in their own room and also for those who want to improve their skills can also have practice sessions quietly in their room. You can pick karaoke software which can provide the means to hear music and also see lyrics on the screen. Quite a number of websites also offer this entertainment for their karaoke fans. All you need to do is download the files, load the song in your computer and you are set to begin.

A simple karaoke box consists of an audio input, an audio output and pitch controller. Some bars also have low-end machines where they try to suppress the voice of the original singer so that you can hear only your voice. These machines are cheap. But those high inbuilt machines have a technology that can electronically change the pitch level according to the key the singer chooses for the song.

Next time you step into a karaoke bar do not shy away thinking you will be the laughing stock. People come here to have fun and you will be surprised to see everyone cheering for you. Explore your singing talent! This is a terrific way to wind up your soul and just relax. After a hectic day, if you are looking for a place to enjoy and meet new people, this is the place to be. Some karaoke bars also hold karaoke nights, where all wannabe singers show off their talents, if you are one of them, go ahead and show everyone what you have!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Band Instrument Repair - FLUTE - Balancing and Regulating the Keys and Pads

English: A western concert flute devided into ...
A western concert flute divided into many parts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Flute keys have to close exactly on the tone holes to seal them from air leakage and then an exact tone can be produced. The only way this can happen is to ensure the key is level and the tone hole is level and the pad has no holes or creases in them.

This is achieved by seating the pads correctly and then bending the keys and testing them continually until you get the best seal possible. We test the seal in several ways. One of the most common ways is to use a strip of cigarette paper. You place it between the rim of the tone hole and the pad and then close the key to see if the paper is grabbed or slips out. If it slips out, that means that air can get out of that space and thus you will lose sound and volume etc. I use a jeweler's eye loop to examine the hole more than I use the cigarette paper because I can get a closer look through the magnification and I find it quicker.

Bending the keys to make them level was at first very scary. You are working on a $300.00 and up instrument and you're taking a pair of flute pliers and bending the key to insure it is setting right over the hole. Yes, you occasionally break the keys right off. At first this is very unnerving but when you realize that you are suppose to be able to fix keys that are broken off, then it becomes no big deal. Once you realize that all the pieces of the flute had to be made and soldered together, you can rest assured that you can fix anything. We have recovered flutes that have been stepped on, sat on, jammed in doors etc., etc.

Alright so we took out all dents and bends, which is a science all on it's own. We made sure the springs are all intact and of the correct tension. We have checked and replaced and seated all the necessary pads. Finally, we bent and leveled all the keys and their pads over the tone holes so that we get as close to a perfect seal as possible.

Then we clamp the keys shut, to make a deep imprint in the pad, thus making a very air tight seal. We do this by first using a small pad iron to iron out any wrinkles from any new pads. Then you soak the pads with alcohol (this is one method). Apply the individual key clamps. Then you place the flute in a pad oven for a few hours. Pad ovens vary in size and shape. I use a long narrow leak light, which I put in the flute and then I put it in a wooden box. Some people don't use an oven.

After that, you'll get a great seal and the flute will play great. The volume will be great with no hissing or leaks.

After that if you give it regular hand cleaning and have someone a tech give it a once over every 6 months you get the best out of your flute and it will last a long time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What Makes GRAND PIANOS Sound Better?

Blüthner Stil Flügel
Blüthner Stil Flügel
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Grand pianos are seen as the pinnacle of all instruments and are widely associated with the glamorous jazz scene and classical recitals. But what is it exactly about the grand piano that makes it sound better than other types of piano, and is the fact that grand pianos are considerably more expensive really justifiable?

Grand pianos are a relatively modern technology in piano design.  Furthermore, they have proven to be the preferable design of choice for most of the world's top pianists and enthusiasts.  They differ from the other major classification of upright pianos in a number of ways, largely relating to configuration and size.  The grand piano strings horizontally, and benefits from the force of gravity in its mechanism.  Additionally, its sprawling structure allows for a fuller sound to resonate through the bridge, giving an impressive tonal distinction between grands and most upright models.  Uprights, on the other hand, strive to be tight and compact, whilst also affording similar tonal quality.  Of course, something has to give and with uprights, it’s the overall sound quality which is simply non-comparable to that of a grand.  However, the compressed mechanism on the upright is beneficial as a small and compact instrument for practice and smaller public recitals.

Additionally, the grand piano also allows more accomplished pianists to perform ornamentation and certain other musical features thanks to a special lever, which holds the hammer above the string for longer.  This means that by rapidly tapping the key, the hammer has less distance to move to reach the string which ultimately correlates to an increased ability to perform ornamentation and more complex staccato rhythms.  With the upright design, it is impossible to include this feature, therefore you will never be able to achieve the same overall responsiveness and feel as with a grand piano, and the more accomplished player should feel limited by the scope for ornamentation on the upright.

The fact that the grand piano occupies more space allows its mechanism more freedom to strike the string clearly.  Additionally, the horizontality allows for a deeper resonation through the wood which adds to sound.  Throw in the added benefit of the repetition lever, and you've got yourself a quality, unbeatable sound.  Although the uprights really can't compete, they certainly have the edge when it comes to space-efficiency and cost.  It really is a case of determining your needs and objectives, before selecting the piano that's right for you.