Navigating this page: As you scroll through the videos and blogs, you'll see them categorized by level:
Fundamentals, Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and All Levels
Vibrato and Straight Tone: Learning the differences, and how to choose
In this video, Jeannie discusses and demonstrates differences between using vibrato—when a held note has an oscillation up and down around the pitch center—and straight tone (no vibrato).
Do you use vibrato? If you're classically trained or sing musical theater often, you probably use vibrato a lot. If you're a pop or rock singer, you may not use vibrato much at all. Jazz and R&B styles vary but usually have a combination of both.
What if you can't control your vibrato, or don't know how to find it? Watch!
Blog: Are You Motivated to Practice?
This blog has tips for keeping you on track. Singing is one of those things that many people take for granted. You walk around with a built-in instrument—you use it all day to speak. Seems like you should just be able to sing too, right? Non-singing musicians especially think it's easy to be a singer. Um, no way! Singing well is a skill that takes time to develop. As for anything physical, it takes practice and preparation to get good at singing.
In this video, Jeannie shows you some essential basics about using a microphone.
Warm Up With Jeannie!
In this 17:30 video, Jeannie takes you through a warmup, describes what is going on and how to do it well, and sings with you, too. Exercises in the video:
Breathing: sustaining a "hiss"
Sustaining a note on "ah"
Octave glides up and back, on "ya, ee, o"
1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 (half scale) on "ah, ee, o"
Octave glide up then sustain top octave, "ah, ee, o"
"Ee-hee ah-ha" and "Ee-ay-ah-o-oo" two-part exercise, on one breath
"Ma - may- mi-mo-moo" on one pitch, sustained and legato
"Soul and Intervals" exercise, from her book Your Singing Voice page 164, originally entitled "Meditation on Breathing" by Sarah Dan Jones
Note: There is some minor scratchiness in the audio (not sure where it came from!), and the picture is a wee bit blurry.
Jeannie's Famous Breath Exercise!
This effective exercise helps you manage your breath for any kind of singing. In it you practice breathing in slowly, pausing by holding your breath, then doing a hiss sound for 16 counts. Jeannie takes you through the exercise step-by-step and does it with you. This is a great way to begin your daily vocal practice!
Tip: When you make the hiss sound, keep it even-toned by listening as you go along. This will help your body to learn how to release air in a steady manner, which is great for breath control. The hiss should be at a moderate volume, not too soft.
Interview: Berklee student Amira Noor, talking about vocal health and practice
Berklee student Amira Noor took Jeannie's Vocal Technique and Wellness at Berklee in the spring of 2021. For her final project, in this video she summarizes some of the many things she learned about vocal health and wellness. Her topics include things like:
Practicing -do's and don'ts
How warming up is essential
Managing stage fright
How learning about vocal anatomy has given her so much more facility for her singing
How breathing happens
Exercise: Pulsing for Breath Management
This exercise helps you to activate your abdominal-supported breathing. In it you create a pulse by singing five short notes on one pitch, and repeating that four times, with a breathless pause in between each set.
Be sure you are standing, grounded in your legs, with soft knees. Check your shoulders to be sure they're not tight. Fill your midsection with air, like an inner tube around you. The pulsing happens because of the type of tone you make, and causes your diaphragm muscle to pulse. You will see the upper part of your abdomen coming inward with each pulse. Be sure you don't make the pulse—instead, let it happen from the intention of the sound.
Start out in your chest voice, lower in your range for sopranos and altos, and in the mid-to-high part of your range for tenors and baritones.
We always teach and practice singing in major keys --you know, Do Re Mi Fa Sol! But what about singing exercises in a minor key? Singing a flat third instead of a major third in a scale changes the intervals between notes. It happens in melodies, and when you also practice minor keys, you'll learn to adjust your singing to less predictable detailed intervallic movements.
In this video Jeannie describes the difference and takes you through an exercise in major/minor.
Exercise Demonstration: Volume Swell
This is great for working on your areas of transition, and also great for belting. What is it? You hold a note and crescendo (get louder) from a very soft, clean tone, into a loud tone. When you're in an area of transition this will likely take you into your chest voice. Then, you reverse: Start a loud tone, and decrescendo (get softer) while holding the note, until you get to a very quiet final volume. This will take you back through your transition.
This is tricky for a couple of reasons.
First, when you're going through the transition as you're holding a single notes, cartilages and muscles within your larynx (where your vocal folds are) are moving as you change from your lower voice (chest) to lighter voice (head, falsetto). And vise versa. It can be bumpy, because by definition these muscles move in opposite directions.
Second, it's easy to strain if you're not careful. When you begin the loud note, do not yell it out. Instead, begin the note with an open mouth and excellent breath support. I demonstrate using a "y" vowel at the start of the loud note to help the note from being shouted.
Third, when you get to the feeling of transition the natural tendency is to let it flip, or stop and get frustrated. The whole idea of this exercise is to be patient and smooth out the changes. It may be bumpy or flip at first—that's normal.
It is essential that you do this exercise after you're well warmed up. Ground your legs, and use supported breathing from deep in your torso.
Does that sound strange to you? Well, think about it. When you meditate, you begin by focusing on your breathing. You take in breaths slowly, and release them slowly. This activates your parasympathetic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that brings you calm, a sense of peace. It also helps to deactivate your sympathetic nervous system which is the fight-flight-freeze reaction to fear or anxiety.
When you're singing you're active, but we don't want to be tense. Slow, deliberate breaths offers several benefits:
A slow inhalation is a deep inhalation, so you take in more air to create support
In turn, this prepares you for a controlled release of your air, which is what breath support means
When your body is calmer, you can be more focused on staying in balance and on your vocal goal in that moment.
This helps remove the fear of singing. You're not fighting off a dragon!
Singing can healing. Studies prove this. Take in a slower breath. Love the process, love your voice!
Passaggio: Chromatic exercise demonstration:
Navigate Between Registers When Belting
Working on Break: Smoothing out register shifts one note at a time
Part 1: Chromatic Exercise Demonstration
Part 2: Chromatic Exercise Workout
This exercise works best when you are well warmed up. The goal is to allow your vocal folds to shift smoothly between chest voice (lower full voice) and head voice (or falsetto). This takes practice! You are keeping your support engaged while gradually lightening the pressure in your vocal folds to allow them to change.