Singing lessons IN BRIGHTON AND HOVE

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Hello, welcome to my blog all about Brighton Singing Lessons and singing in general

By christabelcossins, May 30 2014 04:20PM

Singing, sore throats and head colds are not a good mix. We're all susceptible to getting winter (or summer) colds - I have one right now and it's May - but there are ways to carry on singing despite the dreaded sore throat or lurgy.

Sore throats can be caused by viruses, overuse, bacteria and tiredness. However, there are plenty of ways to deal with a sore throat if you have performances to get through. Prevention is always better than cure so firstly, sleep! One of the first parts of the body to suffer when you're tired is your throat, so make sure you get plenty of early nights when you can. If you have a late night from performing try to have a lay in or a nap the next day. Second, don't strain your voice if you can help it. This means making sure your singing technique is up to scratch, not pushing or straining over loud bands and making sure you can hear yourself on stage. It also means resting your voice in between performances.

So, what do you do if you are rested and you haven't strained your voice, but you get a viral or bacterial sore throat and you have performances coming up. Obviously rest your body and your voice and then start to treat it. If it's viral, antibiotics will not help, although they will often be helpful for bacterial sore throats, such as tonsillitis, so check with your doctor if in doubt.

For any sore throat, I always find the most helpful cure is gargling with warm salt water - I like to use seasalt and freshly boiled water. You can do this several times a day and it will really help. Warm salt water is great for treating any infection due to it's antiseptic properties. My tip is try not to swallow it! Another helpful tip is to drink plenty of warm liquid. I only drink warm water or herbal teas without milk when I have sore throats. The heat kills off infection in the throat, and the more liquid you can drink, the easier it is for your body to deal with the cold virus, as any mucus can be flushed through more easily (Mayo Clinic). Hot honey and lemon is a perfect drink for sore throats. The honey is soothing and the lemon will give you an added Vitamin C boost!

Sore throats are often accompanied by a blocked nose and this is terrible for singing, unless you like that nasal "Janice" sound. I recommend steaming to clear out the nasal passages and use a sinus medication. Saline nasal drops and sprays are a great idea to get rid of stuffiness too. One thing I can't be without whenever I'm singing are Vocal Zones. These are great for clearing the nasal passages too when stuffiness strikes. They're helpful for singing when you have a sore throat and when you have a cough to soothe the throat.

Lastly, don't be afraid to take over-the-counter cold remedies to see you through the performance.

So to recap my op Tips for singing with a sore throat/head cold are:

1. Sleep

2. Great Vocal Technique

3. Warm Salt Water

4. Plenty of warm liquids

5. Hot lemon and honey drinks

6. Steaming

7. Vocal Zones (the singer's little helper!)

8. Over-the-counter cold remedies

Get well soon and remember "the show must go on" .....

By christabelcossins, May 21 2014 05:47PM

The most common question I’m asked when people find out I’m a singing teacher is, “Can anyone learn to sing?”. The answer I always give is that, with the right teacher, everyone can improve upon the the singing voice they currently have. Maybe not everyone will become a great singer, but I have never taught a person whose voice did not improve after having lessons. Being a great singer is dependent on several things (this is by no means a definitive list):

- Tone

- Technique

- Versatility

- Flexibility

- Control

- Musicality

These things can all be improved upon with singing lessons from a good singing teacher. What makes a good singing teacher? Well someone who knows how to achieve all of the above in their pupils without encouraging techniques that cause strain on the voice. They will also be able to instruct their pupils on vocal hygiene, which a very important thing to know about if you want to sing professionally or just improve your singing voice. Not adhering to vocal hygiene rules, such as not over-using the voice, not smoking, etc. could lead to stresses and strains on the voice that are not conducive to improving one’s voice. I think a really important, and maybe obvious, thing to point out is that what constitutes a voice that you find pleasing to listen to, emotionally moving, and to your taste is subjective, and that kind of voice does not have to be a “good” in the technical sense. However, there are agreed upon facets that create a “good” voice. Line Hilton, a singer and singing teacher, wrote the following list of common elements that are generally agreed upon when identifying “good singing”, regardless of genre.

“1. Accurate intonation and pitch control
2. Musicality this includes rhythm and phrasing
3. Access to all areas of the range, able to navigate easily between chest, middle and head registers
4. Accesss to fullness/richness of tone, not too ‘heady’ or ‘weighty’
5. Vocal control through out the range, no flip flopping about or straining
6. Good breath control i.e. breaths in the right place, not running out before the phrase ends
7. Access to a variety of vocal qualities and tones e.g. Fry, onsets/offsets, breathiness, falsetto, belt quality etc
8. A decent working vocal range, 2 or more octaves
9. Good dynamic control, whether pp or ff
10. Well controlled vibrato, no wobble or tremolo, can go easily from a straight tone to vibrato or visa versa
11. Ability to express emotion throughout the range
12. Words clearly understandable
13. Vocal flexibility e.g. Can access vocal licks, runs and melismas without voice falling apart
14. Longevity i.e the ability to sing through the whole gig, week, tour etc.”

This list really encapsulates what is involved in being a good singer, and, to refer back to the original question, “Can anyone learn to sing?”, with the right singing teacher, everyone really can improve in all of these areas. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, if you want to improve your voice then a few singing lessons is the perfect way to do it.

By christabelcossins, Apr 11 2014 06:48PM

Over the last few weeks I've been learning all about SEO - that's search engine optimization in case you didn't know! Apparently this is constantly evolving and changing, but one way to enhance your SEO is "social media". Who would have thought a few years ago that in order to be a busy singing teacher it wouldn't be enough to know all about singing, you would also need to be an expert tweeter, facebooker, instagrammer, pinterester, blogger, etc etc...

Whilst I have been a regular Facebook user since 2007, I have only dabbled with Twitter, never really understanding the point of it, but after an social media lesson with Clothilde at Let Me Do That For You in Brighton, it all started to make sense. She filled me in on the best way to run my social media, how to link it all together, the best times to tweet and so on.

The hardest thing to come to grips with is that, as a child, I was always reprimanded for being a show-off, which appeared to be innate in me (hence becoming a professional singer). However, I learned to save my showing off and lime-light grabbing for stage only (it's possible my friends would disagree with this). Anyway, fast forward to my adult years and, low and behold, self-publicising to the max (ie.showing off) is now de riguer, and the only option for those who want to have a thriving business.

Enter, Social Media. I am currently chanelling my 9 year old self and attempting to "show off" and self publicise for all I am worth. I'm worried that this will eventually lead to, once again, dressing in my mother's underwear and gyrating to Madonna in front of the mirror, hairbrush in hand, but I can't let this stop me.

The other problem I have with maintaining a continual flow of social media is that it's so time consuming. So time consuming that I joked (on Facebook, natch) that with all the time I spend promoting singing lessons I no longer have time to give singing lessons. Clothilde had an answer to that too: Hootsuite. This enables you to run all your social media from one platform. I haven't tried it yet as I'm still slightly afraid of the Madonna gloves coming out, but I'll give it a go and let you know how it goes.

Anyway, I must go, I have to tweet about this blog and then take an imstagram of it......

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