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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Sexy Party (Part 1)


In spite of all that I learned in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, to this day when I get ready for parties, I picture a best-case scenario. There will be a permanent underscoring of laughter and light jazz. Everyone will find instant familiarity, gripping each others' shoulders and forearms, performing double cheek kisses, like a bunch of vital Europeans.

In my ideal world, charades and other Victorian party games evolve naturally. No one has to explain the rules, and everyone is delighted when I act out Titanic by pretending I'm standing on the bow of a ship. Conversation feels less like talking and more like confession, even revelation. No topic will be too shallow, or too profound. There might even be a sing-along.

In my ideal world, we are all confident in ourselves, and for this reason we can be light, generous, and open with sharing who we are.

"I wish I had your hair," says my best friend Becky as we both stare into her bathroom mirror. We are getting ready for her birthday party together, which starts in 3 minutes at a small wine bar in NYC's West Village. Neither of us is fully dressed. Sprawled on Becky's bed is a bright red jumpsuit with an off-the-shoulder neckline that she just retrieved from the dry cleaner. When it comes to fashion, Becky is the definition of confident. She is the only person I know that dresses like a movie star in real life. 

Personally, I am wearing jeans.

"No, you don't want my hair," I say. 

On some level we are partaking in an ancient modesty ritual among girls -- putting ourselves down, picking our friends up -- but mostly I really mean it. I have a ton of thin, light brown, salon-highlighted hair, and it frizzes, knots, and is just generally unwieldy in all scenarios. Also, anytime I have asked a stylist to cut my bangs they curl up aggressively and tightly, like Home Depot blackout shades.

Becky makes the comment about my hair without any irony. It's bizarre, because she has the best hair imagineable: long, thick strawberry blonde hair that's never once been dyed or processed. It air dries with a subtle wave, similar to Jennifer Aniston's in her Friends years. Tonight, however, is special, and she has purchased a new curling iron from the drugstore. 

"I don't even know how curling irons work," Becky says as she shreds the stiff plastic packaging. She crosses her wrists awkwardly and starts grappling with her own hair like it is a duel. The iron's jaws clamp down on a giant mound of hair and I hear a light sizzle. She starts to twirl up and around, fighting gravity, the hair coiling around itself, tangling into a double helix.

I swoop in.

"Wait, can I try?"

"God help me."

I make my way from side, to back, to side, explaining my technique of curling AWAY from the face, allowing the ends to stay unclasped, and how when you get to the front, you have to curl IN to frame the face. The result are soft, easy waves.

"Holy crap! How do you know how to do this? I thought you never curled your hair even a single time."

"What? I curled my hair this morning."

"But I thought you were like Alexa Chung!"

"Explain."

"One time in an interview Alexa Chung said she literally just washes her hair and it turns into easy ringlets."

"What? No. I learned this technique five years ago when I took my actor headshots. The stylist gave me a tutorial. Now it takes me like five minutes to do. But it's a technique. It's not natural." 

(My headshot, by the way, is a photo of me mid-laugh, like I'm shouting "Oh no you didn't!" Sometimes I like it, sometimes I think it's the worst photo of all time. At least it is an archival record of my very first good-hair day.)

"Nutrageous," Becky exclaims, and I know she is shocked, because she never says "nutrageous" unless she means it. 

"So you don't just wake up with that hair?"

"Nope. Alexa Chung is full of shit."

This is when I start to feel it.

A deep pit of frustration.

I don't get frustrated unless something needles me on a personal level. And I realize that I've been needled.

It takes me a second to understand the feeling. Then it hits me.

I'm tired of a world that peddles the "Faux Natural." 

Cosmetics are designed to make your face look exactly like your own face, but without imperfection -- like a photo-retouching in real life. You cake on the foundation so the fine lines disappear. The more expensive the makeup, the more it proclaims to be "invisible." Cover it up, but don't show the man (or, I guess, woman?) behind the curtain. It's exactly like those articles about celebrities who have insane bodies that say, 'I don't watch what I eat, I just eat to feel good. Oh, and sometimes I do situps.'

But it's like…no you don't; you have a personal chef and a personal trainer. 

To clarify, I don't believe there is anything wrong with putting effort into looking your best. Do it up, sister. All I'm saying is: in the aftermath, don't pretend it was no effort at all. 

You don't have to be superhuman. You just have to be honest. Because being honest -- and confident in that honesty -- is maybe the most superhuman feat of all.

"My name is Felicia, and sometimes I use a curling iron on my hair," I say, breathing heavily. I realize I've been ranting to Becky. "I mean, if I don't admit it, other girls with frizz hair and bangs like blackout shades will feel alone and ashamed. We all just need to band together, Beck. We need admit that sometimes we wake up looking like shit!"

"Bangs like blackout shades!" Becky says. She is shouting, too. "That is a great simile!" 

"It's like this other time I was in Lululemon at the mall and a girl that worked there had an amazing, elaborately styled hairdo -- we're talking Taylor Swift ringlets -- and when I complimented her she dropped what she was doing, turned to me and said, 'People hate me, because it's natural!' Because it's natural! It wasn't natural. It just wasn't. I wanted to run away from the store screaming! Which I eventually did, because Lululemon is so expensive!"

"It IS!" says Becky. 

I take a deep breath. 

"Anyway. I should probably keep getting ready."

As I fill in my eyebrows with a brow pencil, I think about how my eyebrows look a bit more like eyebrows now, but in an uncanny way. In the mirror my resting face looks noticeably more wry, like I could be laughing silently at myself.

Maybe Faux Natural hits a nerve because I never really felt comfortable in my looks and body until the past couple of years. Because my former career working in theater made me look at myself from the outside-in.  Because I'm still working on being un-self-conscious about my appearance. Because it's two steps forward, one step back.

"You look fantastic," I tell Becky as we regard her reflection together. 

"Stop. You look fantastic."

I'm in jeans and a chiffon blouse. It's a pretty good look. Becky is fully jumpsuited, and her hair falls in subtle, loose curls. It's like it might have air-dried that way, entirely on its own.

"Shall we?" she says, and I nod. 

Together, we stride toward the door.

* * *


To be continued...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How to Sing - 3 Top Questions About Singing, Answered


In case you haven't heard, my new mega singing course SINGING TRANSFORMATION: 360 DEGREES OF VOCAL TRAINING is open for enrollment this week!!

I want to quickly answer 3 of your top singing questions that keep popping up during this week of Singing Transformation enrollment --

1. How do I know if I'm singing with my OWN voice?

You already know the answer to this one: if you love singing and have some practice under your belt, you already have a voice! Done! Congrats! You have a voice!!

But here's the KEY -- to stop fighting against your sound. The best singing is the EASIEST singing. No joke. We don't need tricks or compensations. We just need to get out of the way and make way for our sound to resonate.

And we do that through: (1) supported breath, (2) a relaxed body, (3) mental visualizations that help you ready, aim, fire your sound so it hits EVERY TIME. No mystery, no surprises. It all just comes from practice, and a plan.

2. No matter how much I practice, my weaknesses never get better! Will I ever improve?

Heck yes! If you've studied with voice teachers in the past and haven't made progress, you're in the majority. In fact, voice teachers sometimes serve to REINFORCE bad habits because you meet with them every week, sing with bad habits, and they never correct you. Then you go home and practice without goals or strategies in mind, and nothing ever seems to change.

It's super common. But singing is just like any other skill - you need the right instruction and the right guidance. If you have mental or physical blocks that make it hard to sing correctly, it's time to change the conversation.

As a teacher, I'm all about the MIND-BODY connection. Saying that one thing that will get your body to react. And then pairing that visualization or prompt with your practice, every single time.

Habits are annoying, sure. But they can totally be broken. You just need a new approach. Soon, your mind and body will relearn what feels NORMAL -- and what feels normal will be awesome, relaxed, singing. :)

3. What happens when I go to learn a song and it's too hard?

Here's a freeing fact: if you can sing it in warmups, you can sing it in a performance.

So often, the act of adding lyrics, melody, and a character/context to a song freaks us out so we think we have to abandon technique. Suddenly the "big note" at the end seems super intimidating, even though we've sung the note 100 times during practice!

I discuss the Song Performance process in great detail in Singing Transformation, but a HUGE key to making songs accessible is to break them down into small, manageable chunks, and then sing one or two lines as a vocal warmup.

Similarly, if you find there's a really helpful vocal warmup or even vowel sound that gets your voice pinging out beautifully, you can APPLY those vowels and warmups to the song at hand.

Again, this is a multi-step process that I get into in more detail, but it's actually much easier to relate songs to warmups than you think.

A lot of us expect to hear a song, check out the sheet music, and BAM! sing it perfectly. But it doesn't work like that. Take it from me -- sometimes, the first time I sing through a song, I sound like a weirdo.

But once you find your groove, break it down, modify vowels, and understand that lyrics are not all that different from your vocal warmups, you'll be golden.

ALSO!
One more thing - registration for Singing Transformation is OPEN as of yesterday. The deep discounts and bonuses are good only through this week, and certain options will sell out, so please don't wait that long if you're interested in bundling in personalized instruction with me!!

the link is http://www.SingingTransformation.com



okay thanks for reading and sending your questions!!

xo Fel



P.S. I know I zipped through these 3 questions, but Singing Transformation: 360 Degrees of Vocal Training gets into all these topics, in great detail. I also address:



-How to practice

-How to know if your voice "feels" right

-Mixing your chest and head voice

-Adding power to your sound

-Breath support

-Relaxation

-Delivering an awesome performance at a concert or audition

-Self-confidence



Live written Q&A also allows you to ask me any question, any time, and certain tiers of enrollment include Google hangouts and personalized video critiques. And it's all only through Monday my friends--

http://www.SingingTransformation.com

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How to Sing "Bang Bang" By Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj

Hi singer buds!! The song "Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj is everywhere right now - and for good reason. It's SUCH a cool sound, featuring impressive vocals from these three women.

Many of you requested I make a singing tips video to teach you how to approach it, so voila! 

How to Sing "Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj >




Please check it out and leave me a comment to let me know what you think!

Love,
Felicia

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Increase Vocal Range (& SECRET Announcement!)

Hey, cool friends! My latest singing tips video is all about Vocal Range -- and how to bust through vocal "ceilings" to sing higher, freer notes.

*Be sure to watch the whole video because it contains a SUPER SECRET ANNOUNCEMENT AT THE VERY END SHHHHHH*

**Okay the announcement is this: SingingTransformation.com !**

:) Enjoy! xo Fel

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Help me complete my "Singing Transformation" online course!!

Hey there!! I'm SUPER close to finishing my long-awaited Singing Transformation Course. (woooo!) 

I've been designing this mega singing curriculum for more than 2 years, and I'm finally on the verge of wrapping it up (plan is to release in early September...thank you for your patience during the process).

In the course I'm going to cover everything you need to know about CONSISTENT, POWERFUL, and CONFIDENT singing. It will include instruction videos, sequenced warmups, daily conditioning, audio downloads, and even some word-and-image PDFs of me doing singer stretches and lolling and other crazy stuff like that (you know how I roll).

Plus a select number of enrollees will get to work with me one-on-one (more details to come...) :-)

Badass singers who are famous today started off just where you are: with questions, concerns, and confusion. You deserve to stop being confused and reach your potential. It's my sworn goal to help you demolish bad habits and prove that you don't have to be born "gifted" in order to sing beautifully. Truth is, the hurdles and roadblocks we build for ourselves are so often imaginary.

I want to show you (1) how simple good singing really is, (2) how powerful it is to KNOW your own voice better than anyone else does, (3) how integral CONFIDENCE, self-talk, and mental imagery is to good singing.

BUT! Before I finalize everything, I need to make sure I've covered all your questions. This is where you come in, my friend!! Please take a few minutes to answer this super-short survey (it's totally anonymous, and literally one question haha) --

Friday, July 25, 2014

How to Sing Chandelier by Sia

Hi singer friends!! I've just finished my latest singing tips video, this time breaking down "Chandelier" by Sia! It's a super cool song that got requested by lots of you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and this blog.

When it comes to singing and creating a signature sound (like Sia), you don't manipulate the cord, you manipulate the resonant space in your face and mouth. Please watch and let me know what you think! Was this helpful? Which parts of the song give you the most trouble? Which songs / singer styles would you like me to break down next? Thanks, as always, for watching!

Love, Fel


Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Sing Problem by Ariana Grande

My new singing tips video is called How to Sing "Problem" by Ariana Grande! "Problem" is a high, fast, non-stop belting extravaganza -- but it becomes much less of a "Problem" if you know how to keep the words forward in the "mask" section of your face (see what I did there). 

This video takes each lyric, breaks it down, and rewrites it with crazy "singer voodoo" phrasing listed for you on the screen, so you know exactly how to approach the lyrics with a relaxed, open throat and pingy, forward belty placement.

   

 The trick with vowel mods is that they SOUND the same to the listener but are ultra singer friendly and much easier to place. I would NEVER be able to sing "Problem" if I took the lyrics at face value and didn't take time to rewrite every line. And the same goes for any song I've ever belted. 

Please leave comments or questions, and share with friends who love Ariana Grande, love to sing, or who are curious about the bizarre workings of singer voodoo!! 

 Happy singing!!! Love, Fel

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Free Belt Singing Course - 3 Easy Video Lessons

free singing course learn how to belt sing

The number one topic singers ask me about is belting. I can't blame them -- belting is super fun to do, incredibly popular, and sounds super cool when you nail it.

A lot of you have joined my complete, A-to-Z belting course called Belt Your Face Off!, which is loads of fun and incredibly effective. It's the "belting mothership," and is a comprehensive look at belting that takes you, step-by-step, through warmups, practice sessions, homework, audio downloads, and enables you to master belting. I highly recommend you check it out if you're serious about studying belting.

But what if you're just dipping in your toe? Maybe you're just a little bit curious, and aren't ready to take the plunge? What if you want a "crash course" in belting -- the cliff notes, if you will -- before you decide if you're ready to go on the Belt Your Face Off! journey with me?

Behold! A brand new, completely free, completely fun belting course (taught by me) that teaches you the top three steps to belt singing ! It's called Belting Crash Course and features over 40 minutes of video spread out over three easy lessons (with a couple surprise bonuses). There are also audio downloads and text guides to help you.

So far, 350+ students have enrolled in one week!

To join in the belterly fun, click here to enroll >

Hope we get to belt together!!

Love, Fel

Monday, June 16, 2014

Breathing While Singing: When is it Conscious, and When is it on Autopilot?

Hello! Here is a brand new singing tips video about breathing while singing. It was inspired by one of my Belt Your Face Off students, who recently asked:

"Should my breathing be conscious and deliberate, or is it automatic and on autopilot?"

It's a great question that requires we delve more deeply into breathing. So I posted a response video to my YouTube channel. Check it out below! And hopefully this will clear up some lingering Qs you might have about breathing from the diaphragm and using a supported sound.