"Am I Too Old For Singing Lessons?"

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Today I received an email from senior that said, "I am 63 years old and I have always wanted to sing - am I too old for singing lessons?”

My answer? No, you are most certainly not too old to sing.

Should you dismiss your hopes and dreams just because you’re getting older? Should you give up your chance to discover your voice? It may just add years to your life. 

Singing is part of the human experience. We do it in the car, we do it at weddings, celebrations and holidays and it's integrated into our daily lives. Singing is something we need to do. If someone were to ask if they can become a superstar recording artist sensation at age 63, the answer would be different. However, nobody is too old to make joyful noise, discover a new skill or reignite your passion for singing.

How old is too old?

Everyone feels old. My 25-year-old students tell me they feel old because they aren’t in school.

My 30-year-old students tell me they feel old because they are starting new families.

My 50-year-old students tell me they have never felt younger.

You can overcome age as a singer. It is just a number.

You can make discoveries and have growth at any age.

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Physiological Changes

We can train our voice because it's muscular. We exercise these muscles to produce sound.

Yes, it is true things that do happen to the voice with age. Our physical strength does diminish. We have less flexibility and the larynx descends over time.

Does this mean we shouldn’t study? The answer is the exact opposite: Use it or lose it.

The Perfect Time

As a senior, your curiosity for learning is increasing.

Your spirit is young.

You have a capacity to have great laughter.

Your gratitude levels are through the roof.

You may have more time to dive into this skill after retirement.

Now is the time to learn how to sing.

--

Don’t let life go by without discovering or rediscovering the joy of singing.

I would be delighted to help train your voice so that at any age you can enjoy the art of singing. Current studio availability is in Toronto & York Region.

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ABOUT SARAH LANGFORD

Sarah Langford specializes in voice lessons and vocal technique for singers of all levels and ages. Sarah has years of experience working with singers, actors & professional voice users of all types. A highly skilled and qualified specialist voice coach, Sarah will work with each client individually and confidentially to create a tailor-made vocal training plan to get your voice where you want it to be. Lessons are designed to help students increase vocal range, build strength, blend smoothly between head and chest voice, achieve a mixed voice and belt co ordination, master multiple vocal styles, and gain confidence for live performance. RCM exam training, University and Audition Prep, Classical and Musical Theatre stylings.

Important Things Singers Can Learn from the Olympics

I've just spent the last few weeks being inspired by the athletes competing in the RIO Olympics. It's quite something to watch so many people striving to be at their peak of excellence. I was particularly interested in Penny Oleksiuk, who, at age 16, carried the flag for Canada at the closing ceremonies in Rio. What an absolute inspiration for our country.

However, in the midst of all of the celebrations, you might not have considered the following:

I'm quite certain Penny didn't get to the top of her game by watching endless Netflix, or doing Facebook quizzes about what Disney character she was most like. She was passionately involved in her training and dedicated to being the best she could be.

While watching Olympic interviews, I heard parents of the athletes say, "my child just decided they wanted to do this, and began to train." I heard athletes say, "thanks to my parents for bringing me to training and for enabling my endeavours."

There comes a time when your child's extracurricular fun after school activity or your own occasional "sing along karaoke night fun", could possibly be an entrance into a pathway for the future. How does a parent know if this is just a one-time phase, or is it a real passion? How do you decide if it's something you want to invest in? How can we all strive to perform at our optimal best?

I've never been a person to try something out without throwing myself into it. I had lessons in lots of activities as a child in skiing, tennis, sailing, flute, piano to name a few. I tried my hardest in many fields, but it was singing I was passionate about. I was always singing.

Singing consistently made me feel whole.

I decided from a very young age to practice and work on my singing, to study my craft. Yes, there was some luck involved in my career, like being at the right audition at the right time, but one doesn't just win a competition or sing on a European opera stage by having luck or by doing a quiz, or by being a fan of a show or song. I worked hard. I practiced. I had lessons. One gets to perform on the best stages in terrific roles because we decide to nurture our talent.

At some point to be considered in the realm of excellence one has to commit to training and invest in preparation for reaching the best you can be. The students of mine that land the top roles and get cast in opportunities that lead them towards achieving personal bests are ones who are dedicated to continuous practice, dedicated to woodshedding work on their voices and regular instruction. You can't land a role with one or two private sessions. You can't expect to sing well at a competition or audition with a couple of lessons and a few hours of practice.

As fall approaches, I hear from returning students "I haven't sung in weeks my voice is out of shape".

Well here's the news folks: Singing is a sport! And like any muscular activity, the voice muscles will get out of shape when you stop training them. Taking a few months off for the summer always proves to be a tough thing every fall.

Here are a few ways you can become a better performer and get on track for reaching new heights:

1. INVEST

Invest in regular weekly lessons and learn singing technique. Replace your old way of singing with a more thoughtful technical approach by learning new physical methods of technique. Practice these new methods over and over again and you will find your body will build muscle memory. Your muscles will start to remember the new way of singing and can then replicate that time and time again, making your singing more consistent. Eventually, you don’t even have to think about how the technical pieces work together, the body will remember how to do it.

2. BE CONSISTENT

Don't stop working on your voice and technique for long periods of time. Be consistent with your lessons and practice schedule. Have you ever had that one performance where you absolutely killed it on a particular song and then went to sing it the next time and it was lousy? You can't just "wing it" if you want a consistent result. You can't stop singing over the summer holidays and expect your voice just to be exactly where it was in May when you took a break. Consistency makes a big difference, especially to your muscle memory and to your confidence. You want to make choices about how you sing and trust your voice rather than getting worried and anxious about what type of sound you produce. When your voice is consistent you will build faith in your abilities, you'll trust yourself and you will relax in your performances.

 

Not every performer will possess the kind of talent one needs to experience international level stages or professional opportunities, but you can harness the power within yourself to become the best you can be with consistent, regular training and practice.

Foster your own unique abilities and embrace your challenges. Invest in your passion.

Keep singing,

Sarah

 

10 Secrets the Pros Use to Memorize Lines

Staring at your script and wondering where to begin? Memorizing lines can be a struggle for even the most experienced actor. With the strategies below, you can put your best foot forward and never forget your lines again.

1. Know your material.

It helps to understand your content first. Find find a quiet place and read your lines out loud. Read them slowly and carefully. Spend the time to get your material accurate - now is your chance to get it right. Make sure to read through the entire script, not just your own lines, to contextualize your part within the broader piece.

2. Divide it up.

If you're struggling to memorize the whole paragraph, try breaking it up into smaller sections. This allows you to learn each sentence as its own unit. Practice each sentence until you can recite the entire paragraph altogether.

3. Memorize from the end.

Start with the last sentence, then the sentence before that, connecting into the last sentence, and so on and so forth until you reach the top of the paragraph. This is one of the best tools for accurately learning your lines!!

4. Learn the cues.

Memorize the prompts and cues! When you are learning your lines it's important not only to learn your part but the line or stage direction that comes right before when you speak. That way, you’ll know when to deliver your line. If you’re memorizing dialogue, rehearse the other person’s cue line leading right into your own part before you practice your own.

5. Listen.

As you read aloud, listen to every word that you say – focusing on the meaning, and the point you are making.

6. Record yourself.

If you don’t have time to spend hours actively memorizing your speech, this technique is great to get it into your brain with the minimum of effort. Grab your phone and record one of the practice runs of your reading of the script. Make sure it’s the correct version! This technique uses rote learning and will have you repeating your dialogue word for word. All you need to do is set your recorded speech on loop, and press play. Consistently hearing the speech in your own voice, over-and-over again reinforces the content in your mind. You can listen to it while you’re at the gym or while walking your dog, or in the car as you drive to work. You could even listen to it at the office while doing other simple tasks!

7. Write it down.

Writing your lines out will embed the content in your memory after only a couple of repetitions. Writing lines out helps with accuracy. At rehearsals, you need to be past the point where you are approximating the gist of lines. Writing it out helps the progression towards accuracy.

8. Walk around the room.

Rehearsing your speech while on your feet is a great technique. With your blood moving, you learn much faster than sitting at your desk or in a chair. Moving around the room while making your blocking crosses also keeps you active and more awake, which boosts your ability to remember the lines.

9. Buy the REHEARSAL 2 App.

This is a scene partner that never gets tired of running lines with you. If you can get past the fact that it’s $19.99, this is a game changer. You can highlight the lines in the app, record the other character’s lines, and use it as a teleprompter, which will scroll through the script as you are reading it. Then it just keeps playing on a loop. Record the other person's lines so you can say your own to a personal cue master.

10. Practice with a friend.

At the end of the day, you want your dialogue to seem like second nature, genuine and authentic, as if they are coming from a real person with real thoughts and ideas. Ask a friend to test you so that you are accustom to rehearsing with someone. Sometimes rehearsing with fellow peers causes anxiety, and while you may have them memorized all your dialogue and song words at home when you walk into the rehearsal it’s easy to get distracted and forget. Practicing a scene with a friend can help as a stepping stone towards rehearsing with others. They don't have to be with you either; dial a line partner and recite lines from the tub!

I hope these tips help you prepare for your next rehearsal. Actors need to be prepared to be off-book at blocking rehearsals and be very, very memorized - but at the same time, not locked into a pattern. You want to be confident, relaxed, committed, and open to direction.

Best of luck memorizing!

The #1 Biggest Mistake Singers Make In The Summer

Summer is a great time to enjoy a long-awaited family vacation. Enjoy those rays of sunshine on your dock and nights at the campfire. However, taking three or four months off of your singing lessons can have some serious consequences for students. At this point in the term, students are excited about conquering new skills and reaching milestones. Taking the summer off brings that momentum to a screeching halt. Every music student has experienced the thrill of accomplishment when he or she masters a particularly difficult passage. But you can’t expect to maintain the skill needed to perform difficult pieces when you take a break from lessons for months at a time. Come fall, the student may have to relearn many of the things he or she mastered before.

This concept is similar in all areas of fitness. If you exercise your body regularly, there is a great health benefit. What do you think will happen if you stop exercising for 2 months? You can't expect to keep your health exactly where it was the last day you worked out.

Singing is an athletic sport. If you want to keep your voice healthy you must think of it as training for a major marathon. If you want to develop great vocal strength and stamina you must train constantly. Using your voice every day improves the coordination and muscular abilities involved. You simply can't "cram" technique into your muscles at the last minute. Your muscles don't work that way.

Your vocal cords consist of many layers. Aside from the lining and a jelly-like layer, there is a muscle layer. This muscle is critical for vocal cord motion. When it is activated, the vocal cords are brought together by this muscle in the middle so that a sound can be produced. However, if this muscle is not bulky enough, the cords are not able to completely touch in the middle and an airy aspirated sound will occur. This results in a weaker voice. 

If you don't practice properly you will lose muscle bulk (strength). The loss of muscle bulk is called vocal atrophy. Atrophy will happen if voices are not worked out properly on a regular basis and that boils down to practising and careful studying with a voice teacher.

Take a week or two for holiday, but don't make the mistake of resting your voice for too long!

Keep singing,

Sarah

A Guide to Post-Show Depression

Yes, parents and spouses... it's real! And it's called Post-Show Depression (or PSD).

What is it?

The feeling after a show is finished it's run. After putting months into rehearsals and throwing all your energy into doing your very best, the show run ends. It's somewhat like birthing a child. The actors have poured their heart and souls into a project for months. It's is born, it lives and then it's over.

Symptoms

Your performers may experience feelings of emptiness and sadness. This sometimes starts during intermission of the final show. It can continue for weeks after the production is finished. Although most performers welcome their free time and evenings back from rehearsal time, there still is a pang of sadness. This depression is shared by all of the cast and the last show generally involves a lot of hugging, and tender parting words.

How can you help?

Post show blues is only really understood by fellow performers. Their castmates are their theatre family. However, plan a fresh air activity. Go out and feel the sunshine, or watch some movies, or try a new recipe. Celebrate the show with a dinner out.

Will they get over this?

The only way to recover is to dive into another production. Actors will understand post show blues and they will be grateful for the process and the experience they shared with others. After some time they will realize that performing  is ephemeral. They will be grateful for the opportunity, and should try to look forward to the next adventure on stage!

The Lesson

Cherish the time you spend on the stage. Life goes by quickly. Be happy in the moment for all the opportunities life presents (click to tweet this). You will never again be with this cast in this production with this creative team ever again, so soak it all up. But there will be new projects and new excitement again soon. Look forward with grace.

On Challenges and Teamwork

Constancy, commitment and loyalty are all values I hope to instil in my theatre and voice students. Learning to follow through with something, even when it becomes hard work, seems like a lesson truly worth teaching. This is especially true in an age where disposability and convenience are embedded into our culture. We dispose of our phones to get the latest model. We give up on friendships when they are too hard or invest only in the people that can be useful to us. The modern world is about instant gratification; increasingly we steer away from endeavours that take time to achieve success in. 

What we forget is that hard work, persistence, and teamwork are universally respectable values. They too must be intentionally developed over time. 

There's always more to singing than just your lesson, and there's always more to developing skills in theatre than a drop-off, weekly class or performance. Participating in theatre is about building confidence, working as a team, striving for excellence and making it to the finish line with the support of your family and friends.

The passions are not like dreams for most of us. We don't wake up one morning and find they have miraculously come to us in the night. Likewise, they don't just vanish instantly either. Passions do not always reveal themselves with a snap of a finger. They are a result of fascination, dedication and the joy that comes with consistently doing something well. Passions are the result of endless hours spent mastering a skill.

Competence breeds confidence but success and accomplishment breeds self-esteem and social well-being. Hang in there for the dress rehearsals and final moments of polish because you're going to feel fantastic when your hard work entertains a large crowd of happy fans.

The true value of success lies in both the journey of consistent hard work and the light of accomplishment at the end of the road.

Stick it out. 

Top 6 Ways to Take Care of Your Voice When You're Sick

[nt_dropcap]L[/nt_dropcap]ately, the weather has been extremely cold, the temperature dropping from day to day and, as a result, many people are getting sick. It's officially cold and flu season. We all suffer from colds at one time or another, but when a singer gets a cold it can be a more serious problem.

Your voice, as a singer, is your life. It is your identity as a performer.

Your voice is part of your body, and when you get a cold or the flu, everything is affected. Singing with an illness is a miserable affair.

There is a lot of controversy about the common cold and what to do for it. If you've been ill for a couple of days and you have to perform, then I suggest you do whatever will get you well the quickest.

When you have an over-accumulation of mucus in your body and your body has built up too many toxins, it begins to houseclean to eliminate these wastes. At the slightest sign of a cold, you should start with these simple remedies.

  1. Steam! Boil some water on the stove in an open pot and, as soon as the water is boiling, shut off the heat and lean your face over the pot and drape a towel over your head to form a tent, then simply breathe in the steam through your open mouth and your nose. This will open up the sinus passages and the moist heat will restore the natural healthy environment of your nose, mouth and throat. Steaming can help to eliminate enough mucus that you can get rid of the the cold all together. Avoid clearing your throat. 
  2. I highly recommend a hot bath on the first night you feel the cold coming on. Begin by dry-brushing your skin. A dry skin brush has bristles made of vegetable proteins and can be purchased at health food stores. By brushing your skin when it is dry, scaling off dry skin particles, you are simultaneously stimulating and opening the pores. It increases circulation on the outer skin surface as well. Your skin is an organ, too, and dry brushing aids the body in eliminating toxins through the open pores.
  3. Besides cleansing your body you should be drinking lots of fluids and eating proper food. Drink lots of water and natural fruit and vegetable juices. Fresh carrot juice mixed with beet juice and celery juice is a great aid to eliminating toxins from the body. Fresh apple juice is excellent and fresh grape juice is wonderful. A daily small dose of apple cider vinegar with it's natural antibacterial properties can help to quickly alleviate cold symptoms.
  4. You should also be eating fresh raw foods. Apples are especially good for the throat, as are grapes and melons. Eating fruit, which is easy to digest, allows the body to give all its energies to eliminating toxins and gets you on the road to being well again. And the classic bowl of chicken soup is good for you, too! Tumeric is great for reducing inflammation so don't be afraid to add a little to your soup. If you've been coughing a lot, eating an orange before you go to bed can alleviate a persistent cough.
  5. If your throat feels raw, make some herbal tea, add honey and lemon, and then add a drop of Eucalyptus in the tea before you drink it. The taste isn't that great, but it's very soothing to the throat.
  6. Last, but not least, 8 hours of silence, better known as sleep! You need voice rest to be able to work your body properly and proper rest will allow for recovery time for your vocal cords.

As you wait for the sun and warmer weather to return, celebrate your small victories and smile. Your cold will be over soon and you'll be back to your happy self sooner if you get your mind there first.

Welcome!

I'm glad you've found your way to my blog. Welcome to my studio. I believe that the voice is the window to our souls. The sound of your voice affects every interaction you will ever have! And with more awareness, plus some physical and emotional vocal work, it can affect every area of your life for the better. At my studio you will receive a result-based singing or acting lesson. If you practice what you learn in my studio you will enjoy a dramatically increased vocal range, flexibility, control and singing and acting freedom. Your performances will gain depth and you will gain confidence.

I'm delighted that you're here, and truly wish you well on your journey.

I love my job of teaching singing and acting and I'm delighted to share all the ways in which I hope to help you let your soul shine.