Vocal Instruction

Vocal Lessons

A unique view and detailed study of music’s impact on people

There have been a number of articles and papers written over the years on the topic of how music involvement, and more so, music study, has positively affected humans; some of these I have posted here at the blog. This piece takes a more scientific view, which in and of itself is even more assuring to me.

Though this compelling piece puts the primary focus on children and youth, it makes the case later in the article that an active involvement with music benefits a person throughout life.

The title is: The power of music: its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people.
The white paper was written by Susan Hallam from the Institute of Education, University of London. Enjoy!


How Children benefit from music lessons

In past posts I had shared here some perspectives from professionals on what music study has meant to their lives as they look back- well on in the careers- having achieved great success in careers outside of music. Still. music was a key part of the learning process for them in their youth.

In this piece the focus is youth development and how music training can help positively effect social skills, IQ development, academic skills, spatial-temporal skills and making the brain work harder. Very fascinating study here.




Calling singer-songwriters, Americana, Country and Folk artists

Hey All:

Red Train Records is looking to add Country, Folk/Americana and singer-songwriters to their labe. They will provide a vast array of resources to the accepted musicians as well. Red Train has worked with names such as Fiona Apple, Robert Palmer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Follow the link below for more details! They do have a deadline to submit. Good Luck



Creating “space” for music- and a sense of community

The trend toward smaller recording studios and away from the big, expensive ones, especially for those singers and musicians with budgetary concerns is nothing new.

However this article from the Temple (University) News exposes  a newer trend toward studios that are carved out within existing spaces, and often in more urban, industrial buildings. Interesting how the vibe of these spaces incites creativity for these young musicians while also creating a sense of community as well.




A choral director- and trailblazer for social justice

In some ways this piece is a departure from my other posts, given the focus on choral. But it very much ties in with similar posts here that focus on the importance of music in our society today- at a time when music and the arts are less likely to be counted into school budgets, and when the industry in general has changed drastically in this age of the digital download.

Elaine Brown was Temple University Professor Emerita and choral director from 1948 to 1956; she had a vision for what was best for her students- as singers- and as people. Brown made certain that her choral groups were racial integrated. Given this time in American history- she could be touted as a trailblazer for sure.

This quote from Tara Webb Duey, Director of Development, Center for the Arts, Temple University, really says a lot about the legacy of this woman: “She worked to bring people together- at at time when society wanted to keep them apart.”

In this article, two former students of Elaine Brown reflect on what this Iconic music professor meant to them and how she helped shape their lives.



Making money singing- part 6- Marketing the brand

Here we briefly discuss the tools you will need to promote yourself as a singer- and to develop your “brand.”

Business card- Every singer needs a business card. You will want a card that is not paper thin and a color that is not bright white. Ivory, off white or a neutral color are good options. Avoid raised printing as well. Perhaps you or someone you know can design the card. If not, VistaPrint has hundreds to choose from. For the design and printing of your business cards, Vistaprint is the best source: http://www.vistaprint.com/.

The basic info on your card should be: your name and then identify yourself as a vocalist or singer; Contact info: phone number, email address and web address if you have one. All other info on the card is personal and artistic choice. Refrain from using clichéd music notations such as clefs, staffs or notes. A graphic of a microphone may be used.

Always keep some cards with you for networking as you never know who you may meet. Opportunities may come up when you least expect it. Look for opportunities to leave your card at businesses and on community bulletin boards in places such as libraries and supermarkets.

A website is necessary for every singer. You can have a professionally designed site, or you can use many free site design services. First step is to choose a URL which is the name of your site. Many people use “Go Daddy” as a source for web names. I.e., johnsmith@comcast.com. If not, vary the address until the address that you seek is available. Once a site URL is established you then pay for that domain name. You can start for as little as 10-15 dollars and then you can get started building your site.

Your site should include your picture, your contact info, demo, songs, videos, bio, testimonials (fan or industry quotes) and a digital press kit. It is your choice as to whether you want a basic site and include minimal information or you can be more elaborate- it just depends on how much information that you have and want to share.

Social media should include the following, listed in order of importance: Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, You tube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat. Also look for music related social media, such as Reverbnation or music blogs.

Look to future installments here for more details on how to develop and market your career

Songwriting and the creative process

Thought I would take a departure from a purely vocal topic in this post and discuss songwriting. Included here in the link below is a fascinating approach to song composition and the creative process from Jazz composer, Kenny Wheeler who died recently at the age of 84.

A lot of theories and ideas have been bandied about in regard to the songwriting process, both in terms of song structure, as well as the ways in which creativity might best flourish; The question often raised is, what comes first in song composition, the melody, the lyrics or the melody accompaniment (chord structure)?

Historically, songs have been created at the keyboard or guitar, and for many writers the chord structure comes first and then the melody and lyrics follow. But many a song was born with the melody or the lyrics first. So this “song structure” in reality is wide open and dependent on the songwriter and their training, experience and musical/artistic influences.

But what about the creative process? Is it purely serendipitous, or is there some tangible, yet magical process where creativity flows like an open faucet? For me, as a songwriter some of my most fruitful outcomes have occurred when I’ve had a strong feeling about a given topic that I then channeled into song. Of course, it’s different for every writer, but that’s part of what makes the study of music and song composition such a joy.

Click through the link and follow the short article from my friend, Deni Kasrel, and how she happened upon this great story, as told by Mr. Wheeler on how the creative process happens for him. Enjoy!


Resources to enhance your act, band and music career

Hey all, just wanted to share that I have expanded the “Resources” page here at Rick Gabe dot com recently with some web links that I believe you will find useful and rewarding. I will continue to add web links to this page in time, and will continue to include blog posts on topics that help singers and musicians, as we progress on our own unique musical journeys.

Click through the “resources’ button at the top of any page.


The vocal ranges of singers- male and female

Often I am asked for clarification on vocal ranges: The classifications that identify the male and female ranges of singers. The chart below outlines the high and low pitches in each vocal range- male and then female.

There exists three “academic” range identifications for males- and three for females.  In ascending order, the Bass is the lowest male voice followed by Baritone and then Tenor.  Alto then begins the lowest female voice followed by Mezzo (middle) Soprano and then Soprano.

You will see from the chart below the deepest bass, Basso Profundo, is included as a category;  it is known historically as the “deep” Bass. Today, Profundo is rolled into Bass as one distinctive category. In similar fashion, Contralto is combined now within Alto  as one category.  These categorical terms below are used most often within a choral setting, but are still very useful overall as vocal terms to help identify ranges.
An important item to remember is that there is crossover from one range to another. For instance, in some singers a male Baritone may cross into the tenor range. This occurs because the overall width of a singers vocal range will vary from one person to the next.

Would love any comments or observations.