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It’s not hard to put in a little bit of fizz to your bath time using a home made bath bomb. If you don’t understand what a toilet bomb is, then you’ve been missing, but that’s a scenario that could soon be repaired. Just keep reading.

A bathroom bomb is a candy scented Combination of citric acidand baking soda and other
Ingredients which start to fizz if you drop them in to your bathtub and since the toilet bomb fizzes; the odor is discharged and fills the toilet with a soothing aroma that lasts for 2 hours. In reality, you might be enticed to remain in the bathroom for hours, however, do not take action, it’s no great smelling good if you seem just like a prune.

To produce your own bath bombs, you may need 1/3 component (cup g, pound — but you need to quantify it) uric acid, also 2/3 component baking soda and the magical ingredient — a few witch hazel in a spray bottle.

To start with combine the baking soda along with the citric acid completely together.

You’ll need to work quickly here since the mix will begin to fizz whenever the spray strikes it.

Next you have to press on your drama doh-like mix into your preferred molds (ice block containers work well). Make sure you press the mixture nicely to the molds and make them sit until tender.

If your dinosaurs start fizzing out in their molds, then continue to push them. All that fizzing suggests you have to have been a bit too excited with the witch hazel and also obtained your mixture too moist. Do not worry you’ll know another time.

Incidentally, the tougher you package your mix into the mould, the tougher the bath bombs will probably be and tougher bombs have a tendency to survive longer.

Now learned how to make your homemade bath bombs and visit our site for more guides and recipes: https://ianschoice.com/ultimate-guide-make-bath-bombs-recipes/. When making bath bombs the most important thing you will need is a nice and easy to use bath bomb mold, you may visit our Amazon site and find our latest product: https://www.amazon.com/Bath-Bomb-Molds-Plastic-Small/dp/B01CXCV4DE.

Are you trying to lose weight and considering the South Beach Diet? The first thing you might want to do is look for south beach diet weight loss reviews. The reality is that there are a seemingly endless number of products being sold online on the subject of losing weight. So, it can be a daunting task when attempting to choose the best plan. That’s why reading reviews can be so helpful! It’s been said that the shortest path to success is achieved by finding a blueprint written by someone who has done what you want to do. So, if you know a product has positive reviews, it’s more likely that it offers a solid blueprint!

The reality seems to be that a lot of people have lost weight and become healthier overall by following the South Beach Diet plan. It was developed in the early 2000’s and was initially devised as a heart disease prevention diet. However, so many people were also losing weight that it ultimately began to be sold to that market. It’s unique in that it combines a meal delivery service with a specific weight loss plan. Continue reading “How Reading Reviews Can Help You Lose Weight on the South Beach Diet”

I have been trying different ways to fix my back, but of course I am scared of some of the more popular ways that you remedy a bad back. I would go to a chiropractor, but of course that is a really scary thing after you learn how it is that they achieve results. There is a great potential for disaster. If you go to a doctor all they really offer is a bottle of pills which have tremendous ill effects. I have decided to try a physical therapy type of massage in South Surrey. That seems like the only real safe option that I can try, although I suppose that they could also go over the top in some types of massage. Continue reading “Trying to Get My Back Sorted out”

I wanted to find a place where I could store some furniture until I decided what I wanted done with it. It belonged to my grandmother, who had moved into a nursing home a couple of weeks ago. I was clearing out her house because we knew she would not be moving back there. I am the only one in the area, so the task was left to my wife and myself. I did a search for self storage Ajax to see which places were affordable. After I looked at the different options available, I knew that there was really only one answer.

Green Storage is not that far from my grandmother’s house, and they have just recently renovated their facility. Continue reading “Storing Furniture is Easy in Ajax”

In effect I am sort of the muscle for a drug rehab clinic that does methadone treatment in Florida. In fact this area was home to this place that really had a huge hand in starting a real drug epidemic in this area. They were advertising themselves as a pain clinic, but in essence they were just giving away pain pills to anyone who walked in and asked for them. Of course the DEA closed that down after a time, but the damage was done and the end result was that we got a lot of drug addicts who eventually turned to heroin. The rehab part is not always voluntary either, so you have a lot of people who came here under a court order or others who went into this place to try to get a reduced sentence. So not all of the people we have are in any way committed to the process. Continue reading “I Just Started My Latest Job”

Oil of Oregano and Vocal Health Care

Oil of oregano is one of nature’s most potent and powerful healing substances on the planet. It has been tested against a variety of infections and has been found to exert a high degree of anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial actions. It is also one of the most important tools a voice professional can have in their vocal health tool box.

In his book, The Cure is in the Cupboard: How to use Oregano for Better Health, Dr. Cass Ingram, one of the world’s foremost experts on the healing and curative powers of Oil Of Oregano, describes the unlimited uses for this amazing oil. The main and most effective use is as an outstanding agent for respiratory illness, lung problems and expelling mucus from the lungs (which usually results in mucus on the vocal cords).

These are major issues that we as voice professionals always need to be on top of. If we are having difficulty with our lungs and breathing or have mucus in our chest and throat, we are in big trouble. Our breathing needs to be open, full, and free of any debris or obstruction.

Vocal Health Care Tool

I use Oil of oregano when I feel ANY type of cough, scratchy throat or weakness in my body, or any other sign of possible illness creeping into my system. The oil itself is very, very powerful and extremely potent. In his book, Dr. Ingram directs to put 1 or 2 drops into juice and drink it down. This is okay for those who can tolerate the intensity of the oil. However, another way to use it is to put it into an empty pill capsule and swallow it. Empty capsules can be found at any health food store or pharmacy.

When pouring the oil into the capsule, be very careful not to get any on your hands or the outside of the capsule. It is very powerful and can slightly burn your skin if you have open cuts. And it will do the same to your throat if it is on the outside of the capsule, so be very aware when preparing it for use.

Mucus and Lung Troubles

If you are hit with respiratory problems, you may want to begin using the oil immediately a couple of times a day. The antibiotic-like effects of the oil are incredible, and the oil does not destroy the good bacteria in your gut like antibiotics do. Instead, it helps the body use its own healing powers, and less energy is used toward fighting the adverse effects of the antibiotics. I sometimes mix a few drops with honey, lemon, water and a spoonful of olive oil to cut the taste and the burn. I use this as a gargle if I am in really deep trouble and need to sing soon. I can feel the healing begin almost immediately.

Remember, never use more than 1 or 2 drops when applying the oil to your throat directly, and always be sure to check with your doctor or health practitioner first before adding or changing any medications or herbs into your diet.

I do not usually endorse or pitch any particular brand of product on my blog. However, when it comes to some formulas or manufacturers, one needs to be very careful as to what they use. Such is the case with Oil of Oregano. The most reliable and extensively tested and researched product on the market today is Wild Oregano P73. It is a bit pricey for the amount you buy, but it goes a long way, and you don’t need to use much when administering it.

As always, I wish you the best on your quest for Superior Vocal Health.

The first thing you want to do is go to the California DMV website, dmv.ca.gov I will add links for you so you can find the information easily as the DMV website can be a little difficult to navigate through. (AB2499 is New CA legislation for traffic schools that was put in place 9.1.2012) It covers all the rules and regulations as well as the qualifications needed for the owner operator and instructor.

After you go through the information you will want to print out the traffic school owner checklist, it will prove to be very helpful in checking off each thing you need to complete.

Opening up a Traffic violator school can be a long and tedious endeavor; there are many requirements that need to be in place before the DMV approves you.

I will list a few of the steps involved in opening up your school:

1) The first thing the DMV requires is to submit a traffic school lesson plan along with an $800.00 fee for your original review of an online course, $800.00 for a home study course review or $475.00 for a classroom course to be submitted with your OL764 form. You will have to wait up to 120 days for the DMV to do a background check on you as well waiting for your approval or rejection of your course. If you would prefer you can purchase a pre approved lesson plan which is probably easier than writing your own which is a 6 month to a year project. Plus you will get your approval letter from the DMV in about a week and only have to pay a $25.00 fee to use a pre approved course.

2)The DMV must approve your traffic school name before you can move forward with the rest of your application, you will need to fill out the OL 612 form, but before you your waste time purchasing your domain name for an online traffic school you can call the DMV and check to see if the name you wish to use is available at the time of your call (916) 229-3126. If your name is similar to another name being used, your domain name will be rejected. If the name is available then you can send the form up to DMV by overnight mail, they will send you back an approval for your chosen name by US mail.Once you get your application approved, your school name will be placed on the DMV website, which is free marketing for you.

Some additional DMV requirements are: being fingerprinted by live scan, securing a bond, pay the required fees, submit an insurance certificate, purchase a DMV approved lesson plan,or write your own, rent an office space in which to run your business out of and hold your traffic violator classes if you wish to teach a classroom course. FYI…The DMV makes no distinction between a classroom traffic school or an online traffic school course in terms of the application process,the DMV wants you to have an office space even if you only have an online course. They state that students should be able to come into the business they have chosen to take their traffic school course with.

Your application must also have: Assurance of compliance with the American with Disabilities Act. Property use verification. If you Incorporate or choose to have a Limited Liability Company or Limited Liability Partnership owned businesses: You will need a copy of the Articles of Incorporation, Corporate Minutes or other document filed with the Secretary of State, which identifies the officers, share holders and managers with an interest in the business is required.

A copy of your Business License

Copy of your Fictitious Name Statement

Copy of your rental or lease agreement for all offices and classrooms or use form OL 144, Traffic Violator School Classroom Lease or Rental Agreement.

A California traffic school consists of an owner or owners, an operator who oversees the operation of the school and the traffic school instructor who will teach the classes. The operator has to take an 8 hour course either online or inclass as part of their application process if they have never been a licensed DMV operator before. If they have previously been a DMV licensed operator then they only need to take a 4 hour online or inclass course. After class they will receive a certificate which can be taken to DMV with their application packet. After the operator has taken their initial course whether a 4 or 8 hour they will have to take a mandatory 4 hour class each year. The owner does not have to take a DMV test, but the operator and instructor do. The written exam will consist of traffic laws, Safe driving practices, Knowledge of teaching methods and techniques. The operator will also have additional test questions on statutes and regulations, office procedures and record keeping.

These are just some of the requirements that I have listed above, read through the information on the DMV website before you decide if you want to proceed with opening up your school. In my future articles i will go over the requirements in more depth for the operator and instructor as well as marketing yourself on the internet.

DMV Links:

To view the forms and fees along with the application requirements for the traffic school owner the link below will show you all the information on one page.

http://dmv.ca.gov/vehindustry/ol/tvschowner.htm

Country music, with its harmonious ensemble of banjos, harmonicas, electric guitars, violins, and acoustic guitars, has captured many fans from around the world. Although it began in 1920s, the music gained its popularity during the 1940s. With many styles and sub-genres of country music nowadays, there are still many old country songs that remain close to the heart of their lovers. Here are the top four of evergreen country songs of all time.

1. George Jones – “He Stopped Loving Her Today”

The song was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman for the American country singer George Jones. The song was released in April 1980 and was included in Jones’ album “I am What I Am”. For six years, the song remained Jones’ number one single. The song tells about a man who never gave up loving a woman. The day the man stopped loving her was the day he died. Surprisingly, the woman of his life turned up at his funeral.

2. Patsy Cline – “Crazy”

Although originally written by Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline’s version received the most positive reviews and became the number two hit in 1962. In 1961, Willie Nelson, who at the time had written many hit songs but had not yet succeeded with his own recording, offered the song to country singer Billy Walker, which was turned down. The song then went to Patsy Cline who successfully brought the song to be listed in the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles for 21 weeks.

3. Hank Williams, Sr. – “Your Cheatin’ Heart”

The song was written and recorded by Hank Williams, Sr. in 1952, but was not released until his death in 1953. The slow blues ballad, telling the true story of a lover who was guilty of cheating on the singer, was inspired by Williams’ first wife Audrey Williams. The song has been recorded by many notable singers from various genres such as Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Louis Armstrong, Patsy Cline, Van Morrison, Fats Domino, and LeAnn Rimes.

4. Marty Robbins – “El Paso”

“El Paso” was first released in September 1959 in Robbins’ album “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs”. The single not only became a hit on country music charts; pop music charts also received the song very well. In early 1960, both music charts placed the song on their number one position. In 1961, “El Paso” received a Grammy Award for the Best Country & Western Recording. The four-minute and thirty-eight second song tells the story of a cowboy from El Paso, Texas who fell in love with Feleena, a beautiful girl who danced at Rosa’s Cantina.

As an aspiring singer, if you have ever dealt with such issues as:

  • Upon hearing your recorded voice back, think, “Eeeww, that’s not me!
  • You go for the high/ low notes and choke
  • You run out of energy and can’t seem to complete a phrase seamlessly
  • You sometimes confuse ascending and descending movements of pitch

… then you could benefit from using various concepts of reinforcement in the form of visualization.

We have either auditory or visual dominance in our brain’s analytical processing. One might assume that auditory would be the most desirable in singing. Not necessarily. Imagery may be very helpful, and cultivation can be developed. An analogy is making related doodles in the margins of text you need to memorize.

Solutions: Try individually, to discover which ones/ combinations are most effective for you.

  • The ‘direction’ of the voice is often perceived as coming out of the mouth and straight forward, but it may be more advantageous to monitor oneself by ‘channeling’ the sound back toward the ears. Think of a ‘J’ shape.
  • Similarly, if you think of the voice as coming ‘up’ through your body, instead send an energy downwards through your feet, grounding with the earth. Think of a pulley system, whereby the downward motion of one side automatically raises the other.
  • Rather than thinking of pitches as existing on a vertical plane, try a horizontal plane. Extending your arm off to your left, begin a ‘siren’ on any vowel with your lowest pitch, slowly moving your arm to the right as you ascend pitch. Swing your torso around with the rising tone, watching your finger pointing to the horizon as you go. This gives all frequencies of your voice ‘equal opportunity’.
  • If you feel as though your head might explode when you go for a high pitch, imagine that your head is a pressure cooker with the valve on top for all the excess ‘steam’ to escape.
  • Think of the melodies in terms of changing shapes, especially helpful in right brain activity associated with overtone singing, in which the hemispheres become more highly integrated. (Overtone singing is the ability to clearly produce two or more pitches simultaneously.)
  • Toning on a particular vowel with eyes closed encourages visual imagination rather than having the interference of external stimuli, therefore informing the singer of powerful associations.
  • Use silence as you imagine creating a sound, ‘picturing’ the associated inner physical activity, eliminating interference of the brain’s auditory response.
  • Using a mirror, notice your body language. If it seems extreme, counter it with the opposite extreme. Get someone else to observe your body language, as typically one is not self-aware of it (i.e. rag doll, wooden soldier, football quarterback). You might be ‘favoring’ a particular part of your body.
  • Holding an imaginary bubble in front of you, fill the space with your voice, allowing the bubble to increase in size, moving your hands apart to simulate.
  • Imagination is key: ‘picture’ being in your greatest comfort space, a useful concept for stage fright.
  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, using body ‘tapping’ to reinforce new and useful programming)
  • On a more concrete level, overtone spectrum analysis offers visual biofeedback, displaying color bands for which harmonics are pronounced, lending intuitive information about how to enrich the sound.

Above all, singing is a joyous mode of self expression, so to convey yourself with a full palette of the senses is the most effective way to move your audience.

To be a good singer a person has to have good techniques as well as a good emotional grasp of the song. To improve his singing skill, one should best take vocal lessons. Aside from learning at institutions, it is possible to have your own vocal lesson at home and be your own singing coach. This is what you must do:

1. Warm up

Warming up is important before you start every practice. Start with a five-note scale of do-re-mi-fa-so for five minutes with a lower or a higher half step each time. Avoid getting adding tension while hitting higher notes.

2. Perfect your posture

Stand up or sit up straight before starting the exercise. This will give your lungs better air capacity. Place your hands on your hips, inhale, and feel towards your abdomen. Let go of a large amount of air through your mouth and feel the change in your lower abdomen. This trick is good for exercising your diaphragm.

3. Find more help

To start exercising with your preferred style, find video tutorials on YouTube, Fliiby, or other video streaming sites. On these sites, you can find many tutorials for training vocal abilities with classic, metal, pop, or any other styles. You can also obtain these in the form of CD or DVD tutorials.

4. Play games

If you worry about not hitting the pitches accurately, you can have fun and improve your singing skill by playing games like Rock Band or the Pro Mode of Disney’s Sing It. Besides giving DIY lessons, these games also allow you practice singing with music. The score given at the end of every session shows the accuracy of your singing pitch.

5. Protect your asset

Healthy vocal chords is the best asset for a singer, you can protect it by doing these:

– Keep your throat warm with a scarf

– Avoid clearing your throat as it slams your vocal chords

– Eliminate excess mucus by drinking warm drinks and lemonade

– Gulp a teaspoon of olive oil before a gig

– Avoid drinking milk, very hot beverages, or very cold water before a gig

– Stop smoking

6. More helpful tips

Not everyone can practice improving his singing skill by himself. While technique can easily be improved, a true amateur might need more than video tutorials. Try to get professional coaching if you encounter these:

– You feel strain or pain while singing

– You tend to get fatigue after singing

– No significant improvement after six months to a year of DIY training

– You have vocal problems (e.g., you cannot hit the right tone or your notes sound airy)

Becoming a part time helper in Singapore can present a host of challenges. For starters, I found it difficult to find a part time helper position that worked with my other schedules. Most people will hire you, but then they want you to start filling in for other people and before you know it the position has turned into an almost full time job. I couldn’t do that, but I did need a part time position in order to pay off some bills as well as save some money for the impending holiday season. I wanted to control my hours, though.

Fortunately, I found the perfect company where picking your own hours isn’t an obstacle to anything else in your life. Continue reading “Best Part Time Job I’ve Ever Had”

Many of my friends did not want to go to university because they said that it was going to be too expensive for them and that their parents could not afford it. I knew that it was going to be a lot for my family to pay for my college but they told me that I was going to have to take out some loans. I looked up how A level physics tuition was paid to the school, because I really needed to take that class and I found out that it was very good. I had to take this class so that I could apply to the engineering department at a very good school. I wanted to make sure that I was taking the right class at the right school and when I looked up the program that I was going to apply to I saw that they would accept that class. There were a lot of people that were not confused if this class would be accepted, but it was.

There are a lot of people that are afraid to take a chance on a dream that they have. I know that if people look around, they will be able to find ways to pay for college if they are resourceful. More often than not, there are people who complain that they don’t have a dream for their lives and I think that it is sad. It is nice to hope for things to happen to you, and it’s even better if you can make it happen for yourself. I know that through a lot of hard work and determination, I was able to make my dream come true. My family and friends support me all the way for my dreams to be seen as a reality in my life.

This set of singing lessons cover the art (and science) of how your diaphragm affects your voice. If your singing were done by computer, you could click the mouse and correct the sounds and volume. However, you do not have a digital voice, just a human singing voice so you have to learn to control it from within. This article will help you achieve that goal.

If you’ve been singing any length of time, you have probably heard the phrase “sing with your diaphragm” already. But what does this really mean? What is your diaphragm and how does it work? How does the diaphragm help with singing? Let’s explore what the word “diaphragm” really means and how it is connected to good singing.

The Diaphragm Explained

The diaphragm is a system of muscles that is connected to the lowest ribs on the sides. It is also connected to the sternum and the back, top lumbar region. The diaphragm’s primary function is to help you inhale. The diaphragm descends when you inhale, displacing the viscera, upper intestines and stomach.

Short-waisted people will notice that their epigastric area, or the area between the naval and sternum, bulges out when they inhale. Long-waisted people will show little bulging while inhaling because there’s more room for expansion.

Exhaling

The diaphragm plays no role in actual exhalation, but does act as a controlling muscle system and controls how quickly you can exhale your breath. Exhalation is controlled by the abdominal system, which is located from your naval to your pelvis. When you exhale quickly, the diaphragm is basically inactive; however, when exhaling slowly, the diaphragm resists the natural exhaling action of the abdomen.

**EXPERIMENT: Try breathing out very slowly and you’ll notice that for the first second or two, you are controlling the exhalation, but after that it happens without effort. Your diaphragm has taken action to ensure proper exhalation. Amazing, huh? When you breathe out quickly, you control the exhalation process. Try it both ways to feel the difference.

Singing and Exhalation

When singing, it’s like you are breathing out these long, slow breaths throughout your song. You try to control them, but on long notes, the diaphragm will have to take over – it’s only natural! All people have a strong diaphragm no matter what their size or height. The diaphragm doesn’t need to be strengthened, but controlled. You must know how and when it works before you can control it.

Vocal Cords and the Diaphragm

Your vocal cords should not be used to hold back excessive pressure from breathing. Instead, they should only have enough breath pressure to help maintain their sound vibrations. If too much pressure falls on the vocal cords, they press together too tightly and cannot freely function as they should.

While singing, your epigastric area should not be sucked in, but should be in the position it is in when full of air after inhaling, immediately after the onset of a tone. This sounds opposite of what it should be, right? Think about it… if you take a good breath and then exhale most of it or all of it before singing the note, you’re going to be “out of breath” too quickly because your diaphragm has already collapsed.

So, inhale a deep breath and be sure you are breathing in properly with your gut extending outward slightly, not your chest. Then begin to sing and allow the diaphragm to go to work. Using the diaphragm, you will notice you can hold the notes or sing longer phrases without breathing difficulties.

Anthony Frisell, world-renowned teacher of voice for singers wishing to pursue careers in the field of international opera, has updated and reissued his three voice manuals: The Tenor Voice, The Soprano Voice and The Baritone Voice. They are intense, in depth and completely responsive to those individuals who wish beginning and advanced training for a serious career. My review is geared toward The Soprano Voice, however, the basic concepts are the same for all three voices.

For far too many individuals who surround themselves with music and perhaps even learn to imitate some of today’s stars, they begin to consider a singing career. While reality shows abound implying that there is an easy path to success, this is just not true. The professional singer must be trained, practice and learn to protect their new voice!

To find the path to success, Frisell first explains the “Mental Image Approach.” That is, “all vocal exercises must be indirectly applied, through mental concepts.” (p. 7) The beginner then realizes what is expected to attain professional status. It was not at all surprising to me that even though I’ve been singing in various groups most of my life that I had never learned to sing correctly. Learning and maintaining vocal standards is a lifetime study in a professional environment and by a master!

There are fixed rules that form the correct mental image. Grand opera began in Italy and the first rule requires that all vowel sounds, in order to ensure singer communication to her audience, must ensure purity of vowels. Specifically, “each of the five Classic Italian vowels, u (oo) i (ee), e (eh), o (oh), and a (ah), as pronounced by native Italians, must be mastered in their purest form throughout the entire voice range.” (p. 8)

The next fixed rule applies to Control for without control our voices are unreliable. The book covers breath-force dynamics, range, flexibility and shading of tones-all results of control.

There is also a requirement that professional singers must become familiar with the rudiments of music and the ability to play a musical instrument, preferably the piano. Additionally, it is necessary to learn several foreign languages.

For many of us, we do not understand how and why we can reach some notes sometimes, but not at others. This is simply explained by the requirement to identify the vocal registers for the individual. Frisell notes that “to master the art of refined singing one must know the function of the two vocal registers and fully develop them, so they function together as a single unit of quality and strength.” (p. 11) This is not easily done. However, Frisell effectively takes each of the issues in this process, identifies and explains them, and then proceeds to illustrate how the single unit is developed.

Using a keyboard illustration, the breaks for females are identified. The lower register are those that come from the “chest voice” while the upper range is the “head voice.” A ruling principle is provided because there is constant antagonism between these registers. “The conflicting muscular responses that occur, between the two vocal registers, when attempting to produce pure, superior vocal tone, represent the natural responses to the energy of the motor force (breath tension) being applied to the muscles of both registers.” (p. 16).

For an individual to advance from routine singing to a professional, there are years of muscular control development through exercises, practice, and by listening and studying those professionals already proficient in opera. This manual takes you through the mechanics of this study and provides an outstanding array of exercises, detailed illustrations of where the sound should be located, how the tongue and throat are affected, etc.

Frisell has provided “a personal guide to acquiring a superior singing technique.” Indeed, the only thing lacking is that Frisell is not there, helping the individual in this effort. This is a must-read for serious students of voice. As a final contribution, Frisell has included a copy of a recent article entitled, “Is There an “American School” of classic voice training? If so-has it failed American singers?”

By the way, the author gives master classes and is located in New York City. In my opinion, only very serious students need apply! This man will either accept you as a potential great singer…or you will come to know the answer to the question he poses in the above article.

“Maybe if I have this client blink his eyes at an increased speed, while exposing him to his past, and add some cognitive behavioral therapy while sitting next to a waterfall, he may be able to function more effectively in his life!” Yes this is rather exaggerated, however it demonstrates the idea that as professionals in the field of therapy, we often seek complex theories, techniques, and strategies to more effectively treat our consumers. A large amount of our precious time is spent seeking new theories and techniques to treat clients; evidence for this statement is shown by the thousands of theories and techniques that have been created to treat clients seeking therapy.

The fact that theories are being created and the field is growing is absolutely magnificent; however we may be searching for something that has always been right under our nose. Clinicians often enjoy analyzing and making things more intricate that they actually are; when in reality what works is rather simple. This basic and uncomplicated ingredient for successful therapy is what will be explored in this article. This ingredient is termed the therapeutic relationship. Some readers may agree and some may disagree, however the challenge is to be open minded and remember the consequences of “contempt prior to investigation”.

Any successful therapy is grounded in a continuous strong, genuine therapeutic relationship or more simply put by Rogers, the “Helping Relationship”. Without being skilled in this relationship, no techniques are likely to be effective. You are free to learn, study, research and labor over CBT, DBT, EMDR, RET, and ECT as well as attending infinite trainings on these and many other techniques, although without mastering the art and science of building a therapeutic relationship with your client, therapy will not be effective. You can even choose to spend thousands of dollars on a PhD, PsyD, Ed.D, and other advanced degrees, which are not being put down, however if you deny the vital importance of the helping relationship you will again be unsuccessful. Rogers brilliantly articulated this point when he said, “Intellectual training and the acquiring of information has, I believe many valuable results–but, becoming a therapist is not one of those results (1957).”

This author will attempt to articulate what the therapeutic relationship involves; questions clinicians can ask themselves concerning the therapeutic relationship, as well as some empirical literature that supports the importance of the therapeutic relationship. Please note that therapeutic relationship, therapeutic alliance, and helping relationship will be used interchangeably throughout this article.

Characteristic of the Therapeutic Relationship

The therapeutic relationship has several characteristics; however the most vital will be presented in this article. The characteristics may appear to be simple and basic knowledge, although the constant practice and integration of these characteristic need to be the focus of every client that enters therapy. The therapeutic relationship forms the foundation for treatment as well as large part of successful outcome. Without the helping relationship being the number one priority in the treatment process, clinicians are doing a great disservice to clients as well as to the field of therapy as a whole.

The following discussion will be based on the incredible work of Carl Rogers concerning the helping relationship. There is no other psychologist to turn to when discussing this subject, than Dr. Rogers himself. His extensive work gave us a foundation for successful therapy, no matter what theory or theories a clinician practices. Without Dr. Rogers outstanding work, successful therapy would not be possible.

Rogers defines a helping relationship as , ” a relationship in which one of the participants intends that there should come about , in one or both parties, more appreciation of, more expression of, more functional use of the latent inner resources of the individual ( 1961).” There are three characteristics that will be presented that Rogers states are essential and sufficient for therapeutic change as well as being vital aspects of the therapeutic relationship (1957). In addition to these three characteristics, this author has added two final characteristic that appear to be effective in a helping relationship.

1. Therapist’s genuineness within the helping relationship. Rogers discussed the vital importance of the clinician to “freely and deeply” be himself. The clinician needs to be a “real” human being. Not an all knowing, all powerful, rigid, and controlling figure. A real human being with real thoughts, real feelings, and real problems (1957). All facades should be left out of the therapeutic environment. The clinician must be aware and have insight into him or herself. It is important to seek out help from colleagues and appropriate supervision to develop this awareness and insight. This specific characteristic fosters trust in the helping relationship. One of the easiest ways to develop conflict in the relationship is to have a “better than” attitude when working with a particular client.

2. Unconditional positive regard. This aspect of the relationship involves experiencing a warm acceptance of each aspect of the clients experience as being a part of the client. There are no conditions put on accepting the client as who they are. The clinician needs to care for the client as who they are as a unique individual. One thing often seen in therapy is the treatment of the diagnosis or a specific problem. Clinicians need to treat the individual not a diagnostic label. It is imperative to accept the client for who they are and where they are at in their life. Remember diagnoses are not real entities, however individual human beings are.

3. Empathy. This is a basic therapeutic aspect that has been taught to clinicians over and over again, however it is vital to be able to practice and understand this concept. An accurate empathetic understanding of the client’s awareness of his own experience is crucial to the helping relationship. It is essential to have the ability to enter the clients “private world” and understand their thoughts and feelings without judging these (Rogers, 1957).

4. Shared agreement on goals in therapy. Galileo once stated, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can just help him to find it within himself.” In therapy clinicians must develop goals that the client would like to work on rather than dictate or impose goals on the client. When clinicians have their own agenda and do not cooperate with the client, this can cause resistance and a separation in the helping relationship (Roes, 2002). The fact is that a client that is forced or mandated to work on something he has no interest in changing, may be compliant for the present time; however these changes will not be internalized. Just think of yourself in your personal life. If you are forced or coerced to work on something you have no interest in, how much passion or energy will you put into it and how much respect will you have for the person doing the coercing. You may complete the goal; however you will not remember or internalize much involved in the process.

5. Integrate humor in the relationship. In this authors own clinical experience throughout the years, one thing that has helped to establish a strong therapeutic relationship with clients is the integration of humor in the therapy process. It appears to teach clients to laugh at themselves without taking life and themselves too serious. It also allows them to see the therapist as a down to earth human being with a sense of humor. Humor is an excellent coping skill and is extremely healthy to the mind, body, and spirit. Try laughing with your clients. It will have a profound effect on the relationship as well as in your own personal life.

Before delving into the empirical literature concerning this topic, it is important to present some questions that Rogers recommends (1961) asking yourself as a clinician concerning the development of a helping relationship. These questions should be explored often and reflected upon as a normal routine in your clinical practice. They will help the clinician grow and continue to work at developing the expertise needed to create a strong therapeutic relationship and in turn the successful practice of therapy.

1. Can I be in some way which will be perceived by the client as trustworthy, dependable, or consistent in some deep sense?

2. Can I be real? This involves being aware of thoughts and feelings and being honest with yourself concerning these thoughts and feelings. Can I be who I am? Clinicians must accept themselves before they can be real and accepted by clients.

3. Can I let myself experience positive attitudes toward my client – for example warmth, caring, respect) without fearing these? Often times clinicians distance themselves and write it off as a “professional” attitude; however this creates an impersonal relationship. Can I remember that I am treating a human being, just like myself?

4. Can I give the client the freedom to be who they are?

5. Can I be separate from the client and not foster a dependent relationship?

6. Can I step into the client’s private world so deeply that I lose all desire to evaluate or judge it?

7. Can I receive this client as he is? Can I accept him or her completely and communicate this acceptance?

8. Can I possess a non-judgmental attitude when dealing with this client?

9. Can I meet this individual as a person who is becoming, or will I be bound by his past or my past?

Empirical Literature

There are obviously too many empirical studies in this area to discuss in this or any brief article, however this author would like to present a summary of the studies throughout the years and what has been concluded.

Horvath and Symonds (1991) conducted a Meta analysis of 24 studies which maintained high design standards, experienced therapists, and clinically valid settings. They found an effect size of .26 and concluded that the working alliance was a relatively robust variable linking therapy process to outcomes. The relationship and outcomes did not appear to be a function of type of therapy practiced or length of treatment.

Another review conducted by Lambert and Barley (2001), from Brigham Young University summarized over one hundred studies concerning the therapeutic relationship and psychotherapy outcome. They focused on four areas that influenced client outcome; these were extra therapeutic factors, expectancy effects, specific therapy techniques, and common factors/therapeutic relationship factors. Within these 100 studies they averaged the size of contribution that each predictor made to outcome. They found that 40% of the variance was due to outside factors, 15% to expectancy effects, 15% to specific therapy techniques, and 30% of variance was predicted by the therapeutic relationship/common factors. Lambert and Barley (2001) concluded that, “Improvement in psychotherapy may best be accomplished by learning to improve ones ability to relate to clients and tailoring that relationship to individual clients.”

One more important addition to these studies is a review of over 2000 process-outcomes studies conducted by Orlinsky, Grave, and Parks (1994), which identified several therapist variables and behaviors that consistently demonstrated to have a positive impact on treatment outcome. These variables included therapist credibility, skill, empathic understanding, affirmation of the client, as well as the ability to engage the client and focus on the client’s issues and emotions.

Finally, this author would like to mention an interesting statement made by Schore (1996). Schore suggests “that experiences in the therapeutic relationship are encoded as implicit memory, often effecting change with the synaptic connections of that memory system with regard to bonding and attachment. Attention to this relationship with some clients will help transform negative implicit memories of relationships by creating a new encoding of a positive experience of attachment.” This suggestion is a topic for a whole other article, however what this suggests is that the therapeutic relationship may create or recreate the ability for clients to bond or develop attachments in future relationships. To this author, this is profound and thought provoking. Much more discussion and research is needed in this area, however briefly mentioning it sheds some light on another important reason that the therapeutic relationship is vital to therapy.

Throughout this article the therapeutic relationship has been discussed in detail, questions to explore as a clinician have been articulated, and empirical support for the importance of the therapeutic relationship have been summarized. You may question the validity of this article or research, however please take an honest look at this area of the therapy process and begin to practice and develop strong therapeutic relationships. You will see the difference in the therapy process as well as client outcome. This author experiences the gift of the therapeutic relationship each and every day I work with clients. In fact, a client recently told me that I was “the first therapist he has seen since 9-11 that he trusted and acted like a real person. He continued on to say, “that’s why I have the hope that I can get better and actually trust another human being.” That’s quite a reward of the therapeutic relationship and process. What a gift!

Ask yourself, how you would like to be treated if you were a client? Always remember we are all part of the human race and each human being is unique and important, thus they should be treated that way in therapy. Our purpose as clinicians is to help other human beings enjoy this journey of life and if this field isn’t the most important field on earth I don’t know what is. We help determine and create the future of human beings. To conclude, Constaquay, Goldfried, Wiser, Raue, and Hayes (1996) stated, ” It is imperative that clinicians remember that decades of research consistently demonstrates that relationship factors correlate more highly with client outcome than do specialized treatment techniques.”

References

Constaquay, L. G., Goldfried, M. R., Wiser, S., Raue, P.J., Hayes, A.M. (1996). Predicting the effect of Cognitive therapy for depression: A study of unique and common factors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 497-504.

Horvath, A.O. & Symonds, B., D. (1991). Relation between a working alliance and outcome in psychotherapy: A Meta Analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 38, 2, 139-149.

Lambert, M., J. & Barley, D., E. (2001). Research Summary on the therapeutic relationship and psychotherapy outcome. Psychotherapy, 38, 4, 357-361.

Orlinski, D. E., Grave, K., & Parks, B. K. (1994). Process and outcome in psychotherapy. In A. E. Bergin & S. L. Garfield (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy(pp. 257-310). New York: Wiley.

Roes, N. A. (2002). Solutions for the treatment resistant addicted client, Haworth Press.

Rogers, C. R. (1957). The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions of Therapeutic Personality Change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95-103.

Rogers, C. R. (1961). On Becoming a Person, Houghton Mifflin company, New York.

Schore, A. (1996). The experience dependent maturation of a regulatory system in the orbital prefrontal cortex and the origin of developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 59-87.

Your jaw movement, or lack of movement, has a significant and important effect on your voice. TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is not just a jaw issue…it’s a vocal problem.

  • First of all, the stiff jaw which accompanies TMJ will keep the soft palate from lifting. Try gritting your teeth while simultaneously attempting to lift the soft palate in a yawn-like sensation. Quite difficult, isn’t it?
  • A stiff jaw will inhibit the full opening of vowels, causing a tight throat instead of an open one to constrict singing.
  • Lack of mobility in the jaw will also cause a singer or speaker to form words and syllables too far back in the mouth, muffling communication and tightening the throat. This is because a tight jaw will cause the base of the tongue to contract, bunch up and pull up on the top of the larynx during articulation.
  • A jaw with TMJ can cause a singer to stop truly listening and being able to aim at pitch, especially if there is a ringing in the ears (tinnitus) to conflict with the tones a singer wants to accurately hit. To deal with this, you obviously need to address TMJ solutions, but it’s also important to get back to some pitch practice with a trusted coach.

When I was a staff-singer at a jingle company in Memphis, I once had a terrible bout with TMJ. It was so bad I had to open my mouth before they turned the mic on so my jaw wouldn’t cause a clicking sound! In my case, it was caused mostly by a new tooth filling -too high- which caused me to grind my teeth to try and close my bite. It was cured by 1. the dentist filing the filling down for a better fit, 2. using a mouth guard to stop my night-time grinding and 3. a short-term course of prescription muscle relaxer to relax my jaw. Whew!

Not all causes of TMJ are known. With singers it’s often a case of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Tight jaw contributes to tight throat. Tight throat will cause a tight jaw which is trying (tensing) desperately to articulate. When the cause is investigated, it is my experience that much can be done to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ and allow the voice to find freedom again.

For more practical vocal information like this, proven best for studio and stage, see…

Last evening, I was watching, for the tenth time, the award winning musical, “Singing in the Rain,” which starred the late Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, and the eighty-year old Debbie Reynolds. The 1952 motion picture was nominated for 2 Oscars, won the 1953 Golden Globe, and 3 other major awards. I actually think it should have won several 1953 Oscars for its immaculate, if not perfect, dancing choreography, comedy, and drama. I mean, compared to the talent and precision demonstrated over a decade later by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, in the 1965 musical “The Sound of Music,” which I think was considerably less than that demonstrated by Kelly, Reynolds, and O’Connor, “Singing in the Rain” should have won at least 2 Oscars. The two motion picture musicals were, of course, different in style, length, and the talent of the actors; but one can’t fail to notice the most significant difference between the two productions. It was the completely flawless combined effect of dancing, singing, and comedic and dramatic acting, which was accomplished by the dancers, actors, and studio staff, of “Singing in the Rain,” while there were quite a few “unmentioned” choreographic errors in “The Sound of Music.” The motion picture professionals, who created “Singing in the Rain,” worked together tirelessly to make an unequaled musical production. Furthermore, one can count on the fingers of one hand the number of American musicals produced since 1952 with the same natural flawless dancing, singing, and acting from the starring casts. So, the question lingers and demands an answer as to why “Singing in the Rain” hasn’t been remade in a modern setting, with different actors, like so many other remakes of the classic movies?

You can use all of the fancy 21st Century computer gadgetry and advanced sound equipment that money can buy to attempt to synthetically reproduce the genuine dancing, singing, and acting of Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor; but one unassailable fact remains ultimately true. It would be an expensive, but ultimately failed, attempt in artificial movie-making. It’s impossible to persuasively simulate natural human talent with computers. Further, it’s very improbable that three versatile entertainers, like Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor, would be found among all the accomplished dancers and singers in the current 21st Century world, to duplicate what those three unique people did. And that’s a crying shame. Those three stars could act, sing, and dance in a marvelous combining fashion, something that no current stage, or motion picture, star can remotely do today. Take Robin Williams for instance. He’s a wonderful actor and comedian, but he can’t dance or sing like Gene Kelly or Donald O’Connor. Matt Damon, Tim Robbins, Tom Hanks, Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe, Richard Gere, and Julia Roberts, and many other late-20th Century Oscar winners, are all genuinely great actors, and have made their millions. But none of them can come close to combining acting, singing, and dancing in the way the “Singing in the Rain” cast did so perfectly. Some film producers think that these foregoing top-rated actors and actresses could persuade theatre and television audiences that they actually possess such talent, which they don’t really possess, through the use of computer enhancements. I don’t think so. The use of such technical fakery would be very evident.

There’s also another reason why I think a genuine remake of “Singing in the Rain” has not been produced. People today just don’t like to work as hard as the actors and actresses did in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s in order to produce natural artistic excellence. They are now eagerly willing to settle for less to get their paychecks. For example, in September of 1990, when residing in Carlsbad, California, I was, one late evening, discussing singing talent with the sound manager for Madonna, who was returning to LA from a concert at the San Diego Convention Center. He had stopped for some refreshments at the Carlsbad 7-Eleven, where I was the night store manager. The fellow appeared to be completely sober as he, very candidly, talked about Madonna and her talent. “It’s all in the sound equipment,” he said. “Madonna doesn’t have lot of singing talent, but she has a great sound manager and the best equipment.” Then he laughed and added. “With the right computer sound equipment, any normal person’s singing voice can be made to sound professional. That’s how Sissy Spacek sounded like Loretta Lynn in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The reason I remember his words verbatim, is because I wrote them down immediately after he left the store. Moreover, the dramatic plot in “Singing in the Rain” was all about what happened when an actress without singing talent was made to look, and sound, like she had that ability, at the expense of a naturally talented singer. I think that the moral of the movie was, simply, that actresses and actors without certain talents should not be made to falsely appear to audiences to have such talents. Perhaps, however, the movie industry in Tinsel Town was unfortunately moving in that less-desirable direction when the 1953 Oscars were awarded. Perhaps that’s why a perfect musical was not given its due that year.

I was born in 1951, and first saw “Singing in the Rain” in 1969. That was partly because my parents weren’t, at all, movie-goers; and, also, partly because of my own working priorities during my teenage years. I read my first commentary about the musical shortly after I saw it, and recall how the cast had practiced continually, day and night, to achieve choreographic perfection, to point of blistered and bleeding feet. Eighteen years after the musical premiered, I had presumed that the hard work associated with American achievement in the dancing, singing, and acting required for award-winning musicals was an indelible standard. You know, in association with the old American adage, “what’s hard we do immediately; what’s impossible just takes a little longer.” Well, I don’t want to believe that there aren’t any more multi-talented actors and actresses out there, who can superbly sing, dance, and act like Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor. What’s more, I don’t want to believe that great dancers, singers, and actors can only appear today as products of institutions like Julliard, or as certified prodigies. Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor were not prodigies. They were normal human beings who became great by continually working hard to improve and perfect their artistic talents. And they so perfectly did that in “Singing in the Rain.”

Imagine you and your family are sitting down at a restaurant. You order the establishment’s signature entrée and are treated to 1/3 pound of grade-B beef which has been fried and covered with watery ketchup, bitter mustard, and bits of what may generously be called “onions.” Surely this would be unacceptable at a quality restaurant. Continue on this imaginary evening, and think about taking your family to see a show at the local theater. You are sitting in your seats enjoying the performance, but every seven minutes the curtain falls and a very enthusiastic man shouts from the stage how much better your life would be if only you would go out and buy this-or-that product. No one in their right mind would sit through that, yet we seem perfectly willing to accept low-end food, poorly-made goods, and underhanded selling tactics as long as we are able to buy said merchandise quickly, cheaply and conveniently. Since their inception, fast food, advertisements, and “big box” retail have had several deleterious effects on American health and culture.

Fast food, while often expedient, is unhealthy. It is common knowledge now that most (if not all) of the food served via drive-through window contains frighteningly high levels of sodium, carbohydrates and cholesterol. In his Tufts University article “Who’s Losing the Burger Battle?” Irwin Rosenberg lists the caloric content in several fast food chains’ premium sandwiches. Hardee’s Six-Dollar Burger contains 890 calories, Burger King’s Steakhouse XT Burger weighs in with 970, and Denny’s Western Burger sits atop the greasy mountain with a staggering 1160 calories. Just to clarify, these measurements do not account for French fries, beverages or extra condiments. Awareness of the health risks associated with fast food is certainly more widespread than it used to be, but according to David Hogan’s article “Fast Food,” books and articles about the high-fat, low-quality products used by fast food establishments have been printed since the 1930s (Hogan, 565). In addition to providing a nightmarish dietary staple, fast food restaurants can also widen the gap between us consumers and the source of our food. The food itself is rarely memorable or special to us. It appears before us fully formed, an instantly-available placeholder for what we should be eating. In “Feeding Our Future,” Michael Ableman suggests that more people ought to eat “whole food-food that tastes better because it’s grown in living soil and harvested locally, food that makes clear the relationship between human health and the health of the Earth” (Ableman, 563). It seems that the only redeeming value to be found in fast food is its eponymous speed. I recently visited a particular sandwich shop and was mightily impressed when I was able to order, pay, and receive my food in literally less than three minutes. Of course, the brevity and ease of my experience did little to assuage the gastrointestinal distress I later suffered because of the oil and fat inherent in convenient comestibles. Fast food, however, is not the only example of the health and cultural sacrifices we make for the sake of convenience.

Big box retail stores have negative impacts on the individual and the community. From the moment you walk through the sliding glass doors and step onto the linoleum or concrete tiles of your local Walmart (or Target, or K-Mart, as the case may be) you may start to instantly disconnect from the world around you. Personally, I often feel like I’m in a strange sort of bubble when I shop at mass retail outlets. The other shoppers are just ghosts pushing squeaky-wheeled phantom carts down the aisles into the fluorescently-lit void. Going into the store late at night creates even more of an isolated feeling. In their article “Walmart: Everyday Low Prices,” Peter Singer and Jim Mason cite a recent report that claims Walmart employs 1.6 million people (Singer & Mason, 588), yet with the advent of self-checkout and the sheer size of most of their stores, it is possible to literally spend hours shopping and not encounter another person. This creates what I consider to be an inhospitable shopping environment not only because of the eerie lonely feeling it can produce, but also because with no employees around, receiving customer service is impossible. Judging by their ubiquitous signs, banners and slogans, Walmart seems to take much pride in being an American company offering American goods but on closer inspection, their patriotism seems questionable at best. According to Singer and Mason, in 1993 Walmart sold clothes which they claimed were manufactured in the USA but, as was revealed later, were made by child workers in Bangladesh (Singer & Mason, 590). Walmart continues to maintain their low prices by selling goods that are mostly of international origin. Singer and Mason state that in 2005, Walmart spent $18 billion on Chinese products (Singer & Mason, 590). Can there be any doubt that Walmart is partially responsible for America’s dependence on foreign wares? In their PBS article “Is Walmart Good for America?” Hendrick Smith and Rick Young state that nearly 80 percent of Walmart’s 6000 suppliers are located in China. Furthermore, the advertising for these and other goods and services can cause harm to consumers.

Advertising can hurt potential buyers in ways that may not be obvious. Subliminal messages, which have been a mainstay of television advertising for decades, can affect peoples’ thoughts and moods about a product, which seems to me like an infringement on free will. It was once thought that subliminal advertisements were just an urban myth, but according to a Discovery News article called “Subliminal Messages Work, at Least Sometimes”, evidence now exists that our decisions can be influenced by suggestions we receive unconsciously. One of the best examples that I have seen of this advertising tactic is a Chevrolet commercial from 1959. It features a happy couple singing about the wondrous new automobile arriving in showrooms throughout the nation and, if you pause the video at exactly the right frame, it is possible to glimpse images of the car with a very attractive couple inside. A more modern example of subliminal advertising is during a commercial for KFC’s Snacker sandwich. The ad shows a very enticing picture of the sandwich while an announcer talks about what a great value it is. By looking very closely during the last second or two of the ad you can clearly see a dollar bill in the sandwich’s lettuce. Of course, advertising can also influence people to buy more expensive items without using subliminal messages. Simply by using pleasant, appealing images and slogans, advertisements can promote the idea that a certain brand is superior to its competitors even if no such superiority exists. This emphasis on product labels is far from new. In “The Marlboro Man,” James Twitchell quotes 1940s advertising guru David Ogilvy as saying that if consumers were given a drink of Old Crow and told it was Jack Daniels, they would enjoy it more than if they knew it was Old Crow (Twitchell, 472). For a more modern perspective, consider Craig Nicholson’s article “Great Expectations,” from the February, 2008 issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience which recounts a study involving “Volunteers [who] were given various wines to sample, two of which were presented twice with wildly different price tags. The volunteers reported greater enjoyment […] when they believed them to be expensive…” (Nicholson, 163). It seems that, as much as our society has progressed in the last 50 years, we are still tasting images. Why is this a problem? Because when we emphasize status symbols like brand names, I believe we are prone to make very poor decisions about how to spend our money. Advertising also seems to be a contributing factor in our ever-shortening attention span. As viewers get used to having information presented in smaller and smaller bits, advertising must try and keep pace. In his New York Times Article “Advertising,” Stuart Elliot says that when television was a brand-new medium advertisements were usually around one minute in length, but by 1971 the average length was only 30 seconds and in 2005, Cadillac unveiled the first 5-second commercial (Elliot, New York Times 04/2005). It seems like this trend is likely to continue.

It is ironic that as our society becomes more complex, we strive harder for simplicity. We want everything in life to be as quick and as easy as possible but if all gratification becomes instant, I fear that we will forget the satisfaction that comes from working (or at least waiting) for what we desire. We will lose appreciation for the effort put into creating the goods that we use every day. In the short time they have existed, advertising, mass retail and fast food have already had such a negative impact on our health and culture. Imagine the impact they will have in decades to come.

Since great singing seems such an impossible skill to reach out for, a lot of people who do purchase a career in singing often look for secrets no one knows about. Special habits or products for the voice. Things to do or not to do that turns you into that one unique singer. You might be disappointed as the tips below are very basic and apply to anyone who wants to sing and anyone who can speak CAN pursue a career in singing.

Whether anyone WILL have a career is a whole different story. There is a lot more to it than just opening your mouth and sing. But that’s basically the main thing you need to do to sing. Open your mouth and sing. A lot of people think too much about how to sing and how to be a great singer. Just follow the steps below and you’ll be nicely on your way.

1.Work the body.

Even though all instruments require a healthy body to perform, no instrument depends so much on a healthy body as the voice. When you have an illness while playing guitar or piano or another instrument the instrument will sound the way it usually sounds while singing is almost impossible to do. Even if you can still sing you won’t be able to perform at your best and your voice definitely sounds different.

There for it’s not only necessary to keep your body healthy but in order to improve singing  to your highest possible skill level you need to optimize your body.

What does it mean to optimize your body? It means to train the parts that are used excessively as you sing. These parts are the same as the ones we use when speaking. Your vocal cords, your lungs and abdominal muscles. Train your vocal cords, train your lungs and train your abdominal muscles. You have to be a bit of an athlete in fact. Rather than focusing on your legs you will focus on your voice but just as an athlete you  will have to develop your lungs and muscles.

     A.The vocal cords.

Every muscle in the body that is used often needs training to become flexible. Muscles need to be  active every day in order to perform well. Muscles that are not active lose volume and grow very weak up to not being able to use them. A person who had a broken leg and had to rest for 6 weeks slowly has to build up using it again from taking slow steps to running. Since the vocal cords are also muscles you will have to use them every day. This will automatically make your voice a lot more flexible. We already use our voice everyday to speak but since singing uses a lot more frequencies we don’t use when we speak we need to sing almost daily to get comfortable in our full range.

     B.The breathing system this means the lungs and the abdominal muscles.

Exercising is good for your lungs. You need your lungs to sing thus exercising is great for your voice. Do it several times per week. Even better is to sing out while you exercise but that isn’t always possible. Many sports train the lungs. Running is the most obvious but swimming is even better as it  trains the lungs and abdominal muscles at the same time. Singing while you workout is great if you like belting and want to increase your range.  An article about belting will be published in the future.

2.Stay away from cigarette smoke at all times.

It reduces your range and increases the production of mucus. You will be clearing your throat continuously. Coughing is the best way to clear your throat properly. 

3.Drink no or little alcohol and avoid drinking alcohol at all before singing.

A lot of singers worry about what they should or should not drink. You always see them with a bottle of water in the hand at auditions. That’s because just about every site that gives vocal advice says drink gallons of water. You can never drink enough. I don’t believe those people are singers.

I sing for hours without drinking anything. My throat doesn’t dry out and I never feel uncomfortable. If you feel like you HAVE to drink constantly you might be doing something wrong. Of course you need to drink a lot everyday to keep a healthy body. It’s not so that you have to drink all the time meaning every 3 seconds. Some bottled waters even dry out the throat or give you a very uncomfortable feeling in the throat.   I only drink bits of water when I practise the top of my voice. The notes beyond the C3.

Warm drinks are very good. Cook some water and add lemon and honey to it. Avoid cold drinks with ice right before a show. This depends a little on the overall condition of your body. I’m very sensitive to cold, cold air, a nasty breeze and ice can even  make me cough in wintertime.

A lot of people say you should not drink milk because it increases the forming of mucus. I drink milk everyday and the mucus from drinking milk is nothing compared to what I get from pollution and inhaling cigarette smoke.

I reduced drinking alcohol to almost nothing. It numbs your voice and over time you will get pitch problems. Never drinking does make you more sensitive to alcohol. Now that I hardly ever drink, if I do drink a couple margaritas I can’t sing at all. My voice has absolutely no volume or range left.

4.Eat healthy at all times.

Seems common sense but a whole lot of people are constantly on some special diet. As a singer you’re probably aware of your looks and don’t want to be overweight. Whatever diet you choose make sure you eat regularly. Your voice needs consistent power and all the vocal exercises will not give as much results without regular meals. A poor diet gives a poor sound and a less powerful voice.

Don’t eat heavy meals right before a performance. You will feel tired using your breathing system and instead of digesting the food it might even come back up. Avoid too much spicy food and never eat it right before bedtime. You might want to check your sensitivity to garlic. It produces a gas in the lungs after digestion. My lungs also produce excessive mucus in the days after eating garlic so I avoid eating it at all.

Eat apples. What? Yes! Every day! Apples can perform miracles to your voice. If it happens that you have to sing in a smoky or very dusty  environment your voice  wears out rapidly. Eating an apple-over drinking water- will instantly boost your voice.

5.Take enough sleep.

You might feel strong but your body wears out more than you think and regular lack of sleep decreases your vocal potential.  Too little sleep is also just a matter of time before you get sick.

6.What to do when you have a problem.

You should always feel comfortable before, on and after singing. A sound or feeling you usually don’t have are signs that something is not right. Continuing can seriously damage your voice.  If you think you can’t speak don’t replace it with whispering! See a doctor to see there is no physical problem.

7.Be a good person!

No one can get you a beautiful voice. The color of your voice is the image of your soul.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is going to be another one of those predictable, vanilla articles about foods you should and shouldn’t eat before singing. Boooring!

The conventional advice that we singers often hear about diet goes something like this:

DO:

  • Drink Water (room temperature)
  • Eat Fruit
  • Eat Vegetables

Do NOT Consume:

  • Caffeine
  • Dairy
  • Hot Beverages
  • Cold beverages
  • Alcohol
  • Salt
  • High Fat Foods
  • Spicy Foods
  • Citrus

You know what you really ought not to consume? The generic kool aid above! Instead, let’s look at some actionable strategies, which are rooted in a lifetime of dietary experimentation, that’s taken me from a Standard American Diet (SAD), to vegetarianism, to veganism, to fruitarianism, to the slow carb diet a la Tim Ferriss, to what I follow now (modified paleo). In addition to years of OCD self-tracking, blood testing and subjecting myself to various supplementation regimens, I’m also drawing on my experience as a competitive athlete (submission grappling), and since singing is a sport in its own right, I hope these parallels ring true for you.

Let’s start with first principles

A singer is, above all, a human being. Agreed? Human beings are a species of animal, which has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to consume a very specific type of diet. This isn’t even actually a “diet”, that’s a word invented to sell books and ab machines. This is simply our natural way of eating and it has profound implications for our health and quality of life.

Have you seen what happens when you feed a cat (or a dog for that matter) a vegetarian diet? It gets sick, weak, and lethargic. It loses its desire to mate(!) and dies prematurely. This is called a “failure to thrive”. If a human animal is fed the wrong things, what do you suppose happens to it?

About 10,000 years ago, humans began farming and went from a nomadic tribal lifestyle, to a relatively stationary, city-based lifestyle. Consequently, we transitioned from our ancestral diet of mostly animal foods to a high-carb diet of grains and other farmed foods. Because we were able to grow our food almost year-round, we could stay in one location and reduce the need to hunt wild game and gather nuts, berries, tubers and roughage.

Unfortunately, our bodies were not (and still aren’t) adapted to eating grains (they’re toxic), high levels of fruits (also toxic), and many raw vegetables. Like the example of the vegetarian cat, we’ve been consuming the wrong things for roughly ten millennia and have been getting sicker and sicker as a result. Pile on top of that the modern laundry list of synthetic chemicals we’re routinely exposed to, stressful work schedules, and sedentary, indoor-based living and you have a MAJOR failure to thrive.

You see, most diet and lifestyle advice you hear for singers is generic and incomplete at best, totally wrong at worst. A singer’s actual vocal instrument is certainly important but any professional singer can tell you that it’s only half the story. Being an effective singer and musician requires mental and physical endurance that has nothing to do with your voice per se. “Don’t smoke, don’t drink yourself stupid and don’t party your ass off 5 days a week” is fairly common sense advice that you’ll learn on your own. But the advice below is of a more counter-intuitive nature, and not only will you not hear it very often, but you’ll be told the exact opposite!

So here’s the deal: Singers need a steady supply of even-keeled energy, enthusiasm, mental acuity, memory, plasticity of thinking and nerves of steel when it comes time to go on stage.

So, then, how should you eat if you’re a singer? The answer is, the same way you would eat if you weren’t one! The idea of a profession-specific diet is actually quite ridiculous. Yes, certain tweaks and allowances have to be made based on activity levels and genetics, but fundamentally the healthiest diet is the one that most closely approximates your ancestral way of eating. This way of eating is popularly known as a “paleolithic” or “paleo” diet and here’s what it can do for you:

  • Increased energy
  • Longer life
  • Higher sex drive
  • Improved mental acuity
  • Improved physical performance
  • Weight normalization
  • Improved appearance

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, going back to the vegetarian cat example. If the gato is being fed a 50/50 mixture of vegetables and meat, it’s only going to be somewhat sick as a result. If you feed it nothing but meat, which is what its body is designed to operate most optimally with, kitty shall experience all of the same benefits that I listed above and return to good health (all other things being equal). Likewise, if YOU begin removing foods from your diet that work against your genetics and replace them with the high-quality foods that your body was meant to operate on, you too will experience a very noticeable shift in your overall health. This, you might imagine, has tremendous ramifications for your art.

Here’s an overview of the protocol:

DO Consume:

  • Water
  • Grass fed, pastured, organic meats
  • Pastured organic eggs
  • Cold water, wild caught fish (Salmon, cod, sardines, mackerel)
  • Grass fed butter, ghee, coconut oil
  • Nuts (no peanuts – they’re legumes)
  • Vegetables
  • Small quantities of low-sugar fruits (berries and citrus are good choices)

Do NOT Consume:

  • Any grain based foods including bread, pastas, rice, quinoa, etc.
  • High sugar fruit such as mangoes, pineapples and bananas
  • Dairy
  • Legumes (beans of any kind)
  • Alcohol (I don’t take this rule too seriously – you’ve got to live a little!)

Basically, if you mostly stay away from sugars and starches (which are just sugars anyway), and eat plenty of high quality animal products, you’re going to notice a huge improvement in your well-being and outward appearance relatively quickly. If you’re a big bread and pasta eater, cutting carbs out is going to be difficult, so do it gradually. Once you’ve weened off the carbs, you’ll notice that your energy levels and mood will be quite steady throughout the day, because you’re no longer subjecting your body to the insulin rollercoaster that carbohydrates put in motion. If you try to become a paleo perfectionist, you’re probably setting yourself up for some serious binge eating. A great idea to that Tim Ferriss introduced in his awesome book “4 Hour Body”, which can help you circumvent binging, is the concept of a “cheat day” once a week, during which you eat whatever the hell you want! That way it’s already planned and not some big monkey on your back that comes to wreck your diet whimsically.

One singer-specific piece of advice you hear a lot is to avoid eating a lot of fat. Well, that’s a lot of bull. A high fat diet is incredibly healthful. Fats are the primary energy source the body is meant to use (NOT sugars!!!) So cook some eggs in butter and a few strips of bacon for breakfast. While your jam and toast eating colleague is passing out from the sugar crash, you’ll still be going like some sort of singing Energize bunny.

Unfortunately, because our soils are largely depleted of nutrients, our animals are fed nutrient-poor feeds, and for a number of other reasons, we simply can NOT get all of the nutrition we need solely from food, even if it’s the RIGHT food. Thus, it’s necessary to supplement and hack a little. Here are 4 important additions to the diet outlined above that will take your mind and body – and thus, your singing! – to the next level:

Fish Oil

Fish oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids, which curb cellular inflammation and keeps you young and healthy. Much of the food we consume now is very high in omega 6 fats, and this has skewed the natural ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s with which our bodies are built to function optimally. Fish oil is relatively cheap, painless to take and has profound health benefits. Don’t be afraid to take several grams of fish oil a day. It won’t hurt you – just make sure you find a brand that tests for contaminants by third parties. Unlike, say, exercise, this one’s a gimme.

Vitamin D

We are meant to spend copious amounts of time in the sun (naked). Instead, we spend an unhealthy amount of time indoors (clothed). Since our body produces vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, this explains why the majority of our population is severely vitamin D deficient. Even in perennially sunny South Florida, the majority of the population is deficient! I can’t overemphasize how powerful this group of compounds is (vitamin D is the name of the family of compounds called secosteroids). They influence everything from hormone levels to alertness to immunity.

Getting tested for vitamin D deficiency is cheap and easy, or just get blood drawn if you’re insured). Definitely test your levels prior to supplementing. Shoot for about 55ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) of blood. If you’ve determined that you need to supplement, make sure that you take D3 (cholecalciferol) and not D2 (ergocalciferol). You’ll be fine taking up to 5000 IU a day. Adjust commensurate with sun exposure and retest levels every few months until optimal.

Sleep

We are a severely sleep-deprived species. Yet sleep is a fundamental component of great health and proper functioning. You already know this on an intuitive level, but the pressure from society to “fit everything in” is so strong, that we often eschew sleep as a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your singing voice goes straight to hell when you haven’t had enough sleep, as does your concentration, memory and general “springiness”. More sleep, and better quality sleep means you get more mileage out of your waking hours. It’s a counter-intuitive concept (not really – we’ve just been culturally programmed to silence our powerful intuition). Forcing yourself awake is short-sighted; you’re going on borrowed time. Nature will have her way with you eventually, and you’ll find the reduced quality of your output doesn’t justify the extra hours you stuffed in.

Exercise

You knew this one was coming! But don’t worry, you need not exercise nearly as much as you may think. You can trigger the powerful hormonal cascade responses that improve your health and well being with rather minimalistic exercise routines. I suggest a kettlebell workout twice a week, or a “Peak 8” regimen. It’s important that you do some kind of weight training, even if you’re a woman. Running on a treadmill for 2 hours is a joke; you could get better results in terms of both appearance and health from 1 kettlebell session per week. The benefits? EVERYTHING.

Remember: you’re a human first and a singer second, so eat the healthiest diet possible and you’ll be the best singer possible – simple! Stick with this idea of “first principles” and you’ll also have the tools to untangle even the most complicated of knots as you progress along your journey in music…

The first time I saw the 2016 RS7, I knew that it was a car that I wanted to find out more about. Audi has always been a leader in the car industry, and for good reason. It is because they manufacture vehicles like the RS7. I liked everything about it from the shape and tires to the interior details that make this just a really great car. One of my favorite things about this car is the interior. The first time I sat in one and saw all the details and features, I just knew I had to have it.

Sitting in the driver’s seat, I was able to see a rather large display that had all the information that a driver wants at his or her fingertips. Continue reading “The Ideal Family Car for Us”