Sweet Thangs: Student Reviews - Allegra R.

Totally overjoyed by this sweet review over the Holiday Break from my longtime student, Allegra. 

I started working with Allegra 3 years(!) ago, and in that time I have seen her absolutely come into her own as a singer, performer, and creative. Allegra has performed in several Caveness Showcases, and has not only conquered her stage fright in impressive and inspiring fashion, but has also started to step into more singing roles with fellow musicians, and into exploring more of her identity as an artist. We've worked realllly hard on restoring her head voice, and building a strong, well-balanced, and beautiful sound she fully embodies and owns. 

Aside from this, Allegra is just such a damn sparkling light to be around. She is one of my favorite people to teach and work with, because we get VERY philosophical in our lessons - wondering about the deeper pieces our voices unlock for us as creators, women, and human beings. 

Thanks for the love, Allegra! I love you to pieces, my dear. <3

"Tracey is incredible. If you're looking for personalized, thorough, genuinely helpful voice lessons in the Bay go no further!

I've been seeing Tracey for weekly lessons for about three years, and in that time my voice has grown so much stronger, and I've gotten to know a great community of singers. She is able to identify what to work on for your particular voice, and how to hone your individual style so your mechanics and technique improve but your sound is still uniquely yours - just a better version! She's incredibly welcoming and supportive, and will push you forward when she sees you're ready.

For those interested in performing Tracey is great at nurturing this skill (as a seasoned performer herself) and has helped me go from major stage fright to feeling confident in front of an audience. She creates opportunities to perform regardless of your level, and provides great guidance on how to pursue your performing goals.

I can't say enough good things about Tracey and Caveness Voice. If you're thinking about it, do it!"

When Sickness Attacks: A (Busy) Singer's (Realistic) Guide to Preserving Your Voice

The Plague. Yes, getting sick is pretty much the worst. I grew up with a tough Mama who was of the belief that if you got up and got moving, you'd likely start to feel better; and I'm really thankful to this day for that mindset. But sometimes, we get sidelined by The Plague, and if you're a singer, this can be frustrating at best and highly inconvenient at worst. So. Here's the Singer's Guide to kicking those babies, and, most importantly, to preserving your voice if you've absolutely got to do a gig. Because time waits for no wo(man). 

First Twinge: H20 / Rest / Vitamin C

While we all know there's no cure for the common cold, there are a few things you can do during the first glimmers of a cold that I've found can nip that baby in the bud (ooh, catchy) and greatly reduce the severity and duration of it. This is my holy-grail-trifecta. Repeat after me:

H20

Rest

Vitamin C

These three seem pretty basic/obvious, and maybe you were looking for something more in the way of a magical healing spell (I'm working on it), but, as I usually tend to find about most things: they're classics for a reason. H20 obviously keeps you hydrated and yes, we all know water is the magical elixir of all of life's solutions, usually, but the REASON it is so important to take this seemingly-mundane and self-evident step is because it is the first crucial step in either a domino effect of very good things or very bad things. If you're hydrated, it thins out the mucus that is building up in your body. If the mucus is thinned, that means you won't have things like post-nasal-drip happening. If you don't have post-nasal drip, you won't be coughing as much. If you're not coughing as much, your vocal cords aren't slamming against one another with as much frequency and severity. If your vocal cords aren't slamming against one another, they won't get swollen. If your vocal cords aren't swollen, you're less likely to go hoarse or lose your voice completely. I think you see where I'm going with this. SO MUCH of what makes a cold miserable (and then leads to losing your voice), can be mitigated/eased by simply drinking, in completely-non-scientific terms, a metric shit-ton of water. Of course, all the caveats about not OVER-consuming water do need to apply here. Listen to your body and don't get crazy....but do get hydrated. 

Vitamin C is of course the classic cold-fighting hero we always hear about. And while Vitamin C won't eradicate the cold altogether, it can help, again, with decreasing the length of the cold and the severity of its symptoms, which are usually the culprits in voice loss and vocal damage. It's the symptoms - the scratchy throat (shoutout again to our bud H20!), the stuffed-up nose (shoutout to our bud H20!), the coughing (shoutout...okay, you get it) - that cause us to do all manner of overcompensating to sing around them when we're sick. So...best to minimize those symptoms as much as possible, so we're not having to twist ourselves into vocal pretzels to try and sang. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I load up on Vitamin C. And get high-quality supplements, or better yet, get your Vitamin C straight from the source: citrus. Whole citrus (even more so than juice) works the very best to deliver you the maximum amount of Vitamin C's benefits, so eat your Vitamin C if you can. Otherwise, I use Metagenics Ultra Potent-C and love it. If VItamin C bothers your stomach, make sure to take it with food, and again, listen to YOUR body: don't take a ton if you know you don't absorb it super well. Find the dosage that works for you, and then take. that. shit.

Rest.....this one is, honestly, the hardest one for me to do. It was the hardest one for me to even try; but, I really do think it's the shining star that allows the other bits to get in there and do their work. Read above about by Mama, but also: I'm a hardworking, hustling, Virgo. "Doing" is in my nature pretty inextricably. It's HARD for me to allow myself to really just do....nothing. But I've learned over the past couple years that if I can take a day (or as much of a day) and REST, whilst hydrating and loading up on Vitamin C, that it does wonders for how my body responds in the next days of the cold. Your body is fighting off a supervillain -it needs to not be preoccupied with handling a bunch of other bodily tasks whilst it fights said supervillain. So...this is your chance to Netflix, or read a book, or just nap, or take a bath....whatever feels good and, most importantly, relaxing to you. 

Vocal Rest

If you're able to get away with not talking as much as possible leading up to the gig (this is your chance to be all overly-dramatic diva and ring a bell for someone to fetch you your water with lemon, or whatever strikes your fancy), DO IT. Your vocal cords need all the help they can get. Let them be divas. Move phone calls to emails or other chats if you can, and just try to generally reduce how much you speak. If you DO need to speak, try to speak "on your cord." This means slightly elevating your pitch whilst speaking so that you're not unwittingly speaking in that vocal fry zone. Elevating your pitch will mean you're more properly engaging your vocal cords, not pushing to get your voice out while speaking, leading to more strain for when you need to put them to work to sing. It's generally the way you should be speaking anyway....but really pay attention to it now while you're trying to preserve your voice for the heavy lifting. 

So....that's my initial one-two-three punch. 

Singing While Sick

Can you warm-up, and practice, sing a gig, or just sing in general while sick? The usual and most basic answer most vocal teachers will say right off the bat is: NO. However, I want to add a caveat to that, especially for my professional singers. Here's the deal: it is always better, if you can, to avoid singing while you're sick. Remember all those symptoms that cause you to overcompensate when singing while sick? Those conditions are not optimal conditions for your instrument to be playing around outside in. When you are sick, your instrument is literally compromised - so there's that. It isn't going to sound the same, or work the same. You will lose notes for the time being - either at the top or bottom of your range. Your mix will feel more strained. Bad habits of squeezing, pushing, and reaching will invite themselves back into the party because your good technique took the night off. The voice is a tough little badass of an instrument; but it's also very delicate. Vocal cords are the size of a dime in women, and a nickel in men: those little ladies are doing a whole hell of a lot of heavy lifting, and that's on a good day. Longterm damage can be (and has been) done with just a single night of bad technique. I don't say this to scare you, but to give you a reverence for, and proper understanding of, your instrument. So. These are all things to consider. 

However...being a professional singer myself whose voice is literally her livelihood, sometimes, I can't take a night off. Sometimes I am partway through a tour. Sometimes a rehearsal has to happen. Work must be done. So, in this case, here are some helpful tips for ensuring the least possible damage, while needing to utilize that voice. 

1. Warm-Up! I mean it.

Warming Up is CRUCIAL on nights you are not in best voice. Like stretching for a marathon, your vocal cords need to be (gently) stretched out, limbered up, and taken for a little vocal-walk prior to the show. Singing scales where you comfortably can (don't push voice too high or too low right now - this isn't your Mariah or Freddie moment, people) - and singing them on OOH or EE vowels will be the most beneficial. 

2. The Head Voice: Your Best Friend

Here's another mind-blower: when you're sick, The Head Voice is your best friend. I know what you're thinking, but check it out: the Head Voice is actually the healing part of your voice. Since you're only using the inner edges of the vocal cords to sing up here, AND the vocal cords get their full stretch from front-to-back, it's very healing for the voice to sing up here. When people come in with trashed and troublesome voices, I ALWAYS check in on their Head Voice - having them sing (lightly, but with engagement of the cords) up here, and diagnosing any technique issues associated with singing up here. A lot of the time, we find some major placement issues, or a lack of development in this register - and I make a game plan to get them working in their Head Voices, stat. So. When you're sick, warming-up, gently, focusing on OOH and EE vowels, and singing in Head Voice, are all good rules of thumb.

3. Don't sing your heart out (not this time)

If you have a rehearsal you just can't get out of, there is no shame in not singing to your full level when you're sick. Communicate to your bandmates that you are under the weather, but that you didn't want to bail (though is rescheduling is an option/it isn't an urgent rehearsal, I'd recommend that). Let them know you will do what you can vocally, but that you'll likely be sitting out parts to preserve your voice. Anyone worth their salt won't push you or press you on that. Your voice is YOUR instrument, and YOU are in charge of protecting it and advocating for it. Just as they wouldn't let someone haphazardly play their instrument, don't ever let anyone bully you into doing something you're not comfortable with (this extends to many things, but I'll stick to vocal health for the moment!). Now, heads-up: if your band is anything like my band, and are your best friends who also enjoy ragging on each other all the time, they'll likely give you shit. Especially if you're a female, and especially if you're the lone female in the group. Say something sassy back and stand your ground. They understand. They're just being jerks. ;)

So, what are you going to do? You mark your parts. Maybe sing just the starts of phrases or crucial words that the rest of the band may cue off of. Sing what feels comfortable, at a comfortable volume and dynamic level, but the point here is to keep it easy-breezy. They just need to hear the basic vocal structure; they don't have to hear you belt it out right this instant. You can communicate things verbally if you don't feel up to singing them. Don't sing the super-belty parts; utilize Head Voice in place of a belt or mix. And stop immediately if you feel anything whatsoever hurt or tweak: better safe than sorry when it comes to our voices.

When you have to sing at a gig, maybe you don't belt quite as much. Utilize your Head Voice more than Belting (remember who your best friend is right now!), which can be really hard on an already-compromised voice. Maybe you find ways to deliver a strong performance that aren't as focused on the vocals - tap into the emotion of the song in a different way; interpret the repertoire in a more intimate, vulnerable, stripped-down way. Maybe you can focus on standing and delivering your vocals more than moving around, if you're a very physical performer like me. Performing for me on a good day is already really physical; add sickness to the mix, and it's usually best that I am focused on delivering my vocals. So, you change it up a bit. This might even be a really great opportunity to connect with your songs and audience in a different way. 

4. Drink a ton of water

Just reminding ya.

5. Change the setlist

If it's possible, changing the set list to include less-vocally-demanding songs can go a long way, too. If it's appropriate for the gig, doing a bit more of a mellow set is a great idea (and sometimes gives you a chance to sing songs you don't normally get to do/sing them in a new and different way, all cool potential bonuses). Or, change keys if your band is willing and able. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is just a couple half-steps. 

6. Ensure you can hear yourself

Make sure you have an adequate monitoring and microphone situation so you are certain you can hear yourself. Since your ears may be clogged (thank you again, mucus!), a poor sound situation on top of this can make it extra-challenging to hear yourself. Do yourself a favor by getting a soundcheck (if you can), and asking for more of your vocal in your monitors if you need to hear yourself better. Taking a little extra time now to ensure you can hear yourself, and asking for what you need (don't be shy!), will help a lot when you're in the moment of the performance and potentially overwhelmed by all the things happening all at once. This is actually just a great rule of thumb for any performance, I wanted to highlight it here too so you remember - in the midst of feeling awful, it can be hard to remember all the differing factors happening inside your body. 

7. Be on your best behavior

I know, so boring! Being sick is BORING. I get it. But. You want to keep your voice and I want you to, as well. So....be on your best behavior. What does that mean? Well. I realize this might be a bit of an idealistic proposition, but I'll just say it, and then you can't say I didn't at least try to impart the good decisions unto you. Your best behavior means listening to your body and taking care of it. All the H20, healthy food, vitamins, salt-water gurgles (see below), sinus-steams (see below), and remedies that make you feel better are SO crucial to do. Remember, while you're not curing the cold, of course, it's those symptoms we are trying to manage. Eyes on the prize, babies. It also means refraining from things such as drinking the alcohol, smoking the cigarettes or the marijuana, or doing the drugs. Far be it for me to be your Mom, so I won't tell you how to live your life. But, maybe while you're sick, think about these things. K? And lastly, "best behavior" means sticking to your very best Vocal Practices behavior. Making sure you don't push your voice in ways that you know are harmful, or pushing yourself too hard/far because you *really* need to sing that gig or get that note out. No gig or note is worth potentially damaging your voice for life. So take it easy. Listen to your body. 

Sickey Apothecary

Salt Water Gargle

For: sore, scratchy throats

Things you'll need: salt, warm water

Dissolve 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Gently gargle the water. Guaranteed to make your raw throat feel instantly better. Not recommended for young children (read: under 6), as they amy not be able to gargle properly. I'm personally not a big fan of lozenges, as I feel like the sugar in them almost just perpetuates the problem, so try this instead. 

Herbal Steam

For: cough, congestion, sinus pressure, clogged ears

Things you'll need: a large pot or bowl, water, tea kettle (if using a bowl as opposed to pot), 1 tbsp. of desired herbs (some good ones are eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, oregano, thyme, peppermint, basil), towels

Boil about an inch of water in pot or tea kettle. Once water has boiled, remove pot from heat and place on a flat, sturdy, stable surface. Place on top of a towel so its not hot on the countertop/surface. Add dried herbs you want to use. Stir well, and cover for 1-2 minutes. Lift lid, ensuring the temperature isn't too hot for your face. Lean down and place face over pot or bowl, covering your head with a towel to trap the steam in. Try to allow as little air to escape as possible. Breathe in the steam deeply and slowly for 10mins. You can inhale through the nose and out through the mouth, or just through the nose. Experiment to see what loosens things up the most. If mucus falls into the pot or bowl (I know, gross, but this is the whole point here!), just let it. Once finished, thoroughly clean the pot or bowl and dispose of the mixture. Of course, the normal caveats apply: be careful with heat and steam, and never reuse the water/herb mixture. Use caution with boiling water and any hot surfaces. This is also not recommended for young children, and pregnant women should consult their doctor before working with any kind of herbs. 

Tea

People frequently ask me about tea as a remedy for the cold. Tea is great, but do remember caffeinated teas are dehydrating; many people think they're also hydrating since they're drinking water, but this is, sadly, not the case. So just make sure you're still supplementing with the appropriate amount of water whilst drinking your tea. My favorite tea for singing is Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals: made with slippery elm and licorice & marshmallow root, it's like magical slippery hydration for your vocal cords. I swear by Throat Coat when I need to sing on a ragged throat. 

Medicine: What Should I Take?

This can be a bit of a tricky one. You want to take something - anything - right now to alleviate your symptoms so you don't feel like death-warmed-over; and so that you can get back to singing already. The reason it's tricky is because a lot of medicines will either a) dry you out or b) exacerbate the symptoms down the line, alleviating them momentarily, but then bringing them back with a vengeance once the medicine wears off. My first line of defense is honestly to try to head the sickness off at the pass, as I detailed above. That's always been the best method for me. However, I get when the sickness sets in, and you have to sing, you'll pretty much do anything to get your voice to sound and feel at least somewhat normal. So, with that in mind, I'd recommend taking a decongestant about an hour or so before you need to sing, if you're really stuffed-up, congested, and it's causing you to sneeze/cough/sniff/blow your nose constantly. Make sure not to overdo it - the price you usually pay for drying the symptoms up momentarily is that they come back a little more intensely after the medicine has worn off, so keep hydrating and be prepared for that. Natural expectorants can be great for getting a lot of mucus out; just be prepared to be MORE snotty when using these, as their job is literally to get the mucus out. As far as lozenges and throat sprays go....I'm honestly not a fan. I know there are a lot of these "miracle" sprays out there that numb the throat, etc, and these sound like a great idea....but think about it. Numbing your throat is going to dull your pain response - making it that much more likely that you'll push your voice, without even the benefit of realizing that you could be hurting yourself. I also have found that they irritate my throat more. So. I'd recommend against them, and go the more natural route. 

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Well. I think that concludes this super-thrilling, super-fun manifesto about mucus and bodily fluids. Yay!

I hope you all have a healthy, herby, cozy Holiday Season. 

Sweet Thangs: Student Reviews - Madeleine K.

Another lovely Yelp review, written by my brief, but lovely, student Madeleine K. 

Madeleine reached out to me serendipitously as I was running a special package promotion, as she needed a vocal coach to help her get singing-ready to sing a song at her wedding to her new husband. She told me her sister and maid of honor had convinced her to sing a rendition of "My Guy" at her reception - complete with background singing and a choreographed dance. Needless to say, I was sold!

Madeleine was a blast to work with, and all sources say she KILLED IT at her wedding. Here's what she had to say!:

"Tracey helped me grow my confidence and ability to sing a song to my husband at our wedding reception. She was incredibly supportive and flexible and really worked with me to get my voice where I wanted it to be. For someone who doesn't sing regularly, Tracey is a huge help and I really enjoyed working with her."

<3

 

Creativity Sessions: Oblique Strategies

When I do a creativity/writing session with a student, I typically like to bust out my creative-secret-weapon: Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies. 

Brian Eno is a legendary music producer known for his work with David Bowie, Talking Heads, David Byrne, amongst many others. He's pioneered a lot of sounds in the musical world, and his Music For Airports (and other ambient/soundscape work) is one of my favorite albums for writing to. As a pioneering producer, Eno would use these "oblique strategies" with artists he was working with in the studio. When they'd hit a roadbump, or get blocked creatively, he'd try to help pull them out of said block with these very interesting prompts, to get them to think outside the box. Phrases such as, "Don't break the silence," "Is there something missing?," and What to increase? What to reduce?," were just some of the seemingly open-ended questions he would ask the artists. 

Creatively, I am a big fan of indirect routes. I can rarely come right at my creativity head-on; but almost need to trick my brain into a different wavelength or space to be able to really free things up to create. Thus: I love the Oblique Strategies. 

An old student gifted me a set of these coveted cards (Eno eventually made them into a set of cards, housed in an opaque and mysterious black box, that you can purchase on his website), and I swear by them. My love for them is further deepened by the fact that they are sort of like creative Tarot cards: pretty much every single time I have a student pull a card for themselves during a creative session, it is eerily on-theme with something we have just been discussing in terms of how they're feeling, what they're going through, what they know they need to be focusing on, etc. 

The other day, my girl Aimee T.  and I were doing a freewrite/lyric session, and I had her pull two cards, at two different times during our lesson, and after I'd re-shuffled the deck between each selection. These are the two cards she came up with. She told me she just recently had a conversation with a friend about how she needs to just "put in the work" on her creative endeavors. Serendipity! 

IMG_0399.JPG

I have much I can say about putting in the work creatively versus waiting for divine inspiration to strike us. I will likely write about this in a forthcoming Creativity Sessions post. But for now: just do the work, loves. <3

Happy Creating.

Singing 101: Vocal Type: Bass, Tenor, Alto, Soprano?

What Is My Range?

This is one of the first questions I always get from a new student, and I think it's a very important thing to determine. Determining one's vocal range can show us where our trouble spots are, and point us in the direction of which registers need further work and developing. It can also help us to understand why certain notes may be consistently difficult for us, and help give us a sense of which songs and keys may be best for our voices - after all, working within YOUR ideal range is only going to serve the song and performance the most, and that's what we're here to do. Yes, we should always be challenging ourselves and striving for growth - but knowing where your voice lies will help you to work more efficiently and productively (and, honestly, joyfully!) within your voice. I want to reiterate once again that this should by no means be seen as a limiting or static placement. As an Alto myself, there are certain notes and songs written for Sopranos that I will literally NEVER be able to sing (well) in the original key. I still challenge myself to work my voice out as low and as high as I (healthily) can. Vocal Classifications are a little more Classical than I usually subscribe to, as I think there can be a lot of misconception about Voice Typing, and it can lead to some rigid, archaic ideas about developing ONLY one register above all else. But I am deciding to include it in this 101 Series because I think it can actually be used practically, and can be a helpful guidepost along the way. If you read through my Vocal Registers post, you should know that all ranges are relative - meaning, a Soprano may be more comfortable singing in her Head Voice register, but she DOES have a Chest Voice register that is not only available to her, but needs to be worked-out and developed for a fully-developed voice**. Her Chest Voice register, however, will consist of relatively-higher pitches than, say, the pitches that make up the Chest Voice register for an Alto. If it helps you to visualize this, go look at a piano. A piano is a linear instrument, and you can see all the keys laid-out like a spectrum, which is why it's very helpful for many singers to visualize their range and registers on the keys of the piano. It will also be useful for the next section, coming up in 3...2....1....

Range Vs. Tessitura

Tessi-whaaa?! Tessitura, silly. Oh, right, it's 2017. No one uses these words anymore. So. There's an important distinction just to note between your Range, and where in your range your voice is gonna shiiiine like a star. Sing smooth like butter. Feel super-gratifying, fun, and easy to sing within. This is the sweet spot of your voice. 

Tessitura refers to a singer's most aesthetically-pleasing and comfortable vocal range (what I was just talkin' about!).

Your Range refers to ALL the notes you can sing (or "manage to eke out" - let's be real, here!). 

You have a whole range available to you, but where you FEEL the most comfortable, and the voice sounds its best, is how your Voice Classification is determined. This is actually a kind of cool concept, in that your range may cover some notes from different Voice Classifications! Nerdy excitement abounds. For instance: I'm an Alto, as I've (proudly - I just kind of love being an Alto!) mentioned previously. However, my full range contains some Tenor notes, Alto notes, Mezzo (Second) Soprano notes, and - wait for it - even some Soprano notes (there's where that "eke out" bit comes into play!). I can totally sing up in the Second Soprano range....but I looooove being in my full Alto, low, belty, full, sultry glory. It's just my jam. It's where I feel my girls (my vocal cords, duh) do their best work, and where I feel the most comfy when I sing - like I can really dig in. Therefore, I'm an Alto, baby.

All that being said, here are the Vocal Classifications, from lowest to highest:

Male Voices

Bass | Baritone | Tenor

Female Voices

Alto | Mezzo (Second Soprano) | Soprano

 

Voice Classifications: A Breakdown

A note on how ranges are listed: Middle C is commonly referred to as C4 (the 4th C note on a regular 88-kay piano, thus, C4). Anything below Middle C will be listed with a 3 (for example, the A below Middle C is called A3), and anything above it will be listed with a 4 (the A above Middle C is called A4). Once you get to C5, the notes are listed with....you got it: a 5. 

Bass

The Bass is considered the lowest male vocal type. Range is usually G2-E4, with most comfortable notes being generally between G2-A3.

Baritone

 The Baritone is higher than the Bass, and lower than the Tenor. Typical range is between F2-G4.

Tenor

The highest of the male voice types. Range is typically between C3-G4, although it should be noted (pun intended, ha) that their highest notes do tend to vary from singer to singer. Tenors may also possess notes from the Alto, or even Second Soprano ranges, that they can sing easily and clearly in Falsetto. 

Alto

The lowest of the women's voice types. Typical range for an Alto is between E3-E5.

Mezzo (Second Soprano)

The Mezzo or Second Soprano is higher than the Alto, and lower than the Soprano. Their range is usually between A3-F5.

Soprano

Sopranos are the highest female voice type. Their range is typically between C4-A5 (and, in Classical and Opera, typically even higher!) I know. The thought blows my mind.

Register Ranges.jpg

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Your Unique Voice

So, where do most people lie? The majority of people tend to fall in the middle: men are typically Baritones, whilst most women are typically Second Sopranos. Basses and Sopranos, for example, are actually more rare than one might think; though with popular music's focus on high notes/music written for Sopranos, one might think this is a prevalent vocal type. Not so.

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I have many thoughts on Voice Type, and embracing your voice. The voice is SUCH a personal thing - and part of the struggle to accept our voices, I think, is directly tied-in to our struggle to accept ourselves. Think about it. We spend an awful lot of time comparing ourselves to others, and having a general existential worry that we are somehow not "enough." That we should be taller, shorter, thinner, more muscular, prettier, tanner, paler, smooth-haired or wavy-haired, etc, etc. The list goes on and on. And I think that extends to our voices. I know it does. So. Something I really try to impress upon my students is this idea of what is YOUR voice? What are the colors/textures/tones/vibes that come out naturally in YOUR voice? What makes you really want to sing the hell out a particular song? And how can we best capture YOUR sound? Not someone else's - but YOURS? 

There is so much of a general competitive and mud-slinging nature to much of our mainstream discourse on singers, and singing in general. American Idol became a hit for the impressive singers, sure; but also because a lot of America liked to sit around snickering at the not-as-naturally-musical ones. So: everyone thinks they're an expert, though I guarantee you most people haven't really tried to sing in their whole lives. I think there's way too much of this obsession in our culture with "how high of a note can you hit?" - as if this is somehow a litmus test of real vocal prowess. Yes, high notes are impressive. Sure, we all want to be able to bust out a note most people can only dream of. But it isn't the end-all, be-all. Trust. There is SO MUCH dynamic available to you, whether you are a Soprano or not - how you develop the voice YOU possess is what counts. The voice is an extension of you, which really is the most personal instrument there is - to me, the true expression you can find within your voice, with all of its limitations AND its beauty - is where the magic really lies. Moral of the story: don't be so fixated on being one certain voice type, or sounding just like someone else that you neglect to really give the world YOUR voice. There's no other voice out there that is exactly just like yours. That may sound totally cliche (and I get it, it kind of is), but if you think about it, it is literally true: your voice is absolutely, 100% unique to YOU, because it has everything to do with how your body is built. That's pretty damn cool, I think. SO, let it out babycakes!

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(**Of course, I am speaking strictly from a Contemporary Vocal Technique point of view - if you are a strictly Classical or Opera singer, this may not be the proper advice. Unfortunately, if that is the case, this *may* not be the best blog for you - I don't want to contradict any of the more Classical technique approaches if that's what you are training for!)

Acoustic Perception: Why You Hate The Sound Of Your Own Voice

This article details it much more scientifically than I can.

Suffice to say, the struggle is real, babies. Out of character, I'm going to keep this short instead of being my usual verbose-self. But, for the TL;DR version: you hear your voice differently than we, the listeners, hear it. You hear your voice inside a muffled box (your skull!). We do not (duh). 

SO. Making peace with this (I know, it's a tough pill to swallow), and then learning how to properly calibrate your own perception of how you're singing, and the sound/tone quality that that results in, is an important part of your vocal journey. Particularly in Head Voice (see my Range & Registers post for more info on Registers), we often perceive our voices as too light/weak, and therefore overcompensate to make the sound more "full" and "powerful." This is a seductive and disastrous trap. Working with a knowledgeable voice teacher who can help you determine when you're singing in justright, or when you might be overcompensating (resulting in a strained quality/unpleasant tone quality/pitch issues/etc), is invaluable.

Inquire within with more insight/help with this. 

<3

Singing 101: Range & Registers

Chest Voice, Head Voice, and The Mix, oh my.

I'm gonna come right out the gate and say it: when it comes to Vocal Range, contrary to popular (and very stubborn) belief, size does not matter. It's about what you do with your range that matters.

Yes, really. 

Vocal Range refers to all the pitches a person's voice can produce, from the very lowest note, to the highest. There are a few genetic and determining factors that relate to an individual's Vocal Range (which I won't get into right this moment), and how high or low their voices will sit, as well as how many pitches they can produce. I can certainly jump down this rabbit hole in a future post, but for now, it's important to know that a person's vocal range is 1) somewhat genetic/pre-determined/set and 2) malleable, in the sense that, once properly developed, and with correct technique utilized to create pitches, one's perceived range may either shift, or notes can be added, etc. 

That being said, ALL OF US (yes, even you, Basses, and Sopranos) have three Vocal Registers available to us. And I absolutely insist that every one of my students builds out all three. Even if you never want to sing high notes, even if you never want to sing anything other than ridiculously-high-glass-shattering Pop songs - it's absolutely imperative for a well-rounded, well-developed, dynamic voice to have your full range developed. I've written previously about how ridiculous it would be to build a house without a roof, or a foundation, for that matter. And the voice is kind of the same way. Want to be able to belt, to sing with power, to *sound like your voice is one register all the way up? Then you gotta put in the work, babies. 

First Things First: What is Pitch? What Is Tone?

Pitch and Tone are two different things. 

Pitch is the actual note (or frequency) you are singing in a melody or scale. Very simply put, it is the "highness" or "lowness" of a note. When you sing, you create pitch according to the speed at which your vocal cords vibrate.

Tone is the color of a pitch. Tones can be described as warm, bright, strident, clear, ringing, rich, shrill, breathy, smoky, etc. Tone is partly innate and personal to you, but different tones can also be honed as vocal effects. 

How We Produce Pitch

Pitch is sound frequency - the highness, or lowness, of a note being sung or played. This waveform is created by how fast or slow our vocal cords vibrate. A faster vibration creates what we perceive to be a higher frequency/pitch, whereas a slower vibration creates a lower frequency/pitch. As mentioned above, there are a couple genetic/physical factors that determine the physical makeup of our vocal cords (these involve the thickness and length of the vocal cords), but for our purposes today, I only want to focus on Tension.

Thinking of our vocal cords sort of like a rubber band, imagine tightening and loosening a rubber band to make a looser or more taut opening. This is basically how our vocal cords work. As mentioned in my Singing 101: How The Voice Works post, there are two sets of muscles that control the vocal cords: The Thyroid Muscle Group and the Arytenoid Muscle Group. These muscles are responsible for the tension of the vocal cords. The tighter the tension means less slack, which means the vocal cords vibrate at a faster rate: creating a higher pitch. Alternately, looser/less slack creates a slower vibration, creating lower notes. It is very important to teach our bodies how to effectively and properly produce these notes so that when we hear a note we want to sing, we have built up enough muscle memory for the brain to send a signal to the Thyroid and Arytenoid muscles to create the EXACT amount of tension needed to create that note. 

Let me pause to say: Don't overthink this too much. This is an unconscious physical act that your body KNOWS how to achieve. It isn't your job to intellectualize pitch and thus get all tense about it (which will make it harder to hit the note, frustratingly). You only need to get comfortable with relying on your ear and trusting that you KNOW innately how to match a pitch you hear. If you find you cannot do this reliably, Ear Training is a good fix for this. :)

The Three Registers - All The Notes In Our Range

Let's start by thinking of our voices as a spectrum, with a multitude of colors, tones, and textures throughout. I'll let you pick the color scheme that best suits you. Have a ball. It can be rainbow-colored or totally morose. I'm into 70s, Frank Lloyd Wright tones myself, but I can get down with some sparkle in my vocal-color-scheme. Anyway. 

A spectrum, and it is sort of loosely divided into three different sections: Chest Voice, Mix, and Head Voice.

Chest Voice

Chest Voice refers to our low notes. Think warm, full, heavy tones. This is the "bottom" of our range, and is likely (though not always - Sopranos and Tenors - lookin' at you, maybe) pretty comfortable for most of you. We speak in our Chest Voices. It's a pretty full sound, and we can feel it resonating in our bodies (namely, in our chest cavity) when we are singing or speaking here. 

The Chest Voice is controlled by a set of muscles called the Thyroid Muscle group. The Thyroid group is a heavier set of muscles than the Arytenoids, which control the Head Voice. The Thyroid muscle group is located in the front of the larynx (the front of the throat). Another interesting (super cool) fact about Chest Voice is that we are using the full vocal cord (called the Basic layer - there are also three layers to your vocal cord) when we sing down here. That's partly why the sound is so much more heavy and full.  

Head Voice

Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we have our Head Voice. Head Voice is our high notes. (This is what most men commonly refer to as "Falsetto", although Falsetto is truly another register/technique altogether, and has been pretty widely misused, causing a lot of confusion). For our purposes, I am going to refer to Head Voice for both men and women, to describe our higher register. 

Head Voice is experienced as a "lighter" tone quality than the Chest Voice. This is the spot in our voices that is light, floaty, ethereal, bright. You may feel it in your forehead, temples, or top of your head when you sing up here. You may even experience feeling lightheaded when you start singing up here - this is normal, and the sensation will go away the more you train the voice. 

The Head Voice is controlled by the Arytenoid Muscle group - a smaller set of muscles at the back of the larynx. Another thing to note when singing in Head Voice is that only the inner edge of the vocal cords is vibrating together, creating sound - we are no longer using the full weight of the vocal cord (known as the Basic Layer) when singing our high notes. Again, think of how this translates to how Head Voice feels: lighter, and almost as if it is coming from another place almost outside of our bodies. 

Mixed Voice

Now, imagine there is a little bridge connecting the Chest and Head Voices. This is your Mix. This is commonly also referred to as your Middle Voice, Break, or the Passagio, for those Classical peeps out there. Simply put, this part of your voice is a "mix" of both Chest Voice and Head Voice. This is the spot in most peoples' voices that feels strained, weak, or may even crack or break. This is NORMAL and it is OKAY. The reason the Mix is often so hard to sing in is because if you think about a bridge, the middle part is the most structurally-weak. If you think of it from a physiological standpoint, this is the point in your voice where BOTH sets of muscles need to be working equally - each pulling their own weight, so to speak. If one of them is weaker than the other, it makes this part of the voice - and the ensuing just-so tension required to sing successfully here - very challenging indeed. I usually like to use the analogy of doing a push-up. If I told you to do a push-up and then asked you to pause - and hold - halfway back up, it would be harder than getting the full extension and release. It would require a different kind of strength and training to hold the tension just so. It's kind of similar with your mix. 

So....how the hell do we work through this? The answer is to first ensure proper development of both the Chest and Head registers. Head Voice, in particular, is critical to developing a strong Mixed Voice. Most people's Head Voices are under-developed due to the simple fact that we don't spend a lot of time up in here - we don't speak up high at these higher pitches, so those muscles don't have a lot of strength or even opportunity to really work. Therefore, they're not really holding up their end of the bargain. This is why I make everyone, regardless of how high or low their natural voice is pitched, work on developing a healthy and strong Head Voice. 

Vocal Cracks: A Note 

I want to pause really quickly to say something about Vocal Cracks. I get it. NO ONE likes to hear (or feel) their voice crack, or break. Some people's "break" manifests in literal cracks or breaks; other peoples' do not. Whether yours does literally crack and break or not, it's important to know that vocal cracks are caused by nothing more than weak muscle groups. Again, going back to the idea of both muscle groups needing to be holding their own weight and tension to create a certain pitch frequency: if one of the muscle groups is too weak to "hold" their level of tension, they will fatigue, and basically "drop" the tension, throwing the entire job to the other register. This is what causes the voice to crack. Imagine if you and your buddy were moving and carrying a heavy couch. Now. imagine one of you drops your end of the couch unexpectedly. Aside from this being decidedly not cool, it would cause the other person to have to take on ALL the weight of the couch, and they'd stumble under this sudden weight shift. Developing strength in BOTH sets of muscles will help to smooth out vocal cracks. If cracks persist, placement (how you are approaching a certain pitch - another post coming soon on this idea!), and tension need to be looked at, as well as any psychological blocks around nervousness and singing. When we're tense, this can lead to cracks, too. We'll discuss further at a later date. 

*Sounding Like One Register All The Way Up: A Fallacy

One more note on this notion of your voice needing to sound like one register all the way up. 

I pretty much wholeheartedly disagree with this notion. I think it is not only incredibly misleading in terms of how the voice actually works, but has even caused A LOT of damage and unrealistic expectations for a lot of singers. 

Sure, I understand what people MEAN when they express this desire. You don't want your voice to sound powerful, and then, all the sudden, flip into a weaker place that is jarring and unsupported-sounding. I get this. I don't want that for you either. But the idea that your voice should sound like one register (i.e. Chest Voice) the whole way up is going to lead to some majorly problematic vocal approaches - namely, taking your Chest Voice up way too high, which can result in a strained tone quality at best, and some significant vocal damage at worst. 

As described above, your voice is a spectrum, and it NEEDS to move through different pitch frequencies in order to move through itself. Therefore, what works at one frequency is not going to work successfully for another. The voice needs to be able to move freely, make adjustments, and explore (and express) a wide range of sounds and colors. This is literally how it works. Trying to force it to all sound like a Chest Voice is not only vocally unhealthy, it is very one-dimensional. This idea of one whole register seems, to me, to be rooted in Musical Theatre, and has permeated popular opinion so much that people spout it off as "good singing" left and right. I am by no means vilifying the Musical Theatre community, but an important thing to understand about a lot of those badass Broadway singers is not that their voice IS one register the whole way up, but that they've TRAINED to make it SOUND AS IF it is strong all the way up. There is a big difference here. You can absolutely do this, too - if you (you guessed it) do all your vocal technique due diligence and develop a voice that is healthy, well-balanced, strong - and ready to learn these techniques. 

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Returning to the idea of everyone having these three registers available to them, it is important to note that everyone DOES indeed have a lower register, upper register, and a combination of the two. If you are a Bass, that will be relative to the potential range of notes that are physically  available to you to produce. This will be entirely different for you than it will be for someone who is a Soprano. Your Head Voice will exist in a certain range of pitches, just as your Chest Voice will, and Mix. But it is still a Head Voice - it is where YOURS sits. Once Chest Voice and Head Voice are properly developed, that will start to fill-in some of these Mixed Voice notes. At that point, you will be ready to deepen your Vocal practice by diving into the murky (but exhilarating!) waters of the Mixed Voice, where you can start exploring different sounds, tones, and timbres, as well as other really cool vocal techniques such as Belting and the Pharyngeal Voice (an advanced vocal technique, not another register, per se). 

I hope this was illuminating, and can explain some of what you might be experiencing with your voice but might not have been able to put words to. 

As always, keep kicking ass and singing your damn hearts out. <3

 

 

Honor Your Process

Today, I had a discussion with a dear friend (and former roommate) who lives in Paris. 

He is a beautiful, quiet, artistic soul who is a filmmaker, and (published in France, soon-to-be published in the US & UK!) writer, with whom I have heart-to-hearts via FaceTime every couple of weeks. Our talks always hearten me, comfort me, and inspire me. He is too humble and modest to maybe fully believe me - but his is a golden light of companionship in a world that can feel so lonely and isolating: the artistic world inside of us. 

Today, I really needed to hear someone tell me this, and I, in turn, will tell you:

Your creative process is valid. 

Your creative process is however the work comes out.

Your creative process isn't how a million books, experts, other artists, friends, mentors, or your heroes tell you it should be. 

Your creative process is YOURS.

Honor it.

Droplets or Deluge

It's only(!) taken me until now, the age of 32, to recognize, and (fitfully) embrace my own creative process. I have a confession to make: I am a droplet-creator. I work in dribs and drabs, little droplets from the font of inspiration. I get an idea, a line, a snippet of a melody, or a sliver of verse in my head, and I scribble it down. I can maybe write one or two more lines, but usually, more often than not: THAT IS IT. No more from me today. Sometimes I do get the onslaught, the deluge, the purging of something big that just comes OUT, all at once. That is the absolute best. I cherish those treasured pieces. But, more often than not, it is inglorious, unglamorous, and, honestly, kind of mundane: I patch the pieces together, build on it, little by excruciatingly little, until, one day....I have some Thing. Even writing this now, in the name of accepting one's creative process, I feel like a slacker. I should lock myself in a room for 7 hours! Not emerge until I have a finished product, for better or worse! I should force pen to paper and my mind to the task of Creating! But, alas, I don't create anything of any damn worth that way. The more I force it, the more trite, the more crappy the writing and the ensuing product. You should see just some of the crap I can come up with when I'm forced to write. It's....special.

I'd LOVE to be one of those people who could sit for HOURS writing, writing, writing. Getting lost in the flow. And, you know...I DO. Eventually. But for me, the magical state known as "The Flow" doesn't honestly happen until there's more meat on the bones. Everything up to that point is, honestly, frustratingly slow. I'd LOVE to be prolific, churning out material every day, every couple of days, or even every couple of months. But, alas....I'm not. 

And, newsflash: Willing my process to be different and beating myself up about it haven't changed it. Neither makes me more prolific, nor does it make me feel inspired. Pressuring myself to CREATE doesn't make me feel creative. It just makes me feel pressured. You know what stifles creativity? Feeling tense, stressed, or pressured. Hello, vicious cycle.

Organization & Chaos

Talking to my friend today, he said something really meaningful. He said that when he started writing his now-published book, that it was A MESS. He'd start writing for the Intro, only to find he needed to then pivot to writing for the 4th Chapter. He said it made little to no sense whatsoever - and only until he got the whole thing assembled, did it start to make any semblance of sense at all. 

I realized I have been had two different factions fighting for control: The Organizer, and The Dreamer. The Dreamer NEEDS the space to create, needs the space to not follow a train of thought, needs the space to play, needs to be almost be tricked into another brain-space altogether; in essence, it needs the chaos. The Organizer, on the other hand, NEEDS things to be linear, to take shape in a way that makes sense, to be built step-by-step in a practical step-by-step process; it abhors the chaos. Each is there to help me, but I'm not letting either do its job at the appropriate moment: I'm trying to honor them both by letting them both run amok at the same time. And that just ain't gonna work. I need to allow for the chaos, for the raw, unfiltered thoughts, emotions, word associations, weird (potentially crap) ideas to have their moment to get messy and make a mess of everything. Once I honor The Dreamer's needs to get out what it needs to get out - in the way it needs to get it out - then I can open the door, and let The Organizer be the taskmaster, cleaning up, making sense, tightening the loose ends. 

Is my process the way I wish it looked? Not exactly. It would be so much easier to be able to follow a process, an outline, churn out material like nobody's business. But the all-or-nothing approach doesn't work for me; neither does trying to force my process into a mold of what I think, or read, that it should be. 

What's your creative process? How do you work best? What do you notice happens naturally, when you're not forcing it? 

Honor that. Find what works for you, and do it, in as little or as big of chunks as your process dictates. Is it weird? Never heard of anyone doing it like that? Is it mind-numbingly boring and normal? Is it mundane? Is it completely round-about? GREAT. DO THAT.

I'm wishing you all more peace with your process, and more adventure within it. 

<3

My Students Do Rad Things: Carlo Prado - NY Music Box Live

Caveness is invading NYC!

Caveness Alumnus, and one of my favorite people ever, Carlo Prado, is making his New York vocal debut Oct. 26th @ The Five Spot as part of NY Music Box Live. 

Carlo debuted his original music from his forthcoming EP at the Caveness Showcase in August, and it was such a special honor to get to be instrumental in getting him up on that stage. Carlo is a natural as a performer, and a soulful singer and songwriter to boot. Being a part of his journey as an artist has been one of those great, deeply-fulfilling joys of Caveness Voice. It's moments like these, seeing my students out there in the world sharing their music, and fully-embodying their artistry, that Caveness is all about.

Wishing Carlo all the luck and love in his NY debut! <3

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The Home of Caveness Voice: Haight Ashbury Music Store

I LOVE the Haight Ashbury Music Store. It's been the home of Caveness Voice (after, of course, my own home, where I *did* teach some of my earliest students in my living room - a couple of you remember this time!) for the past three years, and as the only resident vocal coach AND woman, these guys look out for me and have always been so supportive of my business and students. 

HAMC is a San Francisco legacy business, meaning it's been serving the community for 30+ years, and is considered a historical asset to the city. As someone who is a big believer in small business, living your dreams, and contributing in meaningful ways to the fabric of our individual communities, this distinction aligns perfectly with what Caveness is all about. I'm honored to get to support this shop, and the lovely, talented, and knowledgeable musicians who make their living here - in turn, they have housed Caveness and for that, I am eternally grateful.

So, for those of your curious to know about the larger space that Caveness calls home: 

Here's a fun little (guitar-heavy) video tour of HAMC!

Singing 101: How The Voice Works

One of the first things I go over with all of my students is how the voice works. 

I know, it seems like that should be a given, right?! 

You'd be surprised how little most people know about HOW the voice works. I've even run across voice teachers who, somewhat perplexingly, don't know how it works. How can you properly assess what's holding a student back, and effectively guide them towards better tools and habits, if you don't know how the instrument works? How can YOU use your instrument if you don't know how it works? Any other musician playing any other instrument knows how their instrument works - the nuts and bolts that make it tick. The same should be true for singing if you are to use your voice the way you want, and have a longlasting relationship with it (whether it be professionally, or just personally!). 

So. Let's talk about how your voice works, shall we?

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The Players: How The Body Produces Sound

When you start to sing, air comes up from your lungs (no, not the diaphragm!), travels through the trachea (your "windpipe"), comes up into your larynx "your "voicebox"), and passes between your vocal cords. When the air strikes the cords, they begin to vibrate. The cords, meanwhile, have stretched to a specific pitch opening, thus creating pitch. The vocal cords produce the sound, and the air propels the sound out of the body. 

The Larynx

What the hell is a larynx?! In short, it's your Adam's Apple (more pronounced in men than in women, but we can still feel it in the same spot, ladies!). It's something of a cylinder in your throat - a cylinder made up of cartilage and muscles. 

Okay, but what the hell is it?! It serves as a little protective box for your vocal cords to be housed in. 

The Vocal Cords

Yes, it's spelled "cords" - and yes, it's one of my major pet peeves to see this spelled incorrectly. Nerd alert. 

Inside of your larynx, are two vocal cords, right next to each other, running from the front of the larynx to the back. Think of these like a rubber band. It will help later. It's this stretch (like a rubber band stretches) that creates and modifies pitches while singing. Depending on the pitch, the size of the teeny-tiny opening between the cords will shift. Every single has its very own size stretch, therefore its own size opening through which the air passes. The stretch of the cord is what determines how large (lower) or small (higher) the opening or pitch will be.

The Muscle Groups

I know what you're thinking now: there are MUSCLE GROUPS?! I thought I just needed to take a big old breath and push my air out and hope for the best!

Nope. There are muscle groups that control your vocal cords, and they, my friends, are YOUR friends. 

There are two main muscle groups responsible for what I like to call the "heavy lifting" of singing. Remember, these muscle groups are what stretch the vocal cords to create different pitches, as the air passes between them, causing them to vibrate. These muscle groups are called the arytenoid (head voice/high notes) and thyroid (chest voice/low notes) muscles. The arytenoid muscles are smaller, and are located at the back of the larynx and control the head voice. The thyroid muscles are heavier and are located at the front of the larynx. They control the chest voice. 

Resonators & Articulators

This is just a fancy way of referring to all the other players. We'll get more in-depth with these guys as we discuss tone and resonance, which are absolutely key, key, key in singing well.

Your resonators and articulators are basically the tongue, teeth, lips, jaw, palates, and pharynx.

ARE YOU NERDING OUT YET?! I am. The voice is so cool, and while it may seem right now like there are about one million moving parts, I promise you'll start to see them all grouped together as part of one big, beautiful, well-oiled machine. 

The resonators and articulators are responsible for taking the sound you're producing down there in the larynx with your vocal cords, and creating a resonating chamber (think of a big, old church with high, vaulted ceilings. Don't those places sound gorgeous? That's sort of what we're going for, but in our bodies. COOL.) in which to build on that sound. If you think of your body as an instrument, like an acoustic guitar, you'll see that the way everything is shaped in there can make a HUGE difference in the kind of sounds you get. 

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The cool thing about all this is now you know how this amazing instrument of yours works! Again, I know it may seem overwhelming at first, but I encourage you to look up some pictures online (erm....pictures of actual vocal cords are sort of NSFW....just a warning....you'll see why) or diagrams and really try to get a sense of how all these little pieces and pulleys work together. The sort-of-frustrating-news is that, since there ARE so many little pieces working all at once, there could one or a few that are sort of getting in your way, and it can be challenging to parse out which ones those might be, if you're not a trained vocal technician. Finding and working (even for a few sessions) with a well-trained voice teacher, who knows her (or his) vocal pedagogy is a great way of getting feedback about any bad habits or tension you might have in any of these areas. And of course, any voice teacher worth her (or his) salt will be able to offer kind, compassionate, and constructive feedback towards that end, as well as ideas and exercises to help steer you towards healthier habits. 

Happy Singing and Vocal Pedagogy study, my dearests. <3

Sweet Thangs: Student Reviews - Liz K.

Some kind words from the lovely Liz, who's been with me for a few years now, participated in several Caveness showcases, and has started working on accompanying her singing with piano, now too.

So proud of how she's found her unique voice and become braver and bolder in sharing it. <3 

"I've been taking lessons from Tracey for about four years and I can't even begin to describe what a difference she has made in my life!  I've gone from being petrified of talking in a meeting or standing on a stage to feeling much more comfortable performing (or at least appearing to be comfortable, there's always some element of fear!).  I appreciate the community that Tracey has created for aspiring singers.  I've grown as a person because Tracey is inspirational and helps me set personal goals as a singer and musician.  I didn't think any of this was possible five years ago!  I highly recommend her as a teacher, life coach and all around amazing person to know."

Sweet Thangs: Student Reviews - Merrill B.

Merrill is one of my nearest and dearest students - and one of the most lovely singers, songwriters, and people I've had the pleasure of working with. Here are some sweet words from Ms. Merrill:

"I've seen Tracey at CAVENESS for a couple years now. Not only is she an incredible teacher, but lessons are just plain FUN because she's an amazing person to be around. She's able to translate vocal coaching techniques into relatable feedback. Whether you're just beginning or seasoned, Tracey has TONS to offer.

I've also had so many extra opportunities as a result of working with Tracey, from performance workshops, to open mics, to full blown shows. 

Another plus - for those interested in performing, she is in an awesome band and has great advice for being a musician in the bay area (from writing, performing, booking, promoting, etc). 

Life wouldn't be the same without my regular lessons - I always look forward to going."

Showcase Pictures - 8.24.17

Was SO incredibly proud (and teary-eyed!) of ALL the Caveness singers who performed in the Student Singer Showcase on 8.24! Not only did three of my singers perform their own sets, but other Caveness singers (myself included, heyo!) sat in with them on guitar, piano, and background vocals, too. 

I love the Caveness community my students continue to build on together. <3

Caveness Singers pictured below:

Carlo Prado, Tracey Holland, Julie Yasko, Aimee Thompson, David Kellerman, Teresa Tuan and Merrill Burch