Your Authentic Vocal Pitch & Some Savory Dinner Dishes

Hello Friend,

If you’ve never thought about vocal pitch when you’re speaking, here’s a video to get you in the pitch groove!

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher is also a pretty good cook!

I picked up a marinated garlic herb beef tenderloin from Trader Joe’s.

I washed, cut, and boiled four russet potatoes (skins on) with garlic. Drained after cooking, and added mall amounts of butter, grated sharp cheddar and parmesan cheeses, a dollop of sour cream, dried chives, thyme, dill weed, dash of seasoning salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and snips of fresh parsley I had on hand. After whipping with a mixer, spread it into a small baking pan and sprinkled with paprika.

Then put parchment paper on a large baking pan before adding cut broccoli, baby carrots, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Sprinkled the vegetables with olive oil and freshly ground salt & pepper – roasted at 400 until the veggies were tender.

What a delicious dinner – with leftovers!

Mother’s Day is coming up May 12th. Do any mothers in your life love to cook?  You can order COMFORT FOOD FROM THE HEARTLAND: Recipes from a South Dakota Farmer’s Daughter here: http://laurahandke.com/books/ The cookbook is a benefit for Salem Friends of Felines, where I adopted the most awesome cat, Lady Jane, in 2007. Lady is 15 now.

Until we get together next, happy vocalizing and happy cooking!

Laura has helped me find my true, authentic voice. She’s given me music I didn’t know I could sing to help me realize I’m truly a singer, not just a person who can sing. -Kenyon A.

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Vocal Training Can Take Years…You Can Also Get Great Tips in a Half an Hour

Vocal Training Can Take Years…You Can Also Get Great Tips in a Half an Hour

Some people want to be professional singers, or professional speakers. Some want to perfect a TedX speech.

Many other people just want to know how to vocalize better.

Some of my best experiences as a voice teacher have been working with people who simply want to speak or sing better in their everyday life.

Here is one example. My colleague and friend, Katie Ramseur, and I presented our third Speak Up! workshop for the amazing women of Dress for Success Oregon last Wednesday evening.  https://oregon.dressforsuccess.org

Here we are with just under half of the women who came to the presentation. Every woman owned their authentic voice and let it ring out! What an amazing experience!

Here is another example, for professional speakers. I gave a 35-minute training for the Portland Chapter of the National Speakers Association https://nsaoregon.org/ Speaker Performance Lab Monday evening. The audience was so engaged and present, asking so many intelligent questions, I actually went over time a bit, asking permission to continue.

We want to share our authentic truth, in our authentic voices. The more I teach, the clearer this becomes. One woman at the NSA event asked me if I’ve ever run across speakers with apathy.

What an amazing question.

I’ve run across many people with “vocal fry,” letting their voices fall into the back of the throat without resonance or conviction and too low of a pitch. One master-mind partner called that being ‘lazy.’

Yet what else can apathy mean, when it comes to  public speaking?

Sera’s question lead me into my heart.

Anyone can read lines, even if they suffer from stage-fright; the clinical term for the fear of public speaking is glossophobia.

But speaking from your heart requires vulnerability, allowing yourself to experience emotions while you’re speaking. When you’re in front of an audience, speaking or singing, and feeling something…your audience will feel it, too. If you’re not feeling it, your audience won’t either.

I believe that’s the best answer to the question about apathy.

Be present. Be real. Feel something. Let your audience go on the emotional journey with you, as you are sharing your message with great vocal technique.

Next up! The Four Critical Pillars For Healthy and Effective Technique Every Speaker Should Know

The voice lesson affected me in ways I never imagined. I feel so much more inspired now. Thank you! -Lennon R.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend! And let me know if you know of an organization that needs this message.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

What Can Happen on a Godwalk

We singers, musicians, teachers and heart-based entrepreneurs are well-served having regular life check-ins and brain-storming sessions, as I mentioned in my last post.

Here’s another avenue for inspiration and guidance I have found indispensable over the last 20+ years – a practice I call “the Godwalk”. This quick minute and 40 second video describes the process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNSqwV7nBOI

Two weeks ago, I headed to one of my favorite stores in all of Portland, Savory Spice Shop https://www.savoryspiceshop.com in Sellwood. I love Sellwood. It has several cool antique shops, a great vibe, and proprietors set out water bowls for dogs in front of the stores (always a plus to this animal lover.)

Since I was already in the neighborhood, I decided to take my Godwalk there instead of in my Lake Oswego neighborhood as I usually do. I randomly turned corners, walked down different streets, found a great book in a little library…eventually finding myself drawn by a colorful sign saying, “Community Church For Joy.”

Community Church for Joy. My, my, my.

Well, well, well, that certainly drew me.

The front door was propped open, so I walked up the steps and right on in. I somehow felt a kinship with the place. There was a sign on the main inside door saying that a class was in session, so I left without looking around for anyone to talk with, yet immediately Googled after I got home, and found the right person to contact, a woman named Rachel. http://www.dancewithjoystudios.com/about/rachel-lidskog/

Rachel is a dance instructor. My body has been calling for me to dance for months now. I’ve had “dance” written down on a sticky note on my calendar and keep moving it from week to week.

Rachel and I met today in person. She’s been looking for someone to bring music, maybe even a choir, to her community for months now.

Right now, I have no idea what will happen from today’s meeting. I simply know that something will. And that it will be fabulous.

If you don’t already have a Godwalk practice, you might want to start one. Today.

To Your Voice,

Laura

Working with Laura has been a huge blessing in my life. I have wanted to learn to sing for years now but always believed I didn’t have a good singing voice. After a couple lessons with Laura I heard sounds coming out of my mouth I couldn’t believe I was making! My skills and my confidence have improved. I’ve performed hip-hop live twice now and voice lessons have helped me with public speaking too. Highly recommended! -Lennon R.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Follow the Strands: Take a Nap, Pet Your Cat, and Watch the Magic Happen

Follow the Strands: Take a Nap, Pet Your Cat, and Watch the Magic Happen

For a good chunk of my life, I’ve had a certain conflict between the desire to reach my potential (or, more dramatically, fulfill my destiny) and the equally important desire to have lots of fun and not take things too seriously or work too hard.

Does this ring a bell with you?

This dilemma is probably more common in the United States than in other countries because there’s such an emphasis on capitalism and financial/material success here.

I also deeply resonate with Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech last Sunday when she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Shallow: “If you’re sitting on your couch and you’re watching this right now all I have to say is this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time and it’s not about winning. What it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”

Amen, sister!

So, how do we vocalists, teachers, performers and big dreamers keep our perspective?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had corporate jobs that paid me plenty of money but left me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve started businesses that ultimately ‘failed’ because I couldn’t support myself. I was married for 12 years, and that marriage ended in divorce. I’ve had friendships come and go and others which have endured for years.

Now, as a voice teacher, ever-growing vocalist, and actor taking on auditions, I’ve found my authentic niche.  I’m in the best personal relationship of my life with my partner of nearly six and a half years, and the friendships I have are mutually respectful, loving and supportive. I’m even volunteering to start a small local community choir.

All the same, I still find myself seeking a better balance more often than I like to admit.

In hopes my experience will help you, here are two practices I’ve found vital to staying on track with my inner, essential self.

1) Regularly check in to ensure you’re living your life on purpose – by design, rather than by default. Details are here on my website in the Me Now PDF under “free stuff”: http://laurahandke.com/free-stuff/.

2) Complete a periodic intuitive brainstorming session, especially if you’re an entrepreneur in business for yourself, to flush out what you want to create/accomplish and break the process down into next steps.  

Here’s an image of the session I completed February 5th. One step that arose was to schedule a video conference with a couple of fellow professional women friends for additional feedback, ideas and inspiration.

The two delightful, accomplished women who joined me for that conference earlier today were Julanne Dalke, voice artist and writer, and Joanne McCall, publicity specialist. Plenty of feedback, ideas and inspiration flowed in the little over an hour we spent together and the biggest theme (for me, anyway) was the balance/perspective I’m writing about in this post.

“Following the strands” is how Julanne has learned to most successfully create the life she loves to live. Julanne has gone through some tough stuff; yet the things she has been able to manifest (some of which have had absolutely nothing to do with the goals she “thought” she wanted) are downright astonishing.

In our conference call, I had mentioned feeling “guilty” because I did basically nothing all day yesterday. I hadn’t slept well and woke up without much energy. So, I cancelled my calendar items and stayed in bed with my cat, napping and finishing up a novel.

I had a lot more energy when I got out of bed this morning.

Strands – ideas, inspiration, next steps, inner guidance “out of nowhere” – can’t come to us when we’re pushing through our to-do list and feeling anxious, with constant thoughts of what we’re not getting done, what went wrong, or what we should be doing.

Julanne’s advice? Take a nap, pet your cat, and let the magic happen.

Focusing upon a solution makes you feel positive emotion. Focusing upon a problem makes you feel negative emotion, and while the differences are subtle, they are very important, for when you are feeling positive emotion, you are attracting into your experience that which you want. When you are feeling negative emotion, you are attracting into your experience that which you do not want. –The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham, Esther and Jerry Hicks

As we discussed the power of the mind and our thought patterns, Joanne shared a brilliant analogy I’d like you to envision.

We all know how one pesky thought can lead us into a downward spiraling rabbit hole we’d be better off not following.

Imagine you are sitting in front of a cozy fireplace, enjoying the warmth. A negative thought flies out of the fire like a spark and lands on the sweater you’re wearing. All you have to do is flick it off, and the spark will immediately extinguish before it starts your sweater (or anything else nearby) smoldering and eventually flaming.

How awesome is that?!

See, there’s a reason the strand of scheduling this conference came up in my intuitive brainstorming session.

Now I don’t feel one bit guilty about taking the day off yesterday. I’m looking forward to my upcoming training gigs for the National Speakers Association and Dress for Success, lessons with my four talented students tomorrow, and helping out with the local community choir.

Feel free to take a nap and pet your cat (or dog, horse, bunny, iguana, motorcycle…) You just never know where the next strand might lead!

To Your Voice,

Laura

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

After the Audition

After the Audition

After the Audition

I’m regularly on stage teaching, speaking or acting and am a voice teacher, so I sing all the time. But earlier this month I had my first musical audition in around 20 years. While straight acting auditions have become much easier for me over the years, I was terrified at the thought of singing in an audition. Go figure! Even after working with my amazing voice teacher – and rehearsing in front of friends – I still became so nervous my body tensed, so my singing voice went out the window.

I almost canceled the audition; but before doing so, reached out to the director asking if I could sing a different style of song, one my body knows in muscle memory and I know I can sing even when fear sets in. That song is Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. I learned it with my fiancé accompanying me on guitar, while we both felt Johnny’s presence in the room. (By the way, this is not a practice I would recommend to any of my auditioning students.)

The director encouraged me to keep the audition slot and sing one of the songs in the traditional style I’d been working on, saying his team was very easy to audition for.

After receiving such a kind and encouraging response, I couldn’t cancel my audition slot!

Two things happened after that. 1) A friend and business colleague sent me an MP3 file designed to release fear patterns in the brain, and I listened to it and tapped along (about a 14 minute process) every morning the week before the audition. 2) I chose a different song to rehearse, lower than the other songs I’d been rehearsing – one of my “shower” songs I’ve been singing for years. I have a super high voice, but sang alto for years before beginning voice training in my early 40’s. This song, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, felt closer to Folsom Prison Blues in my body, and in my mind.

That’s the song I sang for the audition. I read for one character from the script (and of course thought of six things I could have differently after I left the theatre.) But I didn’t embarrass myself. My singing voice was fine other than one wavery, weak note right before the end.

I wasn’t asked to come back for the dance audition and wasn’t cast. But I met my goal of having a solid audition, and something has shifted in my brain since I had the courage to do it.

The following day, I ran across a live staged version of the musical RENT on TV and watched the whole thing. I couldn’t stop singing along. I loved the movie and love the soundtrack and have been singing the songs ever since. Now…is it possible?…I’m actually looking forward to my next musical audition?! I will keep singing and working on repertoire for me and my students in the meantime.

Somehow, just having the courage to do this audition has further freed my voice. Isn’t that something?

I learned so much in the process. 1) Performers, singers, voice teachers need to have a regular vocal practice. (I didn’t, until now.) 2) It’s uber important – thanks, Linda! – to regularly check your body for any tension that will constrict your God-given voice, and let that tension go – encourage it to leave. You can’t do this just one hour, or even eight, before the audition. 3) I fully realized how much the thought processes starting with impulses in the brain affect the rest of our body. And our entire body is our vocal instrument.

What a humbling, and ultimately uplifting, experience.

Come sing along with me now, will ya?!

I have worked with Laura on and off over the years – as a professional speaker, she helped me increase my vocal variety and taught me how to project my voice to the back of the room (in such fun and interesting ways: “Money, Money, MONEY!”).  As a professional singer, she has helped me safely roar out the rock tunes and ballads, and taught me how to smooth out my registers, etc. Laura is professional, competent, and knows how to help people with their vocal-goals!  Highly recommended!  -Annie N.

I’ve been working with Laura for 8 months. She has helped me significantly improve both my public speaking and singing voice. Most importantly though, Laura helped me rediscover authentic self-expression and confidence in my ability to positively impact the world with the words that I speak! -Lennon R.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

Auditions are the bane of any performer’s existence. Whether you’re an aspiring actress in LA going to massive television/film cattle calls or one like me going to local theatre auditions here in Portland, there are always more actors auditioning than available roles. Auditions can make a performer anywhere from a little nervous to terrified, depending on…well…too many factors to list here.

I’m auditioning for my first musical in 20 years on Saturday. This means I have to sing. Not in voice lessons, not for myself, but in front of the director and his team. I have loved to sing since I could speak…yet after a couple weeks of rehearsing and singing as much as possible in front of other people, my nervous level was still close to the terrified end of the scale. Which really doesn’t make any logical sense. It’s not like some organized crime godmother told me if I didn’t audition, she’d have “the girls” toss my partner or cat off the end of a big cliff to land on a field of huge 5 foot sharpened knitting needles.

All the same…this fear is real for many performers, in many shows, in many locales, all over the world. It’s not just me.

I even considered canceling the audition.

The chances of my NOT being cast are probably, I’m guessing, 100 times more than my chances of being cast. A statistician knowing how many people are auditioning, for how many roles, the experience and confidence level of each actor, their astrological charts, whether or not Mercury will be in retrograde, along with their chances of getting into an accident on the way to the theatre with the weather that day…all of this would be much more precise, I’m sure.

Yet we singers and actors keep doing auditions, because we are passionate about doing this work in the world.

A dear friend, who has directed over 20 plays, reminds me auditions aren’t about any one particular actor…rather about the mix and right fit of different actors working together. At least that’s certainly how it should be for a great show!

My amazing voice teacher, Linda Brice, knows well that fear starts in the mind, yet impacts the body dramatically, and with tension in the body, we can’t sing well. Linda has taught me not only great vocal technique, but how to breathe, visualize, and release the tension in my body for a good chunk of time before an audition or performance. The audition or performance isn’t about me; it’s about how I want the people in the room with me to feel.

Their experience will be directly impacted by the experience I’m having myself.

Josh Pais, founder of www.committedimpulse.com recently wrote:

Emotions, at their core, are simply energy. Your body is made out of atoms – and emotions are energetic fluctuations. These fluctuations are not good or bad – they are just shifts in vibrational frequencies.

Further, these fluctuations are CREATIVE FUEL!

We gotta Ride these fluctuations – not Hide them!

If we disconnect from our body (the source of creativity), where do we end up – in our head – next thing we know we’re listening to abusive shit.

In the moment of creation, understanding or analyzing what you are feeling will not serve you.

In the moment of creation, your job is to create from the badass charge that is in your body.

As we train to stay in our bodies – we learn to give the audience what they want. YOU.
Your truth in THIS moment.

Thanks for that, Josh Pais!

My only goal for Saturday is to give a solid audition – one I’ve honed enough to feel confident in, knowing I’ve done my best.

Will you tell me to ‘Break a Leg’ on the blog? It’s true – ‘Good Luck’ to actors means ‘Bad Luck,’ so only tell me to Break a Leg! And then maybe you can help me figure out where that tradition came from in the first place!

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.) Laura