Dear Lis,
Why is it that I can sing great at home but when I get into the studio I sound strained?


Dear Karen,

At home there’s no one watching and judging you. You can sing with abandon and not even notice if your pitch is a little off or your tone a little tight. Once you get the headphones on and the producer is listening, you become much more self-conscious. The muscles in your neck and shoulders tense to help you control the sound. What seemed easy at home becomes tight.

Here is an exercise to loosen your neck. (Click here for the men’s version and here for the women’s version.) Sing the vowel ‘ee’ as in ‘see’ and turn your head from side to side. On the first note turn to your left and then while you’re going up to the top note turn to your right. On the way back down turn back to your left again. See if you can make this fluid instead of jerky. It might feel confusing at first because your neck and shoulders have been helping you with the pitch, but as it gets smoother, everything will start to relax.


Lis Lewis is a vocal coach in Los Angeles. Her website has all the information a pop singer needs to further their career. Her clients include Rihanna, Courtney Love, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Jack Black, Jimmy Eat World, and the All-American Rejects.

Originally posted 2010-12-22 17:55:46.