Contact theSOPAbout theSOPSupport theSOPWritersEditorsManaging Editors
theSOP logo
Published:August 11th, 2006 06:12 EST
Expert Offers Seven Tips to Make it On American Idol

Expert Offers Seven Tips to Make it On American Idol

By Anne Laszlo Howard


Jan Smith, Vocal Coach to Usher, India.Arie, Rob Thomas and Diana DeGarmo,  Offers Seven Tips for Idol ContestantsSeven cities to hold auditions: Los Angeles, San Antonio, East Rutherford, Birmingham, Memphis, Minneapolis, Seattle 

ATLANTA, Ga.(rushprnews) – Widely recognized as the voice behind the voices that top the charts today, Jan Smith’s clients include Usher, Rob Thomas of matchbox twenty, India.Arie, Ciara, Diana DeGarmo and dozens of other national recording artists. In fact, Smith has worked with more than 5,000 students over the past 20 years, including a number of Idol contestants in addition to DiGarmo. With American Idol tryouts set to start in Los Angeles on August 8, Smith offers her expert advice to beginning vocalists. Smith says that protecting your voice with healthy lifestyle choices and properly warming up your voice is crucial to contestants who want to ace the auditions.

Smith offers the following tips from her recent book and CD, So You Wanna Sing Rock ‘n Roll

1.             Protect your voice by avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Both alcohol and caffeine dehydrate your body, and can make your throat dry, sore and scratchy. Your voice needs to be hydrated to stay functional. Instead, drink tea (Smith recommends Throat) and be sure to drink it at room temperature – not hot. Lemon water or plain water are also good choices. Lemon acts as an astringent and can help clear your throat of mucous.

2.             Watch what you eat. Avoid cheese, dairy and spicy foods before you sing, and do not eat a large meal before auditioning. Good singers sing from their diaphragm; if your stomach is too full, you will have a hard time breathing well. It is a good practice to supply your body with organic foods such as fruits, whole grains, nuts and vegetables to help keep your voice in shape.

3.             Wear comfortable clothes. You’ll be waiting in long lines, standing and sitting, and finally auditioning. Wear something that you feel good in and that you can move in – you don’t want to be worrying about uncomfortable shoes or clothing.

4.             Know what to do if you get stage fright. Stage fright or performance anxiety is common even among the most seasoned performers. Tension can make your throat feel tight and prevent you from singing your best. If you get nervous, try this exercise: Squeeze your hands into very tight fists and hold for 10 seconds. Next, tense up your toes and curl them under for ten seconds. This can help “move” your tension to your fingers and toes, which is much better than having tension in your throat. You can also use pressure points on your body to help alleviate tension – specifically, in the center of your upturned palms, the center of your chin, and the space directly under your nose/above your upper lip. Simply press each point with your fingertip and hold for 10-15 seconds, and then move to the next pressure point. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly throughout these exercises. 

5.             Practice breath control.  Breathing properly is crucial to maintaining a strong singing voice. Try this exercise: buy a bag of balloons and work to be able to inflate a balloon in one breath. It will take practice but this exercise will help build breath and lung stamina. Singers should also try a deep-breathing regimen: inhale for one count, hold the breath for four counts, and then exhale for two counts. Repeat this ten times. This exercise helps increase lung capacity, which helps you hold your notes longer. It also increases your control over your breath, which gives your singing voice a more stable sound.

6.             Remember to warm up and cool down. Just as athletes warm up their bodies before a game, singers need to warm up their voices before they perform. Try these two exercises: first, hiss like a snake. Be sure to emphasize the “s” at the end. This helps with breath control. Next, buzz like a bee: make a buzzing sound, emphasizing the “zzzzzzzzz.” Do these exercises for one to two minutes. After your audition, remember to cool down. When you sing, you’re opening up your voice. The goal of the cool down is to “close” or relax your voice.  Begin cooling down your voice immediately after you perform. Try the “falsetto to chest hum.” Using your “Mickey Mouse” voice, close your mouth and hum softly down a scale, starting at the top of your range. Do this several times but don’t push – be gentle. Next, try the “backward sigh.” With your mouth open or closed, start in your falsetto voice and slide your voice down slowly, ending in a sigh.

 7.             Stay “clean” and rested.  If you think you can party all night long and sing well the next day, think again. Drugs, cigarettes and alcohol will affect the way you sing at your audition. Taking care of your body is imperative if you want to take care of your voice.

Jan Smith is one of the nation’s preeminent vocal coaches, working with more charting artists than any other coach. She is one of the few vocal producers/coaches ever credited on multi-platinum selling recordings, and since 2000 has been a trustee for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). Smith has been featured with Usher on MTV’s hit reality show, Duets, as well as with Ciara on BET. She has six critically-acclaimed albums to her credit and has been recognized with numerous local, regional and national awards for songwriting and performance. To help beginning singers succeed, Smith recently released her new book and audio CD package, So You Wanna Sing Rock & Roll, the definitive guide to performing success. It offers tips for vocalists and a hip vocal warm-up and cool-down routine on CD. For more information, please

Smith is available for interviews. Please contact Maryglenn McCombs at (615) 297-9875 or to arrange an interview.


Maryglenn McCombs

(615) 297-9875