Today, I am bringing you a sneak peek into an online vocal program called Sing Like You Speak by Sally Morgan.
First, let me tell you how I discovered this approach and had the opportunity to see the “insides” of this online training program.
A few weeks ago, I approached many vocal experts, voice teachers and vocalists, and asked them to name one singing tip for beginners that proved to be most effective in their experience. I was overwhelmed by the response I got! I received emails from many experienced and passionate professionals.
And Sally Morgan was among them.
(If you have not already read all of the great advice I received from these experts, you can read it here. I highly recommend it! Sally’s singing tip is #30.)
During this process, Sally and I exchanged a few emails regarding singing tips and further opportunities for cooperation. Sally offered me access to her online product, in which she teaches singing with power and freedom.
The name of the approach “Sing Like You Speak” sounded very intriguing so I accepted her offer. This review is the result of our interaction.
Who is Sally Morgan?
Sally Morgan is a professional vocal coach, singer, author and innovator in the field of vocal pedagogy. She has 25+ years of experience coaching singers and performers of all levels and styles. Many of her students are successful performers on Broadway, artists signed with major record labels, or entertainers on TV shows. She is the creator of a contemporary approach to singing, called Sing Like You Speak and the author of a book titled “125 Secrets to Help You Speak Like a Pro”.
That was the “official” introduction.
The unofficial introduction follows:
After watching only a few of Sally’s video lessons, it became quite clear to me that Sally Morgan is a passionate, knowledgeable and inspiring teacher. In all of the videos, Sally provides amazingly detailed and expert explanation on various topics. She sings in almost every video, demonstrating correct and incorrect sound production. She shares her passion for singing through exuberant and sensitive guidance.
You will want to sing after watching a few videos with Sally.
Sing Like You Speak
After purchasing a membership to this online vocal program, you are welcomed to a member dashboard with links to all of the training material.
Video lessons are organized into 4 stages.
Each stage covers several different topics and each topic contains 5 videos (5 to 10 minutes long) with detailed explanations, demonstrations and practice instructions.
There are some bonus videos, in which Sally coaches one of her private students.
The Practice Tracks section contains downloadable audio tracks.
Let’s dive into the specific stages of the program.
Stage 1 Video Lessons
The first stage of vocal lessons introduces Sally’s unique approach and its components, breathing, opening resonant spaces, and sound production while speaking and singing.
I feel that this approach may be counter-intuitive for many students.
It took me some time to grasp the concept but once I did, I was impressed. The first part of the program does just that – it convinces students to adopt a different mindset to singing, trust the perfect instrument that everyone already possesses and let go of preconceptions.
What is the Sing Like You Speak Program?
This program has been created based on the premise that humans already possess a perfect musical instrument. Yes, we were born with it and now we need to let the natural instrument shine through. Over our life time, we acquire bad habits and negative thoughts towards singing that interfere with the function of this innate instrument.
The Sing Like You Speak program starts with a speech-like sound and the body’s natural response to talking but it does not lead to a “talking” voice. Speaking happens naturally; we do not use any “extra” effort to talk but we often try to “help” the natural instrument when singing.
I am not sure who said that singing is 80% mind work and 20% vocal technique. I truly believe that there is much truth in this statement. I therefore appreciate that this program focuses on changing the singer’s mentality. Sally devotes a great deal of time to talking about a singer’s mindset.
Thoughts are often the greatest limitation to developing singing and Sally acts on this premise.
She gives great examples from everyday life to demonstrate this idea:
When you greet your friend with an excited “Hi”, your mind does not think twice about the high pitch of this expression. However, when you are told to sing a high note, your mind gets in the way, your body reacts with tension and the result is a pushed sound.
I believe that the “mind work” of this program is one of its greatest benefits. Many singers struggle to improve just because they have built up fears and preconceptions over the years, which do not allow them to move forward.
The program is a thoughtfully planned approach to developing “communication” between a singer’s brain and body to produce sounds in a natural way.
Sally’s training program is built on basic concepts, including optimal body alignment, proper breathing for singing and open throat for good resonance.
Breathing for Power and Freedom
Every singer knows that breathing is an essential part of vocal training. It is surprising that only a handful of singing programs focus on this topic. I was very pleased to see that Sing Like You Speak devoted many videos to mastering breathing. Moreover, this topic is repeated in many subsequent lessons.
Sally explains breathing for singing in great detail covering anatomy, diaphragmatic breathing, inhalation and exhalation phases, creating an open space, and releasing the jaw. The idea of allowing breathing muscles to work naturally is stressed throughout the program.
Inhalation in this program is introduced as an “opening of the whole system from the bottom of the abdomen to the top of the head”. This concept stems from the Bel Canto technique that is often forgotten in contemporary teaching styles. I really liked this part of the program. Any singer wanting to improve breathing for singing will also like this part of the program.
Meditative breathing and its benefits for singers are also introduced. Self-awareness of one’s own body is the key to vocal improvement. Several meditative breathing audio tracks are provided in the Practice Tracks section.
The program contains several breathing exercises which help students make diaphragmatic breathing a habit. They also help singers slowly eliminate bad habits such as bad posture, incorrect breathing patterns, vocal strain etc.
Very detailed explanations of each exercise, demonstrations of correct execution for each exercise and discussions of possible difficulties and incorrect implementation are always provided in the video lessons. This is a step-by-step approach to habituate diaphragmatic breathing for singing.
Speaking and Singing on Pitch
Initially, it may be challenging to wrap your head around the idea of “speaking on pitch” that leads to singing on pitch. But this unique approach has several advantages: easy phonation (sound production), singing in tune, the ability to communicate with the audience, and much more.
One big difference, which separates this approach from other programs, is that it does not focus on separate voice registers (chest, head, mix). As Sally explains, the natural vocal instrument is used similarly in different registers. The difference lies in a singer’s mindset.
Singing is a way of communicating an intention, which will naturally lead to the use of different registers. Singing of “high notes” is achieved by inflecting the pitch through expressing different communication needs.
This is a very unique approach that diverts from the common concept of high notes vs. low notes. As you may know, approaching a high note may cause vocal strain or fear. Building singing skills from speaking allows a student to eliminate strain and fear.
How to Practice Singing
I loved the advice in this section!
Aspiring singers often doubt themselves during practice. They second guess their skills and put themselves down for making mistakes. But this attitude is not helpful.
Instead, Sally teaches the importance of self-observation and exploration.
Singing a song without self-observation is not practice.
Reinforcing bad habits is not good practice.
Practice is an opportunity for discovery of what the musical instrument in a singer’s body can do.
Stage 2 Video Lessons
Many videos in this stage reiterate the concepts and skills that were introduced in the previous stage. New skills are developed while using the skills practiced previously.
In this section, new vocal exercises are introduced, such as “motorboat” and “motorcycle” exercises. They may remind you of lip trills and other common vocal exercises. But these exercises are built from speech and are introduced only after a singer can “open” his vocal instrument and use diaphragmatic breathing. The explanations of each exercise are in-depth and detailed. Each exercise is demonstrated at several levels, correct and incorrect productions are discussed.
This stage is very practical. Sally demonstrates how to use the audio practice tracks that are part of this program. She explains that these tracks can be used in many different ways. This may be intimidating at first (especially for beginners) but there are endless possibilities. This is good for singers who crave a greater variety of practice exercises.
However, the numbering of the audio tracks and the video lessons were confusing. Often, I did not know which track Sally was referring to. This is something that took me some time to grasp.
Once I understood the system, I found the exercises to be fun. They are short snippets of melodies and lyrics (phrases) that you can practice at different pitches. These melodies are at various difficulty levels. Not all of the phrases are demonstrated so you need a little bit of imagination to apply the phrases to these melodies.
Sing Like You Speak helps a singer build trust in his own natural instrument. It is often very hard to trust yourself when you are learning to sing. This approach builds that trust in small steps. Singing may be a vulnerable process for many people, during which singers doubt their skills, the process and the outcome. Sally is a great motivational coach who encourages you in every step through the journey.
There are five videos full of advice on how to deal with stage fright. Sally shares her techniques to decrease anxiety before performing. She gives insightful advice about how to dissipate negative thoughts or body tension.
Five videos discuss vocal health, vocal injuries and vocal problems. Sally explains how to keep your vocal mechanism in the best shape possible. Body miss-alignment, straining for power, or bad vocal habits can lead to vocal problems. Sally explains how her approach to singing helps singers keep their vocal cords healthy. Self-awareness, self-observation and patience are important in preventing vocal injuries.
Stage 3 Video Lessons
This part contains 8 different topics and 40 video lessons, which deal with common but very specific vocal difficulties.
Not surprisingly, the problem of tension in different body parts is discussed in these videos, including tension in the jaw, tongue, shoulders etc. One section is devoted to singing on pitch and improving this skill.
Self-observation and self-awareness are critical skills in recognizing vocal problems. Meditation audio tracks are provided in the Practice Tracks section. These audio files help singers scan their body to identify and eliminate vocal strain. Sally also offers a whole range of solutions to counteract the tightness in different body parts.
The “Vocal Strain Remedies” video lessons are very valuable. The process of eliminating strain at the laryngeal level starts with developing awareness of tension in the voice box. This is followed by the discussion of reasons for vocal strain, such as high larynx, pushing abdominal muscles to exhale, etc. Sally provides suggestions to remedy this problem.
The “Pitch Remedies” section is a good introductory lesson for beginners. It includes a short “technical” summary of the topic (what pitch is, what it means to sing flat or sharp). Steps to solve pitch problems are discussed, starting with listening exercises, recording your voice and recognizing challenges.
Stage 3 training also contains video lessons about vocal damage. The program describes various types of vocal cord damage, unhealthy vocal habits (for example throat clearing, excessive coughing, or singing from the throat). Sally again stresses that being aware of what is happening in your body during practice is very important to recognize bad habits and avoid possible damage. This practice should be adopted by every singer.
Finally, a series of video lessons about singing high notes is included in stage 3 training. I see this section as introductory because there are more in depth videos in stage 4 that all deal with extending the vocal range. Sally demonstrates how her approach Sing Like You Speak is applied to singing high notes.
Stage 4 Video Lessons
When I started to review this program there were “only” 10 video lessons organized in two topics in this area. Ten days later there were 3 more topics with 15 more videos (as you can see in the picture below).
New material is added on a regular basis.
Stage 4 video lessons cover advanced topics. New skills and knowledge are built on previously acquired skills. They focus on extending vocal range through various techniques, such as breathing and vocal exercises.
These exercises are an extension of previously covered topics. Sally demonstrates how to apply basic concepts to more demanding singing tasks. She even invites one of her students to talk about falsetto, how to discover it and practice it.
Practice Tracks Section
This section contains a huge number of downloadable audio files, including meditative tracks, breathing and pitch exercises. There are also more than 20 different phrase exercises recorded in different keys. These are not your usual vocal exercises. These audio tracks are short scales or melodies to accompany speaking or singing of phrases on pitch.
I only had a few days to review all the videos and audio tracks, which did not give me enough time to familiarize myself with these exercises. Therefore, this part was somewhat confusing and overwhelming. I also had to keep returning to previous video lessons, in which these exercises were explained and demonstrated in detail. I wish there was a video beside each audio track demonstrating the exercise. I would not have had to switch back and forth between the tracks section and stage 2 video lessons.
However, I believe that the audio files can be beneficial if one takes the time to learn how to use them.
How Much Does it Cost?
The SingLikeYouSpeak.com membership is $29.95 USD per month for 12 months OR a one-time payment of $345 USD for the full year. You can watch videos as many times as you like during that period and you can download audio files for singing practice.
You get access to over 150 voice lessons (!) about different topics and vocal techniques, such as breathing, phrasing, singing of high notes, singing with freedom and power, connecting with the audience, reducing stage fright, and much more. You also get access to a collection of downloadable audio tracks for practice.
Pros and Cons of Sing Like You Speak
- Sing Like You Speak is a unique program that uses speech to build freedom and power in singing. The topics are introduced in a logical sequence, in which advanced skills are built upon more basic skills.
- This program offers detailed and in-depth explanations of important singing concepts, such as diaphragmatic breathing, opening resonant spaces, easy phonation (sound production), etc. The program is very comprehensive and covers many different topics, such as posture, breathing, vocal health, extending vocal range and many more. There are over 150 video lessons!
- The videos demonstrate both correct and incorrect applications of exercises. This can help singers identify their difficulties and find solutions.
- Sally Morgan is an experienced and knowledgeable voice coach. She inspires and encourages her students throughout the program. She uses real-life examples that many people can relate to. She radiates an energy and passion for singing that is truly infectious.
- The program comes with a set of downloadable audio tracks for practice.
- Some of the topics covered are not commonly found in other online singing programs. In particular, the topics of breathing, singing practice, trust, and mindset are very well presented.
- The number of videos can be daunting for some students. However, these videos are well organized into specific topics that can be consumed in small doses.
- Video lessons and the respective audio tracks are in two different sections. This makes it difficult to navigate and may be confusing for new users. I would welcome videos accompanying the audio tracks to demonstrate each vocal exercise.
My Final Verdict: I fully recommend this online vocal program.
If you want to find out more about this program, please visit the official website: Sing Like You Speak.