Acting · Dance

Q&A: My Vocal Opinion, Sleepy Legs, Rib Injury



Hi Aly
I watched your video called ‘Repair Performer Confidence’ and found it most helpful and interesting.
If you have time I would really appreciate if you could check out my video of me performing Moon River…Thanking you in advance
Kevin, the United Kingdom

Hi Kevin,
I watched your video and here are my notes:
You have great potential.
You have bad technique.
1) Ask your pianist to never play the melody line of the song while you are singing. WHY? Well, because you have a natural knack for back-phrasing and it should be encouraged. When she plays the melody line, it sounds like she is trying to keep you within the measure and you ‘need the help,’ which I believe you don’t.
2) here is the technique part:
a) You do have a lovely voice. We don’t get to feel it down to our groin until the interlude is finished. When you sing the second part, then we can ‘feel you,’ and that there is what performing is all about. You want to be felt. Watch the video and notice that your nerves subside by the second portion. There becomes a lovely attraction about you at that point, and then the music suits you. The good news is that no one will remember the first portion, where you seem awkward, self-judging, and controlled (don’t worry, we will fix this). Chill out, and just sing. Your performance will then be lovely.
b) HOWEVER, you have a really bad habit of sliding into notes. There is a very simple exercise to get out of this habit. At home, do moon river, again, without any (and I mean NO) artistic freedom. One note into the other. This will sound boring to you. No heart, no soul, just notes, no slide, no volume adjustments, no riffs (I will talk about this technique on July 13th). Sing it again and again and again like that. Sing this song like that until that’s how you prefer to sing it (that is a lot! You should sing through this song about 50 times this way, and your iPod can keep track of that). THEN, add specific instances where you slide. Use a slide as the salt to your meal. Too much salt and it just sucks. Use volume changes as your pepper. Riffs are spice. But remember that the meal is the song and your voice. You don’t NEED to have those things to make the meal.  Just your voice. When you understand that, your heart will sing, with the technique you’ve used to train, and you will touch every ear that hears.
I can do voice lessons over Skype if you so wish.
I hope this helps.


Re: Answering Questions on Sway Back, Pronation, Hyper-Extension


Do I have sit in a corner or any wall to help my back? Also I’m having a sleepy sensation in my legs with in that half an hour sitting! Any recommendations?
Thanks, Wil, Chile

Wow, Wil!

I’m a little bit worried. I’m worried because your swayed back has really effected your hips, which have effected your hamstrings. If we can lengthen both your hams and your hips with this exercise, then we can get rid of the back problem. So, you sit with your back to a wall, your butt goes in the corner where the wall and the floor meet, so the wall must be flat from the floor up. At this point, forget the books. Once that sleepy sensation goes away, you can add the books to balance on your flexed feet.
You need to look at this like physical therapy. Do it every day, twice a day, for 20-30 minutes. If you need a break, take a break (if your legs start to feel numb or tired).
When you dance (rehearsals only) try focusing on not arching your back by engaging your abs, but when you perform, do what you need to do and just perform. When you walk or stand, picture a string from the bottom rib of your rib cage to the front of your hip, until your back is almost flat.   Keep your ears over your shoulders, though.

I’m going to encourage abdominal bunching exercises (not necessarily lengthening). Work your abs, but don’t EVER stretch them out after. Think tight and controlled, versus long and lean. You are already long and lean, don’t worry about keeping that shape (it’s in your genes!). Crunches while holding a medicine ball above your knees (or a laundry detergent bottle) is a great one.
Abdominal exercises are going to help improve this as well, but we need to teach your body to flatten your back. Start taking Pilates, but don’t do exercises (even if the instructor insists) if you can’t do it with pressing your belly-button into your back (engaging your abs) and keeping most of your back on the floor (your hand should not fit between your back and the floor during class).

Give yourself a diligent two weeks of this prescription.  If you don’t see ANY improvement, get an appointment with an Orthopedist (one that doesn’t love to cut).

Keep me posted!


Hi Aly, how are you? I am really enjoying your showbizhelper videos, they’re very helpful! I wanted to get some advice on an injury I’ve been dealing with for 6 months (the diagnosis from the doctor is a “rib strain”) and I think the main reason it hasn’t been healing quickly enough is because I haven’t been resting enough. I don’t want to turn dance gigs down or teaching opportunities so I have basically been doing what I have to, but nothing for my own personal enjoyment or growth. Luckily right now things have slowed down a bit so I can rest more and I canceled a dance class I was teaching once a week. The hard thing is that I use this muscle no matter what I’m doing, breathing, singing, walking, sitting, etc…  It’s basically a kind of popping feeling in my rib muscle when I breathe deeply and I feel the need to massage it often. Plus I went to a chiropractor who said my rib was out of place so he adjusted but it keeps falling out of place.

Isa, Maui

Hey Isa,
I’m so sorry that you are hurting – here is my advice:

You can’t go driving your car while it is in the shop, so why do you insist on driving your body while it needs to be in the shop?!

Go see a chiropractor who is “activator” certified. Ask if she knows dancers.  ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS interview your doctor! 

Heat is for pain, Ice is to heal. It gets tricky with ribs. I’ve ripped my whole rib cage out when I was 20 (the right side). It actually didn’t take long to heal, but it healed with a LOT of scar tissue. As a working dancer with that injury, the pain went away in about 6 weeks while I was still working.  The fact that you still have pain means that something else is wrong (including the injury).  Also, with the kind of movement you are doing, you aren’t allowing the body to create scar tissue because you body requires a high range of movement, leaving it irritated and not fully recovered. Ice will create scar tissue in the long run because scar tissue is the way the body prevents similar injuries, healing.
When it comes to breaking down scar tissue, see a Zen practitioner. There are not many of them, and they are difficult to find.  I found one in Tahoe when I hurt my ribs and knees. He saved my career. Just before moving to Maryland, I found one on Maui. It is like Rolfing, so it will hurt. You must be willing to go through the pain to get out of the pain.

OK – now to my work:  We need to get the injury assessed, still, and healed.  My most recent rib injury, in 2010, I had a wide bandage around my ribcage to hold it in place while I worked, and iced twice a day, but you might want to try to STOP MOVING!

Your body does need to heal while you are seeing these doctors. Allow the body to create some of its scar tissue and get rid of inflammation. Make sure you have enough iron in your system. Also, you can add Olive Leaf to bump up your immune system (this will help heal your body).

The reason your doctor told you to heat before is to loosen everything before you go sing or work, which is NOT GOOD if you need it fixed. It shouldn’t be moving around while you are working.  Pain is a reminder! 

You should ice twice a day for 20 minutes straight, as close to the skin as possible.
Finally, after you heal, you need to rehab. Start with stretch therapy or Pilates, while also going back every 6 months to break down the scar tissue.You can go back to work while doing these things, but you need to be diligent on fixing your body’s injury.

Best of luck!

Again, I am not licensed by any organization to give medical advice, and you take my advice with caution and under your own free will knowing this. You should always get second opinions by a medical professional.


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