25 Apr 2014

Awesome Speak-Singing Exercise Inspired by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason



Imagine being 68 years-old and singing and playing music you love to sold out crowds across the globe… this is the life of Dave Mason, Hall of Fame inductee and singer/ songwriter/ guitarist of the 60’s-band Traffic. This week, I was lucky enough to see his Denver concert and meet him back-stage. I am a new fan. I wanna sing like Dave. 



Age has given Dave a bit of a paunch. He wears stylish reading glasses and makes jokes about his memory, but despite his age, there is a timelessness to his performance; a type of exchange that happens between audience and performer when a soul is truly sharing its passion.


Dave Mason and me back stage at the Soiled Dove Underground in Denver.
Dave Mason and me back stage at the Soiled Dove Underground in Denver.


While I had done my Dave Mason youtube and Wikipedia research, I wasn’t sure what to expect from him vocally.


He sounded great!


What impressed me the most about Dave was the youthful quality of his voice. There was no vibrato wobble, frailty, gravely effect at the start or end of phrases, or lack of clarity.


From high to low, each note sounded as it did 40 years ago; purposeful, clear, and tension free… and this after being on the road for months.





If you are like me, I want sing well for my entire life – I want be 80-years-old and still have great high notes. So, as I enjoyed Dave’s concert, I mentally took note of six singing techniques that Dave Mason did to ensure his vocal longevity…


1. Relaxed Jaw – His jaw was in the down and back position. The telltale double chins were present and working to his advantage.


2. Neutral Neck – As he sang the high pitches, he never strained his neck upward for a note.


3. Efficient Articulation – He used his tongue and lips effectively for consonants. The mouth space was minimal. He did not over-do the articulation for emotional effect, rather allowed the core of the tone to carry the meaning.


4. Forward Placement – the words spun from the upper part of his mouth, the oral cavity was active and balanced.


5. Low Larynx – I never sensed that he created sound from pressure on his larynx, and I never saw the larynx rise as he sang high notes.


6. Speak Singing – His melodies were clear and easily sung, with no affect or complication. When he spoke to the crowd and then sang, his speaking voice and singing voice were aligned – both coming from the core of his body. Both speaking voice and singing voice were open and free, clear and purposeful, relaxed and grounded.


Your Rejoice In Your Voice™ Assignment 


Let’s Apply the “Speak Singing” Technique To Your Work


Click the above video to watch step-by-step video demo and learn how  to use your speaking voice to help you sing better…



*These steps were inspired by Stanford Felix , my dear friend, wonderful voice teacher, and Executive Director of the Minnesota Concert Opera. 


[Tweet “Use elements of your natural speaking voice to help you sing with ease.”]


NOTE: Two things I like to do when integrating this series of steps in my own work:

            – allow for a lifted soft palate


            – allow for a low, relaxed larynx



Step 1. SPEAK IT

– Choose a phrase of music that you are working on.


– Say it in your normal speaking voice as if you are telling a friend or family member. 


– Play with different inflections to create an authentic delivery.



NOTE: You may already have singing muscle memory around this lyric phrase. Try this:

– Alternate saying the lyric phrase with a conversational phrase that is common-place to you, “I am running to the store.” or “Andrew, is your homework done?”


– Allow the lyric phrase to stay in the same natural resonance as the conversational phrase.



NOTE: There may be a specific word that is challenging you. Try this:

– Isolate the word.


– Identify if it is the consonant or the vowel placement that is creating the challenge.


– If it is the consonant, try lessening the “attack” of the consonant.


– If it is the vowel, try modifying the vowel or play with saying the word to a person in the next room.


–  QUESTION: What does the added support and/or space do to the placement? I have found with my students these actions will demonstrate a focused placement for the word.




– Choose a pitch that represents your speaking pitch.


– Say your lyric phrase, or word, on this one note.


– Now work your way up the keyboard note-by-note saying the phrase, go as high as feels comfortable.




– Speak the lyric phrase again, this time sustaining the vowel a bit longer, paying close attention to allowing the speaking resonance to remain the same as on the sustained tone. 


– Now work your way up the keyboard saying your phrase or word with sustaining vowels.




– Play with different inflections of the phrase and sustain the vowels on these inflected pitches.




– Sing your phrase filtering the words through the resonant speaking placement of the above exercises.


– Remember to allow for a lifted soft palate and a low, relaxed larynx.



Go try it for yourself and have fun! 



Sharing the evening with Dave Mason and his band was truly inspiring.


At 16-years-old he followed his passion, worked hard, stayed true to his calling, greatly impacted the music industry, had a dynamic career, and 50 years later he is still doing what he loves and doing it well.





Thank you, Dave! And may your world-tour be a huge success!


Thank you to my dear friends who made the evening possible! 


Let me know how the exercise goes in the comment section below and share this post with a singer friend!

Happy singing!




P.S. Would you like to take voice lessons?

Email me today for your free 30-minute singing lesson and voice assessment in-studio or via skype – my email: triciapine@rejoiceinyourvoice.com

I look forward to hearing from you! 




  1. What a great way to look at what Dave is doing to stay soooo musically healthy while thoroughly enjoying himself up on stage. Nice article and great suggestions.

    1. Thanks,Steve for your comment 🙂 Mason was inspiring!

  2. This is, once again, great advice Tricia.

    I have a question – in this article you mention ensuring that you allow for a lifted soft palate
    and a low, relaxed larynx. How do you make sure that your soft palate remains lifted without
    going back down again – particularly for sustained high notes in a phrase? How do you keep it up when the mouth is opening and closing? At the same time
    how do you ensure that your larynx remains low and relaxed? Granted this comes with practice
    and time, but how do you make the soft palate stay up while relaxing your tongue too, and
    without straining or forcing anything? Maybe a future article and video can cover this.

    By the way, speaking of great older singers, check out this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4718Yql35k&feature=player_detailpage

    Olivia Turner was 91 at the time she sang ‘I could have danced all night’ on New Zealand’s Got Talent (2012). I too hope that I’ll still be able to sing well and hit those high notes in choir when I’m her age! I also found Fr Ray Kelly’s rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ inspiring, which was on your Facebook page.

    Another question – do you plan on producing a DVD and/or CD or downloadable MP3 collection of voice tips, advice, and lessons for sale at some future time, either with or without a book? It would be great if so, especially for people overseas (Australia!). Your teaching style is calm, compassionate, and approachable. Thank you.

    1. Hi Therese, you made my whole weekend! Thank you so much for your great questions, sharing that awesome link, and you nice comments. Big hugs to you! I just made a note to dive into the topics you suggested in future blog posts. Thank you! Your perspective helps me and others.

      You are right. The soft palate will rise and lower with some consonants, but you can have soft palate lifted, domed, or arched on all sustaining vowels. For me, I had a very lazy soft palate, and I truly had to “work” at keeping it up while I was singing…continually reminding myself while practicing until it became a habit.

      When voice instructors talk about keeping a “yawn” space in the sound… or remember the scene from movie The King’s Speech, where the speech instructor put the marbles in is mouth? This was to create a “natural” lift, inner space in the mouth in which the palate will rise.

      In the book The Tao of Voice the author explains it as having the feeling of opening up to the entire universe in the back of your throat.Wow! That is big 🙂

      Another fun way to get the sensation of the soft palate lift is to bend over, relax your neck and start singing. Gravity works to your benefit…slowly come up – still singing – and you will feel and hear the difference of the lifted soft palate.

      Overall, this sensation will be unique to you. Perhaps record your self, experimenting with different feelings of lift as you sustain one vowel and see what feels and sounds the best.

      The larynx in a low or neutral position again provides space. I have found this idea helpful for my students and me, as we were tending to close off or add pressure or tension to the back of the throat when singing (and speaking). I have found it easier to relax my larynx when the back of my tongue is relaxed… even during articulation. This does get easier with practice and experimentation.

      And I am so excited you asked about video and books. You must have been reading my mind. My goal is to have teaching videos and guidebook available by Christmas 2014. Keep an eye out around the holidays

      I believe every singer is slightly different in how they approach the voice. Over the years, I have worked with world-class voice teachers and some concepts they taught me were helpful others needed some adjusting. I want you to be the last say in what is best for your voice. Get guidance, but trust in your ability to problem solve to achieve your end result.

      Therese, how about we arrange a time to connect via Skype and give you a half-hour free voice lesson? We can delve deeper into the questions you have and I can speak more directly to your unique instrument.

      I hope my explanation helped.

      Thank you again for reading and commenting. You are awesome! Happy singing!

  3. Wow! You have a wonderful way of helping one to learn how to retain ones youthful voice with age. Your instructions were great and have helped me to acquire a better understanding of how to use my speaking voice. Many of us know from experience how our voices change with age. Thank you so very much for your helpful tips and instructions. You are awesome. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Loree for reading and commenting. I am so glad you found this post to be helpful. xoxoxox

  4. Hi Tricia, it looks like my first reply got lost so I am resending. Thank you so much for your detailed response and advice re: soft palate lifting, etc.! It’s great.

    I’ve heard of the yawn tip (and loved The King’s Speech!). Singing upside down will be good to work on! Other advice I’ve heard is to sing like you have an egg in your mouth, and think of your mouth space as a cathedral.

    ‘The Tao of Voice’ sounds like an interesting book to follow up on too.

    Soooo fantastic to hear that you will be producing a book and DVD/video later this year! I will definitely look out for more info. about that.

    Unfortunately my internet arrangement/connection can’t do Skype, but your blogs, YouTube videos (and your future publications) are immensedly helpful. I just have to keep working on it every day and not be too hard on myself 🙂

    Can I make a couple more suggestions for future vidoes/blogs? Topics like: vocal placement; the singer’s mindset (especially handling anxiety, etc.); working on resonance and projection; singing with feeling/emotion; and vocal health. Hope that’s not too much! Thank you so very much for your gift and service to us. Pacem!

    1. Big hugs to you, Therese! I sooo appreciate the suggestions for future teachings. Very helpful for me to know what you need. I am always open to your ideas – when you are so inspired, please pass them on 🙂 You are right on – for all of us – …to embrace the voice and ourselves with pure love and acceptance, show up every day, sing where we are at in that moment, and release the judgement. Such a beautiful journey.Thank you again for engaging in this dialogue with me. I love it 🙂 Have a wonderful week!


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