Keep your voice healthy this winters with these simple tips.

Singers AND NON-singers…we all need healthy voices. Your voice is your communication. A healthy voice means a healthy body. If you suffer from allergies, wake up with a sore throat, always get the flu in the winter, these health tips are for you. I’ve been using them for years and I’m happy to share them with you.

I have to keep my voice healthy 24/7. I never know when I am going to be called into a vocal session, sing at a gig, teach a lesson, have a phone meeting, etc…my voice is my work. I take extra care to keep my voice healthy in the winter months that can be cruel on the vocal chords. Combine that with allergies and we are all in for a mess in the winter. Gross.  Here is what I have found to work for me to keep my voice healthy year round.

  1. HYDRATE: I know we all know this one. Drink water water water. Hydration is the key to a healthy voice. I drink 1 Liter for every 50 lbs. of body weight. Water helps your body produce mucous, mucous keeps your chords lubricated and allow them to move with ease when producing sound. Besides all the other wonderful benefits of hydration. Water also helps flush the toxins from your body keeping your body healthy and strong enough to fight germs. I like to drink 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning with lemon. I carry a bottle of water with me the rest of the day and keep sipping.
  1. SLEEP: Without enough sleep your muscles cannot perform at their best. Your vocal chords are muscles. You need adequate sleep to make sure: 1. Your body is healthy and fighting off winter flu & viruses and 2. Your vocal chords and body are strong and rested enough to perform at peak level when it comes to speaking and singing. If I don’t get enough sleep, I have a hard time singing. And there is no fix for a tired voice but rest.
  1. SCARF: My vocal teacher gave me this tip when I was very young and I still use it to this day. It might sound obvious, but cover up! A scarf protects your neck from the cold, keeping your vocal chords warm and safe. Personally, if I get sick it always starts in my throat. Wearing a scarf helps keep the fortress strong around your treasured vocal area.
  1. MANUKA HONEY: This is a delicious one. Manuka honey is a honey known to have antibacterial qualities. It boosts your immunity and helps fight allergies and viruses. Warm water, Manuka honey, and lots of lemon. Sooo yummy, and so good for you. Manuka Honey is also used to heal wounds and disease. Read about Manuka Honey on WebMD .
  1. HUMIDIFIER: The winter months make everything dry. Your skin, hair, nails, AND throat. And then your heater sucks whatever moisture might be left in the room out and dries us up completely. Sleeping with the heater on can make you wake up feeling dehydrated, similar to the feeling of being hung over. Invest in a humidifier to combat the moisture sucking heater and winter wind. They are not that expensive and do wonders for your voice. They also help your skin stay hydrated in the winter. Well well worth it. Keep your voice hydrated and healthy.
  1. WARM UPS- Do your vocal warm ups. See some of my other videos. And give yourself a little extra time to warm up that voice. The cold can constrict the chords, do some slow and relaxing warm ups to start and add a couple extra minutes to your warm up routine if need be. Don’t judge yourself for taking a little longer to get that voice moving.
  1. NASAL RISE: Another trick I LOVE is the neti pot. I know it’s super odd and a little awkward to do in the beginning, but it’s soooooo good. Warm water, saline solution and rinse it through your nasal cavity with a neti pot. It rehydrates your sinus, flushes out the toxins, keeping the bad guys away and repopulates with the good guys. More on WebMD 
  1. AVOID alcohol/caffeine: I know you can’t always avoid these items. But they are both really dehydrating for your body. If you are feeling vocal fatigue and a little cold coming in, avoid these two items for a little while.

Stay warm and healthy friends.

As always, please feel free to ask questions and comment below. Follow for more updates.
Sonnet Simmons





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Is your voice tired by the end of the day?

I heard a story the other day of a teacher who told his students, he couldn’t answer their questions on break, he needed to rest his voice for lecture because he was experiencing vocal fatigue. I have another yoga teacher who came to see me with a similar problem, she couldn’t get though a class without feeling vocally exhausted, strained, and hoarse. And what about teachers who teach 8 hours a day with bad acoustics, having to speak over the disruption of kids in class? I had another client once who was in sales, and halfway through her day, she didn’t want to make any more calls her voice was so tired. Vocal fatigue and soreness can be experienced in a lot of professions, but it doesn’t have to be a “part of the Job” any longer.

Tired Voices Sonnet Music

So what can you do about it? If you feel vocal fatigue and hoarseness at the end of your work day, chances are you need some vocal rehabilitation and to learn how to use your voice properly to support the sound you are making and eliminate pain and fatigue. I will give you 3 tools you can use today to start rehabilitating your voice and strengthening it for good.

Vocal fatigue can become a serious problem. As a singer, if my voice starts giving me signs of fatigue, I back off because I know, singing on tired swollen vocal chords can cause more long-term damage. The same is true for continuing to speak day after day without proper vocal support. The compounded result of using your voice incorrectly and pushing though the pain can cause long-term damage and sometimes require surgery. So…let’s learn how to use that voice and breath support to have a pain-free dynamic experience speaking each day.

3 Vocal Tools to eliminate vocal pain and fatigue when speaking.

  1. Support:

Not going to get out of this one people. BREATHING. I mean it is everything. You cannot make sound without breath…it is what makes the sound through your vocal chords and it is what you need to support your voice when you speak.

When you speak powered by your diaphragm, not your throat, you will find your true voice and be able to project rather than yell to increase your volume. Connecting your voice to your breath is number 1 in my book for increasing your vocal strength and eliminating fatigue.

Watch my video here for a quick easy breathing exercise to get you on your way to diaphragm breathing. Practice this exercise daily, and start to be aware of when you are breathing correctly and when you are not. You want the power of your voice to come from your diaphragm, not your throat.

  1. Relaxation:

Okay so now we need to get your voice to relax and rehabilitate. How do we actively relax the voice besides just not speaking? The humming exercise below will help you relax your vocal chords and strengthen the connection of your voice, as well as help you find resonance for your speaking voice.

  1. Strengthen:

So now we want to connect the breath work to the sound. Vocal warm ups and exercises are vital for this part. A great one to start off with is Humming. Humming is an amazing, accessible and relaxing exercise to get your voice to open up and also start connecting your voice to your breath. You can watch my video here for an example. Humming using your proper breath support learned above and feel the vibration in the mask of your face, not in your throat, that is where we want the sound to resonate!

You can look up other warm ups online, see my videos, find a local vocal coach and start practicing your vocal warm ups for vocal strength and connection. Remember, always use proper breath support when you are doing any of these exercises.

AND one more tip for good measure – Drink lots of water. The vocal chords vibrate extremely quickly even making the smallest sound. Water helps your throat stay hydrated and helps mucus production keeping the chords lubricated and moving with ease.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice. If you’re voice continues to feel strained and in pain and you are constantly hoarse, please visit an ENT for more personalized attention.

As always, please comment and questions are welcome.

Happy Healthy Speaking and Singing!

Sonnet Simmons






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Singing is my New Resolution!

Is learning how to sing or improve your singing on your new year’s resolution list? You are not alone. I have had a few new clients come to me with this very goal this holiday. So if that’s your goal, here are 3 simple things you can start doing today to improve and strengthen your voice.

Watch my video on 3 Tips for a better singing voice or read below.

ONE: Breathing– Singing is literally air passing through your vocal chords…if you are not breathing you are not able to sing- or for that matter live. So proper breathing and breath support is ESSENTIAL to good singing.

There is a lot I could say on diaphragm breathing, but here is a quick easy diaphragm breathing exercise to get you started. More in the video above

  1. Lay on your back
  2. Put your hands on your belly in and inhale
  3. When you inhale your hands should raise up as your belly fills with air, as you exhale your hands should lower as the air leaves your body
  4. Inhale for the count of 5 and let your hand raise up and your belly, lungs, back all expand
  5. Exhale on a Shhhhhhhh sound with a steady stream of air for a count of 10. Your hands should lower, your body comes in and you exhale.
  6. Repeat. As you get better and more connected to your diaphragm breathing, decrease the length of your inhale and increase the length of your exhale. (Just like when you sing a phrase in a song, you have a very short time to inhale all the air you need for the long phrase.)
  7. ** Pay attention to that feeling at the end of your exhale when your abdominals tug up on your diaphragm in efforts to get any last air out. That is the diaphragm connection!!
  8. For more on this please see my video.

TWO: Vocal warm ups– Okay so the vocal warm up is VITAL!! I mean if you were about to run a race, you’d do your warm up and stretches to get the best results on that race wouldn’t you. Same thing applies to singing. A proper warm up allows you to balance your voice so you have access to your full vocal range, strengthens and increases your vocal range and hit notes you didn’t think you could.

Here is one of the easiest warm ups you can do, no matter where you are. HUMMMM. Doesn’t have to be a big sound. Get the sound to tickle behind your noise, getting mask resonance. Try to keep the sound from coming from your throat.

Watch the video for a demonstration.

Another great little tip I love is humming along to an easy song. In a relaxed and non-forceful way, hum along to your favorite song and warm up your voice. There are so many more benefits from humming along to a song, we’ll have to cover another day. Remember to move the sound into the front of your face.

THREE: Make Space In Your face – Okay this is a strange one I know. But you have to realize singing is a whole body experience. Your body is the instrument. So you have to allow the air and sound vibrations to move through as they need to for each note. As you sing higher, the sound vibrations resonate higher and higher up the face. So get comfortable with letting your body be the instrument, to feeling the sound travel and vibrate in your body.

Again…the video has more details and examples.

P.S. Okay one more tip- Practice. You have to practice your breathing! You have to practice your warm ups. You have to practice to improve. It’s like going to the gym, build the muscles and the body connection, tap into your true voice, and see how your voice starts to take off.

We all know New Year’s Resolutions are hard to stick to. Check out my latest blog,  5 Steps to New Year Resolution Success to help set yourself up for success in sticking to your resolutions this year and every year!

As always, thanks for being a part of the Connect to Your Voice community. Find me on IG and facebook and follow here for more tips and tricks on everything song and singing.

Happy New Year!

Sonnet Simmons

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Well it is that time of year again…the holidays have us scurrying about to wrap up this year and start thinking about what we want for next year.

It is a time to get a little retrospective. What worked this last year? What do we want to change this year? Now is the time to take a few moments out of your day, sit with a pen a paper, and write down your goals and desires for the New Year. I know New Year’s Resolutions can seem a bit cliché – but the truth is, it really is a great time to take inventory on where you are in your life and where you want to be and set those goal markers. There is something inspiring about a new start.

Making the resolutions is the easy part, sticking to them is where the work comes in.

Here are my 5 tips on setting yourself up for success sticking to your resolutions this year. (And every year.) Special thanks to G.M. for helping me set and stick to my goals based on the advice below.

5 Tips for your new year resolutions

  1. Write it down – Declare your goals this year. Tell the universe (and yourself) what you are going to achieve this year! Get specific.
  2. Break it down – What are the steps you must take to achieve this goal? You can’t get to the top of the mountain without a lot of steps between the bottom and the top. What are those steps? Get specific and REALISTIC.
  3.  Schedule time – Get out your calendar and schedule real-time where you devote to your new goal. If you wait to see if you have time, there will be no time. Carve out REALISTIC time for the specific steps that makes sense in your schedule.  Make your weekly/monthly calendar and schedule in the action you will need to take to achieve your goals. It is better to take a long time to reach the top of the mountain rather than sprint half way and not be able to sustain. Devote realistic time each week.
  4. Take action: Keep motivated and on task by achieving one step at a time your goals. When you become overwhelmed by the big picture it can be paralyzing. Follow through on your scheduled steps, keep the steps manageable and realistic so you can stick to the action.
  5. Gratitude – This is the most important step in sticking to your goals because if you practice keeping a light and grateful heart you will enjoy the process of sticking to your goals and follow through on them. Take a moment each day to practice gratitude for where you are in your life, the process and lessons you are learning along the way, and the journey of achieving your goals. Can you be gentle with yourself to allow yourself the joy of learning and doing, rather than beating yourself down every step of the way? Give yourself the space to achieve rather than the pain of not being enough.

If singing has been on your resolution list, make 2016 your year.

Vocal lessons are more than just learning how to sing, it is learning how to use your own voice to support your express, your opinion, and your ideas; it is honing a tool we all poses, and creating a more confident, empowered, and dynamic self.

Are you ready to begin your singing journey?

Let me help you find and connect to your true voice.

Follow my blog for singing informational videos and confidence building tools and start your singing journey today.

Connect to your voice Sonnet SimmonsCan anyone learn to sing?  This is a question I get quite often. Well, the answer is, yes. We all have the ability to connect to our voices, it’s a powerful and effective tool and part of who we are.  You may not be Celine Dion, but anyone has the ability to connect with power to his or her voice.

I am continually observing a sense of self that emerges from my clients as they begin to discover the strength and even just the sound of their own voice. It is almost like claiming a part of who you are, that you have been removed from your whole life. It is empowering and liberating. I am on a journey to discover more about the link between the voice and the person.

Wether it is a speech, a song, or a conversation you are having with a loved one, your voice is the vehicle that gets your point and emotion across. If you are supporting your voice, in touch with your voice, aware of how you are using it, you can eliminate vocal fatigue and get a more pleasing and projected sound…but more so- you can speak, sing, make sound, with confidence. And with that confidence comes a sense of risk taking. And how do we accomplish things in this life…by taking risks, by putting ourselves out there, by knowing who we are so well that it doesn’t matter what other people say or do…we stay on course, we speak our minds and we move toward our dreams.

I am in the early stages of uncovering the science behind this all, but I can tell you I am seeing it over and over again in each of my clients and it is quite impressive- the power of introducing yourself to your own voice. You have all you need, you just have to claim it, commit to it, and a little proper breath and vocal support doesn’t hurt either.

The voice is the connection between the heart and the head.

Do you have similar observations or have you felt a personal pull toward connecting to your voice? Please share and let’s discuss.

Allow me to introduce Joseph Eid, a prolific and profound songwriter and singer based in the Los Angeles area, but can be seen on tour worldwide. Joseph has been named one of the 100 Hottest Live Unsigned Artists of 2012, 2013, and 2014 by Music Connection Magazine. You can hear what the well-deserved buzz is all about on his debut album Human. Joseph’s warm and honest voice brings the listener into his thoughtfully sweet and cuttingly insightful lyrics. I’m excited to share his professional insight and tips on singing and songwriting with all of you!

SS: Do you have a process to your songwriting you have found to be the most effective? If so, what is it?

 JE: I don’t really.  It is a great mystery.  Sometimes I will get a concept and then I’ll sit down and start playing a chord progression and words will just start to come out.  Instead of trying to think about it, I let whatever wants to come out come out and sometimes record it.  The subconscious is an ocean. I like to approach songwriting in that way first.  Once I get the idea, then I bring in my brain to try to make sense of it all. But I let it start in the unknown first.  But there are times where I will sit with a strong feeling about a situation and try to write about it too. No formula. just being present.

SS: What would be your tip for other aspiring songwriters out there on how to write a song?

JE: Write what you know. write from your own personal experiences and the things that are uniquely you.  The more personal a song is, the more universally it connects.  Don’t write for others.  Write for you and watch how others will connect.  We all feel the same things and go through the same experiences so people connect to the truth.

SS: Do you have a favorite songwriter and why?

JE: Yes. The band Indigo Girls – Amy Wray and Emily Sailers.  They write from the heart but their songs are more than just songs about love and life.  There are deep messages in the songs that teach.  I love songwriters that teach me things and their intent was never to do that but the songs that come through them are bigger than them.  They are universal truths that can be a road map for others.  That’s the mystery I love about songwriting.  Sometimes you write something and go “wow i can’t believe I wrote that…it’s wisdom.”  and hey, maybe you didn’t write it alone.  We are working with a greater source.

SS: Do you have any rituals before you perform to get your voice ready?

JE: Yes.  The day of my show I make sure I do a solid 20 minute warm up working out all of my range. I do this not right before I perform but a few hours before the show.  Then before I play i do a quick 3 to 5 minute warm up, whether it be lip trills or a couple of scales.  If the venue, situation, or time doesn’t allow for that then I know I’m still OK because I did my workout earlier in the day.

SS: What is your go to vocal trick?

JE: The Ventriloquist. . . learned this from my vocal coach Roger Burnley.  You can do it anywhere, anytime.  I try to get the notes and sounds out that I want without moving my lips, or any muscles on my face.  That always gets me vocally in the closer to the place i need to be.

SS: What have you learned about your voice you didn’t know 5 years ago?

JE: I learned that I can sing and sing and sing for hours and not get tired or hoarse. Years ago I used to think that the voice gets tired after singing for an hour or so and needs a break or that it’s painful to sing night after night for hours.  Since then, with a little more technique and experience under my belt, I find that the voice only gets strong and better the more you use it.  I recently had to play two back to back 2 hour shows, solo, just me and my guitar.  I can honestly say that I never got hoarse, tired, and my voice kept getting even stronger.  It’s how you sing.  If the technique is right you should be able to sing on and on.  Valuable lesson for me and it broke the old myth I used to believe that the voice needs to be saved and rationed.

SS: Any advice for other singers on how to maintain and improve their voice so they can sing and sing and sing?

JE: I really am a strong advocate of finding a voice coach that you trust and enjoy working with.  Even if you just go in for a tune-up once a month or once every two months (whatever you can afford), it’s worth it.  Because to have a voice technician watch what you are doing and make you aware of any bad habits is priceless.  They can give you tools to help you preserve your voice and make sure you are not doing something that later down the line is going to give you problems.

SS: Any dos and don’t for singing?

JE: My theory is if you can’t hit a note while you are quietly sitting in a chair and singing it softly, then you should not be trying to hit that note on stage.  If you don’t have the control to own it quietly then don’t scream it or push it out night after night.  That will lead to problems.  Once you know you own a run or a note or song and you can sing it softly, then you can kill it on stage or in a recording and know you got it…that you don’t have to rely on a trick or a certain emotion, etc.. to get it.  DO drink lots of water.  DON’T sing drunk or high.  When you are not sober, you tend to do things vocally like pushing and things in general that you wouldn’t otherwise do and then you wake the next morning feeling hoarse.  Oh and DON’T be in a loud bar the night before a show scream talking with friends.  The next day, you will feel it.

SS: Great advice on singing dos and don’ts. Who is your favorite singer?Singing With Sonnet Joseph Eid

JE: Ok so yeah, Bono is one of my favorite vocalists.  Everything he sings he sings with great passion and truth.  I believe every word.  There is a very unique quality to his voice that makes you know it’s undeniably him and I think that is a beautiful thing.  A voice is like someone’s soul and should sound like no other. He has great control and i love how all the notes are forward and resonate there whether he is singing high, low or anywhere in between.  It’s all connected all the time.

SS: Any upcoming shows? What are you working on now?

JE: I have been hosting my own night at a place called 55 Degree Wine.  It’s a night that I call The Song Village.  I book the night with 2 other artist and I also perform in it.  It’s a great vibe and right now it’s on every 3rd Tuesday of the month in Los Angeles (Atwater Village to be exact).  I’ll be going to NYC to do a show on July 2nd there and also a few other shows in that area.  Been writing a lot of new stuff and hoping to get back in the studio to start recording my next album later this year.

SS: Exciting!! Okay – Best piece of advice you have received about singing?

JE: Only sing what moves you.  Sing the songs that give YOU chills. Because that is the only way you can give others that feeling.  If you feel it, everyone else will.

SS: Of all your advice and singing tips, what is your #1 tip you would like to add to the singers tip page.

JE: Whatever you want to sing and want to master singing full out, first know that you can sing it softly and master it quietly.  If you can do that with control and hit every note and be able to move through the song with ease when you are quiet, then you know you will be able to nail it with any style and take it to the max.

I love writing songs.  It’s the most exhilarating part of the process for me.  It is a gift that I am so grateful for and a mystery that keeps unfolding.  I enjoy sharing the lessons and stories that come through me.

Thank you Joseph for sharing your personal experience, tips, and tricks. You have some real-life applicable tips and knowledge about the voice and songwriting that show your expertise and materful use of your talent and skill.

Want to see Joseph live? Follow his tour schedule, listen to his music, and say hi @ twitter,facebook, or IG or

Comment, join the conversation, share your tips…@sonnetmusic

I had the pleasure of meeting and performing with Dina Valenz in Portland, OR last year for Matt Boydston record release show. It was a fantastic night of music and talented performers. Dina’s songs were playful and sharp and her voice carried her songs with strength and a beautiful sound all her own.

Dina is a Los Angeles based singer songwriter, who recently released her EP “With My Shades On”. If you get a chance to catch one of her shows, you will be in for a real treat. Here is what Dina has to share about her singing and songwriting.

SS: Do you have any rituals before you perform to get your voice ready?

DV: I do a couple vocal exercises and sing along to a few of my favorite happy songs to get psyched up for the show.

SS: What is your go to vocal trick?

DV: Not really a trick but I try to make sure I’m good and warm before a performance. That includes sipping on hot tea with honey.

SS: What have you learned about your voice you didn’t know 5 years ago?

DV: Don’t force anything. If I am performing a challenging song and I can sense that my voice isn’t at it’s best that day, I will readjust and maybe go into falsetto instead of belting out the high note etc. There was a time when I felt like I had to push through to get the best performance but as long as the energy is there and you’re not straining the performance won’t suffer.

SS: Any advice for other singers on how to maintain and improve their voice?

DV: It’s important to give your vocal muscles a good work out. Sing everyday but be sure you warm up first.

SS: Any dos and don’t for singing?

DV: Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Do let yourself feel the emotions of the song.

Don’t get too caught up in the technique.

Do have fun!

DV: My favorite singer of all time is Jewel. She has a very unique sound to her voice and has great range. The thing I like most about her is that she’s raw. She has an incredible voice but she’s not afraid to let everyone hear the notes that don’t sound so pretty. She lets her emotions come through in her performances and does not hide behind filters and auto tune even in the studio.

SS: Any upcoming shows? What are you working on now?

DV: I’ve been busy with the release of my newest EP “With My Shades On” which is currently available on itunes, amazon & streaming. I’ve been doing a number of shows in promotion of this record which have been really fun! The next big thing I have coming up is a showcase at the Orange County Fair on August 1st where I’ll be playing the Meadows Stage.

SS: Best piece of advice you have received about singing?

DV: Be yourself. Try not to sing like other people. If your voice has a unique sound, that’s great! It makes you different and helps you stand out in the crowd. It took me a long time to be comfortable with my own voice. Coming away from vocal classes I thought I should sound like the Disney princesses and thought I was doing something wrong because I didn’t have a strong soprano voice. I’m glad I met the right people along the way to guide me and help me feel confident with the big belty voice that I have. Now I feel like I can perform any type of music with the knowledge that I can make it my own.

SS: Of all your advice and singing tips, what is your #1 tip you would like to add to the singers tip page.

DV: Going along with the previous question I would say my #1 tip is not to get too caught up in technique. It’s important to know the fundamentals but be sure you are being true to your own voice and be proud of it.

SS: Do you have a process to your songwriting you have found to be the most effective? If so, what is it?

DV: I’m a melody person. I always have my cell phone near by so I can record anything that may pop in my head at any given moment. When I sit down to write I will usually go to my voice memos and see which melody stands out and go from there. The melody will give me the direction that the song needs to go and then I work on the lyrics and craft the story.

SS: Do you have a favorite songwriter and why?

DV: Yes! 3 and they’re brothers who were big in the 90s. Yea that’s right Hanson! lol I’ve been a huge fan of theirs since they came on to the music scene in the 90s and have continued to be a big fan of their music until now. The melodies that these guys come up with are incredible. Everything is hooky and that’s what I strive for in my own writing. Happy music that will stick with people and make everyone feel something.

SS: What would be your tip for other aspiring songwriters out there on how to write a song?

DV: Listen to a lot of music. I’m always really inspired by what I’m listening to at the time. Keep listening to music and look up lyrics to read along. It will help you learn what works and what doesn’t work in a song. If you can, get someone objective (other than your mom) to listen to your songs and have them tell you what they really think. Be open to constructive criticism and keep writing!

Visit to listen to Dina’s songs and catch her next show. You can follow her on twitter/IG/Facebook @dinavalenz.