Acting in Plays, Singing/Please help me!



am a freshman in high school and need some advice on how to make my voice broader, vibrato better, and my tone sharper. I am pursuing big dreams and have tried vibrato for weeks and still have not gotten the hang of it. Do you have any advice on how to make that beautiful vibrato as I do on my flute? Also, I have a pretty small range of notes before I go into my falsetto voice, how to I make my overall range broader? As for my final question, my tone. I have recorded myself a few times and have noticed my voice often cracking or straining. This must be fixed, and I need your help. I hope that I haven't taken up too much of your time or thought. Thank you for all tht you do and stand for!

Bethany Eribarne

Hi, Bethany —

Thank you for the question and for your support.

Day One of our first and private Master Class will be about me identifying where and how you are straining and to demonstrate the solutions.

I believe what you mean by "making the voice broader" is to expand your current vocal range. Most singers are capable of two octaves. On what note does your voice crack?

Vibrato is totally natural. It does not work like your flute. The reason you have no vibrato is because you are holding onto tension. Once you let go of that tension, the vibrato is free to work. My job is to show you how to free that tension throughout your vocal range.

You've been singing a certain way for a long time. Now you've accumulated a long list of bad habits in your vocal technique and you can name them. When you play back what you have just recorded, you can hear the strain.

Signs of strain can be evidenced in the pitch, volume, and duration of a note or phrase. Perhaps you can also hear hesitation, such as the lack of volume and support behind a climactic note—the "money note", especially when it happens more than once in the song. And the one after that.

If your dream is to sustain a living as a singer, then you have to be able to deliver a certain product in a reasonably predictable way — day after day, month after month and, hopefully, year after year. My job is to teach you how to exercise your voice in order to develop and maintain your performance-ready vocal chops.

Again, the core of the problem in all of your stated concerns is about tension.

The process of releasing tension and, thus, acquiring a wider range and control over your vibrato—includes learning how to sing basic scales throughout your vocal range. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate a completely balanced range, i.e., no breaks no cracks—over the stretch of two octaves and according to your vocal category, i.e., soprano, mezzo soprano, etc.

That takes time and a commitment to daily practice.

If you are interested in doing a lesson on Skype, let me know.

I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm also an entertainment critic for – and Classical music reviewer for – Let me know when you're ready to come to San Francisco for some vocal coaching.

Check out my web site:

See my interview with popular TV host, David Perry, on "Ten Percent":

Below are links to my articles and youtubes on the San Francisco Bay Area entertainment and cultural scene:

THE GREAT GATSBY—F. Scott Fitzgerald Classic goes Three Dimensional

Christopher Wheeldon's 'Cinderella'—A Smash Hit for the Season Finale at SF Ballet

'FILLY BROWN' — An Extraordinary Film from Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos

TINSEL TARTS IN A HOT COMA—Extended through June 29th at The Hypnodrome

Nonsemble 6 presents Schoenberg's 'Pierrot Lunaire' – in corsets

'Onegin' – A Must-See at San Francisco Ballet, Final Performances 3/26—28

Tenor Noah Stewart Debuts with Berkeley Symphony in World Premiere of New Work by Steven Stucky

Marnie Breckenridege, A Modern Soprano for Contemporary Opera

A Profile of Choreographer John Neumeier and his "Nijinsky"

Peggy Cummins Honored at San Francisco's Noir City Film Festival

In Conversation with Peter Gallagher – Coming to the Venetian Room

Melody Moore steps into Tosca — Opening Night at San Francisco Opera

'Moby-Dick' opens at San Francisco Opera: A Conversation with Composer Jake Heggie

'Drama Queens' – A Conversation with Mezzo-Soprano Joyce DiDonato

Vasily Petrenko, BRIT Male Artist of the Year, Conducts SF Symphony, 10/5–6

Marco Vratogna Is Sensational as Rigoletto at San Francisco Opera

A conversation with Joshua Bell, featured guest artist at opening of SF Symphony, 9/19

Jazz vocalist Nicole Henry makes San Francisco debut

Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford duke it out at The Castro Theatre's 90th Anniversary

The Wizard of Oz Meets the San Francisco Symphony

Samuel Ramey is Leo the Great in San Francisco Opera's 'Attila'

'Victor Herbert, Collected Songs' – A Great CD

Tom Judson Is Making It Big In San Francisco

A Look at Gennadi Nedvigin, Principal Dancer with San Francisco Ballet

Organist Christopher Houlihan Makes A Powerful Debut at Davies Symphony Hall

RICHARD WINSOR – An Interview With the Star of 'Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake in 3D'

DEANNA DURBIN – The Leading Lady of NOIR CITY, Wednesday at The Castro Theatre

KRISTIN CLAYTON– A Conversation with "The Diva" of Teatro ZinZanni

CAMERON CARPENTER – An Interview with Seán Martinfield

A Conversation with Elza van den Heever

CUBAN BALLET – An Interview with Octavio Roca

A Look At "Giselle" with Ballerina Lorena Feijóo

ZUILL BAILEY – A Conversation

Best regards,
Sean Martinfield

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Sean Martinfield


I am a professional vocal coach in San Francisco. I have published over 3300 responses related to vocal training - particularly as it relates to Musical Theatre, Pop/Standard, and Opera. I have 30 years of experience as a personal trainer to working singers and actors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I sang professionally for 20 years and know what it means to live the life of a musician. I can determine your voice category, i.e., Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Alto, Alto Belter, etc., and how to broaden and strengthen your range. Need an audition song for a Broadway Musical? I can assist you with your song selections and help you build an audition portfolio that demonstrates your vocal category and meets the requirements specified in the audition notice. I have created a vocal methodology, "The Belter`s Method". It will enable those in Cabaret and Musical Theatre to practice more efficiently because it focuses on the vocal demands of professional performers and will keep you performance-ready. If what you want is a better voice and more control over your career moves and choices, contact me at: I am also a music and cultural critic for and I interview internationally recognized musicians, singers, dancers, and recording artists -- particularly those who are now appearing or scheduled to perform in San Francisco.


As a vocal coach, I work primarily with singers and actors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. My students range from absolute beginners to working professionals, from kids to senior citizens. The vast majority of my clients come to me through recommendation. I know how to identify any singer's vocal category, i.e., soprano, tenor, alto, baritone, etc. I know how to muscle-up every singer's vocal range and to expand it beyond conventional definitions. I have developed a vocal methodology for those who want to know how to belt, THE BELTER'S METHOD. There are a number of major components to my work as a vocal coach. The first is to identify the client's vocal category and to strengthen and maximize the vocal range accordingly. Then it's about teaching a reliable vocal workout that will enable the client to gain better control of their musicianship. That includes scale work to expand the vocal range and to improve placement, breath control, and diction. Then we work on material for the audition portfolio, the immediate job or assignment, a recording session, etc. My task to is to better equip singers and actors who are hoping to or relying upon their performance skills and vocal endurance to maintain a career in the Performing Arts. My clients regularly appear in cabarets and musical productions throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Some have worked in New York and gone on National Tours. For more information, Contact me at:


San Francisco State University – BA in Theatre Arts; graduate work in Theatre, Philosophy, and Comparative Reiligion. Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley – Graduate work in Ethics

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