LEARN HOW TO YODEL – YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!
Since you’re visiting my HOW TO YODEL post, I assume that you are a yodel fan…or you’re looking for a way to surprise your family and friends and want to learn how to yodel. I started yodeling in 2004 and can say that it’s great fun! Just before that I was having a difficult time in life and needed something happy to focus on. While sitting at my computer designing one piece of art or another the thought popped into my head…”Terry, you are going to learn how to yodel!”. And – I did.
Yodeling is great fun and, if you can a least carry a tune in a bucket, you can get started right away. (Actually you can yodel just as well out of tune, but you risk alienating your loved ones.) The secret to yodeling is learning how to find the “break” in your voice. I’ll talk more about that later. Once you do that, all you have to do is start practicing by singing along with yodel recordings. If you’re lucky enough to be a musician and can play an instrument (I’m not and can’t) then you’re on your way to being star yodeler.
I’m not a performer and I’m content to yodel just for myself and the cows in the nearby fields. (Now that I think about it the farmer next door put his cows in a field further away from my house…hmmmmm.) At my age (57) it’s unlikely that it’ll go farther than my own backyard at least until the neighbors start complaining about weird sounds coming from my place. In the meantime, I yodel every day to and from work, and whenever the mood strikes.
Have fun to learn how to yodel.
TWO DIFFERENT YODELING STYLES TO CHOOSE
There are two basic kinds of yodeling that are popular. The first is Alpine yodeling (jodeln, jodler, jodel, if you’re searching for Swiss and German yodeling). Alpine yodeling originated in Switzerland and the countries surrounding the Alps. It’s thought that it started as a way to communicate across the high mountains and slowly developed into a musical form. Popular musical alpine yodeling started to be really developed in the 1800’s. It had swung in popularity through the following years. Alpine yodeling can be quite varied and complex.
Cowyboy yodeling started in the USA after we began developing the western part of our country. Cowboy/country singers became popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Jimmy Rogers, often called The Father of Country Music, is also credited with establishing the popularity of yodeling. Cowboy yodeling is often more simple than Alpine yodeling, but a talented cowboy yodeler can come up with a yodel to compete with the best alpine versions. Each style has it’s simple yodel and those yodels that leave you breathless at the range and dexterity of the yodel.
Once you learn how to achieve the “break” from your chest voice to your head voice you will most likely be able to yodel in either style. Try a lot of different yodeling, you’ll find the style that’s right for you. Then you’re on the road to yodeling fun!
GIVE IT A “BREAK”!
The first thing you have to learn is how to “break” your voice. Don’t worry, it’s not painful at all. In fact it a very pleasant sensation. Everybody has a natural break in his or her voice as it moves from low register sounds (these sounds come from your chest) to higher sounds (sounds made in your head). If you don’t have a “break”, it’s not a yodel. Professional singers work hard to eliminate this break in order to transition smoothly from low to high registers and back again. Guys have an advantage in that we all experienced this break around the age of 12 or 13 (you remember…”Oh Mo-O-om”).
You can find your break by singing a high note from the head voice (falsetto) and sustain that note as you move down to a lower note in the chest. ( LISTEN ) At some point midway, you’ll feel a “catch” or “break”. If that doesn’t work, try starting in the low voice and move up to a falsetto. You might not experience a strong break, but take notice of that little jump from high to low (or vice versa). This is the feeling you’ll want to develop as you start practicing and singing along with yodeling songs.
Kerry Christensen, In his U 2 Can Yodel CD recommends practicing a “wolf cry” in order to develop your break. Wylie Gustafson has one of the best methods I’ve heard that helps you develop that break. Check out his Learn to Yodel CD below.
(For those of you who MUST KNOW…the “break” is created by the epiglottis, a flap at the back of your tongue that prevents you from inhaling food when you eat. For more details and pictures…do you really want to see an epiglottis?…go here
“OH-OU-OH-OU-OH-OU” TIME TO START YODELING
Now it’s time to YODEL! Start with any mid-range note in your chest using the sound “oh”. Now jump up to a high note in your head using the sound “ou” (that’s “you” without the “y”). ( LISTEN ) Once you have this down pat, all you have to do is practice, practice, practice. I recommend you get some yodeling recordings and practice by singing along. Check out my links in this lens or start searching on our own. That’s how I learned!
(For those of you who are musically inclined, the range from one yodel note to another is usually described as a 5th. That is often the case, but really anything goes. I’ve seen and heard 3rds, 6ths, up to octaves and higher. In fact, there’s also the “sideways yodel” in which you create the break between two sounds of the same note. It’s tough to do but sounds very cool.)
FIND SOME YODELERS AT AMAZON
I learned how to yodel using Kerry Christensen’s U 2 CAN YODEL cd. He teaches in the alpine style of yodeling. KERRY CHRISTENSEN is a contemporary yodeler ( one of the few who performs full-time in the USA) who does both Alpine and Cowboy yodeling. He is absolutely amazing and he’s got to be one of the fastest yodelers around. All of Kerry’s recordings are terrific.
Wylie Gustafson’s yodeling is among the best you’ll hear. His band is called Wylie and the Wild West and he has a cocky cowboy sound that’s great fun to listen to and his yodel is pure and clear. His HOW TO YODEL book and cd are great fun and you WILL learn how to yodel. Be sure to get his “Total Yodel” Cd. The songs are mostly traditional cowboy yodel songs but also included are some that Wylie wrote himself. My favorite is Yodeling Fool. It’s fast and funny and showcases Wylie’s talent very well.
For fun – Mary Schneider is the “Australia’s Queen Of Yodelling)”. Some may call her the “queen of kisch” as her most popular CD is “Yodelling The Classics…The Complete Collection”. You will either love or hate Mary’s efforts depending on your appreciation of yodeling. My guess is since you are the yodeling freak that you are (otherwise, why would you be reading this?), you will love her. I think it’s pure genius to put yodeling to the classics and Mary does it beautifully. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
eBay! – YOUR BEST BET TO FIND RARE AND UNUSUAL YODEL RECORDINGS
It pays to use a variety of words to search for yodels on eBay! or anywhere for that matter. Be sure you are familiar with and use the different spellings and forms (including the German form) of “yodeling”. For example, Americans will spell the word “yodeling” while many sellers from England and Australia will spell the word “yodeling”. Also be aware of the European (German) spellings: jodel, jodler, jodeln. Including these spellings in your search will enhance your options.
When beginning your search, be sure to select the “worldwide” option. Most great (but not all) yodel recordings will come from Miriam Music Singunterricht St Gallen Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc. It helps also to include regions that are known for yodels (i.e. Tyrol, Bavaria, etc.).
Learn To Yodel by Cathy Fink and Tod Whittemore
This course has been around for a while and I suspect it’s the one that Taylor Ware used when she learned how to yodel. Apparently, Bette Midler used it many years ago to learn how to yodel for her ill-fated movie JINXED. That yodel at the opening of the movie was the only good thing about it. It’s my number three choice ( after U 2 CAN YODEL and HOW TO YODEL) because, while you certainly can learn how to yodel using it, I didn’t find the instructions fun and they were too formal for my taste. But then, I’m just doing this for the fun or it and I’m pretty sure that America’s Got Talent is not going to come knocking on my door looking for a yodeler. For those of you who are musicians, the book includes tabs and musical notation so that might be a plus for you. The “book” that I got is a spiral bound photocopy. Still, you can learn how to yodel from this course. (No tricks on how to find your “break.)