One of the vocal techniques threads that we had before was called "Improved Singing." It was great. I saved it in my word processor, printed it and spent a lot of time trying some of the stuff. Can't post a link to it because the tinkertoy we call a computer around here can't do a forum search since Max's last update.
I remember the first time I found my own full voice, Jeri. I had taken a one-day group class with Jerry Epstein in vocal techniques for folksingers. Next morning when I tried a couple of songs, I felt like my voice had changed over night from a scrub pine tree to a redwood. Wonderful!
Lisa Null also gave group classes (free!) at the 1998 FWGW Getaway. Even though I wasn't one of the students, I got an awful lot out of watching and listening as she taught other people. (She'll probably do that again this year, so come check it out!)
My own experience is that nothing frees up my voice like confidence and preparation. I was *really* nervous about singing a couple of Civil War songs at the recent Washington Folk Festival. But I was scared enough that I was determined not to make an ass of myself, or to shoot myself in the foot out of nervousness. I did everything I could to practice and prepare myself, including singing at the open mike at the Reston Folk Club a couple of times to get comfortable with the effects of singing into a mike.
I practiced those songs till I had explored every nuance I could of phrasing, timing, delivery and voice quality. I tried them in every key I might possibly start them in. Then I bought a pitch pipe and tried various keys until I knew exactly where I should start each song. (I was going to sing unaccompanied, so there wouldn't be any instrument to help with the pitch.) Mind you, I was doing all this because I have had plenty of experiences of choking up and ruining a song that I normally sing pretty well, just because a lot of people are watching.
The point is, once I got up on stage and had my key and started singing, everything went on automatic pilot. I was amazed. All I had to do was open my mouth and sing. All that rehearsing and preparation and disaster control had the best possible outcome: the songs pretty much sang themselves, and my voice was at its very best.
Hope this is some help to someone. - Rita F