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Can Everyone, Amateur or Pro, in Every Style, Benefit from Vocal Training? By Dena Murray

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I teach and write books to help singers because of all the twists and turns in my quest to finding my own real voice and learning how to sing with ease, freedom, and FUN. My first book is good for beginners. It contains a lot of science written in layman's terms with drawings to help you understand the voice production mechanism and how it works -- air, vocal cords, pharynx, and so on.

Then we start exercises to separate and correct problems in each register. If you've got a problem in any one register, it will still be there when bridging breaks or correcting problems in other areas. Discomfort or difficulty producing pitches in either the chest or head register creates all kinds of unnatural ways of singing, usually in attempts to mask the problem while performing. Over time, unnatural manipulation with the neck and belly muscles to hide these problems can lead to injury.

A singer can sound one way in exercise and completely different when singing songs. The idea is to get them to match for practice, maintenance, and protection of the instrument. As a one-time student, professional, and now instructor , I have found it EXTREMELY important to learn some things on the intellectual level first. Then ,when you've physically experienced what has been ingested on the intellectual level, the AH HA moments become more frequent. Once that happens, you have gained true knowledge (the understanding that comes AFTER one has had the physical experience).

Feeling and sensation became the road to becoming my OWN teacher. I had to learn what felt wrong before I could get it right. I also found that words like 'good' and 'bad' made me overly critical and judgemental, making it harder for me to train because I was unable to separate my sense of self-worth from my voice. Words like 'correct,' 'incorrect,' 'right,' and 'wrong' kept me evaluating just as my teachers along the way did. Going about practicing exercises in this way made it challenging and fun. I never knew how competitive I was until I began serious training, practicing exercises and applying what I'd been learning technically and emotionally when singing songs. (There are techniques for getting into your emotions and out of your head.)

Always tape every exercise and performance. The recording becomes the student. You become the guide. I can't tell you how many times I got mad at my tape recorder! I even yelled into it a couple of times. The voice was not going to win. I would no longer allow it to control me just because it didn't always know what it was doing. You have to learn how to change bad sense-memory habits on deep physical level that is hard to verbalize.

Likewise, if an intuitively born-out-of-the-womb gifted singer doesn't learn what makes their voice such a gift, then somewhere down the road, bad habits can start creeping in without any awareness that it's happening until one day they find themselves having some vocal trouble. This is something they never imagined would happen because in the past the voice was the ONE thing that was always there for them. It Never Failed. Once the troubles have become clear to that singer, this hopefully will lead them to finding a teacher that can help. It is only then that those singers begin to really learn about their voices, become willing, hungry for information, and teachable.

YOUR BODY WILL ALWAYS TELL YOU WHEN IT'S RIGHT AND WHEN IT'S WRONG. The trick is not to deny what you feel when you feel it. Some have been denying discomfort by barreling through troubles with the voice for so long that it's become a habit. The habit feels more comfortable than the effort it might take to change it, because of years of body sense memory. However, once you've begun you will begin to feel the difference as you are instructed into wrong versus right. Any trouble you may run into has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR ABILITY AS A GOOD PERFORMER/SINGER. These things always boil down to the acquisition of bad habits in efforts to achieve a certain sound.

It's very important to any singer, beginner, intermediate, or advanced, to get good information and vocal technique under their belt -- especially those who sing rock, hard rock, and metal, because you must have a good foundation before learning how to correctly apply the effects that go along with those styles.If you desire these effects you should seek out an instructor who knows how to teach them correctly, e.g., Robert Lunte, Jaime Vendera, Alessandro del Vecchio. You can find any teacher you need on this site. They are ALL the best of the best.

My best suggestion when seeking an instructor is to find one you can connect with, who 'gets' you and you 'get' them. Don't give up until you have found one.

Most Sincerely,

Dena Murray


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