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Too much technique

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Let me start by saying that I am relatively new to singing. While I sang in a boychoir as a child, only recently have I really acquired a true passion for singing. Yet as I've become more involved in the vocal world, I've begun to notice a rather disappointing trend in singers: Many seem to focus more on technique and style than any other facet of singing.

This can be seen in all genres of music: Classical vocalists use ridiculous amounts of vibrato to the point where you can't understand a word they're saying, (Not that you would, anyway, unless you're quintilingual and have a degree in linguistic anthropology, but that's beside the point...) R&B singers will extend a piece by ten minutes with runs, and power metal vocalists will call every dog in the neighborhood with their climactic, wall-breaking C8.

The fact is that singers are proud of their voices. They work very hard to release their full potential and to achieve the sound that they want. That's commendable, and it's natural that they want to show how hard they've worked.

The problem is when you display everything you know how to do on every single part of every single song. If you are constantly flashing your abilities, no matter how amazing they are they will quickly become mundane and really ruin the point of learning how to sing well in the first place.

For instance: Whenever I hear someone doing a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and flooding it with an eclectic mix of soaring runs and moments of crooning, I can't help but think that it's become more about the singer than their country. They've concentrated so much on standing out from other renditions and on doing the song well that they've forgotten what the song is about; what music is about, for that matter.

The whole purpose of singing and, in turn, music is to express yourself; to convey emotions to others and to celebrate our common humanity. Technique is an excellent tool in achieving that. It can make us sound the way we want to sound and express the things we want to express. However, we have to remember that in the end it's a tool. In itself, technique does not make the singer.

Oh, sure, you can impress people with vocal talent. But to IMPACT them; to bring tears to their eyes and make them feel what you want them to feel, you have to be able to use your abilities when they're called for. Don't be afraid to mellow out on that first verse; it will just make the climax at the end seem all the more powerful. Don't fill every extended note with a run; sometimes a single clear note is more expressive than anything else you can put together. Don't be afraid to ease up on the vibrato; it will add subtle variety to your voice without having to constantly change the actual notes you're singing. In short: Own your technique; don't let it own you.

That's my two cents,

Noah Martin


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