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Is this sort of exercise helping me pass my bridge?

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gandlethorpe
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For the longest time, my main goal has been to conquer my break. When I was just singing on my own, I developed the bad habit of pulling chest whenever I needed to sing past E4. That was until I started reading and watching videos about mixed voice. For a while, I tried to find it on my own, but finally became frustrated and started seeing an SLS teacher.

Most of the exercises she gives me are the ones I've seen elsewhere, such as the octave-and-a-half arpeggios. I don't doubt them, especially after hearing a recording of Michael Jackson doing the same stuff, but sometimes I feel like I'm not improving or I'm doing it wrong. I'm still confused about head voice and whether the noise I'm making is or isn't falsetto. My biggest concern is that I'm not doing anything about the bridge and just perpetuating the separation between my lower and higher registers.

http://soundcloud.com/gandlethorpe/ah-exercise

Here's a recording of me doing an octave-and-a-half exercise on "ah" as in "cat". I need to know whether I'm actually accomplishing something by doing this the way I'm doing it, or I'm just wasting my time and breath. Another thing I need to know is whether I'm actually achieving some kind of head voice, or it's just falsetto.

Thanks for any help.

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Hi gandlethorpe,

I'm glad you asked this question because I am interested in the answer :) I can't say that I really have one but I do have an observation I'd like to note here. Wouldn't sirens and slides or legato notes be better for getting passed the passagio? I also like too slur notes and lines and slide up. I would think that arpeggios would allow you to skip over the break .

By the way, just a side note...I think the a sound in "cat" is aa. The ah sound is more like "father."

Tommy

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one exercise that helped me a lot is doing a "falsetto slide" where you lightly sing a note that is above the bridge (a B4 or so) on a vowel and then slowly slide down an octave. The goal is to not have any breaks at all during the slide but one consistent tone. You'll have some breaks at first but after some practice your muscles will become more coordinated and will start to have a better idea what needs to be done. You'll also be able to pinpoint your trouble spots (where it breaks) and slow down more in that area.

The key is to do it slowly and quietly at first before adding volume. Also, try to relax. Once you get the coordination you can start adding more support and volume and then concentrate on getting a better tone out of it by working on resonance.

For me, this exercise was a much better start than doing sirens or arpeggios. After you can start adding some volume, doing the falsetto slides along with sirens will help continue to smooth things out. Hopefully this helps!

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That's just one of the exercises. Maybe I'm overdoing the rearticulation, but I'm trying to work on cord closure. She has me doing other exercises, like "gee"s, "mum"s, and connected "ee"s. I have the hardest time doing the "ee"s because when I try not to strain as I get higher, I end up flipping into my higher voice.

When I have time, I'll try a recording of the "ee"s. If I do them softer, I can get them connected, but that's barely louder than a whisper, and I don't know if that's strengthening anything.

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At first I did exercises like that too... did about a million "mums".

What I found is that a siren is way better at setting up the right muscles than any mum or lip roll etc., because you almost visualize a solid connected voice, much like a road stretching out in front of you with a slight speed bump, but you can see the other side.

The "mums" make you bounce around so much that it's harder to hear the correct co-ordination. (then you end up on the gravel)

So, my advice is, siren for a few days and see what it does

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yes, for fold clousure stacatto helps.

gugs, gugs, mums, all of that helps, yes. these are also good because they help lower your larynx and train you to keep it from popping up.

keeping the larynx from popping up is one of the biggest obstacles to learning to sing well.

just remember, if you don't try to stay connected initially it's okay if you have to to dump into head voice. but after you get used to doing the exercises you want to try to hold on to some percentage of chest voice musculature (depending on the note) a little more each time. these attempts will sound lousy and you will fail at times, crack at times, but ultimately it will start coming together for you with "consistent" practise.

i remember when i first started. it was so disheartening, so "when the hell is this going to come together." but then one day when you least expect it, it just all does.

always try. don't relinquish to head voice by relaxing into it.

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always try. don't relinquish to head voice by relaxing into it.

VIDEOHERE Could you please explain this for me?

BTW. Is there somewhere on the forum where i can find explanasions to the words that i cant find in a dictionary,

that are special for this field?

PS. Sorry for using your thread gandlethorp.

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sure.

when you're doing your full voice exercises, exercises that are typically louder and consist of more vocal fold engagement and likely more support (full voice development exercises), as you go higher in pitch you don't want to hang on to chest voice musculature exclusively. you want to gradually and smoothly release and bring in more head voice musculature to allow the voice to thin....yet have body and texture and a solid core.

it can be very tempting (or you might associate this act with fear, you might associate this with straining) especially if you're a d.i.y'er with no one to monitor you to end up releasing into head voice musculature too soon or release too much which will land you in a place where the power will drop out and the voice can get either too airy, or too heady. tonal disparity will likely occur (very similar to a yodel) and you have done very little in terms of training the two musculatures to assist and enhance each other. the voice wants to work as a seemless unit, but we've done things to prevent that from happening. the trick is to get out of it's way.

here's a very good way to look at it......you're training for the conjuction between the two musculatures.

another helpful way to look at it is the as the chest voice goes up, the head voice comes down.

the performing voice (by and large) needs the cooperation of both musculatures.

sometimes i digress...lol!!!

have i helped?

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I listened to your clip. Not bad man. But if you want to improve on it (which I think you should), note that that in that clip you're always going from pure chest voice to pure head voice, i.e. when you go to head voice, you don't really bring any chest up with you. In SLS terms, you aren't getting into your "mix" at any point. That would explain why you feel your high notes lack power - because currently they do. :)

One reason for that is simple - the pure ah vowel doesn't work in the mixed voice on high notes. You'd have to modify your vowel just slightly towards Uh as in "hungry" or "bird" (depending on the specific english dialect).

Also, try adding a little "cry" to your voice as you get into your high range. That pulls back on the volume slightly so that you don't get into uncontrollable shouting but it also thickens up your voice a bit. You can do this with arpeggios, scales or sirens, with consonants or not. To start off with it might be helpful to add consonants and do it in a more legato fashion instead of staccato, as Bob (VIDEOHERE) is suggesting.

That's just to start you off. Try recording yourself doing that and post it back here to receive further comments. Bit by bit there's chance that someone here can help you improve your vocals a lot ;)

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yes, for fold clousure stacatto helps.

gugs, gugs, mums, all of that helps, yes. these are also good because they help lower your larynx and train you to keep it from popping up.

keeping the larynx from popping up is one of the biggest obstacles to learning to sing well.

just remember, if you don't try to stay connected initially it's okay if you have to to dump into head voice. but after you get used to doing the exercises you want to try to hold on to some percentage of chest voice musculature (depending on the note) a little more each time. these attempts will sound lousy and you will fail at times, crack at times, but ultimately it will start coming together for you with "consistent" practise.

i remember when i first started. it was so disheartening, so "when the hell is this going to come together." but then one day when you least expect it, it just all does.

always try. don't relinquish to head voice by relaxing into it.

Thanks for the advice. I definitely think to myself "I'm never gonna get this" most days, but every now and then I'll have a really good day and realize how much better I am than a few weeks ago.

I'm still very frustrated with my "head voice" though. It seems to me like I have three completely different ways of voicing notes up there. I can do straight falsetto, "hooty choir boy voice", and something that feels like a heady-belt, a la Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. The first two are too light and can't connect to my chest voice, while the last is too harsh and way too tiring to sing a whole song that way. Tonight, I'll try to make a recording of the different voices.

One weird thing is, often times it's a lot easier for me to hit an A or B4 than it is to do F4-G4 without straining. I only start being able to do the "heady-belt" at A4. Oddly enough, I can even connect it to my falsetto sometimes, but my chest and falsetto can't connect directly.

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it's likely, for all intents and purposes, that the "tiring" voice you speak of may actually be the connected voice you desire. it's hard to tell like this, but if you are new to singing with varying degrees of mixed voice (both chest and voice musculatures involved) it can indeed be tiring because you may be calling upon muscles you're not used to using. you are teaching them to become less antagonistic towards each other and they may give you a good fight to remain that way....lol!!!!

if you default to a heady, choir boy voice you won't build the strength you need for a performing voice. the pure head voice needs the body and depth that the chest voice musculature provides.

what i do is force myself to regard head voice coming down to meet my chest rather than i'm acsending into head.

this one register mentality is one that you have to work on, just a little bit more and more each day....

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I listened to your clip. The main thing you need to do is slide from one note to the other. If your goal is to connect chest to head you've got to connect every note. Do it slowly if needed. Lip rolls are great as well because it automatically restricts air flow which balances the air pressure above and below the folds. Other great connection exercises are single and double octave sirens - low - high - low. Smooth sliding between each note.

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I wasn't able to get a good recording of my "head-belt" thing, but here it is. I can't do it any softer than that, so it's even more distorted by my crappy laptop mic. Also, I can't seem to do it as well today, my throat's tightening up, so it might not even be a good example. Of course, there's also the possibility that I'm doing something incredibly dangerous that may damage my voice.

I also recorded some "gee" and "ee" exercises that my teacher has me do. As you can hear, it's totally disconnected. As a recovering chestpuller, I'm trying very hard not to pull chest, and the only other way I know to go higher is to do whatever it is I'm doing in the recording.

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three things i would suggest for the the first week or two:

(run this by your teacher as well.)

assuming you've warmed up a bit?

do the exercise a little slower:

onset them (begin them) lighter and strive to remain tonally similar as you work the exercise. don't be concerned with power or volume, just work on tonal consistency up and down the scale.

you do hear the little trace of a yodel as you reach midpoint of the scale? try to eliminate that by begining to blend a little sooner.

also, be sure the teacher has given you the correct mouth formation for the "ee" vowel. you should be approaching the "ee" with a similar mouth position used to form an "eh" rather than a smiley, horizontal "ee" speaking type "ee."

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Am I at least getting an appropriate sound for the higher notes? In other words, am I actually exercising my head voice? Because sometimes I doubt whether I've ever actually achieved a proper head voice, much less a mix. Is it a waste of time to practice the "hooty choir boy" voice?

Another thing I have trouble grasping is easing off of chest. I can only slide without breaking if I hum barely above a whisper.

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answer to paragraph #1

my personal advice as a singer...

no, it's not a waste of time to practise the "hooty voice" but then my suggestion would be to practise it hooty, in a top down direction only for now being exclusively hooty. make that an exercise, and stay hooty during the entire time..

if are out to practise the full voice, then stay in the more connected way and do not dump out into head voice unless you absolutely have to and as long as you don't strain or push the voice try each day to stay more connected in the voice the way you began with at the start...i.o.w....for ex., if you began louder, remain loud all the way through and try not to get too loud as you ascend in pitch.

paragraph #2

if you onset lighter, initiate the tone with less of an attack, you will likely have an easier go of it.

remember, patience with this stuff!! you must surrender to patience.

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I recorded some octave slides. I used to do these more a while back, but I could never apply them to actual singing, or even do them on different vowels. Also, I didn't know how to do them any louder than slightly above a whisper. I can do it a little louder now, but I still have trouble increasing the volume, because when I do, my chest voice starts overpowering and I'm unable to pass the bridge smoothly.

Another exercise I like is to start on the 5th of a scale and just go back and forth to the root until I run out of breath.

When I do these, I start feeling "headiness" as early as A3. Is that how it should be?

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I recorded some octave slides. I used to do these more a while back, but I could never apply them to actual singing, or even do them on different vowels. Also, I didn't know how to do them any louder than slightly above a whisper. I can do it a little louder now, but I still have trouble increasing the volume, because when I do, my chest voice starts overpowering and I'm unable to pass the bridge smoothly.

Another exercise I like is to start on the 5th of a scale and just go back and forth to the root until I run out of breath.

When I do these, I start feeling "headiness" as early as A3. Is that how it should be?

The best thing I could suggest to you after listening to that clip is to try to the same thing but this time let as little air out as possible, almost holding your breath entirely. You're disconnecting/breaking because you're using too much air. Your vowel modification is a bit odd, but then for some reason you change to an O vowel in the passagio, which is actually a good choice, because it makes it easier to navigate through the passagio, as long as you don't get too loud or too soft and also remember to use less air than you do. Can you re-record with those pointers in mind?

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I figured air control was one of my problems, as my teacher often says I'm too breathy. But I feel like I'm using as little air as I can and letting resonance take over. How do I go about using less air and while still making a sound? I assume squeezing inside my throat is not the way to go.

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Do you mean start on "ah" and gradually change to "oo" on the way up? May I ask what that works on, in particular?

it's a great way to begin to sense for yourself a smooth connected tone. the"oo" helps you navigate your passagio without undue tension.

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