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Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

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So, this comes from a few conversations that came up on some threads and on the conference call.

My view on this particular subject is very radical, its not what we want to develop so, during trainning, it has no place, besides when searching for some coordinations that you are still not familiar with.

The usual cause for both is that some muscle is trying to make up for the lack of coordination or strenght of another. Coordination problems may be caused both by a problem with the intention that originates the vowel or simply the lack of tonus on a particular movement that the singer is still not familiar with. Lack of strenght is the long term result of the previous condition, and remains for a while even after the proper coordination is found.

The first presents itself as constriction of the throat, jaw tension, tongue tension, soft-palate tension, neck tension, specially on the sternocleidomastoids, and so on. Even hand gestures may become connected to the act of singing when improperly used.

The later usually causes a loss of tonal quality, vowels shifting from the correct placement, or a sudden shift of it into a given direction, usually disconnecting from full voice.

If enough attention is given during the first stages of trainning, strenght building exercises, that involves absolutely no constriction, tension or veins popping, can get the strenght problem solved quickly.

Coordination problems simply need to be adressed. And their nature do not allow that repeating over and over the same thing fix the issue. If anything, repeating a problematic coordination will only make the alien muscle stronger and the tonus problem worse.

The usuall way to fix this kind of problem is to atack the source of tension. If the jaw is projecting, pay attention to it and try to relief this movement during the phonation. And then some other problems may show up, and its where a coach is needed to decide: Its ok, insist on it. Or: nope, not working, lets try something else.

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I totally agree. Remove the source of strain or undue tension.

As for strength, people adduct all day long when they speak. Even those who have weak speaking voices can remedy the situation by practicing exercises. But that is a loaded word. The word exercise reminds people of weightlifting or strenuous physical exertion. When, actually, it's a matter of coordination.

I was reading one author who had a student that spoke so softly. And sang even softer. And the root caues was not weak muscles. It was a lifetime of being beaten down psychologically by others. So, he made her stand at the other side of the room and "holler." Her hollering equals most people's speach. And that had more to do with her releasing mentally her desire to be heard against the recriminations playing in her head thanks to the (oh, you don't know how close I came to using some profanity that would probably get me banned) persons who beat her down. That is, most of his work during a lesson, just to get to scales, was to overcome her own blocks against herself.

If I have not mentioned it before, singing is mental.

To me, the one thing that should be strengthened in training is the link in your mind was to what it feels like getting the right note with the volume and tone that is good.

I realize that I am an odd duck but I feel that singing should be without strain and constriction. At any point in time. If you are straining and constricting in training, you are building habits of constricting and straining.

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this one's better left to a verbal discussion, but it's an excellent post topic.

i'll go ahead and officially elect myself a major proponent and member of the "muscle development" group...lol!!! maybe i'm the only one in the group. this includes strength in the lower core.

and i'll go on record as saying in my humble opinion, no strain, no gain.....lol!!!! (not in the literal sense of course, but you know what i mean)...lol!!!

and it's okay if i'm the only one who is in the group....lol!!!!

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Ok sorry it took so long for me to chime in Felipe cause i asked you to make the thread so thank you..

Im going to answer this in 2 parts.. First athletically and second personal.

Pretty much any sport you do to build coordination, you start by learning the form and then after time put the strength into it. Golf, basketball, baseball, boxing etc. Why would singing be any different. I believe you find and build on the coordination. If you come out of the gate full balls you are bound to blow the cords out, apart, etc. They are tiny and need to be finessed.

2nd part:

Personally when I am singing songs that get challenging either staying on a passagio note the whole song note after note or singing a high piece of music, If i come out of the gate balls out thinking pressure volume strain for my gain it never happens. If I come out just trying to speak it on the pitch thinking to myself this is easy just take a nice low breath, initiate the sound confidently, sing on the breath, expand my body as i sing upwards I usually nail it.

thats my 2 cents sorry I cant agree with ya Bob. I have done it the other way to many times and failed or ended up straining all night just to make it through.

:D:cool::)

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I just got an interesting perspective on this subject from a Vocal Scientist and Coach Thomas Blaylock. I'm in the middle of a Gino Vannelli master class on voice, and yesterday Gino brought in Tom - Gino's vocal coach. Tom sits on a board with top vocal scientists around the world. He is also a fantastic baritone opera singer and demonstrated some amazing things. He shared a story that he once had a teacher that almost ruined his voice. He told Tom to sing while "relaxing" his muscles. It was this that almost ruined his voice. To make a long story short - Tom says there is muscle tension in everything. You can't sing without muscle tension. But it is the balanced tension that is the most important. Just like TA and CT which oppose each other, same goes for the abdominal muscles and diaphram and a whole host of other muscle interactions involved with singing.

What he said is developing coordination between muscles so that you can create tension with the least amount of energy that is the most important. He also said when teachers say everything has to be "relaxed" what they really mean is "muscle independance". A lot of times the beginner will inadvertantly evoke the constrictors along with singing higher notes. We shouldn't "relax" everything - but we need the constrictors to be independant of other muscles. What he was getting at is to acheive minimum effort of each muscle we need muscle independance. Not relaxed muslces.

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the thing is, this witchhunt for tension is in my mind almost as contraproductive as people who strain their balls off.

Im gonna qoute Jorn Lande when he game me a tip "Du skall ikke vare redd for din stemme".

"you shall not be afraid of your voice"

You are gonna strain when your gonna try to travel to new sensations and soundqualities, man we have to challenge our voice, find out the limits.

Really take it for a spin, Strain is nothing dangerous as long as we dont make it a habit or go at it without vocalrest for several periods of days.

You must dare to be really bad to become really good

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That depends Jens. Going after the new postures, feeling that its still wrong and searching instead of forcing, very positive. Going after something that sounds good through force, no deal. Wont become anything other than forced even if you unsist one hundred years on it.

The problem is exactly that hardly people allow it to be bad, brakes and wobbles are quickly fixed by applying a little pressure here and there, which becomes larger and larger with each semitone. And many times, the spoken voice is already tense, so there is no safe ground to compare with.

I cant resist, quote:

Insanity is insisting on the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

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but as time goes by, and you get stronger and more developed you learn you can apply breath tension selectively. you can engage various levels of fold pressure, fold depth, cry level, etc., and balance it against the air pressure.

you realize you can isolate more, rather than feeling like you grabbed onto a bunch of things to sing.

that why you need to have requisite development before you tackle things like messa di voce. that exercise requires serious isolation of the breath tension and the vocal folds. if you're still in the stage where you constrict and bring in extraneous musculature you'll never get the benefit of that exercise.

my biggest help to my singing was learning (and i'm still learning) appoggio technique.

this technique taught me how to put braking action (check out franco tenelli's new video below) into my singing so i don't run away like a loose cannon with my air and slap it and force it into my folds. i'm better at regulating my air and more importantly my air pressure...both ways.

when you sing with appoggio, you get left with a lot of freedom upstairs. i know i'm not the best at explaining these things but i hope i did a decent job on this.

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the thing is, many great rocksingers for example use a controlled shoutmechanism(overdrive) wich actualy needs you to power up there instead of holding back.

You dont think dio, lande, coverdale did strain from time to time when getting their style? And finaly when they got into their peak vocaltechnique could do the same sounds without strain?

Thats atleast my core belif, many singers figure this out themselves, they dont go to a vocalcoach who will monitor them.

If you baby your voice, it will become a baby if you expekt great things from it, it will do the task after serious building of strength

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This is a topic which interests and concerns me.

I've been working on the D4-D5 range a lot for the past two months or so, and when I first learned to access this range it was bad, I strained like crazy, it sounded bad and I could hardly do it at all. On top of this my voice got very tired and I had to rest it quite a bit before I could do this stuff again.

Today I sound much better, it takes much less effort, I can do it for longer but it still makes my voice tired because I go balls to the walls and push the limits all the time. Still I have to rest my voice every few days or it gets too tired - BUT I'm still improving at a good rate. So I'm straining a bit and improving - I'm not sure if this is wrong or right.

I wonder if a bit of strain (and bad stamina) is avoidable at all when pushing the limits of the voice and learning to sing higher not only for longer, but with a heavier sound. The one thing I know for sure is that if I would have avoided straining I would NOT be anywhere close to where I am today...

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What he said is developing coordination between muscles so that you can create tension with the least amount of energy that is the most important. He also said when teachers say everything has to be "relaxed" what they really mean is "muscle independance". A lot of times the beginner will inadvertantly evoke the constrictors along with singing higher notes. We shouldn't "relax" everything - but we need the constrictors to be independant of other muscles. What he was getting at is to acheive minimum effort of each muscle we need muscle independance. Not relaxed muslces.

I completely agree with this. I would like to make an analogy between singing and learning snowboarding. The first few days you will be completely exhausted from falling (breaking) and from the sheer effort of simple turns (straining) and you will use alot of effort via muscle power to try to compensate for the lack of balance (coordination). If you would continue on this path, I guess you would become very strong in weird places, because if you look at someone who actually CAN snowboard, you will see it's very effortless. I say effortless, not relaxed because if you would relax you would fall down. You simply learn to tense the correct muscles and not waste as much effort as before simply because you found the balance (AND of course you also became stronger in the "correct" muscles on your way through some of the strain).

I'm very new here so take what I say with a grain of salt, but this is how it feels so far for me in the singing world.

Cheers!

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Developing the coordination is key like I said. I have only golfed once but I went with apro who was a keyboard player I played with with for years. The first thing he said and throughout the day was dont try to smack this thing with all your might, get the form down and just follow through. To me it is like this in singing don't be wet noodle and not try and flip into falsetto there needs to be effort. But realize there is gonna be time needed for development of strength and coordination. Once you can sing your full range with the least amount of effort then the strength and power will come in with practice like any other difficult activity.If it was the other way around and you had all the power and strength and coordination without practice I don't think we would all be discussing this on the forum.:D:D:D

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well some people are born with power and strength, for example erik of this thread. He had sung for a less period of time than i had and still could pull his voice in chestvoice(fullvoice) up basicly as high as he wanted.

Not saying its an easy feat for him, but his voice reacted entierly diffrent than mine for example when going high and staying rooted to the speakingvoice.

I needed to build strenght to be able to do the same things as his, and he probaly needed to build coordination and tame that voice of his.

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I think he just was able to get the coordination down quicker. Come on now we are splitting hairs,. Of course some people are gonna be able to pick it up quicker. Just like with anything learning a sport,language,chemistry , math.

Some people are gonna sound Chester some headier..

Some girls I think are smokin hot you might think are not that good looking.:D

Eric I like how you said "patience to tune in" very nicely put.

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so i guess there are more members on the "muscle development/no strain/no gain" team.....lol!!!

i'm working on some of these old four tops tunes, where you just sit between e4 and a4 with this chesty, belty quality yet you still have to sound full and refined...tough stuff.

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erik, when i was first learning foriegner and some led zep songs, the difficulty was so much that i ended up with headaches too. people don't talk much about the restraint effort sometimes involved in singing. the parts where you have to gear down really hard, really hard.

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I liked Geno's explanation. It's not that there is no tension. There is tension when you walk, pick a drink, whatever. What allows for endurance is the minimum amount of tension required to accomplish the objective. In our forum, singing.

I also like the golf explanation. I can send a ball 150 yards with a 5 iron. And it was all technique. Because I could also take the 460 driver and puke out at 50 yards, swinging for the fences, because of wrong technique.

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