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How to get strength for prolonged singing

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Hey guys,

I've been working on some full voice singing in the mid-high range, and I've realized that I can't sing for very long without taking a break. When I'm singing relatively high, I can't even finish a full sentence before I have to stop and rest my diaphragm and take a breath, and if I don't I tend to get bound up. Is this normal, and will I improve over time? Or is there a way to train endurance in the body for prolonged singing?

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Are you taking a relaxed full breath in as many spots as the music will allow? That might help a bit.

It does take endurance though. It will improve over time for sure, but it would be smart to not try to use it too often while singing live. Train it, more than actually use it in singing. Until the endurance starts to get good enough. Soon it will be good enough for recording, then after an amount of time, good enough for live singing.

Same thing goes with mixed voice where the challenge is not endurance, but coordination. Train it, and just do planned register flips if it's not yet reliable for singing live. Eventually the coordination will become reliable enough for recording, then after that it will be eventually reliable enough for singing live.

And if you train both at the same time you're always left with the option to pick one or the other...you decide, which is better today? My endurance? Belt it out. My coordination? Sing it in a mix. Do they both suck? Okay I'll just modify the melody or flip to falsetto in places where it will be artistically appropriate.

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Hey Owen,

Sometimes I don't really see the difference between my belting and my mixed voice. Mixed voice just seems a tad easier. And is there anything I can do about it immediately, or does my body have to get used to it over time? Right now I can't even fathom the amount of strength it will take to sing in the bridge area for the full duration of a song. Most of my current "high notes" (f4, f#4, g4) already feel like toture after just a few seconds of holding them, and this makes them unreliable for actual performance.

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Nothing about the voice improves immediately. I mean technically you can sometimes make immediate improvements but they don't really mean much especially regarding live singing, because they're there one instant, gone the next.

It's like bowling, anyone can roll a strike on their first day but they'll still get an awful score because they can't repeat it at will. However the more they repeat it that day the better their scores/consistency will get toward the end of that session but the next day they're back to square one because they no longer have that short term muscle memory available. So they have to warm up to their best ability again. If they wanna get great fast they should do as many long sessions as possible as frequently as possible. Same goes for a singer that wants to improve, start doing a longer warm up and you will arrive at better spots in your voice more often. Also because it's longer it will force you to tidy up your technique and reduce the effort level a tad so you don't wear yourself out too quickly, and the result of that is basically endurance. It won't be physical endurance, but endurance in the sense of, you've figured out how to sing in an easier way that doesn't blow your voice out as fast.

That's the closest you can get to immediate results before you really have a hold on them, and it will bring you faster results in the long run too. But on a grand scale, it still takes time.

With that out of the way, if your mixed voice feels just a little bit easier than your chest voice, chances are there's almost no power difference sound-wise and you're better off just always doing the mixed voice. Record yourself and see if that's the case. But a more refined mixed voice will feel noticeably different (easier) but not sound too different. So you get more mileage out of your voice on a long term scale and that's really more of the goal of great singing, rather than merely getting better at tolerating straining your ass off for a longer period of time.

You still wanna train your physical endurance too, but when it comes time to sing, especially singing live, it's more about finding a way to reduce the effort level without compromising the power, or maybe you even want a lighter sound and compromising power is okay. Especially if you are going for the latter, it's better to start with a foundation of easily manageable effort and train to add power on top of that without losing the foundation.

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Phil is right. If you having a difficult time at F4 or G4 it is most likely technique. You should be able to sing those notes with much less effort. And of course if you're singing with less effort, your endurance will improve immensely.

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Having to let your diaphram take a rest after a sentence pretty much lets me know that you are thinking by pushing you will gain strength or resonance. There needs to be a clear tone. Don't worry about volume or range work with a clear solid tone and only go as high as you can without any changing. Also work on your falsetto to, it's important for release and pitch and relaxation in the high range

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Thanks everyone for the replies

@Owen: For live performances, I doubt I would go higher than an f4, and even for a while back I didn't really practice singing in that area. Maybe it's because I'm just starting out working that area of the voice that its so tiring? Because usually I sing in a lower key.

@Phil: It could be a technique problem, but everything feels fine in the throat and it all comes out good, so I have no way of knowing. It's mostly internally that it's really tasking. And just to add, I had been doing falsetto and headvoice coordinations in that part of the voice for some time to lighten it up, and I just recently started doing full voice stuff there. SO maybe my body's not used to it yet?

@Geno: I'm not really having a hard time hitting them, I mean there's no tension in the throat or anything. Its diaphragm that's holding it all together that gets most of the tension, from holding back the air. But if it is a technique thing, how will I know if there's no feeling of tension anywhere but the diaphragm?

@Daniel: If I'm pushing, I don't think I'm doing it on purpose. What usually happens is that the diaphragm tends to engage more and more as I sing higher/longer, to a point it becomes really hard to keep it up. That's why I have to take a rest after some time to get the diaphragm un-bound up.

@Felipe: Do programs/videos count? Becuase that's what I've been using and I've gone quite far with them.

Thanks everyone, looking forward to your replies! :)

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I am no teacher and I really should keep my mouth shut :P but it sounds like you are keeping way to much tension in your body while singing. There should be no need to push or strain anything under F#4. Do you wear yourself out when talking to someone for more than 15 minutes?

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Hey MDEW,

I am no teacher and I really should keep my mouth shut :P

That's probably the worst thing you could do for me right now :P

I think you may be correct about the too much tension, but there are two things about this:

1) The tension is only in the diaphragm, nowhere else. It just feels stressed out after I sing in a certain way for a long time.

2) It's more of a reflex action in the diaphragm. It naturally engages as I'm singing, and it tends to get more tense as I go higher. I'm not doing it on purpose. It's like if the diaphragm doesn't tighten, the note falls apart.

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UPDATE: I just realized that if I lighten up the sound & add more twang without backing off the volume a little more, it gets easier. The thing is, this isn't the sound I'm going for (overly bright). The sound I'm going for is more power gospel-ish. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

If you guys need an audio clip, I'd be happy to oblige.

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@Daniel: If I'm pushing, I don't think I'm doing it on purpose. What usually happens is that the diaphragm tends to engage more and more as I sing higher/longer, to a point it becomes really hard to keep it up. That's why I have to take a rest after some time to get the diaphragm un-bound up.

you said after a sentence you are tired. I have never met anyone that was tired after a sentence unless maybe a physical problem(asthma etc) dont worry about your diaphram.. As a matter of fact, forget about it and just breath in sing a phrase and let the air back in repeat the phrase and so on and so forth. practice that for a while..

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So here's a quick audio I made. I think it's important to note that I was really trying to dial back the volume because of the neighbors, so that made it a whole lot harder :/

https://soundcloud.com/ipullchestalot/oh-octave-scale

and

https://soundcloud.com/ipullchestalot/ay-octave-scale

The points where it gets shaky is where the support starts to give out.

If I can get to a place where I can increase the intensity, without receiving complaints, I'll redo them.

EDIT: Just noticed it was an F4 I was singing. Do you think I should be able to hold the F4 for longer than this without having to rest?

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