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MDEW, you run through enough people... day in and day out and you begin to realize... there are some that really can't... there is a level of improvement that everyone can achieve, but a level that would be acceptable in front of an audience... sadly, there is a very small minority of people that just won't get there.

Issues include, but are not limited to: MAJOR issues with hearing pitch, the inability to simply feel a quarter note (4/4) tempo, the size of the mouth/embouchure, tongues that can't extend and articulate well enough, lack of capacity in the lungs to drive the system... Ive seen these things and there are some people that suffer from several of these issues at the same time... there is not a lot you can do... Now I should preface this by saying... in regards to singing through the passaggio, head voice, belting, high performance stuff... that is what Im talking about... but if we include, just a simple, "sing in the chest voice around your optimal speech frequencies", then that opens the possibilities even more... but still, there will be a % of those people that still cannot... at that level, it is usually an inability to match frequency. 

I used to say you could teach anyone earlier in my career... I remember saying that in an interview once... I was more of an idealist at that time... but I have had that beaten out of me... Ive grown up... I'm out of the idealist fog, like a college campus freshman and have been training in the real world... 

The good news is... it is VERY rare... The vast majority of people CAN.

:beerbang:

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Yeah seems like tone deafness is probably the hardest thing to correct. If you can't even match a pitch, there is very little that training can do. I have met people who have that issue - even in the most ideal aural conditions, they can't reproduce a comfortable that you produce. The physical limitations regarding embouchure and tongue though... whoa those are new to me. So I think the question would not be a question of whether one is born to be able to carry a tune, but whether one is born to be an outstanding singer with an amazing voice, in which case the answer is typically (ie in most cases) 'no' (thankfully).

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Yeah seems like tone deafness is probably the hardest thing to correct. If you can't even match a pitch, there is very little that training can do. I have met people who have that issue - even in the most ideal aural conditions, they can't reproduce a comfortable that you produce. The physical limitations regarding embouchure and tongue though... whoa those are new to me. So I think the question would not be a question of whether one is born to be able to carry a tune, but whether one is born to be an outstanding singer with an amazing voice, in which case the answer is typically (ie in most cases) 'no' (thankfully).

Actually pitch matching can be learned from scratch. I know great vocal coaches who teach it and my own coach actually had to learn it from scratch himself some 10 years ago, he sounds "gifted" now LOL. The way he learned it and teaches it involves singing notes into a chromatic tuner and watching the needle. I'm sure it takes a lot of time but if you stay focused the time flies and you improve just like in any skill.

I think everyone is born with the ability to learn to sing at a level anyone would enjoy hearing, unless a physical limitation impairs them or they simply aren't interested in it. If you are interested, let's call it obsessed because I think to be great at anything you need that almost insane level of interest - the next logical step is you train it as correctly and consistently as possible. THAT is what I think most people fail in, they are completely unaware of what makes great singing and how to get there. Once they figure that out and a commit to it the journey is going to be extremely solid and they will definitely become GREAT, not just good. There will always be prodigies yes, but their advantage just comes in a different way, from the advantage of time and naturalness added to their development by starting early. Of course if you can combine both a gift and a serious drive to train and get better for life, there's no stopping those folks. But plenty of people sing great just relying mainly on one or the other.

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This is my cousin. She is an example of being born with singing talent. She is only 5 years old here winning Star Search in the 80's. She simply starting singing naturally like this. She continues to sing and has a new album out. I on the other hand didn't even speak until 3 years old. I have been singing too for over a decade and continue to improve through the years though it takes me a lot lot lot longer to 'get' what it takes to sing in comparison to someone like my cousin.

 

 

 

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This is my cousin. She is an example of being born with singing talent. She is only 5 years old here winning Star Search in the 80's. She simply starting singing naturally like this. She continues to sing and has a new album out. I on the other hand didn't even speak until 3 years old. I have been singing too for over a decade and continue to improve through the years though it takes me a lot lot lot longer to 'get' what it takes to sing in comparison to someone like my cousin.

 

 

 

​Yep.

Good example Annie... but, you are getting better, correct? 

Annie, how is your training with "4Pillars" coming along?

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Actually pitch matching can be learned from scratch.

For some people, but not all... when you are actually a real voice coach that teaches every day and has done so for over 12 years, you'll come to realize that.

 I know great vocal coaches who teach it and my own coach actually had to learn it from scratch himself some 10 years ago, he sounds "gifted" now LOL. The way he learned it and teaches it involves singing notes into a chromatic tuner and watching the needle. I'm sure it takes a lot of time but if you stay focused the time flies and you improve just like in any skill.

Yes, this is a good idea... We do this as well at The Vocalist Studio, it is required recommendation for all my new students along with a metronome to feel tempo... but again, it helps most people, but there is a small % that will never get it.

I think everyone is born with the ability to learn to sing at a level anyone would enjoy hearing, 

Yes, probably true... but not bridging and singing above the bridge. "Everyone" is not born with the ability to learn to sing super high notes, belt, etc... If your statement includes just a basic, low chest voice vibe... sure.

 THAT is what I think most people fail in, they are completely unaware of what makes great singing and how to get there.

This is true... specifically... two things...

1). To have the right vocal techniques, program and tools to help you do the job... that is difficult because there is a lot of inadequate programs out there and a lot of teachers that only sell lessons, but provide no opportunity for students to follow up with training content, a book to read to understand things better and refer back to. They provide no written homework, no recorded files of your lesson to listen back to and no online virtual HUB to access from any device to refer back to your lesson. These kinds of added benefits, help students in their training experience and growth... If you have all that, you increase your chances.

And most importantly... 

2). The ability to commit to training, singing and practicing. That is what separates the winners from the drop outs.. Sorry to sound so gruff, but ... to commit to vocal training and singing regularly takes a special kind of individual. 

 

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I am practising the onset lift and hold back gonna take a while to get it down. Im not into becoming a proffessional singer. When i often sing Iron Maiden i sing the paul dianno stuff.

Ok, thats cool! The Paul Deanno stuff is cool... I especially like the "get down" scream at the end of the song, "Iron Maiden" and the opening screams to "Killers". 

Here it is LIVE!

Sorry guys I lamed out and failed to give you the embed for Iron maiden - "Killers"... Paul Deanno, their first singer that did two albums... 

Listen to the opening sequence on this song... really super cool Metal screams!... and then through the song a really light, growly distortion. Adds lots of overtones int he mix. It is also effected with a touch of phasing, this sounds so cool.

The cool "howling" harmonies at 2:33 is way spooky. Its a howl harmony.

 

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2). The ability to commit to training, singing and practicing. That is what separates the winners from the drop outs.. Sorry to sound so gruff, but ... to commit to vocal training and singing regularly takes a special kind of individual. 

 

There is something in this particular point that I believe to be very important. People often talk about psychology on singing and how it can affect some higher notes or how it can cause fear. But seldom I see the debate on a real psychological level about the issue.

Lets talk about this girl I just invented, that is now interested about learning how to sing, her name is Ana Bella. Ana is now 23 yo, she sang a bit on her church when she was a kid but nothing serious, and the people there would always praise her voice and tell her about her potential to be a singer, that she had talent and so on.

However when she was a teen, singing was not very important. There were other aspects of her life that were more interesting and were priority. No harm in this of course, but she would always think about that potential she had and remember it, thinking that some day it could become a good thing.

Today, at age 23, Ana is thinking about singing, and may choose to do lessons. She is worried however about finding the best way to allow her potential to come true, so she is searching slowly, going to a number of teachers, looking at internet training, and just playing around with songs.

This behaviour described on the later paragraph is quite problematic. The potential vs commitment dilemma is very true for a lot of people, and often they don't realize that. There is fear involved. How so? Simple. The potential to which she held to for long, those praises she received as child that we don't even know if were due or not, will no longer exist after the commitment. Commiting will remove the hidden "potential", and will reveal her exact and precise state in regards to her singing and skill on the craft, that may very well not be something as special as others said.

Besides that, when we try, we can fail. If we try very hard, failing will be very unpleasant. And we will probably fail quite some times during training. How does this holds when thinking of the potential and the gift/talent? Some people just can't see out of it, and won't do it, which is sad but there is no way to beat it out of the person.

 

There is also another problem related to how we present ourselves and what we decide to say and write. You see, when you are training and you talk about technique with other people, I don't see a problem on it. Specially for feedback, this is invaluable.

But you can create some issues by trying to provide information you are not really in position to give. Guys, when you are still training and trying to control an aspect of technique yourself, and you come in whatever media it is, as coloquial as you may believe it is, defending views and debating, sometimes while opening your strong beliefs behind it, you may very well create barriers that will not help you at all.

Because in the event of being wrong, and that can actually happen believe it or not, and needing to correct that view yourself in order to solve a problem in your own voice (not others), you will have all this luggage were you wrote and defended your position so strongly that it will actually cause you a conflict to even considering changing it. Even if you do realize now that it needs to change. So really, before writing about technique, I always advice to take a step back and consider it well. Do you really know all the aspects about what you are saying? This thing I am defending, am I already using it with good quality, am I sure its what I am doing? How many sources do I have about it? What about people that disagree, what are they saying?

So I recommend to go easy on the assertions and replies, specially on written media. I often see people that are not training for that long making strong statements and that's really not a healthy path to follow. Its always a good practice to not try to preach what you don't practice, even if you are sure about it. In the event of wanting to talk about it, do it, no problem, but refrain from the assertions and keep the conversation light. Don't create an unnecessary set of dogmas to uphold, just learn...

 

These things are very real, some forums on singing are full of perfect samples on that. I don't believe its the case here, but even so, it doesnt hurt to think about it.

 

Felipe

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@ Felipe,... 

Great, spoken like a TRUE professional... 

I would like to add to Felipe's lesson above... 

Look guys... especially you students out there... Being a singer and someone that pursues technique training and everything the experience entails... you have to know, it includes... a daily pie thrown in your face. Could be every day, maybe once a week, or maybe once a month... thats the going rate for me... you get a pie thrown in your face. You get a regular reminder that you have more to learn, more to train, more work to do... until you come to terms with that reality of being a singer... you'll be trapped in fear. Once you begin to accept that the experience of being a singer means that you get a pie thrown in your face about once a month... you will THEN be free from any shame, embarrassment or ego/pride issues... you have to humble yourself every day... and then you really start getting good.

 

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I have seriously lost count of the number of times where I was wrong, admitted it, and learned something new.

Singing is a journey, not a destination. The only finished singer is the one buried six feet under or cremated (whatever your final wishes were to be honored.)

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    Great Posts Felipe Ron and Robert.

        The  psychological thing can manifest itself in all kinds of ways......Various tensions.......To much air,too little air, someone telling you that you are too nasal (by imitating Fran Dresher and making fun of you) then you go to the opposite side of the sound and get all dopey. There are so many problems that can cause a Tone imbalance that you cannot figure it out on your own. Matching pitch is one thing, you are either on pitch or you are off. Tone is subjective, Style is subjective, Inflection is subjective......yet it is an imbalance that causes those little quirks of tone that some people end up loving and some people end up hating. Something that sounds super cool can be created by bad technique and cause problems elsewhere.

     I also have an ongoing problem with tone (which I am now getting a handle on thanks to Roberts' program "Four pillars of Singing") which left people loving and hating my sound. I would get the same kind of responses that everyone else is getting, Normal people on the street would either tell me I sucked or just tell me I have a unique sound (being kind). But there was something within the sound that even I knew wasn't correct and I could not pinpoint the problem.

    A tone issue is not something that someone can just tell you are too nasal.....or you are too dopey..... or not enough air..... you need more support...... some one needs to be standing there with you and be able to say .....There that's it! keep doing what you just did.......Never can it be corrected by someone telling you that your tone sucks and you sound Quacky or Nasal or Dopey........ You have to be told.....While you are Making that free, full, resonant sound......That what you are doing is correct so you can map your own physiology......You also have a further problem that tone expectations change per song and personal taste, genre and style........Even on a forum like this, most of the time Tone issues are not even mentioned if Pitch can be pointed out as an issue or positive aspect of the singer. Yet changes in tone are a direct product of physical attributes of the phonation package whether good or bad..

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anyone can learn to sing. Noone is born a singer. it becomes a talent you can adapt unless you're tone deaf. My website has very basic guidelines on how to learn to sing. Check it out at www.vocalchordz.com

hope it helps :)

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Some people have a greater inclination towards naturally possessing vocal talent.  This could be the result of hundreds of environmental factors.  E.G. Their parents could have been musicians that constantly played piano as they grew up, thus subconsciously training their pitch from an early age.  Or someone might be born into a certain culture of the world where the speaking habits they would pick up as a child facilitate a healthy vocal technique.  Essentially, some people are going to have more or less of what we perceive as "natural talent", but in my opinion the greatest talent a person could possess is the ability to set goals in life and work harder than anyone else to achieve those goals.  If you can do that you just might have some kid on the internet one day saying you were "born singing." ;)

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Cool post, Jeremy. It should also be known that a number of fine singers did not have what might be considered great singing apparatus. Imperfect dimensions. Caruso not only wasn't particularly "built" for singing, but he often had congestion and allergies to fight off.

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1. I think that the fact that I can now sing some proves that almost everyone can sing. I've started from a low point (hardly ever tried, low confidence, in my 30s and not my teens) and I can now do a few things with my voice. 

2. passion, setting goals, good practices, persistence - are all underrated talents. Being 'natural' is somewhat overrated... it might be impressive in parties, but it won't help you improve your good points or maintain a career a hobby.

3. I'm starting that there are physical limitations to consider - maybe it's not as clear as classical ranges but I suppose that some folks would be a little more comfortable in different ranges. Just like in basketball (sports are always such a great metaphor!) - if you're a 6'1" player you probably won't play center and if you're 7'1" you probably won't get to move the ball across the court too often. Doesn't mean you don't want to pick up a few moves from a different position... getting back to singing: one might do better as the next Paul Rodgers and not the next Robert Plant... what do you think?

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In addition, just because you are 7' 1" doesn't mean you automatically get to keep center position. It still takes work. Pat Benatar really was born with that voice. But she still underwent serious training to get control of it.

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@JohnnyL there are plenty of limitations to consider, starting from the current technical capability, voice timbre, affinity, tastes, etc. Its really foolish to think you will train to sing EVERYTHING that exists with top quality. There is a video from Steve Vai that summarizes this perfectly (it was around sometime ago, but I figure its always nice to have a look at it):

 

 

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Felipe, thanks for sharing that. It was really GREAT... Your a good teacher and I consider it a pleasure to know that we get to work together in some capacity. 

Precisely what I mentioned to Felipe in our recent PM's ! "A good teacher", along with some other comments I made.... I think Felipe will attest to that ;)

As for working together, I'd really like to see that !!! :cool:

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We are already working together. We are working together right now on this forum, helping students and educating people.

I would like to ad, regarding the point of the discussion...

@JohnnyL there are plenty of limitations to consider, starting from the current technical capability, voice timbre, affinity, tastes, etc. Its really foolish to think you will train to sing EVERYTHING that exists with top quality.

There is a certain level of maturity and experience you have to get before it finally sinks in... after years of being confused or frustrated or both... you sit back and you say to yourself,

".... thats not the strengths of my voice. Trying to do "that" over and over again, is just making me sad, because I can't do it well enough... because it is not what my voice is optimized for...

.... but every time I do "that", it sounds great, it feels intuitive and people seem to respond well to it.

"THIS" IS MY VOICE... it may not be the voice I originally dreamed of or sounds like the people that inspired me when I started... but my voice has merit. I can hear the things that are good. My voice is really good at "this" and sounds great when I do "that" and it would seem that my strengths are "this" and "that".

Coming to terms with my original unrealistic expectations of the past and opening the door of possibilities of the future when I focus on my strengths, is now a moment when I face the true artist inside me more then ever before. When I look in the mirror, I now see me... not Steve Perry, not Geoff Tate, not Bruce Dickinson, not Pavarotti, not Bruno Mars, not the guy from Coldplay, not Ken Tamplin, not Daniel Formica, not Robert Lunte, not my buddy that also sings that Im jealous of... I see me... and what I have to offer is unique that ALL those other people can not duplicate any better then i can duplicate their sound colors.

Now... it is time to focus on me. My strengths, what makes my voice cool. There, I shall find a new level of maturity and reality about my singing and emerge away from the more amateurish stage of looking to my sources of inspiration to show me the way. They have done their part, but now it is time to let them go... Now I begin the phase where the biggest hero, the truest reality and the biggest possibility for success is what I already have. I will stop trying to sing like someone else because I will ALWAYS be 2nd best to someone else's voice and sound color... and 2nd Best is a long ways away from 1st. I will pursue the path where I am guaranteed success... and will offer the world new sound colors from my voice.... provided that I keep training and working hard". 

:z-coffee:

 

 

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  Great Post Robert......This training and singing adventure is to find out what OUR voices can do and enhance the good and diminish the bad. Sure go ahead and emulate another singer to see what your voice can do, but do not get stuck with this Idea that you have to sound like someone else to be good. We already have Steve Perry, Robert Plant, Bruno Mars, Bruce Dickinson, Dio........... One of my biggest problems was trying to sound Like the singer of the song, not allowing my own voice to gravitate to its own unique sound......

    A wise man once told me......Some of us are Humbucking Les Pauls and some of us are Single coil Telecasters (paraphrased from Ronws).......The same songs played in the same way through the same amplifier will still sound different.......... Get to know your own sound and embrace that.

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We are already working together. We are working together right now on this forum, helping students and educating people.

I would like to ad, regarding the point of the discussion...

 

:z-coffee:

 

 

Yes, I know.... Felipe is an awesome contributor to the forum. When I made my comment : "As for working together, I'd really like to see that !!!", I just ASSUMED that you and Felipe were possibly going to form another "collaboration" of some sort..... (???) My apologies....

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Great Topic guys. I for sure believe everybody is born with different aptitudes for many things. I wanted to be baseball player as a 7 year old, loved the game and I could field but I was poor at bat lol some would say hopeless. Anyway my point is I gave up and then I started playing guitar at age 10 and everybody praised my playing and my sister to this day swore that I never sucked haha again debatable I have the old tapes to support my side. So this leads me to the point that there are people the first time they sing out loud as a little kid somebody says "hey your really good" could be that through genetics or beginners luck they don't start out with a lot of the bad habits so many singers start with. My cousin was just 5  and could draw free hand photo realistic faces etc today he does digital effects for Marvel movies etc. Again the point early aptitude that meets with positive reinforcement leads to opportunity to get better at that task through more time spent because everybody says let Mike make the poster "he's good at Art", Let Suzie sing the lead in the 3rd grade play because "Shes a good little singer" Now the rest of us who were not singled out as "SPECIAL" are merely ordinary and nobody thinks of us as a singer, or artist including ourselves. This reinforces to the point where you can start to believe I can't be a singer I never could make Chorus in High School or I was in Chorus and never got the lead role etc. I can be long winded and apologize if my story takes a few turns. So being born with a gift happens but more famous singers that we admire were most likely just like us lots of heart and hustle. I have I guess always been a good guitarist since I was a kid but I took lessons and practiced A LOT as I was a heavy metal nerd growing up in the sticks haha. I ALWAYS wanted to sing and can't tell you how many times I would try to sing Take Hold of The Flame from Queensryche and I would tape it and Whoa!!! YIKES, Crash and burn anyone? lol there was nothing in those recordings that should have encouraged me but I kept singing and then sought out teachers to help. This whole time I was a GUITARIST i played in many, many bands and never sang lead it was something I only did at lessons or in the car. When I finally got the courage to sing at a Karaoke nite after Tee Many Matoonies everybody went nuts and came up to me and would say how good it was etc. and I was thinking.. Me? I didn't make the 3rd grade chorus tryouts I can't be good lol. The funniest thing to me is when somebody will assume I was one of  "The Gifted" that could not be the further from the truth. It was lots of hard work and the help of one special vocal teacher in particular. My advice to any singer is I would not worry if I was a natural or whatever. If you love to sing and have that desire sing, sing, sing and find a great teacher. I believe Robert to be a special teacher with the passion to make you a better singer.

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You work with what you have.  I also play guitar. And I watch these other guys do all kinds of stuff with their pinkies. I had almost always played with 3 fingers rather than 4. 

One day, I realized, looking at these other guys, their pinkie fingers are closer in length to the rest of their fingers than mine are to mine. On the other hand, I have large hands, so I can stretch with my ring finger more than others can.

To make matters worse, I once got to rehearse and audition as a singer with a band called XLR8, headed by George Chapin, nephew to Harry Chapin and one time guitarist for a band of local fame called Silverado. He was missing the ring finger on each hand. And still playing RUSH note for note.

Same applies to singing. You do the best with what you have and the only thing you start with is the desire, not some magical folds of destiny.

The rest is focus and determination and working at it until you get better.

 

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