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  1. First , I believe that everyone has the right to choose a suitable teacher for him/her that charges according to his/hers economic possibility. There is no use to start and taking one or two lesson and then stop because we can't afford it anymore. Therefor I will advise you to look for someone that his charges suit your pocket. This way you won't have to stop and change voice teacher in the middle of your voice learning process. I would suggest you also to try and find someone who can prove his professional abilities as a singer and as a teacher by videos or audio files. I won't just trust his/her word for it. I would also get an idea of what are the results I might obtain from studying with him/her. I would look for someone who has years of background and teaching experience, and not a fresh one. Usually an experienced teacher can offers you more. No always, as a rule, but often. I would try to find a teacher that gives you a nice and comfort feeling while study with. Singing can be sometimes like open your heart to a "stranger" and tell about "all your problems. Your teacher should be a person you can communicate with and feel free to be able to give feedback during the process. You should feel relaxed during the lessons for the process to be effective. Don't obligate yourself for a long period for lessons before you know the teacher and you have decided that this is what you want/need. You shouldn't feel any strange feelings on your throat at the end of a voice lesson. If you do feel uncomfortable (and you don't have a cold) afterwards that means you may need to change your teacher. After a while with a good teacher you should feel you can sing much easier, singing higher notes with less effort (than before) and have a clear sound. If none of it happens that means that may indicate on the fact that this method might be not working for you. Above all: Listen to your body/voice and what it tells you. If you feel that the teacher IS helping you that is great. If not you can stop your lessons , and look for another one. Don't forget , now you have much more knowledge than before to know if things are good for you.
  2. Introduction This weekend's article is a comparision of the 'belt voice' production as used by female singers, the 'robust head voice' as used by Operatic tenors, and the male 'Rock' pharyngeal voice . These types of vocalism share some characteristics which make them similar to each other, but also have some characteristics which differentiate them. As I have done before, I will use spectragraphic analysis to assist in the understanding of how these voices can be compared and contrasted. A first example: 'Top Line F', Belt and Robust Head Voice The following spectragraph shows the harmonic content of two voices singing the F natural usually written on the top line of the treble staff, that is, the F at the upper range of both the belt and tenor voices (the F the octave and a perfect fourth above middle C.) The female singer, represented in blue, is Patti LaBelle, from a televised recording of "You'll Never Walk Alone" from Carousel , recorded in the mid-'60s. The tenor is classical tenor Nicolai Gedda, from a 1973 recording of "Credeasi Misera" from I Puritani. Patti http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTAOD-2Fnqw at 2:19 Nicolai http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w_TTK7UP1c at 4:50 As I have done with prior recordings, I have matched the volumes of first harmonic (H1) so that the relative intensity of the upper harmonics can be identified. With this matching, we see the following: 1) There are five strong harmonics displayed by both voices, and for both of the notes, the 3rd harmonic is the strongest. This gives the voices power and color. The relative intensity of the harmonics is approximately the same in both voices. 2) H1 and H2 are lower in intensity than H3, but strong enough to make the core warmth of the tone quality very solid. 3) The 4th harmonic is both voices is in within the 'red lines', the most senstive part of our hearing range. 4) The white trace sections are 'wider', indicating that Mr. Gedda's vibrato is as well. Ms LaBelle sang her note with almost no vibrato, so the peaks are very pointed. A second example: Middle line B, Pop Belt and Rock Pharyngeal voice This second spectragraph, which I have annotated for harmonic identification, is of two voices singing the B above middle C. The two voices are Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, singing 'A whole lotta love', and Whitney Houston singing 'I will always love you', on a vowel approximating /a/. I have matched the fundamentals as before. Robert Plant's voice is in blue, and Whitney Houston's is in white. The spectragraph shows the following: 1) With the fundamentals equalized, the loudest harmonic in both voices is H2, and approximately the same intensity in both. With fundamental matched, and H2 so similar, the core of the tone for both voices on this note is identical. H2 in both voices carries the bulk of the volume for both. 2) H3 in Robert Plant's voice is somewhat louder by comparison to Whitney Houston's, but for both it is louder than the fundamental, and the 2nd loudest harmonic overall for both as well. Recall that the 3rd harmonic (an octave and a perfect 5th above the fundamental) as an odd harmonic, adds color to the tone quality. The relative strength of this harmonic in Robert Plant's voice is helps us to distinguish his from Whitney's tone quality. 3) H4 for both voices is about equal, but H5 and H6 in Plant's voice are stronger than Whitney's. This may be the result of "Singer's Formant" in Plant's voice. H6 is particulary well situated, as it is not only strong, but within the sweet spot of hearing. Example three: Broadway Belt, and Operatic Tenor This one is a fun one. The following spectragraph is of two very famous singers, Ethel Merman (the quintessential broadway belter of the mid-20th Century) and Luciano Pavarotti, Operatic Tenor. Ethel is singing the last note of 'Theres no business like show business' from Annie, Get Your Gun, and Pavarotti is singing the last note of 'Celeste Aida' from Aida. As usual, for comparison I have equalized the strength of the fundamentals so that relative harmonic balance can be shown. Can you tell which is which? Without giving away yet which is which, the following can be observed: 1) With the fundamentals equalized, the Blue voice has a louder H2 than the White one, which makes the core of the tone quality just a bit brighter, but not much. 2) H3 in both voices is the loudest harmonic, so they both have the color this harmonic brings to the tone, with a small advantage for the White voice. 3) H4 for both voices is quite a bit softer than H1, H2 and H3, adding some brightness, but not much to both. 4) The higher harmonics have less energy in both voices, but overall the White voice has more than the Blue one, which gives it more ring. 5) Both voices have vibrato (as evidenced by the 'wideness' of the harmonics), with the Blue voice having just a little bit more than the White one. Have you determined which is which? Scroll down a bit to learn.... Pavarotti is in White. Merman is in Blue :-) Conclusions In looking at these representative voices, there are some commonalities that we can identify for this pitch range: A) In each voice type, the principal strength of the tone is in the 2nd and 3rd harmonic. The fundamental is often 4th or lesser in strength, meaning that other harmonics align more closely with the resonances of the vowels chosen than it does. Some voices display presence of singer's formant, and others do not. C) Each of the singers shows strong voice production characteristics, but not equal balances of resonance.
  3. If you have any questions about these products, please feel free to contact me on The Modern Vocalist or send me an email at robert@thevocaliststudio.com and we can talk your specific application. THE VOCALIST GIG BAG TOOLS & TECHNOLOGY FOR SINGERS: FROM ROBERT LUNTE & THE VOCALIST STUDIO: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TVS VOCALIST'S GIG BAG VIDEO OR WATCH BELOW! Microphones: - RODE M1 - RODE M2 http://www.rode.com/ - Electro-Voice 767a http://www.electrovoice.com - HEIL PR-35 http://www.heilsound.com - Telefunken M-80 http://www.telefunken-elektroakustik.com - Sennheiser 935 http://www.sennheiserusa.com - TC-Helicon MP-75 http://www.tc-helicon.com - AKG D7 http://www.akg.com Processing: TC-Helicon VoiceTone Pedals http://www.tc-helicon.com/voicetone-create-xt.asp - Create (EFX) - Doubler (simulates studio doubling) - Correct (compression) - Singles Pedals Wireless Microphone Solution - Samson Airline 77 http://www.samsontech.com/products/productpage.cfm?prodID=2018 Check That Mic Sanitary Wipes for Microphones http://www.checkthatmic.com VocoPro (HERO – RV) For Practicing and Writing: http://www.vocopro.com/products/product_info.php?ID=649 Extreme Isolation Headphones – X-29s: http://www.extremeheadphones.com/ex-29.html Vishudda Singer's Tea: http://aromatherapyinhaler.net/product/vishudda-singers-tea-kit-2/ Olympus Hand held Digital Recorder (The WS Series): http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_voicerecorders.asp Etymotic Ear Protection for Singers http://www.etymotic.com Hercules Mic Stand: http://www.herculesstands.com/mics/micstands.html PocketTone Pitch Pipe: www.PocketTones.com *Add this code to save $1. Special TVS Deal! (TMV08pt) Lyric Writing Software: www.masterwriter.com *Add this code to save $20. Special TVS Deal! (3059) Pen & Paper: Binder with all your bed tracks & lyrics:
  4. Ever since 2002, I have been religiously watching all the reality TV shows concerning vocal performances. It started with American Idol, then it was followed by Canadian Idol and then, we got The Voice and almost right at the same time, we got X-Factor. Some of them are better than others, but all of them are quite entertaining. Sometimes, actually, they are almost too entertaining... What I mean by that is that the entertainment part is overshadowing the vocal performance part. In some cases, it looks ridiculous, as not every vocal performer is strong enough to offset the very good and strong dancers, not to mention tons of effects and "fireworks" on stage, so to speak. It does not actually help the artist to showcase their vocal talent. On the contrary, in my opinion, it is pretty distracting for the artist and for the audience. Also, especially this year, the quality of the vocal performance by the remaining top 10-12 participants has quite deteriorated. You would think that it should have an opposite effect, as by now the artists got accustomed to the stage and the audience and had their mentors attending to them. To my knowledge, there are some vocal coaches that are around and employed to work with the artists, but the latest trend that seems to be taking place, is that the judges, who are also the artists themselves, are playing the role of vocal coaches. Granted, they have experience to perform on stage and definitely could help with that immensely. But when the actual technical help is needed, would they be qualified to give a sound advice and actually teach a singer how to overcome certain technical difficulties, which may occur during some complicated songs? Let's, for example, take a good car driver and ask him if he could qualify as a driving instructor or, moreover, as a car mechanic? I presume some would, but generally speaking, the person who knows how to drive the car does not necessarily know how to fix the car or how to play the role of a driving instructor. All of those qualities are somewhat related, but they are not necessarily implied. Every skill has its trade and requires a specific certification. Also, even a very good car driver is not qualified to drive the truck or a truck trailer. For each of those skills, there is a specific license required. Therefore, I think that if besides the qualified mentors, there would be somebody who could help artists not only to interpret the song, but also with the technical merit, we would be presented with much better quality and much more on target singing. Also, when the artist is covering somebody else's song, he/she is usually suggested to make that song his/her own, which is a great suggestion. However, some of the artists are taking it almost too literally and the other night, watching an episode of X-Factor, I hardly could recognize the song by Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On". Not to mention that the technical merit of the performance was not present at all. The song has to be recognizable, and if the artist wants to put his/her own twist and spin, so to speak, on it, it's great, as long as the song is not completely lost and ruined in interpretation. Either way, I'm glad that those shows exist, as there is something to look forward to in anticipation, every time it airs. Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producer, and Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science ™ method and Talent Scout and Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc. If you would like to stay up to date with Vocal Science news, follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group. If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone, Toll Free in North America, at 1-888-229-TUNE (8863)
  5. One of my artists who is on The Voice this season shot me an email last week asking about what is the right food to eat prior to performance. I wanted to share this with you, too! Early on I was interested in the impact of food on our bodies and consequently on our voices. The voice being an instrument housed in our body what we feed it makes or breaks how our voice performs. Here's my Singers' Top Nine Vocal Super-Foods: Fresh REAL food is superior. Veggies & fruits have more energy because they are living foods singers need energy and oxygen in their blood (which real foods give us). Leafy greens in particular are energy givers: watercress, kale, arugula, spinach (raw not cooked), romaine, mixed greens, broccoli rabe, escarole, etc. Foods with high water content are hydrating. Hydration from plants is an additional source that adds nutrition, too (8-10 oz. of water, too!). Celery is great for nerves (try a celery or carrot juice the day of or sprinkle some on your salad.) Bok choy is actually a real super-food. And watermelon and melon of any kind is super hydrating for your voice. (I throw some pieces in my water for extra hydration.) Salads are the best. Dr. Joel Fuhrman (my nutritionist) says make salads your main dish. I squeeze a little lime or lemon & olive oil or use just a little balsamic. Top with avocado great for lubrication. Speaking of olive oil, some people swear by it for a little extra lubrication (but use sparingly.) Fresh squeezed juices! SHAZAAM! (Except no orange which causes reflux.) My favs are carrots, celery (remember, great for nerves), apple, beet, parsley with a smidge of ginger, all those leafy greens (watercress, kale, arugula, spinach raw not cooked, bok choy.) Strawberries are great for the larynx (notice how it's shaped like the thyroid cartilage love that). Google it you'll find some awesome articles about it. Broth soups hydrate miso, veggie base (but no tomato or cream base causes reflux.) Turkey-chicken-salmon: good sources of protein. Stay away from ketchup (too much sugar) and sugar in general depletes energy. They say carbs the night before a performance give energy sweet potatoes are better than rice or pasta, which turns into sugar. What foods do YOU find helpful for your voice (actual foods not remedies)? Post here! Happy Healthy Singing!! ©2012 Cari Cole, Vocal Mag, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  6. I just picked up the new album by my good friend and colleague Paul Tauterouff, entitled Audio Chocolate. Paul is a perennial pro instrumental guitarist who is branching out into new territory with this latest project by inviting several guest musicians; namely guitarists like Nick Layton, the incomparable violinist Pete Hartley and several pro vocalist, to be part of the project this time and it produced great results. I was fortunate to be one of those guest vocalists and I wanted to tell you about my experience. A few months before he finished the music for the project, Paul asked me to write lyrics and record guest vocals for 2 of the tracks on his album; Voices (track 2) and Rebel (track 5). Of course at the time, neither of the tracks had titles, only basic guitar riffs and melodies. For both songs Paul gave me an idea of what he was thinking each song could be about but beyond that, he let me be as creative as I wanted to be from there. Rebel was the first song I wrote. Paul said, I want this to be a tongue in cheek tribute to the south and southern rock. The only thing I keep hearing over and over in my head is the phrase, I'm a rebel son! So from there, I ran with a barrage of clich southern phrases and southern cultural activities, to come up with a silly homage to the south. It was actually a lot of fun to write. It brought me back to my college days as a bright-eyed Colorado boy heading to a prestigious southern University in the state of North Carolina. I had never been anywhere but Colorado at that point in my life and boy was I in for a major culture shock! Turns out I would recall some of my Tar Heel experiences to help me create the song Rebel. Verses like, we like honky tonkin and shootin just for fun! Sittin on the front porch, sippin shine, watchin fireflies on the Mason Dixon line, were just a few of the lines I came up with. Pretty silly really, but that was the idea and Paul loved it, so I ran with it. Next came Voices. A much harder edged song but one that Paul wanted to tell a story with too. I think this song is talking about a girl whose a bit strange. She dances to her own drum and she really doesn't care who knows it, Paul said. This song was a bit tougher to write from a personal perspective, since I'm not a woman but I've been in situations where I've felt like I was the outcast and didn't give a darn what people thought of me, so that's where I began to write from. Secondly, I've got a very good female friend who is the perfect model of eccentricity, with no pause about who she is, so I used her as my template for the girl in Voices. (She was totally stoked when I told her the song was about her by the way.) Some of the lyrics that made up the skeleton of the song were lines like, Misunderstood, diamond in the rough, the world for her can't move fast enough. I basically tried to paint a mental picture of this girl for the listener. So I had my lyrics all finished and now it was time to record the vocals for each track. The best part about this project was the ease and convenience that came from recording the songs in my own home studio. See Paul lives in New York and I live in Colorado, so recording together in a studio was not an option. But it was also not an obstacle. in this day and age of high quality recording software and recording technologies working with other pros in other areas of the country or the world, is not a problem. Everything I needed to record a professional studio quality sound is right in my home. And it didn't cost me tens-of- thousands of dollars to do it either. I used Ableton Live 8, a popular recording software ($300) A Mac Book Pro laptop ($1200), an M-Audio interface ($50), a shure sm58 beta microphone ($100) and a pair of stereo headphones ($30). All of which I can use again and again for future recording projects, so if you look at it that way, I really used my investments to record these 2 songs for Paul. The only expense I really had, was my time and some electricity. Pretty cool! Especially when you consider what it would cost me to record my vocals at a local professional recording studio. You're talking at least $150 to $300/hour and they're not going to take the time and effort to make the quality of the recording near as good as you would yourself because they simply don't give you the time. Unless you're willing to pay for it that is. Each song took me a day to do. Recording the main vocals, then the harmonies. From there, choosing certain vocal effects that the recording software offers and getting all the volume levels right is usually the next step but for Paul's project, I didn't even have to do that. He preferred that I leave all the vocals and harmonies dry so he could manipulate them on his end when he got to the mixing end of things with each song. Once the tracks are complete and ready for shipment, I just imported the files as WAV courier service for sending large files to anyone anywhere vial email.files, and emailed them to Paul via YouSendIt.com, a free All-in-all a very simple and fun process that I learned a great deal from. And each time I do session work with/for colleagues I learn something new about long distance recording collaborations and recording in general for that matter. Lessons that make each new recording session I'm involved with that much better because of my past experiences. recording engineer to make great recordings! If I can do it, anybody can!You don't have to be a professional Bottom line, Paul Tauterouff's Audio Chocolate turned out to be a successful, ambitious journey of sounds and textures that will please many musical tastes. And I'm so proud to be a part of it! You can purchase the hard copy version or download your digital copy of the album at PAULTAUTEROUFF.COM. Don't forget to let me know what you think! **Do you have any thoughts or comments on this article? I'd love to hear what you think about recording, music or anything that comes to mind. Please leave your comments or questions below and I'll get back to you asap! ** Johnny Ryan is a professional singer, songwriter, recording artist and session musician from Denver, CO. To contact Johnny, email him at: johnnyryanmusic@hotmail.com or visit his website at:JOHNNYRYANMUSIC.COM
  7. We often hear the saying, you are what you eat. I can also, with absolute certainty, say that you are what you speak and sing. How so, you may ask? Holistically speaking, the voice is an expression of who you are, and identification of the state of your being. The voice is a very important tool for communication. When you speak with the person, by his/her voice tone, you can determine the person's mood and even the state of the person's health; especially if you are, at least, somewhat, familiar with the person. On that note, I could say that when I work with the Voice Repair client and get their voice out of their throat by restructuring it to the facial and abdominal muscles, the person starts to sound completely different, i.e., the voice starts to sound much healthier, more vibrant, more colorful and more reflective of the actual person's make-up. The sound becomes much clearer and the words are more announced and pronounced. The hoarseness disappears and the tone of the voice changes. When we are talking about the voice disorder, the voice often sounds quite sopranoish. It is especially pronounced with the male gender, the condition of which causes a lot of discomfort and insecurities. These peoples lives become literally handicapped, as they are afraid to communicate in person and terrified by phone conversations, by simply not ever picking up the phone and/or initiating any phone conversations. It does affect their social lives and their professional lives. Needless to say, most of them are depressed and some of them are even suicidal. Once the voice is improving and they are gradually getting their lives back, they are also gaining back their zest for life. Their mood becomes exponentially happier, their spirit is rejuvenated and their soul is now singing, even though that some of them have never sung in their lives. Those, however, who are singers, or I should say, have had been singers before they damaged their voices, experiencing the double whammy. They need to restore their speaking voice first, and then, and only then, their singing voice. However, the good news is that after the speaking voice falls in place, it is much easier to fix the singing voice, as ultimately, the voice mechanics are virtually the same. With the singers, however, I have to restore their tone and, mainly, pitch, which in some cases, becomes very challenging. Usually, in these cases, the confidence is really damaged, as the singer is scared to reach the high notes and to project his/her voice. Therefore, on the background, there is a lot of psychological counseling that is required for those cases. I have to say it has been the making of me meeting you Diana in more than just the voice, wrote to me one of my former Voice Repair clients, now Opera singer, Evie Bonella of Essex UK.
  8. Diana, I am amazed: the doctors - the experts - just keep saying 'nothing can be done, be happy for what you have left' and they're wrong. You have proved them wrong with your vocal approach -Tim Bristol, throat cancer survivor of Niagara Falls, New York. Tim Bristol, a professional musician and singer for the last 40 years was, unfortunately, diagnosed with tonsil cancer. He was given a choice to undergo quite extensive chemo and radiation therapy, or otherwise, it could have endangered his life. He chose the former, but then he was experiencing the side effects of such therapy. He lost his salivary glands, his throat was always dry and his voice was drawn in a very low position and sounded raspy and hoarse when he first came for his non-surgical voice repair sessions. Also, he lost nerve endings on the tips of his fingers, which was very crucial for his career as a musician/guitar player. The doctors were congratulating him on being alive and conquering his cancer and did not want to hear any of his complaints with regard of the above. His mind, however, was very strong and his will to recover his professional craft was unshakable. Via my special speaking and singing exercises and natural herbs and remedies treatment, I was able to recover Tim's voice in a super-fast manner. He arrived on his first session with me on one of the Wednesdays and, already by Friday of the same week, he was singing in our local Karaoke place to everybody's amusement. They were asking me why I was hiding such a good singer from them, and had never introduced him to them before. I tried to explain that he came from the US only for a few days for non-surgical voice repair sessions with me, but they had no listening to that, as for them, it was quite unbelievable that he could hardly speak, let along sing, just a couple of days ago. One more miracle, amongst many, has been produced! That said, if you have a strong mind and complete determination to recover your voice, or conquer any other physical problem for that matter, your body will eventually listen to you, providing that the correlation between mind, body, voice and, of course, the soul is very sound and in sync. You obviously have to be given the positive affirmation by your mentor/healer and definitely the proper directions/instructions on how to access your inner resources and make your body heal thyself. One more victory! One more champion! Way to go Tim! You are an inspiration to others.
  9. Lately, I'm dealing with a lot of clients young and older with the voice/speech problems. Most of them spent months and years with speech therapists and speech pathologists. Some of them have gone to the regular check-ups with their ENT specialists and in the final analysis have not accomplished anything, by having no resolution to their voice problem. How frustrating could that be? It is extremely sad for them and their relatives, not to mention that the majority of those poor people, understandably, keep coming in and out of depression. Some of them lost their professions and their hobbies for that matter, like singing, for example, or playing some sports or even watching some sport or concert events have become a big challenge. It is usually quite noisy in those venues, and those with voice problems feel even more silent as they cannot compete with the screaming crowd. Some of them have lost hope, some of them are still researching and looking for the cure or at least for some improvement to their condition. In some cases the partial or even full recovery is possible, in others the improvement is definitely possible, but the full recovery is only desirable. Vocal Science techniques voice condition speaking or singing.advocates the maximum improvement of one's By the virtual fact that the voice via special exercises will be lifted off of the vocal box and restructured to a set of the facial muscles, the release of the neck and chest muscles will be inevitable. While those facial muscles will be working in full conjunction and coordination with the abdominal muscles, the pressure on the vocal anatomy will be also dramatically released. Now the sufferer will get a, so to speak, vocal rest, by removing the intruder [their own voice] from the dangerous places such as vocal box in general, neck, chest and shoulders. Once the voice drown so low in its position, the lower anatomy, such as described above, is heavily encaged, not to mention that all of it could cause such diseases and disorders like muscle tension dysphonia, or even spasmodic dysphonia, fibromyalgia and most likely acid reflux. Due to the low anatomical position, the voice could easily meet the gastric acid and the vocal cords could be burned in no time, thus severe damage to the vocal cords could occur. The moral of it is: Get away from the vocal anatomy as far as possible to preserve that anatomy for life. The conventional speech therapy promotes exactly the opposite of the above. They are working very heavily on already damaged vocal anatomy and in the majority of cases do more harm than good, or more damage than there was originally. How sad is that? The sufferer feels now more pain and strain than before and in a lot of times the voice sounds more hoarse than it originally did! A lot of time, energy and money spent, but the mission was never accomplished. There is still a voice disorder and very little hope left The Vocal Science Method is designed to work on a person as a whole. The approach is completely natural and completely holistic. The main philosophy of that is to release the vocal box from the pressure of the sound and then heal the vocal anatomy with natural herbs and remedies, while concurrently heal the troubled person hugely affected by the nasty voice disorder, and not only vocally but in any conceivable way. The Vocal Science Method also recognizes the psychological trauma as well as the vocal trauma, and due to that, needless to say, the holistic/alternative method works with flying colours and evidently produces unprecedented results.
  10. Quite often, I am getting inquires from people who are indicating that they are interested just in regular singing lessons. So, I quote them the price for just singing lessons, not suspecting that they are already having some kind of a voice problem. Usually, they never admit it over the phone or the e-mail, unless they definitely have been already diagnosed, and the hoarse sound of their speaking voice, is very pronounced. However, luckily, some singers with the vocal problems do not have their speaking voice affected. Therefore, when I get them on the phone, sometimes, I cannot even pinpoint that they have any voice issues, as their speaking voice sounds completely normal. Then, they finally arrive to my studio and, after the first 5 minutes, I realize that they have actually enrolled in the wrong course vocal lessons, (instead of a non-surgical voice repair course)! In reality, they needed a voice repair, and big time, in some of the cases. Their vocal technique is completely wrong, as some of them, breathing with their stomachs out, (looking like pregnant ballerinas and dancers. LOL), throwing the sound down to their necks, shoulders and chest while, concurrently, dropping their jaws down to their knees. Not a very pretty picture. Hah! They are scooping the sound from underneath of their vocal anatomy, while gripping their neck really tight. And thus, setting the stage for, minimum to say, a muscle tension dysphonia, or some nasty growth on their vocal cords and on their vocal anatomy overall. We are talking now aboutnodes,nodules, polyps, cysts and even lesions, to name a few. Meanwhile, right off the bat, they are expecting regular singing lessons! I could compare it to a runner who, unfortunately, acquired a really bad injury on his leg, and who would think that after he applies some analgesic cream on a sore spot, he will be able to run marathons with no problems, not really fixing his actual problem first. Go figure! So now, the challenge is to explain my so called, singing students, that first, they need to do the real voice repair, coupled with the natural herbal and, sometimes, added homeopathic treatment. They need to learn how not to kill their singing voice with the wrong application of their speaking voice and concurrently heal the flora of their throats. And lastly, now, they need to learn how to sing without the abuse of their vocal anatomy and their health in general. Statistically speaking, lately, 98% of my singing clients do need a voice repair in various degrees and stages. So, singing lessons with a twist, you may wonder? Indeed
  11. I have been teaching and repairing voices for many years now. I have taught actors, professional media personnel, voice-over speakers, fitness instructors, and, of course, singers of all calibers. To survive in those described above professions, you need a strong voice, a voice which will never let down its user. Those people's livelihood directly depends on the strength, lose their voice, their livelihood would be very much so in jeopardy. health and command of their voices. If the person, of any of the described above professions, would damage and/or Over the years, I've fixed the voices of quite well-known radio and TV personnel, public speakers, pastors, worship leaders, to name a few. All of them needed their voice back to the normal operational state and as soon as possible! So there was no time to just speak about it or feed them with promises of a future recovery I had to go to the action and to act upon their matter right away! These people were desperate, as they were literally losing their jobs and their passion and zest for life. Some of them just had to restore their speaking voice; some - their singing voice; but others had to restore both. I cannot describe the emotional, physical, and mental impact the damaged voice had on those sufferers. The voice is our main tool for communication. It reflects on the state of our being and actually identifies who we are. When the voice is damaged, the in-congruency between who that person is in reality and what he/she is able to express, makes the whole matter devastating. The voice sufferer ultimately loses his/her known, to them, identity. When the voice damage occurs, the surrounding people now have difficulty to assess the person in front of them due to verbal communication breakdown. The person with the voice problem becomes, understandably, less communicative due to the difficulty of speech and constant tiredness of their voice. When they happen to be in a loud environment, they nearly become mute, as they intuitively feel that if they tried to speak, and on top of it loud, they might push their voice the last time and lose whatever is left of their sound. So, in not so many words, it is a real tragedy and practical help should be on its way immediately. A lot of voice practitioners, speech therapists, vocal coaches like to theorize about it, but the clock is ticking and every day is counting, especially for those who have to return back to their everyday lives, not to mention, their speaking and/or singing career. Now voice repair hands-on-experience should take place. Majority of people, especially with growth on their vocal cords like nodules, polyps, lesions etc., do not want right away jump onto the operating table. They are usually looking for alternative ways to solve their vocal problems. Now, I the non-surgical voice repair specialist have to go into action, along with my client, as it takes two to tango, so to speak. Both of us, my voice repair client and I, are facing a very tedious syllable-on-syllable, word-on-word instruction, to first fix the speaking voice (it applies to both speakers and singers); and then, to teach a singer how to sing a new way not pushing the sound of their voice down to their throat by virtue of dropping the jaw almost down to the knee, and also not simultaneously sticking the stomach out and pelvis forward. Those actions described above would, nevertheless, help to kill anybody's voice on a root. To recover the voice, the speaking and singing voice application has to change completely. To accomplish this, I have to practically use a Pavlovian conditioning method and virtually re-teach the psyche and the human anatomy a completely different behavior, which also falls in the science of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). So it is a complex endeavour and it cannot be treated lightly. There is indeed no time to just speak about it; there is a lot of mental, physical, emotional and vocal work to be done, and in practice, not in theory. Our device: We don't speak, We do! And we make it happen in all cases where it is possible!
  12. Let's suppose you have a car, and you know how to drive it. Does it mean that you also know how to teach driving, or how to fix the car if it's broken? The answer is - not necessarily. You could be a very good driver, but when it comes to fixing the car, you probably would need a certified/professional car mechanic who specializes in technical issues of the matter. In fact, when my child reached 16, she asked me to teach her how to drive, and pointed out that a lot of parents do exactly that. My response to her was; My dear daughter, I definitely know how to drive, but you will not pay me a million dollars to teach you how to drive. I will leave it to a professional who would make sure that you will go on the road, won't kill anybody and, yourself, come back in one piece. Similarly, when somebody claims to be a vocal coach, it should not be assumed that this person also knows how to fix the voice issue/problem, if such occurs. However, I have received quite a few obvious Voice Repair clients from various vocal coaches who were desperately trying to fix someone's voice, having no idea how to even approach it. Moreover, they used the conventional approach to voice mechanics, which is, in the first place, not very beneficial to a human's vocal anatomy. The conventional vocal coaching suggests you to drop the jaw down and stick the stomach out, which could be very detrimental to the vocal health. In that instance, the voice gets drowned very low in its position and it pressures upon the components of the vocal anatomy and thus produces the strained vocal cords and abused larynx. All of the above on its own could lead to growth on the vocal cords, (nodes, nodules, polyps), or even to a muscle tension dysphonia or spasmodic dysphonia. In my book, Vocal Science Flight to the Universe, I have a chapter which is called, How not to become a singer and work harder at doing it. That pretty much describes the 'methodics' of the conventional pedagogy, or the lack thereof. So let's analyze this: If the conventional approach to voice mechanics could actually be harmful to the human anatomy, how could it fix the already occurred vocal damage, which was caused, most likely, by that very approach or, perhaps, by the sufferer's own experimentation's? Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? It does, as evidently, it is the fact and it is true. So, whatever you do, please separate the ingredients, so to speak. If you need to learn something, find a teaching guru. If you need to fix something, find the top mechanic and truly, it has to be a voice technician, who specializes in the field of VoiceRepair.
  13. folks, if you haven't seen this video and you want to sing "steve perry like" (lighter registration) please check this out. this really was explained in such a way it really hits home. especially if you tend to sing on the heavier side, this is a good watch.
  14. About Semi-Occluded Workouts Vs. Vocal Warm ups This article is about a specific kind of vocal warm up exercises. These kinds of workouts are called semi-occluded vocal tract postures. They are popular with singing techniques and with voice therapists. Their purpose are three-fold, as I have come to know them at The Vocalist Studio: Create More Efficient Phonation And Balance They balance the sub-glottal and super-glottal air pressure (above and below) the vocal folds and thus help the singer to create more efficient phonation and balance with the increased velocity of air required for singing. Inherently, speech vocal mode is not efficient compared to phonations used in singing, so the semi-occluded vocal tract exercises increase the efficiency of the relationship between the singer's respiration and vocal folds. Seamless Passage From Lower - To Higher Vocal Registers Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises establish a resonant track. They help the singer to get into a seamless passage through the vocal bridges (breaks), thus preparing the voice for good bridging from the lower vocal registers to the higher registers, namely, (chest to head voice). Lift The Voice Into Healthy "Top Down Phonation" They lift the voice out of what we call at The Vocalist Studio, bottom-up phonation into more healthy and successful top-down phonation. It excites the resonators (mouth, nose, sinuses), gets the overtone production placed in the mask and removes throaty singing. Summary This essay first published December 11, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  15. Can you use it and not lose it? As you may know from experience, powerful singing is a style that seems plagued by its own punishment - strain, hoarseness, laryngitis, throat discomfort, loss of upper range, or a frequent need to "clear your throat." Severe cases may result in nodes (calluses on the inner rims of vocal folds) or polyps (blisters on the tops or undersides of the vocal folds), which are painful and may restrict your singing. Metal and Rock singers often have the attitude that training will make them sound too pretty. So not knowing what else to do, they bash and trash their voice resulting in canceled gigs, recording sessions or whole tours. Does singing powerfully automatically mean that you'll wreck your voice? The good news is that it's not what sounds you make, but how you make them that will save your voice! Through over 40 years of my own vocal performance, and over 30 years of vocal research and coaching others, I've found there are techniques that allow you to sing any style you want and without the bad effects. Vocal Blow-Out Vocal blow-out stems from both external and internal conditions. The main external conditions are: late hours, insufficient rest, bad nutrition, alcohol, drugs, smoky clubs, PA and monitor problems, incorrect microphone design for your voice, and competing with band volume. The key factor, however, is internal: improper use of your vocal instrument when singing powerfully. To scope this out and get a handle on it, an understanding of your instrument is necessary. Vocal Basics Vocal sound, as you may already know, is the result of the vibration of your vocal folds (often called "vocal cords" but they're not cords; they're folds and that's their actual name). The inside of your throat has two vertical tubes; one positioned in front of the other. The tube in front is for air (trachea), while the one for swallowing food (esophagus) runs behind it, more in the center of your throat. Your two vocal folds are positioned just behind your Adam's apple and lie horizontally across the inside of your trachea. They are coated with mucous membrane and come equipped with their own tuning pegs, which are connected to the back ends of the folds. The folds remain open during regular breathing. But for every sound you make, their tuning pegs automatically pivot and close the folds so they are lying rim to rim next to each other. With each sound you decide to make, the muscles of the folds prepare and adjust by stretching, thinning and shortening the length of the rim that will vibrate. Higher pitches require less air for the folds to stretch, thin out and a shorter length of them to vibrate. For low notes, the reverse is true. The principle involved is similar to fretting the strings on a guitar: a shorter length and thinner string gives faster vibrations and higher pitches; a fatter string and longer length gives slower vibrations and lower pitches. Examining the Problem To produce vocal sound, air is released from your lungs and vibrates your stretched and closed vocal folds. If you push too much air up against and through the folds, too much pressure is created. The muscles of your folds will tighten, your throat muscles tense, and your problems begin. Many singers unconsciously associate tension with big emotion and hard singing. For your sound to be big, just the opposite is needed. The louder and harder your sound, the more resonance is needed. If your throat and tongue tighten or your mouth closes, you shut down your acoustic chamber and there goes the resonance. The stress created by the push of excess air pressure and muscle tension can cause an irritation and swelling of your folds. The result is usually: hoarseness, power loss, range shrinkage, and other difficulties, including a strained and off pitch-voice. I work with several techniques that permit powerful singing while eliminating the risk of vocal blow-out. While all the techniques aren't possible to fully detail in this short article, you'll find it helpful to apply the following. Self Test Try saying the word "how." Put extra emphasis on the "H" as you do so. Now sing the word in the same way. Notice how emphasizing the "H" makes your throat feel and your voice sound. Sing the word again, and this time, as you sustain the tone, form the "W." Decide if you like this outcome. Now try singing it with minimal air on the "H" and instead, emphasizing the "O" (which will sound more like an "Ah" when you sing it). Notice the result. This should feel and sound better. Vowel sounds result from the vibration of your vocal folds. Consonants are created with an exhaled air stream and are formed by your mouth. If you emphasize consonants when you sing, it will push out too much air and tense the muscles in your throat and mouth. This makes it difficult for your voice to work well and you may find yourself tightening throat and tongue muscles in an effort to hit the note. This stress and strain will choke off your sound killing resonance, cause you to go off pitch or miss the note entirely, run into register break and at the very least will result in vocal fatigue. The problem usually magnifies as you sing higher and louder. Vowels, worked with correctly, will relax the acoustic chamber of your throat and mouth and increase your volume through resonance. Consonants should not be shaped at the same moment as you sing the note/vowel. They will crush your sound and tighten your vocal muscles. Let the vowels take the spotlight. Putting this to Use Go through a song you find challenging, as follows: 1) First sing the melody of the song through using the vowel Ah. Pronounce it naturally, and focus on singing the same pronunciation for each pitch. With the Ah, sing the melody very smoothly, note to note. 2) Now sing the song through using the lyrics and note any changes. 3) Next, talk through the lyrics and notice the sound of each vowel. Maintaining this awareness, sing the song. Be aware that the pronunciation of many vowels, when sung, is often different than the spelling. (eg. "I" is often pronounced more like "Ah." "Say" uses more of an "Eh" than an "A" sound.) 4) If you run into any trouble spots, chances are you're pushing and closing your mouth on the consonants that begin or end the word, while simultaneously singing the vowel. 5) Sing that word or phrase again, focusing on the vowel and letting the consonant(s) take a secondary role. 6) On any melody note that you sustain, such as at the end of a phrase, notice; are you closing your mouth prematurely simultaneously ending the word, or are you letting the vowel sound sustain? Try it both ways and decide which you like better. Practicing with this new awareness may at first take some extra thought. But it soon becomes second nature, while your sound is enhanced and singing the way you want becomes easier! You will find more information and the exercises you need for powerful singing in my book and CD course: The Contemporary Vocalist. This essay first published April 22, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  16. I received a very interesting comment about over-trained singers at my page here on The Modern Vocalist.com: "What I strive for: no two voices are the same. It's that unique strong signature characteristic that separates people who can sing from people who become icons in music. Take Sting for example, not the greatest vocalist, but there's no mistaking that aged husky whimper of his. Technique is important for power and control, but I find that there are too many people sounding too trained. I believe that one should incorporate one's personality into one's sound as much as possible in order to go about creating that strong iconic signature sound that no one else can recreate. Take Chino from Deftones-that guy can't sing a note- but the Deftones wouldn't be anything without him. Same goes for Trent Reznor from Nine inch Nails. I think it's a fine balance between a trained and untrained voice that needs to be found." - Timothy Ian David Lester This is, in fact, why some people think you can know too much about music or voice. They feel that too much musical knowledge can cause a musician or singer to over-think and turn their art... artificial. Actually, sometimes they are right, but only because they are not being taught well, in my humble opinion. The first thing we vocal coaches should do is to interview our new student and find out what his or her vocal and musical goals really are. Do they need to sing classical songs to get into (or through) college with a major in voice? Do they want to sing what they are writing: R&B, country, pop, jazz, hip-hop, alternative? We must know so we don't guide them into a style that is not where their heart is. Yes, people can learn to sing both classical and popular genres, but sometimes the jump can be hard. It's like learning to speak different languages very fluently. Yes, you can do it but it takes time, careful and accurate coaching and exposure to the masters of the musical genres you want to sing to perform multiple genres well. If you want to sing in more than two or three genres (like pro session singers must), this is what I call "stunt singing". Does your student really want to be jack-of-all trades, or do they want to be a master of one? I believe we need to do exactly what Timothy is suggesting: help our clients find their uniqueness. This is what really sets the heart free, and sometimes gives a vocalist a career as a recording and performing artist. It really takes experimentation, a feeling of safety to try new ways of using the voice and feedback from someone with great intuition about how an audience would react to what they are hearing. We want an audience's immediate reaction to be: "Wow what a song, what a delivery of that song!" Not, "Wow, I wonder who this artist's vocal coach is and what method they use?" My favorite artists actually play with their voices, sometimes "de-supporting" for a weak, sensual or sad sound. But when it's time for business, they ramp up all the vocal wisdom they ever learned and deliver such controlled power that we are mesmerized with their song. They scream, use breathy or husky sounds on purpose, but -- and here's the rub -- they NEVER hurt either the listener's ear or their voice. It's like an aural (instead of an optical) illusion. And it comes from being -- you guessed it -- very well trained. A good example is the masterful performance of a great actor. If they are doing what they should, you never even detect the slightest whiff of "acting", do you? But you can bet your bottom dollar that they used top dollar acting teachers to get to the level they are at in their craft. According to her biography, Janis Joplin planned every "impromptu" scream she did. A singer who is serious should be trained by an insightful and wise vocal coach who will train them so well you don't hear "vocal training" when they sing. You hear a song that elicits from you an emotional response. Period. This essay first published August 4, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  17. A large part of vocal training involves learning vocal control. Without vocal control, any vocal recording will suffer dreadfully. With it, you can do things you can only dream about without it. Another problem with lack of control is that if you are singing with any degree of power, you are going to experience a lot more vocal fatigue and risk damage to your instrument if you sing too long. With it, you can sing all day and not experience vocal strain. Yes, it's true! And a lack of control will cause you and your recording team frustration, or you'll just give up and settle for the best you and they think you can do. Usually, it's a huge waste of time and resources. Live performances are more forgiving of slight control issues, but studio singing requires surgically accurate control. So what am I talking about? For a great recording, you need vocal technique skills that will enable you to: Control volume. (Without it, your engineer will have to use excessive compression to even out volume, control distortion and bring soft sounds up so they can be heard. Some degree of "riding the faders" and compression is normal and usual, but the less the better. The less your vocals need to be compressed, the richer the resulting sound.) Control vocal lics and embellishments. (Without it, you will not be able to sing some vocal lics you attempt; "scats" or phrasing nuances will not "turn" well or flow evenly.) Control vibrato. (Without it, your vibrato will be too much, too little, uneven or inappropriately applied.) Control tone color. (Without it, the tone color of your voice will be too "covered", "hooty", "edgy", harsh, numb and boring or just plain wrong for the message. Your choices of tone of voice will be seriously limited, and your voice will sound small and/or unpleasant.) Control articulation. (Without it, you will over-, or more usually, under- pronounce the lyrics. There are differing degrees of articulation appropriate for different genres and tempos and types of lyrics. Singers must be able to know and apply the proper way to form words for their songs. For instance, blues music is pronounced more slurry. Hip- hop generally has sharper attacks. Pop is usually articulated clearer. Musical theater diction usually needs to be very crisp, but if you try to use this kind of diction in a pop song you will sound fake. But all songs should be understood, or the connection to the audience is not going to be made well.) Control sibilance. (Without this, recording your vocal can be a nightmare because too much sibilance hurts the listener's ears! And fixing excessive "s" sounds with de-"ss'ers always limits the quality of sound. A related problem is the popping of "p"s and other consonants. You must be able to control your consonants even while you clearly form them.) Control dynamic expression. (Without it, you will over-express and sound fake, under-express and bore the listener out of their minds, or bring too many changing emotional levels to the song to sound authentic and really move the heart of your listener. You have to know how to express the emotion of the lyric like a great actor delivering lines that invite an emotional response to the message.) Control the beginnings and ends of each phrase. (Without it, you will have trouble getting the beginning of the line right. You will drop off the ends of your sentences, robbing the listener of the complete thought. You will also find yourself with a lack of other kinds of control of initiating and ending lines, because you didn't set yourself up properly before entering the phrase or you've dropped your controlling support too early.) Control rhythm. (Without it, you will not be singing with the groove. You will be too early, too late or have inappropriate placement of lyrics via the beat. Again, different genres ask for different places the lyric should fit with the beat, but you have to know what your genre norms are and have the ability to sing with the beat that way. For instance, hip-hop usually has the lyric slightly behind the beat, pop usually right on top of it, gospel and big band "Sinatra" types are flexibly in and around the beat, but you really have to sing with a lot of the masters to get this authentically right.) Control pitch. (Without it, your engineer will have to tune the vocal too much, resulting in a mechanistic, artificial sound. You may be so inconsistent and inaccurate that tuning becomes almost impossible, because the tuner "grabs" the wrong pitch or can't draw the lic well enough to sound natural. Your bended notes may be so far off there is no way to make them sound in tune. Fact: The less you have to tune a vocal, the better. Don't get complacent here and think you can just have your engineer fix it in the mix. You'll be unpleasantly surprised.) Can you think of other types of control issues you've found in the studio? Which of these would you like to know more about? This essay first published September 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.