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Rhapsody
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Pillars 2.0 just arrived in the mail, and I'm dying for a lesson on Skype with Rob. I've poured over the book and the lectures about 10 times (no kidding) and it's too overwhelming for me. I'm glad I finally took the plunge and get serious with my training by getting in touch with Rob this time round. I had Pillars 1.0 but without a vocal coach it was really quite impossible for me to get anything done or moving.

Couple of things that I don't really understand are twang and light mass phonation. I've always heard that singing with any constriction is bad, but when I try to quack like a duck isn't it constriction as well? It's like a compressed glottal fry if there's such a thing. Also, I can't differentiate medium mass and light mass phonation. Can any students of Rob shed some light on this? It seems that light mass phonation is the key to higher chest notes and bridging, and when I tried to do light mass phonation I always ended up reducing the volume a lot. Not sure if I'm doing it right either.

I've been trying the first few exercises, bouncing back and forth "resonant tracking", "track & release" and "octave sirens" because I'm always kind of like hitting a wall near my vocal break. Rob talks about bridging early but when I practice with the singalong videos I find myself hitting the break faster than he does and that's where I get discouraged. :/

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Hey Rhapsody. I really want Pillars 2.0, but am way poor at the moment. Unfortunately haven't seen the new product.

But most people on here know that I took a lot of lessons from Rob (and we still keep in touch) back when I had regular work, so I can potentially attempt to answer this question (or parts of it).

I've always heard that singing with any constriction is bad, but when I try to quack like a duck isn't it constriction as well? It's like a compressed glottal fry if there's such a thing.

The technical (nerdy) name for twang is Aryepiglottic Contstriction. The word constriction is right there. Whilst doing 'twang' your epiglottis slightly constricts in such a way that makes the sound. The epiglottis (in case you didn't know) is a flap made of elastic cartilage tissue covered with a mucous membrane which sits in the throat. The chief function of this unsexy sounding thing is to stop you choking. When you swallow, the epiglottis closes over the trachea (and the larynx and vocal cords and all of those things we call the 'voice box' below). This forces the food/drink into the esophagus, which leads to our digestive system and yadayadayada. So there is no constriction at the 'voice box' or anywhere but the epiglottis and this is okay. This took me a while to comprehend also, but once you try it and start getting the fantastic results, you figure you'll just go with it anyway ;)

Also, I can't differentiate medium mass and light mass phonation.

Rob always told me to begin the exercises on a hum for about 1 second or less before opening into the actual shape of the practice sound (whatever that may be). Light, medium and heavy onsets are literally as the sound; soft beginning of note, hard beginning of note or neutral beginning of note. It also helps set up sound you're going to make. Rob encourages you to stick with light in the beginning. Eventually you can do medium and heavy onsets too. Note: Light DOES NOT mean falsetto.

I've been trying the first few exercises, bouncing back and forth "resonant tracking", "track & release" and "octave sirens" because I'm always kind of like hitting a wall near my vocal break.

Octave sirens are good, but I'd say the 5th Sirens are better, especially as a beginner. That exercise helped me more than any other (in terms of establishing head voice at least). I'd say you should use that instead (or perhaps in addition too). Being able to sing a fifth interval is very valuable too, especially if you work in harmonies or ever intend to (a minor benefit, but worth noting).

Rob talks about bridging early but when I practice with the singalong videos I find myself hitting the break faster than he does and that's where I get discouraged. :/

We all have different voices. Rob has been doing this for years. He invented this program. Why would you compare yourself? That's stupid and you know it. Eventually you find it doesn't matter how early you bridge, it all sounds like the same strong voice. So I wouldn't worry if you're bridging earlier at all. Maybe you're a bass or a baritone. I'm pretty sure Rob is a tenor (I might be wrong and he may be a baritone, I dunno) but assuming he is a tenor and the reason you're bridging earlier is because you've a bass/baritone voice, then at least you have a fuller bottom range than him (and me, you lucky bastard :P). We all compare ourselves. I'm the worst for it. But please don't compare yourself to the man you're learning from. That's just unproductive.

I don't know how much help this is. I might be telling you stuff you already know. Some of it may be glaringly obvious. If that is the case then I'm sorry I wasted so much of your time :)

Anyway, you're getting lessons from Rob right? He'll square all of this up with you. He did with me within 1 hour. He's a truly fantastic teacher :)

(If you read that last section, Mr Lunte, no getting cocky lol! :P)

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Hey Nathan, thanks for the response :) I was thinking nobody would answer the questions that I had. Anyway do you know what "renewing your internet lessons package means"? Robert asked me to do that and I couldn't find an option like that in the store. I did buy Pillars 2.0 together with 3 internet lessons though, and I'm gonna have my first lesson in a week.

Okay I'm glad I did the twang thing correctly then. As for light mass phonation, basically it means less "weight" right? It's so hard to put it into words, but I've a feeling I got it now. Will clarify with Robert when I have the chance :) I'll do more melodic 5ths for my practice then. The reason why I didn't is because I thought I had to do the exercises in sequence, and melodic 5ths come after octave sirens.

Actually, you're right. Looking back, it's pretty dumb of me to compare myself to Robert. I guess I thought he would try to emulate what a beginner would sing like in the exercises. Not sure if I'm a baritone/bass, though I really wish I am. I like full sounding notes in the lower register but unfortunately... don't have a sound like that :(. My lowest note is a G2, or F#2 if I just woke up in the morning. :P I've been singing for a long time and I did train my vocals on my own using information from this forum, I even got SS and CVT but both to no avail. I managed to bring my head voice down lower and I formed the habit of bridging as soon as I can so perhaps that's the reason? I can also do curbing (assuming I did it correct) up to a Bb4 with no pain in my throat, though the high notes are just practice range and not really useable for me yet.

Well I have a couple more questions if you are free to answer them. Regarding vibrato, it's getting better for me especially in pure head tones (not falsetto, just girly choral kind of sound). Sometimes they're there, sometimes not. I read that vibrato is easiest in the lower notes but it's not happening for me especially in pure chest notes. Should I worry about this or will it come to me later? I'm concerned because vibrato supposedly appears when you have a resonant sound with a relaxed throat, and if I don't have vibrato it means I've tension somewhere. Which links to my second question. I'll say that my technique is rough, though for the most part I can sing without tension. Because I cannot make my low head tones sound chesty yet, I tend to use curbing to sing the higher notes. (E4/F4) Now this is strange, because when practicing sirens I can sing in curbing mode up to Bb4 with no pain, albeit with a little bit of strain, but when I sing actual songs the notes around D4 to E4 I could feel a slight tinge of pain sometimes. It frustrates me to no end! Is curbing considered constriction in the throat also? I figured that I did the 'hold' too much and that's when the trouble starts.

Thanks again for your response, I really appreciate it a lot :)

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Anyway do you know what "renewing your internet lessons package means"? Robert asked me to do that and I couldn't find an option like that in the store.

Not sure what the 'renewing your package' thing means. Must be a new feature. Sorry, cannot help you there. Best to email Rob if there is any confusion.

As for light mass phonation, basically it means less "weight" right?

In a nutshell, yes.

I'll do more melodic 5ths for my practice then. The reason why I didn't is because I thought I had to do the exercises in sequence, and melodic 5ths come after octave sirens.

I didn't know that they came in that sequence. When I started out with Rob he gave me a few exercises from 2.0 and told me just to do them. In fact, I remember him telling me to focus mostly on the 5th's at first, for the same reasons I highlighted above. Rob, you were particularly right about it being handy to be able to sing 5ths at the drop of a hat.

Not sure if I'm a baritone/bass, though I really wish I am.

Me too sometimes buddy. But you know, Tenors are more rare anyway :)

I read that vibrato is easiest in the lower notes but it's not happening for me especially in pure chest notes. Should I worry about this or will it come to me later?

Many people say it's easier on lower notes. Personally, I found I had a much more natural vibrato in my higher range. It's weird.

Vibrato comes when your technique is right. That's the rule. You can try and emulate it using your stomache muscles and everything, but it never sounds as good. Best bet is to focus on the technique first and it'll come (Rob will tell you the same, I'm sure). It doesn't necessarily mean you have tension anywhere, can just be that something isn't quite working in your technique yet. You know, sometimes it can just be that your vocal cords aren't used to it fully yet. It'll come, even if you need to start by manipulating it. Rob will show you eventually, but it shouldn't be your main focus point right now.

You speak a lot about CVT terms in this post. I honestly have never studied that technique, so couldn't really understand. I kinda wish I had it just to know what people mean when they talk about curbing or distortion or neutral or whatever the other one is. I'm sure they're all modes covered in other methods just under different names, but at the moment... I cannot know.

I recently had a post about competing metholody and such, which you saw. It's all confusing. Different names, same stuff etc.

Anyway, I digress...

You mention a "slight ting of pain". This is never good.

I can explain one possible reason behind this 'Ting of pain' which you feel only in songs though.

I had the same thing. The reason is vowels and consonants. Ah (Car, Far), Ay (Pay, May), Oh (For, Gore) are all 'Open vowels'. This literally means that the throat opens up to make these sounds, which equals less tension. Ee (Free, Sea) and Oo (You, Jew) are 'Closed vowels', and guess what they make the throat do...

You'll be lucky to find a song which is entirely open vowels. Chances are, the ting of pain is because a lack of training on those closed vowels... That takes time.

Other than that, it could be that you're focusing too much on the consonant and not the vowel. I used to do that all of the time. Really screwed up my sound and made singing much harder.

Again, Rob will talk you through all of this stuff and teach you how to manipulate vowels to your advantage. You really couldn't have picked a better teacher for this particular subject.

Hope this helped.

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In my opinion, Lunte is a baritone with a well developed countertenor, classical fach-wise. Pop-wise, he is a rock tenor. Giving him a larger range than I have. For I have heard him go higher than C5. He's got a boom in his voice that I don't have, though I like following his exercises.

In fact, here's a decent example of his ability, as an artist. It still rocks my frigging socks off. And even if you think you are baritone, you can do this if you let Lunte help you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opXcKwFgawI

Rhapsody, keep working at it. You will get there before you know it because it is more subtle than you realize.

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Baritones can totally hit those crazy high notes. Geoff Tate is a great example of this. Check out some Queensryche thing if you've not heard him sing before.

Rob can teach that boom. I never had it before and now I can do it if I wish (not as well as he does though).

Nothing wrong with being a tenor though :) I'm pretty certain I'm definitely a tenor. My natural speaking voice certainly isn't very bassy.

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