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I'm pretty sure i'm singing wrong.. Help? :/

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Zion1744
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I started singing approximately 9 or so months ago. Before that i never sang to myself or in the car because it sounded bad so i didn't want to embarrass myself :P. So I have only the experience of these 9 months. And with that in mind, I think I have been singing completely wrong for the whole time! Every single vocal instructor video I have watched says to not move the larynx or the Adam's Apple? Well mine moves A LOT. Every single note i sing i'm pretty sure i'm using it. So, if anyone could direct me to a video or technical exercise that will help me prevent my movement. Oh, and the type of music i started to learn was acoustic, I'll put a video out. And now, i'm singing songs like "Waking The Demon - Bullet For My Valentine" and the transition gives me huge migranes like i'm not breathing properly or something? I tense up SOOOO MUCH when i'm singing that high though and it's getting better but i just don't want to be doing it wrong and damage my voice. I'll try and record me doing the BFMV song today or something so you can see my problems. Thank you for the help! (:

It's kinda low so you might need to wear headphones/turn up your speakers.

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First, most important advice I could possibly give:

Don't become obsessed with the height of your larynx. There are some crazies out there, who are obsessed with laryngeal height and this kind of attitude is a lot more unhealthy for a beginning singer than it is for a beginner to sing with an unsteady one in a relaxed way. This means, 70 percent of the internet singing advice coming from Speech Level Singing and Classical singers on Larynx, screw it, you're just starting off dude, and you're going to get there, slowly and surely, no freaking out about it.

That aside, I'll tell you my beliefs on laryngeal height. Your end goal is to never feel 'clamped' or uncomfortable, and it should never feel it's blocking your pitch on either side. I have a close friend online who speaks malaysian dialect, which is a very closed sounding language. It sounds like almost every word is filtered by this "Eeeeng" and when she tried to sing, she'd get pinched up and get uncomfortable. She told me she would get hoarse and couldn't sing for long. So I worked on a few things with her:

1. I had her focus on breath support. Exercises, inhale through a straw, feeling the diaphragm engage, letting out a hissing sound. Fast 'woofing' kinds of inhalations and exhalations.

2. I had her try singing on maybe the 10 percent or so of the beginning of yawn.

3. I had her try singing the most relaxed sighing sounds like you'd make after a really long day. She sang me a whole song in sigh and the relief she felt was obvious in her eyes.

4. I taught her to start with wider easier vowel, and learn to switch to any vowel while sustaining the same note and not feeling pinched. (Ahhh to Eee) for example.

5. She had this way of slamming up on her Eees like "EEEEE" and pinch them to the point of pain while singing. We joke about it, so I had her practice yogi bear voices and 'woofing' noises for me to learn the different feelings and sensations when the larynx is low compared to her normal speech.

The result of these exercises so far? Expanded range, increased comfort, no longer going hoarse when she warms up, and not obsessed with her larynx. She's only been singing maybe a total of a month and is obviously not Mariah Carey, but I've heard so much improvement and perhaps most importantly she feels so much better singing.

I guess what I'm getting at , is I'm incredibly thankful I know what 'not' to have her do. I spent a few months of my life, after having read Speech Level Singing and classical instruction, holding onto my larynx, terrified of it raising which only made the problems worse. When you worry about it, it creates tension, it creates concern, and it's the opposite of what you need, which is relaxation. Think beginning of a yawn for base line mid range notes. Tension makes it more likely for your larynx to raise more than you want.

Rant over, but I do not believe you are currently singing in a dangerous way so long as you don't push your voice too hard. When you become comfortable and more experienced, it will probably not bob as much and will probably find a comfortable spot to maintain the pitch! You'll just need to continue to practice and work as hard as you can.

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Well i tried a few of those exercises and I definitely use my diaphragm for breath support. I know what that is from playing clarinet in band, proper breath support and everything. In general though, like when i start getting into the upper ranges i'm always tensing up and straining and stuff and i'm not doing it to the point to where i'm losing my voice every day but it's quite exhausting and gives me those major headaches.. I'm very sure it's not too much noise because i'm wearing ear plugs and I'll keep on working on what you suggested. I just figured all these singers can sing so high because of their proper technique. Also, how vibrant are the results usually if your using the right technique, because i'm just gradually improving and things are getting easier but just recently I have been kind of stuck.. Any help on that range wise, our acapella director said i'm naturally a tenor so i should be able to extend my range higher right??

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Most definitely technique will help, but for the first say octave and a half to 2 octaves of your voice, a large amount of this is actually just practice and training yourself to relax and 'open up' a bit. I've heard some people describe it like there is an egg shaped opening, but also the beginning of yawn is very useful for beginners. You may not do this as a final technique for your style of music, but if you can practice staying open and not constricting, it should help.

I guess bottom line, there is no replacement for diligent practice. When you have just started singing, you have to focus as much as you can on training coordination and comfortable configurations that don't constrict. Any of the advanced techniques or tricks are going to probably trip you up more than they help until you can get comfortable.

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Well i tried a few of those exercises and I definitely use my diaphragm for breath support. I know what that is from playing clarinet in band, proper breath support and everything. In general though, like when i start getting into the upper ranges i'm always tensing up and straining and stuff...

Hi, Zion1744: I am glad to hear that you use your diaphragm for breath support. However, if you learned what is 'proper' for the clarinet, you are likely putting too much air behind your singing. Yes, there is exhalation when you sing, and air pressure in the lungs, but the air pressure needed for phonation is very much lower than what is used to play a clarinet. I played the French horn as a young person, and I had to 'un-learn' those habits to get my singing working best.

What does the 'support' sensation feel like? To me, it feels very much like I am not breathing out. Here is an exercise I learned from Professor Lloyd Hanson of Northern Arizona University that will help you experience it:

Imagine that you are going to breathe a slow, moist breath such that it would fog eyeglasses at room temperature. Hold the palm of your hand about 1 inch from your mouth, take a moderate, comfortable inhalation, drop your jaw about 1 inch, and breathe outward as slowly as you can, into your cupped hand, for about 15 seconds. Repeat this. When the breath feels very warm, but with very little air motion, you are doing it correctly.

After a few repeats, extend your sense of body awareness to how your chest, abdomen and throat feel as you do it. Repeat a few more times, and then take one of those breaths, start the exhale the same way, and onset a gentle singing note anywhere in your range, making no attempt to 'support it' other than that effort you used to breathe out that warm, slow breath.

This idea, and the exercise, help a singer to a way of supporting that does not oversupply breath to the voice. The phonation which results is clear, easily made, of moderate volume, and usually devoid of constricting throat tension. The concept of the 'slow, moist breath' helps the mind provoke a gentle physical response, one which automatically provokes continued diaphragm involvement as an exhalation controller, while the exhale (and the phonation) is occuring.

As you repeat this, I believe that you will become aware of the sense of ease, of lack of constriction in your throat. You can siren this kind of phonation in your comfortable range as soon as you get comfortable maintaining that ''slow breath' sensation. As long as you maintain the sensation, you can siren down, and up, very easily.

I hope this helps.

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The voice teachers that I had that said that the larynx shouldn't move were all ones without a prominent larynx. They'd be like "see how my larnx doesn't move?" and I'd be thinking "I can't see their larynx at all." I have a long neck and a prominent adam's apple. If it doesn't visibly move, my voice remains within about a perfect fifth wide range. If I allow it to move my range is much wider. My current teacher is a university professor with a phd. She never mentions larynx height. You can look at the neck to spot unnecessary tension, but the height of the larynx itself is not so important. It's meant to move. If it wasn't, you would have more control over it naturally. Mind you, it should not feel uncomfortable.

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Yay! Thank you for all the support. This has been significantly helpful! Especially the breathing exercise Steven suggested. I'm practicing that now and i kind of get what you mean, I believe i've been over pressuring my high notes to get them out. Like you said about the clarinet breathing, I think i have just been focusing so much on breathing i'm drowning in too much support so i backed it off and now it's much much easier to hit the same not i was cracking on. I've got so many questions about singing it's unbelievable I just wish i could afford a vocal coach. :/ But i think one of my last technical questions would be. When i'm practicing, is it bad to be repeatedly cracking on high notes? For example I'm cracking on one note of a song and every time i hit that note it either cracks after a long time of practicing or comes out very rough and like a very very very bad fry scream that could seem to damage my voice. I don't know how exactly to say it but i'm not "belting" the notes rather than just putting soo much air behind my voice that it comes out as a scream or a yell i guess. My example would be the chorus of Injection - Rise against. He says "Don't let me gooooooo- ooohh ohhh" On the highest note Around 50 seconds into the video he starts the "go" part. Another part i want to look at for that same song is around 33-35 seconds. The note he hits on "spite," How high is that and why can i not ever hit that note? I tried to not sing the song and just hit it but it all comes out as yelling. Is that still the whole stress part on my voice and will it all just clear up in good practice? (: Thanks again for all the patience for me being such a novice. I wish it all just came naturally like my dad haha.

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The note is a B over middle C. It is a pretty high note and the "sp" consonant doesn't help the cracking. For a novice I would say it's pretty ambitious to aim for that note seeing as not everyone can reach it without bridging the passaggio/headvoice/edge/curbing/releasing TA connection/or whatever you end up referring to it as when you arrive there. But if you can learn to release the strain on your voice you will probably be able to reach that note.

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Something else I would like to add. As a beginner, it is more effective to not practice too long in a session, for that allows the chance to revert to old habits, again. Better to practice the new thing, shortly, maybe several times a day, if you like, but not an hour or so, on end. As the new technique takes hold, you can increase your practice times.

A short productive learning accomplishes more than more time with wrong things.

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I usually only practice probably 3 to 4 times a day for around 30 minute sessions. I'll usually start with a warm up on a few pretty simple acoustic songs like Wonderwall - Oasis and I'll play like Face Down - The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus acoustically without a capo so it's a bit lower. Then i'll go into playing the higher thing like moving up the capo a few frets to try and hit the higher notes in the song. Then i'll head out the garage and try and sing with the music to heavier songs like the previously listed songs for about 20 to 30 minutes until my voices starts to get weary on the high notes. What I mean by weary is that i will be consistently hitting a note in a high pitch, to me anyways, and then my voice doesn't crack like usual. I'm not sure if it's cracking or more so just giving out? It happens every time i practice so whenever it happens i just go for about 1 or 2 more runs through the song and i'll head back in to let my voice recover. After about a few hours i'll had back out there and it'll be as good as new :D I know the cold tightens your vocal chords or whatever but i sing and play 30 minute sessions in a garage without heating and very poor insulation. Can that affect my ability to sing higher, like if i left to a warmer area i could sing higher notes? And could i expect more improvement from practicing in these conditions faster because it's harder? (Like wearing weights when running?) And finally should i change up my schedule on how I practice? I've been testing this out for about the past week now and it's worked quite effectively and I have seen major improvement and now while i'm practicing the songs i'm trying to do it while yawning at 10%. It sounds kinda stupid but I hope it helps. Thanks for all the patience and answering so many questions! I'm such a beginner to this and I have really no knowledge on the subject. And I don't know what you mean by passaggio, I kind of know what my head voice is I guess.. I know i have falsetto and since I made that original video i've gotten better however is your headvoice just falsetto with a little more "umph" behind it? Which could possibly help me hit the "spite" he sings? I still think what i'm thinking of would sound horrible, it sounds like he's just singing the note practically normal so if anyone can give me some exercises to extend my range into that section? GOD I LOVE THIS VOCAL FORUM!! :D

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Well i'm not entirely sure like she plays on the piano scales and I just do what she says. Some are like zahhhh or snayy or ahhh or ummm stuff like that but i'd have to ask her after winter break which i can't really wait for :/ There are a bunch of others but I have no idea off the top of my head i've only been in it for about half a year. :P

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I usually start humming on 'ng' in a comfortable range at a medium volume. I do long tones up and down scales like this. I then move on to 'ah ay ee oh oo' for each note. I may do different consonants at the beginning of those. my current teacher will usually suggest 'blah' which I think eases tension and encourages openness. I'll also do sirens in falsetto up to around F5 or G5 depending on what is comfortable on a given day. I also go low in falsetto. My chorus director introduced me to a long scale exercise on 'zi,' 'zay' and 'zah.' It's a long, single breath exercise. I can't complete it every time I attempt it, but it ensures maximized air usage.

I believe that a warm up should be effortless. Get the normal parts of your voice working well before you try and go higher or lower. If there is tension or discomfort that persists while warming up, you may consider not singing that day.

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I believe that a warm up should be effortless. Get the normal parts of your voice working well before you try and go higher or lower. If there is tension or discomfort that persists while warming up, you may consider not singing that day.

I'd like to see that this golden tidbit does not get lost. Most of us here have a strong work ethic and an insatiable drive to excel. And there are times where, even though you very much want to sing, it is better to rest. A week or a day of rest beats the crap out of serious or permanent damage or at least the developement of bad habits, which will take even more time to un-learn.

Don't let me get the reputation of supporting laziness or lack of work. Let me have the reputation of believing in good work, whenever you do it. And if you can't do it that day, let it go. I've read interviews with some of the top opera singers, as well as hard rock and metal singers. The voice changes from day to day. And you have to adjust and roll with it.

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And now, I can comment on the video you posted. I can't see that you are doing anything wrong for the DCFC song. You simply have a light weight for your voice. You do something naturally that many have to learn. You sing on the vowel, not the consonant. And you form the stops and consonants with your lips. That's a good thing to do.

Just remember that the trick is not to use all your air at once. And to resonate. And for that, you might want to raise your cheeks just a little on high notes, though the song you played didn't have any really high notes. Also, remember that not every song will be made for your voice or vice versa. Unless you re-arrange the song and the style of presentation. For example, Sheryl Crow really has more of an R&B voice and when she wanted to cover "Sweet Child of Mine," there is no way she would have sounded right by trying to sing it like Axl. So, she didn't. She re-arranged it to kind of a country-folk ballad re-mix. And it works fine for her and inspired a bunch of young ladies to follow suit.

On a tribute album to Aerosmith, Ronnie James Dio covered "Dream On." He knew could not sing the Ab5 the way that Tyler does. So, he didn't. He let that remain the "Tyler" note. He sang it his way, about an octave lower, and made it work. Gave it a whole new texture.

You already have a good voice with a velvety tone. And you may admire the music and singing of another but could hurt yourself trying to sound like them. It can happen to most anyone, even me, an arrogant snot who thinks he has a unique enough voice on his own. I can still get caught up trying to sing a song like the original singer. I was always inspired by Axl Rose. And I sound nothing like him. And when I sing GnR songs, it sounds like Ron singing them, not Axl. And that would have limited market appeal.

For the rest of your life, you will find yourself adjusting your coordination of your voice. That doesn't mean you will never be ready for public performance or recording. It just means that singing is a continuous adventure. So, welcome aboard. The galley is at the stern. Observation deck is ahead of the wheel house.

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