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What is Technique and how do we learn it?

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Felipe Carvalho
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In its general definition, technique is a collection of procedures and methods with the objective of accomplishing a goal, performing a task or solving a problem.

On singing, we could say then that its a collection of procedures to allow the voice to be used with freedom and plasticity. But thats too generic.

I want to go into a bit more of detail about what I know, the classical method, and how it works. And then I would like to know how others with experience on other methods relate to this.

First and foremost, the core of the system and method is not centered into learning procedures to do during singing, but rather to train via repetition until they become part of the voice, each having a specific purpose, with the objective of consolidating the singing voice into a more efficient and plastic usage.

This is something that all voice teachers I came to have contact with know: that technique is only trully working when you dont have to think about it.

Another crucial aspect, that I believe is overlooked on a few discussions around here. Nobody is trully a beginner on singing, even if not done to actually sing, a lot of previous experience is there. You see, everyone has at least knowledge on how to produce the vowel sounds, and they can speak, even if not on the most correct way, so there is already a lot of information there.

Why is this crucial? Because it means that simply there is no common ground to start from!

The background of each person will be different: if you listen to music, if you dont, if you are used to sing, not used, if you speak with a good quality, if you speak comfortably, if the way you learned to produce the vowels have certain qualities, if your local accent has certain qualities, if the vowels used on your country have certain qualities, if when you were a child you had some experience regarding singing be it good or bad, if you went through the vocal change having more or less problems, if you alter your voice in anyway to speak (its common on some persons to speak with a child like characteristic or trying to darken it to sound more serious).

And there is absolutely no way for the person to identify all that is needed alone, because be it for good or bad, our voice is the result of constant production, perception and feedback from this perception against the ideal that we have on our mind of how we should sound.

I do not have many ways to support what follows, besides practical application, and no one will be able to verify it until the human brain is modeled and understood. But I will present my beliefs on the causes, and the usuall situation that is very real.

When we are children, we are not concerned about how we sound, speaking is the result of copying our parents and learning the language. This is when the main coordinatory system is built, when the vowels are first defined. This is the most crucial part of the process and where we cease being beginners.

Its a chaotic process of gathering information and organizing that our brain does, that nobody has the means to remember how it took place, and even afterwards, as we grow up, learn and interfere with our voices, we dont have the means to put this information together in order to predict the results. Chaotic in the sense that there are too many variables, and that a small change in any of them will have a absolutely impredictable results on the future.

An easier example: lets say that you have a child that for one or another reason speaks loud and annoyingly. Common thing, so the parents interfere: “hey brat, show some respect, speak like a human instead of screamming”. And more often than not, they will succeed in the interference. But how did this happen? Was this interference good? What was the cost?

A simple interference at a young age can have a huge effect later on. Combined with personality traces, it can easily make some parts of the voice unnused and weak. So weak that it usually falls of counscious control, and it takes a lot of effort and trial/error attempts to get it under control again.

Some traces can be seem as vulgar or “refined” depending on the ethnical group. Some traces may be seem as vulgar or “refined” by the person alone, just as a personal preference. Some traces may be seem totally unnaceptable due to psychological barriers.

So what I mean of all this is that not only singing is “mental” as ronws so oftenly correctly states, but we have our whole life of previous experience on it that can not be ignored.

Thus not only we have to develop the foundation of technique to learn it, but we need to first understand what is it that we are doing, we have to look into our voices and understand it in order to know what to do to build this foundation.

And the only thing that can make sense of all the information and reach conclusions, is the human brain. So either you will have to use your own or relly on someone elses. Unfortunatelly, speaking from my own experience and from what I see happening with others, our perception not only is not trainned and developed enough, as it does not have key information on what to look for. We cant even address how heavy/light our voices are, and we often see teenagers around here that believe to be a bass.

The technical knowledge that a teacher/coach has is not on the names used to define pieces and parts of the human voice, which ARE important, of course, but mainly on the ability to hear/see the execution of something and make sense of it, understanding what is being done, how it SHOULD be done and, more importantly, WHAT to do in order to correct it.

So singing technique, in my opinion, are procedures and methods, used to train our perception, to understand and recognize different characteristics of our voices, learn how our voices feel and behave when used properly, learn about our weakness and strenghts and ways to address them. And all of this will result in freedom and plasticity, all of this must happen together and gradually.

Of course, there must be a line of work, and this is where most written material will focus. But to adress this part of the trainning, we would virtually one personalized book for each person.

After the common ground is settled, and things are going towards a direction that is self-reinforced, then it is easy to look into written material and understand the ideas and concepts that are there, by thinking of your own voice doing it, and relating the concepts to what you know.

In order to make this thread a little more result-oriented rather than pseudo-scientific, I will proceed to state that: I only see results produced when all of this is taken into account, and result here means singing whole songs at a high level of quality, knowing how to record yourself, and how to deliver a live performance.

So considering this wall of text, how many of you relate to it, how many of you hate it, and how does your own results hold against it?

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To me Vocal training is a personal journey of descovery. As you say we all have individual expieriences that has shaped our voice to be what it is.The problems that I have are surely different from everyone else. First I would need to contact someone who may at least have a glimmer of an Idea of what normal should sound like. Then Find where the differences are in my voice and why they are there .And then replace the bad habits with the correct ones and work on strengthening weeknesses.

Vocal technique to me is how you learned to deal with the weeknesses or how to create an effect that you are going for. For Example if you were singing a song that normally has a real strong High note but your high notes are week, You may use a Yodel, or instead of singing that note from an initial glottal attack you may slide into it and then open it up. You may also choose to sing a lower note, a harmonic interval of the normal note.`

A technique is things that you do to achieve your goal.

Just My Opinion. I am not a teacher and this is a discussion on how we relate to vocal training and Technique. Opinion is called for.

I think I'm saying the same thing as Felipe only in my own way.

Agreeing on a vocal model that one could call normal and healthy to compair to our starting point seems to be the place to start.

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As far as what "technique" is. I think there are a few definitions. It can be a way for us to train ourselves to perform a complex task. It can also be a method by which to become proficient at a give task. In other ways it is how we develop a knack for doing something making it second nature through scientific means and repetition. An easy path to a complex task.

It is also a small part of a whole used to develop a skill or an art by mastering fundamentals or a mechanical skill.

But I believe technique should be specific to the task. Specificity is important. We should have a goal and utilize techniques that are closely related to exactly what it is we are trying to accomplish. We need to practice technique but then also have sessions of active practice. By that I mean putting the techniques to use/practice in an environment closely related to the final goal/task. In other words, to use a boxing analogy. Perfecting a punch and the technique of punching is fine. Hitting the heavy bag and speed bag daily is also very good. However perfect technique isn't enough. Some practice/training time must be devoted to practicing those techniques against a live opponent ....a sparring partner. This is because techniques are at times almost like templates. They must be free flowing and so ingrained in us that we can alter them on the fly. Tweak them so to speak to fit various and ever changing situations. But this can't be accomplished until those techniques are burned into our CNS and become part of us. The muscles have to be trained to go on automatic. Some call it muscle memory. A heavy bag isn't the same as a live moving opponent who is punching back at you. Nor is developing static techniques for singing to single notes, scales, runs, exercises etc on a piano keyboard, anything like singing a song live or in a studio.

At those times all techniques must come together to become a whole, melding with each other. No longer are they separate techniques like different food items on a plate. They must now become a stew.

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spot on tommy, great post!!

that's why i agree with daniel... when all is said and done you have to figure out your own way with your own voice.

no program, or book, nor any vocal teacher should be held responsible for what success you achieve as a singer. they can guide and inspire, but in the end if you are going to get really good (and even that's a judgement call) you have to stay with it....tweak, and experiment, and fail, and repair from things, get unbalanced, then rebalanced, suck at times, and get standing ovations other times.

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After the common ground is settled, and things are going towards a direction that is self-reinforced, then it is easy to look into written material and understand the ideas and concepts that are there, by thinking of your own voice doing it, and relating the concepts to what you know.

I agree with this to 1000% :P

I can't think about the number of times where I've read something, or a teacher has told me something and asked if I understand, and I have answered "Yes" in full thought of understanding. Then maybe I go home and practice and after a while I come to the conclusion that that particual method of addressing my problem may have worked for the person writing what I read, or the teacher telling me how I should do, but it will not work for me since I have failed to recreate it after several (days, weeks) tries.

THEN when I finally get it, actually get it, I realise I was lying when I said I understood, even though I thought I did at the time. This understanding then carries on both to the future, but also in alot of time to the past where I've been told something, that I now finally ACTUALLY understand/can relate too.

Just a small story from my personal learning curve :)

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spot on tommy, great post!!

that's why i agree with daniel... when all is said and done you have to figure out your own way with your own voice.

no program, or book, nor any vocal teacher should be held responsible for what success you achieve as a singer. they can guide and inspire, but in the end if you are going to get really good (and even that's a judgement call) you have to stay with it....tweak, and experiment, and fail, and repair from things, get unbalanced, then rebalanced, suck at times, and get standing ovations other times.

Thanks. And after all these years I'm still trying to find my way!! :D But sometimes it is the journey that is more important than the goal. Like I have said before. Never get to the point where you think you know it all or you are done. Always maintain a "beginners mind."

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I think there are some basics to each method. However, there are different sound ideals. I notice that Ken Tamplin, with his students, often times leads them to rasp. Which is a great rock sound. Some classical coaches only want the covered sound. Or, sacrificing all else, including rhythm and articulation for a never-ending legato.

Technique, an approach to how to do something.

In the case of the voice, and I know it sounds like I am a broken record, but it is mental. We cannot see what our vocal organ is doing. We can hear it, in some cases feel it. And how many of these descriptions that we bandy back and forth are different mental images. Exactly what is "core" and how do you "engage" it? And I am not picking or denigrating that description. I mention it as a "mental" perspective. Or the concept of bridging early. Yes, there are some actually physical coordination things you are doing, but it is driven by the mental reminder to bridge early.

Technique as applied to how you, the individual can do something. I knew a guitarist (from the band, XLR8, that I auditioned for in the earlt 90's.) George Chapin, a nephew of Harry Chapin. Anyway, he was missing the ring finger from each hand. And could play as fast as any one. Granted, he could not play a passage the exact same way that someone with all of their fingers could but it did not stop him from creating the same things. He adapted. He is by no means handicapped. In fact, in his style of playing, I would very much compare him to Alex Lifeson. He was that good. With only four digits on each hand.

Same with the individual qualities of our voice. We can take a technique but it will not necessarily render the same results as it does for someone else. It might, however, come up with a unique sound that no one else can make. And who decides that is a worthy sound ideal? The buying public, I suppose. David Lee Roth does not have much of a range, other than his high howls and, according to his own words, his voice sounds like 4 flat tires on a muddy road. And he made a career out of it. And he was handicapped for a while. As a child, he had weak bones in the legs and had to wear leg braces. When he was 11, the braces came off and he immediately took up Karate. By the time he was with Van Halen, he had a 2nd degree black belt.

But I digress, with a head full of useless trivia.

Technique, some mechanics of breathing, though still based on thought models. How to vary adduction, though a phyiscal action, also driven by a mental image, though there are some exercises to increase coupe de glotte.

How do we learn it? Probably the same as most any other skill. A combination of reading, instruction from an instructor for those blessed with the opportunity. Emulation, in the case of using home study kits. Make these sounds, like this, or that.

We often advise others to seek a live vocal coach. Then, again, we hear some people who were told things by a singing teacher that many of us here would find patently wrong, at least for our own experience. Such as the idea of yanking on tongues. By the way, most times a doctor depresses your tongue, you are not trying to sing the tenor range.

But what technique do they teach? And what sound ideal? And, can one technique or method apply to all voices? For example, I know that I do not have the voice for screamo. I'm not even going to try. Call me lazy, whatever, all day long, and I won't care. One of the most important things for me is to learn what type of voice that I have and what it's limits are. Which is not lazy. For I think I can do some prettty neat things with my voice. And so, also, technique should serve the singing, not the other way around. I am not going to sing a song to show off a technique. I am going to use a technique to accomplish something I think the song needs. And only within the abilities of my voice.

I feel like I am drifting in the topic. Anyone can have natural abilities. There are some fast guys with a great reach. But it takes training and some education to turn them into a successful wide receiver.

There are people who are light on their feet and can flit around like butterflies but it takes practice and attention to what they do to become a world class tennis player.

So, they all learn some technique, some method for honing their skills. Maybe that's it.

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I agree with Owen in that technique is the result of training. Good singning technique could be defined as the ability to execute or sing songs unincumbered (no technical difficulty) with maximum expression, using the least amount of energy and least amount of stress. A few ways to gauge could be:

- ability to control vibrato

- ability to sing on pitch

- agility - ability to switch pitches accurately, quickly and freely

- ability to vary intensities - from soft singing to very loud singing - at any point in the range

- command of vowels

- command of healthy distortion and rasp techniques

The goal of attaining good technique is to enable one to concentrate on emotional expression without having to worry about technical aspects. The ability to convey emotion is the end game. In my book it is not technique. And you don't need good technique for it, but it can be extremely helpful. Of course certain genres require different technical levels. Opera of course requires lots of technique - but not distortion. Folk singing doesn't require much except ability to sing on pitch to a reasonable degree.

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Mdew thanks for your feedback. About the definition of technique, although you do have a point, I think that only when we are able to transform the technical knowledge from tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge that it can be effectively used to train and pass it on.

Although I am stating here that a huge part of this knowledge can only be tacit at this moment.

Not criticizing what you said ok! haha, I do understand you, and you do have a point :)

Tommy and Bob, yes I agree with you guys, application of the knowledge is crucial, I just feel that more care should be spent on seeing that it is properly absorved. In many cases, I see stuff being taken out of context and applied using interpretations of what was said. Soft palate lift is the number one thing in my mind in this regard, I think we even have a new thread on this old, recurring mistake.

I have no doubts that testing yourself, and searching for new stuff alone is much more effective than the threads arguing about how twangy the howly floating tone supported and lifted is better, Daniel is more than correct, and I think to myself too "yes, and have you guys ever considered singing?".

hehe but make no mistake, Daniel's ears are much more precise and technical perfectionist than any term or any book can possibly be. Although his pink cowboy hat does play a major role in his teaching skills :P.

Mivke yes man, I think this pretty much resumes the situation that we all get through... And its important to know: you were not lying, you actually made some sense of what was told and from what you experienced. The problem is exactly leading into the experience, I think we talked about this before, its pretty much the same as trying to tell someone what is blue, there is no way around, it will only happen if the person ever experienced the sensation of seeing the blue color.

Perception is such a fascinating thing... For an instance, consider an animal that has a sense that we dont have, like the bat's sonar mapping of the ambient. Can you picture how such thing feels?

Back from the tangent, I understand what you mean and thanks for sharing the thoughts :)

Owen dunno, plasticity is exactly aiming to produce quality, or tonal quality if you would call it, using the things that are perceived like that, such as homogeneity, resonance, consistency, etc... Virtuose may fit here if its the purpose. About matching the student "tonal ideal", clarify it please, what would be your tonal ideal for an instance?

About the definition of technique, the word is prety much defined as that, and I didnt understand your point... Could you clarify what difference would that make?

For example, you say that its the use of fixed setups to phonate, what would a fixed setup be?

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As far as teaching technique, the best thing you can all do as teachers is continue with what has worked with the majority of your students.

As someone who is in the early stages of training, even if I think I know what a particular exorcise is supposed to sound like or feel like I can get fooled by a similer sound that is produced entirely different from what is intended.

The structured training helps guide us to proper coordinations even if we have no idea what those coordinations are supposed to be. Even if we have a particular sound that we as students are looking for the basics would need to be stressed first.

It seems that you all agree on the basics. Support, Proper breathing, Open throat, Vowel production,.....

Where things seem to diverge is when you get into specialty problems that shouldn't be addressed until the basics are in place. When the basics are in place then you have a common ground.

This being a forum gives an added problem of proffesional teachers and self taught singers exchanging ideas on what works and what doesn't. Don't get me wrong I think this is a good thing. What works for one doesn't always work for another. It is good to get different views.

We also have those that are starting from scratch and those that are already pro caliber asking advice on how to grow from whatever stage they are in now.

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Owen, yes thats part of plasticity. Full voice, as long as the classical school is concerned, is the only correct way.

About defining technique as a set of postures, its incomplete, since all these postures must be present most of the time during the use of full voice, the point is exactly finding the optimal ammount on each situation, and for this, the issue I mention will appear.

A technically correct vocal production thus is not on the use of postures, but on the finesse, strenght and control of the voice during its use.

Just as technique on other activities is not limited to mimic a pattern, but on trainning and improving all the postures together.

If you set a reference of placement, using resonance tracking as the way to guide it, the postures will all change in order to match the reference. The reference is a technical definition based on perception of tactil sensations, not a fixed posture. And when trainned, its real, so real that it becomes part of the coordination.

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Would examples of technique be Oppoggio, Open throat, twanging, Curbing, Overlay ditorsion, vocal fry?

Or are you going for basic voice production in general.

I would think that a persons Technique would be how a person incorperates all these things to achieve the sound and effect he is looking for. To learn the technique one must expirement and find the coordinations that are necessary for that particular sound.

There can be particular exorcises that will strengthen coordinations in the achievement of Open Throat, Twang, Overlay distorsion.... But how our individual voices incorporate them to achieve a sound ideal will be different for every one. Because of my general body type I may need to add more twang and less support to get an effect that someone else would need more support and less twang.

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  • 1 year later...

Learning to Improve

Ressurecting this old one.

First of all, if you havent seen Daniel's thread: Just do It. Now is the time. Afterwards, take a look at the Artist Development forum, there is a thread in there about a Steve Vai video on development, I strongly advice you see it AND also take a look on one of the related videos from Billy Sheehan, about musicianship, he is a bass player but his advice applies to pretty much any musician. Both are references on their crafts, so I strongly advice you listen to what they have to say,

Now, about improving on technique.

Lets begin talking about the act of singing itself.

Singing, like all other human activities, was developed and evolved through time. What you hear on the radio, is a result of all this development and evolution. Its an activity that, although not directly competitive in nature (there isnt a defined set of rules to make you a better singer than someone else, unless of course its a competition with technique judges), progressively became more refined, more and more comfortable singing range (tessitura) is used and more is expected in terms of dynamic control and precision.

The point is, on a technical view, the development of the skill should be considered as a work of high level performance, like a sport or martial art. Not for competitions (although if you are into classical singing, you will probably have to participate on competitions where technique will be a major factor), but to be able to perform at the level of quality that the audience expects.

If you consider for example a sport, or even an e-sport, you will see some similarities. First, that the technique work is all centered on very basic ideas. The definition of frameworks of reference, and repetitions. After repeating a coordination and over-learning it, then it becomes a natural act and the player/fighter starts to modify and use creativity on it, adapting the coordination on the fly without counscious effort.

Then there will be differences on this bare framework. If you are learning tennis, one coach will tell you to position your arms in a way for the forehand, and maybe end the movement high, another will tell you to do the coordination a bit different, maybe ending the movement lower, and so on. Back-hand holding the raquet with one hand vs two hands. Training service with focus on the ball toss, or focus on the raquet movement, or maybe braking it into pieces and then coordinating both together, etc.

As the player learns the coordination, it starts to become more and more precise, and small corrections and adaptations happen, maybe to give more speed or more agressivity, but never before precision on the basic frame is achieved.

In here an issue may happen. You see, the teacher told the player that the correct way to do the forehand is that, and told him to repeat it. Great. Begin low, wide movement, right feet forward, ending high.

Then he sees Nadal playing on the TV, a top player, therefore a good reference, and he sees that Nadal's forehand has this strange arm twist he does and end the movement close to his body. He then goes to the Modern Tennis Player Forum and starts a thread like this:

Forehand - Am I doing it right?

Hello, Ive been training for 2 months now, and my coach told me that the correct forehand is done like this and that. However, I see Nadal on the TV and I see he does it with this different twisted hand way, is it correct?

Replies:

- You suck.

- Your teacher suck.

- Nadal sucks

- The correct coordination uses a contraction of your Sternocleidomastoideus when looking at the ball.

- Tennis is mental

- According to CTT, the Complete Tennis Technique, Nadal uses "arm compression"

- Pit Sampras uses something else

- The natural tennis is the way to go

- Just train as you were instructed and play a lot, you will figure how to do it better

Which one of these do you think that makes more sense on Tennis? Do you think that to sing the other statements will make sense? Or are those magic ideas simply a consequence of not being able to directly observe what is going on, thus trying to find the secret move that allows for a better performance?

More to come.

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Finally, the body often has many ways of producing a particular effect. Looking for ONE correct way is naive. Finding a balance that works only means you have found "A correct technique", not "THE correct technique" or even your best technique.

Very well said. :)

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  • 2 months later...

Tnx Dan ;)

Lets continue...

So, the training process can be viewed, in a simplified way, as:

- Understanding the current state;

- Interfering to build coordinations necessary;

- Defining a wireframe to work with;

- Overlearning, leading to creative modifications;

- Application on the craft;

Lets not think of it as a linear process, but parallel and gradual. You dont need perfection on everything from the start in order to advance to the next item. in fact trying to do so can create more problems than help solving them. Think of it as a process of infinite iterations, where every piece, although well defined, interfere in each other, and are equally necessary.

Very well, a closer look on the first part, "understanding the current state".

This is probably the most important part of the process. Simply put, if you can not understand what you are doing and WHY it needs to change/improve, then you cant improve, all the modifications you do will be simply random.

So how do you do it?

Some scales maybe, trying to define a fach?

Some exercises to push your voice higher and see what is your current limit?

Some exercises on the middle voice to see how much "machoness" you can use in there?

Maybe some hissings in SS, trying to see how many hours you can sustain it?

Maybe asking what the singer (you) wants in his/her voice?

A difficult exercise, like mesa di voce on a passage note maybe...

Actually, none of the above will tell you much, these things are just small parts of the whole, simplifications that are usefull only to address a problem that was already identified, not references or requirements.

The activity, the craft you want to perform, is singing. So you are going to pick a song, something thats within your repertoire, something that you can already sing with comfort, and thats where you will evaluate what is going on. Is the melody 100%, what about the attacks? What about clarity? Is phrasing tight with the instruments (where it needs to be)? Is the interpretation line interesting, does it even exist? Is the voice homogeneous or does it brake the quality during a certain passage? Is the intention behind the production coherent with the sonic result? Do you honestly get the feeling of wanting to listen to the end? Or after 3 verses does it leaves you with the impression that you already know everything that will come afterwards?

Once you spot the problem on the singing itself, something tangible that can be solved, then you can come up with a solution, that may or may not be something that requires a "low-level" technical approach, maybe you can solve it on the singing itself without even using exercises. Maybe its just a matter of allowing yourself to be a bit louder, maybe just not going so loud. OR, maybe not, a problem with legatto(which would be a cause for lack of homogeneity) for example may need a more careful work with vowels first.

No matter the solution type, do not let the solution preceed the identification of the problem. And again, it must be a problem that shows on the singing.

And thats how the whole process goes. You will perform a song, identify things to solve, find a possible solution, TEST IT, train it, apply this solution, and evaluate again. Is it better, worse, no change? Until the song is at a good state, where you dont struggle with it, and its interesting to listen to.

Yes, there are exercises to improve overall conditioning (even these should be defined regarding the needs, not everyone needs to work on the same fundaments). But once again, the focus must be improving and developing singing, not the exercises. Therefore, exercises are not sources of information about your singing, and they most surely are not results.

This does not prevent looking ahead, and clever planning. Note that the word is clever, not blind. I was just talking about something similar with a singer and friend that has been studying a real lot on this last year: when we start preparing something to be used to sing, no matter how much detail we try to include on the exercises, we dont get the full solution right away, its when applying to the singing that it all starts to show. A small tension on a consonant for example can mess up a whole chorus. And trying to exercise ALL consonants with ALL vowels on ALL pitchs and intensities will waste tons time on things that probably are working well enough already.

However there is one small problem here. Your progress will always be limited to the extent of the perception of these issues and the ability to come up with a solution based on it. And thats why orientation is so important. Its not to give you everything ready to use, but to help you identify what to work, what has priority and what is irrelevant, and to develop your own perception to allow you to work on the future on your own, making aware decisions, instead of searching for magic.

Picture for example a situation that is not uncommon, poor relative pitch percetion. The person that has a hard time identifying intervals and reproducing them with their voices, or even matching a pitch. Everyone that begins training can improve this aspect in one way or another, but if its someone that has a poor afinity with it, it can be next to impossible to do it alone. Very well, many other aspects of technique will require the same kind of development, some things are simply outside the current awareness you have, some stuff will be really different for you.

On a similar material on another kind of activity, the author refers to this with a more simple (and rude) rule: "You Suck". But due to the competitive nature of this other activity, I dont think it can be applied directly in here (the author meant that if you are loosing and not competing at high level leagues, its because something basic is still flawed in your game, and its very much true). I did however heard this during my own studies "If you are studying a song thats not yours, aim to do it better than the original. And if its yours, your goal is to make it better than everything else that is out there".

And thats not so different in the end of the day... Even if you dont achieve it, thats not the point, the idea is just setting your references in a way that allow you to progress fast and develop the awareness of what is necessary to achieve quality in your work.

And speaking of basics. What are the basics?

The first reaction is associating it with "easy"... Sometimes yes, most of the times, no...

Basics are the things that are necessary, and in the context of singing, its usually meant to describe those "frameworks" still not really overlearned and still not developed to the point where your own creativity starts to show. Depending on the material that you want to sing, your needs, your BASICS, will be different, and it may be a challenge for a while. Difficulty does not change the fact that its a need, not a bonus. And since we are not playing a computer game where "achieving" a 70% score is "Awesome!!!!", you will eventually need to bring it to the point of instinctive use if you want to perform with comfort.

More to come, eventually :P

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I am thinking about those who have for years been singing and developed bad singings habbits. Wouldnt it be better, after identifying the problem and in the process of training the correct way, to advice them to avoid singing songs (and especially their favorite ones) so the correct technique becomes part of their voice easier? My thoughts are that its easy to go back to the old habbits you've been using for years and even easier when emotion is involved and technique might be overlooked. At most i would say to sing only parts of songs and be very focused and consious of what they are doing.

I learned that in sports, in order to correct a "wrong"/inefficient movement you shouldnt be in "stress mode" of playing games, only do your training for a month or play limited time games. When you are in a difficult situation brain does what it knows best and that isnt the new - under development - technique you are learning but the "faulty" one that was used before.

Thoughts?

Btw that forehand example was really funny and sadly true!

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Cool points Phil.

I am also a big fan of continuing to perform and record no matter what. It reinforces your love for singing and makes you continuously put your training to the test of the art of singing, which can reveal a LOT about whether you are training in the right direction or not. Although it may reinforce bad habits a little bit when you go back to safe mode when you sing live, the reality is you're going to have to do that for your entire singing career, just on a smaller scale the better you get. Your performance voice will always be a few steps behind the magic that happens when you train. Training technique and scales doesn't force your voice to deliver reliable, consistent, aesthetically pleasing results, under pressure. So if you stop singing and only train and never put it out there to an audience that's going to hear you make one attempt and immediately judge you, you won't necessarily become a better singer. Being able to do a lot with your voice is only half the puzzle. The other half is knowing what your limits are and how to work around them, so that you bring your best as a performer, even on your worst days.

I'm also not a believer in training methods that force you to sacrifice your singing in order to learn a new coordination/skill. No singer should have to go through the torture of temporarily not singing or not singing well, and I don't know about you guys to me as a singer that's no longer a confused beginner and has been having decent success actually singing, having to take a step back from my current ability is even worse than taking a long time to improve technique! Ultimately, you should be able to go straight from point A to point B, plus, as far as I can tell, the results come faster that way anyways.

And I too like to mix up singing phrases with full songs. And I've noticed that when I first start learning a difficult song, it's mostly practicing phrases to tweak them, and over time as those phrases get better the ratios of phrase tweaking to song repetition gradually trade off so that by the time I'm about to perform the song, I'm mostly running the whole song to reinforce good muscle memory in a way that is identical to the muscle memory I need to perform it, so by performance time, all I have to do is repeat a familiar song.

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Training technique and scales doesn't force your voice to deliver reliable, consistent, aesthetically pleasing results, under pressure. So if you stop singing and only train and never put it out there to an audience that's going to hear you make one attempt and immediately judge you, you won't necessarily become a better singer. Being able to do a lot with your voice is only half the puzzle. The other half is knowing what your limits are and how to work around them, so that you bring your best as a performer, even on your worst days.

Good point and reminds me of the one made by Daniel in his video. His wife can make any training sound that any one here can devise. But she does not sing so well and the answer was to sing more songs to get better at singing songs.

I'm also not a believer in training methods that force you to sacrifice your singing in order to learn a new coordination/skill.

I agree. I think, for most people, they can start where they are, though I have been told a few times that I need to start all over again, from scratch.

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I am thinking about those who have for years been singing and developed bad singings habbits. Wouldnt it be better, after identifying the problem and in the process of training the correct way, to advice them to avoid singing songs (and especially their favorite ones) so the correct technique becomes part of their voice easier? My thoughts are that its easy to go back to the old habbits you've been using for years and even easier when emotion is involved and technique might be overlooked. At most i would say to sing only parts of songs and be very focused and consious of what they are doing.

I learned that in sports, in order to correct a "wrong"/inefficient movement you shouldnt be in "stress mode" of playing games, only do your training for a month or play limited time games. When you are in a difficult situation brain does what it knows best and that isnt the new - under development - technique you are learning but the "faulty" one that was used before.

Thoughts?

Btw that forehand example was really funny and sadly true!

That would depend on how severe the bad habit is and what is the consequence...

If it is something causing tons of tensions, constant hoarseness or if the person simply can not keep track of it to not use the habitual faulty coordination... What else can you do?

Truth is things are not black n white, usually there is a way to deal with the problem and keep singing, but it will take some good ammount of awareness and willpower to not let the habitual coordination to come back.

Singing or not, its not something easy to solve. Im with Phil, efforts should be to not stop the singing.

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Felipe wrote:

"Truth is things are not black n white, usually there is a way to deal with the problem and keep singing, but it will take some good ammount of awareness and willpower to not let the habitual coordination to come back."

Aweness of the problem seems to be big sticking point for people. Not only awareness that there is a problem but what is causing it.

Usually the need for a coach is to point out a problem that we do not know we have. Like possibly the habit of turning our head to the side when approaching a high note. Or something equally as detrimental that we are not aware of until pointed out by someone else.

Until I started with this forum I believed singing was just singing. You match your words to the intended pitch or melody and you are good to go. Never being aware that an accent could pull the perceived pitch up or down or that a muffled sound even if on pitch can still sound to others as being flat. The same is true of a Sharp grating sound. That can also be perceived as being sharp in pitch even if the pitch is actually correct.

Now when I listen to songs that I have recorded in the past I can hear the flaws that have been pointed out to me. Before I may have been aware that something was wrong but had no clue it was from pronouncing a word using a backwoods accent or that I was flip flopping between a lower larynx to a higher larynx position. After becoming aware of the problem I could work on it a little at a time.

Things that may be obvious to someone else may be hidden from you.

Some have the habit of telling others to follow the sound. That may be good advice but which sound do you follow? The high overtone sounds and make them consistant? or the lower solid sounds? Following each one can lead to different coordinations. Awarenes of what to listen for is a big plus in trying to smooth out your voice and production.

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Excellent newer posts by all and, of course, Felipe. And I agree, if your only tool is a hammer, all problems begin to look like nails. Better to zero in and identify what problem.

Something I would like to ask or point out. In a prior post, using tennis as an example, the student sees this Nadal guy playing and notices he does something different, not encountered before in his training or even his scope of viewing until he sees it done by this successful player. And wants to know how to train this or what does it mean? And my point would be, granted, Nadal might be a successful tennis player and still have that odd twist. Who cares?

You, the student, are going to a teacher to learn to play tennis. And your goal, in my humble opinion, should be to become a great tennis player. To where people forget all about Nadal when you play. Nothing against the guy, nor will he actually be forgotten but more importantly, that you are seen for your playing, just as strong and successful as that of Nadal.

Then, again, my personality and the way that I was raised as a child, I worship no man. My response would be, yeah, Nadal's great. And I will be that great some day, twist or not. So, how do I play the game of tennis as stongly and successfully? Personal responsibility.

I am certainly not without sin. I am a continuing work in progress in spite of having been singing for a long time. I am still learning something new, each day. As well as how I present it. Especially in this forum. It doesn't matter if the recording I have made is me playing guitar and singing at the same time into one mic. It is not "live," it is a recording. And while it might have sounded fine here in the same room with me, that is not what is always being picked up by the recorder.

Point being, I learn to not make apologies for recording. No disclaimers. You either like it or you don't like it. Doesn't matter if I had a cold, just ate dinner, had to start the recording over about 10 times. Or got it on the first go-round. What matters is how did this sound? To let go of the need for applause of my personal achievement, technique,struggle, lack of struggle. How did the song come across to the audience? Whether that audience is inebriated friends at a party or nit-picking singers here. One level, both audiences are the same. Make it count, make it happen, now. Even with recording. Even if the finished product took two different recording sessions, a change of arrangement, and about 10 recording attempts in each session. I will not tell which song that was.

Or another one where I nailed it the first time, at the end of an evening. I won't tell you that one, either. What's important is how does it sound to you now, in this recording. If I say, well I could have done that better, or changed this, you would rightly say, well, why did you not do that? If you are already capable of better than what you presented here, why present this problematic performance? Looking for applause or "good job" because you did it, anyway? Or looking for ego-stroking of, well, you were good just like that. What I like to call false humility. I know I stink, I am not worthy, this is my attempt ... blah, blah.

Let me channel yoda for a moment. "Try not. Do, or do not."

Drop the excuses, the false humility, the guards against harsh critique. Present your craft, good or bad, win, lose, or draw. And take the crticism like a man, or woman, as the case may be. Because you cannot hear yourself as others hear you. How can you receive an objective critique if you are supplying the critique you expect to hear?

And so that leads to the advice of seeking some kind of help in training, if possible. With whatever your budget can afford. Caveat emptor, for I don't know if we have truly defined a standard of what is or is not a good teacher. We each have our own definitions. And a fine balance. What if the student goes to a teacher expressly to learn the arm twist of Nadal? And teacher says, "you do not need that to be the next great tennis player?" And the student rejects that summation?

And basics are important. Of the martial arts styles I have learned, Jeet Kune Do probably has the fewest moves. Bruce called it the style of no style. Not easily readable in combat, therefore hard to defend against. Can that apply to singing? Where anything fancy later on is from the basics of how your body moves? In Jeet Kune Do, you do not return body parts to a set position, you strike from where they currently are. Maybe I have drifted too far afield.

But, to sound kind of zen, sometimes, the best approach to drop the ego is to accept its existence. If you want a certain sound and the teacher leads you in another direction, go that other direction. It may get you to where you are going. And you have to accept the wisdom of the teacher, rather than fighting it.

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What I mean to add and forgot to mention is that when I sing, either here or elsewhere, I am not looking for applause of technique, but applause for the song and my performance of it. And perhaps that is a different audience and a different approach to audience(s).

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What I mean to add and forgot to mention is that when I sing, either here or elsewhere, I am not looking for applause of technique, but applause for the song and my performance of it. And perhaps that is a different audience and a different approach to audience(s).

We had a guest speaker Harry Pickens at Berklee College of Music during my first semester and one of the things he said that really stuck with me is "Perform to express, not to impress"

And although it may seem like it, that's not as easy as it sounds, it does take practice. Many of the times I have failed live and when I tried to impress on a technical level and failed, instead of being aware of my limits and expressing through my current ability, which never fails.

One of the worst things beginning and intermediate singers can do is modify a melody to make it go higher than the original. My first experience of embarrassing voice instability on stage was due to making that mistake of trying to impress by raising the melody to where it sounded cooler to me in my imagination, waaaaay before I was ready to deliver the technique necessary to do so in reality. Same with my first experience of consistent voice cracking trying to record a part. I just didn't have the technique yet, and I just kept beating a dead horse because I didn't yet have the vocal maturity to understand that, oh, there's a way to express the same intensity/emotion even if your technique is limited!!! Dynamics! Vocal effects! Interpretation! Articulation! All that easy stuff works!!! I don't HAVE to sing high notes to sound like a good singer!!!!!

It's such a wonderful realization, but when you're 15, 16 years old, sometimes you're too dumb to realize that stuff. But hopefully the young folks reading this forum can take my word for this. Don't overshoot your ability when performing, do the best with what you have.

Save the wild stuff for the practice room, work it strategically, then only reveal it when it's ready :cool:

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