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49 gigs in 2 months: need help to get a strong voice

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joshual
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Hi there,

I'm asking you some help here.

Some here may know, I'm a pro musician. I'm a guitar player, no problem with that. But this year I'm also a singer.

The shows are 4 hours long, I play guitar during all the shows and sing about 15 songs.

I've been hired because I've got a good rock n roll attitude, jumping everywhere etc. So just playing the guitar is really consuming energy.

The thing is that I sing all the high voice songs, things like Police for example.

As I am a self taught singer, I have some bad habits and my voice is tiring quicker than I want. I guess you understood me.

As I don't want to shoot my voice and want to be able to sing without having to take cortisone, I'm asking you some help.

I need a daily routine to work on my support, and leaving some tension. I got an horrible support, and I think it s the main problem. I don't want to work on singing whistle or anything fancy just making my voice a little stronger.

If you guys had a routine for me to try I will be really happy! ;-).

Have a nice day.

Ps: I also do all the high backin vocals during 3/4 of the show. Mainly high register (high E etc)

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I'm in a similar position. Songs that are just ENTIRELY in the passagio area, such as f.ex. Bruno Mars' "Locked out of heaven", can be a trouble for me. I usually start out all right, but it often becomes harder as the song progresses. To take that Bruno Mars song as an example, it's in the bridge where it often becomes really tough for me and I suspect that my support could be improved.

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the support has to be such that the tension moves away from the voice producing area and down to the lower core.

when you can do that correctly, the throat and the surrounding musculature can relax more, the folds have freedom to flex.

also just try asking the band to let you insert an easier song or two here and there that will let you drop down from the intensity and recover a bit.

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I agree with Videohere, try to create a set list the breaks up your tough songs. 15 songs will be a good hour plus of singing but if you can spread it out over the 4 hour period, it may make it a bit more doable. Have a good source of water with you on stage and keep hydrated. We use the sports style Gatorade bottle rack for the band. We have marked each one with a special wrap of duct tape so each person can recognize their own. Makes filling them up between sets very easy. Now we just need that Gatorade sponsorship. ;)

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Consult a good teacher, preferably one who has serious performing experience. The vast majority of the people on this forum aren't professional vocalists, myself included. We can make suggestions, but don't really know much about the demands you will be putting on your voice, because we've never done it.

Danielformica is one of the few here who has that kind of experience. I'd talk to him.

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That's a lot of gigs! How long will you actually be singing at each one?

I'd recommend getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Naps are cool, but they screw me up unless I leave a good 5 hours before the gig (that's my experience).

Water, water, water. All day, every day. Probably good to layoff the booze (or cut it down), same with soda.

Watch your diet- lots of fruits. Juicing helps me quite a bit. Cut down on talking. No whispering.

Keep your allergies in check. I recommend a neti pot every day when you shower.

Get a personal steamer and a humidifier for when you sleep.

Having said all that and having not much to do with singing there, yup, you'll need to make sure your technique is reasonably solid. Things I've learned that help me:

1) sing quieter.

2) narrow your vowels on high notes.

3) a good hour, not strenuous, warmup is key. If your gigs are long drives- that's perfect for me. Warm up your head voice. Then warm up your chest voice and upper register last. Once you get the head voice happening, everything else (at least for me) tends to fall in place.

4) Watch out for over singing. When your voice is "ON" and working great, we have a tendency to overdo it. While that's great at the one gig you're doing now, tomorrow, it may give you issues.

5) Pace yerself. Remember, you've gotta ton of gigs ahead of you (kind of goes with number 4).

6) Warm down after the gig. Yawns. Slides. Lip Bubbles. Give it at least a good 20 minutes.

7) As others have said- get your breathing together as best you can.

8) Don't sing balls out at rehearsals.

9) Watch anything that can aggravate your digestion or give you some kind of acid- don't eat ANYTHING 3 hours before bed. This includes after the gig.

10) Stretches help me a lot when I'm having trouble (the neck, the shoulders, etc.)

One thing about singing, technique for some (me definitely) can be elusive. "Mind yer surroundings" (Raz aul ghul) and pay attention to your body.

Oh yeah- PURELL PURELL PURELL. You may be tough as nails, but if you get sick, yer screwed and having to sing sick will compound your problems and make vocal bounce back impossibly tough. Use Purell all the time. Carry it with you. Get a package of alchohol wipes for any mic that you use. No kidding. I have done this religiously for the last few years since I got that darned Kennel Cough that everyone and their mom has had. There was one venue I'd play and I'd get sick EVERY TIME after playing there. That stopped once I started cleaning my mic. If you have your own mic, use it, but still, whipe it down before you use it.

Daniel can probably help you quite a bit. He's got a real handle on the whole "touring musician" deal and the cat knows his sh*t.

Congrats on the gigs!

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In addition to what Justin said about being able to hear yourself at a gig, you may need to keep with your gear, a baton or a bat. This is for use on the FOH guy who is infatuated with the other guitar player and doesn't care about your voice. The bat or baton, used wisely, will get his attention. However, too much of it, and he will not be awake, and then you have to find a spare FOH guy. So, keep one spare. :lol:

edited to add: when I say bat, I don't mean nocturnal flying rodent. I mean a Louisville Slugger. Always stay with wood, it's got more flex.

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In addition to what Justin said about being able to hear yourself at a gig, you may need to keep with your gear, a baton or a bat. This is for use on the FOH guy who is infatuated with the other guitar player and doesn't care about your voice. The bat or baton, used wisely, will get his attention. However, too much of it, and he will not be awake, and then you have to find a spare FOH guy. So, keep one spare. :lol:

edited to add: when I say bat, I don't mean nocturnal flying rodent. I mean a Louisville Slugger. Always stay with wood, it's got more flex.

:lol::lol::lol:

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Put conscious thought into your set lists. Do not put your most challenging song in the first set not even the first song in a set. If you have enough songs make a rotating list so you do not use the same songs in the same order every night. Make a special list that gives your voice a break. Also keep in mind the Lead singer don't let him blow out his voice. You may find yourself having to take over in his place.

Good Luck.

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Going off the idea of a strategic setlist...

Get some serious instrumental content in there to give yourself a break. Can the band do an improvisational jam for 6 minutes? Or play an instrumental tune like Frankenstein? Throw something like that toward the end of the set, right about the point where you and the other singer feel like you need a break. Step away from the mic and show off your guitar skills for however long you can get away with before your audience gets bored. I think it will be a big help.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi there,

Sorry for the delay of the answer, but with the rehearsals, guitar lesson, life etc, i'm short of time.

I read carefully all of your answers.

For the set list i have some breaks, breaks here mean that i'm not doing lead vocals but backing vocals. I'm gonna try to sing quieter for the backings.

In fact my main problem is.... technique ^^.

I watched the videos of Daniel Formica on youtube, not much but really great, it helps me a lot, just by hearing him sing and talk about support. Daniel, if you read me, you are really inspiring and your a killer singer. If i had some money, sure i will take lessons with you!

I try to really connect the breath and NEVER force the voice when i'm practicing, try to let the resonance do the job. But it's really hard to do when you are playing complex guitar parts while you're singing...

What i need now is a routine.

My main routine is 5 five tones scales and arpeggios with EE, EH, HA, UH, OO. With the willing of stay connected, not pushing up the volume and not engaging those f$$$ unwanted muscles.

Do you guys have exercices for twanging without tension, is a hard part for me and i know twanging will be really great for saving my voice.

If you are here dany, please tell us what routine would you prescribe to prepare for many shows.

Thanxs again guys, you are so great here, love ya all.

Josh

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Daniel posted his routine in the Day in the Life videos that he did. Good stuff.

Singing on the breath is key. I found out just recently, through Daniel's help, coincidently, that I had a tendency to hold my breath while singing. So while singing scales, they'd crack in the middle because I wasn't riding the breath. It's an unconscious habit I have that I think comes from "Bracing for high notes". You think "hi note coming, better prepare!" and I'd kind of shut off my breath flow. Man, once I got around that (I still do it, but I'm noticing the benefits of NOT doing it) things become much easier, lighter, and bigger (tone).

I would THINK (because I've been there) that your routine will vary and it will depend on 'what shape my voice is in today'. There'll be days when your voice is fine and you just need to get balanced before going on. There'll be days when you're tired from the night before because you overdid. Okay, so did u overdo your chest voice? Did you overdo your headvoice? For me, I kind of have to see where I am at any given point and that tells me what to work on. I also start as soon as I wake up. You're possibly going to need that entire day to get back to square one, so best to know EARLY what's going on. One thing that's funny for me, not to derail yer post, is that in the morning after a show night, my voice feels pretty free, at least while warming up. It's only later in the day that it gets kind of sluggish and maybe the chords swell a bit. So I start working to get them de-swelled. VERY light eeees work great for this (for me). NG is also good.

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Do you guys have exercices for twanging without tension, is a hard part for me and i know twanging will be really great for saving my voice.

In my experience, you can't really twang without tension, until you've built up strength in the musculature used to twang. Twanging is created by a tension. It's just a tension that so happens to be worth the tremendous boost of resonance it gives. But it often takes lots of training to develop it to the point where it doesn't feel like a huge effort. Also takes work to develop muscle independence and be able to twang without other extrinsic neck muscles helping out. It just takes training and time. That being said, some people are more gifted with it, they can naturally twang from day one. So it depends. Personally it took me somewhere around 8 months of serious training to get a good hold of it.

As for exercises, the best vowel to isolate and train twang, in my personal experience, is "ee". And not a rounded, pleasant sounding ee, but a super bright witchy ee. You'd never want to sing like that, it's just for training purposes. Good strength builder.

Nasal consonants like m, n, and ng also help activate twang.

Put it together in this workflow: nasal consonant (m, n, or ng) -> witchy "ee" -> an open vowel of your choice (eh, ah, or uh). All on the same note. And there you have a great twang workout. You can apply that sequence to scales, sirens, or individual notes. For strength training, I recommend individual notes. Go through the stages slowly and smoothly, a few seconds on the nasal consonant, a few seconds on the ee, and hold out the open vowel as long as comfortable

If you find this of interest, it is directly taken from my TVS training...if you wanna really learn how to twang, i suggest booking a skype lesson with Rob Lunte and have him show you how to do it. I explained it the best I can but him teaching it and being there to guide you through it, that's what will make you really get it and not be miserably failing trying to figure it out on your own. Some people who can twang more naturally can probably figure it out just by taking little tips from a forum, but I had no idea how to access twang, so I needed all the help I could get.

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