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Is there any better way to get better at support than holding notes?

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I'm practising a lot around the passaggio D4-G4 mostly, and I feel what is preventing me getting further is weak/uncoordinated support. (I don't think my brain has a strong grip of what to do, I seem to tense unneccesary muscles like my legs when supporting hard)

The notes are all well supported so far but at the G4 I'm supporting so much that I can't go any higher currently. To get better I'm essentially trying to challenge my breath system by f.ex. sirening D3->D4->D3->D4 as many times as I can on one breath then moving it up a half step, or just trying to sustain a note for as long as possible until I can't support it any longer.

Are there any exercises you may suggest that can speed up the process or am I doing it right?

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Ease in production of tone, but weak support? I think you’re overdoing it.

Do what I asked you to, but up to A4 or even Bb4. Don’t think about support, just yawn. Don’t sway away from the steps.

I actually believe your problem has nothing to do with support, but with not transitioning. With not reconfiguring your vocal folds to go higher (head voice / light mechanism / cricoid tilt).

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Yes I have, it makes no difference because I am already producing the notes correctly.

The leg is because I don't have a strong mind-muscle connection to support so when trying to increase the support unnecessary muscles (like hip flexors in this case) are tightened but the throat is relaxed.

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Yes I have, it makes no difference because I am already producing the notes correctly.

The leg is because I don't have a strong mind-muscle connection to support so when trying to increase the support unnecessary muscles (like hip flexors in this case) are tightened but the throat is relaxed.

So, quit tensing the hip flexors.

:lol:

Actually, I usually believe in the reverse. Feel tension whereever else you want to, as long as it not in the throat. I first ran across that thought in quote from opera singer Ffrangcon-Davies. She may or may not have been right but it rang a bell with me.

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Keep the ease of production. Do not try to force or push anything. If you have learned to breath low and expand the ribs just keep the feeling of expanding the ribs going as you are making sound. Again do not force or push. Just keep the feeling of the ribs expanding. Your stomache should be moving in as the sound is produced not the ribs.

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If you were producing your notes correctly, you wouldn’t be so tense.

You could try releasing unnecessary tension by anchoring. Stand straight up and open up your hands so you will become a Y-shape, with your back muscles and arms slightly tensed—as if lifting something. Or use an elastic training band, and stretch it when you make the money note (and higher).

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So, quit tensing the hip flexors.

:lol:

Actually, I usually believe in the reverse. Feel tension whereever else you want to, as long as it not in the throat. I first ran across that thought in quote from opera singer Ffrangcon-Davies. She may or may not have been right but it rang a bell with me.

Yeah it's fine, I don't have to tense my hip flexors but not doing so is added mental work... I was just trying to make a point that it's very obvious my support is not coordinated as well as it will be later on. I said that hoping people would not try to pull the "oh you're pulling chest into passagio" card on me like I started practising this yesterday. Guess my attempts were feeble, I'm afraid this thread already may already have derailed :)

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Keep the ease of production. Do not try to force or push anything. If you have learned to breath low and expand the ribs just keep the feeling of expanding the ribs going as you are making sound. Again do not force or push. Just keep the feeling of the ribs expanding. Your stomache should be moving in as the sound is produced not the ribs.

Yeah this is what I am doing. Trust me if I wanted to "pull chest, constrict and go higher" etc I could do that, I have a lot of experience with that lol...

Manolito there is no extra tension that actually affects the phonation, tightening of the hip flexor makes no difference to the phonation - it's ok at this stage, having to focus on not lifting my leg is just added work for me.

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I like the rocking the support exercise. I do it with different amounts of bended back, so that the movement can happen slow or faster, which you need to vary during singing.

Btw you don't need to do any "transitions" to get past G4, just a gradual adjustment of support and volume as you go higher. The sensation does change a little bit in my perception but it's a consequence of the higher pitch, not a cause. And sensations are very subjective.

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Yes I have, it makes no difference because I am already producing the notes correctly.

The leg is because I don't have a strong mind-muscle connection to support so when trying to increase the support unnecessary muscles (like hip flexors in this case) are tightened but the throat is relaxed.

That's totally normal when you're not quite used to something, you engage unnecessary stuff. After a while you'll start to figure out which effort is helpful and which does nothing, and then it will feel like less work.

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I like the rocking the support exercise. I do it with different amounts of bended back, so that the movement can happen slow or faster, which you need to vary during singing.

Btw you don't need to do any "transitions" to get past G4, just a gradual adjustment of support and volume as you go higher. The sensation does change a little bit in my perception but it's a consequence of the higher pitch, not a cause. And sensations are very subjective.

Strongly agree with the underlined, I was rereading the chapter on support in the CVT book and the only thing there I don't fully get is the "pulling in of the lumbar" - is this essentially flattening out the natural curve of the back?

As I said in the opening post, this may just be a case of needing more practise (isn't it always?).

F.ex. trying to teach a friend some lifts in the gym, push the bar in a straight line I say, sounds simple enough but it still takes time to learn

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I didn't understand much of the CVT support chapter until a teacher showed me, so perhaps be a bit sceptical of this post. But from the little I understand of the back's involvement: If you hunch *very slightly* so your back is shaped like a "(" when you're facing this way --->, then pulling the abdomen in becomes easy and can be done relatively quickly. Good for high notes unless you need to save your breath, but don't collapse the rib cage. If you bend it the other way ")" then there's much more resistance which is useful for slowing down the support motion when you need less support but still need some, and/or need to save some "space for movement" for later.

F.ex. trying to teach a friend some lifts in the gym, push the bar in a straight line I say, sounds simple enough but it still takes time to learn

I agree. Neat analogy.

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Strongly agree with the underlined, I was rereading the chapter on support in the CVT book and the only thing there I don't fully get is the "pulling in of the lumbar" - is this essentially flattening out the natural curve of the back?

I believe that when you flatten your back the "Support muscles" are naturally engaged. At least the front abdomen parts. I could be wrong but a lot of times people mention lying on your back and making sure that your back is flat against the floor. Also it is suggested to lean against the wall again with the back flat against the wall. There must be something to the flat back position that helps.

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The first thing is to know for sure that support is the issue. Then is it inhale, exhale or attack? too much or too little pressure? Does it get less responsive as the phrasing goes on? Intercostal expansion well coordinated and overlearned?

From there you can figure exercises that will still need something else to connect with singing.

It could be a problem of organization too, how you "set" these things to work for you.

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The first thing is to know for sure that support is the issue. Then is it inhale, exhale or attack? too much or too little pressure? Does it get less responsive as the phrasing goes on? Intercostal expansion well coordinated and overlearned?

From there you can figure exercises that will still need something else to connect with singing.

It could be a problem of organization too, how you "set" these things to work for you.

I don't believe I have a problem with onset, I am aware of my onsets and can feel how a poor onset can affect the tone.

I would best describe it this way; the phonation feels nothing in the throat, it's very relaxed, has the "one vowel space" feeling, sounds very high quality with good control of volume, dynamics etc , however it's all standing on the support I feel. If I run out of support I have to stop or I'll constrict, I run out of support kind of quickly.

The longer the duration of the note the harder I have to work to support it, also louder and higher pitch make it harder. There is good control, I can take any of the notes I've been working on up to F4 or so, start very lightly and swell it to very loud, however this takes a lot of support which I feel I lack. I feel the limiting factor currently is my ability to give enough support. - It's not just the top notes, I have to work to support all of my notes and I imagine in the future the perceived effort will be much lower. It's probably a coordination issue due to inexperience.

I'm aware of the expansion but I don't have a strong "sense" of what I'm doing. See the way I've practised is; practise the phonation as close to perfect as you can and move up when it gets easy. Since I've taken it step by step slowly and with patience, my body has naturally found the neccesarry support but I feel I could have greater awareness of it.

Since I was an overblower before, I have not had much training in increasing breath pressure AND holding back the air. Now, I am getting better doing what I am doing - I have not stalled, I was asking to see if there are any ADDITIONAL breath exercises that could be used to supplement my training. I don't currently do any breath only exercises and could easily add 10-20 minutes of doing that every day.

Edit:

After a big inhale I could sustain the B3 for 14 seconds

After a small inhale I could sustain the B3 for 8 seconds

Both phonations high quality, it's clearly a breath management issue

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The way you describe it pretty much sounds to me that you are not negotioating resonances. You seem to sing solely "on support". This creates the "relaxed throat" feeling pretty easiliy, but gets exponentially more physical the higher you go.

Staying in "one vowel space" indicates that you keep the same mode (in CVT language) all the way up. Most probably the mode (and vowel space) you are using is what CVT calls "Overdrive". It is very typical that this mode becomes increasingly difficult around G4 because the vowel space Overdrive uses becomes "inefficient" at that point and will require you to work really hard with your body. Even if you manage to work that hard, the notes above G4 will often sound worse and there is pretty much a hard limit around C5 for this mode.

Because of this most singers either change the vowel space (switch to Edge or Curbing mode) or reduce intensity on their way up (switch to Neutral/Falsetto).

The yawning excercise that Manolito posted will lean you more towards Neutral (more tilt, more stretched folds). To lean more towards another mode (Edge/Curbing) you WILL have to change the vowel space.

"Support" as a whole ALWAYS is a manifold system that has "body elements", "laryngeal elements" and "vocal tract elements". That said, I am really not a fan of pure breath excercises. In my opinion basically EVERYONE has strong enough and durable enough breathing muscles just from everyday breathing. Training support is a matter of coordination and timing, not a matter of muscle strength. And this means that you have to adjust extrinsic support (lower back, intercostals), intrinsic support (twang, resonance, covering) and laryngeal configuration (mass, tilt) as a whole. Training your breathing muscles will warm them up but it will not strengthening them in a way that makes you sing better. It's all about coordination, not strength, at least in my opinion.

Just as an example: tennis players that can hit balls with a speed of 150 mph rarely have really strong arm muscles (like weight lifters have), because the ability to hit a ball hard has a lot more to do with coordination and timing than with strength, too.

So listen to what Felipe wrote: Make sure it is really the support! Being unable to get to the high notes because it seems impossible from a physical strength perspective is pretty unlikely actually. In CVT terms, you should make sure that you definitely also apply the other two basic principles, especially necessary twang, which can make a world of difference in physical demand if you neglect it.

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After a big inhale I could sustain the B3 for 14 seconds

After a small inhale I could sustain the B3 for 8 seconds

Both phonations high quality, it's clearly a breath management issue

Just read your edit. Really try to make sure that it's not a "lacking twang" issue. Twang is equally important for holding out notes as breath management. Well-trained singers can usually hold middle notes for around 20 seconds on a small inhale. From a classical teacher I once catched the sentence:

Breathe in no more than a thimble of air into the lower back

I also know of teachers that teach their students to not breathe in at all before the onset and just start singing on an exhale, which means just working on the air that you breathe in normally while not singing at all.

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Staying in "one vowel space" indicates that you keep the same mode (in CVT language) all the way up.

Most probably the mode (and vowel space) you are using is what CVT calls "Overdrive".

In CVT terms, you should make sure that you definitely also apply the other two basic principles, especially necessary twang, which can make a world of difference in physical demand if you neglect it.

I agree with one vowel space being one mode - however what I'm doing is centered curbing.

Twang is good advice, have not been thinking of the level of twang I am using.

It's possible that it's not a support issue if that is the case then the remedy is simply getting more comfortable in the phonations I.E. more practise. The notes I have all sit "in the pocket" so to speak

Edit: Added twang seems to give some immediate relief, it may be that I struggle to find the resonance somewhere around F#4 and G4

Edit 2: The twang is really helping, I think this was the issue; lacking neccessary twang. Give me a couple of days to train keeping an eye on the twang and resonance and let me see where I land

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I don't believe I have a problem with onset, I am aware of my onsets and can feel how a poor onset can affect the tone.

I would best describe it this way; the phonation feels nothing in the throat, it's very relaxed, has the "one vowel space" feeling, sounds very high quality with good control of volume, dynamics etc , however it's all standing on the support I feel. If I run out of support I have to stop or I'll constrict, I run out of support kind of quickly.

The longer the duration of the note the harder I have to work to support it, also louder and higher pitch make it harder. There is good control, I can take any of the notes I've been working on up to F4 or so, start very lightly and swell it to very loud, however this takes a lot of support which I feel I lack. I feel the limiting factor currently is my ability to give enough support. - It's not just the top notes, I have to work to support all of my notes and I imagine in the future the perceived effort will be much lower. It's probably a coordination issue due to inexperience.

I'm aware of the expansion but I don't have a strong "sense" of what I'm doing. See the way I've practised is; practise the phonation as close to perfect as you can and move up when it gets easy. Since I've taken it step by step slowly and with patience, my body has naturally found the neccesarry support but I feel I could have greater awareness of it.

Since I was an overblower before, I have not had much training in increasing breath pressure AND holding back the air. Now, I am getting better doing what I am doing - I have not stalled, I was asking to see if there are any ADDITIONAL breath exercises that could be used to supplement my training. I don't currently do any breath only exercises and could easily add 10-20 minutes of doing that every day.

Edit:

After a big inhale I could sustain the B3 for 14 seconds

After a small inhale I could sustain the B3 for 8 seconds

Both phonations high quality, it's clearly a breath management issue

I see.

Yes you can have awareness. And even if its not the issue directly, being aware will allow it to be ruled out.

I am very methodic with this and really rather show it instead of writing. Feel free to skype me, I think you can do a few things that will not require direct interference on what you've been working currently.

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