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Struggling with support - try this

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six20aus
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I always struggled with support. No matter how many different versions I read of 'expand this', 'breathe here' and 'do this' I read and tried NOTHING ever really seemed to work for me. I always felt like there was some trick that 'singers' knew that I didn't and I couldn't understand why the singers I knew who were unhealthy overweight slobs could sing easy and someone superfit running miles a day (me) struggled. My point is I knew there was nothing wrong with my lung power it was just the way it was being applied. Now I'm not suggesting that this will work for everyone else - but - if you're struggling for the same reason I struggled then this might work.

Its really complicated but here goes :)

You need to pull your lower abdomen in slightly FIRST or AS you inhale and give it 'some' tension - by that I mean you are feeling that it is ENGAGED and not relaxed and from that point on you do not allow it to just relax outward and return out to its normal (no effort) position. From that point on it will only move INWARD towards your spine.

I think this tiny little piece of information about support is MISSING when pretty much everyone describes support.

I think that people assume you will know it or feel it but I know that I never felt it or felt that something was missing and nothing I read or listened to mentioned that for me to feel the total support flow some 'tension' was required FIRST. It's a SMALL amount - but if you are 100% relaxed you will not get the 'setup' for support to happen.

I could expand the ribs and back on their own all day long but it never really helped. But once you apply a little pre-tension in the lower abdomen (below the navel) and then inhale you will feel the breath goes straight to where it should and you will feel the donut shaped expansion in your lower ribs and all the other things people talk about when talking about support and from that point on you can understand the normal explanations of support.

I know CVT (for example) talk about solar plexus going out and abdomen going in but if you're too relaxed in the lower abdomen to begin with the whole thing just doesn't even start and you will never feel this. When people talk about singing being 'active' and 'requiring effort' I now believe that what they are really talking about is maintaining this active 'tension' (probably not a good choice of word but you know what I mean) to ensure the support mechanisms can all work together.

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It really depends on the phrasing in a song. If you need a quick breath, of course you won't move much. But otherwise, the reason the "fat" guy can support easier than the fit runner is mental and physical.

The proper intake of breath for singing is to let the abdomen relax. Don't worry about rib placement or expansion. If you would just follow my mantra, ribs would never collapse and you would not have to spend time and energy "trying" to keep the ribs expanded (others might just call it standing up straight.) The chubby guy is not trying to impress anyone with his profile or physique. So, in takes the proper breath and controls the exhale and holds a note almost as long as one lap around the track.

Some people who exercise a lot are vain and worried about their appearance. I used to be that way. I know I am going to die, I just wanted to be an attractive corpse and some say that I am THAT, now. :lol:

Anyway, part of looking trim is to hold the gut in, always. Which hinders the low singer's breath. If you were to able to place your hand on my stomach when I sing you would feel the belly expand to take in a breath, then you would feel consistent compression and tension as I sing. Between phrases, you would feel my abs relax.

Hence, the first part of my little known mantra, Motion when necessary, in the abs. Which means that's where any tension or control should be.

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six I wrote this same information in probably 50 kinds of flavours around here.

Its not really missing, its just non-intuitive and will requie a different reference for everyone.

I cant do it thinking of a pressure on the navel for example, I have to think that I am about to stand-up from a sitting position, or the beginning of a crunch (slight)... And its useless if the breath is high and you cant control the application of pressure.

Note: dont overdo, a small pressure is enough to go through your tessitura with no brakes.

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Actually whatever you send will show you wrong, even if I dont write a line. Its just a matter of checking your thread on the review section and listening to your singing.

About Montserrat:

The difference in sound is subtle, otherwise those singers, who are far from being novices, would notice and would be acting to correct it without the need for interference.

The worst you could do is try to have the singer modify the intention to correct a sound result that is being created exactly by a compensation from an issue with timing.

But of course, maybe you believe that you have more insight to the training of voices than her, you can have whatever opinions you want. Just dont blame us for finding it far-fetched.

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I have also had people pushing on my stomache like the teacher in your video thinking that instinct should take over. The teacher had no clue how to explain something that she thought would happen on its own.

My shout has always been whimpy. I can admit that. It may be better now. Even when I thought I was being loud and yelling I could not get the "Support" to engage.

I could support when using character voices but not when shouting. Odd, I know, but that is why I say it is not instinctive for everyone.

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Actually whatever you send will show you wrong, even if I dont write a line. Its just a matter of checking your thread on the review section and listening to your singing.

About Montserrat:

The difference in sound is subtle, otherwise those singers, who are far from being novices, would notice and would be acting to correct it without the need for interference.

The worst you could do is try to have the singer modify the intention to correct a sound result that is being created exactly by a compensation from an issue with timing.

But of course, maybe you believe that you have more insight to the training of voices than her, you can have whatever opinions you want. Just dont blame us for finding it far-fetched.

https://www.google.com.br/#q=auditory+feedback

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A couple of things. And be prepared for the standard ronws book-length post. I will type slow as I know that most of you cannot read fast. (bad ron, most people will not get that as a joke from the tv series "M*A*S*H")

First off, it's awfully hard to truly prove a point through words, unless endless debate of words is what is desired. Better to show an example, good or bad. One time, I was making some point and Jonpall asked for me to post a sample. And I did, right or wrong, good or bad. But at least he could hear the sound I THOUGHT I was talking about. Also, I don't know everything, have admitted when I am wrong (several times,) and when others are right (several times.) And lived to see another day. I have no shame and care not if I look like a fool. I am just a singer. Good, bad, right, wrong, whatever. I am not a teacher of singing, no brand to protect, no marketing to uphold, and do not need the respect of my peers, whomever they may be. But I do appreciate applause because I am a singer. LOL My ego is far from fragile. I hired a semi with a 53' trailer to cart it around for me.

So, if you think support for singing is instinctive and just easy as hollering, post a sample. No offense to Felipe but why should you care if he is right or not, if he accepts what you do, or not? Otherwise, you are giving him the power to stop you from proving your point. I would still disagree with you on how a holler is created. It is brief, momentary, and actually involves more of the abs than just one section. If you pay attention to what you are actually doing, you will find this to be so. It only feels like the upper abs because you were already holding the lower abs for whatever athletic or vain reason. And a true holler or shout is not endurable. Because most people shouting are overblowing the folds, which will inflame, give out, become less elastic until they have healed. And most people, when shouting, do not resonate correctly, so too much effort is used in the push of air to create volume, rather than in resonance, where the real volume is created.

Let's talk instinctive. Babies breathe the singer's intake breath. The whole belly expands. And babies can and do go hoarse. When most people speak, they are operating on residual pressure from the collapsing lungs. They are not controlling the exhale, other than by what the folds allow. Low pressure, low volume, low pitch (whatever is low for them.) And that is not instinctive. It is learned by growing up in whatever culture you grew up in. That's why people can tell I am not originally from Texas. As much as I admire living in Texas, I am from California, the land of nuts, fruits, and flakes (and some people say, "that explains a lot.") How much of anytihng we do is truly instinctive? A few of us here can do the A5 in "Child in Time." Let us hear you do that, instinctively. And I mean the full song length. It requires doing that in two different sections. And do it in one continuous vocal track, no patches, no edits. To high a note? Okay. Do the long note in "Live Like You were Dying" by Tim McGraw. I do it longer than the original but you only have to do it as long as the original.

Also, Kicking, I don't think you are truly instinctual, as you seem to have resources and quotes, which means you have done some kind of study. It may feel instinctual to you but how much of that is already informed by what you have studied so far? I am not saying that you are lying, just that you may not realize the influences of education that you may have already undergone. Breathing for singing is not instinctual. And not really for speaking, especially any particular language and or dialect. The only instinctual breathing is just breathing to live.

I am a "figure it out for yourself" kind of guy, too. With more than two dozen books on singing. And a long time of singing, good and bad.

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And now, for the other part. Felipe has a way of expressing himself in written word that is different from how he speaks. His tutorial vids are actually quite friendly. (English is not his first language. English is my first language and it still gives me fits.) Nor is there any love lost, for me. I am neither his friend or enemy. And many is the time that he and others have told me I am wrong, that I need to start all over again, with direct lessons from a personal coach. You know how I can tell when I have done a good job? When Felipe says nothing, rather than ripping me a new one. Now news is good news. LOL

In spite of all that, I have always liked his singing. I can support points he has made. I can admit when he is right. Regardless of whether we are having a good day together, or not. That is, I divorce the singing from differences of personality or belief system. Which is not easy. It has taken me decades and I am still working on it.

I am king of the "good job," when I think it merits it. And also of corrections or pointers, when needed, too. A balanced approach, as much as I can make of it. But I am just an amateur who has been singing for quite some time.

And if you prove your point and Felipe still says you are wrong, so what? It's a disagreement, that's all. Not everyone has to like you, or like Felipe, or either one of you.

That being said, Felipe has said some things that are right, from any perspective. He's got some skills, some knowledge, some experience. You should hear some of his "instinctual" singing from before he got training. There were "issues," shall we say and he openly shared it to prove his point that training makes a difference. And now, he has the voice of a god. Because of training and practice and dedication.

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Maybe the problem is English. All I have said is that, when I sing, I instinctively contract my upper abdominal muscles when I inhale. It is a fact. It is not something I was taught. I don't need validation from Felipe, lol.

I have not said support in general is instinctive, that singing is instinctive, or that what is instinctive doesn't need refinement and improvement.

All this misinterpretation and defensiveness is just about selling coaching, which ends up doing the opposite. I end up questioning the motive of the coach.

Why can't contracting the upper abdominal muscles be instinctive for some people?

A couple of things. While contracting upper abs may be instinctual for you, that does not mean that it will work for singing. Also, I am trying to visualize and even try for myself, inhaling while actively contracting upper abs. Doesn't work for me. Seems like opposing forces. So, I did not find it instinctual, at all. Not arguing, not trying to disprove you or your point. It's just not working for me. It seems easier to allow the abs to relax to inhale. But that is something I actively trained, even at rest. I would purposely, now and then, "concentrate" on letting the abs relax. I am not a GQ model. I am on old guy, I can let my gut stick out long enough to take a breath.

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As for coaching, sure, you can question the motives of a singing teacher always, always, always advocating getting lessons from a singing teacher. Which doesn't make his points wrong. That is, don't let what you think about motives obscure what you can learn from good knowledge, much of it given freely here, at no charge.

Nor do you have to study with Felipe. Even if I wanted lessons from him, I could not get them traditionally. We live on separate continents. There is no possible way for he and I to physically be in the same room, together. So, his advice is to find a teacher or coach who is local to you.

And my addition to that advice is that if you do hire a coach, listen to that coach, not me or Feilpe. Because that coach can hear you acoustically, no tricks of recording, no multi-plexing lag or compression of skype.

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A lot of disagreements here come from misinterpretation. Then we try to quatify our statements. Things get further off track.

Most of the talk about getting a coach is because of misinterprtation from former experiences of trying to do things ourselves and getting further in trouble. We have already took the path of trying to figure things out for ouselves and found through coaching was the way we achieved success. Not to sell a product. The only one who has used this forum to promote their product is Robert who is the owner and benefacter of this forum.

And also to Roberts credit he does not blatantly promote his product on the forum. He uses his product at times to further the discussion and only when it is relevant to the discussion.

My misinterpretation of your fist post was that you were saying that noone needs a coach because singing is instinctual. Personal experience forces me to say it is not. That a coach can guide in ways that you have not even concidered yet. I am not a coach and do not represent any coach.

I believed that your message in this thread was "Why would any one need to be taught support? It is natural and self evident on the process." Personal experience again forced me to respond.

I misinterpreted your meaning. That it was instinctual to you. For that I apologise.

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It is not something I am thinking about, or trying to get anything to work. It just happens. Not contracting my abs feels very awkward, especially with higher notes. The only thing I have consciously learned is releasing the contraction when reaching for notes at the low end of my range.

Methinks thou art not describing accurately what thou thinkest thou art describing - eth. (trying to get a rise out of King James scholars.)

You previously said contracting upper abs on the inhale. Now you are talking about contracting abs on high notes. Well, of course, you have some ab compression when singing. And yes, I ease the tension a little on lower notes, though it is not totally gone. Maintaining the control of the exhale is the only way I can do both low and high notes and any note in between. Breath management is always engaged, if you are singing.

So, which is it? Do you allow the inhale by relaxing? And then control the exhale when singing, by controlled compression of the abs? Well, then, you have just instinctively or otherwise, used the first line of my mantra. Motion, when necessary (and sometimes it's necessary, just to answer the later questions of why I did not mention different levels of pressure,) in the abs.

So, why create a confusing statement like "contracting the upper abs on the inhale"?

Still waiting to hear a sample. Heck, send it to me in an email if you do not want to incur what you may feel are wrong comments from others. I am not an expert of singing. Just an old guy who likes to sing.

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I always struggled with support. No matter how many different versions I read of 'expand this', 'breathe here' and 'do this' I read and tried NOTHING ever really seemed to work for me. I always felt like there was some trick that 'singers' knew that I didn't and I couldn't understand why the singers I knew who were unhealthy overweight slobs could sing easy and someone superfit running miles a day (me) struggled. My point is I knew there was nothing wrong with my lung power it was just the way it was being applied. Now I'm not suggesting that this will work for everyone else - but - if you're struggling for the same reason I struggled then this might work.

Its really complicated but here goes :)

You need to pull your lower abdomen in slightly FIRST or AS you inhale and give it 'some' tension - by that I mean you are feeling that it is ENGAGED and not relaxed and from that point on you do not allow it to just relax outward and return out to its normal (no effort) position. From that point on it will only move INWARD towards your spine.

I think this tiny little piece of information about support is MISSING when pretty much everyone describes support.

I think that people assume you will know it or feel it but I know that I never felt it or felt that something was missing and nothing I read or listened to mentioned that for me to feel the total support flow some 'tension' was required FIRST. It's a SMALL amount - but if you are 100% relaxed you will not get the 'setup' for support to happen.

I could expand the ribs and back on their own all day long but it never really helped. But once you apply a little pre-tension in the lower abdomen (below the navel) and then inhale you will feel the breath goes straight to where it should and you will feel the donut shaped expansion in your lower ribs and all the other things people talk about when talking about support and from that point on you can understand the normal explanations of support.

I know CVT (for example) talk about solar plexus going out and abdomen going in but if you're too relaxed in the lower abdomen to begin with the whole thing just doesn't even start and you will never feel this. When people talk about singing being 'active' and 'requiring effort' I now believe that what they are really talking about is maintaining this active 'tension' (probably not a good choice of word but you know what I mean) to ensure the support mechanisms can all work together.

This is actually the exact same way I found support and it was through good instruction from Felipe. When I lose it, it is the light contraction that I forget about and then I have no support. Trying to overly relax and expand my belly earlier in training made it more difficult to me because I trained a bad habit into being natural.

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5 minutes with a good vocal coach solves all "how to support" questions.

Sorry - this needs some qualification otherwise I would call it rubbish (not trying to be rude!). There's plenty of 'good' vocal coaches out there and I've been to several of them and not one of them picked up on the fact this 'pre-tension' was something I was missing (and obviously a lot of others too). Five vocal coaches missed this in fact. And they were all professional singers in their own right. I think the point is obvious. It is not instinctive.

I think that the people that find singing relatively 'easy' just naturally pickup these physical clues as to what is required in their body to achieve balance and stability in a note and then because its instinctive to them they gloss over it in trying to explain it for the rest of us.

This is is why I said it's "missing"

six I wrote this same information in probably 50 kinds of flavours around here.

Felipe, I'm happy for you that you wrote about it first - I haven't read this site in a long time and just thought I'd share something I learnt because I had made progress since I last used the site.

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Somehow I can relate to the original post. And all I can say here is: "People are different!". Personally, that image of letting the navel move out or "fat man posture" or something like that totally messes up my support. It may have to do with my anatomy, but if I let my belly bulge out my ribcage collapses at the same time. It feels like all the air is "locked" within the area around my waist.

What works for me is exactly what is mentioned in the original post (and it is also mentioned in the CVT book for example). A slight tension in the upper abs and expansion in the area around the solar plexus and in the lower back, NOT in the belly area. And just as six20 mentions the belly actually has to go in for that and not expand outwards. It is probably different for different people because that "expanding the belly" action seems to work for many people.

For me personally this type of breathing (with a little tension in the upper abs) is not intuitive (for others it may be) and I usually have to engage it during my warmup procedure. I also can second what Phil wrote, that standing too upright (raising the chest too much) can be really problematic. In most cases it is often better to keep the torso upright but at the same time lean forward a little bit.

So here is what I do to engage my breathing pattern (maybe it helps others):

- Stand upright and put both of your hands flat on your lower back (where the little curve is in your spine on the level of your navel). This action will also bring your chest and shoulders in an upright and aligned position.

- Lean forward just a little bit with the whole torso (if it helps you can also step back with one leg)

- Then breathe into the place where your hands are on your back (for me this makes the lower ribcage expand and the solar plexus bulges a little bit out while the belly moves in)

- Then start your singing. To increase support push "backwards and down" against your hands. This should autmatically increase the tension in your abs without "locking them down" completely.

This helps for me. But for others it may different. Support/breathing is really something that is very individual imo and has probably to do with the exact anatomy of your lungs and the size of your torso. If I let the navel go out (what many people do) while breathing in there is no way in hell for me to get proper support.

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I does seem that If I breathe with naval moving outwards it is harder for my ribs to expand but if I breathe low and keep my naval in place the ribs expand on their own. The ribs expanding is what you want.

It seems that once you have this initial set up, Keep the ribs in this position, you can breathe with your naval moving in and out without loosing the rib expansion.

What some people do is let this initial setup collapse. With the next breath they need to reestablish the rib expansion. If you keep the initial setup, quick breaths are more effective.

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Six, not trying to claim "ownership" over the idea, its just that people do try to say it. For example, you are trying to do it now. You will see that not everyone will connect with, although its correct for you (I am assuming it is, cant really say from text).

What Phil writes, a postural alingment, will require the same tension on the exact same spot. So its also correct.

Anyways, good luck!

ronws and kicking, yeah maybe it looks like I am "selling my fish", I dont really care. Still think about it, it would be much more efficient if I just wandered about saying stuff to make you guys happy and be a popular forum dude. "Such a beautfiul tone and what a wonderful interpretation" "You are on the right track buddy!", "Excelent work, you are a star", "We all sing in our own unique faery way", "Let the singer that is within you shine".

Or maybe taylor the response to the interlocutor:

"I believe that a training system to work must be strongly focused on the mental character, identifying the psychological traces and addressing them first and foremost, letting the unique character of the individual come through and dictate the direction of the study."

"To be effective a singing teacher is best if following the tendencies that the student show on his own voice, following the natural learning curve that every human instrument is capable and nurturing it instead of more direct inteferences, therefore producing the best possible result that such voice is naturally capable of."

Pick yours ;)

Blarrgh... Not for me, sorry.

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Six, not trying to claim "ownership" over the idea, its just that people do try to say it. For example, you are trying to do it now. You will see that not everyone will connect with, although its correct for you (I am assuming it is, cant really say from text).

Mate, I just posted something that worked for ME in order to help the countless others who struggle and get nowhere with the same problem, I wasted YEARS on not understanding this.

You're the one making the point that you've already written this 50 different ways and explained it to everyone and the fact that you're still banging on about 'ownership' of this idea just shows who has the problem with it.

Anyway, since so many people have validated what has been said by everyone I am glad that people with the same issue will see the thread, read the thread and hopefully get a better understanding of what is required.

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Kicking, I get the feeling that you just want to fight.

You totally ignored my invitation to send a link to my email link, just between you and me.

And as for how it feels odd to you to relax on inhale and compress in singing, well, it's hard to judge the results, even if you won't share results via a private message. Again, I am not an expert. But I could at least tell you whether I liked it, or not.

Which causes me to suspect that you prefer the acrimony of this exchange to any actual advancement in singing or the understanding of singing. You have not yet proven any of your statements, either in words or in demonstration of the effect in singing, publically or privately.

Seriously, dude, Felipe once created an entire thread just to bust my chops about giving out "good job." What are you afraid of?

Step up to home plate, swing for the fences. Otherwise, I am not going to know what sound you are talking about and all these words are just taking up server bandwidth.

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Fair enough and I'm happy you sorted your issue out by gaining deep sensitivity with your own body. this is something i've had to do and it is a skill in itself and builds a relationship with yourself most don't have.

But when you say "You need to pull your lower abdomen in slightly FIRST or AS you inhale and give it 'some' tension"

That is something I cannot relate to in any way. and no, i'm not doing it "unintentionally" if you are thinking that :-)

I've never needed to do anything remotely like that ever or met anyone that has. I dont' pull anything in at all. I just inhale deeply, entire waist expands, and tense the abs a bit and tense them more as i need to for more chesty and higher notes.

The main issue I've found with support with people who struggle to get tension in the belly is that they are standing up TOO straight in the wrong way which creates an arch in the back when the body needs to be closer to a semi crunched position (which actually creates a truly straightened spine). you can apply it to sitting down and get the exact same support that you would standing up.

This is why posture is important and completely makes sense in your case. Standing properly, you can only breath the right way but if you keep in extreme anterior pelvic tilt, for example, the abs will not be engaged at all and the back will over overly tight. I was one of the aforementioned "tilters" and that made most of the advice I got on support completely useless because my basic setup was so far off from where it should be. This is why Felipe says that people need to find their own cue because some ideas just do not work because of anatomy, genetics, tendencies, etc.

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