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is there strain on the way to gain?

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i say strain in the beginning is inevitable...you can minimize it, but i don't believe you can bypass it in order to develop your voice to it's best.

vocal strain and support strain

well, i said my singer's opinion..let the "discussion" begin folks.....

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i believe you are right BUT, it is also EQUALLY necessary to train searching the coordination with less strain possible that still works for the sound you are looking for (for example my goal is to be able to belt, distort, etc... while feeling the same relaxation in my throat as when im yawning or talking or both at the same time :P so, most of my training makes me try to do the same things i always do but easier, with the throat more 'asleep', lazzy etc)

the bolded part i don't believe is realistic.......but i may be misinterpreting you too....

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Yeah, I know, some might consider me the antithesis to strain, since my object is to feel "nothing" in the throat.

But we are using subjective and relative terms, I fear. For example, how are we going to define strain? Bruce Dickinson takes it easy between tours. But when they rehearse for a new tour, he doesn't sing a full set. Similar to an opera singer, he "marks" the set, doing high parts, now and then. And after a the first week or so of rehearsal, he feels like someone kicked him in the stomach. Because he is retraining his support, from the school that any tension, if at all, should be felt in the support, not the throat.

So, what is strain? Is it muscular exhaustion? That can happen with overuse, regardless of training. And a professional athlete, for example, paces himself, even competition. It is not full out 100 percent of the time from beginning to end.

Or is strain the effect one feels when learning new coordination? When I was wanting to play golf, I started out just swinging. And there is no way to yell "fore" in 360 degrees! :lol:

So, a guy gave me two pointers for a guy of my height. Keep the knees together and rotate the body. And roll two knuckles to the right to create a hook to counter my nasty slice. And it felt odd, at first. Maybe a "strain." I don't know. I am used to physical distress and what may feel like strain to someone else may not, to me.

In fact, the time that I injured my voice, twice, I did not feel "strain." I simply met the new day with not much of a voice left. So, I may not be the best to comment on this as others may feel strain where I don't. And does that feeling of strain need to stop them?

Is there a difference between strain and damage? Can one be addicted to the notion or feeling of struggle? Am I better singer or more admirable if I strained to do something? Am I to be admired for doing something that feels easy and not a strain, at all?

If I feel strained or worn out at the end of a singing session, I don't feel glad that I strained. I don't need to feel strained to prove to myself that I "worked at it."

Then, again, I don't think I need to create a note with a special machination of the vocal folds or the larynx, in general.

I thought I could reply helpfully to this thread but now, I have my doubts. I am not sure I can contribute, but it is interesting.

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:| Anytime I get above G4 there is some kind of "strain"'Tickle" or "discomfort" unless I use my Elmo or Miss Piggy Voice. Does that Mean that I am destined to sound like Elmo or Miss Piggy when singing AC/DC or Boston? :o Or do I go ahead and allow some discomfort while building the correct coordination?

I think I will allow discomfort for a while. :D

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i say strain in the beginning is inevitable...you can minimize it, but i don't believe you can bypass it in order to develop your voice to it's best.

vocal strain and support strain

well, i said my singer's opinion..let the "discussion" begin folks.....

I agree for myself personally, no way in hell I could have progressed without strain along the way. Heck, I'm still going through it but I'm making a well-instructed effort to minimize it now because finally someone is teaching me how to do so effectively (thanks Phil!)

However, I don't doubt that some singers have been lucky enough to progress without experiencing nearly the amount of strain you and I have early in our training.

My philosophy:

The goal in singing is to use as little strain as possible to sing in a way that is reliable to produce and stylistically appropriate.

The goal in vocalizing is to as little strain as possible to grow the voice properly. I defer to established voice teachers to make this judgement, so long as their judgement is bringing the progress I want.

In both cases, you may be feeling like you're straining a lot or you may feel like you're doing absolutely nothing, it DEPENDS.

Let's not lose sight of the goal though - BEST SINGING WITH LEAST EFFORT

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Owen I think pavarotti said 30 years not 20 LOL!!!

I think what Bob is getting at here - and it's a fantastic point - is that many people in their quest to avoid strain end up undersinging, not engaging enough of their voice and support. Just head over to the singing success forums and you will find almost everyone on there undersinging thinking that ANY TYPE OF engagement of volume or chest is "bad" and "unhealthy". That forum is full of the blind leading the blind

Trying to challenge my memory huh? YOU LOSE:lol:

Also agree on singing success forums. Makes me cringe. I remember some of my own posts there from like four years ago and I know for a fact I had no idea what I was talking about, just thought I did. Same thing with everyone else there though so I guess it's okay :lol:

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phil, that's what i'm saying (mostly).......there are places you can take your voice, or sounds or tones you can achieve that some singers don't go to, because it's associated with strain and difficulty. but many times, not all times, but many times those are the exact things they need to work towards to get the sound they are after.

it's very physically demanding sometimes, but i'm afraid the physicality requirements can be construed as strain and constriction because a beginner singer doesn't know the difference.

i believe when you back off you can do more potential harm than just leaning in.....

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Practicing technique should not be all that strain full, you should be working on skill not brute force and should not be getting tired like sprinting for a mile or lifting 150lbs..Practicing style and covering other singers will require you to make unatural sound(sounds different than your own true voice) and it could be looked at as more intense and physical when screaming like halford or growling like a screamo guy. But when you get that skillfully it gets less demanding as well.

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easy doesn't mean less it means more skilled. think of it this way when your parents were trying to teach you to walk you fell a lot then you started walking a little better and then tried to run and skinned your knee but then you could walk without thinking about it. then you decided to long jump and you were not very good but then you were not thinking about running and then you got better at long jumping and then you died... the end

if you do not learn to skillfully do something you will not learn. You will always be fighting the path your body wants to take naturally.

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I want to highlight the point Pavarotti was making and it really doesn't matter if he said 20 or 30 years. Being "easy" after any amount of training is the sign of competence and the effect of training. The objective after 20 or 30 years is to sing with endurance and skill, not to still be straining. And not just sounding strained but actually straining.

We are still not defining straining. Is it to the point of damage? The very limit of your muscles and nerves?

Let me draw an example from special forces. I have known a few Navy SEALs and two Army Rangers. And guys push themselves to the very limit of human endurance. bud/S is a course of a few months, each week more intense than the last. In Hell Week, a cadet may average 10 hours of sleep for the whole week. They can consume 2400 calories a day and still lose a few pounds by the end of Hell Week.

But they don't do that during the other weeks. The point of special forces operations is not to enjoy the ultimate strain. It's not even to have the Seal anchor pin or the Ranger rifle pin. It is to accomplish the mission regardless of obstacles, including one's own body.

I knew a Ranger that had several years of combat and deployments and survived two helicopter crashes. And, by the age of 30, he was retiring from the Ranger battalion he was in and going back to regular Army. That kind of continuous strain at the very edges of human ability does not solve anything, it creates damage. But, again, the point of special forces is not about human longetivity. It is about accomplishing the mission, period, paragraph, new book. And none of the guys gets a "good feeling" about the strain and the pain.

My friend, Lee, came back from Viet Nam with surgical pins in his ankles, right hip, and a teflon-coated stainless steel knee cap on his left knee. Courtesy of 3 active combat tours.

So, what does this all mean? That you can only find your limits by seeking them out? Okay. But once you do find the limits, what then? Pushing against them won't make things better.

Did all that sound strenuous?

Why do athletes train? To become proficient and competent in their sport. Not to consisently feel strained. That is, running 80 yards for a break-away touchdown should be repeatable. And guess what? After such a play, the coach will pull that guy out and give him a rest for a few plays.

If the question really is that there might be strain on the way to gain, what happens when you gained the thing you were seeking? The body has a training effect. All mammals do. A new thing might be a strain until the muscle and nerves are attuned to the work demanded. It is the nature of the beast. To accomplish whatever work with maximum efficiency in order to be repeatable.

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phil, that's what i'm saying (mostly).......there are places you can take your voice, or sounds or tones you can achieve that some singers don't go to, because it's associated with strain and difficulty. but many times, not all times, but many times those are the exact things they need to work towards to get the sound they are after.

it's very physically demanding sometimes, but i'm afraid the physicality requirements can be construed as strain and constriction because a beginner singer doesn't know the difference.

i believe when you back off you can do more potential harm than just leaning in.....

I think TONE is the important word here. For me it is not so much the note that gives me trouble but singing that note with a good sounding tone. The key to pitch has always been relaxation, letting go, things that cause less strain. Finding the tone is where you make your discoveries and have to do experiments. Once you find that tone or distortion or effect the goal is making that effect or tone more natural with less effort or you discover just how much pressure is needed for that effect..

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Being that no one has replied to the last post I will add this.

Regarding tone..... We as beginners try to match a tone that sounds strained by straining when the tone is made by other means. Once we find the proper means to achieve that sound the straining is not necessary.

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Being that no one has replied to the last post I will add this.

Regarding tone..... We as beginners try to match a tone that sounds strained by straining when the tone is made by other means. Once we find the proper means to achieve that sound the straining is not necessary.

This is not the best workflow to go about it through. This is an issue of developing your "vocal ear" (which is both auditory and kinesthetic) which unfortunately is very hard to do without learning from a coach who has a developed vocal ear and can hear and feel how certain sounds are produced. Or having the gift of a born vocal ear or something. Or listening to A LOT of singers and singing A LOT yourself, and getting feedback from others.

The way you are going about it - straining to sound like what someone else says is good, is incorrect. There is no benefit of imitating a sound through incorrect technique, in fact it makes matters much worse.

But of course it gets very complicated. Sometimes beginners get so comfortable with straining that to let go of it makes them feel like they are straining simply because they're having trouble controlling the note.

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This is not the best workflow to go about it through. This is an issue of developing your "vocal ear" (which is both auditory and kinesthetic) which unfortunately is very hard to do without learning from a coach who has a developed vocal ear and can hear and feel how certain sounds are produced. Or having the gift of a born vocal ear or something. Or listening to A LOT of singers and singing A LOT yourself, and getting feedback from others.

The way you are going about it - straining to sound like what someone else says is good, is incorrect. There is no benefit of imitating a sound through incorrect technique, in fact it makes matters much worse.

But of course it gets very complicated. Sometimes beginners get so comfortable with straining that to let go of it makes them feel like they are straining simply because they're having trouble controlling the note.

I am not saying that straining is the way to find a coordination or sound. I am saying that beginners end up straining BECAUSE they Think that it is the way to make that sound. It sounds loud and screamy so they try to scream the note.

The sound might actually be a light coordination with extra vibration from the uvula or soft palate or Fry. Perhaps even letting the microphone itself to distort instead of overdriving the vocal cords. There are many ways to get a strained yelling kind of sound without actually straining.

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example...

you are doing a simple scale, here's comes a note you cannot hit...you have to go through a period of "failed attempts" till that note begins to "appear"..till that note becomes.... "available."

if you cannot (saying it in street language) stretch out to and clamp and hold on to the note it's currently unavailable.

some beginner singers don't allow themselves to sound crappy...they try to bypass it or stop and say this is straining or this is constricting....when in fact it may not be..... you simply are developing or using muscles you aren't used to using.

as i mentioned in another post.......a lousy half tone can be a major gain.

and on top of just working to increase (for example) your range, now you still need to make it "usable/singable range."

that's why when certain beginners say "i can go up to such as note (b5 or whatever) in my head voice" that doesn't mean jack s**t.

let me hear his g4 in a song like kyrie by mr. mister. listen to the "g" right at the start..no room for error...

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The more failed attemps you have the more you keep telling your brain and nervous system that it's the correct way to hit the note meaning "wrong way" then when eventually you do hit it clear and clean you body thinks its wrong and keeps reverting back to the wrong way. That's why so many students say "I sang it yesterday or last week or an hour a go how come I can't hit it now?" The brain is telling your body to do it the wrong way cause that's what it knows to be right

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It has to do with how the "failed attempt" is and how often you go there. This ties in with what Dan said and I completely agree with him.

If every time you go to an A4 in a scale, you fail in the same way, whether it be you ALWAYS hit a range ceiling, or ALWAYS get your throat caught, or ALWAYS revert to head voice or ALWAYS splat the vowel, if you're getting the same problem over and over that's not going to naturally go away over time. That would be like telling an archer who's consistently hitting way to the left of the target "oh just keep doing what you're doing, you'll get it". No way, they'll get nowhere with that instruction. They'll actually gain precision in doing it wrong so that they can't even get close to the right way.

Same thing with singing. Untrained students get in that trap all the time, I've been there big time.

When you have a coach helping you out it's like being that archer but being able to finally see your target, learning a better idea how to aim, and having someone who knows the skill better tell you to keep making adjustments this way and that. Your precision will decrease at first because you are shifting variables but this will also weed out the possibility of drilling in bad habits. And you will do it wrong, but you won't develop any bad habits, you are just searching for the right alignment. Pretty soon you hit the bullseye and all you have to do is do your best to remember how you did it and your precision in that will improve over time with continued guidance.

Failed attempts is part of the process of course. The key is to tweak something each time you fail to try to make it more successful. Because insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

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example...

that's why when certain beginners say "i can go up to such as note (b5 or whatever) in my head voice" that doesn't mean jack s**t.

let me hear his g4 in a song like kyrie by mr. mister. listen to the "g" right at the start..no room for error...

OH, is that ever the truth. I would vocalize and get up to a Bb5 or so, but then go to a lesson and start

singing a real song and suddenly I'm choking on an F#4 or a G, it was VERY frustrating for a while until

I started understanding the difference. Now I try and keep a balance between worrying about range

and important things like articulation and breathing, I know the range will come with time.

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It has to do with how the "failed attempt" is and how often you go there. This ties in with what Dan said and I completely agree with him.

If every time you go to an A4 in a scale, you fail in the same way, whether it be you ALWAYS hit a range ceiling, or ALWAYS get your throat caught, or ALWAYS revert to head voice or ALWAYS splat the vowel, if you're getting the same problem over and over that's not going to naturally go away over time. That would be like telling an archer who's consistently hitting way to the left of the target "oh just keep doing what you're doing, you'll get it". No way, they'll get nowhere with that instruction. They'll actually gain precision in doing it wrong so that they can't even get close to the right way.

Same thing with singing. Untrained students get in that trap all the time, I've been there big time.

When you have a coach helping you out it's like being that archer but being able to finally see your target, learning a better idea how to aim, and having someone who knows the skill better tell you to keep making adjustments this way and that. Your precision will decrease at first because you are shifting variables but this will also weed out the possibility of drilling in bad habits. And you will do it wrong, but you won't develop any bad habits, you are just searching for the right alignment. Pretty soon you hit the bullseye and all you have to do is do your best to remember how you did it and your precision in that will improve over time with continued guidance.

Failed attempts is part of the process of course. The key is to tweak something each time you fail to try to make it more successful. Because insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Exactly. That straining is telling you something is not right. Certainly if you can sing that note by using a different register/mode/placement there is a coordination issue that is going on. Some part of the approach or technique has to change before the coordination can be found.

BUT..... As Bob is trying to say, suppose you have the correct amount of air and pressure and the wrong coordination are you going to feel strained trying to find the correct coordination? In some situations yes.

Suppose you are not using enough air and pressure to begin with for a desired mode, Is that going to feel like strain? In some cases YES.

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thanks md......you are helping me explain what i may not be doing a very good job of.

strain can actually be felt my under doing it sometimes. where you are not providing the requisite ingredients to hit the note, sustain it, or whatever.

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MDEW what you say about having correct configuration with wrong pressure or correct pressure with wrong configuration etc, yes this is true, but that does not change the underlying point at all. That just explains a very common reason WHY you're straining in the first place.

It does not make it that much more acceptable that one variable is correct and another is not. The one that's not is still something that can become an ugly bad habit if not sorted out. Sometimes working despite an imperfect variable is necessary temporarily to get another variable excelling. For instance decreasing weight to find a release into head resonance, or training brightly before adding darkness in order to train chiaroscuro correctly. But for one thing these temporary things should be left as quickly as possible in favor of returning back to balance. Also, you need a coach's discretion to tell you when that kind of process is okay and when you are ready to move on. None of this is intuitive for most people because their environment, their false preconceptions about the skill, and all the myths they've been fed about learning to sing, have screwed with their heads.

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Bob, it can be in the way, yes. But how, will vary a lot.

For example, its clear to me that when you sing you find something that is related to strain in someway helps you. Be it whatever it will be. But you are not actually getting hurt, I hope.

In the same way, what feels like strain to another person CAN be harmful. How often? I dont know for real. But its individual.

So you see its kind of a trap to "preach" either. I have told students to relax and to press or go strong at many times, sometimes to the same person, depending on the CONTEXT. You cant let a rule like this become some sort of guideline.

Strain may be in the way but its not the CAUSE of gain.

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exactly felipe....a teacher as we all know is the best way.

i remember a session (i only had 4) with frisell where i was mentally hesitant to sing the exercise because of the strain i (thought) i was feeling. but he sensed my anxiety and explained that he wanted me to adduct first, then lean on the adduction to swell the volume, not do both actions at the same time. you had to see me....i was afraid of the exercise (and i don't fear this stuff easily).

if i hadn't gone through this with him, i would never have developed volume gain with isolated fold swelling. i wouldn't have because i associated this with strain, instead of associating it with a good thing....isolation.

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