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Rethinking my way of training

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I always happen to like "hard" songs not because of the challenge but because of my music taste is so that like 9/10 songs are like that. Boston, Toto, generally classic rock/pop stuff 80s, power balads and such things. I am used to that kind of a challenge and seems natural for me to be out of my comfort zone.

 

My way of training is i warm up in a somewhat slow pace for about an hour and within any range i can reach (usually from D/E2 to E/F5) and sometimes including a bit of strain or discomfort and then i will start singing my list in a roughly increasing difficulty. In another forum i had a discussion that made me think if i should change my approach to a more "safe" one. I suggested that anyone should try its own limits and not trying to sing a song by lowering the key but with achieving the proper technique but was in disagreement with someone who told me we should train within our safe range and proceed slowly raising a semitone every now and then (maybe months) and change key on songs even 3-4 semitones to keep it in our comfort zone. Truth is i believe he has a good point going safe but also that could mean very slow progress, changing the "atmosphere" of the song, fear for the high notes or whatever...

 

Whould you suggest a more safe approach generally on training and why? Lets say we have a song that pushes our limits and its tough to sing, roughly within our range, how would you approach?

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 I wonder if this might cross-talk with the thread about voice-building songs to work on. I am not a vocal coach, so I can't really comment there, as the request was for vocal coaches to provide their idea of songs to work on while, I assume, one is in training.

 

Then, again, you raise a good question and maybe I can ask for some clarification. Is the actual definition of "safe" training the practice of lowering the key to learn a song and then raise it up? I would think not.

 

Because the training is to increase your range. And singing the song is the test of your training. That is, don't sing the song until you can make the notes. The song may be the goal and that is fine.

 

Instead, sing songs that are commensurate with your training and as your skill and range improve, your song set list expands.

 

Now, if your skills are such that you can, with endurance, sing Boston songs in the original key, keep doing that, I would think,

 

As a total aside from this, when recording a song for professional release, the producer may change keys of the songs in order to get out of your voice a sound that he is looking for.

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I just remembered another point I wanted to make. And today was a good day to bring as an example. Totally off the cuff. The company I work for (electrical contractor) has two owners, my bosses. I am the company manager. Anyway, so one owner brought in Yamaha classical guitar that he never learned how to play. And a Casio keyboard with all the presets and stuff that he bought for his daughter and she never got interested in it.

 

So, I tuned the guitar. He played with drum patterns and found the one that goes boom tss ta boom boom tss. And so I flailed into the riff from "Walk This Way." I don't have Joe Perry's hair any more but I was playing in time. 

 

Anyway, so, he brings up on his ipod "TNT" by AC/DC. And so he's plunking out notes on the keyboard (he never learned to play that, either.) And I am plunking out a few Angus riffs. The song is in the key of E. You can do anything in open standard tuning, 7th fret, and 12th fret and sound okay. And I was singing the lead, as well.

 

"I'm TNT, watch me explode ..."

 

I don't know how to train safe, if that means lowering or changing the key, Granted, that song is in the middle of my range but singing always require attention. Just do it. Repeat as necessary. Find the place in your voice where you can do it comfortably and still be heard.

 

Of course, I do not sound like Bon Scott. But I don't care. Because I am TNT and I'll win the fight ...

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epilogue - the other boss, who actually plays drums as a hobby, came into the office later, saw the keyboard on its stand, the guitar in the corner, and I said to him, "you missed rehearsal. Don't let it happen, again."  :)

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to me the answer is in balance. practice songs that are easy and perform them, practice songs that are medium and perform them, practice the hardest stuff on your own. "medium" being it may take concentration and/or a lot of physical effort and general require you to have your $#!+ together, but you can do it and entertain an audience seriously rather than making a fool of yourself. I know that really shouldn't be called "medium" but you get the point I'm just making this up on the spot

 

"hard" would be unready to perform yet. you're sounding like something that excites you as a vocal technician, but is in reality, still god awful singing. it's okay to practice stuff like that as long as you are seeing some kind of progress. there is a threshold where if it's too hard you're just beating a dead horse. you'll have to figure that out on your own, just be very careful not to get yourself into "the definition of insanity" - "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". when working on practicing really hard stuff, it's all about tweaking and changing stuff - this requires a combination of great coaching, self-coaching, strong aural and kinesthetic intuition, etc...you develop more success with it over time.

 

also i kinda get this sense:

if you're getting bored and your vocal capability isn't continually expanding, you need to practice more hard stuff.

 

if when you sing easier songs your voice still sounds unpolished/amatuerish, you need to practice more easy stuff.

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One important addition that's a bit of a different concept:

 

whether it's through singing or vocalizing, you need to work that upper range that is inconsistent and awful and not ready to perform yet. In as close to full voice as you can (don't give into falsetto/head voice keep it at least a mixed feeling)

If you don't, increasing your performance range will take a lot longer because you have no top-down perspective on it.

So when people say to only try out a new semitone every once in a while...just know that is the slowpoke road.

But keep note I am separating "performance range"...and performance vs. practicing singing.

What the guy said to you is dead on about PERFORMANCE - you HAVE to be safe or else you will encounter the unknown + nerves = screw up in front of an audience that came to hear great singing.

It's just a slow way to PRACTICE to be limited to that when, no one is around to hear you, you can stretch out and experiment and let your voice be molded from nothing into something and not be afraid of mistakes on the path to improvement.

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One important addition that's a bit of a different concept:

 

whether it's through singing or vocalizing, you need to work that upper range that is inconsistent and awful and not ready to perform yet. In as close to full voice as you can (don't give into falsetto/head voice keep it at least a mixed feeling)

If you don't, increasing your performance range will take a lot longer because you have no top-down perspective on it.

So when people say to only try out a new semitone every once in a while...just know that is the slowpoke road.

But keep note I am separating "performance range"...and performance vs. practicing singing.

What the guy said to you is dead on about PERFORMANCE - you HAVE to be safe or else you will encounter the unknown + nerves = screw up in front of an audience that came to hear great singing.

It's just a slow way to PRACTICE to be limited to that when, no one is around to hear you, you can stretch out and experiment and let your voice be molded from nothing into something and not be afraid of mistakes on the path to improvement.

 

I'm a bit interested in this point. The other day, I took an 'ayr' ish vowel and took it up to like a D5 or something like that in kind of a metallic ish? I can't sing consistently up there with that tone (all vowels, any melody, etc), but that's partly cause I never have trained to sing heavy metal.

 

I know some tricks from hanging around these forums to try something like that, but I'm inspired almost entirely by singers in the soul and roots rock kind of genres, where 90 percent of people used some kind of falsetto-ish phonation. Of my most listened to singers only Stevie Wonder doesn't, but like literally everyone else uses something a lot closer to falsetto after the bridge: David Ruffin, John Lennon, David Bowie, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Al Green.

 

But I keep finding every time I use this type of phonation, it's so different from my normal style, it's like I have an entirely different voice. It makes me sound like 'two different people.' Makes managing my bridge more of a struggle, makes my larynx want to ride higher on lower notes, makes my phonation really metallic with very little air and makes my voice feel kind of 'fixed' into that mode or whatever. I lose a lot of mobility in vowel shapes,  sound colors.

 

So if the OP's desire is to sing in a style that requires really powerful D5s, there are really only so many methods someone who doesn't have a naturally high voice can do that. If another person's desire is to sing styles that very rarely call for D5s is it even that helpful? If John Lennon was taught to sing like Dio, would it have helped or hindered his style? Would it be easy for him to just go back and sing in his personal style afterwards or would it be almost a barrier, training very different habits as it was so foreign? Maybe it's cause you guys are more skilled, but for me it's like I develop a personal style and with it comes habits. When I try to learn other styles, with them come other habits. It's difficult to flick all of the habits on/off like a light switch if I get too far away from my habits.

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Sing "Africa" by Toto. Every. F*ing. Day.

 

After that everything will seem easy.

Ohreally? Well, sing "Always Somewhere - Scorpions" every day and Africa will seem easy, ha! :P if you modify the pronounciation of the chorus it will be a lot easier and also watch few live performances and take hints from there, it helped me. Always somewhere is around at E4 with a light clear voice and then also goes to belting all around G4-D5 and that is harder for me than constantly belting A4's (though the lyrics are touger on this one).

 

To determine safe zone: where the voice doesnt crack/shake/etc, able to add vibrato, able to crescento-decresento and in genral total control of voice.

 

Ronws if one lowers the songs then automatically can sing any song and not have to wait until (and IF) he reaches the high notes. A common example is when singing female songs.

 

Owen i agree about the safe zone when in a live situation, specially when someone pays to see/hear live music.

 

...

 

also i kinda get this sense:

if you're getting bored and your vocal capability isn't continually expanding, you need to practice more hard stuff.

 

if when you sing easier songs your voice still sounds unpolished/amatuerish, you need to practice more easy stuff.

About getting bored you need to sing material you really like, your favorite song, transpose it to a comfortable level and sing it like every day 10 times and work each single phrase and gradually increase the key. Also listening to new music keeps you excited, finding a new favorite song is refreshing!

 

Edit: Killer i dont limit myself to a single style, i just sing whatever i like, be it pop ballads to metal, even songs i really suck cause they dont fit my voice, its entertainment. My teacher adviced me to stick with one style something like metal/power/symphonic but that would be good for someone interested in making a music carrier which i dont care about.

 

Thanks for inputs, i think i will keep my way of training and see how i goes.

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Ronws if one lowers the songs then automatically can sing any song and not have to wait until (and IF) he reaches the high notes. A common example is when singing female songs.

 

My teacher adviced me to stick with one style something like metal/power/symphonic but that would be good for someone interested in making a music carrier which i dont care about.

 

Thanks for inputs, i think i will keep my way of training and see how i goes.

:lol: I must apologize, it seems I am always doing that, recently. I thought you were asking for opinions. Really, you just wanted to state what you were doing, rather than looking for opinions, especially those to the contrary and I apologize for relating what is probably now totally unnecessary  thoughts and revelations. And it's cool to know that you also disregard a teacher's advice. Which certainly makes me foolish for offering an opinion. 

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Edit: Killer i dont limit myself to a single style, i just sing whatever i like, be it pop ballads to metal, even songs i really suck cause they dont fit my voice, its entertainment. My teacher adviced me to stick with one style something like metal/power/symphonic but that would be good for someone interested in making a music carrier which i dont care about.

 

Thanks for inputs, i think i will keep my way of training and see how i goes.

 

That's really interesting your teacher suggested this. I genuinely don't know if it is good advice. There are a few singers I've heard that seem to have trained extremely dynamic voices, with enough control to 'switch' to different styles. Jonpall of this forum is one I'm aware of, but a lot of people seem to have a bit of a style and stick to it and even he seemed to ultimately kind of make this decision. 

 

Lunte often has a bit of a Queensryche inspired style, but I've never heard him sing say a Motown number. If he kept the Tateish tone it might sound a little strange to people's ears, but after having habituated a style like that for many years, it might be hard to sing a completely different style.

 

If you aren't aiming professionally, I pretty much agree with disregarding your teachers advice and singing for your own enjoyment. If it makes things easier or harder in the long run, that's pretty much irrelevant if the only reason you're singing is enjoyment. If you were aiming for professional singing, I simply don't know the answer. Most of the popular singers I listen to have their own 'zones' of how they used their voice. I suppose if you were to do musical theater, diversity would give you a lot more options in roles.

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Actually, Killer, I think you raise a good point. Though I don't think we are advising singingnewbie and he already has his own direction, it is precisely that point. What does a singer want to do? Can any singer sing any song? Theoretically, yes. Will a lot of people buy that version? Maybe, maybe not. And if the singer is not worried about that, the field is always open.

 

And, in the end, it doesn't matter what advice I have to give or how pertinent it is. What do you, the singer (speaking generally) want to do? And maybe, for some, changing keys makes the song more accessible and as a singer, I would be inclined to agree with that. I just differed from the standpoint of "training." That being said, I have lowered the key of a song to learn the lyrics and more importantly, the intervals of the notes. I have fairly good memory for intervals. Once I have those locked in, going back to the original key or even another different key isn't so daunting. As long as the intervals are right, things go well.

 

So, I am not against what singingnewbie is suggesting or stating for himself. When I was covering "Sunday Morning" by Kris Kristofferson, done first by Johnny Cash, I was in the key of D, which was really bright and shiny for me.

 

MDEW turned me onto the Willie Nelson version which is keyed down in C. So, I did that. I was going for the hung-over hippie sound and my first version wasn't bringing that out. Going "down" to the key of C brought what I think of as the wooly sound at the low end of my voice, which made the sound I was looking for. Which is part of what I meant before about changing the key of a song to bring out a different aspect of the voice.

 

And some might say, well, ron, if you worked hard enough, you could get the burned out hippie sound in the key of D. And that maybe true but sometimes, the pitch of the note and the tone, not just the tone, make something work. Or not.

 

So, singingnewbie, keeponrockinwhichyabadself.

 

Not that you need my opinion or support, just saying ...

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:lol: I must apologize, it seems I am always doing that, recently. I thought you were asking for opinions. Really, you just wanted to state what you were doing, rather than looking for opinions, especially those to the contrary and I apologize for relating what is probably now totally unnecessary  thoughts and revelations. And it's cool to know that you also disregard a teacher's advice. Which certainly makes me foolish for offering an opinion. 

I am asking opinions on a specific subject, though i actually agree with the points raised by Owen and will keep training the way i already am but also take it easier on the extremes and focus more while i do my exercises. I stated what i am doing and what was another approach that made me think if i should go the "safe" way, i am looking for opinions on that matter. What were your thoughts and revelations you made on this subject?

 

Also i disregarded my teachers opinion about technical and "adding character to the song" advices before two years, when i thought i knew better, i regret that, i told him, i accept it. I disregard his advice now because i see singing in a different way, i want to sing not to achieve something in the music industry, if i wanted i would follow that advice without second thought cause i understand he is right and my voice fits that genre. When comes to singing: enjoyment > all.

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But singingnewbie, you already answered my initial observation. That lowering the key to a safe range is more preferrable, in order to learn the song and I was speaking then soley from training in that don't lower the goal. Keep it there and train to it.

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I always happen to like "hard" songs not because of the challenge but because of my music taste is so that like 9/10 songs are like that. Boston, Toto, generally classic rock/pop stuff 80s, power balads and such things. I am used to that kind of a challenge and seems natural for me to be out of my comfort zone.

 

My way of training is i warm up in a somewhat slow pace for about an hour and within any range i can reach (usually from D/E2 to E/F5) and sometimes including a bit of strain or discomfort and then i will start singing my list in a roughly increasing difficulty. In another forum i had a discussion that made me think if i should change my approach to a more "safe" one. I suggested that anyone should try its own limits and not trying to sing a song by lowering the key but with achieving the proper technique but was in disagreement with someone who told me we should train within our safe range and proceed slowly raising a semitone every now and then (maybe months) and change key on songs even 3-4 semitones to keep it in our comfort zone. Truth is i believe he has a good point going safe but also that could mean very slow progress, changing the "atmosphere" of the song, fear for the high notes or whatever...

 

Whould you suggest a more safe approach generally on training and why? Lets say we have a song that pushes our limits and its tough to sing, roughly within our range, how would you approach?

 

I feel the thing to ask yourself is are these type of songs in my available range? I say this because stuff like Boston is not possible for most male singers, hell most females can't sing it either. And I am not saying you can or can't do it, that's for you to judge. I have trained many singers over the years that have put all their energy and affection in trying to sing super high. Nothing but dealing with range and extending it. IME a lot of times they end up missing the boat of their voice and end up falling short and get discouraged. I've had guys that should be singing Doors trying to sing Operation Mind Crime. But with all that said I am living proof that the human voice can be extended. I had zero range when I started and spent a good 3 or 4 years practicing 6 hours a day and I finally got what I was looking for. I think that is why I have such a heart for people trying to do this, because I did it myself. One thing I have learned about raising your range that holds true for me and it's something you wrote about and that is I warm up slowly. For me that is crucial. The other thing is find songs that are just slightly out of you comfort zone and work on them, once you nail them then move onto another song that is just slightly out of you range and so on… You will be amazed at the progress. Don't be a rhino trying to dance ballet. Be methodical. The old adage applies, how to you eat and elephant? One bite at a time.

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I feel the thing to ask yourself is are these type of songs in my available range? I say this because stuff like Boston is not possible for most male singers, hell most females can't sing it either. And I am not saying you can or can't do it, that's for you to judge. I have trained many singers over the years that have put all their energy and affection in trying to sing super high. Nothing but dealing with range and extending it. IME a lot of times they end up missing the boat of their voice and end up falling short and get discouraged. I've had guys that should be singing Doors trying to sing Operation Mind Crime. But with all that said I am living proof that the human voice can be extended. I had zero range when I started and spent a good 3 or 4 years practicing 6 hours a day and I finally got what I was looking for. I think that is why I have such a heart for people trying to do this, because I did it myself. One thing I have learned about raising your range that holds true for me and it's something you wrote about and that is I warm up slowly. For me that is crucial. The other thing is find songs that are just slightly out of you comfort zone and work on them, once you nail them then move onto another song that is just slightly out of you range and so on… You will be amazed at the progress. Don't be a rhino trying to dance ballet. Be methodical. The old adage applies, how to you eat and elephant? One bite at a time.

 

I feel like that's a really balanced post man. Some coaches might be like 'you can sing like Brad Delp for sure if you try my product,' but you're saying you never know. I really appreciate your honesty. Most people can sound good if they train hard. Most will find some way to use their voice that works well.

 

Available range is really subjective too. One tone might be considered available to one singer but not appropriate to another. I've got 4 octaves of range if I don't judge the sound quality. I consider at least 1.5 to be rarely useful for most styles I sing outside of harmonies maybe. It's not often I'd sing a lead in whistle voice.

 

Can people train to hit Delps notes? Sure. Would those be avalable for singing Boston in a way people would like to hear? Hmmm... What does it sound like? :o

 

Some probably would sound more aesthetically appealing to most ears singing the Doors like you say. I dunno if the snake oil salesman thing would sell more products in the long term "buy product X, Delp Guaranteed!" but for authenticity, it's good to see. Praise to you, James.

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I feel the thing to ask yourself is are these type of songs in my available range? I say this because stuff like Boston is not possible for most male singers, hell most females can't sing it either. And I am not saying you can or can't do it, that's for you to judge. I have trained many singers over the years that have put all their energy and affection in trying to sing super high. Nothing but dealing with range and extending it. IME a lot of times they end up missing the boat of their voice and end up falling short and get discouraged. I've had guys that should be singing Doors trying to sing Operation Mind Crime. But with all that said I am living proof that the human voice can be extended. I had zero range when I started and spent a good 3 or 4 years practicing 6 hours a day and I finally got what I was looking for. I think that is why I have such a heart for people trying to do this, because I did it myself. One thing I have learned about raising your range that holds true for me and it's something you wrote about and that is I warm up slowly. For me that is crucial. The other thing is find songs that are just slightly out of you comfort zone and work on them, once you nail them then move onto another song that is just slightly out of you range and so on… You will be amazed at the progress. Don't be a rhino trying to dance ballet. Be methodical. The old adage applies, how to you eat and elephant? One bite at a time.

And I may get some grief from asking a question, You will have some guys that have the right warmth to sing stuff by the Doors but they are dead-set on singing Boston or AC/DC, all the way, non-stop.

 

As you awesomely state, one can consider having longer range if tone can vary.

 

Is it wise and ethical for a teacher to suggest that a student may be singing out of his range?

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And I may get some grief from asking a question, You will have some guys that have the right warmth to sing stuff by the Doors but they are dead-set on singing Boston or AC/DC, all the way, non-stop.

 

As you awesome state, one can consider having longer range if tone can vary.

 

Is it wise and ethical for a teacher to suggest that a student may be singing out of his range?

 

I came from the belief that it's not my job to dam anyone's dreams but I became friends years ago with Seth Riggs and he is notorious for being very blunt and I had many students who had studied with him and were very discouraged by what he said to them about their singing. He said something to me once that has stuck with me and that was it's our jobs to be as honest as we can. For me I have had to be honest with people and sometimes it hurts but it's something as a teacher you have to accept sometimes. As far as just purely range I will tell someone they are out of their range if I think it will either cause vocal damage or get the evicted. :)

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I agree with James about how over-investing your energy just into singing high can make you miss the boat a bit. I've been guilty of it. Have I benefited from all the high range training, hell yes. But a lot of times I found I put in all this work and then people have critique to offer on things I completely ignored while caught up in my tunnel vision "sing high with power" bubble. I have to keep reminding myself that there are so many other dimensions of great singing such as:

pitch

rhythm

dynamics
texture
emotion
tone

power

That's a very abbreviated list and even with that, if you've only trained great range only that's like having 1 out of 8 things good about the quality of your singing!

 

getting all the elements nailed down (and believe me there are MANY more i didn't list) is what really puts audiences on the edge of their seat (in a good way hehehe). if you listen closely to singers a lot of people tend to like, you'll tend to notice that trend, they are doing much more than just demonstrating good range.

So that's part of why it's so important to practice in your comfortable range - it takes you out of the fixation on it and forces you to refine those commonly overlooked qualities of great singing to higher and higher standards of quality each time you revisit it. You also eventually build those qualities up the range as you work to free your range up at the same time, and then instead of your high range sounding average it will actually start to sound really great and colorful in the way that you surely wanted from the beginning.

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And to kind of continue Owen's thought, I have liked several singers and range had nothing to do with. Tone was the key. I like Anthony Kiedis and I don't think he has ever met a high note. But dude's got funk and tone for days. How many of us have found ourselves singing along with "City of Angels" and the world melts away and you just love making those diminished notes because it feels so right?

 

And I also liked Boston and it's not because Brad could sing high. It's because of the happy party tone in his voice. Even with somber songs like "Amanda," there was still this hopeful thing in his voice. It would sound totally different if David Coverdale tried to sing those songs.

 

And so maybe tone has to do also with one's own outlook, and not just physical construction.

 

I am not a teacher of singing, so I don't have to worry about breaking someone's musical heart. But, as an electrician, I have had a helper freeze and panic halfway up a 95 foot stadium light pole. Later, I told him, maybe electrical work is not for him. He could tell me more than I ever wanted to know about police cars and police procedure. And so, I suggested he should pursue police work. First, he seems to have a passion for that. Second, he is a danger to himself and others because electrical work requires working at considerable heights, some times.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Like you "Newbie" I totally relate with your drive to sing those heavy duty super ballads. I gravitate to the "hard stuff" too...

 

The Toto, 38 Special, Queen, Foreigner (my most challenging of all), early Motown, Guess Who, Survivor, Zeppelin, Rainbow, Sam & Dave, (Early) Jon Secada. 

 

I'm not a Metal guy, more on the soulful side of things.

 

Here's my take on it......The mind will help you get there...Listen to your inner voice...If you listen really carefully you will receive feedback that says to you "Yes, you can do this."

 

Sound corny to you?  Maybe, but it's the mind that drives the voice....

 

If you don't harness that requisite, intense, mental energy, desire and will, you won't get there. 

 

These kind of tunes need energy, stamina, and most of all "release."  Don't give up on them, but accept that some will remain out of attainment for quite some time.

 

Then one day when you least expect it, you will find the notes more achievable and a snowball effect happens...and that is you are capable of singing tunes you weren't even aware of or planning on!!!

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