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Are singers born with the gift to sing?
Some certainly are more gifted than others, but as long as you can speak and are not tone deaf, you can sing. The music world is filled with diverse voices ranging from a Bob Dylan to a Pavarotti. Would we not have missed the one if he had decided not to sing because he did not sound like the other?
The Singing Technique Explained
HOW DOES IT WORK? The key to Singing is in understanding the passages and the mix. Passages in the voice are transitional areas from one part of our vocal range to another. In Italian, they’re called passagi-or maybe you’ve heard the term passagio. These passage areas are a result of vocal cord and acoustic adjustments that must take place in order for us to sing high and low in our range. These adjustments produce resonance shifts in our body.
Our first shift in resonance, or our first passage, is our most crucial, because this is where our outer muscles are most likely to enter the picture. If they do, they tighten around the larynx in an effort to stretch the cords for the desired pitch. This is an extremely difficult condition to sing through. These outer muscles can be referred to as swallowing muscles, as they raise the larynx during the activity of swallowing. If they come into play during singing, we are actually in a swallowing condition, which can be very damaWith good vocal technique, the larynx remains comfortably stable (not raising as we ascend the scale). The vocal cords make their proper adjustments in balance with the air, and as a result of these vocal cord adjustments along with optimum vowel shaping, we experience the proper resonance shifts through our passages. When we’re in our low range, a by-product of the resonance actually can be felt as physical sensation in our mouth, throat, or even chest. This is where the term chest voice comes from. As we ascend the scale, our voice often feels as if it begins to rise and go behind the soft palate. Ultimately, it rises higher and gives the sensation of being high in our head. This is where the term head voice comes from.
Between our registers (like chest voice or head voice) we are designed to mix. We can create a sound that has the bass of the chest voice mixed with the treble of the head voice creating a smooth handover from bottom to top. Many singers, both men and women, have tremendous difficulty with this area. One solution is to do less to ultimately do more. Most of us will push more air in this first passage area to help get over the hump when ironically, just the opposite is necessary. We generally need less air than we think as we sing higher. This is because, as we ascend the scale, the vocal cords typically get thinner and longer and don’t require great volumes of air to make them vibrate. The key is finding the correct balance of air and cord closure- too much of one or the other will result in singing becoming more difficult and potentially less effective.
We provide a technique which trains the proper vocal cord muscles and relaxes the outer, unnecessary swallowing muscles so the vocal cords can be allowed to make their proper adjustments in balance with the air. The larynx remains stable and the resonance shifts smoothly through all the passages. The vocal cords remain closed and vibrating freely throughout all their adjustments. This produces what we call a “connected sound” from our lowest note to our highest note. A free, clear and flexible voice which can be enjoyed for any style we desire is then available to all of us.
Why get vocal lessons if I can already sing well?
Vocal cords are like muscles and with proper training you can get a lot more out of them. With age and use your vocal cords can become sore, developing medical issues which could end a career. A good solid vocal technique will get you through these hazards safely and unleash all of your potential. You would struggle to find a professional athlete who doesn’t have a coach- singing should be regarded in the same way- regardless of your talent it’s important to have someone on the outside helping you to stay safe and utilise your voice in the healthiest and most beneficial way.
How many lessons do I need?
This is very much like fitness. Some need a coach to get through a problem area; others want to continually refine their skill. We have solved some range and mix problems in a single lesson, but many have been students on-and-off for their entire careers. When you’re just starting out we recommend having lessons on a regular basis so you have the opportunity to build up new habits and develop your technique to a point that you feel like you have total control over your instrument.
I hear a lot about bad coaches ruining voices. Is that a real problem?
Sadly, yes. A bad coach can lead a singer into physically harming their vocal cords or unwittingly creating bad habits that stick with you. The good news is that in many cases the damage can be undone and new habits can be created. It is not uncommon for us to work with experienced singers and increase their range and abilities dramatically in a handful of lessons.
Can you be too old or too young to start singing?
Not really. If a student can understand the music, they can work to improve their energy and control – thus becoming more able to accomplish their goals. We offer group lessons for those aged 5-8 which we tend to find is a better way to introduce our youngest singers to lessons but we do also have some dedicated young students who take weekly private lessons. If you’re old enough to concentrate for 30mins we’re happy for you to book a lesson.
We’ve also had many singers come to us in their golden years! You’re never too old to learn something new. It can be a slower journey for someone who has been singing for 60+ years but if you’re willing to work hard you will absolutely see the benefits!
Do you do any courses for real beginners of any age?
Yes- we provide tuition for beginners of all ages, mainly on a one to one basis. All of our teachers are happy to work with complete beginners.
Can you e-mail me information about singing and events?
Yes- all you need to do is sign up for our newsletter using the sign up box at the top of this page. We’ll e-mail you about any upcoming events, tips on your singing, student successes, auditions and competitions and everything that’s going on at the studio. You can also like our facebook page www.facebook.com/heatherbakersingingstudios for more up to date information about what’s happening at the studios.
Can I give lessons to somebody as a gift?
Yes- you can purchase gift vouchers by clicking on the ‘schedule appointment’ tab and selecting ‘gift vouchers’ where we’ve put together some of our most popular packages for gifting. You can then e-mail the voucher code to the recipient so they can log on and book the lessons at a time to suit them!