Singing Technique Explained
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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 adjustments that must take place in order for us to sing high and low in our range. These vocal cord 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 damaging.
With 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, 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, (if we are singing correctly), 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. The mix occurs in our passage as the sympathetic resonance starts to leave the mouth and go behind the soft palate. This ‘split resonance’ leaves some in the mouth and some in the head, which produces a mixture of head voice and chest voice. This is referred to as the mix.
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 bridge area to help get over the hump when ironically, just the opposite is necessary. We actually need less air the higher we sing. This is because, as we ascend the scale, the vibrating portion of the vocal cords actually gets shorter, and the vocal cords get thinner. The shorter and thinner the vocal cords become, as we ascend the scale and move higher in our range, the less air they need to support their vibration.
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.
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.
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. The good news is that in many cases the damage can be undone. The other problem is teaching bad habits that can prevent a singer from maximizing their voice. It is not uncommon for us to work with experienced singers and increase their range 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.
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.
Can you e-mail me information about workshops and master classes in my area?
Yes- all you need to do is sign up for our newsletter using the sign up box at the top right of this page. Our newsletter contains information about coming events, 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- we can take payments for gift vouchers via cheque, cash, paypal and cards. Cheques should be made payable to Heather Baker Singing Studios. Let us know your address details and we will send you the gift vouchers on receipt of that payment. For more information please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our contact form.