What do certain exercises do?

This week I had a question from a reader from Turkey asking about why we use certain exercises when training the voice. Now I sent him a personal email to explain his specific question, I thought it would be worth doing a short video to explain:
1) What are exercises for?
2) What do certain exercises do?

If you can’t watch the video right now, I’ve given a short summary of my video answer after the video embed. Enjoy! Any questions, let me know.


As promised, here’s that video summary:
1) What are exercises for? – In short, in our prospectus we talk about the importance of training the voice to establish the functionally optimal ideal. All voices deviate from this ideal in multiple ways. The exercises we pick, we do so in such a way to negate and cancel out the incorrect tendencies in the voice. Exactly which exercises we pick and what they are seeking to solve really depend on the nature of the issue in the singers voice. That said, we are always aiming for that functional ideal in the singers voice.

All genres deviate from that perfect functional ideal, but there is a safe zone around that ideal that (provided you stay within it/close to that ideal), you should be fine for most genres you want to sing.

2) What do certain exercises do? – It is a little tricky to pin-point what ONE thing each exercise does, because they do MANY things. The example I cite in the video is that of pharmaceutical drugs. Certain antihistamines are actually used to treat a variety of different ailments, from treating histamine issues, to insomnia, to tremors in Parkinsons etc. Vocal exercises are the same, in that they don’t just do ONE thing each, they do multiple things. As such, there’s no SINGLE exercise that acts like a silver bullet solving all your vocal woes. Instead we have to move between them in a helpful way to progress towards establishing that functional ideal for your voice.

The flipside of drugs/exercises being used to treat different things is that they have side effects, e.g. if you use it to treat problem X, it’s others effects may trigger issues with problem Y. This only increases the challenge in prescribing the right exercise, for the right problem, for the right singer, for the right duration of time.

Epic voice fails – they happen to the best of us

Here is a terrifying example of what can happen to even the most well-trained,
talented and dedicated practitioner of singing.

The voice is an organic instrument, and as such it can misbehave.
When you hear this clip, know that this person would’ve spent years getting to the stage where they could deliver the sound before and after the epic fail,
but even then, stuff can go still go wrong. So go easy on yourself when you make those blood-curdling sounds… Lord knows I’ve made plenty of them myself!

A problem with trying to teach good singing using only vocal science

Reading time: 3 minutes

I had a coaching session last week, and the topic of vocal science came up. Now I am ALL for further understanding of science, but every time I come to new idea that’s presented in vocal science, I find there’s a key problem with using science as the starting point: how to apply that science helpfully in a singers voice.

What’s the point?

So what if you understand formants, musculature, laryngeal tilt, etc, if you can’t generate useful subjective application out of that science for a given singer (or even for yourself), what good is it? Continue reading “A problem with trying to teach good singing using only vocal science”