Shouting Masquerading As Singing: Reasons why so many singers are just yelling

Old man yells at cloud
Honestly, this article is not simply a case of “old man yells at cloud“…

It’s not simply a case of me staring into the middle distance and yearning for the “good ol’ days” – there is undoubtedly an epidemic of shouting masquerading as singing.

I was at an event recently where every single singer was just yelling their guts out. I’ve singers step away from the microphone to show how loudly they can bellow their lyrics. I’ve seen performers get gigs on not much more than them being louder than their peers.

But before we judge such singers too harshly…

… are there reasons behind why this is happening? I’m not advocating for justification or exoneration of those who do this, but seek to provide at least one plausible explanation for this trend. Continue reading “Shouting Masquerading As Singing: Reasons why so many singers are just yelling”

Learning to Riff: Why most people find it hard & why it can be easier than you think

I was having a conversation with a client recently about riffing: what it is, why it’s useful, and why it seems difficult to many.

For the ease of discussion let’s say that anything that extends the melody beyond the original for dramatic/musical effect is a ‘riff’, and that riffing is therefore the act of extending the melody in such a way.

I’d say that most singers want to get better at riffs/riffing, but that they find it hard to do. I’d also say that a lot of singers who think they are good at riffing are not as good as they think they are, and typically repeat the same old basic tricks over and over. But why is it hard to do? And could it be made easier?

The simple answer is yes, but there’s some important logic and understanding behind that answer. Let’s break it down. Continue reading “Learning to Riff: Why most people find it hard & why it can be easier than you think”

What most singing teachers get wrong about teaching voice, and reasons why

A lot of my voice clients have had past coaching, before ever starting with me. This is fairly normal.

Like with any subject worth learning, we start with someone accessible, then we move forward to coaches appropriate to our own improving level over time.

As I receive a lot of more serious and technically advancing clients who have moved through various coaches, I’ve been exposed to the good and bad attributes of such coaches.

In this article, I wanted to talk about the slightly contentious topic of: what (I think) a lot of voice coaches and singing teachers generally get wrong about teaching voice, and the reasons why. Continue reading “What most singing teachers get wrong about teaching voice, and reasons why”

Descriptive vs Prescriptive Teaching

We had a workshop yesterday, and one of the participants commented on how they had once been told by a singing teacher to “put the sound in *THIS* cavity” accompanied with a finger pointing to somewhere in the head. The main reason he brought this up was because of how unclear and confusing that language was, so I thought it was worth talking about descriptive vs prescriptive teaching.

Descriptive Singing Instructions

If you’ve ever had a singing lesson, or looked online for singing videos, there’s no way you’ll have escaped the weirdness of such instructions. “Put it in the masque”, “make it brighter”, “the sound should open downwards not outwards”, “sing from the diaphragm”, “don’t sing from the throat”, “gain strength from your knees”, and other such gems. At least one of these statements I’d even agree with, in the sense that I also feel this when I sing, so they’re not “wrong” per se, they’re just not helpful. Continue reading “Descriptive vs Prescriptive Teaching”

Do I have to sing in chest voice?

“I was wondering whether I HAVE to sing in chest voice? I feel like when it’s only chest voice it’s a bit monotone and lacking variation”

Many students ask or wonder this when they first start with the technique and approach that we utilise in lessons. Just for a bit of context, often these kinds of singers are capable in their originals or own artistry, but it’s important to note that such singers are relatively fledgling in their vocal development. Continue reading “Do I have to sing in chest voice?”

Why can’t I sing as high as I used to? a.k.a. How a voice can go downhill

“Why can’t I sing as high as I used to?”

THIS is a question I get asked a lot. I’ve extensively covered the effects of aging on the voice in this article I previously wrote, but in this article I want to use some actual examples of voices that are golden voices in their own genres, but that have perhaps gone on to find their voices have gone downhill compared to their golden years.

In each of these cases, I’d put this down to issues in their technique that maybe weren’t backbreaking at age 20, but at age 30, 40, 50 or older become back-breaking technical issues for each of them.

The Allure of Youth

Note: It’s always easier to sing high and sound fresh when you’re young. This isn’t the primary sign of vocal ability, it’s a hallmark of youth. The challenge lies in building one’s voice so it gets stronger and fuller as you get older rather than getting run into the ground through bad habits and poor technique.

This is especially problematic when singers acquire commercial acclaim based on an unsustainable sound. Let’s go through a few examples I think show this issue well: Continue reading “Why can’t I sing as high as I used to? a.k.a. How a voice can go downhill”