Finding your sound

We had a wonderful voice intensive event yesterday, with some lovely singers focused on developing and improving their voices.

One of the many great questions/ponderings that was raised was around the challenge of “trying to find my own sound“.

Finding your sound

It’s an all too common experience for singers – both for singers who are just starting out as well as for more experienced singers – to go on a mammoth journey trying on different vocal “fashions” in repeated attempts to find “their sound“. A singer will try singing this way, or that way; they’ll try singing like singer X or singer Y; singing with more air, with less air; more volume here, less volume there; etc.

Those who then go read online singing forums or scour Youtube for singing self-help and how-to videos then discover smaller degrees of control advised by many online personalities, e.g. try singing by raising your larynx, or by lowering their larynx, by attempting to have more or less vocal fold adduction, more or less nasal resonance, stick your tongue out, pull your tongue back, etc. — NOTE: If you’re confused or bewildered by these ideas, I’m not surprised! I am NOT advocating you go and try any of these confusing ideas, just keep reading.

If you’re reading this article, you likely relate to the above experiences, and may still be going through this mammoth journey trying to “find your sound“. Continue reading “Finding your sound”

Singers: The difference between Vocalists and Performers

The thing with being a voice coach and spending almost the entirety of every day immersed in voice, is that your ear gets exposed to so much music being made by many different kinds of people. Time and the experience that comes therewith is the great educator in this regard. Things that seemed so exciting and interesting when you first start rapidly expose themselves to be a novelty. Things that maybe seemed a bit boring actually start to reveal a deeper nuance that I just wasn’t experienced to hear in the first instance. Glacially speaking, your ear starts to pick out subtleties and seeking out depth of quality in a way that isn’t possible just as a casual enthusiast.

So when people ask me…

“What do you think of THAT singer?”

… that’s really quite an enormous question. I’m not just hearing their voice or their music, I’m taking in a wide variety of different factors, whilst also trying to ignore factors that should not be relevant for the purposes of assessing a voice. We as humans are far too swayed by psychological factors that skew our judgment. Continue reading “Singers: The difference between Vocalists and Performers”

Looking to others for inspiration, without holding yourself to their standards

One of the most psychologically debilitating things any person can encounter is that feeling that they are “not good enough”. In particular, with the social media and news of today making it all too easy to be bombarded with the “best” people in the world at a given skill/job, and people constantly posting about how great they are doing, it’s fairly commonplace to then feel permanently inadequate compared to those people.

When we feel inadequate

For singers who just love to sing out a little, maybe this arises from seeing someone else getting more applause or recognition than you feel you did at the local open mic, karaoke, friends gathered round a piano, singing group or choir, etc, or just feeling like you don’t sound the way “Singer X” does. For artists, this might involve us seeing one person getting signed to a label, a top flight artist filling an arena, another having a successful album launch, while we feel we are still battling even recording a single song we like. And for all of us, when working on our repertoire, we might feel like we’re beating our head off a brick wall getting a song under our belt, whereas someone else seems to be nailing it every single time. Continue reading “Looking to others for inspiration, without holding yourself to their standards”

Ability, Capacity, and Efficiency

Very quick thought today, with the intent of helping you to think a bit more critically and with neutrality about your singing.

Believing the wrong thing

Many people convince themselves that they can or cannot do something based on incorrect or incomplete information. For example, just because you can squeeze out (say) a particular note in a song with a good run up and a following wind behind you does NOT necessarily equate to having the ability to hit that note. Similarly, if you find you can do something (say) during a lesson in exercises without issue but then coming to a song it doesn’t carry over, this doesn’t mean you lack the ability to do that specific thing – if you can do it once, you can do it twice, thrice, and repeatedly… what you lack is the capacity to repeat it in a more demanding context.

What I’m trying to point out is that there is a difference between ability, and capacity. Continue reading “Ability, Capacity, and Efficiency”

The Two-Factor Model in Strength Training, and the Voice

I was doing some reading about strength training the other day, and came across this excellent article about the Two-Factor Model in the world of strength training. As I was reading it, it struck me how similar this model was to the philosophy we have in our voice coaching system, and also how we effectively build a voice. It’s relatively straightforward in principle, but the outworkings are profound. Let’s have a look at the two-factor model. Continue reading “The Two-Factor Model in Strength Training, and the Voice”

Bad Voice Day?

This is something that every singer can relate to. Whether it’s legitimate illness, or hayfever, bad night sleep, excess revelry the night before, or something else entirely, we have ALL suffered from bad voice days. Worse still, we are all going to continue to experience bad voice days in the future. With that in mind, consider the following: Continue reading “Bad Voice Day?”