Voice pedagogy – has teaching become more about science than singing?

A question was asked relatively recently in a voice forum by someone who had picked up on recent trends for voice teachers to dive heavily into voice research as opposed to practical vocal development.

“Has voice pedagogy become study ABOUT the voice rather than how to TEACH singing?”

This is a fascinating question, and one I think about a lot. I posted the following response in the forum, and a number of people suggested I follow it up as an article on my site. Here are my thoughts in response to the above question:

In my opinion, I think there has been an excessive shift towards pure intellectual knowledge over practical application. More importantly, there has been a drift away from a more objective and concrete understanding/appreciation of what makes good singing. Having objective science seems to matter very little if there isn’t something objective to apply it to, i.e. what does good singing ACTUALLY sound like? Continue reading “Voice pedagogy – has teaching become more about science than singing?”

How to sing when recording?

I received an email this week asking about how to sing when recording. I’ve re-parsed the sentences in the email so that the questions flow for the purposes of this article.

“Hi Mark,

Do you have any articles [or advice] on how to sing when recording? I feel like my recorded voice sounds both harsh and dull.

I wonder whether I sing too forcefully to try and get emotional intensity. Do I need to improve my loud singing? Or is it about singing differently when recording?

When I listen to my favourite artists’ recordings they sound alive, intense and still have nice higher resonances going on. Would getting a mic that can deal with louder singing help with not losing the higher resonances?”

What can we do?

Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your vocal recordings. I happen to spend a lot of time recording and working on this stuff, so let’s dive into it… Continue reading “How to sing when recording?”

Different bridging strategies

To sing well, we must learn to move from chest voice into head voice and be able to dance back and forth without difficulty. To be even more precise, we must learn to transition across multiple passagio/bridges, and to tonally match the bottom to the top and vice versa.

Although there is a particular pathway to achieve this, the exact nuances of the bridging process as felt by each singer can be a little different. And even within those nuanced routes, there are different strategies that are employable by even the same singer to colour the sound in different ways, whilst still being within the realm of technically correct and aesthetically beautiful singing. Continue reading “Different bridging strategies”

Why are singers needing voice surgery?

Another voice coach shared this (older) article this week regarding singers needing voice surgery (embedded below), and a paragraph in the middle jumped out at me:

“Soul singer John Legend, 33, said he has grown mindful of the importance of looking after his voice.
“I’ve certainly been no stranger to having issues with my voice,” he said. “My first year performing was the worst year because I didn’t know how to pace myself, and once I started to understand how it worked, I started to pace myself better.”
Continue reading “Why are singers needing voice surgery?”

What is your musical diet? What are you consuming?

This week I want to ask you ‘what is your musical diet?’ A Youtube creator I follow called Rick Beato put this great video out last week on ‘Has every song been written?’ commenting on the fleet of lawsuits that artists are firing at each other over copying songs.

Now while he sets out to discuss the nature of this, it’s the last few minutes of the video (I’ve timestamped the video to start from this point) that I wanted to share with you. And that is in relation to musical diet

Continue reading “What is your musical diet? What are you consuming?”

Doobie Brothers / Michael McDonald – Minute by Minute

This week I’ve been enjoying some old classics by Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers.

Michael has been churning out hits for years, and is a singer that I wish more modern singers would emulate. What is particularly impressive is how well he delivers so many of his songs whilst simultaneously nailing quite tricky piano parts. While I find him a bit gruff from time to time, his vocals really are something special.

The rhythm and arrangement of the piano is especially interesting for songwriters, as it moves through multiple different keys, has some special modulations, and also directs the vocal line into some unusual places. A lot of songwriters around this time (like Michael McDonald) used this more rhythmic and harmonically sophisticated approach to create more complex songs. But through clever lyrics and melody, they made them very accessible rather than impenetrable.

Have a listen and enjoy!