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Rapid Vocal Results

Posts about Rapid Vocal Results

Perfect Pitch or Relative Pitch or close enough to it?

What is perfect pitch?

Absolute pitch (AP), widely referred to as perfect pitch, is a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone.

What is Relative Pitch?

Relative Pitch tells you how pitches relate to one another to create the language of music. Another way to explain this would be to say that you understand and can follow the distance between two or more pitches to understand how chords and melodies and harmonies are made.

While not every body is capable of developing Perfect pitch, 99% of a healthy population is capable of developing reliable Relative pitch. 

As a vocal coach. I often work with beginner and intermediate level singers, that experience noticeable difficulty in-regards to been able to sing in tune and stay on pitch.  These students have often been referred to incorrectly as tone deaf.

If you’ve read my previous blog’s you will already be familiar with my unique approach to developing a students voice . If the student is serious about fast tracking there vocal development. I always recommend that our first session spent together includes a full vocal diagnostic. This, Vocal Diagnostic Session includes a series of special exercises to determine which muscle co-ordinations are assisting there vocal production and serves to identify any unhealthy muscle behaviours or bad techniques that are preventing the voice from performing freely.  

Pitch problems are a serious issue for many singers, regardless of what’s causing it. No audience in there right mind will enjoy a performance where the artist repeatedly sings sharp or flat.

There can be many different reasons why students struggle to sing in key or correctly match pitch. This can include a variety of hearing disorders, and or  bad vocal technique, but more often than not the most common cause of pitch problems boils down to the singer simply not been familiar with the interval distance between the various notes of the scale or chord. 

Problems with pitch are very easy to diagnose, in fact any difficulties singing on pitch or maintaining correct pitch (especially in the most comfortable register closest to your natural speaking voice), immediately provides a good vocal coach, with a whole bunch of useful data and cues about what’s going on internally within the mechanics of the singer.

If you’ve ever played guitar you will know how challenging it can be to tune the guitar by ear (especially when you are tired). Most guitar players who tune there guitar by ear, would use a method like the one iam describing below.

Starting at the fifth fret on the sixth string (biggest E string assuming this string is in tune) they would fret the note which results in creating a reference or guide tone  to help them tune up the next open string below (A string). With a little bit of patience and gentle turning of the tuning pegs the goal is to match up the picked sound created on the fifth fret of the E string with the sound of the open A string.  The preceding string is in tune when the guide tone and the open A string vibrate in harmony creating the same frequency  or pitch. The correctly tuned A string is pleasing to the ear and resonates at a 110Hz. (since this blog is not about how to tune your  guitar but how to develop a better sense of vocal pitch for your voice lets get back on topic).

In my experience singers can become over reliant on using there ears to identify and follow along with guide tones.

What?

That’s right you understood me correctly. Put simply too many singers out there rely solely on there ears to determine if they are on singing on pitch. That’s not good for any singer because our ears can play tricks on us and the result is often a note that is sung flat or sharp and is instantly recognisable as been out of tune with the songs melody!

Singers who place an over reliance solely on there ears to determine pitch will find it especially difficult to sing in tune or on key in a noisy environment. As for example when there  on stage and panic will quickly set in when they realise they cant hear themselves properly to begin with!

How we hear and perceive our own voice requires its own full length blog. Watch this space.

Now the singer faces a real dilemma they are nervous to sing because they cant hear if there in tune with the band, this often results in singers experiencing stage fright, or over compensating by singing louder than there voice can maintain for the duration of the show in order to make themselves heard above the mix and this last scenario is a sure fire recipe for inducing  a bad case of excessive vocal strain. 

What’s the solution I hear you say? How do I develop perfect pitch or at least improve my sense of pitch to enable me to make it easier to sing in key in a noisy environment?

The answer is resonance. When you sing your body produces sympathetic resonance frequencies. 

IE. Low chesty notes when sung correctly will produce resonance which are felt as additional vibrations in the chest, (Thoracic cavity) your body functions very much the same way as a speaker cabinet dose. The initial sound of a speaker is made at the voice coil, the sound then gets amplified again over the surface of the cone, but the real amplification (extra volume is produced from the sound bouncing around inside the cabinet). Its a very simplified explanation of the similarities between the human voice and  the audio speaker, but you should get the general idea. 

Experienced singers understand how to tune in there awareness to recognise the resonant sounds the body produces when they are singing. The extra resonance that can be produced by the body is responsible for adding richness and warmth to every note you sing.

Since each note you sing is generated at its own unique frequency measured by the number of times per second the vocal chords or folds are required to vibrate to create a desired pitch ( Frequency of sound is measured in hertz).

Experienced singers learn to recognise the unique resonant vibration associated with each new pitch and create a library of basic resonant pitches they can use in a performance to help them as internal guide tones.

Now here’s the no BS part of today’s blog. Its not necessary to memorise every pitch and its unique resonating frequency that’s too hard and most singers personalities are way too easy going for that kind of hard work. 

The easier approach to developing Relative pitch is to memorise octave pitches and there corresponding resonating frequencies. Do this by singing a pitch and then tune in to the corresponding vibration (body resonance). Make a mental snap shot of what the resonant vibration feels like. Start at your lowest note in your speaking voice make an ahh sound and tune in to the vibrations you feel in your chest. Repeatedly sing this note over and over again until you learn to recognise correct pitch of the note by matching the desired note with the body’s resonating vibration. Then simply work your way up your range comfortably until you can sing the same note eight notes higher (that’s the octave). Once again tune into the sensation of the vibration your body makes when you sing this higher pitch on an ahh sound. Practice sliding between the two pitches ie C3 to C4 and learn to use the body resonance vibration as a back up to assist your ear in determining correct pitch.

Skip to the tip to improve pitch recongnition:

Here’s a great tip to help reduce the time it takes to tune into your bodies resonating frequencies. Grab a pair of ear muffs or ear plugs, or even cotton wool, or simply place a finger gently in each ear and sing or speak in your lowest comfortable chest voice. Notice how your body will produce vibrations across your chest starting at your lowest notes usually super low notes will produce a vibration in the pit of your stomach mid range chest notes are felt across the top of the chest. Higher notes whether sung or spoken will produce pleasent vibrations at the base of the neck, and behind the cheek bones.

The higher you sing the more the body resonance will be felt in the face, particulary behind the cheek bones, and moving into the forehead, really high notes produce vibrations at the top of our head (the crown) and even out the back of the head. Have fun experimenting with body resonance and using your bodys in built vocal tuner. 

Better singing everyone.

The million dollar question, that every new singer wrestles with

Hi everyone. If I had a dollar from every new singer that asked me the following question. I would be a very rich man!

“If I take singing lessons can you teach me to learn how to sing and sound like my favourite singer”?

Okay here’s the no “BS” answer to that question. 

Your ability to make sounds similar to your favourite singer is largely dependent on six crucial factors.

1. Vocal chords

Your vocal chords would need to be similar or the same approximate thickness and length as your idols vocal anatomy.

2. Physical similarities in muscle and anatomy structure.

Inside your head, throat, and thoracic cavity, (upper chest area). There are a million in one variations going on in regards to the size and shape of your resonant cavities.

What are resonant cavaties? (areas where the vibrations of sound are amplified and rich over tones, called (harmonics) are produced, these additional harmonic frequencies in the voice  among other things are responsible for creating the unique signature vocal tone of the artist.

The uniqueness of the sounds produced by your favourite singer, depend largely on how thick there vocal chords are to begin with. When a singer is born and blessed with above average thickness and vocal chord length (longer vocal chords than the average person) they are said to be natural singers. Your vocal range is dependent on how efficiently your vocal chords can thin down to reach the higher notes while also maintaining enough thickness in the chord to produce a pleasing vocal tone. Lots of people, can thin there vocal chords down at the expense of the audience to produce awfully high shrill sounds that are on pitch, but the vocal chords have thinned out so much (because they lack the required natural mass) to make these notes usable in a singers range. No audience wants to sit through shrill thin high notes that lack musicality! Would you?

3. The resonance cavities inside our skulls, and upper chest, vary greatly in size.

Put simply the bigger the body parts (usually) means the bigger the accompanying resonant cavities will be.

Singers that are born with a wider face and squarish jaw lines will naturally have much bigger resonance cavities to work with compared to a singer that is born with a narrow face and or a underdeveloped jaw line. This also means that a singer with a wider jaw and  larger face will naturally have a bigger resonance area to play with in the back of there throats. These types of singers will naturally produce distortion sounds more easily than their narrow faced countreparts.

* (look out for an upcomming post on how to create safe healthy distortion).

4. Diameter of the wind pipe.  

Singers like Sebastian Bach, or Brian Johnston from ACDC or Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, are likely to have been blessed with a wider than average windpipe, this provides these type of singers with added volume, and additional options in regards to making it easy to produce rumbling chest distortion sounds with minum thought and effort. In essence the wider the wind pipe the easier it is to create the right type of air compression bubbling up between the chords to produce distorted sounds and the safe kind of chord compression needed for healthy heavy metal screams!

5. Power house singers are usually under five ten for men and five feet five inches for women in height, is this just a coincidence?

The answer is no, power house singers are created through favourable anatomy design. Shorter singers under six foot are born with naturally shorter tendons and muscles and ligaments. These shorter thicker tendons and ligaments provide an immediate benefit for handling higher levels of physical resistance and improves the persons ability to perform physical exercises and activities that require more body strength to really excel in performance.  The taller person has thinner tendons and ligaments and muscle tissue because the muscle has a greater surface area to stretch and attach to the bodies skeleton.

*(Singers like Sebastian Bach are an anommaly in regards to his height, he has a shorter neck and thicker wider throat when compared to most people of similar height).

How do shorter tendons and ligaments benefit a singer?

If your born with above average thickness in size and length of the vocal chords, the next part of the equation is to develop the conditioning and strength for the tendons ligaments and cartilages that are responsible for anchoring the larynx these I refer to as the “micro muscle groups”.

The micro muscle groups are the tiny muscle groups that are really responsible for producing pitch, range and volume. 

The benefits of having shorter tendons ligaments and muscles should be self explanatory? They are literally thicker, and can handle greater levels of initial tension, for longer periods of time, with out displaying signs of fatigue. This is very important because these micro muscle groups are literally responsible, for anchoring the larynx and reducing all the unwanted excess muscle tension in and around the throat. This then allows the larynx to correctly tilt forward  (often referred to as a laryngeal tilt) on its base and lengthen out and thin down to stretch the vocal chord to produce higher notes in our vocal registers. 

The higher you sing or scream for that matter the more tension the micro muscles need to handle to anchor the voice and allow the laryngeal tilt to continue unimpeded. Hence singers with naturally thicker and longer vocal chords can stretch further and maintain enough mass to make these sounds musical and pleasing to the audiences ear.

6. Vocal technique

It doesn’t matter how big or small your vocal chords are if you don’t know how to use them               safely and correctly your voice will never reach it’s true potential! I’ve seen plenty of naturally gifted singers struggle with bad technique. I’ve witnessed some exceptional singing performances from singers that weren’t blessed with big vocal chords, but simply work harder at strengthening up the micro muscles to compensate and over come their genetic short comings. 

Okay so some of you reading this blog post are feeling pretty good about now. Because your identifying that you have been born with some or all of the traits that naturally completent producing a strong singing voice (Healthy singers DNA).

Some of you are reading this article and are feeling that sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach because you’ve identified that you lack the natural strength or size required in these singing muscles to produce the sounds you want to make?

The good news is that with some notable exceptions. Most people born with average size vocal chords or under average sized vocal chords can learn to isolate and strengthen up the micro muscle groups that are responsible for correctly producing your singing voice. To learn whether your voice is going to take a little or a lot of work to realise your singing goals I highly recommend finding a vocal coach that offers a full vocal diagnostic service. 

I recommend that every student should invest in a vocal diagnostic session prior to commencing singing lessons. This way they will obtain a clear understanding, about how much work and effort it will require to reach their own individual vocal development goals.

There are plenty of vocal coaches out there that are just in it for the money and will tell you what ever you want to hear. As long as you can afford there services. I reckon this approach stinks! 

At Rapid Vocal Results. I pledge to always give you a no “BS” frank appraisal on your vocal genetics. My goal is to tell it, like it is! I want to help as many singers as I possibly can to reach their vocal goals and realise their

music career aspirations!

Better singing everyone.

To shout or not to shout that is the question (Part 1) Vocal strain /over use

Hi everyone, as a vocal coach, I often receive email inquiries from all kinds of singers and business professionals, wanting to ask me questions about the most common vocal disorders that can affect a singer, or a public speakers vocal health.  

Welcome to the first blog article in a series i will be writting that will help you to understand what are the most common vocal disorders and how to prevent them, and in doing so how to reduce the risk of doing permanent damage to your vocal chords. As usual this is a no BS discussion no punches pulled in delivering you the facts.

Vocal strain or over use is fairly common. If youve ever been to a busy night club, or pub and had to raise your voice and really shout to be heard over the other patrons, or a band. Then you know how easy it is to strain your voice with out even realising it.

In fact in as little as 20- minutes to an hour of excessive over use the voice will begin to exhibit tell tale signs of vocal wear and fatigue. Unfortunately most people tend to ignore these early warning signs and pay the price the next day.

Lets run through three more common scenarios for singers and non singers where excessive missuse of the vocal chords can occur.

Singers: 

Whether your an accomplished singer or just starting off on your rock n roll journey.

Too many singers incorrectly rely on excessive volume or yelling as a tool to reach that next note just out side there natural range.

The problem is quickly compounded when your singing and trying to compete to be heard over your band mates! Singing quickly transforms into yelling and the poor voice suffers as a result.

The popularity and increase of agressive heavy metal vocal styles, is an obvious platform for excessive missuse of the voice. Too many young singers are taking advice from unqualified peers and over night “metal scream gurus” who encourage and promote unsafe methods for screaming.

These singers can do serious irreparable damage to there vocal chords in a very short period of time.

Professional business people:

If your a big sports fan and you go to the game and the referee makes a call you dont agree with then the odds are pretty good that your going to end up shouting and voicing your displeasure at the referee, am I right? Or if the game is a close one you end up shouting yourself hoarse along with the crowd cheering on your home town team to secure a well deserved victory.

But what happens the next morning when you go to use your voice? Depending on how badly you strained your voice you might find that your voice sounds deeper than normal, or for some people they might sound unnaturally husky or hoarse. 

Whats going on inside the voice box when we missuse the voice ?

What are vocal chords?

The vocal cords are two bands of elastic muscle tissue. They are located side by side in the voice box (larynx) just above the windpipe (trachea). Like other muscle tissues in the body, vocal cords can be strained and damaged. Vocal cords can also be subject to infections, tumors and trauma.

Aggressive shouting and yelling at the top of your lungs has a traumatic effect on the vocal chords. Essentially the vocal chords are been violently banged around and blasted with excessive amounts of escaping air. The air comes up from the lungs, and escapes through the wind pipe (trachea). and exits past the vocal chords. In the process the excess air that escapes past the chords acts as a kind of hot air dryer. It drys the chords and removes the protective layer of moisture that the vocal cords rely on to maintain there healthy condition. 

Aggressive yelling and screaming passes more unwanted air over the vocal chords and drys them out very quickly. The result is that your vocal chords have now lost there protective coating that naturally reduces friction as the chords rub together or (technically open and close against each other to form sounds and spoken words).

To gain a better understanding of whats going on in your voice box when you yell or agressively overuse your voice for an extended amount of time.

Try this exercise for twenty seconds: 

Repeatedly clap your hands together for ten seconds, apply enough force untill the palms of your hands begin to tingle. Then firmly rub the palms of your hands together for another ten seconds, or until enough time has passed to create an uncomfortable friction between the two surfaces of your hands.

Okay you can stop now!

Uncomfortable isnt it? do you notice a slight sensation of tingling on your skin?  Essentially that brief violent action is all that was needed to remove the protective oils from the skin on the palm of your hands, once the protective oils are removed if you continue to apply friction against the skin you will end up with an abrasion or worse a weeping blister.

The vocal chords are very similar once you remove the protective layer of moisture from the chords. The vocal chords begin to rub against each other like sand paper. This results in trauma along the edge of the vocal chords  also referred to as your (vocal folds). When the protective layer of moisture is removed from the vocal chords the build up of unwanted friction heats up the vocal chords (much like an over driven stereo speaker thats hot to touch). The chords arent able to cool themselves down or reduce the effects of the heat generated by the excessive friction and they begin to swell up.

The Vocal chords ability to produce a desired pitch requires a symetrical meeting at the edge of the chords to form a momentary bubble or seal. When the chords are swollen they cant close properly to create these momentary (split second seals) and the resulting air that leaks between the chords can sound like a whistle tone or a hoarse airy note.

Its worth noting that the chords actually come together to approximate the beginning of a pitch (they never actually touch) if they touch the chords would be completely closed and no sound would come out). Unstructured Yelling or shouting is very diffrent compared to the way that a singer would safely approach making an agressive gritty sound or vocal scream, a correctly trained singer understands how to safely thin the air that passes between the vocal chords and safely apply correct amounts of compresion against the chords to produce gritty distorted sounds with out damaging the vocal chords. 

If youve been doing a lot of shouting and or incorrectly yell to try and sing high notes.

The first and second signs to look out for to prevent excessive vocal strain is when your voice begins to go dry and you may experience the urge to cough or a tickle in the back of your throat, the third sign is much more obvious, the voice sounds thinner than normal and it can sound like youve sucked on some bad helium. 

For most people its no big deal, they just rest there voice up for a few days and eventually the vocal chords settle down and resume there normal shape and thickness.

But if your a singer or you rely on your voice to earn you a living, sales people, professional speakers etc. Excessive vocal strain can cost you a gig or prevent you from an earning a living.

Depending on the extent of the vocal strain treatment varies.

Ideally swollen and and bruised muscle tissue repair require lots of sleep and rest. 

There is no magic wand cure for excessive vocal trauma.

When rest isnt an option and the show must go on.

Try inhaling steaming in the shower or safely boil a pot of water pour it into a bowl and cover the bowl and your head with a towel. While you and the bowl are underneath the towel slowly inhale the steam deeply in through the nose out through the mouth. Note do not speak for at least an hour after steaming your chords under no circumstances is it recomended or safe for you to  yell or try and sing your high notes! The steam is effectively helping the vocal chords to rehydrate and replace the protective moisture layer, inhaling steam also helps the chords to reduce the swelling and trauma to the muscle tissues. (make sure you dont burn yourself) The boiling point of water is100 degrees Celsius. The better option is to shop around and buy your self a proper steamer from the chemist one that has a built in thermostat to regulate a safe operating temperature for inhalation use.

Drink plenty of water, avoid any and all pharmacy lozaanges that contain alcahol or chemical agents that will dry out the voice.

Try making your self a liquiorice tea, add some natural organic honey.

Avoid any and all forms of smoking until the voice is fully recovered.

The perils of smoking and the damage that it can render to our vocal chords deserves its own blog.

Caffeine is a natural diretic put simply it will make you pee more often and leech the h2o (water) out of your system.

Avoid all spices especially hot spices!

Once the voice has recovered 2-3 hours later after steaming try sucking on little bits of ice. To further reduce the swelling in the chords.

Age also plays a big part in determining how fast your vocal chords will recover from the trauma of excessive miss use. The older you get the longer it takes the vocal chords to recover and heal up  and return to there original healthy state.

That means if your in your early teens and screaming it out on the weekend, by Monday providing you got enough sleep your vocal chords should be on the mend and almost back to normal. Mid twentys the vocal chords may take three or four days to heal up. In your Thirties four or five days to a week. Forties, fiftties etc the same kind of vocal trauma can take an older singer weeks to recover the full use of there voice.

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However if the vocal trauma has created little bleeds on the vocal chords, or ruptures or tears in the chord thats a diffrent story all together. Depending on the severity of the damage the vocal chords can end up been scarred for life and require surgery to repair. In all most all cases requiring vocal  surgery most surgeons will agree that there will be some percentage of permanent impairment to the vocal chords operational effiency that will affect tone and vocal range.

Again I say prevention is much better than the the method of remedy! So think twice before you yell at the top of your lungs especially if you rely on your voice to make your living.

Better singing everyone.

What age should my child begin singing lessons?

As a vocal coach I often receive inquiries from parents wanting to know what age their child should be before they start taking singing or vocal lessons?

As you can imagine this is a bit of a contentious subject at the best of times. Some singing tutors are more concerned with securing additional revenue, rather than actually looking after there young students welfare.

Here’s my two cents on the subject. I have been working as a singer performer and vocal coach for over twenty years now and this is the advice that I provide for parents who believe there child is going to be the next Mariah Carey or Justin Beiber.

Kids can learn to sing at any age, providing they are old enough to have developed the physical motor skills for singing. They also need to be able to have an attention span for at least thirty seconds at a time. Also its really helpful if they actually want to be a singer when they grow up.

The parent should always be welcome to observe the lesson, and to have a good understanding of what their child’s vocal home work is and even how to perform the exercises in a simplified format.

I normally recommend that parents wait until there child is at least 8-10 years of age before commencing any kind of structured voice coaching.

If your child is serious about been a singer and wants to develop there voice to its full DNA genetic potential (see my previous posts for more information on the role that DNA genetics has in pre-determining maximum vocal growth potential). I recommend 15-16 years old is a good age to embark on vocal strengthening and conditioning programmes for the voice.

There are still some key factors to take into consideration primarily, regarding the changes going on in the voice box, but a good vocal coach will understand how to gradually build up the intensity of the programmes to a safe manageable level to  produce rapid vocal results, while also continuing to safe guard the students voice from potential harm.

The earlier your child receives quality vocal coaching, mentoring and guidance, the sooner they can develop the correct techniques to properly support the development of their singing voice. The key benefit of early singing development is to reduce the time it takes to encourage the correct vocal muscle cordinations. By learning to develop the correct singing habits at an early age these singers can more easily avoid the pit falls associated with unhealthy singing habits that can form later on. 

But back to the subject at hand.

Children’s voices literally continue to grow and develop right up to the age of twenty. During this time the actual voice box will grow in size and so will the vocal chords, and the tendons and the ligaments and cartilages that make up their individual vocal anatomy.

Its important for the vocal coach, to have a thorough understanding of the safe way to develop a child’s singing voice, due to the very fragile nature of their vocal chords (children’s vocal chords, are small,  extremely thin  but very flexible from 3-12 years old) and  grow much thicker as they grow older and naturally retain flexability up to mid twenties). Children naturally experience large growth spurts through puberty and through out there teen age years. During these early years we want to avoid placing too greater strain on the developing chords and the vocal mechanisims that make up the voice!

This means that a good knowledgeable vocal coach, understands the importance of introducing vocal exercises that focus more on flexibility *during the formative years of a childs physical development) and encourages relaxed open released singing practices, rather than trying to race too early into vocal strengthening exercises. 

Yes I have heard of instances where young children have damaged their vocal chords because the voice coach was inexperienced and was encouraging his/ her young charges to use adult vocal strengthening programs.

The most important goal of any vocal lesson regardless of the age of the student is to have fun, and gain an increased confidence with there voice so singing becomes easier, adopting this approach is a sure fire recipe for achieving rapid vocal results! The #1 responsibility of the vocal coach is to safely grow the voice of the singer, at a pace that matches the singers own genetic potential for their unique vocal muscle growth and development!

Better singing everyone.

The number one myth and misunderstanding about singing

Hi everyone, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Regardless of your level of singing experience whether you regulary perform on stage or have yet to sing in front of an audience. Singers can get tricked into falling into the trap of pushing too much air past the vocal chords when they sing or scream.

“If you want to sing higher or louder you need to push more air through the vocal chords” Right?

Wrong !

Actually its the opposite the higher we want to sing or scream, the more we need to find the correct technique for holding back the excessive unwanted air pressure so that the vocal chords are able to thin out and comfortably stretch to reach higher notes within our voice. 

Singers that pass unwanted excessive air past the vocal chords actually dry the vocal chords out very quickly and the additional excessive air pressure robs the vocal chords of there natural flexability, resulting in a voice that cracks or breaks into fallsetto, or you end up straining your chest voice because the vocal chords are forced to sing in a higher register than usual, using the wrong vocal set up.

How do you know if your passing excess air over your vocal chords, and thereby robbing your voice of additional available vocal range and power? 

Try this simple exercise using a comfortable singing note close to your speaking voice simply sing and hold the note for as long as you can, aim for 10-30 seconds.  Vocalise on a simple ahh sound (just like you would make if a doctor asked you to open your mouth for an examination).

Now listen to your voice dose the note your singing sound rich and warm or can you hear a lot of excess air passing over the chords? If your voice sounds weak or overly breathy its a sure bet that your letting too much air escape between your vocal chords when you sing.

Okay so my voice is breathy why should i reduce the amount of air that escapes through my chords when i sing? 

Excess air is the natural enemy of tone and prevents you from increasing your vocal range (ie singing higher requires flexible vocal chords). Excess air escaping past the chords is often the cause of crackly notes and vocal breaks, and will fatigue the voice very quickly.

Which leads me to my next point if we know its bad for us why do we continue to push excess air past the vocal chords and end up with a breathy weak tone or cracks in our vocal register?

Believe it or not your brain gets confused sometimes when we are singing, and often sends us the wrong message it dosent mean to sabatage us on purpose. Singing requires a great deal of muscular strength and correct body support and multiple vocal co-ordinations when these areas are working in harmony we produce a balanced voice. There are parts of the throat/ neck/ and upper body that we want to remain relaxed while we sing, and smaller micro muscles groups that we want to switch on to take up the strain and correctly create our singers support system. 

When the wrong parts ( major muscle body groups) are used incorrectly to support your singing the excessive tension these muscles produce have a detrimental effect on our singing voice. Essentially excessive muscular force creates resistance at the vocal chords, the voice then responds by pushing back just as hard in the opposite direction. As a result the vocal chords and voice mechanisim resist and stiffen up. The laranyx is no longer able to operate freely. As  singers we will feel greater levels of resistance at the vocal chords and it becomes more difficult for the vocal chords to stretch freely to reach the next note.Now suddenly, the brain gets confused and wants to help us overcome this additional vocal resistance. So the brain sends a message to the lungs that more air is needed to overcome the stiffness of the vocal chords. 

But the more air we pass over the vocal chords the more the vocal chords will stiffen up and resist the barrage of unwanted air. This produces unhealthy excessive tension on the vocal chords, legaments, and cartlidges that make up our vocal anatomy. In short singing this way for sustained periods of time is a sure recipe to damage the voice.

Okay so what can i do to help me thin the air that passes between my vocal chords and develop a much healthier way of singing?

Firstly understand anytime that your brain tells you to push to sing higher or strain to get more volume… What your brain actually meant to say, is  to release, let go of excessive tension on the voice, and relax the muscles in and around the throat so that your laranyx can move freely and operate smoothly.

To help you retrain your voice and resist the urge to push excess air past the chords sing at lower volumes initially to help encourage the release of unwanted muscular tension in the neck and throat. If you have to sing louder in order to sing higher then you are placing to much strain on your vocal chords and letting way to much air escape between your vocal folds.

If youve been singing at the top of your lungs for years, (belting) which means relying on the chest voice almost exclusively to reach your high notes. Or you can only reach your high notes at full volume and really strain to hit the top notes in a song. Its going to take time to retrain and balance your voice. Working with a vocal coach that really understands how to create the correct singing support system to reduce unwanted vocal tension can really help save your voice from a lifetime of over use. Learning how to thin the air when you sing will help you extend your range and improve your singing power.

Better singing everyone.

Why should I sing scales?

Hello everyone. Singers often roll there eyes at me when i give them scale exercises to sing for home work. In fact most singers regardless of whether they are a beginner or advanced or anywhere in between seem to have an aversion to spending their practise time singing scales, usually they prefer to sing songs by there favourite artists or there own original material.

Singing scales is boring they say or its just not very sexy! Without exception when i explain to my students the mutiple benefits they gain vocally from singing their scales, suddenly scales become a staple part of their vocal practise routine.

Let me explain singing is a highly muscular activity it requires a great deal of physical coordination, and strength, and vocal flexability to be able to sing higher or lower than your comfortable speaking voice.

Regualry Vocalising scale exercises, is the equivilant of taking your vocal chords and the micro muscle groups that are really responsible, for creating your, pitch and volume, and tone to the gym, and giving them a well balanced workout (hence forth we will refer to these types of vocal exercises as your Vocal Gym).

Scales are a great way to work the full length of the vocal chord, gradually increasing the chords flexability to safely stretch and conditioning the chord to hold higher amounts of exertion ( desired tension) on the vocal chord to sing higher notes. Most singers start vocal training to learn how to extend their range to sing higher.  The higher you sing the stronger your low notes need to be to anchor your voice. Its important to build equal strength in your lower register to provide the voice with the strength and support it needs to thin down at the chords and reach your high notes.

Scales should allways start on a pitch that is closest to your comfortable speaking voice, and gradually raise (ascend) the scale each note will be higher than the last. Advanced scales can cover anywhere from 1 to 3 octaves per pattern. Typically I introduce my singers to a graduated programme where they might start on a five note scale ascending and descending exercise and as their voice develops the scales become more challenging and include multiple registers within the voice.

As you sing higher in effect you are increasing the resistance on the vocal chords (Very much like adding more weight to the bar on the bench press) Hence our Vocal Gym analogy!

Just like you do in any other form of resistance training as you get stronger you add more weight to create more resistance against the muscle to encourage it to grow stronger. Put simply the voice is a muscle (actually made up of smaller micro muscle groups, including vocal cords, tendons, legaments and cartlidges) that are responsible for creating, pitch, volume, tone etc. These micro muscle groups are tricky to work out vocalising on scales helps us to cover every note within our range and provides us with an ability to target challenge areas ie breaks or cracks in the voice, or helps you to strengthen up the bridges in our voice ( the areas where our voice transitions in tone and moves between chest voice into head voice and in higher registers into mixed voice or reinforced fallsetto for screaming. Scales are the most effective way to strengthen the inbetween notes (the bridge areas and rapidly improve your vocal strength and range overall).

Summarised heres the list of benefits you get from regualry vocalising over scales. let me know if ive missed anything?

1. Ear training

2. Strengthening and resistance training for the vocal chords

3. Increased Flexability for vocal chords

4. Strengthening diaphragmatic muscles for correct breathing support

5. Vocal muscle growth -through gradually increasing the resistance applied to our vocal chords and micro muscles the chords will grow bigger and be able to handle increased volumes of vibration and higher pitches.

6. Improves our ability as singers to create and improvise vocal runs etc.

7.Improves our rythym and our ability to take quick breaths in between tricky vocal lines.

I could go on but i think youve got the idea…. so how do you feel about including scales as part of your vocal routine now?

In a future blog, we will spend time talking about how to create a balanced vocal exercise routine… but for now a good rule of thumb is to warm up and spend half your session vocalising on scales and spend the other half of the session singing along to backing tracks or to the radio etc. Always remember not to sing higher than you can safely and comfortably. If you feel pain or discomfort in the throat often a tickle in the throat stop and lower your pitch and your volume.

Can anybody learn to sing?

Hi everyone welcome to the Rapid Vocal Results blog page. Here you will find great ideas and tips to both improve your understanding of how the voice really works and of course how to reduce the time it takes to develop your performing voice.

Now I have to warn you in advance this is a no BS zone. So i will be telling you like it really is in an effort to cut through all the myths and misunderstandings out there about what good singing is, and what you can do to reduce the time it takes to grow your singing voice.

As this is the very first blog. I thought we should start at the very beginning and address the first question that people have about singing. Which is …. can anyone really learn to sing. 

The answer is yes everyone can learn to improve there vocal abilities but not every voice is capable of matching their favourite artists high notes or power notes. 

Confused?

Let me explain. Your maximum vocal potential is decided at birth through the combination of your Mum and Dads DNA I.E (the genetic traits that are responsible for deciding hair colour, body shape) etc. 

Often singers are performing far below their own genetic potential but thats another blog.

How dose my families DNA affect my voice?

Famous singers, Beyonce, Whitney Houston , James Brown, Alex Rose, Steven Tyler etc all have one thing in common they have vocal chords that are naturally thicker and longer than the average person. This would have made their vocal progress and development a lot easier! In fact when you see your favourite star hitting their higher notes the reason they make it look so easy comes down to the enormous strength they have developed in their singing muscles.

Heres a quick lesson on vocal anatomy and the mechanics of how the voice works.

A singers range and the strength of there voice is determined by the vocal chords ability to stretch out and to thin down. Put simply the higher you want to sing the more the vocal chords need to be able stretch and thin down to make the desired pitch. Singers that are born with thicker vocal chords than the average person have an immediate advantage in been able to sing higher and stronger. Because the vocal chords have more to work with as they thin down and retain quality sound.

We will cover the mechanics of singing in more detail in latter posts and this will also include the role of  the various tendons and ligaments and cartilages that work together to anchor the voice , which the vocal chords rely on to remain stable as they thin down to reach higher notes. 

But back to the topic at hand. The first step in learning to sing is to have a vocal coach diagnose your voice and determine the size and the thickness, and the length of your vocal chords. They can do this with special singing exercises and immediately they should be able to tell you whether your vocal chords are smaller or larger than average and whether the chords them selves are thicker or thinner than average. The thinner your vocal chords are the more you will have to work to develop the muscular strength, conditioning and flexibility to sing higher or lower than your comfortable speaking voice.

The diagnostic session is invaluable to the student and the coach because every bodies voice is different there are no two vocal chords and vocal anatomies that are exactly the same. In this instance a coaches job is to understand and diagnose the voice of their students and design a custom made programme to help them balance the various areas of there voice and gradually condition and strengthen the vocal chords to be able to operate under greater levels of healthy exertion at the chords. Everyone can learn to sing and improve there vocal abilities, the coaches job is to help each singer understand their genetic vocal potential and design a customised programme to help each singer reach their full genetic potential. This programme should also include exercises to discover their own unique singing voice. After all it would be a boring world if everybody sounded the same as there favourite singer wouldn’t it?