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Any other singers here?

Started by oldfolkie, April 16, 2005, 03:08:59 pm

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oldfolkie

I\'ve been taking lessons from a voice coach for several years now, and am interested in trading stories and hints with anyone else trying to improve on their voice production.

I know most people around here are instrumentalists, but there are surely a few other vocalists?

To get the ball rolling, my teacher suggested I read Renee Fleming\'s "The Inner Voice". Now, I\'m not an operatic singer, nor do I want to be  ::) but the fundamentals of voice production apply across the board, and she has some really interesting hints for visualizing tones and voice maintenance, among other things. Anyone else read this book yet?
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. ~  R.A. Heinlein

sngwthme

I would think you were trying to coax me out of the shadows, where I have been of late.
Hee Hee  ;D

Congratulations on taking the step and singing first of all. Not many come out of the shower. Not mentioning any names cough, GKG, cough. haahaaa  :-*

I have been singing before I could speak. It is a gene I would proudly wear on my lapel if I were able. This being handed down from my grandpa, who on countless get togethers and no occasions at all, would set up his reel to reel and play the guitars and sing. I think there is a reel somewhere of my first recording of "you are my sunshine"........ memory lane... sorry off track... I have not had vocal instruction other then that of 4 years in high school choir (15 yrs ago) and practicing every Carpenters song I could lay my hands on since they emerged and still do so today. Although I had the best choral instructor on the planet those four years, I never wanted to have one on one "professional" vocal coaching. In that time most instructors were only teaching opera vocal styles and for me, you know I was going to be the next Debbie Gibson and all, that wasn\'t an option.  ;D  What really distracted me from it was that I had a best girlfriend who had the most amazing voice. She began vocal lessons with one of the top vocal instructors at UNLV at the time, but after a few months I couldn\'t stand listening to her sing, but not only that, when she tried to sing anything other then Opera, it was not very good. Her freestyle was gone. I am extremely found of the opera, believe me, but this ruined her voice. Now you would think that I am against instruction, at that time, following that example, yeah. But a few years following, it was no longer the case. I was shown an example, well two actually of the other side of it. One being Sebastian Bach. No not the composer, the singer from Skid Row. His voice is amazing. He hit all those high notes and carried them like it was nothing and that was because he did it correctly via classical vocal training but kept it rock-n-roll style. (Did anyone see him in Jesus Christ Superstar?  He completely blew everyone away.)   The Other, Jeff Tate, Queensryche. To this day remains someone I admire deeply for his classically trained rock-n-roll voice. So it's all in how you learn it, practice it and incorporate it in your own style. And that is what its all about.
I practice singing everyday. In some form or another. Whether it's serious to continue my growth vocally or jokingly, which I do daily at work to torture my co-workers. The fundamentals, doing it correctly are what is important. Whether you have a coach or are learning on your own or came out of the womb singing, there is always something to learn every time you open up and breath.

Renee Fleming is not currently spinning on my CD player, but I sincerely admire her abilities and think that her book would be something I would enjoy and learn from. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. My nose is currently in three books right now so it will have to wait but I would be very interested to hear more about your opinion of it as you make your way through it.

oldfolkie

Oh goody, another singing junkie!  ;D I\'ve been singing since forever too.

I\'m just this minute packing for a business trip but will get back to you again next weekend. Maybe we can coax some others out from the woodwork too cough*gkg*cough...

For now, I\'ll just say that I am so with you on the incorporation of fundamentals without compromising style. Folk & opera really don\'t mix well. But it\'s necessary to get the basic training in breath control & support in order to make life easier on your vocal cords, no matter what you sing.

I\'m not an opera fan, but I admire certain singers and certain material. And operatic singers sure know how the thing is done!

More later, you can count on it!
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. ~  R.A. Heinlein

spencer

I\'d really like to be able to sing.  I used to be able to sing, but that didn\'t last past my last year of middle school.  

I miss my pipes  :\'(

the_fawnky_fangerz

I\'m a wannabe singer/songwriter. My biggest hurdle has always been, and still is, the fact that I hate the sound of my own voice. I am very much a perfectionist, and I am seldom actually satisfied with my work. In fact, usually, I hate everything that I do. In the last year though, I have really tried to ease up on the self-scorning, and just kind of cut loose some. My family is very musical as well, my mother and grandmother both have beautiful singing voices, so I guess I\'m just hoping it\'s there for me to fine tune. I have been seriously considering taking voice lessons, only, I do some heavy music, and I really want to work on all of it, not just sing songy stuff, although that is really where the coaching seems like it would come in, and not for the heavy vox.

The biggest thing I have figured out on my wn is, breath control. It is almost impossible to hit or hold a note, when you are out of breath. So, I try to keep my lungs as full as they can be when singing. Also, using the diaphragm to push the air from my lungs, instead of the upper part of the lungs, as usual. I would love some pointers from some of the more advanced singers though, I really want to improve my vocal skill. :)
I daydream about stabbing people in the eye with my pen, peeling off their flesh, and stapling it to the wall. Is that bad? I think I could have a nice collection.

sngwthme

April 24, 2005, 12:41:48 pm #5 Last Edit: April 25, 2005, 12:00:31 am by SNGWTHME
Hey fawnky, I am with you on the disliking of the sound of ones own voice. I am very critical of the way I sound also, but mostly when recording. It can be very frustrating. To me when I sing just on my own, with or without a mic and in an open room I think it sounds beautiful and couldn't be more pleased. But put me under the microscope, which is what I refer to as headphones and microphones for recording, and I think it is horrible. It just never sounds the same to me. That is not saying that I am difficult to record with, it's just it takes me a little while to get use to it when starting because it seems to be a totally different sound. It is of course just me, being the perfectionist that I am when it comes to recording, because everyone else hears that I sound the same either way. The best thing that I have found is to stop the "self scorning" as you say and do just that, "open up and let loose" and in general it turns out pretty amazing.
      
Breathing correctly is of course the most important part, and once you can figure how to control it, it becomes second nature when you open up and sing, just as it does while living. You don't think about it anymore you just do it. It took a long time for me to learn and incorporate it and still sometimes today on certain songs to control it. So you are always learning it. The fact that you know about the diaphragm and know the principal in using it, says to me you are on the right track. Using your "chest voice" can produce great sounds depending on what you are going for, but when going that route you begin to fatigue the vocal chords more quickly and not to mention run out of air. I love my chest voice, it completely allows me a great way to produce a beautiful bass sound and I have learned to control it over time, but after a period of time using it, it becomes more difficult to maintain due to fatigue. Incorporating how to use your diaphragm with the chest voice takes a lot of practice, but it can be accomplished, but I still prefer in some instances the good ole chest voice. Now of course that doesn't work when using falsetto and/or hitting the highs but you get the idea. I don\'t believe anyone ever truly has mastered the art of singing. Even those in history who have been considered the world's greatest singers would probably argue and say that personally they never believed they were the best and could have always learned more. Singing is working a muscle, the more you work it the stronger it gets and can be improved upon. So Spencer, and fawnky, or anyone else for that matter, keep trying, I am sure it is in there somewhere; it's not the same as before, only now you have the potential to make it better.

Oldfolkie: hope you made it back from your trip alright. Can\'t wait to talk folk with ya!



oldfolkie

Hey there! Got back from my trip on Friday, but we had a "do" to go to yesterday & am just getting into the net now.

Specially for spencer & the_fawnky_fangers, let me share a couple of things.

First, I\'m a firm believer that almost anyone can learn to sing if they really want to. The number of people who are truly tone-deaf is extremely small. I think one of the things that puts men especially off learning to sing is the whole voice-change thing. I have a good friend who was told to stand in the back & look tall with his mouth shut (in school choirs), who then didn\'t even try to sing until he was over 50 and has turned out to have a very respectable bass voice. Without immense pain in the learning, either.

Second, I agree with everyone else that breath is the thing. Well, d\'oh! But it\'s the expansion stages and the support and the control and being sensible of vocal health that make it more complicated. But not THAT complicated  ::)

Sngwthme, what you said about proper breathing is so true. Probably what made the difference between Maria Callas & Renee Fleming.  Abuse of vocal cords is the fast road to no voice.

One thing I have found interesting. I\'m not much of an exercise buff, but another friend is really into Pilates, so much so that she\'s got her teaching papers. The spine, muscle and breath control in that system is really in sync with the same stuff you use for singing. She\'s just about convinced me to take a class. Anyone else try this?
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. ~  R.A. Heinlein

sngwthme

Your friend is on the right path and one I would encourage you to follow. You should definitely get involved in a class. Not only for the benefit of your singing but overall health. When you get into any type of simply controlled physical movement such as Pilates, Yoga or Ti Chi you are on your way to a better existence period.
      
(This is where when you talk about this kind of thing you have to insert here "I am not a professional, these are my opinions only and you should always consult a doctor before beginning any exercise" you know to CYOA.)

Now, it takes a little bit to really get it down, but like singing, start from the beginning and it only gets better from there. Maintaining proper alignment and posture is the most effective way to know that you are breathing correctly. I will bet that you will see an immense improvement in your capabilities to breath and sing within no time at all. And just in general you will feel 100% better overall even if you have no ailments whatsoever. You will find also since you are not an "exercise buff" that you won't consider Pilates an "exercise" in that sense of the word. It is physical movement yes, and the heart rate can elevate, but when you become one with your center and move, it's a whole other story.

I say go for it and keep us posted on your progress!

oldfolkie

I will do that, sngwthme.

Used to do some yoga & tai chi in my more bendy days, but with 2 artificial knees it\'s a little harder to find do-able exercise. The Pilates I\'ve been shown is much modified, but still follows the principles. Aquafitness & swimming are also very good.

Well, it\'s not exactly singing, but fitness certainly does play a role. Singing is hard work - as in strenuous physical activity. But great fun too! ;D
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. ~  R.A. Heinlein

spencer

Thanks for the tips.  sngwthme, I\'m in the same boat as you recording wise.  Me and my friend recorded a song for his history class, and both of us (who were in a musical drama class and considered pretty good singers) were wincing at our voices.  I honestly don\'t know anyone who doesn\'t remark "Do I really sound like that?"  When hearing themselves mic\'d.  

I think just practicing has a lot to do with it, that, and well... puberty.  I was a falsetto in seventh grade, I sang that song from Oliver, "who will buy" (in retrospect, how i did that on a stage, with people watching, and not even think of the humiliation, is beyond me).  Flash forward two years later, and I can\'t sing along to Darkness songs anymore.  I used to be able to sing deep-like and high, and that was cool, but as soon as my voice changed and i became out of practice, i got screwed.  Now I try and sing, but only into a mircophone, which furthure discourages me.

Voice lessons would be awesome, but I still need to get guitar lessons, a job, and do my AP homework.   :-/  Life goes by pretty fast, if you don\'t stop and look around sometimes, you might miss it.

(that was from Ferris Bueller)

oldfolkie

QuoteI honestly don\'t know anyone who doesn\'t remark "Do I really sound like that?"  When hearing themselves mic\'d.  

I agree with you spencer. My coach encourages me to tape lessons, and I\'m usually horrified at how awful a lot of it sounds. Just when I\'d think I was making some progress, some awful squawk comes out. Yeesh! It sounds so different from inside your head, doesn\'t it?

Say, you don\'t need to do it all by Tuesday, you know! Voice lessons can wait a little while. They\'re fun when you get to them, though.
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. ~  R.A. Heinlein

Chris DiCicco

April 28, 2005, 08:34:51 am #11 Last Edit: April 28, 2005, 08:36:36 am by Chris
oh alright when I was a youn\'n I sung on one of those singasonginnacan deals at great america, my litl boy voice was everywhere, I don\'t have the tape anymore, I had singing lessons later , by a right perdy lady, can\'t remeber her name, but I remember her voice, then I started smoking an it was all downhill from there... oh don\'t worry I quite, yukky habit kids don\'t smoke, play ukulele...ER Sing...my bad

Chris
The Exosphere  2013

oldfolkie

QuoteCan\'t wait to talk folk with ya!
I\'m around, sngwthme, if you want to chat via pm or in this thread. I find the differences between the various styles of singing intriguing. So many things that can be done with this on-board instrument we have!
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity. ~  R.A. Heinlein

the_fawnky_fangerz

I find the best way for me to get a good balance of what I am hearing in my head, and what everyone else is hearing, is to cover or plug one ear while singing. It may sound funny, but it really works, and can help you fine tune your pitch. I also play along with my guitar a lot, I think it really helps with pitch as well. It at least seems much easier to harmonize with another instrument, be it someone else\'s voice, or a guitar ect. When I sing along to my favorite music in the car, I cover one ear and it really helps em to hear what I am actually doing. Try it if you haven\'t. :) Also, when recording, it is super important for a vocalist to feel comfortable. It is the main task of the engineer to get the best performance from the vocalist, and part of that is trying to relax them, and make them feel comfortable. This can mean making a nice headphone mix for them, so that thier vocals aren\'t completely dry, and just being encouraging about thier performance. Once a person is uncomfortable or nervous, their vocal chords tighten up, and their singing goes downhill. :-/
I daydream about stabbing people in the eye with my pen, peeling off their flesh, and stapling it to the wall. Is that bad? I think I could have a nice collection.

sngwthme

May 06, 2005, 03:38:12 am #14 Last Edit: July 04, 2005, 11:02:42 pm by SNGWTHME
A couple shots of Tequila work too... :o
you know when a singer gets nervous, every good engineer has a bottle near by. Kidding, but it did actually help me once.

I have heard many arguments on the covering of the one ear suggestion. It can help you adjust your pitch but for some it henders their ability to maintain the right pitch and also lose sight of the right key in which they may be singing in, or trying to sing in. Isolating the sound is better done by facing an enclosed wall like a doorway or something tight like that for the voice to bounce off of and back to you, hence recording booths. Bathrooms or showers for example have great acoustics for sound, not just because of the echo effect but because of the tight enclosure. I always tell people if they go the cover the ear route to try singing at the wall also just to make sure that you are hearing the same sound.

Sorry Oldfolkie, recovering from a flood this last weekend in my Condo. Short story, share a common kitchen wall and the neighbors pipe burst, so I am slowly getting things back together.

Wanted to Talk a little about your folk influences. I am guessing that you sing folk (duh  ::) ) and am curious to your style and the voices that have inspired you.
To get things rolling I will start with mine. Of course, touching on it earlier Karen Carpenter is my biggest influence but not really considered folk. In the folk genre, and even though her popularity has only recently surfaced my biggest vocal inspiration is Eva Cassidy. If your not familiar with her I will go into detail a bit later or you can search her on the web. Her voice transends any catagory as she also sings blues as well, but her arrangements of classic folk songs really are amazing. Not only vocally but man could she play guitar. (my inspiration to learn) Unfortunately she passed away in 1996 at age 33 before anyone really knew about her. Her voice will capture you. All of the recordings that are out there, 7 albums total, were all generally recorded live, one take. You would think they were big studio recorded. Amazing.
Reaching back in time though I have to say I love Sandy Denny. My love for folk generates from the simplcity in the vocal stylings and in that they vary so differently with each performer. I find it interesting that alot of repeated renditions (or covers) of various songs that you hear nowadays, first came out originally as a folk song. Any thoughts??