Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pre-singing skills

In the course of my daily teaching, I wonder why some people "get it" and others don't. I don't mean being a great singer, (that's another issue). I'm talking about basic voice. Why do some people just go "Oh ok, if that's the right way to sing then I'll just do it that way"... and out comes this great voice. Meanwhile others struggle for a year or two to achieve the same thing.

Now the cynical among you may suspect that a working teacher may prefer students who come along every week for a year rather than those who need just a few lessons... but no, actually I for one would prefer to get fantastically quick results on core vocal issues, so that we can get on with the exciting part of building a great vocal performer.

And of course there are those who are in the grip of heavily ingrained bad vocal habits.. for these people there will always be a longer time-scale to undo and un-program the neuro-muscular responses they have built up. But even in this area, some work quicker than others.

So here's what I think:

There are several areas of skills/awareness on which good vocal performance depend. Among which are:
  • Lingual ability: simply, the ablity to do stuff with the mouth over & above habitual everyday speech.
  • Vowel flexibility: The ability to alter vowels, for example in "putting on" accents. More likely to be found in people who speak more than one language, as to do this you need to understand that vowels are not "fixed" but can vary according to circumstance.
  • Posture: The ability to stand and move in a relaxed way.
  • Breathing: The ability to voluntarily draw breath into the bottom part of the lungs
  • Intention: The intention to make a strong sound. Note this is different from simply wishing for a strong voice. Strong voice = a feeling of being loud. Many people are not prepared for this. A teacher can show you how to get what you wish for. You need to wish for the right thing!
  • Accurate hearing: You need to be able to distinguish timbres within music... for example pick out one instrument in a busy musical mix. Or tell an oboe from a cor-anglais. The ear is the primary organ of singing.
  • Basic music knowledge: Many singers are held back because they feel that they don't know enough about singing or music. If you just understand counting and some basic stuff about keys & chords you will feel more "worthy" of taking the lead

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