How to sing
First - be CURIOUS about your instrument!
There are many ways to approach learning how to sing. First, you must want to learn - what is it that draws you to singing? What do you want to express? What sounds do you want to make? What do you love about your voice right now, and what do you want to change or improve?
Working individually with a voice teacher (hi!) is a great way to learn more about your voice, and discuss how to achieve your goals.
Okay, big question upfront. What if I don't want to be an opera/classical singer?
GREAT QUESTION! While my university students have specific "classical" boxes they need to cover for degree purposes (I'm working on expanding the accepted repertoire...but that takes time) - if you're studying privately, you have the right to learn how to use your voice in any way you choose. If you have specific goals, that can help you find the right teacher fit for you! No matter what it is, someone out there is probably dying to teach it.
Musical Theatre? There are TONS of folks teaching MT singers now - and a growing number of university programs!
CCM/"Pop" music? Ditto - and there are a few collegiate programs for CCM singers popping up around the country.
Extreme metal? Check out Melissa Cross' "The Zen of Screaming"!
Throat singing? Alex Kuular's got you covered.
Country music? I'd love to introduce you to Amanda DeBoer Bartlett.
In any case, a good teacher will work with you to determine your vocal goals, and provide you with strategies to help achieve those goals. In my work, I strive to help my students understand how their voice functions and what they can do to produce a range of sounds. I want my singers to have the freedom to choose sounds in service of the music they want to make!
What sort of instrument is my voice?
The voice is totally unique from any band/orchestral instrument in many ways
-No two are the same
-You can't see half of the working parts
-No pitch references (no buttons, levers, strings...)
-It goes with you EVERYWHERE
The vocal instrument is sort of like a brass instrument - at one end (in the larynx), a pair of tissues (the vocal folds*) vibrate when air passes over them, creating a sound which is then filtered through a tube that can change shape (the vocal tract), and then exit the instrument through the lips (and sometimes nose!)
We sometimes refer to the voice as a "Source/Filter" instrument - the pitch created at the vocal folds (the source) is filtered through the changing shape of the vocal tract.
*The most correct term is "vocal folds", as they are folds of tissue, rather than cords (and never "chords"!!)
So if my instrument is unique and part of my body, does that mean I'll never get any better than I am now?
Not at all! In most cases, great singers are MADE, not just "naturally gifted".
Then how do I improve my voice?
Singing relies on conditioning your mind/muscle coordination to a very high and fine level - and this requires PRACTICE.
We vocalize not just to "warm-up", we do it to BUILD OUR INSTRUMENT.
Building technique takes time - depending on what you already do well, you may work towards:
-Releasing unnecessary physical tension (not just in the throat - your arms, posture, legs - it all affects your singing!)
-Organizing necessary muscle engagement (we need some muscle tension to sing - but maybe not where you'd think)
-Learning how to breathe for singing (which is different from breathing for running, swimming, sleeping, living...)
-Learning how to manage airflow to allow for efficient sound production on any pitch
-Practicing specific exercises for matching pitch
-Training for vocal agility
-Training for vocal strength and stamina
-Training for increased range
Like any other athletic activity that involves brain and body, vocal training requires concentrated, regular, repeated effort over time.
What if I want to learn more on my own?
Here's a bunch of great links for you to peruse until you have the chance to speak with a teacher of your choosing! (If you're interested in working with me, contact me anytime! I teach virtually as well as in person (well, someday, when it's safe). If you're looking for a great teacher in your area, or someone other than me - I'm happy to help you find the right person.
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