As most of you already know, most vocal problems start with improper technique. Instinct alone will not help you correct them because instinct is an unlearned response — an automatic reflex that can can lead to injury. That is why it’s so important for anyone who sings professionally to LEARN how to do things correctly. Some singers are born with naturally gifted voices, but if they never learn what they are doing that makes that voice such a gift, then they may be unaware of when bad habits have snuck in until damage starts to occur. Knowledge, understanding gained AFTER one has learned from the intellectual and PHYSICAL experience, isn’t just power, it is the road to freedom.
Most problems simply boil down to bad, sense-memorized habits, usually in attempts to achieve a desired sound.
However, singing with strength and power has nothing to do with the force of breath you use to reach higher notes for that ‘one register’ sound. Squeezing, holding, punching in the belly muscles will only lead to closure of the throat. Hold your breath. Notice anything happen in the neck? Can air pass by without thrusting it up from below?
Since sound is created when the air passes by the cords, a slammed shut throat will force you to push up that air for it. Habits like these have to be un-learned or you will never feel free. Wouldn’t you like to be one of those singers who can jump around all over the stage without having to worry about whether your voice will fail, whether you will be able to maintain the ‘power’, or even hit the pitch wihout going flat when you get to those sections of difficulty?
How does unnatural manipulation of the body start? Most times, in attempts to mask the glitches by trying to hide them any way you can. You don’t just try to hide them from your audience, you also try to hide them from your own self, hoping that one day those problems will just magically disappear. Trouble is, you never really succeed at that. When you can still feel something is wrong — you can’t hide it from yourself no matter how hard you try.
Anyone can tell you that you are a great singer, a great performer, but that puffed-up feeling you get will only last about 5 minutes if you are aware of something troublesome. If you don’t think you sing as well as you could, yours is the only opinion that matters. Confidence and self-esteem with regard to your talents must come from within. Nothing from the outside can ever change that fact. Once you begin gaining control over your instrument, that is when things change. It won’t matter nearly as much as it once did if people think you can sing well or not. If you know you are good, singing well with ease and freedom, the audience will automatically know that, too. There won’t be a doubt, as long as that doubt is no longer being tramsmitted by you.
When training to learn a new way, sometimes it may require having to strip you of any bad habits you’ve gathered along the way to see what’s really there, correct it, and build on that. Your chest and head registers may need separating through exercises to determine where the root of any difficulty begins. That process is similar to stripping you of all defense mechanisms. It makes you feel naked, vulnerable, and may even have you wondering if you’ll ever be able sing with ease. The important thing to remember when training by repitition with vocalises is that you are doing it to learn a new way. These things by no means identify you as a singer/performer. It is ALL about correcting bad habits. It’s as simple as that.
When I train a voice, I use vocal exercises to help the singer start learning wrong from right. Key to this is remembering that this is a learning process. As you journey from wrong into right, bad habits will automatically start to leave, ridding you of any discomfort or difficulties you may have thought you had to overcome on your own.
In the beginning, a journey such as this can be uncomfortable — not because right way is hard. Right way feels great when it happens, but unfortunately, bad habits are familiar, comfortable. It is going from the old to the new that is so uncomfortable, often frustrating — that inbetween place of the unknown until the known manifests.
I teach all levels of singers. The road to freedom is enlightening. For many, it isn’t just about their voice. Singers often learn a lot about their own self as they forge onward on this path. Once you’ve succeeded and all has become second nature to you, then you will know you achieved the freedom you’d been seeking, and the voice you always knew to be inherent within.