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Improving my voice

Les in Chorlton 17 Apr 13 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Apr 13 - 09:10 AM
Waddon Pete 17 Apr 13 - 09:35 AM
Leadfingers 17 Apr 13 - 10:16 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 17 Apr 13 - 10:24 AM
Waddon Pete 17 Apr 13 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Cedar 17 Apr 13 - 01:36 PM
Les in Chorlton 17 Apr 13 - 01:42 PM
Tattie Bogle 17 Apr 13 - 01:51 PM
Nick 17 Apr 13 - 02:18 PM
Don Firth 17 Apr 13 - 03:14 PM
Bert 17 Apr 13 - 03:36 PM
Ron Davies 17 Apr 13 - 03:37 PM
Ron Davies 17 Apr 13 - 03:39 PM
Dave Illingworth 17 Apr 13 - 03:52 PM
Don Firth 17 Apr 13 - 04:43 PM
The Sandman 17 Apr 13 - 05:18 PM
Ron Davies 17 Apr 13 - 06:27 PM
Tootler 17 Apr 13 - 06:52 PM
Don Firth 17 Apr 13 - 07:04 PM
Dave MacKenzie 17 Apr 13 - 07:44 PM
Fossil 17 Apr 13 - 08:25 PM
The Sandman 18 Apr 13 - 06:37 AM
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Subject: Improving my voice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 08:45 AM

Will my voice get clearer, stronger, loader, with a greater range if I sing everyday - and if so for how long


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 09:10 AM

I can't supply specifics, Les, but I do know that last summer, when I volunteered to sing alto in Vivaldi's Gloria, I had to practice every day. And over the course of a week and a half, I could hear my voice improving.

I think there are three ways to improve your singing:

Sing around the house and in the car and anywhere else your heart desires. Singing uses muscles, and muscles need to be used. But don't force it or try to sing really loud like an opera singer. That would probably hurt your voice.

Join a regular choral group.

Perhaps take lessons from a good teacher.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 09:35 AM

A speech therapist friend suggested exercises to strengthen the vocal chords. These work really well. This web page is also helpful, (sorry my computer doesn't do blue clickies however hard I try!)

http://www.vocalist.org.uk/exercises.html

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 10:16 AM

Here you are Pete - My Puter WILL do a Clicky


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 10:24 AM

This is an easy one. Find a friend or friends that like to sit around and sing. Forget about being "good." Sing from the heart. Sing for the beauty of the song. And if that doesn't work for ya then sing like nobody's listening...


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 12:40 PM

Thanks Leadfingers!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: GUEST,Cedar
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 01:36 PM

my music teacher says that "the muscles you balance with are the muscles you sing with" Try it - stand and sing a line of a song - now stand on just one foot and sing the line   -


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 01:42 PM

Very funny, I suppose


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 01:51 PM

Definitely "use it or lose it" in my book! Maintaining range - regular singing essential! I used to be in a Gilbert & Sullivan company, and of course, you can't choose your key: you have to sing what's written (or join the tenors): some of the stuff for altos (or more likely second sopranos!) is higher than I'd choose, but it pays dividends in keeping at least an octave-and-a-half range.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Nick
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 02:18 PM

Have a punt for the price of a pint or two. Splash out £5.34 and go and buy this - Set Your Voice Free: How to get the Singing or Speaking Voice You Want with CD.

I thought it was a good book and lots of practical stuff. Whether I sing any better is a different matter.

Also helped a chap I know who is a software trainer (not a singer) but found his speaking voice had no light or shade


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 03:14 PM

There are a number of excellent books on singing that will give you exercises to help you develop good, relaxed voice projection and expand your range. Many of them get pretty technical, but a really good one is by Juilliard graduate, teacher, and concert singer, Arabella Hong-Young. It's entitled, Singing Professionally:   Studying Singing for Actors and Singers.

Very good stuff!

The big thing is to avoid injuring your voice. Keep your throat relaxed, your jaw loose, and contrary to what some people will tell you, NEVER push your range beyond what is comfortable.

Also, use the resonance cavities of your body. Good voices have a fair amount of nasal resonance—without sounding "nasal" (or as one of my voice teachers described it, "nosy"). Hum or sing an "mmmmm" or "nnnnn" and you should be able to feel nasal resonance. Then, try to keep that feeling of the sound vibrating through your throat, mouth, and nasal cavities.

That's the key to projecting—without "shouting" and possibly straining your vocal cords.

One little stunt I use when reaching for high notes is—do NOT think of reaching UP for high notes. Instead, think of a trombone. To play high notes on a trombone, you pull the slide toward you. So think of drawing the high note toward you. Do not "reach up" for it.

Happy warbling!

Don Firth

P. S. Also, if you can find a copy, there is a really good little manual called Sing Out like Never Before, by Rea Zimmerman. It's written for the "Up with People" young people's choruses. It's 62 pages and saddle-stapled like a magazine. Very good, compact, and, I'm afraid, rare.

P. P. S. Once again, don't worry, practicing some good voice production exercises is not going to make you sound like and opera singer. I've known some aspiring opera singers who wish it was that easy. No, it will only help you bring out your best natural voice.

If you DO start sounding like an opera singer, you might want to consider a change of career. Last I heard, good opera singers often make upwards of $3,000 a performance (not bad for an evening's work) and get invited to travel all over the world.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Bert
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 03:36 PM

What I am trying to do is to put more energy and more melody into my singing.

I don't worry about loudness, that is what the microphone is for.

There are two ways of performing the notes that you can't reach.

1. Sing them quietly.
2. Talk or even shout them out.

As for trying to sing more melodiously I listen to Oliver McElhone on Youtube and try to put some roundness (for want of a better word) into my tone.

Also I smile when it is appropriate, because it comes out in the performance.

Use the microphone as a tool, varying your distance from it for effect.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Ron Davies
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 03:37 PM

Yup, it's use it or lose it--and use it and it gets stronger.

I sing every day, on the street, in the shower (2 different places), alone, in groups- including doo-wop, country and bluegrass, FSGW events, music parties, duets (Jan calls me a duet slut since I'll sing with anybody), Sacred Harp, and the Choral Arts Society of Washington-- (we usually sing in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and just did a concert including Hindemith, Britten Brahms and Gabrieli).

Of all the sources of improvement, I'd have to say #1 for me was singing in the car for 30 years with the Beach Boys--it gave me falsetto. I have a lousy range--1 1/2 octaves.   But falsetto doubles it.    And somehow, with the help of the Beach Boys, I've learned how to smoothly make the transition. Don't try Frankie Vallee, though--that's just suicidal.

Second biggest source is, believe it or not, aging.   I think all voices drop with age. Mine sure did. I can now hit low notes ( e.g. low D) I never could earlier.   So since I have kept the falsetto I now have a good range.   With 2 octaves you can sing almost anything.


I'd also second the suggestion to join a choral group.   In a (good) choral group, you learn useful skills like sustaining pitch, breath control and chromaticism--as well as learning to sing harmony, in tune, til harmonies come easily in other contexts.

I would say you don't need vocal lessons--too many voice teachers seem to think everybody needs artificial vibrato, beyond normal vibrato.   In most situations vibrato is the last thing you want.   Anything they can teach you you can learn on your own.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Ron Davies
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 03:39 PM

"3 octaves", not 2.   Math is not a strong suit. Nor is typing.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Dave Illingworth
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 03:52 PM

All goood advice.   Above all, be yourself.
To extend vocal range, practise singing familiar songs in different keys. To get words in to your head and to help diction, practise songs twice as fast as usual.
Even if you usually sing with accompaniment, do some   unaccompanied practice. This can help natural timing, rhythm and phrasing.
When rehearsing a song, make notes of when to breathe, with attention to meaning and phrasing   - in other words, don't mess up a good sentence or phrase with a badly placed breath. (Read about using your stomach and breathing in quietly   - every day I hear records on the radio with dreadful audible breathing.......).
Leisurely (i.e slow breast-stroke or back-stroke) swimming is good for breathing. Go through a song in your head whilst swimming along and breathe at what you think are the approprate places. It can be done...
Nothing to do with actual vocal technique, but try reciting songs to help with aforementioned meaning and phrasing etc.

And.... be yourself


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 04:43 PM

I note that "vibrato" is frequently mentioned as an undesirable thing, and, indeed, too much vibrato is. I've heard highly paid opera singers with so much vibrato that I, personally, found them next to unlistenable. But I have also heard that in pop singers. A singer who was around some years ago, Phoebe Snow, had a gawdawful wobble in her voice.

But other than in choirs (where a wide vibrato is really undesirable) or early music, a singer with a flat voice (on pitch, but no vibrato whatsoever) all too often sounds dull and lifeless.

Sting has been doing some interesting experimenting lately, playing the lute and singing Dowland songs and such, but his voice is certainly nothing to write home about. But, fortunately, it seems appropriate to the songs (as far as we know).

Just the right amount of vibrato is generally unnoticeable (unless you are gimlet-eyed and looking for it), but it makes a voice sound "alive."

I have taken voice lessons from three different voice teachers, two of whom were retired opera singers, and none of the three ever even talked about vibrato, much less tried to teach me to do it. I think I may have a bit of natural vibrato, but no one has ever commented on it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 05:18 PM

what a great thread, this is an example of mudcat at its best , thankyou for the clicky leadfingers, some might think i hardly need this, because i can sing reasonably well, but i always take the attitude that everything can be improved, i have tracered this thread


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Ron Davies
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 06:27 PM

I was talking about induced vibrato, such as that peddled by some voice instructors. Everybody has natural vibrato.

And I can tell you that in good choruses no vibrato is desired at all--unless asked for by the director--usually in acting situations (as you know, choruses act too--even if not in an opera.) The chorus has to put the music across, and that requires vocal acting--whatever the music requires.    There's certainly a lot of acting by the chorus in the Bach St. John and St. Matthew Passions, for instance.

Aside from that, the mantra is: pure straight tone.

One conductor I sang under for quite a while described it well: He's the artist, and wants a blank sheet on his easel.   He will mix the colors himself (under guidance of the composer, of course.)

Outside a chorus, you can let your natural vibrato come through all the time--but you don't need artificial vibrato.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Tootler
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 06:52 PM

you have to sing what's written (or join the tenors):

I did and found I really am a tenor. I started in the basses but couldn't reach the lowest notes so I moved to the tenors. I have since found my range is greater than I had realised.

For me joining a choir has been of immense benefit and I recommend it as an excellent way of improving your singing.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 07:04 PM

I remember a young soprano here in Seattle years ago. She had a nice voice and she was singing leads in a small local opera company (Towers Opera Production Studios) long before Seattle Opera (a full, professional, world class opera company complete with a 3,100 seat opera house) got started in the 1960s.
Her mother was her teacher. And she felt her daughter needed work on her vibrato. What they wound up with was what might be called a horizontal (loud-soft) vibrato rather than a slight alternation of pitch.

She wound up sounding like a bleating goat! Mrs. Towers, head of TOPS didn't want her anymore, and the poor girl couldn't even get a spot in Seattle Opera's chorus.

Screwed up a potentially very good voice!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 07:44 PM

Personally, I've got a different problem. Having had a minor stroke at the beginning of February when I lost my speaking voice, I'm relearning how to sing, and most of the above seems pertinent. I look forward to the day when I can sing anything apart from Dylan (which I don't seem to have lost) with confidence.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: Fossil
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 08:25 PM

Definitely, absolutely, no question about it, join a choir. Doesn't have to be a church choir, or a religious group, in most populated areas, there will be a lot of choice.

And (I speak from experience), almost all choirs have a surfeit of female singers (sopranos and altos) but are direly short of lower-register voices (tenors and basses). So if you can sing in the bass clef you will be welcomed with open arms.

And don't be put off if you can't read music very well - a good ear will get you through a lot and sight-reading ability will come with practice.

Some choirs require an audition, which can be off-putting. My main choir doesn't - we run a system by which new voices can try us out without an audition for a few weeks. They are given a mentor, who is responsible also for listening to them to see if they can hack it. This seems to work very well and is more user-friendly than auditioning.

If they have a good conductor and voice coach, most choirs get steadily better and better. I have kept up with my folk-singing and have found lots of benefits there, too.


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Subject: RE: Improving my voice
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Apr 13 - 06:37 AM

here is abreathing exrcise i use, take a deep breath from the diaphragm, release air slowly, take another deep breath from diaphragm and release air quckly, this is known as a cleansing breath.
take a guitar or chromatic instrument practise singing and playing a chromatic scale, then fingd you bottom note that you are comfortable with,sing a major scale of an octave go8ing up in thirds then start again and go straight up up the octave, then try and do an octave and and a half, if you cannot do an octave nd a half do not strain your voice but just go as far as you can comfortably and GRADUALLY extend your range


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