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Helping a person to sing

Will Fly 22 Feb 16 - 11:44 AM
The Sandman 22 Feb 16 - 03:47 PM
Anne Lister 22 Feb 16 - 04:25 PM
GUEST,Musket 23 Feb 16 - 03:42 AM
Joe Offer 23 Feb 16 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Grishka 23 Feb 16 - 07:24 AM
BobKnight 23 Feb 16 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Feb 16 - 09:25 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Feb 16 - 09:59 AM
The Sandman 23 Feb 16 - 12:27 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Feb 16 - 12:46 PM
Marje 23 Feb 16 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 23 Feb 16 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Peter from seven stars link 23 Feb 16 - 03:53 PM
Will Fly 23 Feb 16 - 04:26 PM
The Sandman 24 Feb 16 - 02:48 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Feb 16 - 04:17 AM
FreddyHeadey 24 Feb 16 - 08:41 AM
FreddyHeadey 24 Feb 16 - 08:43 AM
The Sandman 24 Feb 16 - 01:22 PM
mg 24 Feb 16 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 24 Feb 16 - 04:47 PM
The Sandman 24 Feb 16 - 05:50 PM
BobKnight 24 Feb 16 - 06:17 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Feb 16 - 08:19 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Feb 16 - 08:23 PM
The Sandman 25 Feb 16 - 03:39 AM
Marje 25 Feb 16 - 01:25 PM
The Sandman 25 Feb 16 - 01:39 PM
Tattie Bogle 25 Feb 16 - 06:01 PM
The Sandman 26 Feb 16 - 06:44 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Feb 16 - 11:32 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Feb 16 - 12:01 PM
Marje 26 Feb 16 - 01:20 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Feb 16 - 03:03 PM
The Sandman 27 Feb 16 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 27 Feb 16 - 10:14 AM
Will Fly 27 Feb 16 - 10:29 AM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 27 Feb 16 - 10:46 AM
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Subject: Helping a person to sing
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 11:44 AM

One of the performers who comes along to my monthly session in a local pub has come on in leaps and bounds over the last 3-4 years. When I first saw him perform (at a session miles from me), he was - to say the least - not very good. Hunched over a music stand, staring hard at the chords and music, stopping, stumbling, hesitating, etc.

Imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago, he began to come along to my session and - lo and behold! - there he was, standing up, not using music, playing a simple but effective fingerstyle guitar and with some interesting songs. I was well impressed with his hard work and the improvement he had made.

Just one problem - he can't sing. Or should I say, he probably can, but doesn't know how to. His voice wavers between spoken/declaimed phrases, with no discernible tune, and the odd note which might be in tune the first time round and then not later on. We discussed it over a beer after the last session had finished for the evening - he knows his problem - and I offered him some advice: to sing along with the song on CD/computer; to record his voice and then play it back; to put the guitar on one side and try to hold the tune accompanied, etc.

However, I'm no singing teacher - so I'd like advice, from those who have more experience than I have in voice coaching, on techniques that I can pass on to him. The obvious advice is for him to go to a singing teacher, but that might be too costly for him or not his thing.

Any help appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 03:47 PM

Jim Carroll, is the man.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Anne Lister
Date: 22 Feb 16 - 04:25 PM

See if you can find a local practitioner of the Natural Voice Network (I think that's the name for it) and if they are running any workshops. People often make a huge amount of progress in a group with others initially, and this is generally a lot more cost effective than 1:1 lessons with a vocal coach. The two biggest issues for most people are (a) confidence and (b) experience. Without one you don't get to build up the other.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 03:42 AM

When I first started performing folk, I had been in rock bands mainly and chiefly chorus and harmony. Came as quite a shock to find that acoustically and out on my own, I was flat as a fart...

Your friend is, I reckon, well on the way as trying to read, play and sing at the same time can cause the vocal hits to suffer. Confidence helps.

If it is of any use, I seemed to improve, albeit slowly, through a couple of self discipline methods, not taught, not read about but seemed common sense then and as a singer now, rather obvious.

Record themselves and listen, cringe even but it gives a base because you can only improve if you know what you are improving.

Pinch nose and blow to clear the ears. In my case, it was as revolutionary as holding your hand up to the ear or, as in my past life, wedge speakers giving me a reference.

Never miss the opportunity to increase the volume of breath in your lungs.

Again, something in my case.. I always use a thumb pick and try to let it give me a bass reference for singing.

Once I have a song just about ready, I try singing it unaccompanied to see if I can get the cadences right. Sir Thomas Beecham once said that so long as an orchestra begin and end at the same time, the audience don't notice anything else. I would take that tongue in cheek statement in another fashion and say that audiences notice how you hit your cadences. If you cannot guarantee the perfect or imperfect, that's what we have capos for...

My point isn't to give any wisdom as Will certainly doesn't need any from me! Just an overview of overcoming the same. (Interestingly, many people I know in folk, roots etc reckon I have a good voice. Mrs Musket however, who listens almost exclusively to classical music reckons I am still off key most of the time and only redeem myself on stage where I have foldback to assist. We forget that style, passion and diction are elements of singing too, but tell that to someone who listens to Andreas Scholle..,


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 04:18 AM

My wife is going to a voice coach at $125 a lesson, and she loves it. I have yet to hear results...

I do think it helps a lot to have a voice coach, but the cost makes me cringe. I've gone to a number of group voice coaching workshops led by Lisa Null of Washington DC over the years, and I've learned a lot. I also belong to a choir with an extraordinary director. I have one friend who took voice lessons from Lisa over an extended time, and the change in his singing was dramatic. I'm not sure how talented the voice coach needs to be, as long as he/she is honest.

-Joe-

P.S. Lisa said nice things about my singing...


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 07:24 AM

If he can make sense out of printed tutorials, he may save a lot of money. The plural is important: read ten and you will profit from two.

Breathing and ear training are essential - not the vocal cords (let alone the chords).

This said, he may try his luck at Rap music.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: BobKnight
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 08:21 AM

Tell him to sing every day. It will build up his voice and the muscles he uses to produce the sound. An athlete wouldn't just start running a marathon - he/she has to train, and it's the same with the voice.

Also make sure he is singing in the right key for his voice to produce a reasonable sound, with strength and volume. Too many people have what I call a bedroom voice. They practice in their bedroom, and it's all very nice and comfortable, but when they get into a bigger room, they can hardly be heard. The solution is to knock the key up around a full tone.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 09:25 AM

That's a good point, Bob. Some people come to the Mudcat to ask for the chords for a song, and they think that there's a certain 'right' key that the song should be in.

Ideally, a person should select the key that's best for their voice.
If that key is impractical, then one nearby.

If Will Fly's friend is selecting keys just because that's what he found on the Internet or because that's the key a famous singer uses, then he could be way off from what's good for him.
===========
Joe, I've got to agree that $125 a lesson sounds too expensive.

However, voice lessons may be just what Will's friend needs. So they cost money. As the damsel said in 'Auntie Mame':

"But sweetheart, what's money FOR?"


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 09:59 AM

I strongly suggest he doesn't go to a singing teacher - not unless they are totally conversant in singing the type of songs he wishes to sing, and even then, there are pitfalls.
There are basic exercises - relaxation, tone, projection, pitch, articulation.... but if you are starting from bog-standard level, simply taking a bunch of singers you admire and imitating them, not in view to singing like them, but simply to explore your own capabilities and limitations, is usually a good way of getting off the ground.
The ideal is to get a number (as little as two will do at a pinch) of sympathetic and reasonably experienced singers to sit, listen and comment with both positive and critical comments, ending up by choosing an important aspect that can be covered practically at his particular level, then ask - can you come back next.... whenever?
For this it essential to have a competent chairperson capable of summing up the salient points and honing down any suggestions that might be made.
Follow up is extremely helpful, but not necessarily essential, if it is not possible - I've seen a small group work wonders with a raw singer in the space of an hour.
On thing is certain - if a new singer survives a workshop of critical comments, they can say goodbye to stage fright and nerves.
In my opinion, clubs would benefit enormously and to a degree, assure themselves a future if they established a permanent team of volunteers prepared to help singing-virgins or deal with problems experienced singers might be having..
Starting off unaccompanied is, to my mind, essential when starting out - then you stand a fair chance of being able to accompany your songs (if that's your eventual aim), rather than your accompanying the accompaniment.
Virtually anybody can become a competent singer with work and with advice (barring physical disabilities, which are usually imagined, rather than actual) - but it's never a good thing to sing before an audience before you've grasped the basics - I really wish I hadn't - still cringe thinking about it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 12:27 PM

Jim, has useful advice about songs to help breath control as well, was it Rocky Road to Dublin, Jim?


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 12:46 PM

It was Dick - an exercise in articulation and breath control.
We also used the piece of music, 'Tail Toddle' for breath control - two choruses and a verse in one breath - could do it forty years ago.
Can I just add that, when we started collecting in the early seventies, I gradually phased out my singing to next to nothing.
When I took it up again a few years ago, I was horrified at the number of songs I had lost technically, but after a little work, using the exercises, I got virtually all of them back - 'even Flying Cloud and Sheffield Apprentice, which I thought I'd kissed goodbye forever.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Marje
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 01:10 PM

Lots of good advice above, but the one I'd stress is tell him to put down the guitar and practice singing, listening just as intently to the sound he makes as he would to the sound of the guitar strings. Recording and playing back might help. If he feels out of his depth,he could go right back to basics and try something really simple like Go Tell Aunt Rhody, and move on to Happy Birthday.
And I do think a few lessons with the right sort of teacher could help.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 01:13 PM

Jim, ever thought about doing regular lessons for beginners over skype, or similar 'conference' cam communication channels ?


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,Peter from seven stars link
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 03:53 PM

I started out as a non singer and did,nt start till I started writing songs. It was a long process , and I think still continues. What I found most helpful were the exercises on you tube by Eric arcenaux. Though his own genre is modern r an b ,and hardly my thing, his internet lessons have really worked for me.   You can buy a course from his site , but there is plenty of useful vids for free on the net.Agree totally about recording yourself, however, I have noticed that when I have chanced to replay singing recorded a few yr past, and which I though fine at the time , I cringe now!


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Feb 16 - 04:26 PM

Thanks everyone for the very practical and useful advice - greatly appreciated.

I particularly liked Jim's advice about practising unaccompanied, and I think I'll discuss that with the bloke when I next see him.

you stand a fair chance of being able to accompany your songs (if that's your eventual aim), rather than your accompanying the accompaniment rings very true.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 02:48 AM

jims advice is good.
He may need to work out his vocal range, this is easily done with an instrument, if he is unable to hold a tune, practising singing intervals and scales slowly with an instrument,
working from somwhere near the bottom of his range, this might help to train his ear, if that is the problem.
breathing exercises can help breath control.
posture should also be considered


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 04:17 AM

"Jim, ever thought about doing regular lessons for beginners over skype"
An interesting thought for someone, but not me - not a good enough singer and certainly couldn't command the authority to pull something like that off.
I have strong reservations about 'teachers' anyway; too prone to passing on personal tastes, prejudice, idiosyncrasies and bad habits.
The idea of a sympathetic self-help group using balanced criticism and analysis worked brilliantly for me for at least a decade and a half - I saw people rise from the ashes of having been told by teachers that they'd never make singers while they had holes in their bottoms, to first passable, then competent and finally good, confident performers.   
What I have considered for a long time is editing down some of our early Critics Group recordings into a 'user pack' for singers.
We had recourse to revisit them early last year while making the two programmes on Ewan - our producer actually used snippets of the vowel exercises in the first programme.
They consist of relaxation exercises, vowel sounds for finding the natural voice, singing exercises for pitch, tone and articulation (all relatively straightforward) and finally, Ewan's brilliant adaptation of Laban's movement theory of efforts, learned from his ex-wife Jean in Theatre Workshop and adapted for the voice in order to assist in producing different tones for different types of songs and avoid 'samey' performances.
The latter is a little more difficult to take on board, but it becomes routine once you have grasped it.
If I thought there was a wide-enough interest in such a compilation I'd be happy to put it together for anybody who wants it.
It revolutionised my view of singing in front of an audience and gave me some great evenings as a listener.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 08:41 AM

I've not watched it all the way through again but I think this is a video I found that was helpful...


Pete Moody - Breath Control


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 08:43 AM

JC "If I thought there was a wide-enough interest in such a compilation I'd be happy to put it together for anybody who wants it."

Great idea.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 01:22 PM

Yes freddy, execellent video, posture, alexander technique, breath control, all essential for good singing regardless of music genre


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: mg
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 01:59 PM

I will say I can understand how quality of singing can drastically improve..but I don't understand how you get around the tone-deaf problem...although you could get better. Isn't it like being color-blind.?


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 04:47 PM

Can't help but re-iterate the advice to start from unaccompanied singing -- and if that's not possible in a group (which creates its own 'tune corset' for a less confident voice), then self-recording is a good next step. Note, though, that this isn't to promote hostile self-criticism; rather that it should focus on a couple of areas such as pitching (too low/too high?) or breathing ( broken phrasing).
The bottom line is that improvement is possible and -- IMHO -- that it relates to self-confidence as much as anything.

I was lucky enough to be part of Norman Buchan's Ballads Club when he started it at my secondary school in 1957. Up to 60 of us met every Tuesday after school in Norman's classroom and roared our way through songs such as (Scottish) Johnny Lad, The Barnyards of Delgaty, McGinty's Meal an' Ale; and (American) Michael, Row the Boat Ashore, Pay Me My Money Down.
If there was a focus, it was on energy rather than choral perfection, and always it was inclusive -- everyone could sing!

Please encourage your singer to persist, Will -- after all, he has the proof of his instrumental progress...


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 05:50 PM

very few people are tone deaf, most people will improve if they use an instrument to train the voice, a good exercise is to take a guitar or piano and sing a chromatic scale.
Jim is right, singing a song first unaccompanied is a good idea, accompaniment should be exactly that.. accompaniment to the voice.
on occasions guitarists particularly[ imo] force the voice to follow the instrument


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: BobKnight
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 06:17 PM

We had a guy, came to the local club, but sang just about every line of a song in a different key. It was hell to listen to him, but someone must have taken him aside and pointed out the error of his ways. Now he sings all the way through in virtually the same key. It's not good, but getting better.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 08:19 PM

"very few people are tone deaf,"
True
It is reconed that somewhere between 2 and five percent of the population are tone-deaf and within that figure there are considerable differences in levels and affects.
"Tone deafness" (amusia) is invariably a self-diagnosed excuse for having difficulty in learning tunes.
Don't know how reliable they are, but there are tests available online.
THere are also considerable degrees of ability in learning tunes - some of us have it, others don't.
I'm one of the lucky ones - just before I moved to London, I was staying with Ewan and Peggy - instead of taking the train back to Manchester, they gave me a lift to Crewe, where they were booked.
Peggy, who was driving, suddenly sang a note at me, then went on as if nothing had happened.
A few minutes later, she asked me to sing it back to her, which I was able to - she told me I had pretty good pitch memory.
Apparently, it was a test she gave every potential Critics Group member - don't know if it is of any use to anybody here.
If someone in our London Singers Workshop was having trouble learning tunes, we asked them to start with 'Johnny Todd' a Liverpool children's song which had been more or less neutralised as singable by having been used for the Z-Cars theme - widely known enough to be useful as an exercise..
of course, the centuries-old musical cliché of cupping the hand over can be extremely useful - and Irish Traveller we recorded who sold ballad sheets in the 1940s used it to keep in pitch over traffic and market noises - he said he had learned it from his father, who had learned it from his father.... and so ad infinitum.
He also told us that, in crowded pub sessions at gatherings like Puck Fair he had seen older singers singing into a corner - all little tricks.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 08:23 PM

Forgot to mention - there is another practice trick for familiarising yourself with tune learning.
Sing the first line of the (English) National Anthem, move on to the next line staring on the note you have just sung, then the third line doing the same - right through to the end - all helps to learn to listen to yourself.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 03:39 AM

two very good posts,Jim.
An acquaintance of mine was bad singer, but when he started taking violin lessons and practising every day, his singing became better,listening to intervals carefully, leerning where to pitch his voice, stopped the changing key in mid song carry on.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Marje
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 01:25 PM

One singer I come across sometimes can hold a tune quite well when he sings unaccompanied. but as soon as he picks up a guitar, he seems to forget that the song has a tune at all; he plays the chords and then just sort of chants the tune in a monotone. It's as if he's so focused on the guitar that he pays no attention at all to the tune, and just concentrates on getting the words out.

That's why I agree that listening to one's own voice, without accompaniment, is really important. Only when the melody is confident and clear and true should any accompaniment be added.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 01:39 PM

"That's why I agree that listening to one's own voice, without accompaniment, is really important. Only when the melody is confident and clear and true should any accompaniment be added."
yes, but i am talking about something completely different.. training the voice and the ear in private, to improve interval recognition, to get an idea of where to pitch ones voice, then you can go out and sing a song in public unaccompanied, have i made my point clear?


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 06:01 PM

Ha, Marje, we have one like that at a club I go to: not a bad guitarist but turns every song into a "talking blues"! And others who sing unaccompanied but change key at the drop of a hat, throwing the self-appointed "everyone's accompanist" right off track! (Sometimes I wish he would just shut up anyway!)
But back to the point, yes, I agree, it is good to sing on one's own or in a group, without accompaniment, until you are confident in holding a key. The acid test is to play your key note before starting and then again at the end of a song: they should be the same. I find I'm more likely to drift upwards in an up-tempo song and go flat in a slower one.
And as for playing a singing at the same time: this does only come with practice and familiarity with - a bit like driving a car, when you can stop thinking about how you change gear (analogous to changing chords on your guitar) while you observe the road ahead (sing your song). I know it was quite a long time after I took up guitar, and later, button accordion, before I could play and sing at the same time: too many parts of the brain having to go into overdrive at once!


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 06:44 AM

to clarify the points i am trying to make, i should also have said that its a good idea to practise the song unaccompanied a lot in private as well,before performing it in public
a similiar situation arises with irish trad tunes, in my experience the best accompanists are those who know the tunes well and can even sing them, and who listen, listening to oneself and listening to other musicians, when singing and accompanying is really important.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 11:32 AM

Hope you don't mind me raising a point not directly connected to your appeal Will -
'Head voice'.
I have to say I've always found it somewhat of a culture shock to be talking to a woman with a strong, resonant and quite often very attractive speaking voice who then stands up and sings with an air-filled, almost ethereal tone - occasionally fine, but when constantly used - frankly boring and certainly, very limiting.
Personal preferences aside, the production of head tone involves two major problems:
The fact that it takes a great deal of breath to produce this tone often leads to problems with singing long-line songs - having to take a breath in the line where the text doesn't require it - just the opposite.
A few years I heard a very breathy singer singing Barbara Allen - I counted the singer having to take three breaths per line throughout the song.
If this tone is chosen, the singer needs to plan their breathing carefully - snatch-breaths are useful, relaxation, particularly dropping the shoulders, is a good way of being economical with your air supply as well.
The second problem - 'gear-change' for the want of a better term, is more difficult to handle.
Many women (not a problem with male singers usually) using the tone encounter this while rising up or down a tune - arriving at a point where the tone cannot be maintained and the singer is forced to move from head to chest tone - a sort of tonal quantum-leap, which has an adverse affect on the song (unless you are setting out to sound like a Swiss Yodeller).
I've heard Peggy Seeger talk about this at length - she uses both head and chest tone for different songs but she worked bloody hard to solve the problems; I know from The Critics Group that other women singers have done a fair amount of work on this.
Wonder if anybody else has come across these problems and found solutions?
Made a start on assembling a user-pack from some of our archive recordings, as mentioned above - I'd forgotten how useful some of them are.
It shouldn't be too much of a problem to complete when I can find where everything is.
When completed, I can send MP3 sound files to anybody interested if they let me have an e-mail address.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 12:01 PM

Meant to say
"When completed, I can send MP3 sound files to anybody interested via Dropbox"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Marje
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 01:20 PM

Yes, Dick, I agree with your ideas too. Getting the song itself right is one thing, but having some exercises to train the ear and the voice so that they work together in a sort of feedback loop is something a bit different, and equally valuable. Testing estimated intervals against known notes on an instrument is a useful exercise for this, or (as Tattie says) singing a whole verse or song and testing whether you finish in the pitch where you started.

And Jim - yes I know what you mean about women who adopt a breathy tone when singing. It's the Cara Dillon style, adopted by many others who sound less good than she does, but also influenced by some pop singers. It's not just "head voice" - which can be very clear and strong - it's head-voice-with-added-air, which is not a very effective way of producing sound.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 03:03 PM

" It's the Cara Dillon style,"
A lot earlier than Cara Dillon - I believe it dates back to the concept that women should sound like 'Ladies'
Not sure what they'd have made of Frankie Armstrong or Jeannie Robertson, or Sheila Stewart (not to mention Rosie Stewart)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 06:53 AM

A lot earlier than Cara Dillon - I believe it dates back to the concept that women should sound like 'Ladies'.
an interesting comment, Is there any documentation any where to back that up, I agree it might seem likely, presumably you are referring to Victorian times.
   What would they have made of Margaret Barry?.


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 10:14 AM

Re. 'breathy' voices -- I would imagine that Victorian corsetry would have a part to play in the end results for singers! Such constriction must have added a whole new array of technical difficulties, which would have mattered less for parlour singers who were unlikely to require decent projection.

But nowadays I would blame it on two things.

1) The inability to imagine a song as an unaccompanied thing, resulting in the addition of
    (all too often extraneous) accompaniment by several instruments.

2) The subsequent reliance on what is called 'microphone technique', which raises a whole
    other set of habits, many of which I personally find irritating!


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 10:29 AM

I've just ignored all the valuable advice on this thread and have had a glorious 20 minutes or so with my Florence Foster Jenkins records... No microphone technique for her!


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Subject: RE: Helping a person to sing
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 27 Feb 16 - 10:46 AM

Apologies for thread drift in the above post.

I like most of the suggestions already offered and am also a firm believer in the value of making people feel comfortable so that performance is possible. But I also believe in the value of background preparation for the novice singer (e.g. the exercises suggested) and in the reality of baby steps.
I've had occasion to support some people who lacked confidence in their singing ability and found that one thing that often worked was to present them with something that they didn't think of as a 'song' ( a playground skipping song, a totally silly comic song like My Grandfather's Socks etc.) where they could hide behind a persona and not be under pressure to produce lovely sounds.

If a novice wanted to sing Gordeanna McCulloch's version of The Cruel Mother, I think I might start with the kids' version from The Dubliners before perhaps moving to Lorna Campbell's version (tune on the melodically restricted side) and -- via (Burns' collected version) Fine Flowers in the Valley -- eventually to Gordeanna's demanding tune. My hope would be that the repetition of narrative would provide insight into the emotional depths and assist in the story-telling aspect of ballad-singing.
BUT, in the work-up to this outcome, I would be offering the distraction of rhythmic chorus songs such as shanties; little, sweet chorus songs like Matt McGinn's Coorie Doon; and comic songs such as some of the Scottish CND output from the Ding Dong Dollar booklets.


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Mudcat time: 16 October 7:41 PM EDT

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