Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Finding your own voice. [Hint: it's not lost.]

I’ve come to the realization that there are only so many things a voice teacher can teach. I can teach optimal singing posture. I can demonstrate how to form proper vowels. I’ve even been known to tell students that they’ve been breathing wrong their whole lives.

One thing I can’t teach, though, is how to find your own voice. There is no road map to finding a unique voice. There’s no correct way to becoming comfortable and confident with the voice you have. But I wouldn’t leave you hanging like that. I’d be lying if I said “this is what you should do.” Instead, I’ll share with you what I did in hopes it’ll work for you.

Know Your Range
 photo ID-10076828_zps741c79e2.jpgWithout getting too technical, range just means how the space between the highest and lowest pitches you can sing. A lot of you probably already knew that, but I didn’t want to exclude any rookies out there. As a singer, it’s essential that you have a clear idea of the pitches you can comfortably sing in chest voice and head voice (falsetto). You must know which are out of reach, and which ones are in your “sweet spot” (usually near the high point of your range where you can belt them).

Once you have an idea of which part on the vocal spectrum you lie, you can work on gradually expanding your range. This is best done under the supervision of an instructor who can help you avoid damaging your voice. Its also worth noting that everyone is limited by their own biology to some extent.

Choose Your Role Models Wisely
Most of us don’t know what we want our voices to sound like, but we do know who we want to sound like. One of the pitfalls we encounter is that we don’t have a clear idea of what our vocal heroes really sound like. Nowadays, just about every music producer on the planet digitally perfects a singer’s voice. When we hold our own voices against the ones we hear on our iPods, we will inevitably fall short.

One solution is to use live recordings as your standard for what a singer really sounds like. You may be surprised just how awful someone can sound on stage compared to their CD. Listen carefully when comparing the two: does the singer embellish when singing live? Does he/she sing with the same amount (or even more) energy and passion when on stage? Could you close your eyes and immediately recognize his/her unique vocal style?

Sing From the Heart
It’s all well and good to admire a singer’s voice. It’s even fine to imitate and learn from their performances. Be aware that the flip side of the coin is to understand that you will never sound just like them. Nor should that be your goal. You will only ever sound like you...and that’s a good thing. Embrace your own voice, along with all its flaws and imperfections, because this is what makes it unique.

Relax, Go Do It
Finally, the best thing to do when searching for your voice is simply to sing more. Don’t limit yourself to just the shower or car; sing in public and with other people. You can join a choir or a church group, or just grab a tambourine and head on down to bonfire night with the local hippies. Look for vocalist meetings and workshops on websites like meetup.com. Or, just wing it and try to start a musical group of your own design. Endless opportunities await those with the courage to seek them out.

Jason Campbell is a voice coach and piano teacher who blogs about all things music at IvoryMan. Book a lesson with him on The ZOEN or follow him on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. when feelings are bad singing will be very bad, how do I keep feeling so good and then singing well?


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