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New Gig singer- worried about longevity

Hello, Joshua here.
I'm 40 y.o., and about 3 months ago, I joined a classic rock band for the first time. I have only sung for decades in my car for 45 min at a time before this, and went in over my head joining a band (but I don't mind, it is my time!). The standard gig is 3 hours of singing with 3 20-minute breaks. I have only made about 2 hours of singing in practices yet, and I'm having issues. Fortunately, somehow my vocal cords don't seem to mind. I don't go hoarse, and can always hum and talk and sing softly low or high afterwards, or the next days afterwards. But for 1-3 days after a couple hour practice, my neck is sore in various places. Sometimes on each side of my 'voice box', sometimes elsewhere, and sometimes it feels 'thick' around my voice box for a few days. I hold the mic when I'm singing, and move/dance around a little bit, as the music makes me move, I can't help it! And I also wonder if moving my head/neck around while dancing/singing is bad too. I have only started daily scale practicing 2-3 weeks ago, and plan to vigorously continue growing my voice with the direction of the KTVA program. But I am concerned about my poor habits since I've never officially 'trained'. Although I must be lucky to have decent beginning strength in my vocal cords, as they don't seem to mind themselves. Those decades of singing U2 and Led Zeppelin and Mariah Carey (yes, I enjoy trying to falsetto Mariah!) must have helped strengthen my cords some, albeit in a 'street learning' fashion, and taught me some things I couldn't define before KTVA, like compression singing to hit those higher notes in U2 or Zeppelin without using lots of air. But instead of my cords being a big problem so far, it seems to be my neck muscles and voice-box-moving muscles that are the 'sore spot'. I think I am squeezing off my voice to get the 'gravel' sounds too much, not knowing how to keep my throat open and mimic the same sound. I think I am trying to sing all the little Van Halen (and other song) AHHs that go up in the stratosphere too accurately without knowing the best way how to physically make my throat do that which is hurting me. In general, singing high and clean is relatively easy (like Foreigner). Singing high and 'rough' IS rough (like AC/DC), even though the pitch may not be as high as the clean pitch. I'm not quite sure of many things really, but am learning very quickly at the moment.
What I think I need is some immediate help identifying the worst things I am doing currently, so that I lessen the major evils I'm committing while continuing to grow quickly. It is probable that my beginning is foolish, like running a marathon without training, and there is no way around my soreness/etc. without continuing to build up my neck and voice over time. But even with that, I'm sure there are more serious mistakes I could correct immediately that would make the rest of the race more easy to accomplish if I fixed them immediately. But I'm so new at the game, I need help identifying the worst things I can't see or don't know. I am to succeed and rock the house, of course...
Can some experienced persons please help direct me with these issues and ideas so that I can continue to improve while lessening the worst things I am doing at the moment?
What would be the best way to get help? Continue the phase 2 or 3 of the course (I feel like my problem is inherently past phase 1)?
Show some video of what I'm doing for critique?
Get an hour lesson (could that short of an expensive time possibly be very helpful for such a large problematic beginning)?
Please help, all insights are appreciated, and thank you!
Joshua

Best Answers

Answers

  • HuduVuduHuduVudu Posts: 5192.0 PRO
    You are holding tension in your neck. Watch carefully for it in your practices, I am sure you will see it there too. Do not think that the soreness is part of the process. It is not. When you fix your technique it will abate immediately, and you will be left with the recovery form the previous soreness.

    I suspect, that you are doing glottal compression, but not quite correct and I am unable to judge or help with that.

    Here is what I suggest:
    Submit a LAH bridging triad, to look for where the tension might be coming from.
    Also submit a sample of your doing distortion, to determine if you are doing the compression correctly.

    I am not sure if the higher level students can help with the compression part, but it might help.

    Hope that this can help :)
  • jhshipleyjhshipley Posts: 72.0 PRO
    Thanks for the suggestions. I don't think the LAH scale is an issue at the moment. If I can self-report, I can do the basic one without straining, and feel I do decently with the scales in general.

    I will try to get a song sample soon that has some distortion. What is the best method to post a video on here? And should I post it in this thread, or somewhere else? Thank you...
  • doc_ramadanidoc_ramadani Posts: 4932.0 PRO
    Hi Joshua, ( @jhshipley ),

    you can either use soundcloud.com for audio clips or youtube. I would recommend that you upload videos on youtube and mark them as "not listed". Copy the link of your video and paste it into your post here in the forum. The forum software will translate the link and embed the youtube player in your post.

    Regards,
    Doc
  • jhshipleyjhshipley Posts: 72.0 PRO
    @doc_ramadani - TY sir for the youtube help.
    @HuduVudu -
    These are bad videos taken on my cell phone, using my computer speakers and youtube karaoke covers for the song, but it should give you a decent idea of how I sing. It is probably an 85% performance for me.
    The first video with Rock Steady should have some more distortion singing. The second with Still Loving You should be using more compression but clearer tone I think. I think I'm singing my air guitar a little too loudly, which my wife thinks is hilarious (I don't do that at practice, but I was just in the mood screwing around. My incorrect Scorpions words were also atrocious)...

    I just had another couple hour singing practice Saturday, and my jaw was tired the next day and today. I am doing something wrong, but it doesn't look like I'm straining my jaw that much to me in the videos (which were recorded the day after practice), but what do I know. If my jaw hurts I must have done it wrong. It was my throat muscles that have hurt before, now they are fine. My cords never seem to bother still, which I guess is a blessing. I think I move around and wave my left hand a lot more when I have a mic too, which could be an additional problem.

    Anywho, please opine:



  • videoacevideoace Posts: 1,783Pro, 2.0 PRO
    Rock Steady: Not bad. There were a few minor hiccups here, and there but nothing serious.
    One thing that may help you is to keep your head straight forward. When you turn your head sideways, you are restricting the airflow for the "Open Throat". If you want to turn a certain way, turn your body, and not the head.

    Still Loving You: That sounded pretty good too. same thing, just a few minor hiccups.
    For that song you may want to play with some softer textures at the beginning of the phrases, and when you sing "I will be there".

    Peace, Tony

  • jhshipleyjhshipley Posts: 72.0 PRO
    Thank you @Gaston_Jauregui and @HuduVudu , I appreciate your insights. I will try to work on the openness of my mouth while practicing and singing. I tell you truly, I was only thinking about breath support, the words to the song, and pitch when I was singing. Mouth/jaw stuff never entered my mind. But I do wonder too- is it possible that I may naturally not open as much, like Robert Palmer style thin mouth opening stuff. Or is it always best to open that sucker up, even if it feels weird or unnatural, and train this 'unnatural' openness feeling until it feels more normal to keep it more open always? I think not opening my mouth is quite natural feeling to me. Should I forcibly change this tendency regardless?

    Also @HuduVudu , you were correct that I'm not comfortable. I have a large phobia of doing anything in front of people, if you can believe it! It is only the realization that I'm getting old fast and have always wanted to sing if possible that has finally given me the attitude of "I just don't care anymore" in order to try this endeavor, although as you've pointed out with my vibe, I don't have the self-confidence and showmanship yet at all. I've never sang in front of more than a karaoke crowd more than a handful of times, and now I've signed up to sing with a band 40+ of the hardest classic rock and roll songs in front of whoever shows up! It is quite out of the box for me, and sometimes I still laugh at myself thinking this was a 'good' or even plausible idea. I know the first time I will be a nervous wreck, but I just feel like I don't care right now, and I have to move on. So now I'm trying very hard to obtain a solid singing foundation and memorization of these songs to help lessen my fear when it is time to go. I'm still not convinced I can sing the whole set list in one night, as we have not gotten that far yet together! And these bouts of muscle aches in different places make me wonder, so I have to fix my worst problems now in order to keep moving forward. I sure would like to sing them all well, and make some people happy if possible (and I would enjoy that immensely too!)...

    Thank you guys for the assessment, I appreciate it.
  • HuduVuduHuduVudu Posts: 5192.0 PRO
    @jhshipley I don't think forcibly opening your jaw will really help, though your jaw does need to open. I think that you need to make a truce in your mind about what you are doing. I think that the mental is manifesting itself physically and if you deal with the mental part the physical will fall in line. Try to get comfortable with who you are as a singer.

    I don't know if you have experienced it yet but look for it and try to get to a place where you can experience it. The experience is this, for lack of better words "crowd feedback loop". Our voice is but one piece of the singing puzzle. Unfortunately it is the most focused on and IMO the least important. The crowd feedback loop is why people really sing. As a singer I made up reasons as to why I sang. They were all BS, and I knew it. I just liked to sing and I didn't really care if I tortured others in the process I just wanted to do it, and in karaoke you share the torture. Then one day, I hit the crowd feedback loop. It was totally by accident and I wasn't even trying. It was THE coolest feeling in the world. I am not a good singer, not even now, but I understand this thing and my whole perspective of singing and music is much sharper for it. If you can do it you will know what I am talking about and you will stop being self conscious about your singing, and more importantly you will know why you sing. I wished I could provide you more concrete help, but this is the best that I can do. :)
  • Klaus_TrappKlaus_Trapp Posts: 192.0 PRO
    @jhshipley: that's the best motivation, having wanted it for so long and now finally doing it. congrats on the decision :) when is your first show? i have an old book, "your voice and how to use it" by cecile berry, it's not about singing but speaking better, like for theater actors etc. i am not sure if it applies to singing as well, but if you're jaw is tight it's tight i guess so maybe this applies here too, it's an exercise to loosen the jaw:

    "drop it open gently - find the most open position without tension - hopefully this will be the width of two fingers. open and close it gently and feel it loose. if it does not open easily, then you will have to work on it gently over a fairly long period, loosening it at odd times through the day so that it gradually loosens up. chewing movements help this."

    i have a very tight jaw and try to incorporate it in the day with the opening at random times (only just started it), and also massaging the cheeks. i found some instructions to loosen / massage the jaw on youtube, the video is in German so i am not sure if it would be helpful to you, also not sure if i'm allowed to post links to random YT videos here (i am not affiliated with the channel or anything) I could PM the video if you are interested. I think you sound good by the way!
  • jhshipleyjhshipley Posts: 72.0 PRO
    Thank you @Klaus_Trapp for your kind words, I appreciate it. I do need to exercise my jaw some, as it is still tight. And I need to practice keeping it loose while singing too. So much stuff to practice! :smile:

    And thank you @HuduVudu for your perspective. I guess maybe practicing my set list songs in some karaoke settings are about the only way to get more comfortable in front of people until I have to do it for real in my first gig, and maybe try to get to understand that feedback loop you are talking about. I agree, I'm not really singing just for me. I mean, I love music, but I want to give or share something too, I don't need to sing just for me. Somehow, I need to work on being comfortable in my own skin as you say, and accept myself and my singing instead of feeling awkward about it still. I have a way to go, but it has been a good experience thus far, like I enjoy practicing with the boys now, where it made me nervous trying out and the first few practices. I think playing in front of people will come in time too. They say you have to do something "10,000 times" before you master it completely. Well, I will never do 10,000 gigs, but I imagine if I do more than 10, that the 10th will be far more comfy than the 1st.

    Thank you everyone for helping me understand more about this. I appreciate it,
    Joshua
  • HuduVuduHuduVudu Posts: 5192.0 PRO
    edited December 5
    @jhshipley You can do 10,000 times ... here is how. Go out every night and karaoke. There is always one going on and you can usually get 3 or so songs in a night. This will give you a lot of exposure to crowds and to what others singers are capable of.
  • Gaston_JaureguiGaston_Jauregui Posts: 615Moderator, Enrolled, 2.0 PRO
    @jhshipley I didnt mean to open it un naturally this is why I gave you the tip of looking at the roof and naturally the mouth will open in a relaxed state, so yes you will then try to open it a little bit more (and go back looking at the front, so the sound is bright with a big smile and the back of the throat is really opened, but in a very natural way and your jaw doesnt tense and hurt again :)
  • jhshipleyjhshipley Posts: 72.0 PRO
    @Gaston_Jauregui no worries, I understood you. I tried singing for 45 min or so last night some higher stuff that I think I was straining my jaw on more, and I tried to mentally keep my mouth open way more, and it did sound different. It was louder too. I think mentally I may try to keep quieter around the house, which may be a negative when I'm trying to practice singing songs "for real". I also had the weird feeling that I had to compress more to use less air, because that big open mouth made my throat want to open more at a high register which was a little awkward feeling, and the volume bumped up. It was definitely more pingy sounding too, but it was difficult to hold my mouth open twice as much (felt like 4x as much) as I am used to compared to when I didn't think about what my mouth was doing. But still, there was something good there about it that I have to explore. I'm going to incorporate this "big mouth" thing in some scales for a few weeks and maybe practices too, and see if I can do it without hurting my jaw. Having it hurt now while trying to hold it open it is helpful, because I can tell when it is relaxed or not! Hah, if it hurts while it is wide open, it isn't relaxed, because my muscle is still sore! Talk about forceful relaxation! :smile:
  • Gaston_JaureguiGaston_Jauregui Posts: 615Moderator, Enrolled, 2.0 PRO
    @jhshipley in order to make this process easier remember what Ken says about pronouncin less the higher you go, so youll end up using Ah Aa (smile) and A as eight on the very top notes and less pronunciation on consonants ao you can maintain the jaw stable and not move it that much , this will release a lot more tension
  • jhshipleyjhshipley Posts: 72.0 PRO
    @Gaston_Jauregui it makes sense about pronouncing less the higher you go, but I am confused in general about how much I should be moving my jaw in singing the words. When I do a scale, I can see very little movement of my jaw, and it feels fine sitting still and getting the tones. But when you sing all the words, my jaw has to start moving all over to get them out and make the word sounds. The song Hard to Handle from the Black Crowes is full of words you have to get out fast, and with attitude, and my jaw feels like it has to move quite quickly to get that feel accomplished. Is the plan to move the jaw the least possible to make a discernible word wherever you are in pitch? It seems like it wouldn't be as bright with such subtle pronunciation, or like the words would be muddy, especially in a fast and spunky lyrical song. I don't know. Still trying to understand how to get a lot of pieces together...
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