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Hi Forum Members And Readers!

I am Kevin. I am a native Southern Californian and did not think I would be giving any serious time to the voice (or music itself, really) any longer. However, there is a cause for this step and that is why I am here.

My musical background with the voice goes back to the 1980's as a self taught guy who started the kind of band he wanted to hear and see. Though I always enjoyed singing and was told I had a good voice, I never took it seriously at all until that time. My beginnings were in my bedroom with the stereo cranked loud and my family just tolerating it, of course. My primary inspiration was Ronnie James Dio (though there were plenty of others I like as well). It's just that Dio's voice projected POWER. While I admired the range and pitch of singers who displayed excellence in these areas, that strong, powerful sound was what I went for. My band was like a comet that was barely noticeable to anyone unless they happened to have been looking up at that precise moment. We came and went quickly... or so I thought. Recently, it was brought to my attention that some of our material was set to be released as a CD and that required my approval. Evidently, we had become a "legendary cult underground band" after almost 30 years and a mysterious silence concerning our whereabouts. This has developed into a call for a possible live appearance (or appearances) and I realize my "instrument" must be dusted off if it is to be used at all.

My only vocal instruction EVER was during a time just before my band recorded its demo when I had strained my voice. I went to a recommended vocal coach who Ken Tamplin also lists a visiting. The coach helped me a little in the area of support to get past the immediate issue but beyond that, did not change things too much. I've been of a mind to wipe the slate clean and follow Ken's approach. I do find that I've had to watch and re-watch the videos as Ken wisely requested. There are details that sometimes seem to contradict when looking for that "AHA!" moment some have mentioned on the forum and I've had to work on finding the right feeling for the technique.

Recently, after warming up, I tried singing some of my old material a couple of days in succession. It can be quite demanding. As of yesterday, I discovered that I'd become hoarse and I thought my technique had been good. Some of the places I had struggled with air before flowed quite smoothly now. However, the upper chest register stuff and the place I typically made the transition to head voice were the problem points. The upper chest register seems to be where the hoarseness is greatest right now. I'd like to hear recommendations on how to approach this situation in the days to come. Do I continue just doing warmups? Do I try to push past the hoarseness and work the voice at less than 100%? Do I rest it and do nothing? During the warmup this morning, there was a tickling sensation at the back of the throat during the tongue exercise that was quite strong and made my eyes water in the higher portions.

I'd also like to know if lemon juice with water is bad for the voice. I use it to help another condition at a doctor's recommendation and it has been a blessing in inhibiting mucous production. My throat and chest are clearer than they have been in years. I do recall Ken spoke about dry cords though and I wonder if there might be anything I'm doing that would add to the effects of this new vocal strain.

Comments

  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 12,142Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    Hi, @manjack.

    I used to drink water and lemon juice.  It can attack your teeth if you drink too much.  Within reason, it can help clear your throat, but I just drink plain water now, and don't have any desire to go back to lemon-juiced water.

    Regarding your upper chest register, that is something that takes time to work up or to get back into shape. 

    You won't be able to just power through it if it's a little bit in damaged condition right now, which it sounds like you're describing.

    When you have an area that is breaking up, like your upper chest mids and highs, it's best to approach them very gently, in almost a head voice.  If they break up in that mode, then you just need to keep working them very gently until they start to clear up.

    This could take some time. 

    If you approach it gently, over time, you can gradually begin to lean into the sound a little more at a time and eventually even your upper chest will clear up. 

    You need to be sure that you have learned to use compression techniques and massive support for high, powerful chest singing.  If you overdo it with pressure and air, you will go hoarse.  Often, if you are hoarse, you will need to take a break with your voice and when you come back, avoid overblowing the cords, by cutting back the air as Ken describes.

    Go back to ensuring you are supporting correctly.  Blowing out your cords is a sing of too much air and too much pressure.  Support is the countermeasure for that.  

    Your story of a regroup of your band is exciting.  Just be sure to protect your voice by using lots of support, and refrain from oversinging.

    All the Best!

    Bob
  • manjackmanjack Posts: 6Pro
    Thanks for responding @highmtn.

    I think I will follow the portion of your advice that has me taking a break from doing any of the old song material but just doing the KTVA warmup program for a little while. This may give me the time to look at more of the information Ken presents on compression. Then I can come back and try to work gently into those songs with high chest register notes. I clearly underestimated the effects of my layoff as well so getting it back will have to be gradual.

    Oversinging was always my greatest problem so it's something I will have to do my best to keep in mind and rein in.

    I'm going to cut back to once a day on the lemon juice until late fall & winter. That's where I have the greatest problems with mucous and potential colds/infections.

    I used to do a high pitched falsetto note/scream on a couple of tunes back in the day. I can't even get near it now and would like to get it back at some point but I wonder that if attempting to work on it down the road would bring on the kind of hoarseness I have now. I never identified it as a source of problems in my earlier days but if air across the cords promotes hoarseness, it may have been a factor.

    Thanks again for the input, Bob!

    Kevin
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 12,142Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    @manjack,

    Kevin,

    If you give yourself time to build up your voice, you will be back better than ever, as long as you haven't got scarring or permanent damage to your cords. 

    And this time you can get all the way to the advanced parts of the course that will teach you to belt without beating up your cords, and how to compress your air and hold it back at the same time.  There are ways to sing with a powerful voice, yet control it to keep from letting it get away from you. 

    You have to build the strength, stamina, range, and control. That will allow you to regain your notes and then some, and to keep them once you have them.  It's a learning process, and you will have to train to get it.  Then you will be able to rely on your muscle memory for good habits to overcome the bad habits you may have had in the past.  

    I've gone from having perpetual hoarseness after gigs to being impervious to gigs, driving home after a gig as if I've just gotten really well warmed-up.  And that's after really having a great time onstage, from soft, beautiful singing to belting out the rockers.

    Like you, I've been around the block a few times.  Train right, and you'll recover your chops better than before, by far.

    All the Best.

    Bob  
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