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The Myth Of Natural Range, And Why Most People Believe It

timliu92timliu92 Posts: 62
edited October 2015 in Psychology of Singing
Hi KTVA,

This post of mine is not anything with regards to vocal technique but rather on mind set for developing one's voice.

I had a conversation with a vocal coach (not mine but a vocal coach nevertheless) with regards to the notion of voice type and vocal range. He told me that while technique and tone can be developed, one's voice range, no matter how developed, will eventually be limited to what is natural for him or her (e.g. a baritone will always have a comfortable range that is not far off from his or her initial, and so as a bass, a tenor, an alto, or a soprano).

Of course, looking at Master Ken's videos, we know he has proven to us so many times that this notion is not necessarily true. Despite that, even from past experience, there are people who keep telling me, "You are a baritone, so stick to the low notes, there is no way you can sing high for you will strain or sound extremely nasal", although with time I have proven that such notion, while often accepted by the majority, is untrue since I have increased my vocal range from an E4 when I first started singing to a G4 or even a G#4 on a very good day (and certainly it will only get better since sometimes I can even access an A4). Why is it that most people believe this myth of 'natural range'?

Thanks All! I hope we can have an interesting discussion on this. :)

Regards,
Timothy

Comments

  • 8 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • What you ultimately find is that when you have worked through all of the technical mechanics or singing, and have worked to get range/notes that you want, tones that you want, stamina that you want, and all the other goodies that can give you the tools to actually have a little or a lot of confidence in your abilities, the door swings open much wider for freedom with your voice.

    KNOWING that you can get there, that you have the muscle-memory to attain those notes and tones allows you to then just sing your heart out. Cry, shout, soar like an eagle... all of that stuff can just come out of you, when you have oiled your machinery and tuned it up so that all of those mechanics are just part of who you are.

    Then, when the spirit moves you, you just go for it, and it's right there.
    It literally feels like opening up your heart and sharing it, emotions and all. I'm not talking about faking it. I'm talking about living your songs in the moment. Being that song in that moment. Connecting with those who are present in a way that can't be done any other way that I know of.

    I'm a very shy person, and it's really therapeutic for me to be able to walk into a room full of strangers and friends and just sing my heart out. Many times, they are giving me requests to songs that are important to them, and they are wanting me to pour it on thick. It might be a song that was important to a loved one that has passed on. It might be a song that gets everybody up on the dance floor and acting crazy, forgetting about their troubles in the moment.

    I just have to say that, for me, that's what it's all about.

    Yes, sometimes I do think about vowel modifications or other technicalities for a moment, but because that's all part of ME now, I can focus more on the moment and the people who are there, and what they want from me, and that is feeling and fun, sharing joy and good times, sad times, victories and defeats.

    Singing is such a means of communicating some of the things that are hard to express otherwise.

    And certainly believing/knowing that I can do this is one of the pillars that props me up and lets me live the life that I live in a way that is very satisfying to me. If I were to mentally or spiritually defeat myself, what I accomplish all the time would be very difficult and much less fun. I choose to know what is possible, to aim myself in that direction, to know that I am on my way to my destination, and to arrive there as a result.

    All the Best!

    Bob
  • streeterstreeter Posts: 646
    edited October 2015 Vote Up1Vote Down
    I honestly think a lot of coaches are scared of hurting their students. They don't know how to develope a students range safely via support or proper breath control. So many qualified instructors have no idea what breath support means or does let alone the more complex subjects like vowel modifications or how to apply them to a lyric.

    Breath support is often described as pushing even more air out by almost every coach I have come across... online or otherwise. KTVA is the only place I have heard that describes the sensation as the exact opposite.

    On the rare occasion the coach does know about the vowel modifications and what they do, they tend to bring them in super early. By the time students hit an F4 they are already out of 'lives'.


  • 'Think that their voices are naturally limited'

    That's exactly what happened to me.
  • I think it is because these vocal coaches want to claim that they know more than they actually do. Singing beyond your range is hard to fathom when you currently don't have it. Belting on the A4 for a baritone? Seems inconceivable. However, once they've developed the strength to do it, they'll be confused how they ever thought it was difficult.

    The good news for you, that I'm surprised more KTVA students don't mention, is that when you develop your head and mix voice to a decent degree, you'll find you suddenly have about an OCTAVE of extra range in what you consider to be your "voice." Instead of your voice suddenly ending at, say, A4, your tone just slowly becomes more heady way up into the octaves.
  • timliu92timliu92 Posts: 62
    edited October 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @streeter Interesting. It is sad that those who are supposedly qualified to teach vocals do not even know what a breath support is. As a result, many of their students either believe that they are untalented or think that their voices are naturally limited when in reality they just need someone who really understands the fundamentals very clearly in order to guide them in unlocking the potential of their voices. Not only that, the fact that many vocal coaches do not even know how to sing themselves is just absolutely mind-boggling to me.

    I guess it is a necessity for any aspiring singer out there to know if his or her vocal coach can really sing before deciding if he or she is interested to take lessons.
  • timliu92timliu92 Posts: 62
    edited October 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @streeter Me too! I absolutely feel ya. :)

    I thought I will forever sing below an F4 and stick to my Jim Morrison (that too not even his whole repertoire), Sinatra and Elvis until one fine day when I decided to join a choir and took vocal coaching with my conductor (who is classical-based) all the way until now. In his very first class, I told him that I took vocal coaching before, and he was extremely surprised that my previous vocal coach never noticed all my bad habits that prevented me from developing my tone and range, such as poor posture, tendency to unnecessarily lock the jaw, shallow breathing, poor articulation, and a lot more. Since then, I never looked back, and my vocal range just expanded well with time under his training, eventually even able to improve my repertoire tremendously as my tone quality also became way better :) Even those who thought I could never sing higher finally admitted that I can.

    Master Ken is absolutely right. Good vocal coaches are hard to find nowadays, let alone someone in the calibre of the boss himself.
  • timliu92timliu92 Posts: 62
    edited October 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @blondiewales I highly agree! Just as it seems impossible to do calculus for Mathematics until you reach senior high, singing high seems impossible when you have never done it correctly in the first place. Simple logic. :) :) :)
  • Hello all!
    Same thing happened to me, that's why I joined the KTVA'group!
    I was discouraged by my coaches to increase my range, they argue that my lower register was sounding better than the high register...
    Well, it might be true but I don't want to limit myself to low range songs..
    Yes @streeter , they don't want the students to get hurt, that's probably why...
  • The wonders of the 'anything is possible' attitude is what piqued my interest in these lessons.
    I can tell you that even as one who does not yet own copies of Ken's lessons yet, belief in what you can do is a massive part of singing. When I was 14 and didn't give a monkeys about vocal categories, didn't know about them, didn't know anything except that singing is wonderful, I could pull off ridiculous stuff, Back In Black by AC/DC, Anno Mundi by Tony Martin, Release by Pearl Jam you name it.

    Then when I was about 17 I stopped practising for the first time in my life since I was 7 years old, college was busy, I was busy and then I injured my back real bad. I was in pain all the time for years and I thought, ''I'm never going to be a showman now, I can hardly pick up my coffee some days''.

    Soon as I let that crap in, suddenly I couldn't hit what I used to, even after the injury to my back healed and I could practise whenever I wanted.

    Was it because I magically became less of a singer? No. Was it because I believed I was less of a singer? Generally speaking, yes, it absolutely was.

    Ever had those days when you hear yourself do a song and you know you sound awesome, but then when you hear a few other people do it in a way you feel is better (or just is technically better for a fact) and then when you do that same song it just doesn't feel as good as that first time, before you felt down?

    Simple. If you feel underwhelmed you may very well put that sound out too, and you don't always realise it, but sometimes you don't try so much, or try way too hard because you feel that way, so then the result feels less natural and it's not as good.

    Singing comes from the heart, you have to nurture that as much as anything else too if you want results.

    Believe it or not, you can treat it like anything else that makes you down if limiting beliefs are a really bad issue for you. Hypnotherapy, affirmations, meditative things that keep you chilled out and simply talking to other singers who understand.

    Let it be known, they are not substitutes for practise! Also, I find in general that there will always be songs that you KNOW you are good at pretty much everytime. Do those and bask in how good you feel. Then go back to your more challenging stuff, don't sit beating yourself up cause you cant go that high or that low or this distorted yet. Enjoy all the great things you've got going on already, build that confidence and then bulldoze those challenges. Be soft and flexible in life. Think Bruce Lee, 'be like water'.

    Never let anybody tell you 'it's impossible'.

    Hope this is helpful to some of you,

    Kind regards,

    Jenny.
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