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Atrophied chest voice?

Hello, everyone, I decided to post my question here after reading some comments under one of Ken's videos on youtube. It's going to be a bit long.

I’m 25 and for the most part of my life I was a first soprano in different choirs. We were strongly warned against using our chest voices at all by our teachers and even told that using our chest voices would ruin our vocal chords for good. So my entire life I’ve been only using my head voice and naturally was disappointed in its range, even though my head voice is pretty strong and I have a good control of it. I really love singing and recently decided to take up singing lessons with a vocal coach. Now, she was the one who introduced me to the fact that not only using my chest voice was possible; it’s actually a requirement for the type of singing I want to do. During our last lesson she wanted me to try and sing the song we are working on after a warm-up with my chest voice to sort of memorize the feeling of it. But this is where my problems started.

After over a decade of only using my head voice, I have almost zero control over my chest voice. To say bluntly I sound absolutely awful: my voice quivers due to the lack of muscle strength, it’s very unstable, it breaks, I can’t take a note higher than B4 (after a long warm-up and even this one sounds strained) and the worst part is that I sometimes sing out of tune, because I cannot control it (even though I hear it and it kills me every time). My voice lessons are one hour a week, and it’s obviously not enough, so I’d like to learn some exercises and techniques that would help me strengthen my chest voice and get a better control of it. My voice teacher suggested doing the same two warm-ups that we do in our lessons and continue singing the song we're working on entirely in my chest voice (which I am failing to do right now as it is too high for my chest voice so far) and she said that eventually it would come to me. But I'd like to work more on this issue because to me it's very frustrating. I mostly find tips on how to deal with the opposite problem online, and most warm-ups I know are focused on building your head voice.

I found this video of Ken https://youtube.com/watch?v=P9J3iEn4Gqc called 'How to rock your chest voice' and found it difficult to follow through the exercise as my voice starts to break on A4-B4. I was wondering if there are other exercises I could do in addition to this one to help my problem.

Thank you very much!

P.S. After reading many reviews and watching Ken Tamplin's videos on youtube I'm very determined to purchase his 'How to sing...' course eventually, but I'm wondering if he addresses this issue specifically in his course.

Comments

  • 2 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,102
    edited January 16 Vote Up1Vote Down
    Hello, @heedless_ways,

    Unfortunately, there are many vocal directors who discourage female vocalists from developing or even using their chest voice. We see many come here with no idea that they even have this whole set of notes and range below their light, flutey-sounding head voices. Consequently, it can be difficult to get a hand-hold on how to use that part of the voice.

    The reason the directors insist on head voice only is because they don't want to deal with it. It has no use in the type of music most of them are promoting anyway, so it's treated as an undesirable trait, and even shunned. So we have half of the population being discouraged from learning to use half of their voices!

    Using this part of your voice will be a little like riding a bicycle. You're presently in the "Whoa! I'm going to crash!" phase.

    You don't know how to support the notes, so your breath wobbles and it seems impossible to control your pitch. You probably can't connect the top end of your chest voice to your head voice, and that's another learning curve.

    All of this is doable, but you need more than tips. You should be doing a training program that is based on using your entire voice, developing it from as low as you can sing to as high as you can sing, and working to expand the entire spectrum of your voice.

    You can do exercises, but how you do those exercises matters. The voice will grow, but it needs the right encouragement, stimulus, and direction.

    You are correct that you need a number of exercises, because simply trying to go directly to singing songs in chest voice without first growing it is not a good plan. Exercises are designed to strip away all of the variables and moving targets of the voice, so that you can focus on fewer elements at a time and perfect those elements in their simplest forms. Without that basis, you're going to have a really hard time singing songs in chest voice.

    You need the right kind of support, or you won't have any consistency in your voice.

    Have you seen this series of videos?

    It's geared more towards some of the issues female vocalists have to deal with.

    All the Best!

    Bob
  • You stop when it gets too high. It's OK to stretch the voice, but not to strain. By doing the scales over a period of time, your voice will grow, and you can add in a few more notes as time goes by. But rushing to sing higher than your present capabilities is not a good strategy.

    Just drop out of the scale when it gets too high, and fast-forward to the next one that's within your range.
  • heedless_waysheedless_ways Posts: 2
    edited January 16 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Bob, thank you so much!

    This is honestly so helpful, I've been feeling kind of discouraged in the past couple of days, but knowing I'm not alone really made me even more motivated than before to master this. And thank you so much for the video, I'll definitely be using this series to practice.

    Speaking of which, if I could ask another question? I feel like I've been doing some of the warm-ups incorrectly, straining my voice, because I have a sore throat now. For example, the 'Lah' exercise in the How To Sing Better For Girls video. When doing them, should I try to push for that high note I can barely take now (in my case C4), or should I stop when my voice starts to crack/break, and only work in my comfortable range for now? On those rare occasions when I can actually take C4 it feels more like a scream.

    And I'm going to talk to my vocal coach about postponing singing songs and focusing more on exercises, thank you again, @highmtn !
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