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So, I tell my patients that there ARE no stupid questions…

So, I'm a 54-year-old male psychiatrist, And,Besides knowing the words to like half of the songs ever recorded by Led Zeppelin,I have no musical background whatsoever.I decided to take on a new challenge, so… Here I am. I took on the challenge Of learning a new martial art (Krav Maga) shortly after 9/11,So I have a little bit of experience in trying to learn something from the novice level in middle age.


It really doesn't sound like the"newbies"Are really new to singing.Many of them seem to have
Had some sort of training, imho. I went ahead and bought the"weekend warrior" course,But it seems likeThe lessons are simply briefer versions of What I am Studying in volume one...For the past month, I have been practicing for approximately 4 hours a week. I am patient. My goal is to be able to sing one song in a non-cringeworthy fashionBy Valentine's Day 2018.

Okay – so here I ask some questions. They will clearly reveal my ignorance, but,I paid for the course, so what the hell:-)

1-How do I find out If I am a tenor, Or bass, or whatever?

2–What resources Do you recommend That may teach some of the very basic basics,Such as a discussion on Octaves, notes,Tonality, etc.? My formal musical training ended after I saw Mary Poppins in 1971.

3-How do I tell What musical note is being sung or played? Ken will say something like "This song goes up to a B sharp."

4- What are the best Videos on the singers forum That may help me out?

5-How can I tell What key a given Song is in? I am particularly interested in the songs that I am currently butchering:"House at Pooh corner","Sister golden hair", and "fire and rain". Just to reassure Kenny Loggins in case he's Following this forum– I won't be giving up my day job anytime soon.

Well, I have a million more questions, but I have to get back to my scales.

Thanks!

Ron Kirsner
ron@ronkirsnermd.com











Comments

  • 12 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • image

    First effort:)

    Comments? Please try to refer to a specific time (ie 1:38) to comment on specific things I can improve.
  • jamespleasestopjamespleasestop Posts: 12Member
    edited April 4 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Hi Ron, to answer your question 5 I found the Ultimate Guitar site and app very useful for that sort of thing as well as lyrics. The quick way is that the key is the chord that the song "resolves" to - so in "Fire And Rain" it's the major chord at the end of "... but I always thought that I'd see you again". It's often (but not always or even mostly) the first chord too.

    Of course you can transpose to a different key so while a specific performance or arrangement of a song might be in a particular key, the song itself isn't.

    I'm sure there's a more theoretically correct answer that involves scales and intervals and whatnot but that's always been good enough for me to figure it out.
  • "Jr"-thanks so much for your insightful answer.It seems to make intuitive sense.I will check out that Ultimate guitar site as well.

    Also, I have heard Various definitions of what"head voice" versus "chest voice" Is.I'm still left somewhat Puzzled By this, despite Ken Trying to explain It.
    At first, I thought chest voice Simply involved singing In a lower register,Which then, As notes ascends, Move on to "head voice".

    I am wondering if chest voice is when you"feel" the note resonating in your chest, whereas head voice is when you feel the note resonating In your vocal chords.

    Any thoughts? Thanks for taking the time.
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,935Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    You can go to a number of places to learn about the vocal fach system. Here's one for example: http://choirly.com/voice-types-fach-system/

    Most males are Baritones. If you have a really low voice, you may be a bass, and if you have a higher singing voice than most males, you could be a tenor.

    With this course, you are likely to increase your range, and your voice may exceed some of those boundaries.

    KTVA doesn't teach Music Theory, although many here are guitarists or keyboard players, so you will hear notes being discussed, octaves, etc.

    It's more on an As Needed basis that those things are discussed.

    You might find it helpful to download an app or program that has can display some of this info.

    There are lots of them. One that I have suggested to folks that are having troubles with pitch, and is very handy, is Sing and See. It picks up your voice from your webcam mic and displays what notes you are singing, whether you're too low (flat), too high (sharp) or right on the money. It shows the notes on a musical staff (like sheet music), and also as an alphanumeric (F4) and has a virtual keyboard that displays the notes and numbers of a full piano keyboard. It's a helpful tool if you're lost.

    That program costs about $50, but you can download it and try it for 30 days for free. It's worth trying. I know lots of students have apps on their phones and computers that are similar.

    It's helpful as a reference to know what notes are happening, or at least what note the scales start on and how high they go up.

    I don't think Ken says that a song goes up to a B-sharp, because, as you will see on a Sing and See virtual keyboard, there is no B-sharp. There is, however a B-flat. (There isn't a black key above a B. So on a keyboard, the next note up from a B is C (natural).

    You don't have to have a lot of musical notation or theory to sing well, but it's really nice to not be totally lost in space, too. So having some anchor points is helpful, like just to find your way around, like street signs and numbers when you're new in town.

    The best videos to help you get started are the PRO Videos called Dudes Basics - In Depth, and also Divas Basics - In Depth. It's much of the same information that is in volume 1, but you get to watch another student being taught these things by Ken. So it gives you yet another perspective on the exercises, and shows you that you don't have to be perfect while you're learning.

    A virtual keyboard can be used to match a song you hear and help you figure out the key of the song.

    You can also google any song and get information on it. For instance you could do a search on "Chords and lyrics Already Gone Eagles" and you'll get several instances of the lyrics, with guitar chords. Often they will be available in more than one key. So even if you can't sing it in the key of the original recording, you may be able to find a version that's better suited to where your voice presently is centered.

    You can do the same thing to find karaoke backing tracks, and those are available in several keys, too.

    The vocal fachs are kind of a "caste system" that puts you in a box. Ken helps you come out of the box and cross the barriers. But we all wonder what we "are". Just out of curiosity, if nothing else. We are all just prisoners of our own device.

    There are students and non-students here of all walks of life, at all levels from total novice to accomplished musicians/vocalists, at all ages. We all started out knowing nothing. We're all on the same road, just at different points along the way. We're all on a journey, and there is a lot to learn. We can help others along the way and we can ask for help and information.

    Your voice will grow if you follow Ken's instructions. It will continue to grow for as long as you continue to do the exercises and keep learning. A lot of this will sink in slowly as you become more experienced. Initially, so many things may seem new that it may seem a little overwhelming. But it all starts to sink in eventually, and to become more the norm and you will become more confident in your capabilities.

    Welcome to KTVA!

    Bob
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,935Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    Regarding your newer questions, chest voice is your speaking voice. As you go higher, you get into your mid voice, or "Call Voice" that you would use if you saw somebody breaking into your car down the block. It's a little higher than your lower range.

    Then if you keep going higher, you come to that place where your voice may "break" or "yodel" and then above that, you're in a higher register, sometimes called "falsetto". That's your head voice.

    It is rumored that you can feel chest voice resonating in your sternum, although it's kind of subtle. But it's a lower resonant sound.

    As you go higher and higher, the "center" or "focus" of the sound seems to move upwards, into your throat, then up into your mouth, then up into the skull itself. Sometimes on your highest notes, it feels almost like the sound is shooting up through the top of your head, but it really isn't. You can, however feel resonance in various parts of the head.

    But that's why it's called head voice, because most of the vibrations of sound keep moving upwards into the higher portions of the vocal tract and skull.

    You'll be letting the sound be directed towards the backs of the upper teeth, splitting between the mouth and nasal passages, and resonating in the sinus cavities. It all depends on how high or low or in the center the note is, as to where you'll feel sensations.
  • Thanks so much, Bob.

    Sometime in the future, would it be possible to arrange a video Session, perhaps brief, With you, to see if I am "getting it?"

    Thanks for making me feel welcome.

    Ron
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,935Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    edited April 7 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @rkishner,

    You can post videos of yourself doing a couple of the basic exercises and I can tell you what you need to work on, and what you're doing right. Those are done here on the forums, and others get to benefit from the experience as well.

    I don't do private lessons, but Ken does. You can do a short consult with him.

    Bob
  • Hey mate!

    Just to touch upon a few things.

    1. For the most parts, terminology like baritone, tenor etc are classical definitions that have a little to do with range, but mostly to do with other things. Essentially if you're not planning on singing classical then don't worry about it. If you are planning on learning to sing classical, get in person lessons and see what you get put into in 5 years time :D

    2. Google! There is a wealth of information around. Do you play any other instruments? Because that's the easiest way to put two and two together. If you don't, take an interest in piano as that's the easiest one to get your head around. If you need some resources on that I can help you.

    3. Firstly Bsharp does exist (however it's what is called an enharmonic equivalent of C.) C and Bsharp are the same note. However Bsharp exists because in musical notation dependent on key, sometimes it's 'correct' to write it that way. Sorry to be pedantic Bob haha, you're right in that no where does Ken say B# and it's unlikely to be something you'll come across. Again as with number 2. if you can take interest in the Piano and perhaps learn a bit of that/the guitar, you'll find it easier to relate to. But as explained above it related to the notes on the stave. When they use things like C4, C5, C6 it's relating to which octave it's in. An octave is 8 notes apart. So if you played A, and then played through B, C, D, E, F, G... A. That new A would be an 'octave apart' from the previous one.

    4. All of them. Also do you're 'lahs' and listen to Bob :D

    5. The classical method is look at the sheet music and see what the key signature is! xD

    But otherwise look at the chords and scales used, find where it resolves and that's 'usually' your key in contemporary music.

    Disclaimer: I'm a terrible terrible singer! I've just started on the programme this year and I'm rubbish. I did however graduate with a 1st class hons degree in Music from a good university, so my definitions above are hopefully correct haha. As for actually learning to sing though... ask Bob! He's been great with my lah's and I think he's pretty much judged everyone's lah's by now? He's the go-to man for advice.

  • Robo- I deeply appreciate your response.

    I have always loved music,But have never played an instrument, unfortunately. In fact, my decision to take up singing Involved a cost– benefit analysis Of learning how to sing versus learning An instrument From scratch. As a kid, I was known as the Smart aleck Who did lots of imitations of Teachers, etc.– So That was one thing that gave singing the edge over learning an instrument...That I know even less about music Theory and instruments.It's funny how life goes.

    I had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned "b- sharp"–The point I meant to convey is that True newcomers To the art of music May not even Know the difference between a note and a chord. Your explanation is perfect.My brother, a professional piano player, gave me a quick lesson, So I will try to move on from here.

    I went Ahead and bought the "sing and see" Computer app That Bob mentioned, And it is quite Interesting –I'm sure I will learn More about it and how to use it properly over time. I noticed that I was most comfortable in the "third octave"– And that's I suppose what I meant When I was asking about baritone, tenor, etc. Do you think that being Most comfortable in a certain octave is a typical place to start, With the goal of expanding range?

    I will soon post a few minutes of "lah"...are their instructions on how to Go about doing that?

    And I think that I am driving my wife crazy Walking Around The condo doing the burble exercise.

    (I apologize for all the improper capitalizations– I am using A speech recognition program.)

    Again, Robo, thanks.



  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,935Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    For the LAH demo, shoot some video of you doing the first LAH exercise. Upload it to YouTube, and set the video to "unlisted" if you don't want the whole world to watch it.

    Don't make it Private, or we won't be able to see it, either.

    You copy the URL from YouTube and paste that into a post here, and it should show up when we click on it. We listen, give feedback, you go work on what you need to improve.

    Everything starts with getting the LAH right. We go from there.

    Bob
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 9,935Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    Not bad. You're losing the "melody" on most of the scales on 2 notes before the top, and the next few coming back down. It might be simpler for you to do the basic Lah scale (fewer notes, easier melody) just to see if you can do that one more accurately.

    It's important that you smile. A big smile that bares your upper teeth and raises your cheeks up towards your eyes. That will open up your vocal tract more. Your jaw isn't open very wide, and your teeth are covered. That will make a darker sound. Let's work on getting it brighter to begin with.

    Brighter will be easier to keep in tune and will promote resonance.

    Also, try to avoid looking around. Keep your head up straight, with good posture.

    When you get to the end of the scale you should be on the same note the scale started out on.

    This is a good start.

    Bob
  • Wonderful. Happy Easter...
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