Singing Forum by Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy
Hey Dudes and Divas!

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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.


Ron Kirsner


  • 24 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added

  • First effort:)

    Comments? Please try to refer to a specific time (ie 1:38) to comment on specific things I can improve.
  • OK-Bob- thanks so much for your helpful feedback. I've been practicing my scales just about every night. Here's my second effort.

    I couldn't seem to find the more simple "Ah" scale on the warm-up exercise – so I did the one I have been practicing.I am open to your feedback, and anyone else's.


  • 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: 10,872Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    You can go to a number of places to learn about the vocal fach system. Here's one for example:

    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!

  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,872Administrator, 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.

  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,872Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    edited April 7 Vote Up0Vote Down

    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.

  • roborobo Posts: 11Pro
    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: 10,872Administrator, 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.

  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,872Administrator, 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.

  • Wonderful. Happy Easter...
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,872Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    This is greatly improved. Focus a little more on those high notes where the scale turns around to come back down. Just try to be a little more accurate there. Do brighten it up as much as you can. This is better than before, but could benefit by being brighter in tone. Improved facial posture, but you could smile even more into the sound.
  • Should I therefore focus on better breath support as I turn the scale around? It is truly helpful when you specify as you tend to. I tell myself the analogy of learning to drive a car (waaay back in '78 !), and how placing just the right amount of pressure on the accelerator took patience and time to master. Seems much like breath support...

    Tidbit: I have been telling friends, family and patients that I'm learning to sing. The exchange generally goes something like this:

    Ron: "I am learning to sing, practicing daily, with a course that I bought on the Internet."

    Other: "That is great. I have a terrible voice and could never sing."

    Ron: "Is that a fact? I'm wondering – have you had any training?"

    Other: "No."

    Ron: "Well then how do you know whether or not you can sing?"

    Other: "Uhhh..."

    Ron: "You don't learn to play the piano without fine instruction. You might want to check out KEN TAMPLIN VOCAL ACADEMY. Explore some of his work on YouTube."


    Your feedback is priceless, Bob.
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,872Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    Thanks, Ron.

    Yes, practicing the turnaround is what I do when I'm warming up.

    When I'm just waking up my voice and it's needing to get warmed-up, usually the first part of the first scale sounds terrible. So I just keep doing that opening part of the first scale over and over, and I get warmed-up to it really fast. I may do the first scale 16 times before going further. If I just move ahead without doing that, then that part of my voice will always be weak. If I focus on it for a minute or two, I get better results on that portion than I would if I spent the entire day doing the entire workout, and only focusing on those few notes when they pass by.

    Same thing on the "turnaround" at the high point. I'll find that I'm not satisfied with the way my voice is handling both the high notes and the reversing of direction of the scale. I'll just turn that part of the scale into a loop, and do it as a triplet, or a six-note double-triplet, cycling over and over on the turnaround notes. That lets me fool around with differing amounts of support, amounts of breath, more cord closure, getting the "wiggle" out of my breath and preventing overuse of vibrato... and so forth.

    Like focusing on the beginning of a scale, focusing on the high center portion of an ascending scale is great to really, really warm up your voice to doing those gymnastics. Because of the repetitive nature of doing scales in segments like this, you have the luxury of being more "in the moment" where you can focus on varying different aspects and hearing the difference they do or do not make.

    So you can get into one of these cycles, and practice exaggerating the smile. Practice opening up the back of your throat. See what different tongue positions do. Manipulate the tongue, throat, jaw, and mouth as you repeat, to hear what that does to the tone. Practice getting more cord closure and pushing down on the diaphragm, using belly breaths, tensing the abdominals, "Aiming" the beam of sound in different places and directions...

    You try different things that you are told about in the lessons and on the forums, and "road test" them yourself, all the while listening, and better yet, Recording and playing back to see what you like and don't like as you make these adjustments.

    I find that by focusing on my weak areas and multiplying my reps on those areas, those parts of my voice wake up very quickly and become ready for action. I don't have to do my whole workout like that. Once I blow the carbon off the rusty, cobweb encrusted areas, then they are just like new, and ready to rock, and my voice performs much better on the rest of the workout than it would if I had simply just kept going past my carbuncles.

    I tend to have better live performances, too, when I make sure to work on these details. I will have greater agility and focus on detail when it's showtime, if I don't neglect the little things in my warmup. Especially when time is getting away from me, and I have a gig, but haven't had time to do a proper full workout. This can be like putting starter fluid in your fuel line on a cold winter's day. You want to get your engine started well, without running the battery down.
  • Once again, Bob,You are providing a much-needed roadmap That outlines how to Develop one's singing voice.It makes perfect sense.I have taught beginner and intermediate Martial arts; It can be overwhelming For new students because there's so much to think about.I tell them to Practice rounds of Shadowboxing, just focusing on One thing at a time–Proper breathing,Weight transfer,Range, etc. – one at a time. Pretty soon: voila, it all comes together.It is obvious that you have Been a highly skilled teacher for quite a while.

    One more thing:Do you think I can move on to volume 2?
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,872Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    I think you may want to stay where you are for a while longer. I think you started in early April. I would recommend hanging out in Volume One just a while longer, to let everything "steep" like a good cup of tea.

    Some things only come about through time, and muscle-memory is one of those things, as well as growing your range.

    You are building the foundation to your voice, so letting it "cure" a while longer can help it to strengthen before you ratchet-up the difficulties.

    Keep focusing on finer and finer details, and also stepping back to see how everything is starting to come together as a whole.

    Rinse and repeat.

    When you hit the 12 week mark, then see how you do with Volume 2.

  • roborobo Posts: 11Pro
    Hey Ron great work!

    Just to say two things, one. If you want the exercise that everyone else is doing, it's in the 'piano only' part of the dvd, and it's track 5. That's the one most people do their lah's to.

    Two... stay on Volume 1 until such time as you're getting stupidly bored of it :D

    I've been on it coming up to 6 months now and still working on getting that 'ping' to my voice (as Bob can attest to as he's helped me out on my thread). My plan is after doing a few more weeks I'll move onto volume 2, and then I'll probably go back to volume 1, then 2 again before I look at volume 3. It's something I picked up a lot from playing guitar and piano but learning more advanced methods and techniques and then going back to your older ones makes both the old ones and new ones so much better. Great work so far :)
  • Thanks much, Robo. Your advice is always so helpful. :)

    So, I warm up, then watch a 1/2 hour or more of Ken (actually, I misplaced my DVD'S, so I watch him giving lessons to others. The DVD'S will turn up, I suspect. Sigh.

    I then practice a song list that I developed. I realize it's way early really to do that, but it's just so much darn fun. The easiest song on that list is "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" by B.J. Thomas. The most difficult, which I have as a 2019 goal, is "Night Flight" by Led Zeppelin. I was inspired by one of Ken's lessons to work on a few cuts from "Jesus Christ Superstar". It should be quite the journey...
  • roborobo Posts: 11Pro
    Hey Ron, you should also have the digital download? If not send an email with your purchase info and get it. (I think the DVD's give you both physical and digital copies right Bob?).

    That way you can make sure you can keep practicing to the cd. Ideally you want to do the audio portion of the CD, the piano only section. I think the recommendation is twice in a row as your daily practice. Personally I find the second time i just struggle, so I do it once and then I do 10-15 minutes of song practice. When you want some advice on your song choices, record them and put them up in the newbie demo section for advice! I've not had the confidence to put any of mine up there yet :(
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 10,872Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro
    If you've had a problem and lost your files, you can contact and explain what your situation is. They're pretty helpful about getting you back in the saddle, but I don't think it's free lifetime downloads as many times as you want. It's more like there may be a fee if it's been over a year since you purchased, but they're really reasonable about it.

    But rkirsner may have already downloaded the files, back when he purchased the program, and hasn't thought about it.

    Be sure, as you said, to include your receipt if you are asking for another download.
  • robo + Bob - Thanks so turns out that I had downloaded it, and my IT guy showed me where it was. So much for me being a computer geek.

    robo–As a professional who Sees people with Shyness all the time, I would encourage you to bite the bullet And post some of your songs. I plan to do that myself, probably this week.

    Exposure to an anxiety -producing stimulus Is the best way to overcome shyness, I think. You really have a lot of knowledge and some good things to say, So I doubt you are as "Bad" as you think you might be! But even if you are not up to snuff...we all need to start somewhere, right? (Or, as Bette Midler used to say, " *%&@&;!! 'em if they can't take a joke!")

    I have switched to the "piano only" warm-ups; they are more helpful than the other set.

    Thanks, gentlemen...

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