Home Psychology of Singing

Problems with confidence and being indecisive

NinaSTNinaST 2.0 PRO Posts: 83
Hi dudes and divas.

I've been writing songs recently and I want to get them produced, but I am super indecisive to the point that I get headaches from overthinking.
It really bothers me, because I probably waste a lot of energy and opportunities this way.
I am also super unconfident about my singing. Not that I think that I am THAT bad.. I just have really high expectations of myself. I wish I could take myself less seriously and relax more.. but I have no idea how to do that. :s Does anyone have some advice for me?

Comments

  • VocalityVocality 2.0 PRO Posts: 1,524
    edited June 11
    Hi @NinaST

    It's great to hear that your going for your own songs, one point don't try to stretch yourself vocally too much, that can lead to frustration, yes try to have a little fun as well and I think inspiration can happen naturally. I have heard though when artists go through tough times in their life that can be some of the best creative moments. I would say don't push too much experiment and get others to feedback on your work even post it here!

    Look forward to hearing your songs!!

    George
  • JwalJwal Member Posts: 116
    @NinaST
    Honestly, I think those who are the most critical of themselves are the best at the things the aspire to do. Those who are too confident and think that they are just awesome, commonly aren't even very good. Having high expectations of yourself will give you the drive to be great, but yes relaxing and being comfortable with that helps as well. It would be nice to hear an example of your voice to know better to give advice and to give honest feedback
  • NinaSTNinaST 2.0 PRO Posts: 83
    Thanks for the feedback.

    I have no problem finding inspiration about the topic for the songs, writing lyrics and melodies isn't a problem. I struggle more when writing the instrumental part.
    I actually used to be a pretty good classical guitarist, but since I just read the notes on the score, I have no idea about the underlying theory. I also kinda suck at playing chords, which is quite ironic, since it's supposedly much easier than what I used to play.

    @ Jwal:
    Yeah I agree. I recently met a singer/producer whom I wanted to work with at first, but he turned out to be so cocky and arrogant, I decided not to work with him. He is not as good as he claims he is and he used way too much autotune (even on good singers), which is something I would really like to avoid.
    Anyway.. I can imagine that his arrogance helps him to get things done. Which is more than what I can say about myself. (On the songwriting part, though. I do practice singing quite a lot).


    Style-wise: I've been going back and forth between a huge variety of genres like Metal, New Wave, Soul, Lana del rey style,....

    I think I finally found something that could work for me: Jeff Buckley mixed with early Shakira. (When she still had some rock influences in her music.)
    I think it would grant me the release that I need of my energy and emotions.
    And it would be vocally challenging, giving me a lot of satisfaction in the long term.
    However, when it comes to songwriting, Jeff Buckley might be too complex for my current songwriting skills. (And that's probably the thing that's holding me back.) Perhaps I should look at early Shakira for my first songs. (I am mentioning Shakira, because I have been listening to her albums since I was 9 and I never stopped loving her.)

    I actually have a recording of myself singing Grace of Jeff Buckley (as some sort of live karaoke rehearsal) And I actually do like my voice there during the first part of the song. (It's not pitch perfect, but considering it's a rehearsal, I guess it's ok.)
    But then the 2nd part kicks in and my tone suddenly changes and I don't like it anymore.
    I feel like I sound like a 16 year old.
    I know I can belt up to E5 and I can connect my chest and headvoice pretty well when doing Ken Tamplin's exercises.
    I don't know what's happening during the 2nd part of the song that makes me sound like a 16 year old and it's making me feel really insecure.

    Anyway I'll try to upload this recording later today and post it here for feedback. :)
    (I actually don't own the recording, someone sent it to me through facebook, so I need to figure out how to download it first. XD)

  • DannyOc3anDannyOc3an 2.0 PRO Posts: 327
    HI! @NinaST

    Actually I just had a listen to "Grace of Jeff Buckley " song as presented in youtube. I can hear the singer with a very soft placement, if not because of the microphone, he may fall a bit short of power to produce the necessary sound. Sounds a bit like he is singing from his throat strenght most of the time and not using much of abdominal support power to hit the melody notes. You can hear how his strenght is very throat oriented, very fragile, if you ask him to sing that same part with strenght he may find some trouble since his sound is very throat-fragile produced. It's not the type of sound you find when singing from the power of your diaphgram. You can tell when the sound comes from your "gut" so to speak, with that strong "cut with a knife" tone, and you can tell when the sound comes from that fragile throat placement as in this case...

    Anyway in order to give you a helping hand, I may suggest to post a scale with you singing a chest scale and/or a
    bridgiing scale in order to let us borrow you an ear, and see how you may improve your sound quality as per KTVA methods.
    :)


  • NinaSTNinaST 2.0 PRO Posts: 83
    edited June 12
    Oh wow... I didn't know that about Jeff Buckley, I always concidered his technique to be pretty good.
    Anyway.. I just rerecorded Grace, cuz I couldn't manage to download it.


    I can identify some of the problems myself. Some support issues when singing the lower register, which makes me go off key. Some insecurity over some of the notes, which means I need to study better. I know my voice chirps somewhere, but that usually never happens, so I don't really see it as a problem, it's probably caused by a lack of support. And I think I go into fry instead of distortion, I don't really know if that's a bad thing? Although, fry sometimes causes me to produce more mucus, so I guess that's not great.

    Anyway purely speaking about the tone: I do like my tone in the beginning in the song. I know I sing it a bit breathy, but that doesn't bother me. What does bother me is my voice around the 4 minute mark. My tone completely changes and I don't know what it is... I just don't like it. What's going on here? I don't think it's only a support issue. Am I suddenly abandoning my open throat technique? Am I sounding more nasally? Am I darkening the color without realising? I do notice I sing it less legato, so am I overpronouncing the consonants, which closes of my throat? Should I buy a compressor and is there a problem in recording? I have no idea.
    Btw. I do like my voice around the 0:50 mark, so I know I can sing well without using so much breath.

    I recorded some Ah Triads, I think I am mixing near the end. And I fall into headvoice where I shouldn't in the end. (In my defence, I'm quite sleep deprived. ^_^v)


    Anyway.. I've recently had a skype session with Ken and usually those go pretty well. I think I can say that I really have the "ping is king" down. Although in the last session he told me I was sliding back into some of my old habits, and I realize he is right. So I need to pick myself up again.
    Anyway I am not sure that only doing those exercises will solve the tone problem which I encounter in grace. (And in many other songs..)
    I do notice that even during the Lah exercises now, my support isn't what it should be when I am recording myself with headphones on. So I think part of the solution is to record myself, while wearing headphones doing Ken's exercises.
    The other part of the solution is still a big mistery to me.. ^_^v
  • DannyOc3anDannyOc3an 2.0 PRO Posts: 327
    Hi there @NinaST
    Actually just had a listen to Jeff singing live in another video, the BBC live one, and there he controls much better his tone when hitting those high placements than in the official video, you can hear how he softens and relaxes this "My fading voice sings of love" part and then when singing those high notes at the end of "But she cries to the clicking of time, oh, time" there's a difference in his strenght between both versions with the live version sounding more natural and pleasing... But in all fairness, the studio version usually is much more processed, and compressed (as in the use of compressors), which heavily affects the tone and that's what I heard the first time as coming off a bit strainy. So he does have a good technique, as seen in the live video, and he chooses every now and then to distort a bit the sound towards a "suffering" tone, as an effect for this song so it conveys the lyrics with more realism, and this distortion becomes more evident in the studio version because of all the processing while the live version comes off as more natural with a rounder sound... In this live version, his placement can be better appreciated without all the processing :)


    I had a listen to your song, you have a very nice tone and from what you describe in your post, you have a nice understanding of what you're doing. However, your LAH scale is empty, you may want to upload it again in order to have a better perspective so we can comment on your overall questions a bit more precisely..


  • NinaSTNinaST 2.0 PRO Posts: 83
    Yeah I LOVE! the BBC Live one :) Not only because of his voice, but I love the bassline and the guitar sound in there too. :) And the lack of enthousiasm of the presenter at the end always cracks me up. XD
    Anyway I didn't really notice a bit difference in tone before. I'm really glad to read your review about those two versions. :)
    Anyway, I think it's good for me to look at him for inspiration. I can imagine myself making music like that and he's doing all sorts of stuff with his voice that I like to do, or would like to get better at. :) (Switching between chest, mixed and headvoice, the dynamics, distortion, long notes and the emotion in his songs. :))

    Btw. In case you haven't seen it yet, Gabriela's version of the song totally blew me away!

    Thanks a lot for the compliment and for your feedback. :)
    I reuploaded it, it should work now. :)
  • DannyOc3anDannyOc3an 2.0 PRO Posts: 327
    edited June 13
    Hi there @NinaST
    NinaST said:


    I can identify some of the problems myself. Some support issues when singing the lower register, which makes me go off key. Some insecurity over some of the notes, which means I need to study better. I know my voice chirps somewhere, but that usually never happens, so I don't really see it as a problem, it's probably caused by a lack of support. And I think I go into fry instead of distortion, I don't really know if that's a bad thing? Although, fry sometimes causes me to produce more mucus, so I guess that's not great.

    Well, as you said before, your ping is very nice and has a good tone. In fact there are some tiny bit of pitch issues in your lower register but they are rare, while most of the time you stay on pitch... They may come from trading your support for the softness of the sound (we should support soft sounds, always, no matter their softness), but it sounds more like a fine tuning thing. Sometimes singing with headphones may cause us to fall a bit flat to the tone maybe is that, or it's that the melody of this song is somewhat atypical and you have to pay closer attention to the base notes. I see an easy fix around this part... Recording yourself and then taking notes of the parts you should raise your pitch in order to avoid going flat is a very good method..

    NinaST said:


    Anyway purely speaking about the tone: I do like my tone in the beginning in the song. I know I sing it a bit breathy, but that doesn't bother me. What does bother me is my voice around the 4 minute mark. My tone completely changes and I don't know what it is... I just don't like it. What's going on here? I don't think it's only a support issue. Am I suddenly abandoning my open throat technique? Am I sounding more nasally? Am I darkening the color without realising? I do notice I sing it less legato, so am I overpronouncing the consonants, which closes of my throat? Should I buy a compressor and is there a problem in recording? I have no idea.
    Btw. I do like my voice around the 0:50 mark, so I know I can sing well without using so much breath.

    I agree with your tone being nice on the soft parts at the beginning, and the style of the song demands some kind of airy relaxed sound, in order to convey those feelings.. I can hear what you mean when going louder.. I agree with your perceptions about what may be causing this as a mixture of some things as opposed to a single thing. I have been dealing with this exact same thing for quite a while some months ago, and still. My "normal" level singing was ok inside my comfort zone, an acceptable tone, but when going higher in pitch and power the tonal quality changed and my sound came off as more throatty, pinchy, harsher maybe. This became evident as I listened back to the recordings I use to do when trying out some songs. I asked myself the same questions. I found out, and I can hear may be your case too, it's a combination between strenght in the abdomen and open throat.

    This is somewhat difficult to explain in words for me, but let me try. When you use the strenght in your abdomen to produce the sound, automatically you relieve pressure or tension from your throat which is what usually causes this "throatty" sound. So I try to think of these two things as opposites, meaning the more you focus on using the power from the abdomen the right way, the less the throat intervenes in producing the sound, and vice versa. So, thinking about this matter in this way helps me to "balance" my efforts towards the abdomen whenever I hear my throat getting in the way. This to me is like the game of abdomen vs throat, in some way. And then, the second part is the open throat. When I "hit" the abdomen to produce that power, it should go directly to an open throat, meaning a raised soft palate. When you raise the soft palate, as with a yawning sensation, the back of the throat forms something that feels like a "pocket" of air; a concave, round shape where the sound is placed and feels like floating on a cushion of air. When the sound is placed, from the power of the abdomen, into this pocket in the back of the throat, then the tone is beautiful, round, soaking in reverb, you may relax into that sound and produce a natural vibrato. It feels like it has life on its own and resides there without you having any tension or effort. I find it similar to when those operah singers sing those money notes at the end of the night, of course in a smaller scale, but that's the feeling of placing a supported sound inside the pocket of air. You may find this is easier with notes inside your comfort range, but as you go high in range this whole concept tends to fall apart (I'm not talking to you specifically, but as a generality). So it is imperative to be extra careful with fine tuning your strenght in the abdomen, and your open throat. I'm trying to ingrain that concept when doing the scales, but it's not that easy with high notes. However I'm finding some progress since I became aware of this, but I decided to stop singing songs for a while until I ingrain this type of pocket placements in the scales; so my previous muscle memory of singing songs doesn't get in the way...

    By watching some of Ken's skype sessions here on the forum and working along them, is how I came closer to this understanding, since with the students Ken interrupts them to remind them to "yawn, re-yawn, still support those high notes, hit those pockets, the sound is going to your throat, use more abdominal power etc." I have been looking lately at those new videos with Harshyt and Jordana they have helped me with this..

    Try to think around those concepts to see if it helps :)

    Also, I hear your scale is nice, you are doing a good job stretching your chest; nice ping, maybe the vowel mods when going higher could use some fine tuning but nothing so noticeable... Try to alternate between a chest version and a lower volume bridging version in order to have total command in what to apply and when to apply (chest, mix, head)..

    BTW, with the previous concept I talked about, I have to still be aware of holding back the air, using vowel mods and ingraining those. Since it's quite a chunk of information, I decided to halt the song singing in order to focus on all those concepts
  • NinaSTNinaST 2.0 PRO Posts: 83
    Thanks a lot for the extensive feedback! :)

    I just took a look at score of grace online.. It seems that the lowest note is D3, while I consider E3 to be my lowest note.. XD
    Below E3 I tend to get some pitch issues or the sound wouldn't be bright anymore.
    Usually I can solve the pitch issues by using massive support. So I should remember to use a lot of support from the beginning. :)


    Thanks for the advice! I will focus more on support and the "yawning" sensation.
    Perhaps only sing the vowels for a while. I really notice myself singing more "staccato" in that part.
    I guess I should also record myself a lot. I hear the sound a lot different in my inner ear than when I'm recording, especially when belting and mixing. So I don't think I can rely on my inner ear for that.

    I'll check out those skype sessions as well! They might be helpful indeed! :)

    I agree it's a lot to remember all at once. :)
    But I really do notice a huge difference between now and a year ago. (I started doing KTVA about a year ago. :))
  • DannyOc3anDannyOc3an 2.0 PRO Posts: 327
    I can relate with the recording thing too. In my inner ear I was ready to fill stadiums, but when I listened to the recordings I thought to myself that maybe this singing thing will come in the next life :D

    I recorded with my phone or with the home studio setup, but the phone is usually quicker, every single time I did a song, and then I went on with some youtube tracks, and by listening back is how I could find many of these issues that have made me dig deeper in the material, and still not liking my sound that much though I feel it's a matter of ingraining the muscle memory with every vowel in every range and every quality (chest, mix, head)
  • DannyOc3anDannyOc3an 2.0 PRO Posts: 327
    edited June 14
    Hey there @NinaST I was just editing my Discussion on "explanation of support" (which is in that section of the forum, diaphragmatic breathing & support), and was uploading a Ken's youtube video, and happened to come across exactly what we were talking about; that when going higher in range, more abdominal strenght is needed, and that combining that with the open vowel placement is key. I'm linking that video here:

    Go to the 22:35 timestamp to hear how he uses an analogy to understand the abdominal strenght and keep watching until around 24:20 where he refers to the combination of abdominal strenght + vowel placement (notice how he shapes his hand as making a reference to the open throat "pocket" shape which we talked about) and refers to this combination (abdominal strenght + vowel placement) as "the holy grail" along with the relaxation response.



    some food for thought :)
Sign In or Register to comment.