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Aged 60, after 4 years, I have the voice I dreamed of finding

NemoNemo 2.0 PRO Posts: 37
I’ve had a career as a songwriter who sings OK enough for backing vocals.
Aged 55 I came across Ken Tamplin and invested in the USB version of the course.

I had always wanted to sing with the ease, fluidity, grace and power of all the greats I admired. Instead I was barking from the throat, sounding pinched, limited and whiny; with serious intonation problems. From what I can tell, many singer-songwriters start out like this. Some blossom into expressive greatness, but many just sound like non-singers, right?

I’d tried other singing courses such as SLS and Roger Love. While I respected their gentle approach in service of the revered ‘middle voice’ blend, there seemed little connection between their exercises and the way I wanted to sing. For some reason, I had a sense that Ken’s program - as demanding as it is - might actually be that ninja training I felt I needed.

I had a long road ahead of me, and initially Ken’s exercises saw me straining as I attempted to mould my experience of my vocal equipment with Volumes 1, 2 and 3. The first year of this saw me so despondent I joined other courses. But soon I noticed that whenever I do a Ken workout, my voice would remain agile, strong and confident for the rest of the day. So I kept with it, and in the 3rd year things started to really fall into place. Below is a list of things I wish I’d known earlier, and I hope this helps and inspires you.

I believe that Ken Tamplin has created an approach to the voice which is innovative and thoughtful. It brings together old and new disciplines in a systematic, though demanding, set of routines; rather like a martial art. These exercises are related to singing like stretching is related to ballet: they expand a capacity. And like learning a tennis serve or a golf stroke, these exercises also drill key co-ordinations. Sure, this comes naturally to some people, but for most it all needs to be meticulously learned and practiced consistently. All humans are born with this equipment, and some stumble upon it. Most of us need training, and Ken Tamplin has built a rock-solid way in.

I did this 5 days a week for 4 years And I made it. If I could speak to myself 3 years ago I would note this about the Ken Tamplin course.

- Ken says Volume 3 is one of the world’s most difficult tenor training routines. Apparently most tenors are baritones who trained themselves through exercises like these. I am now a tenor who has retained all my previous light-baritone capabilities. And even though I don’t use the upper notes from these exercises in my singing, simply knowing I have the ability to get up there in a strong, effortless manner makes me a better singer. 

- In Volume 3 Ken introduces sub-glottal pressure. Here is where he combines sub-glottal pressure (holding back air) with the bright timbral ‘Ah’ source sound. These are two separate abilities, though related - you can practice them separately. Don’t imagine the air blasting out of your throat, but the opposite - your vocal chords will create a seal when working with limited air. That will help you make the bright ‘timbral’ sound Ken describes, which - in its raw state - can sound like a creaky door. Initially this will produce less volume than you’re used to, but it soon blossoms, given practice and time. The freedom and power it reveals is the primary mechanism of Ken’s approach.

- The ‘it’s the Law’ sound has the effect of pinging the high, bright frequencies onto your upper teeth and face-bones, thereby engaging your powerful resonance resources - like the body of an acoustic guitar. Other singing disciplines call this ‘bringing the sound forward’. It is a nimble, agile, slippery voice characterised by an activation of the edges of the vocal chords with their brassy, lighter qualities. In a single vocal posture, this works to engage what other disciplines call ‘twang’ or supra (or above voice) compression, as well as medial (or between-chords) compression - each supported by the Bernoulli effect of the sub-glottal vocal seal.

- Once you’ve got the sub-glottal compression trick (try talking without using much air), and the bright, timbral (almost creaky door) sound as your first onset note for every exercise, then Ken’s vowel modifications really power up.

- My early mistake was to think about each modification like floors on an elevator. Better to think - from the very bottom note - of all the modification tones as kinda present in every note. Using Ah as an example, if I am aware of a slight sense of Aw present in the lowest note, I can begin preparing for the shift early on. Similarly the Oo sound reveals itself as present from the very beginning of the earlier Aw. For me, it works to imagine every one of Ken’s scale’s notes containing tones from the modulations below or above whatever note is being expressed. 

- If the beginning note of a scale is near or beyond a transition’s pitch, remember to begin (or sing the first onset) in a modified vowel. So, if your Ee is E above middle C, then your first note should start on the Eh mod.

- Make sure every note has its own end and beginning, like a string of sausages - joined but separate. The second note of every scale - once nailed - sets you up for the rest of the scale. My mistake was to hang onto the first note’s posture in my throat - that first note is only for the first note. Let go of that first posture and start that second note. Start treating each note as separate but smoothly-joined and the exercises become much easier, with your throat much less ‘grabby’.

- Ken’s Volume 3 is a gymnasium that prepares you for beautiful gymnastics. Don’t expect the exercises to sound like the singer you want to be. Understand you are stretching and preparing an ability, onto which you will meld your unique personal expression later, when you’ve left the gymnasium and resumed your artistry. 

- Keep practicing Ken’s huffing exercise. Eventually come to bounce slightly with your diaphragm on every note in all of the exercises. Fake it until you make it, and soon your diaphragm becomes the root of every note; responsive and active while your jaw and throat are permitted to relax and lightly yawn in that open-throat kinda way!

I am forever grateful to Ken for this brilliant vocal training school. It has changed my life, and I hope this happens for you soon.
Happy to help!


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    Machine_ManMachine_Man 2.0 PRO Posts: 2
    Congratulations Nemo! That is inspiring, insightful ,and informative.

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
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    Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,406
    hi Nemo, great to hear the course is working so well for you. i had the same experiences at the 3 and 4 year mark, i am just over 4 years now into the course, and while there is still some room for more, i am beyond what i would have ever expected to reach when i started the course. anyone reading your post, i hope it motivates them to stay patient and persistent, because it does pay off. there are huge improvements before year 3, but this is where it really gets juicy. it does seem like a long time at the onset, but i never heard of a quicker way to achieve the same results. also, it is a very safe way in terms of vocal health. i like your martial arts comparison, because it really is a system rather than a set of random exercises. thanks for sharing your story :)
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    TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 356
    Many congratulations on reaching the voice you wanted, Nemo, and thanks for enumerating some of your hard won insights!

    It would great to see Ken feature someone like you to highlight your persistence and demonstrate what's possible in your 50's and 60's. Many on KTVA are in that range.

    What do you like to sing now with your developed voice? The demos for your own songwriting, perhaps?

    Did you do multi-volume workout days or just rotate through the volumes throughout the week?

    Was there a magic note to where you managed to stretch to full chest before singing with one full voice really opened up for you?
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    StephanSingsStephanSings 2.0 PRO Posts: 1
    CONGRATULATIONS!! I am 50, and i NOW have a stronger, more in-tune than I have ever had! I look forward to more progress!
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    VivianVivian 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1
    Nemo, I really appreciate your putting this into perspective. I'm you 3 years ago only older than you now! So every second you've saved me has been appreciated. Really love getting the overview of the time frame it took for things to fall into place. Having been a gym addict decades back the comparisons translate. This has helped me to relax my expectations, while upping what I can expect!
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    lisa71lisa71 Member Posts: 7
    Hi Nemo, thank you for writing that, because you greatly inspired to keep plugging away at singing lessons. At 51 I struggle with feelings of 'am I to old to learn this and become a good singer, I dont have a band although I have a piano now im learning to play which actually really helps me, its hard when you arent around musical people alot, to keep pushing yourself.
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    Dewy69Dewy69 3.0 Streaming Posts: 35
    Glad to hear Nemo and @lisa71 . I am 53 and have "sang" a fair bit. Enough to get by, but I have never been proud of my voice. I have played for a lot of years in bands. Just nightclubs/pubs parties and festivals. I sand a long time ago, and then many years of just backing vocals. Now I have decided to become a much better singer. A confident lead singer. So glad to have found a couple other "old" folks! haha! I assume there are lots. I am just finishing a couple weeks of the free trial and will be in the students forum as soon as KTVA takes my payment....couple more days. But already, I am feeling better about my voice. Thanks again for the encouraging comments!
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    lisa71lisa71 Member Posts: 7
    Hi @Dewy69 , I have a friend in Nz who sings in bands in fact she used to sing with my father in his band, she encourages me. I grew up around bands my whole life, however lacked the confidence to learn, in fact totally believed I couldnt ever sing, was very shy of the microphone, which i'm very happy to say i'm over getting over that fear now. I'm hoping to do some lessons with Ken soon, to make sure i'm correctly learning the fundamentals, and i'm going to actively seek out some musical people and see if I can get a band together. I started writing a song the other day, sometimes I have a whole song in my head or a chorus come to me and I have to write words down really fast. Was really grateful I have a piano now because I raced into my music room and found the notes that were going on in my head and was able to write them down along with a few lyrics that I was thinking. Kens singing lessons and the whole vocal academy site is the best I've ever seen and its a joy to come here and also the videos they are so encouraging and enjoyable to listen and learn from.
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