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Still Hoarse After Gig

Hey Guys,

I have been doing better recently with Ken's warm ups, achieving B4's and C5's consistently but I still have hoarseness after my gigs.  Clearly I am overdoing it but I am wondering what would be a good strategy to rid my body of the bad habits I am accumulating?

I have only been doing the warmups once through for a half hour.  I am not sure what we are supposed to do for the other half hour when Ken says to practice for an hour 5-6 days per week.  Any suggestions?

Comments

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,836
    edited July 2014

    Most students do a half-hour of chest voice stretching, and a half-hour of light singing with normal bridging.  Some also add a half-hour of song singing.

    At your gigs, do your best to be observant of tension and stress, especially in the throat.

    Take whatever measures you can to counterbalance those tensions.  Relaxation, downwards support in the abdominals, holding back the breath...

    Monitor yourself and make sure you avoid blasting out the notes.  Sing on a cushion of air...

    Very Little Air...

    Shed the weight and use little boy voice.

    These are things to keep in mind when your body or your brain wants to blast.

     

    Bob

  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    Thanks Bob. I definitely feel as of late I have had a lot of difficulty accessing little boy voice. Is there a way to practice it?

    Half hour of light singing with normal bridging... That means warm up scales, right?

    It seemed like I was okay for about an hour at the gig, then in the second set lost my upper mids. At that point in the gig should I just sing lower material? I tried using more support at that point but it didn't seem to help any. It seems once I'm blown I can't get it back at least for that day. I get that breakup sound you've heard in earlier recordings of mine.

    Bill

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,836
    edited July 2014

    Often, I find the saving grace to be in using more support on the easier notes from the beginning.  Once you overstress the cords, they are overstressed and need to recover.  By reducing the amount of air and pressure from the beginning, even on the easier notes, it's easier to maintain a margin of safety for those notes in the upper mids. That's where you are most susceptible to note loss.  

    It's like shedding weight.  It's better to pre-shed weight when you know you're about to go up.  If you take too much weight up, you can blow out easily.  It's hard to keep track of, so, since you know you're going to go up there in this song, don't risk getting distracted when you're in your lows and then dragging too much of that tone up with you.

    When you go up, don't push more volume to get yourself into the note. 

    Generally, accessing little boy voice happens when your voice is limbered up from a good workout, but it can't be one that is a wearout.  A good part of that is from getting your voice into shape in the first place.  Another part is removing that low component that wants to go up high where it doesn't belong.  Your chest voice really needs to thin out to go up.  There is only so much room in the part of your vocal tract that resonates and handles these notes. Your voice must become smaller or it will splat.

    You should be pacing yourself at your gigs, working your way up to the higher, harder songs, and spacing them over the set in such a way as to allow your voice to get fully warmed-up and so as not to wear it out without recovery songs in-between.

    Yes, light singing with normal bridging would be on warmup scales.

     

    Bob

  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    Thanks Bob and Cinema,

    @cgreen... I switched back to my in-ear monitors last night as per your suggestion awhile ago.  Huge difference!  Made it through an entire gig and cocktail hour with minimal hoarseness... and I started off the gig slightly hoarse from Thursday... so it's arguable I had little to no fatigue.  I could hear my upper end much better and I am was able to "open up" my throat on the high notes and let the sound come out of the "top of my head" more.  As far as warmups go I am only still in volume 1.  I don't think I've done much yet with smoothing out the passagio because I am primarily in chest in volume 1.  Let me know if you think I am doing something wrong there...  I haven't practiced the bridging version of the volume 1 warmups yet, so maybe that is the problem.  But I feel like I should be in chest at least up to high C if not C#...

    @highmtn - As far as pre-gig warmups, I started the day a little hoarse from Thursday's gig so I followed a suggestion you had in another post entitled "x2" of "looping" the lip trills and the tongue exercises until the voice feels "elastic and rubbery."  I then started the gig by going back to my roots and singing my typical jazz set during cocktail hour, where I sort of "riff and experiment" with getting into my upper registers as I progress through the set.  I tend to follow a Stevie Wonder type of R&B singing style approach which allows me to experiment with high notes without too much pressure.  Then the real "kicker" was switching back to the in-ear monitors, which allowed me to access little boy voice when I was playing with the band... 

    The warmups have been the key to helping me open my throat back up and allow my neck to relax on the high notes.  I was hitting B4's regularly and even some C5's in warmups this week.  This only came from learning to relax into the high notes again, which for me has taken months.  It also came from not being "afraid" of the higher notes.  In my first lesson with Ken he felt my difficulties were mostly psychological.  I think MCing over the loud band improperly, some increasing bad habits, increasing stress and pressure, and not warming up snowballed into this HUGE problem for me.  Then I switched to a floor wedge (as per my lead vocalists' suggestion) and that even FURTHER compounded problems for me.  

    My lead vocalist is a higher voice type than I (I am lower than most men I find) and he also seems to be very used to singing in a mix situation where his voice isn't very present in the monitors.  I am not sure how he is able to do that, but I need to hear my vocals loud and clear in my own ears, especially when trying to access "little boy voice" in my upper registers.

    Just curious if you know of any precautions with the in-ear monitors... I want to protect my hearing...

    Bill
  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    So... when you mean smooth out the passagio, I am assuming you mean chest into head, correct?

    Ken says to take chest as high as possible, then blend into head. 

    I find my passagio to be around the G-G#4... but I can take chest up to a B4 lately...

    Are you saying start with smoothing the passagio, then stretch chest?

    Thanks,
    Bill
  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    Thanks. Yes, I agree and accept my own limitations. I also hear what you are saying about stretching chest. You have to take it easy on performance days. That gets a little more difficult for people who perform 4-5 times per week. (ie. One or two days to practice stretching chest?).

    Lately I have had more limitations than before. However, I don't find myself in head voice at all at gigs unless I am singing background harmonies. I guess to some extent I still don't understand the full application of head voice in a lead singing capacity, except, say, on a super high rock scream... I actually don't know how to accomplish that at all (say a Ken Tamplin or Rob Halford scream). I also don't understand how to accomplish high mix notes, say D5-F5.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,836

    When to use head voice in a song is dependent on the song and also your voice.

    There are some songs that clearly go into head voice for effect.  Even though you might be able to sing those notes in head voice, in order to replicate the feeling and texture of that line, you may still want to sing it in head voice, as the audience will expect that sound.  They don't know it's "Head Voice" per se, but they know the texture in their expectations.

    For example, a Led Zeppelin song might have a lot of head voice in it.  You have a choice, if your voice has the range, to sing it in either a head voice or a high chest voice.

    While in Volume One, you should be actively working on two (2) separate goals.

    1. Learning to smooth the passagio and connect head and chest voices.

    2. Learning to stretch the chest voice as high as possible.

    To accomplish goal #1 you may need to go ahead and allow the transition a little earlier than "as high as possible" in order to be able to work on the smoothing process, and to be able to access your head voice.

    To accomplish goal #2 you DO need to try to go as high as possible without transitioning into head voice.

    These are two separate goals, and they require separate attention.  That is the whole idea behind practicing lightly to work on transitioning into and out of head voice.  Similarly but separately, that is the idea behind workouts that have more power, because to stretch chest voice takes a little different pressure than connecting to head does.

    So you have TWO main tasks in Volume One.  Each of these tasks takes separate concentration and cannot be done simultaneously.  The two tasks are closely related, yet the antithesis of one another.

    Don't neglect either task at the accomplishment of the other. 

    Work on both, by alternating light and heavy workouts.

     

    Bob

  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    Thanks Bob,

    Your Led Zeppelin example proves that I am definitely still confused about what head voice really is and should sound like... cuz that seems like a really high chest voice to me...
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,836

    That is actually the goal... to have your head voice or your mixed voice make people think you have an incredibly high-ranging chest voice.

    Other examples would be 70's disco BeeGees, where they sound like chipmunks.  That is clearly not chest voice. 

    The more you can make your head voice sound like it has the timbre of chest voice, the more seamlessly it will match up at the passagio. 

    One of the goals of stretching of chest voice is to help facilitate mixed voice.  The higher you can extend chest voice, the higher you will be able to take a chesty mix at times when you don't want to belt everything in chest.  It will sound just like full chest to the average listener.  They won't know the difference.

    On the other hand, in some cases, the yodel, or "break" is done deliberately, as in a country song with the cry in the voice.  That is a deliberate use of adding a speed bump while going into head voice that is intended to be noticed, for effect. 

    Bill, have you watched the KTVA Webinar recording "Ultimate Head Voice Workout"?

    If not, I recommend you watch it for reference.  You will find it in the "VIDEOS - For All KTVA STUDENTS" section of the forums.  Open that category, and choose "Webinars".

     

    Bob

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,836

    You also might want to watch this one: "HEAD VOICE 090112"

     

  • lordsammylordsammy Pro Posts: 62
    @cgreen which tracks on your soundcloud demonstrate the differences in the three voices? I'd love to have a listen! Sam
  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    Cinema, can you send me the links to the different types of voices?
  • lordsammylordsammy Pro Posts: 62
    @cgreen

    Ive had a good listen through man.

    How long can you sustain that chest voice (Dio style) through a gig? Is that absolutely no mix at all in Last in Line? How much projection do you REALLY have? Is it like speaking with a lot of support and anchoring? 

    I can hear how the voice is lighter in Give Me Time.

    Thanks man,

    Sam
  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    edited August 2014
    Sounds great Cinema,

    Yeah, I definitely don't have that tone at all up top.

    I sound more like a bari or Stevie Wonder up there actually something like Darryl Hall or even Michael McDonald...

    In other words, I sound more like a baritone "pushing"... maybe Tom Jones??  I like the sound but really would love to learn how to sound more like the rock guys.

    I have had 2 lessons so far with Ken.  I've only sung up to B4 in lessons but have gotten the C#5 in practice and occasionally a D5.  However, my upper register sounds heavier, like the singers I mentioned above.

    Any advice on how to get closer to that tone that's closer to the rock guys?

    Bill

  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    This is not a song, but here is what my tone sounds like up high (when I don't crack):


  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    @b.vivino. Your sample sounds good. Your 3rd attempt was the best. You maintained support on the way down the scale which you weren't in the first 2. Think of breathing consistently through those notes on the way down. Also remember to blend back into chest in the same spot as you went upThe tone doesn't sound too beefy or strained to me. If you are more of a baritone like myself you won't be able to get much thinner up there. Once you get that area built up you can work with pulling back the amount of pressure you are using to really relax into the tone. I hope this helps.
  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    Hey Sspatrick, thanks for your response. I find lately I crack on Avicci's "Wake Me Up ". I never used to crack on that song before. (Always on the B4 passage near the end of the 2nd chorus). It brings up some questions of how much I should be singing up there at gigs and since you are saying support, what does that really amount to... More strength in the abdomen?

    And do you have any hints on going straight into the B4? That's where I seem to crack in that song. It seems like the more strength I try to give it the worse I crack. I am able to hit that note in a scale but can't hit it outright.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,836

    @b.vivino,

    Most of the strength you apply to the note when you are hitting a B4 should be pushing down to reduce the amount of air coming through your cords.  Singing from the throat doesn't cut it when you're up high.  Your power needs to be concentrated in controlling and balancing your breath through hoding the diaphragm down.

    Bob

  • b.vivinob.vivino Pro Posts: 42
    Thanks, yeah, I feel like I get quiter when I do successfully hit a B4 and when I crack I feel like I am blowing my cords open with too much air.
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