Volume 2 Demo: Am I performing the exercises correctly?

I started volume 2 about 2 weeks ago and I wanted to make sure I was performing the exercises correctly (my camera stopped recording randomly so please excuse any abrupt breaks you might see in the video).

I have a few questions:

1. I noticed that it's very difficult to sing the higher notes during the chest-stretching exercises, and that my voice cracks frequently. Is this supposed to happen until I improve?

2. I'm not sure I completely understand what vowel modifications are. Assuming I'm not already using them without realizing it, how can I be sure I'm executing them correctly?

3. I went through the vibrato videos in the volume 2 package, but the exercises aren't included in the audio portion so I don't know what to do with them. How exactly should I go about practicing vibrato?

4. I really love the way melismas sound! How should I practice them?



  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    edited November 2015

    Good video demo. Thanks for the side views of your breathing. Your belly breaths look good. I'm not seeing much chest expansion, so you might want to be sure to do that as well. Lip Rolls are fine. Posture is good, nice and relaxed at the shoulders.

    You crack a few times on the tongue exercise. Remeber that Ken says to do the tongue exercise very, very lightly, and allow yourself to connect to head voice. Doing the exercise lightly will help you to find the connection without the break.
    If you need to work on this,stop the playback on one of the scales where your voice breaks, and experiment with getting lighter and lighter, until you find the level where your voice is breaking the least. Then experiment further on that same scale to see what you can do that makes the voice get snagged on that break, and try to ease between chest and head more gradually and smoothly. It's mostly a matter of blending from one air pressure to another very gently and gradually from chest to head and back again. For me, the very quietest I can possibly do it is just a hair too light. So I add just a touch more volume, and that is my optimum volume for smooth connection. As I learn that feeling of transitioning smoothly, I can gradually add more volume, using the techniques I felt at the very low volume, and I can connect at more and more normal volumes after training myself in this way.

    Lah sounds pretty good. Starts out a little rough, but you warm up to your lah pretty fast. Be sure to press down on the diaphragm as you approach and land on the high notes. When your voice wiggles a little bit, you should be pushing down more.

    Good job of smiling and raising your cheeks. Keep the LAH really AH!!! Don't get lazy on any of the notes in a scale, both on keeping the throat open to the AH and pushing down on the diaphragm. Don't be afraid to raise the upper lip even into even more of a smile off the top teeth, but don't feel like you have to do it to the point of going too far.

    Tongue position is pretty good. As you improve, you can get it even a little lower in the jaw and more of a furrow, but not bad now.

    We all have to clear our throats some time, but try to avoid the "Ahem" type of throat clearing, and if you can, just sing the slag off of your cords. That's much better for them. Clearing the throat and coughing are two things that really wear your cords. Your pitch is good.

    Your LAA could be a little wider in the mouth with a little more smile and just a bit of mask. Remember to push down at the higher notes. Keep it bright. Bare those upper teeth.

    EE: Smile a bit more, very wide, and add just a touch of mask, push down on the higher notes.

    You seem to be doing a good job of shaking off the tension and remaining relaxed.

    The modifications would help you on those sustained high notes that were giving you problems. You are singing without mods, and especially on sustained high notes that is hard to do. They are designed to help you find pockets of resonance that will help the notes to sound with less effort.

    On the LAA/LAH chest-stretching scale, you need to push down more as you get up higher. Your breaks are happening around F, F#, G4. Modifying and supporting more will help you to have more ease getting through that section. Ken is telling you on the audio that around the E4 or so you will begin to feel that feeling of needing to modify.

    When Ken demonstrates the "oo" sound at the top, that's the mod. He's stretching the back of his throat. Still AH or AA at the lips, but the AA or AH is stretched into an "oo" pocket, and the sound of the AH or AH is superimposed onto this "oo" sound. It's a reshaping of the vocal tract that resonates the note better at these notes. You also need to push down on the diaphragm kind of firmly any time you are that high. Push down up to the note from your gut. This exercise demonstrates that up at those notes F#4, G4, etc. the difference between AH and AA becomes less and less. The vowels begin to converge the higher you get. That's why when listening to very high sopranos it's so hard to distinguish the words. It's just a principle of the physics of higher-frequency notes when done within the human vocal instrument. If you learn these principles, you can use those laws of physics to your advantage, instead of being perplexed by them.

    Emulating the sound you hear in Ken's voice at those points where he is demonstrating the sound of the mods is key to learning to imitate it yourself. It won't be nearly so obvious when singing lyrics. It is a natural phenomenon, so work it to your advantage. Ken is emphasizing it so that you can hear it.

    As Ken says, it's subtle. You kind of have to train your ear to hear it. Once you learn it, you will go by the feeling.

    You are kind of starting to do it right at about 31:15, for a few scales. It's subtle, but you are oscillating between uh-ah, uh-ah, uh-ah, ah, ah, ah... The "uh" or "oo" is the mod. Remember, subtle. It's kind of between "uh" and "oo". It's just called "oo" because that's about the closest that the sound can be approximated with spelling.

    On the EE exercise at about 33:20 you should be modifying EE to eh (like eight) on the upper notes, so that high part shoud toggle eh-EE, eh-EE, eh-EE, EE, EE, EE. The top note won't tend to break up if you will reshape your vocal tract to eh there, instead of EE.

    When it goes up higher, the exercise will start out on eh and convert back to EE up higher.

    When you get used to using the mods, you will realize that they are really the path of least resistance in an area that is otherwise providing a lot of resistance to your voice.

    Did I mention that the higher you sing, the more you must push down on your guts at the diaphragm? This also helps to prevent the breakup of the notes from excessive breath pressure.

    All the Best.

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    Part 2:

    Your questions:

    1.Yes, you have to build range, strength, and stamina, and stretching chest can take a very long time. It's well-worth the effort and the only way to grow a truly powerful, wide vocal range. Be patient with yourself, and give it time. Start out new high notes very gently, and let them develop. They will start out weakly, and they will grow. Don't push too hard, just be persistent with gently stretching.

    2.I kind of covered this above. They are re-shaping your vocal tract, in the back of the throat, between the tongue and the back of the throat and up high behind the uvula. You are making the proper amount of space for resonance to take place. It's kind of a stretching, elongating up high and in back of the throat. The high notes can ring better in a narrow, deep, stretched area up high in the back of the throat. That is where the Aw, oo, Ooh, eh are formed. Up high and far, far back, in that area of your throat at the top where you can form a "dome" that can stretch to make a tall, high, wizard's cap shape, pointing up and back at the upper back of your head. "Oo" lives there.

    3.Practice vibrato with the video. Then, on your own, just practice doing those things Ken just taught you, on whole notes. Just do long, extended notes, and hold them out, then begin to apply the slow, slight downward notches in the pitch of the sound. Work on getting a feel for that. It will feel un-natural in the beginning. Fake it till you make it. It will feel contrived until you get used to it. Then it will begin to feel and sound natural. Make sure it is a light dip, and that the oscillations are not too fast. Listen to yourself, and make adjustments. If you need to, record the audio for practice, or just turn on the video and listen while you practice.

    4.Learn some of the licks from Ken's Licks and tricks module. Just take one lick and work on it until you really have it down. Apply it to long, whole notes. Melisma runs are done usually on a single syllable, and you just do a super-long note that goes through complex melodic runs, all on a single breath, at the end of a word or at the end of a phrase. The more adept you become at sustaining your breath at the end of phrases, the more fuel you will have to power your melismatic runs with. The trick is to have lots of control over your breath so that you can keep going at the end of a phrase, and that you have a good melodic command of your voice. The runs can be complex, and hard to hear, so you may need to stop and learn a lick, note-by-note and slowly put it together, and gain command of that lick. Melismatic licks are like mini-melodies within the greater song. They are lots of fun, but don't bore your audience with them. Use them tastefully, and leave them wanting more instead of overdosing them with melisma. The better you get, the more your audience will want you to do it, but they will be impatient if you are forcing it, so you will need to spend a lot of time perfecting it. Gospel music is a great source to hear great melismatic runs that you can break down into slow motion and learn, note-by-note. Using the techniques you learn from KTVA puts you in a great position to carry those techniques into extended melismatic runs.

    Hopefully this answers some of your questions.
  • David9321David9321 Pro, 2.0 PRO Posts: 16
    I've been reading and digesting this over several days and realized that I completely forgot to respond! I know I tend to be a musical hypochondriac, so I can't even begin to express how valuable your in-depth feedback is. You've answered all of my questions beautifully as usual, thank you so much Bob!
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    You're welcome. Glad to help.

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