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matt53matt53 Pro Posts: 189
edited March 2016 in The Singer's Lobby
I had a band practice today with my new band. My drummer, it seems, is the hyper-critical sort who is never happy unless he has something to complain about. I've been improving immensely in my ability to sing higher safer with grit and have generally been pleased with my vocal tone, pitch improvement and the increase in my range as well (3.5 usable octaves). My drummer came over to me and started complaining about our band's vocals and started tearing on me about needing to "learn to sing within my range." He sings as well, but hardly has a voice left after years of smoking, straining and drugs.
I am really frustrated because I haven't heard a diatribe like that about my voice in a couple of years. I listened to myself singing in a recording and yes, I was pitchy in places because it was a new song and I pushed a bit too hard. Meanwhile, we're doing stuff like Helter Skelter, White Rabbit and Oh Darling (not easy songs by any means) and most of the time I'm hitting the notes and getting a good tone with the necessary grit.
The band is basically a bunch of older guys who like smoking weed (I don't) and we aren't doing this for money. I joined because I thought it would be chill and I could put my advanced singing skills to good use and grow as a musician. When I sing at church, in theater, or public performances I always get complimented and people tell me I have a beautiful, impressive voice.
The guitarist and bassist in the group are alot nicer and have very constructive criticism when they do criticize me. I also like the drummer on a personal level, but I am feeling very discouraged.
Here are some originals I've been working on if you want to see where my voice is at:
Frankly, I'm pretty pleased with the improvement I've gotten, although I know I still have a bit of work to do on eliminating occasional pitchiness.
I just never knew that being a singer would be this difficult. I can do the crappiest job on the keyboard and still have the entire band patting me on the back, but if I do a really solid singing performance with these guys, they barely ever acknowledge it unless it's something I sing in the lower range.
I am considering quitting and just continuing to record, build my technique and repertoire as a singer/pianist. I knew this group was a fun, dead end band but the drummer is taking all the fun out of it.


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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359

    @matt53 '

    I listened to your demos, and I like the sound of your voice. You sound pretty good to me and I listen to a LOT of demos. Being around people who take all the enjoyment out of something you love to do is not a good situation. I sometimes work with other musicians who want to insist that we lower the keys of songs, because that is what they've always done to get by. I prefer to have to work to get the song done in the original key, even if it's not that easy at first. I feel like I'm accomplishing something by singing the song the way it was written. It often seems that the other musicians don't want me to be able to sing the songs in the same key as the original artist, because they can't.

    We often take remarks about our voice personally, and sometimes it is meant to be a personal insult from someone who resents that your voice sounds better than theirs.

    You can brush his rude comments aside, or you can take your microphone and look for some new playmates that know how to be nicer to one another.

    All the Best.

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    matt53matt53 Pro Posts: 189
    edited March 2016
    Thank you Bob. I'm glad you like it. I agree what you say about striving to perform the song in the original key: when I start working on a difficult song, sometimes I start out with a backing track of it in a slightly lower key and just work my way up with increasingly higher backing tracks until I can do it in the original key.
    I slept on it last night and I decided to stick with this group, if only because I like the fact that they cover alot of classics I like.
    What I don't like is the "find your range" attitude that the drummer has. He told me he believes that some people are born with the ability to sing really high and that there's nothing you can do to change it. Idk maybe he's insecure about his own voice.
    When I belt in the upper register and add a bit of safe grit to my sound, he calls it "high falsetto straining." The previous singer in the band, on the other hand, had no technique and would often shout flat ala Eddie Vedder to get through songs.
    I think the drummer preferred that more to someone who actually uses good technique.
    At any rate, if it doesn't work out I always have other options.
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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    Ouch! If that's not a skillfully-constructed insult, I don't know what is!
    "High Falsetto Straining"... Ouch! Pardon me, but what a JERK!

    Can you say "jealousy"? I heard you sing. Pardon me, butt this guy is a...
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    matt53matt53 Pro Posts: 189
    edited March 2016
    Yeah he's kind of a sad case because his wife left him a year ago and he recently had a cancer tumor removed. He has a bitter streak that manifests itself frequently in not-so-veiled negative humor about the other musicians' mistakes and shortcomings.
    On the other hand, while he is a very good drummer, he frequently plays the "oh whoa is me I'm playing so crappy tonight" card to get pity.
    Most of the time I enjoy playing and talking with him, but the backhanded negative comments can suck all the fun out of the room.
    Yes, if it is jealousy then that is just sad because bandmates should be glad someone in their band has a good grasp of using their voice.
    I know what I can do and what I can't.
    I can belt in my chest voice up to an A5 (about as high as Robert Plant could). I can sing the lower and midrange really sweetly when required. I can add enough safe grit to get that typical classic rock singer tone. I know how to safely sing through a set of difficult hard rock repertoire and still be able to sing another set afterward. I have a pretty decent grasp of pitch.
    Am I claiming to be awesome? Certainly not. I still have so many aspects of my technique to work on and develop.
    However, when I have developed my skills to this level and have someone tell me what I can and can't do, it's pretty infuriating. I've seen what most cover band singers can do, and most I've heard can barely get enough range to sing Sweet Home Alabama.
    I will stick it out for a while longer because I like the guitarist and bassist alot, but even they get fed up with the drummer's negativity.
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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    edited March 2016
    I'm so sorry to hear of his problems with cancer and his loss of his marriage, but that is no reason to make others miserable when he is there. Especially in a music situation. I don't know of many who join a band to be made miserable by their bandmates. It does happen, but that's when you have to weigh whether taking abuse from others balances out with the enjoyment of playing. It's so much better when we can lift one another's spirits up.

    Being negative may be your bandmate's way of dealing with the negativity that is probably eating him up from the inside out, and that is sad. He is holding your love of playing hostage. You put up with the negativity, or he'll take his drums away and you lose your band situation.

    Those comments about the strained falsetto are meant to keep you from feeling good about yourself and your voice. Who wants to make others feel bad as a form of entertainment?

    I guess the only thing that makes situations like this feel any better is to pray for that person to be healed in every way.

    I hope he comes around, for his own sake, as well as yours.

    God Bless him.

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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    try a little encouragement:

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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    The top part got chopped off, but that was all the negative stuff...
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    matt53matt53 Pro Posts: 189
    edited March 2016
    I really appreciate this, Bob.
    My drummer likes to record our practices on his Tascam recorder, and plays back our songs as we're packing up.
    However, his Tascam can't capture low frequencies very well and makes vocals sound very nasally and mediocre. This gives him another excuse to rip on about how crappy we sound.
    One night I brought my mixer and used my quality Sennheiser mic to record us and found that we actually sound 10x better, vocals and all, than what we sound like with my drummer's recorder.
    I like the sound of my voice when recorded with my condenser or dynamic mic.
    However, whenever he plays back our songs through the PA, it's kind of humiliating.
    It just gives him even more ammo to criticize us with.
    I would prefer he would just send us the practice recordings to analyze at home rather than play them back at practice and ruin any good feeling we just got from playing.
    My guitarist and bassist want to rent out a studio for a night (costing about $15 from each of us) and do a professional recording to get an accurate idea of how we sound.
    My drummer, of course, pooh-poohs the idea.
    Here's what it boils down to.
    Even with my old band, which wasn't amazing, I used to really enjoy the thought of going to practice.
    Now it's become more of a chore, unfortunately.
    It boils down to this: If he tells me again to "sing within my range" or shoots down the idea of recording in the studio, I'm going to have to tell him I can't continue playing in the group.
    I am glad that you, a voice professional, were able to evaluate my singing, because I was getting really discouraged by his remarks.
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    highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,359
    He can adjust his attitude, but may choose otherwise. If you part ways, you will find others that may play better or worse, but will not bring you down intentionally and repeatedly. That would be a move in a more positive direction. Wish him well and go your way, or he can join in the fun and help make things better. Life is full of choices.

    All the Best!

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    johnjohn johnjohn Pro Posts: 99
    @Matt53: Being in bands' can very often be a minefield of mind-games.
    One has to have the courage of one's own convictions in order to rise above the petty jealousies that unfortunately, all too frequently, manifest themselves.
    Stick to your guns, practice diligently, and don't let others derail you in your quest to be the best you can be.

    Good luck,

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    matt53matt53 Pro Posts: 189
    edited March 2016
    @highmtn I am strongly considering leaving the band when I start law school next fall. Hoewever, tonight we are auditioning a new lead guitarist, so I am hoping that if he is decent enough, he can move the band in a different direction. However, if the drummer gives me another jealousy-inspired diatribe, I'm gonna hand in my resignation.

    @johnjohn I have come to learn that unfortunately, due to human nature, no group of people is safe from the negative effects of jealousy and insecurity. However, my previous band which had to go on hiatus due to my bandmates' school obligations, was an extremely positive environment; perhaps the best musical environment I've ever been a part of. I'm gonna look into starting it up again.
    I'm sure that with your vast musical experience you have definitely seen some ugly things happen in a musical situation. It seems that even the best groups, such as the Beatles, can make acrimonious relationships occur between members. Just look at Paul and John's feud.

    The bottom line is that I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a vocalist. I give myself a hard enough time about giving my best without having someone else give me a hard time. If I do end up leaving the band, it will be for the best because then I can focus on recording my original songs and my solo performances.
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