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Resisting the urge to strain

A simple change in mindset can really take you far. As an up and coming singer who is trying to develop power and range in his voice, I seem to have developed a bad habit of trying to push my self harder than I can go. When I first started trying to teach myself to sing higher belting notes, I just started pushing myself. While I did increase my range over enough time with this type of practice, I think it hurt my technique. A few days ago as I was singing some Dio I just told myself to relax into the higher register instead of pushing. Because of the training I've been doing with the program, I think I've been able to increase my range in a healthier way. When it comes to singing the stuff that passes through the passaggio, I discovered a neat little trick on how to improve the technique through those shaky notes. While keeping the throat wide and open, I add distortion from underneath. It's a different type of push than I'm used to thinking of. The voice stays relaxed but there's a certain feeling I pull up from underneath my throat to make the note sound more belted. It's hard to explain. So much of proper singing has to do with making sure your head is in the right place. As Ken emphasizes, you don't want to think of your voice in different registers but instead as one big long note. The idea is that when you get to those weak passaggio notes there is a way to add strength to them in a way that sounds like an "artificial" belt. There are ways to sing higher than your normal range and make it sound natural. The main idea is not to push it in a way that strains. You do have to apply pressure but it's a type of pressure that you're not used to doing unless you train properly. This program helps you develop those techniques.

I'm just trying to say that it takes a long time to overcome a bad habit, and for me the bad habit is trying to belt higher than I actually can. It's better to simply accept what my range ACTUALLY is, and then learn how best to "artificially" sing notes that are higher than that range. If done right you can't tell the difference. Of course, with enough time using Ken's program, you will eventually legitimately increase your range, not just "artificially". But the key point is to relax into your passaggio, not push, because you have to accept that your voice simply isn't physically capable of doing it in the way your brain wants you to do it. There is another way, and it utilizes great technique and produces awesome tone. Maybe I'll make a video describing this technique, because it's not easy to put into words.


  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    The whole technique of singing with safe distortion is actually an illusion. You actually sing with less volume, but because you allow the cords to get a "distorted" sound, it makes a sound very similar to what it sounds like when you simply sing too loud, causing the voice to distort. The quieter way is very safe, because it's done at a very reduced volume that is much more comfortable than it sounds like it should be. It sounds gnarly, but is actually somewhat gentle.

    To actually oversing to the point of distorting the cords is very unhealthy, and should be avoided at all costs.

    I've had people hand me a throat lozenge after I sang with safe distortion. They were thinking that I had been distressing my vocal cords like they would have to do to get that sound. I say, no, I'm fine. Then I sing a clean song.

    The more you push down on your insides, on you diaphragm, the less air pressure you push against your vocal cords. The diaphragm is a huge muscle and has tons of strength to utilize to help your voice sound better. Your vocal cords are about the size of your thumbnail, and can't possibly win a contest against the diaphragm. If we let the diaphragm do the hard work, we can finesse with the vocal cords and accomplish more, in a safer manner.

    Likewise, singing in the mid and upper mid voice can be a little bit tricky, and we often, as you say, try to use force, rather than balance, to try to get to those high upper mid (chest) notes.

    You are getting very close to some AHA moments.

    All the Best!

  • KevinGremKevinGrem Pro Posts: 217
    I've found that I can belt pretty high, but as far as HOLDING the note, the highest I can belt is a Bb4. Although again, it depends on the day. On a great day I very clearly remembering belting a C5 and holding it with great tone. If only I could do that every day.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,346
    Just getting there to begin with, and then holding the note with good quality is an accomplishment, and the beginning of more regularly and reliably being able to produce and sustain such notes. The notes can have humble beginnings. Take heart that these are not easy notes to learn, but you're getting there, one note at a time.
  • KevinGremKevinGrem Pro Posts: 217
    Yep! As I said in another topic, I can be overly critical of myself. I need to cut that out and be proud of how far I've come. Belting and holding a C5, even if I can't do it consistently, is a great accomplishment. Success comes slowly and requires patience. My already good voice has grown better over the past year. I'm still only 28. I have a long future ahead. If I keep training seriously, setting goals, and remaining persistent, I can become what I want to be.

    I appreciate the responses and the dialogue you give to me highmtn; I wish the other members did the same.
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