Progress Update! Please rip me a new one and point me in the right direction.

radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55
Hey guys, been practicing more or less consistently since I got the volume 1, with breaks for exams and extensive work commitments...

here is what I have so far - I'll upload more as time passes. I hesitated to upload for a while because I wanted to hit a plateau through consistent practice first - I'm now stuck in the sense that I literally do not know if I'm doing it right or wrong and I'm concerned that if I keep on keeping on I'll be cementing the wrong habits and technique....


Basic 'Chest-Stretch' 'AH" vowel Exercise

AH long slide scale

EH Basic Scale

Thanks in advance... it can get discouraging when I realize how much I suck, but I'm just putting in the time despite my utter lack of talent. I think I'm probably going to have to stick with volume one for a few more months with my current level of sucktitude, hahahah.



  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278

    Good job on the Ah vowel exercise. The tone is bright and you are maintaining chest as high as you can. There is also no break in your voice which is great progress with the volume you are using. One thing I am hearing is that your larynx may be raised a little too much. It gives that Kermit the frog type tone and will choke you off as you sing higher. Try going for a natural speaking tone still keeping the tone bright but not exaggerating the bright tone too much. Also check to see if your tongue is flat to the base of your mouth and make sure it stays there. You could also start bringing in the vowel modifications to pare down your sound. Ah goes to Aw(loft) to Uh(hook). Good work so far.
  • radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55
    edited June 2013
    Thanks Patrick.

    I tried to modify towards the top of the scale. I'm assuming you're only refering to the first exercise.

    'Try going for a natural speaking tone....not exaggerating the bright sound"

    I thought you're supposed to exaggerate the bright sound? - the whole 'if it sounds too bright it's about right' principle?


    edit: Any other feedback for the other exercises? Or just keep keeping at it?
  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    Yes I was referring to the first exercise. Normally the brighter the better as far as tone goes. Most people start off with a darker more covered tone so therefore need to brighten it up a lot. I think you could warm up your tone a little still keep it bright but don't push the tone so much into the face. Always set up the vowel in the back of the throat first finding the pocket for each note then bring in mask to add edge to the tone. I'll take a listen to your other exercises and get back to you.
  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    Just listened to the 2nd exercise. The larynx still sounds a little high and you are not maintaining the Ah(as in up) as you descend. Listen to your first note and last note. The last note is a spot on Aw(loft). Which will darken your tone on the low end. Remember to modify the same way in the way down the scale. I had the same problem:)
  • radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55
    Thanks Patrick!

    Regarding the second exercise, should I try not to modify since I am bridging to head voice? I've always thought vowel modification is for the purpose of delaying the need for bridging!

    Also, how does one prevent the larynx from being raised? (I've never been told this before) 

    I will apply the rest of your advice starting today in my daily practice. : ) : )

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,320


    I'll add a few words of feedback to what Scott has said:

    You could increase your support.  There is a little underlying wiggle in your voice that is an indication that you need to increase support.  In the first exercise, on the highest two instances of the scale, you don't go all the way to the highest note.  You hit a note that is in key, but is about a whole step shy of the proper interval.  Not hitting the top note in the higher instances of the scales also happens in the other tracks.  Try to ensure you are hitting that top note in each instance.

    Also, on the second exercise, the longer scale, you need more support at the high note, and you let go of your support for the way down on each scale.  You need to increase support as you go up and hold on to that  strong support at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the way down the scale each time.

    You are doing a lot of things right.  Don't let the things we ask you to adjust be a discouragement.  If you correct these things you will be that much closer to your goals.



  • radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55
    Thank you, Bob. I will work on those things.

    When you say I don't hit my top note, do I stop before the top note, or did I just barely tap the top note and not sustain it for the right time before descending?

    I will work hard and consistently. At first I had a lot of expectations for my progress, and now I just have to drop them and take it one week, one month at a time. 

  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278

    Yes will want to do the vowel modifications they will help you pare down your sound as move up in range. They don't necessarily keep you from bridging to head voice. You can do the vowel modifications totally in head voice so they don't really affect bridging in that sense. They help move you to a smaller vowel sound which then lends really well to handing off to the head voice. In regards to the larynx you can check out the waypoint video where ken talks about different larynx positions. The wide open mouth, drop tongue and vowel mods help keep you in more of a lowered larynx position.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,320

    Hi, radagast,

    What I mean about the top note is that you sing a note there, but it is flat by one-half step.

    You are nailing the notes just fine until you get to the scale at 1:03. There the scale is Bb, D, F, Bb, then back down in reverse order.  The top note should be Bb, but instead you are singing an A, which is a spot-on A, but should be a Bb.

    You do the same thing on the next instance.  That scale is B, D#, F#, B, then back down in reverse order.  The top note in that one should be a B, but you sing a spot-on Bb.

    This isn't the end of the world, it's just an adjustment you need to make in order to sing the scale properly.  I hear this in a lot of the demos we listen to.  It's just an awareness thing.  It's something to be aware of.  If you're not aware of all of the notes you are singing, that could get you into problems some time, especially at a performance.  You want to know that the notes you are singing are the right notes. 

    Your progress, like it is for all of us, will move quickly at times, and at other times you will hit plateaus and it will seem like you will never move beyond your present level.  We all go through this.  You WILL improve, and we are all different as to when we will notice that we are now hitting that difficult note with ease.  Just know that it takes time and effort, and it all pays off.



  • radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55
    Thank you. : ) I can move forward from here
  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    Great work so far. It's always 2 steps forward one step back on this journey. The good thing is you are always moving forward.
  • radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55

    Latest update, can I have some feedback? My top notes really suck, I feel, but I can't figure out why, it's like it thins out and becomes crackly, and this time I actually tried to sing lighter (shed some vocal weight) towards the top notes. If I just forced the last note out it requires a lot of support plus I find that the sound becomes like a 'bark' or tends to be a darkened 'aw'. 

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,320
    edited June 2013


    On the high notes, you are doing the same thing as your previous examples, where you sing the top note spot-on a half-step flat.

    Something else you may not be aware of is that you are capable of hitting the top notes, so it is your targeting system that is keeping you from hitting notes that you are fully capable of hitting.  Either you are not supporting enough at the time these notes are called for by the scale, or you just aren't hearing the target note properly in your head in order to nail it.

    Here is what I'm saying...  You hit the top note in the first section.  Then there is the pause where Ken talks.  Then you resume singing your scales.  You get the first one fine, the second one is a little weaker, and by the third one you have lost confidence or the ability to hit the top target.

    The reason I'm saying you are capable of hitting the notes is as follows:  The first scale that you miss the top note on is G3, B3, D4, G4, and back down.  You don't make it to the G4.  You sing a half-step flat on F#4.  Then check this out: On the highest scale, you are supposed to sing B3, D#4, F#4, B4, and back down in reverse.  You sing a Bb4 at the top, which is a half-step flat for that scale.

    Did you notice something I just wrote?  You thought or you couldn't hit a G4 in the first missed scale, but seconds later you hit a Bb4 (instead of the B4).  Bb4 is four half-steps ABOVE the G4 you "couldn't hit" in the first missed scale.  As you continue past the first missed scale, you are hitting notes that you later miss when they are the TOP NOTE.  When it's the Top Note above F#4, you sing it a half-step flat.

    SO, you are either just fearful of the top note, or you are not supporting properly when you reach the top. 

    Remember, you must INCREASE support as you go higher.  You must also hold on to that support as you descend, to half or three quarters of the way down from the top.  Never give up support!  Nevah, Nevah, Nevah!!!

    Think about what I just said.  I'm not here to rip you a new one.  I'm here to help you see that you ALREADY CAN do this.  You just need to get it sorted out mentally and physically to allow yourself to accomplish it properly.

    You may want to do some exercises where you just sing between F4 to B4, in order to establish that you can or cannot sustain notes on those pitches, and to feel the kind of support you need to maintain for those pitches.

    You might also think about going through Ken's Basic Pitch Part One program - it's available to you (PRO or Enrolled) here for free.  You might detect some pitch issues you have at one level or another, or determine that this is NOT a pitch issue, in which case you are further down the line in the process of elimination. You can find the Basic Pitch program in the forums under the category Better Tone and Pitch. 

    Good Singing to You, radagast!


  • radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55
    edited June 2013

    I am always slightly overwhelmed when people help me out, especially you and Patrick, Bob. Even more so when I get a detailed response like this - which I feel I don't deserve. But it doesn't stop me from feeling a deep sense of appreciation. Thanks again.

    Here's my latest exercise where I try to make more conscious attention to whether I'm 'holding back' my hitting of the top notes. I think I was a bit flat when coming down from the top notes, but I'm not exactly surely why. What I did differently this time is instead of trying to lean into the top note, I just 'propelled' the top note, with the lower notes as a kind of runway, if that makes any sense at all. So it sounds a bit like an abrupt bark ( in my opinion), but I think it's clearer and more 'free' in terms of carrying less weight, so I think I might have hit the right noes this time. I drew confidence from the fact that you told me I 'could - and have' hit the top notes.

    I'm sorry if I'm not a fast learner and keep getting stuck at this issue and wasting people's time. I'm beginning to try out the pitch exercises you recommended - currently only video 6.

    I don't know how to adequately thank you. I'm not taking this for granted, trust me.

  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,320
    edited June 2013


    This is much better.  You fall just a touch short of nailing the top note on the highest two scales, but you are much closer and more supported.  Your problem that you mentioned about maybe being flat on the way down is common to students (including myself, as pointed out by Ken).  You make it to the top note, and quit supporting, like the job is done and you can relax now.  No, you have to hold on after making it to the top and continue supporting to at least halfway to three-quarters of the way down to the bottom of the scale. 

    You got a lot further this time and what you did sounded better.  Your tone is also improved, and I think it is probably because you are supporting better. If you will continue to increase your support even more, you will have better results at the top and on the way back down.  If you support sufficiently you won't have to just ramp up and jump to the top.  You'll be able to drop down on the note from up above. You won't have to bark the note if you can find the abdominal strength to let the note come out.  This comes from strength in the support, and not just forcing the note, but allowing it with proper support.

    I'm glad that we are able to help you.  When we help you we help others as well who are fighting the same battle as you.  Thank you for being willing to ask for help in front of others.  Working through your issues helps them.  We all get stuck somewhere or other, and need a little nudge to help us get past our plateau.

    Don't let the plateaus discourage you.  They are part of the journey.  Know that.  Enjoy the journey, even the bumps in the road.


  • radagastradagast Pro Posts: 55
    Thanks Bob, I'll keep working on my support for now! : )
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