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Classical Vs. Contemporary Singing

Mixdown Magazine Article

Myth: If you can sing classically you can sing anything. This is one of the biggest misconceptions in the industry.

Fact: There are only two genres and styles of singing! Contemporary. Classical. Period, end of story! They are two completely different styles of singing and so are the methods and techniques required to teach and learn them.

Classical Singing

The first real serious studies of the singing voice started in Italy with the Roman Catholic Church sometime near the beginning of the 13th century. However, earlier forms have been traced back to the late 12th century in Ancient Greek history. Through time the study of voice moved into Germany and then into other European countries. The classical voice was largely trained to sing in opera houses, churches, auditoriums, coliseums and amphitheaters. A lot of these venues were extremely large or outdoor open venues with no modern microphone technology for projection and volume. So, they were practiced by the singer with the predominant mindset of having to have a lot of projection, volume and power so that everyone present at the performance, near or far could hear the performance. In short, classical training is stuck in a tradition or an expectation of what 'classical' should sound like.  It is not free to explore and grow the voice like contemporary singing does.

What is the difference between Classical and Contemporary Singing?

As any modern contemporary singer will know, you can still sing at a very low volume into a microphone and sound fantastic.

There is a common theme I notice when teaching classically trained singers. Many female classical vocalists who have some to see me have not known how to sing in their "true" voice. They have never been taught to do this and have only trained in their Falsetto when singing up high. This is what I call "Fake Soprano" or "Falsetto Soprano". On the other hand, many male classically trained singers have never used their Falsetto or have not known what it even is as they have only been taught to sing in their True Voice. Almost all did not know how to use correct mouth placement to produce a variety of vowel sounds because in classical training, they use a 'yawn' or 'round' shape for most vowel placements.

In modern contemporary singing tuition, we use varying mouth shapes for all five different vowels, and there are no sounds that we cannot use! There are no rules in modern contemporary singing except that you need to sing in a key and not hurt your voice. All other sounds are acceptable and are interchangeable depending on music genre, song choice and the individual singer! There is no "one and only" method of singing in contemporary singing and this is what will help you to develop your unique potential to create sounds, in a truly uninhibited way and will allow you to understand how your vocal anatomy works.

The idea that "if you can sing classical, you can sing anything" is a mistakenly held belief that has caused much confusion, inconsistency and even competition within the singing world. If anything is true, classical singing may restrict you from reaching full vocal expression and flexibility.

So, what is Contemporary or Modern Singing? 

Please keep in mind that I have nothing against classical singing or the methods used to teach it. I have personally studied forms of classical and the Bel Canto singing technique. However, modern singing has really broadened and developed the understanding of our vocal anatomy and expanded upon classical singing. Sure classical singing is a useful foundation and a good way to start to learn about singing but it will not give you your authentic voice. Many teachers are stuck in conforming to specific traditional systems but this is very limiting to the singing student. If you understand that the human voice works a certain way you can get it to do many strange and wonderful sounds - just look at beat boxing! A worldwide phenomenon that began with a few brave and talented individuals, but 100 years ago, this would have seemed like alien language or the Devil's tongue! Don't be afraid to experiment with your voice and let it make different and unusual sounds.

Also, a lot of classical teachers say that if you're singing theatre or drama you should be taking classical lessons. Again a major untruth! 95% of theatre these days is sung in a contemporary voice. Listen to Les Miserables, Wicked, South Pacific and so on. "The King and I" was in town not long ago and the main female lead sang all the parts in true and chest voice in a contemporary style. Also, many classical teaches try to cross over into teaching mainstream singing but fall into the trap of letting female singers go Falsetto whenever they want and don't allow their male singers to use Falsetto. In modern contemporary tuition, we try to expand all ranges as high as we possibly can, safely in True Voice and Falsetto. This way, the student has the option to use both of the ranges if need be.

Conclusion 

Do your research on the singing teacher that you wish to see and ask them questions regarding what they can offer and give you as a student. Don't pick a singing teacher because they are cheap or close to where you live. There are great singing teachers available everywhere now online too. It is important to remember that a classical method is a classical method and a contemporary method, contemporary.

BY PETER & RYAN VOX

 


What a Performing Singer Should and Should Not Eat and Drink!

Mixdown Magazine Article

This has to be one of the most common asked questions that I receive as a singing teacher. The subject is generally horses for courses and depends greatly on the individual. For example, it's like asking an athlete to train their body everyday but only eat junk food - the athlete will improve marginally but their body will not recover or repair itself, they won't feel good or get maximum results and eventually the athlete will became exhausted and their body will begin to break down. Singers need to know and work out for themselves what not to eat and drink and when, just like an athlete. Otherwise, their voice will not function to its full capability and wear out. In this month's column, I am going to give you my professional opinion on what has worked for me as a teacher and also for my students for the past 20 years. coffee and cigarettes

So, let's start with the most talked about the subject:

WHAT TO DRINK.
The cardinal rule and the only thing a singer should be drinking is room temperature water! For anyone who is not familiar with the human body and how we are composed: "WE ARE MADE UP OF MOSTLY WATER" (approximately 75%). It is all I ever drink while teaching and when singing. The voice thrives on hydration! Four hours before the show, drink an adequate amount of water and then during the gig, sip only water every 1-3 songs. All of our students know that they have to bring in a room temperature bottle of water to every class.

In the cooler months and winter time, I often warm the water up slightly but not boiling or too hot. I find that this keeps my vocal cords warmer for a longer period of time. If you have a sore throat or colds, there are countless remedies that I have heard and tried. Again, work out what suits you and works best for your needs.

Drinking spearmint tea, peppermint tea or ginger tea with some honey or lemon is always a great soother for a sore voice or throat. I recommend drinking herbal teas that do not contain caffeine.

Slippery Elm Bark tea and Licorice Root tea are also very good and gives the sensation of lining or coating the vocal chords to give you a smooth feeling. There is a brand of tea called "Throat Coat" which have these properties in them.

Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in warm water and honey is also a great for throat soother when you are suffering from a sore throat.

Some performers also like to drink pineapple juice as it strips and clears the mucus from the vocal chords. However, drinks that are high in citric acid can sometimes have an adverse effect on your voice by causing reflux or burning on the vocal chords.

WHAT NOT TO DRINK. Alcohol, any carbonated drinks that contain lots of sugar and any drinks with caffeine in them such as tea, coffee and coke - these will all dry your voice out. If you are consuming these drinks, I highly recommend drinking water in between them to keep you hydrated.

Many singers swear by having a few beers or even a Scotch or two before the show. Personally, I wouldn't do this as it will dehydrate you and alcohol only lowers your awareness of technique and pitch as well as slows your coordination.

I strongly recommend not eating or drinking anything made from dairy products. Try to avoid milk and yoghurt as this will create phlegm which sits on the vocal chords and makes it difficult as a vocalist to sing freely.

Avoid any carbonated drinks as these cause excess air or gas. This can make you want to burp and will cause you to feel uncomfortably full while singing.

WHAT TO EAT. Keep what you eat very simple and plain. You should eat a light healthy salad with some complex carbohydrates like pasta, rice and grains about 4 hours before a gig. The carbohydrates will start to kick in right before the show to give you the energy when you need it the most. Generally backstage before a show, there should be something light like fruit or sandwiches.

Fruit and muesli bars are great as they give you energy and are not too heavy. I recommend that you generally graze throughout the day of a show so you never feel too full and then get something substantial to eat after you have finished performing.

WHAT NOT TO EAT. Please do not have a big, heavy meal right before you're about to sing. A stomach full of food is going to adversely restrict the way that your diaphragm and breath support works and this will greatly affect control of your singing. I don't want to feel full or uncomfortable when I'm singing.

Avoid any hot or spicy foods which may come back up and cause reflux and irritation to your larynx, esophagus and voice box.

Stay away from lollies, sugar and throat lozenges as the menthol and eucalyptus can dry out your voice when used over an extended period.

No dairy products at all as these will create mucus and phlegm and make it harder for you to sing and control your voice.

If anything that you eat or drink is disturbing your voice, don't just consume it!!

CONCLUSION. It may take a little while to establish what foods and drinks works best for you and your voice and what does not. It is also important to eat at the right time too. Be sure to exercise, have a good balanced diet, stay hydrated, don't smoke and drink alcohol in moderation.

Remember your voice is a muscle, it's part of your body. As well as food, other external factors can also affect how you sound such as lack of sleep, chemicals, alcohol and stress. To be a consistently strong vocalist, singers need to take the health of their voice (and body) seriously!

Singers must be disciplined when approaching food and liquids during the days and weeks leading up to shows but ESPECIALLY on the day of or even the day prior to a gig of performance.

The bottom line is to remember the better you feel, the better your voice will sound. You are only going to get out of your voice and body what you put into it!!

BY PETER AND RYAN VOX


Choosing a Key or Register that Best Suits your Voice!

Mixdown Magazine Article

Have you ever sung a song and it just didn't sound or feel right?! Well there is a good chance that the key of the song didn't suit your voice. For example, Johnny Cash who is naturally a very low singer wouldn't attempt to sing Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen in the original key. It is just far too high for Johnny Cash. If Johnny Cash was to cover Bohemian Rhapsody, he would definitely have to sing the song in a lower key, possibly one full octave lower.

aretha2A good example of this is the song “Natural Woman” which was written by Carole King (who is in my opinion one of the best song writers ever). The song originally appeared on her absolutely amazing Tapestry album but was later covered by Aretha Franklin who is one of the greatest singers of all time. Carole King is an Alto and Aretha Franklin a Soprano. Aretha Franklin originally recorded the song in the same key as Carole King. But the producer said that the song lacked passion, feel and that it just didn't sound right. So when Aretha Franklin covered this song she changed it so that is was in a higher key to suit her voice. And that is the version that you hear today. It probably wouldn't have been a number one worldwide hit for Aretha Franklin if the song wasn't taken up in key!

The moral of the story is….

1. Please come to terms with and embrace the tone and sound of your own voice and accept your natural range. In other words, how long or how high your voice can go... for now. you can work on extending your range higher and lower by training it with various scales and techniques but please be patient - everyone's voice and vocal range is different. Kind of like a fingerprint, they are unique, beautiful and distinctive.

2. Teachers generally categorize singers into three different types.
For Males: Bass (low voice), Baritone (middle voice) and Tenor (high voice)
Females: Contralto (low voice) Alto (middle voice) and Soprano (high voice).

Try to find our what your voice is from the above categories mentioned. If you are having singing lessons your teacher should tell you what type of voice you are in the first one or two lessons. If not, ask them what vocal type you are. If they cannot tell you or do not know then it is probably best to find a new teacher! Once you know this information you can now go and choose songs to sing or write songs in a key that best suits your vocal range.

3. Choose a vocal register that feels comfortable and that you enjoy singing in. If you're struggling to sing the song in its original key up in your higher range or you start sounding strained, constricted, forced and does not feel natural - try singing in a lower key! The same goes for when you are singing in your lower range. If you are sounding muddy, muffled, unclear, lacked volume or sound unnatural you are probably singing in a key that is too low.

Remember it is much more impressive to sing to an audience a really basic song in a range or register best suited for you that brings out real emotion and expression than it is to sing a technically difficult song which you can ‘almost do well’ but has no depth. To be a ‘WOW’ singer it requires excellent song choice and one that is in the right key for your voice.

What’s my Key?

Many singers are often eager to emulate their favourite singing idols but forget that these challenging songs were written either by the artists themselves to suit their voice or written by someone else to cater the artists voice. They are not written to suit YOUR voice! Sure, keep practicing singing these challenging songs at home. It will help you improve your voice if done correctly but choose songs that are in your KEY WHEN PERFORMING!

Don't be afraid to experiment with singing in different keys, sometimes even a half step drop can be the difference between hitting that really big high note in the middle of the song or your voice breaking under pressure. Remember, it is not about how high or how low you can sing - it's not a competition - it's about how well you can sing a song that suits your range and really brings out your authentic voice.

Not enough credit is given to using different registers or sounds of voice when singing songs. The best way to sing a cover song is to sing it in a register or SOUND that suits you. That way, you take more ownership of the song by delivering it with your personality and style. Again, don't be afraid to experiment and change up the sound and vocal register of a song. Just because, Dave Grohl sings loud and dirty doesn't mean you have to do that. For example, you could approach a Foo Fighter song in an acoustic set with clearer middle voice sounds rather than belting every second phrase. Also, approach each song depending on the type of gig you are doing. For example, you are singing in a rock and and its loud and hard, you might want to cry more using throat register and crossover register. But if you are doing an acoustic gig, you may have to adapt and use more falsetto or head voice to suit the environment or the mood for the same songs, especially those high notes.

So remember, it isn't about imitating your favourite artists range or tone - it is about finding out what will best suit you and your voice. Knowing your range is imperative when it comes to singing. In some cases, this will require you to change the key of your chosen song whether they are covers or originals. Whatever you do, just listen to and feel what is best for your voice.

Rock on!

By Peter Vox

 


Vox Singing Academy Student Concert - this September!

Student Concert2After the smashing success of our previous concert in June, we are keen to announce that our next student concert is right around the corner on September!

This will be our second last concert for the year and our students are getting ready to give you a show to remember! We are all very excited as we have more than 20 new up-and-coming singers taking the stage to perform for you. So sit back, rustle up some fun and shake off the working week!

Bring all your friends and family and join us for a fun, entertaining and relaxing Sunday afternoon and show your support for our talented students!

You can check its Facebook event page HERE and feel free to join!

So, SAVE THIS DATE and we look forward to seeing you all there!


Are You Singing in Tune?

Mixdown Magazine Article

The cardinal rule as a singer is to sing in tune all, if not most of the time.If you feel like you sing some notes off key, out of tune or you are pitchy, don’t worry - you are not alone. Even the very best vocalists have at times, had trouble with this. I remember, as a teenager seeing one of my favourite singers in a very well known, world wide touring band (whose name I will not mention). The lead singer sounded flat, pitchy and even lazy. It was disappointing to say the least, but it reiterates that everyone, even professionals can have pitch problems.

What are some of the reasons why people sing pitchy or out of tune?

The number one reason why singers occasionally sing out of tune is because they are unable to hear themselves. Some of these reasons can be because:

*You are trying to sing over the top of the band or music that is too loud.
*You cannot hear the chord based instruments or music as a reference for the point of key.
*You cannot hear yourself adequately through the fold back speakers or your in ear monitors.
*You have a cold, flu or virus that is preventing you from hearing sounds correctly.  This can also inhibit the usual control you have over your vocal chords that help you to hit correct pitch.

Another  reason you could be having trouble is that you are having difficulty hearing what key you're supposed to be singing in.
*This will require pitch training using scales played on a piano specifically designed to improve your ear, musicianship and pitch.

Here are a few helpful hints and tips to improve your ability to sing in tune:

1. Hearing yourself is the most important skill and asset a singer can have. I am going to stress the word hearing here. You want to hear yourself sing, not listen! You listen to someone speak and you want to hear your voice sing. Listening takes a lot of concentration. Have you ever listened to an hour lecture? Even on a subject that you're interested in, it is difficult to stay focused and listen for the entire time. A singer must always be paying attention to the music, the beat, the key the song is in, to your own voice and make it all blend together.  Start by closely listening, without singing along, to the singer in your favourite song. Then hum or nar nar along exactly to the melody. When this is down 110% then move along to singing the song with the lyrics precisely.

2. Mimic the exact same sound as what you hear. You can do this with anything - the sound of a car engine, the ring of a door bell, someones quirky joke, anything to start practicing your pitch. Start practicing by gently humming along to your favourite song - this is a fantastic way to start honing your ear. Really focus on copying the exact same sound (tune) as the singer. Then begin singing along with the same tune and try to stay in key for the entire song.

3. Remember, please pick songs that suit your vocal range and abilities. Don't go off and start singing really high songs if your voice does not fall naturally in this range. Pick songs that feel comfortable and natural for your voice. This will greatly improve your ability to sing in key or in tune.

4. Pitching scales are a great way to learn exact pitch to musical notes. This includes scales counting with numbers.  Doing this will teach you to visualise the sound going higher and lower via a sequence of numbers, kind of like going up and down a ladder for your voice.

5. Pitch testing is a good way to continually challenge yourself throughout your entire range. This is done by playing different scales and notes randomly on the piano within your vocal range. This will test you, improve your musicianship and keep your ear sharp and focused.  A good singing teacher should provide the correct techniques to give you the vocal ability, confidence and courage when doing key changes. This means that if you lose your way when singing a song and become pitchy you will have the skills required to self correct and find your way back to the right tune.

6. Fold-back not loud enough? Then this means you can't hear yourself sing through the PA when you do a gig. As a performer this is embarrassing and frustrating but can be easily avoided. Purchasing some in-ear monitors is the only way to be certain that you will hear yourself clearly and adequately at all times. Ensure that your band is not too loud and drowning your voice out on stage. Be sure that you have always got proper fold back that is working. Ask for more if from the sound engineer through the fold back if you cannot hear yourself properly. Please also rehearse in the same fashion.

7. Don't be lazy!  A lot of flat notes can easily be corrected simply by articulating the proper vowel placements. The basic rule is to open the mouth more when singing up high (like going to the dentist), and to relax your mouth a little when singing in a lower key.

8. Use correct breath support when singing. Many untrained singers forget about this resulting in lazy, sliding or flat notes. Remember to always use diaphragmatic support throughout your entire vocal range but especially when singing high notes.

9. Practice, practice, practice or as I say perfect practice makes a perfect performance.

To summarize:

*Hear yourself singing clearly and adequately at all times.
*Pick songs in a key that best suit your vocal range.
*Support all notes correctly using your diaphragm.
*Don't be lazy
*Perfect practice makes perfect performance.

Until next month Rock On!

By Peter Vox


Singing in Crossover Voice

Mixdown Magazine Article

Do you want to sing really high in True Voice?

Have you ever wanted to sing really high in True Voice? But when you attempted to do so your voice just cracks and breaks and goes into falsetto?! Have you ever wondered how the singers in bands like Iron Maiden, The Police, Rush, Karnivool, Sleeping With Sirens, Paramore, Maroon 5 and artists like Bruno Mars, Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson sing so high consistently for long periods of time? Well I'm going to let you into a little secret. Let me introduce you to the Mixed or Cross Over Voice.

Let’s be frank here, this is not easy! However everyone is capable of doing this with the proper technique, perseverance and persistence. I have given countless students the ability to sing an octave and more higher in their “mixed” voice. Two of my students who regularly use their mixed voice are Kim Benzie from Dead Letter Circus and Christopher de Cinque from Closure in Moscow. Both are great examples of this technique done well.

Okay, So What is  Mixed or Crossover Voice?

Crossover or Mixed voice is not so much a traditional register such as is chest, middle or falsetto registers.   Crossover uses both falsetto and true voice vocal folds at the same time to produce a ‘mixed’ sound or crossover sound.  In other words crossover can help you sing the same notes in the high end of your middle voice or low end of falsetto that you may normally struggle with.  Crossover voice helps to close or bridge the vocal break in your voice (so that it doesn’t sound like a pubescent teenager) as you ascend or descend between false and true voice.  So basically, it’s the sound the voice makes as it’s ‘Crossing Over’ between true voice and falsetto voice.  If done well, no one can tell when you have 'crossed over' between your registers.

Why sing Crossover? DLC2

Because it's fun, invigorating, challenging and once you learn how to do it, it will open up your whole upper register, giving you around a whole octave and more to sing in and use in a true sounding voice. So many more colours, keys and registers are now available for you to use as a singer and artist.  The trouble is, that this slide-over or crossover sound, when done well, is probably one of the hardest vocal techniques to master.  But it will open up many more opportunities to sing in parts of the voice that may have been neglected or never used at all.

But isn’t Head voice my crossover voice?

No it isn’t. Head voice is a lighter, thinner version of your true voice.  So it can be sung anywhere in your true voice register but it often doesn’t carry the same clear tones that the chest or middle registers have.  Crossover is located at the higher end of your true voice range and the lower end of your falsetto range.

Getting started!

There’s an old saying that I like to use in regards to singing practice at home: “practice doesn’t make perfect.  PERFECT PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!”  Before you even begin to start doing higher range singing in crossover you have to make sure that you have established the correct basic singing techniques first.  You must build yourself up physically, mentally and technically.  In other words, get yourself a good teacher that will give you the correct singing techniques to build your voice up first before you attempt to learn crossover voice.

Peter Vox with Christopher De Cinque and Kim Benzie
Peter Vox takes a happy snap shot with his successful students Christopher De Cinque (Closure In Moscow) and Kim Benzie (Dead Letter Circus).

Often for beginners, it may take anything from 6 to 18 months before they can sing like Kim Benzie from Dead Letter Circus.  It really depends on a range of factors but there is a degree of patience, practice and a clear goal required.  After all if you love singing, you don’t want burn your voice out by singing your heart out to songs that you are not yet ready for.  Lets go through a checklist to build up your voice to sing in crossover.

1. Find a great teacher that teaches mixed or crossed over voice techniques.

2. Expand your vocal range as high as it will go in your true chest voice, preferably using crying scale techniques.

3. Expand and strengthen your falsetto range with correct scales and techniques.

4. Properly support all crossover techniques with correct diaphragmatic breath support.

5. Start challenging your voice and try to sing along with artists that use crossover or mixed voice.
Once you have established a solid foundation for singing, you can begin to start doing higher range singing in your Crossover voice. You’ll need to expand your vocal range as high as it will go in your true chest voice, preferably using crying scale techniques.  In addition, work on expanding and strengthening you falsetto voice and range with the right scales and techniques. Also very importantly, remember to breathe correctly.  When doing the Crossover technique it is essential that you draw on your diaphragmatic strength so that you don’t damage your voice.

Okay so how do I do crossover?

I’m going to share with you the secrets to connecting or blending your true voice seamlessly into your falsetto, every time. To successfully accomplish this, there are four main points that you need to do to achieve a smooth and consistent sound throughout your range. I suggest doing the below techniques on an octave sliding scale (1st, 8th, 1st note) on the piano.

1. Always keep your volume crescendoing and de-crescendoing through the entire scale. Do not ever bring your volume down when you hit your falsetto register as this will expose your crack in the falsetto register and we don't want that.

2. Remember that the crying technique is the glue that will connect/glue your 2 registers together seamlessly. So keep sobbing and crying throughout the whole scale, right to the very end.

3.Do not stop moving or sliding through the scale especially before the transition from true voice to falsetto. If you stop or pause before this bridge your voice is sure to crack. Keep moving the entire way through the scale.

4. Finally, keep your neck, throat and mouth relaxed at all times. Let your diaphragm and stomach do all the tightening and supporting of the notes.

The Next Level

Perfect practice, practice, practice! Keep challenging yourself to sing songs that are slightly higher (or lower) in range.  Sing songs that have 1 or 2 notes that are outside your natural vocal range.  These more difficult notes will be your target crossover notes until you learn to master how to sing them (with the help of a coach or teacher).  Eventually these songs will start to feel like they are in your natural range and they won’t be as much of a challenge.  In effect, you’ve actually increased your ability and extended your vocal range.  You should now have the confidence to sing even higher or more difficult songs!!

Remember that this skill is one of the more difficult singing techniques you will learn. But if you like a challenge and are willing to put in the hard work then Crossover Voice will help you to expand your natural vocal range and it will give you much more ability and variety with your instrument. I encourage you to regularly challenge yourself to sing songs that are slightly higher (or lower) in range and that have 1 or 2 notes that are outside your natural capabilities. Crossover is a skill that not many vocalists have or are able to do well. But if you put in the time, patience and practice required to learn this technique you will have gained a unique vocal skill that will set you apart from your average vocalist.

Rock on!

By Peter Vox


Coming Soon in JUNE...

NEW VOX Singing Academy Studio in Highett!!

We are all very excited to get JUNE 2014 underway with our new SOON to be opened Highett Studio!!

We are currently  taking bookings and inquiries for the new Highett studio. Spaces are limited and filling fast!

All the best,
Vox Singing Academy


**Upcoming Student Concert - 29th June!!*

That's right! We are all very excited to announce our next beginner to intermediate Vox Singing Academy student concert.

Invite all your friends and family to join us for a fun Sunday afternoon of singing entertainment. All our students are welcome to perform and hit the stage with professional lighting and sound!

The show kicks off at 1PM, Sunday the 29th of June at  Bridie O'Reillys, Crn of Brunswick and Sydney roads, Brunswick.

Enjoy our concert for only $5 entry. We suggest you book a table as there are great food and beverages also available!

Looking forward to seeing you all there!


The Different Voices, Registers and Ranges

Mixdown Magazine Article

What's my range again!?

Ironically this is the name of my column. It is also a frequently asked question by most singers. What key should I be singing in and where does my voice sound its best? Your voice is a superb individual instrument, much like a fingerprint. There are are no two voices that are alike in tone, range or timbre (grading or sound of the voice with regards to how thick or thin the voice sounds).

Feel!

Before I even start with the technicalities of the different vocal registers and where the voice should  sit, you should always go with feel! Whenever you're singing ask yourself how does this feel on my voice. Does it feel comfortable, at ease, pain-free, enjoyable, strain free, not fatigued quickly or easily and is it fun - are all questions that you want to frequently ask yourself. If the answer is no to any of the previous questions, you possibly have incorrect technique or could be singing in a key or a range that is not suitable for your voice. Finding the right key or range is imperative for all singers for vocal health, longevity and artistic expression. Do you think Mick Jagger could have sustained a fifty plus year vocal career if he was singing in the wrong key or sang unnaturally? The answer obviously is no and the same should go for yourself as a vocalist.

Freddie Mercury

Finding your voice!

The quickest and easiest way to find this out, is to have some fun and sing a bunch of different songs in different keys or registers. For a few days in a row try singing for 15 to 30 minutes in middle to lower register of your voice. See how it feels, if you enjoy it, if your voice sounds good and if you can present the song and sing it with passion and feeling. This may be the register you want to sing in. Then do exactly the same for a few days in a row using your middle to higher range. And ask yourself the same questions. If you feel more comfortable and sound better in a certain area, use that range and part of your voice predominantly for your singing in the future. Alternately and commonly you may also find that you feel comfortable in both higher and lower in your vocal registers and range. There are many singers that use their entire vocal range.

Experiment with your voice.

Have fun with it! Sing quietly, sing loud, sing in false voice, sing in true voice, sing in head voice and sing in chest voice. Stretch it, sing with air, sing with distortion, sing husky, shout it out and scream it out. Your voice is like an artist's colour palette and the music or the chords are the canvas for you to paint over. Now go and express yourself, sing with passion, sing with feel, have fun. Let your feelings and desires be expressed through your voice.

The 3 Different Vocal Ranges

Female’s

The high female voice is called a Soprano (Mariah Carey, Christine Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J)

The middle range female voice is called an Alto (Pink, Beyonce, Lorde, Adele, Lady Gaga)

The lowest female voice is called a Contralto (Toni Braxton, Tracy Chapman, Courtney Love, Nina Simone)

There are a lot of female singers that use their entire vocal range such as Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Billie Holiday e.g.

Male’s

The high male voice is called a Tenor (Bruno Mars, John Farnham, early Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury, Sting)

The middle range male voice is called a Baritone (Eddie Vedder, James Hatfield, The Beatles, Bob Marley)

And the low male voice is called a Bass (Nick Cave, Elvis, Tex Perkins, Jim Morrison)

Again, there are also lots of male singers that use their entire range such as Mike Patton, Freddie Mercury, Bruce Dickinson, Kurt Cobain e.g.

The 4 Different Vocal Registers

There are 4 different vocal registers that are commonly used in contemporary singing.  You can feel all these registers when you are singing and doing scales.

Chest Register. When both males and females sing in there lower range you should be able to feel your chest cavity resonate or vibrate slightly. Place your hand on the top of your chest.

Middle Register. As you move up higher in your vocal range you will feel the chest resonation diminish and you will begin to feel more vibration around the middle section of your neck and lower chest. This resonation will continue all the way up until your voice crosses over to the falsetto register.

Falsetto Register.  The false or artificial part of your highest voice. For males you will sound like a female.

A few words that we are using like “falsetto” are Italian words. The 1st studies on the voice was done in Italy, that is why we still use a lot of Italian words today in singing. Falsetto means false or artificial voice.

The last vocal area is Head Voice. Head voice is a lighter, thinner and airier version of your middle voice. A lot of R&B singers use this sound to sound smooth and sexy.

So to recap the 4 vocal registers  there is  Chest register, Middle register, Falsetto register and Head register. You try them all now yourself.

What is my exact range?

To distinguish these ranges correctly you should try singing a simple major 5th scale on any vowel along with the piano. This should be done in full voice and not in falsetto. You can probably add another 4 to 8 notes or a half or a full octave to your range in falsetto.

Females 

The middle female Alto voice. An alto voice should be able to sing up to a high C,D or D# and down to the mid C,D or F

The high female Soprano voice. A Soprano should be to sing up to a high E,F or G and sing down to a middle E, F or G.

The low female Contralto voice. Should be able to sing up to a middle A,B or C and down to a low A B or C

Males

The middle Baritone male voice. A Baritone should be able to sing up to a middle F,G or A  and down to a low A, B or C

The high male Tenor voice. A Tenor should be able to sing up to a middle B High C or D  and down to a mid C,D or E

The low male Bass voice. A Bass should be able to sing up to a  middle C,D or E and down to a low C,D or E.

Now don't be disappointed if you are not the range you thought you were or want to be. As I have said, everyone's voice, body and personality is a fantastic individual creation. So some of you will be able to sing in 1 of the mentioned voice categories and some of you will be able to naturally sing in 2 of the mentioned voice categories and some will be able to sing a little in all 3 voice categories. Remember it is not a competition or a race. Lets just have fun with the voice and what you have been blessed with.

I guarantee your voice will expand both higher and lower and feel stronger and you will have more control in the very near future by singing and practising scales with the correct technique.

By Peter Vox


The Touring Singers Regime

Mixdown Magazine Article

SINGERS TOURING PREPERATION

There is nothing more exciting than a bands the first real tour. Packing the van, car  or plane with all your equipment and hitting the road.

A tour means that you're going to play more than three shows in a row. In Australia this could mean just playing the five or 6 major cities. Though if you are also going to include a rural tour this could make it a 30 date tour. Beyond that it is every bands dream to do a North American tour which could easily include 40 to 50 dates. With the bulk of these dates done back-to-back.  I am going give you a few helpful hints to survive the rigours of touring because most of the time it is very hard, gruelling and tiring work and not all just performing and partying which the common misconception.

 Your Fitness Regimen

A full two months before a long tour begins you should start preparing your voice, body and mind. Your fitness and cardiovascular regime should consistent of some situps, crutches or bridges and also any physical activity that will get your lungs working a few times a week e.g. Jogging, swimming, martial arts.

 Your Vocal Fitness Regimen

Over the next two months you should be gradually building up your scales and song practice and rehearsal to build strength and stamina before the tour starts.

Starting off from scratch I would recommend doing 15 minutes worth of scales and then 15 minutes worth of singing every day for the first week. Then increase both of these by five minute increments for the next 7 weeks. For the last two weeks before the tour starts you should be singing through your whole entire set.

Three days before you start touring you want to bring your scales and songs work out down to about half of that (roughly 15-20 minutes of scales and songs) so that you are fresh for the start of your tour.

Eat well and get good amounts of rest during this time so that you are at your peak vocal, mental and physical plateau at the start of your tour.

Dead Letter Circus LIVE
These boys from Dead Letter Circus really know how to rock and pack out a venue.

 

 

Rehearsal Preparation

2 Months before a full length performance you should be rehearsing EVERYTHING that you are going to be performing on stage!

Everything from the very moment you walk on stage until you walk off stage. Practice everything from what you’re going to say to the audience, your movements, stage presentation, crowd interaction, audio visuals, guitar changes, sound and lighting all needs to be rehearsed so they are seamless. Once you have everything nailed down, it is up to you to maintain this high professional high level of rehearsing until your tour begins.

The Day of Your Performance

It’s always a good idea to try to get to the venue an hour or 2 before show time.To find  where you can park, where the stage entrance and backstage areas are. Give yourself plenty of time to set up, do your vocal warm ups and be in the right state of mind before your performance

I usually try to have of light meal containing complex carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, or grains, along with a salad 3 to 4 hours before my performance. This type of meal will give you a lasting energy that kicks in within 2-4 hours, right when you need it on stage. I also try to stay well hydrated the entire day of the show by regularly drinking room temperature water. If I’m feeling a bit hungry just before a performance I generally snack on a piece of fruit or a light sandwich. Avoid eating anything too heavy or spicy as you don’t want to inhibit your breathing or irritate your throat during your performance.

The 1 to 2 Hours Before the Show

We're now at the business end and everything that you have worked so hard for. Is time to get in the right mental state and start preparing for the performance. Everyone has their own way of doing this. About 1 hour before the show I would try to find your own space.

I would do scales to warm up specific parts of the voice that I will be using in my performance. For instance if you were the lead singer of Coldplay you would warm up the lower to middle part of your true voice and your falsetto voice or if you were the lead singer of Metallica you would warmup your entire range but finish up your scales warmup by doing some husky scales.

Personally, I don’t do any scales or singing on the day of a performance as I want to keep my voice as fresh as I can until the very last note I’ll sing on stage. However, if you are a bigger touring band, you’ll most likely need to warm up before sound check in the afternoon. Again, try not to do too much during sound check as you want to save your voice for the real thing.

10 minutes before I go on stage I would do a light limbering and stretching of my body. Then, and this is very important, I would proceed to sing the first half of the first song that I am going to perform so that I will have complete confidence in what I am about to do in a few minutes when I am on stage.

Now, it’s time to get on stage and have some fun. In the end THAT’S what it’s all about! Having fun, sharing your talents and art and enjoying what you’re doing.

Immediately after the show, do a light body stretch, vocal cool down and drink plenty of water. From there you can proceed to eat and do whatever you wish! However, If you have continuous shows or a show the next night it would be best to go home, take it easy, and get some vocal rest. Again vocal rest can be a challenge for touring bands as you may have a pre or post show meet and greets, media interviews/ Radio performances, in store signings and performances or after the show parties.

 

The Four Main Points to Always Remember When Touring

 

1.Try to get good amount of rest and sleep.

2. Be sure to eat and drink well.

3. Try to do some physical exercise whenever you can, even if it is just a brisk walk through town.

4. Always warm up and cool down correctly before and after your sound check and performance.

 

By Peter Vox

Principal Teacher and Director at


Upcoming Student Concert - Don't miss it!

We are super excited about this r Sunday Event Student Concert and all of the up-and-coming great talent that'll be performing on the big stage!

The show kicks off at 1 PM Sunday the 30th of March at Bridie O'Reillys, Crn of Brunswick and Sydney roads Brunswick for only $5 entry. Great food and drinks can be ordered all day long!

Look forward to seeing you all there! Let’s make it a smash success!

Rock on!
The VSA Team


New Singing Tuition!

VOX Singing Academy is now offering a relaxed and a supportive approach to your singing tuition! We now provide entry-level singing classes for ONLY $35 at our Dandenong and Bayswater Studios.

Together with Rients and Lachlan, you’re on way now to achieve maximum vocal results!

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So, what are you waiting for? BOOK ONE NOW.




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