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Showing posts from June, 2011

The Technical Elements of Vocal Style

In this article I would like to talk about an interesting observation that I have made over my 26 years as a vocal coach; not too many people realize that there are several aspects that have to be addressed with regards to singing in general. First of all, when we talk about singing we are talking about two separate, but very much related elements: physical sound and emotional style. Physical sound is what is achieved by proper utilization of the technical aspects of singing, i.e. breathing (support), structure, placement and projection. Emotional style is essentially how the singer relates to the song and anticipates and complements the style of music, i.e. rock, alternative, country, R&B, dance etc. A common view is that while the technical aspects of singing can be learned through instruction and repetition, style is only developed naturally over time. There is definitely some truth to this statement; some people just naturally have it within them. As a Vocal Coac…

Psychology of Performance - Pavlovian Conditioning

Psychology of Performance - Pavlovian Conditioning: In this column, I would like to talk about something human psychology-related. When I speak at Music Conferences, I often make the statement that vocal coaching is not really about working on the voice, it is about working on the mind. I like to think that one reason that I have been successful over the years is that while I did receive a very comprehensive musical education, I have also tried to learn things from other scientific and artistic disciplines and use them to enhance my capabilities as a Vocal Coach/Consultant. One field that has bearing on pretty much every human endeavour, including singing, is Behavioral Psychology. In 1891, the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov conducted a series of experiments using dogs to prove that behaviours are conditioned over time via repetition. In essence, he programmed the dog's brains so that they would react in the exact manner in which he wanted them to. For example, if he w…

The Voice Part II - As the Show is Progressing are there any "voices" left...?

The Voice. What is the purpose of the show? Are the judges looking for the next Susan Boyle or Paul Potts for that matter? And if they are, it is not such a bad thing, provided that the contestants remain to keep the quality of the voices that they originally came with. Due to my trade, watching every singing contest/competition under the sun, it seems to be that they have the same pattern where the judges pick, in most contests, the top of the top, cream of the crop singers to start with and then, for some very strange and mysterious reason, the contestants begin to deteriorate by each consecutive episode. The reason is unknown...?

My guess would be that either the contestants are trying too hard to win (nevertheless, "to help their families") and/or the so called coaches (i.e. actual singers and producers and not exactly coaches), are not really helping them to achieve the "absolute heights" with their voices. This remains to be a riddle, but since these auditions…

I Really Want to Sing...? But... I have three “locks” on my soul, five “whales” on my face and a “chastity belt”...?

What's that you may ask? That is my definition of so called wannabe singers who are claiming that they want to be singers and performers, but not willing to open up their heart and open up their soul. The singing performance is next intimate to sex and the singer/performer should be willing to stand, so to speak, naked, in front of the absolute strangers, i.e. the audience. Meanwhile, the people who have desire to sing and perform in a lot of cases are completely "locked in", which also affects the sound of the voice, which comes out very tight, constricted and strained. The voice is a reflection of the state of being and an identification of the actual personality. In a lot of cases, when I free up the voice, I will get my up and coming singer/performer to "spread their wings" and finally start flying. I would say I succeed 98% of the time, but in some cases, the "blueprint" is so embedded in the person via upbringing, lifestyle, religion and false o…