bigjon's top tips for singing

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bigjonbigjon Frets: 623
edited November 2015 in Other Instruments
Seen a few discussions on singing happening on here, so I thought I'd put my twopenn'orth down on one thread. I'm an ex-choral scholar (though I was sacked from my school choir aged 11 because the choirmaster didn't like my voice!) and lead vocalist for two rock covers bands.

I'll edit this post to add pearls of wisdom as they occur to me and build up a hopefully useful list over time.

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Big Jon's Top Tips for Singing
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1 - Stance. Stand up straight with feet a shoulder width apart, imagine there's a piece of string pulling you up from the top of your head

2 - Breathe in. Take a breath like you've just stepped out of the door to savour the fresh air on a fine spring morning and you're filling up your lungs.

3 - Breath out. Let your mouth hang loose like a 'slack-jawed goon' and imagine you are blowing up a very big balloon as slowly as possible. Direct the stream of air between your two front teeth.

4 - Sing a note. With your slack-jawed goon face, sing an 'AH' quietly for a long-ish time (10 secs, increasing to 60 secs) at your lowest comfortable pitch (mine's the A on the open 5th string). Try doing the same up and down a scale - five notes to start with. Try increasing the volume to max WITHOUT straining in the middle of the note, then reducing back to as quiet as possible by the end.

5 - Sing the vowels - there are only 7; 'ah' as in cart, 'a' as in cat, 'e' as in care, 'i' as in kiss, 'o' as in cot, 'u' as in cuddle, 'oo' as in coot. Still with slack-jawed goon face, sing each of these vowels in place of the 'AH' in the exerecise above. Also use 'mm' and 'zz'. Take a line of lyric and sing it V-E-R-Y slowly with no consonants! Watch out for compound vowels like 'peace' - it's really p-ii-y-s, so make sure the vowel sound is ii and not yy. EVERY extended note you sing should be on one of these 7 vowel sounds.

6... More to follow!
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Comments

  • mike_lmike_l Frets: 5670

    You forgot the most important one

    Don't let Mike even attempt to sing, it's like a cross of Lemmy and Max Cavalera...... 

    Ringleader of the Cambridge cartel, pedal champ and king of the dirt boxes (down to 21) 

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  • chillidoggychillidoggy Frets: 12086
    I probably sound like a pre-op David Milliband, hence no amount of coaching and stance will help.


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  • Drew_TNBDDrew_TNBD Frets: 22389
    I disagree with 1 and 2. You stance or posture is not as important for pop singing as it is for stage singing. The reason is one of projection and volume. Stage singing requires a lot of it, pop singing doesn't really because we have microphones.

    As for breathing... you need to breathe from your diaphragm, not your lungs. Taking a big deep breath like that and then blorting a note out isn't going to be good for pitch stability, because your vocal cords will not be able to hold back the huge pressure of your exhalation. Much better to take the breaths you NEED, rather than taking too much and then blowing your cords apart.

    I agree with the others.
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  • bigjonbigjon Frets: 623
    To 'breathe from your diaphragm' is impossible for breathing in! All you mean is, let your lungs expand at the bottom to take in as much air as possible. You can and should use the diaphragm to control the expelling of the air. I agree about not taking in too much air, but for slowly developing technique with long notes and getting used to filling your lungs up from the bottom I think it's best.
    Re stance, you'll have better control with the right posture regardless of singing style or volume.
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  • I did quite a bit on stance with my singing teacher. He suggested for rock singing a loose stance like a boxer translated into relaxed singing.
    Handsome_Chris said: Like white Nile Rodgers. 
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  • Re: 5.  would not 'i' as in 'kite' be a vowel sound also?
    You don't need much knowledge of anatomy to appreciate the fundamental ubiquity of opinions.
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  • bigjonbigjon Frets: 623
    fatherjack;441920" said:
    Re: 5.  would not 'i' as in 'kite' be a vowel sound also?
    I would split it into k+ Ah + y + t

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  • Jon  you forgot

    1. demanding the rest of the band pay for your mics & pa gear
    2. refusal to transport it
    3. refusal to assist with setting it up & taking it down

    although I'm sure a sound mate such as your good self has never been guilty of those things.

    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • english_bobenglish_bob Frets: 2318
    edited December 2014
    Jon  you forgot

    1. demanding the rest of the band pay for your mics & pa gear
    2. refusal to transport it
    3. refusal to assist with setting it up & taking it down

    although I'm sure a sound mate such as your good self has never been guilty of those things.


    Every time I read stuff like this it makes me wonder what sort of alternate universe some bands inhabit. I play in an originals band in dedicated live music venues and don't have to deal with any of this nonsense, although there's no money in it. PA is either permanently in situ or provided by the promoter and generally sanitary enough not to have to bring our own mics. Is this a pub covers band thing? 

     

    Quality singing tips though. I've had odd bits of singing tuition over the years and it's always good to remind yourself of the right way to do it.

    Don't talk politics and don't throw stones. Your royal highnesses.

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  • hugbothugbot Frets: 1526
    Yeah I disagree with 2. Over breathing is a big issue. If you pull in too much air you're just making life harder for yourself. Especially since dead air is still going to be left in your lungs when you've finished exhaling the note. The way I learned it is that you should take in air as if you've just been startled by something. One quick intake straight to the middle of your body.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4788
    Sing from the body not the throat.
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2630
    edited December 2014
    viz said:
    Sing from the body not the throat.
    My intermittent gf (lead soprano) was apparently trained to "sing from your fanny".  I have no idea what this means.  Them classical types probably do things differently. 

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  • vizviz Frets: 4788
    Was she American or English?
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  • Grunfeld said:
    viz said:
    Sing from the body not the throat.
    My intermittent gf (lead soprano) was apparently trained to "sing from your fanny".  I have no idea what this means.  Them classical types probably do things differently. 
    I have heard this too. You are meant to tuck your tail bone in slightly and you should be able to feel something low down in your stomach. 

    You can feel a slight working of a tiny stomach muscle when you sing long passages on one intake of breath. 

    Loose shoulders, general relaxation, grounding your voice and a loose jaw are all good things. 

    Whilst singing squeeze your nose, it shouldn't effect your singing voice. Raise our palette on the in breath and keep your breath pressure consistent to keep it up and prevent the voice from going into the noise. 

    The main thing is, enjoy it and go for it with confidence. 
    The Bigsby was the first successful design of what is now called a whammy bar or tremolo arm, although vibrato is the technically correct term for the musical effect it produces. In standard usage, tremolo is a rapid fluctuation of the volume of a note, while vibrato is a fluctuation in pitch. The origin of this nonstandard usage of the term by electric guitarists is attributed to Leo Fender, who also used the term “vibrato” to refer to what is really a tremolo effect.
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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2630
    edited December 2014
    viz said:
    Was she American or English?
    English.  Posher than the Queen.

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  • joeyowenjoeyowen Frets: 3076
    Not a word on confidence? 

     If you shy away from a note/phrase it will never sound good.  You might as well give it 100% and give it a chance of sounding good.
    There is a saying about how quiet the woods would be, if only the birds who thought they could sing, sang.  (cringey as fuck, but rings true to me)

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  • GrunfeldGrunfeld Frets: 2630
    joeyowen said:
    ...if only the birds who thought they could sing, sang.

    But that's how we got The X Factor.

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  • joeyowenjoeyowen Frets: 3076
    Grunfeld;457937" said:
    joeyowen said:

    ...if only the birds who thought they could sing, sang.






    But that's how we got The X Factor.
    Nah, that was when the birds found out how to milk sob stories about their grandmothers love for their singing
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  • musicegbdfmusicegbdf Frets: 306
    edited December 2014
    Can I add a few ,
    Don't drink alcohol before a performance, drink "throat coat" tea.
    Don't eat late at night. Acid reflux whilst you sleep will burn the vocal chords.
    There are a number of exercises that can be done to give strength for power and volume.

    I learnt a lot when my daughter was being trained. She had a problem with her "head" voice. As a student she was eligible for a free consultation with a specialist. There is a charity called Bapam that top medics help new talent with medical issues like RSI . She ended up with a Harley Street vocal coach and could see the difference by the end of 6 sessions on the oscilloscope and the main issue was the eating late at night.
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  • SambostarSambostar Frets: 8375
    What if you have a low register and are quite deaf on that frequency?  Everyone I hear, like your typical male pop voice, will sing naturally at least one or even two octaves above what I can even hope to reach.  When I sing it sounds like a diesel engine on a ship.
    It's the Playbus. We're not in control of ourselves. You're only as dumb as you're trained
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  • hugbothugbot Frets: 1526
    I find I sing better when I've been drinking the night before. I don't recommend that as some kind of "grr whisky and cigarettes makes you sound like a real man" shite. I realised it was because my throat was so tender that putting pressure on it just wasn't an option, meaning I HAD to sing using the diaphram for control. I think about that sometimes when I'm having trouble getting in my headspace, I think "ok what if my throat was just burning raw and I couldn't use it"? And it helps me visualise the right place to push from for rock singing so it doesen't get raw.
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