Nothing But The Facts About Singing
1. The voice is a muscle, and like any muscle in the body can grow and get stronger even into your 70’s when trained correctly.
2. People that are diagnosed with “nodes” or “polyps” can in many cases avoid surgery with proper vocal techniques and vocal exercises.
3. Most singers have no idea what their “true” vocal range is. Many resign themselves to “lower” vocal registers because they do not know how to access their upper register.
4. Many female singers “flip” into their head voice registers too early which inhibits power in the mid voice.
5. The over-use of air is one of the biggest “enemies” of the voice.
6. When experiencing cold or flu, it is better to continue to “exercise” the voice with proper training which will maintain more consistent vocal health and lessen “down time” from singing.
7. The voice has a biological clock and likes to be warmed up at the same time every day.
8. Most singers have a much higher range than they realize but due to “panicking” they quickly “squeeze off the air in the throat” which seriously impedes and inhibits range.
9. A tenor can actually sing well into the soprano range when trained correctly.
10. A baritone can actually “stretch” his chest voice well into the tenor range safely.
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11. Most people think that pushing more air is how volume is achieved which is not correct. It is achieved through proper resonance.
12. Throat sprays, Elixirs, Lozenges etc. can actually cause more harm than good. Most contain glycerin which is a substance that does coat the throat but it is a false sense of moisture and many times we “scrape” the chord with air to clear what feels like mucous on the chord because of this, which compounds the problem.
13. Mask is a part of a technique that uses the nasal and sinus cavities to push “resonance” to the front of the face (like smiling when you sing) which makes singing high notes easier especially when singing a wordy phrase.
14. The term diaphragm is actually not a correct term for proper air flow and pressure to be used when singing. Yes the breath is diaphragmatic, but the actual compression of air to sing and sustain high notes starts at the solar plexus all the way down to the lower abdominal muscles just above the groin (or pubic hairline). However, the name diaphragmatic support has stayed with us a term.
15. The best way to compress air is to hold your breath when you sing. The key to this is to not “restrict the throat” when “holding back this air. It is important to learn open throat singing first before attempting this.
16. There is a false idea that people are supposed to “sing without stress”. That would be like telling the athlete he is supposed to perform without stress. There will always be stress. It’s the management of stress and the overcoming of stress we condition for to keep us at our maximum.
17. Both male and female vocalists can create such a strong bridge between their “chest register” and their “head register” that it can literally create on long powerful note without a “break”.
18. Working the “passagio” or passage way (the break between chest and falsetto) can be built so strong that you can have a “mixed voice up to a full octave and greater depending on the size of the vocal folds (vocal chords)
19. The over annunciation of consonant sounds actually inhibits range and causes throat tension.
20. Less than 2% of the population is actually tone deaf. Most people can train their ear and their voice to stay on pitch. Even in cases of extreme hearing loss, this can be overcome
21. Most vocal teachers can’t actually sing themselves.
22. That when we sing, sound comes out of our mouths at approximately 750 miles per hour. It is 1/2200 second, from the time that the sound is made until it exits your mouth.
23. When we approach higher notes, sound pressure builds up in the head and often causes people to lose perspective of their pitch. Much like when we have head phones on and hear the same music in another room, which sounds “flat” compared to what we heard in our “pressure” headphones.
24. Most people think they can’t sing because they aren’t “naturally gifted”. It is true, some have more gifts than others, but its like walking. Almost everyone can walk if they try.
25. You should not eat up until 1 1/2 hours before a show. This will hurt support and cause regurgitation.
26. You should avoid any carbonated beverages before and during performances.
27. Adult men and women have different sizes of vocal folds; reflecting the male-female differences in larynx size. Adult male voices are usually lower-pitched and have larger folds. The male vocal folds (which would be measured vertically), are between 17 mm and 25 mm in length. The female vocal folds are between 12.5 mm and 17.5 mm in length. The difference in vocal fold size between men and women causes a difference in vocal pitch.
28. Vocal nodules are caused over time by repeated abuse of the vocal cords which results in soft, swollen spots on each vocal cord. These spots develop into harder, callous-like growths called nodules. The longer the abuse occurs the larger and stiffer the nodules will become.
29. The vocal chords (also called vocal folds) are sometimes called ‘true vocal folds’. This is because you also have “false vocal cords”. These are a pair of thick folds of mucous membrane that protect and sit slightly superior to the more delicate true folds. They have a minimal role in normal phonation, but are often used to produce deep sonorous tones in Tibetan chant and Tuvin throat singing, as well as in musical screaming and the death growl vocal style.
30. The oldest known account of “singing” that can be verified is 3rd millennium BC (approximate dates shown) the earliest written literature dates from about 2600 BC (classical Sumerian). The earliest literary authors known by name are Shuruppak and Urukagina, dating to ca. the 27th and 24th centuries BC, respectively. Certain literary texts are difficult to date, such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead which was recorded in the Papyrus of Ani around 1240 BC, but other versions of the book probably date from about the 18th century BC. The 2600 BC Sumerian texts from Abu Salabikh included the Instructions of Shuruppak on how to sing the “Kesh temple hymn.”
31. The oldest known recording of singing was an “ethereal” 10 second clip of a woman singing a French folk song. The recording of “Au Clair de la Lune”, recorded in 1860, is thought to be the oldest known recorded human voice. A phonograph of Thomas Edison singing a children’s song in 1877 was previously thought to be the oldest record.
32. The amount of air pressure used and needed for rock singing is almost 3 times that of pop and country singing and 5 times that of jazz and most R&B.
33. You lose up to 30% of your breath support while sitting compared to standing when you sing.
34. Good technique is good technique whether it is applied to Rock, Country Opera, Pop, or R&B.
35. Often, it is best to work up difficult songs without the use of consonant sounds. When consonant sounds are present they cause “jaw shifting” which generally closes off the air passage way in the back of the throat constricting the air supply.
36. Many people think that the “high range” songs are the most difficult to master, but in fact the songs that have a lot of range are harder to master.
37. Many times the terms falsetto, head voice, head register and so-on are quite misunderstood. They have become so watered down now that the terms are practically interchangeable. Often when someone says “head voice” or “Falsetto” they mean the same thing.
38. The over-use of caffeine and or alcohol can shrink the blood capillaries in your body and make it more difficult to access the oxygen needed to perform at maximum.
39. Women generally have easier access to the upper registers, particularly head voice compared to men. In contrast, men have a much stronger command of their lower registers because of the size and shape of their vocal folds (cords).
40. In the long run, it is best to think of the voice in terms of; as a whole (like your leg) – instead of breaking it up into chest voice, register break and falsetto (like your quad, knee and calf). The reason for this is over time you will get them to all function together as a whole, like the leg, instead of the confusion of compartmentalizing and individualizing them.
41. If you have been training correctly, and you over sing one night, it is best to come back the next day and do a full and proper workout. This will keep the elasticity in the chords. Otherwise, it usually takes several days to recover.
42. Often in rock (and/or singing for long periods of time) people are afraid of being “sore”. There are many types of sore. If you have been singing correctly, sore is ok most of the time. Hoarse is NOT. We get “sore” when we go to the gym and work out. If we “over work” something it will feel strained. So it is with the voice,
43. The best thing to have on stage is room temperature water.
44. Always warm up about 45 minutes before your performance. Try not to allow more than 30 minutes between the time you warm up and the time you sing. Otherwise the voice “settles” and you’ll need to warm up briefly again.
45. Don’t over train on days you are going to sing. So don’t do your warm up in the morning and then sing at night. Warm up just before you sing.
46. Most performers want to come out with their hardest material to sing in the beginnings of their sets. This is the exact opposite of what you want to do. You want to stagger your harder material toward the end of the set when you have carefully paced yourself, warmed up through the show and are ready to take on the harder material.
47. At sound check (if you get one 🙂 never try to impress the few straggling guys that are in the room watching. Resist the temptation and save if for the show.
48. With your band, do your best to practice at a lower sound volume. Mistakes will be much more evident then. Don’t deceive yourself by thinking that cranking it up makes you better. This way, when you get the board mix from the sound man, you won’t have to say to yourself, man we sounded much better in rehearsal.
49. If your guitarist insists on having his amp louder than the rest of the band (because all his sound volume is blowing by his legs and he has no idea how loud he really is) have the amps faced away from you so you can get the vocal monitors up as loud as possible.
50. When sound checking monitors, always have them vocal MUCH louder than you think you’ll need. You can always back off the microphone. You can’t always get the sound man who is more interested in the chick with the low cut dress right in front of him to “give you more” during a performance.