LOVE YOUR VOICE!
I know I’ve talked around this before, but so many people who come to me for singing lessons don’t understand some basic things about their voices. These are:
• As there are 25 different types of voice (yes, really – have a read of my Blog no. 2 on voice types), expecting your voice to replicate Beyonce’s flexibility etc. isn’t realistic if you’ve got a big, loud and heavyweight voice. Beyonce is probably a lyric coloratura soprano – so a light voice with a lot of flexibility. As such, rather than continuing to try (and then fail) to sing the sort of repertoire somebody with this voice type finds effortless, it’s best to find out what sort of voice you’ve got and then choose repertoire to suit it. The one size fits all most definitely does NOT apply to singing (although a lot of the contemporary types of training around work on the basis that it does – they’re wrong!!).
• Sing within your vocal range. Again, this refers to the type of voice you have, but range is a bit more specific really. Most people have a range of one and a half to two octaves and where that range is on a piano, determines this and helps to determine your voice type (along with other factors). For example, if you’ve got a very low speaking voice and can reach really low notes comfortably then you may be an alto (woman) or a bass (man) but these voice types are really rare – about 1:1000. A lot of people (as I’ve mentioned in previous posts) think their voices are lower than they actually are, as with training they will actualise their real range, especially the higher end of it. However, even if it is just a case of no technique that is limiting your range, it still makes no sense to sing outside of what feels comfortable. You wouldn’t expect a cellist to have to play a violin part would you? Don’t stress over or strain your voice trying to sing things that are too low or too high - sing music that feels comfortable. If this means changing the key of a song, do it. If you play with musicians, get them to change the key of the song to suit you as music should suit the singer rather than the other way round. If you sing to backing tracks, there are some great free and paid apps around now which will alter the key of a song (pitch changers) until the key feels comfortable. A big giveaway that you’re singing in the wrong key is if you have to change octaves in the middle of a song – it’s not you, it’s the key of the song that’s the problem.
• Try to find out what your voice thrives on. Just because you like listening to say, folk music, doesn’t mean that it’s what you’re best at singing, so experiment. Try out different music genres. The genres which feel more comfortable and which make your voice sound its best are the genres you should be singing. Very few of us can sing lots of different music genres well, tending to be best at one or two.
• Look after your voice. If your arm was hurting, you wouldn’t wave it around would you? As such, if you’ve got a sore throat, rest it, don’t sing on it. Listen to your body basically!
• If you love singing, don’t smoke and don’t drink too much alchohol (which dries out the vocal cords), don’t take drugs, get enough sleep etc etc, eat healthily. Don’t shout or scream (unless it’s an emergency of course!).