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Unread 01-26-2008, 01:36 PM   #1
1 John 4:17
 
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Is it possible for me to improve this?

Here's a clip of me singing the song Forever. As much as I try, I can't seem to get a nice sound from my voice when I'm singing. Could it just be I need to try another voice teacher, or does it just sound like I might have a voice that isn't good for singing? What I guess I'm asking is, do you think that I can ever become a decent singer?
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Unread 01-26-2008, 02:53 PM   #2
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Is it possible for you to post a video of yourself singing? That will help a lot in evaluating how to improve. One of the things it sounds like you need to do is support yourself better vocally. By this I mean singing from your diaphragm instead of your lungs. This is a really really difficult concept to explain over the internet, I suggest you google it. Try looking at this page, Answer number 4 seems to describe it best for me. Something that will help will also be sitting up straight and putting your shoulders back. If you're standing, make sure you feet are shoulder width apart. (Actually it might help you a whole lot to stand).

Also, when practicing singing, do your best to not play guitar at the same time.

I need to go, but I'll check back later.
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Unread 01-26-2008, 07:26 PM   #3
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Dear Adam B,


First a little bit about me. I am 54 years old, and have played
guitar off and on for 40 years. I never did much singing except
around a campfire until about 15 years ago. About that time I started playing a lot
more , and I was the best singer in the band (that's what they told me).
But I knew that I wasn't good enough to front a band. I took some lessons
for a while, and they were helpful, but you still need to be able to work
on your singing with or without lessons.

Getting honest vocal criticism
is very difficult. People who are classically trained listen to vocals
in ways that are different from those who listen to pop and rock.
Are you and your teacher on the same page when it comes to your style of vocals ?

I have now been playing contemporary Christian music actively for 10 years,
and have had the opportunity to play and work with some really talented vocalists.
But as strange as it seems, occasionally I find myself up front leading worship,
playing my guitar. You might be amazed at where God might lead you in your life !

I am not going to be Simon, but I won't be Paula. Just think of me as
Randy. I listened to your latest clip. It sounds a lot like
your last clip. Frankly, you have serious pitch problems that don't seem to be
getting any better. I would focus on this first. Then I think other
issues like tonality and clarity of enunciation can be addressed.

Practice doing scales or other vocal exercises without the guitar, maybe with
a piano or keyboard. Try to make the pitch you are singing match the note
sounded. Try recording and listening to some of these exercises.

I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, but I do believe that you can
sing and it will sound pleasant to the ear, if you get this pitch
problem fixed. Keep on working ! D.Stinson.
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Unread 01-26-2008, 10:43 PM   #4
1 John 4:17
 
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What is it, am I sharp or flat, or both? Am I falling off the notes or not even hitting them to begin with? How far off am I - is it just a few cents or is it way off, like not even close? Are these things that can be fixed, or do I just not have the capability to sing well, period? I guess I'll never be as good as Chris Tomlin, or Matt Redman, or even the average guy who leads in church. Well, I guess it was a nice enough fantasy while it lasted imagining that some day I might be a good singer, or at least a decent singer...what now?
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Unread 01-27-2008, 03:54 PM   #5
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I would say you are mostly flat. And on a lot of those you start flat and never go up to hit the note.

I think this can be fixed. I would start by playing a note on a key board, and then trying to match it with
your voice. You do this when you tune your guitar, and I think it's the same concept with the voice.

After you have practiced this for a while, try recording yourself doing this exercise. See if it sounds the
same. It may take a lot of practice, but you will get better.


As far as Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, what distinguishes them is their song writing ability. You start
writing inspired songs and you would be amazed at where you might find yourself singing.

Dave
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Unread 01-27-2008, 08:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam B View Post
What is it, am I sharp or flat, or both? Am I falling off the notes or not even hitting them to begin with? How far off am I - is it just a few cents or is it way off, like not even close? Are these things that can be fixed, or do I just not have the capability to sing well, period? I guess I'll never be as good as Chris Tomlin, or Matt Redman, or even the average guy who leads in church. Well, I guess it was a nice enough fantasy while it lasted imagining that some day I might be a good singer, or at least a decent singer...what now?
DON'T become discouraged. The things that Dave said are true, and he's right: you can get better. The things about your voice that are problematic are all technique problems, which can be fixed. It just requires practice.

I strongly suggest Dave's exercise, especially with a keyboard. After you've gotten good at matching single note pitches, you may want to try arpeggios (for example, C, E, G, then C, then back down again...then go up to C#, repeat the exercise in the key of C#, then do D, etc). You may also want to try playing two or three notes at random intervals, then attempting to sing them back. (For this, you may want to either record or write down which notes you sang, so that you can play them back again and make sure you were on pitch). If something doesn't sound quite right, keep hitting the key and adjusting your voice until you feel your voice come in line with the correct pitch (this will especially help you learn to distinguish between sharp, flat, and just right). Also, try practicing scales. Make sure to move up and down the keyboard. You can also practice just holding out a pitch for a very long time, trying to keep it in tune and adjusting it when it goes out of tune.

After you get good at the above, you will want to try singing different intervals. Try practicing seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, etc, just to hear what they sound like. Then, pick a note out on the keyboard and try to sing an interval away from it. In addition, you may want to try sight singing exercises; start out with exercises in the key of C or G. (I haven't googled but I am sure there are free sight singing exercises out there). I don't know what musical experience you have, so I'll explain: sight singing is being able to take a single pitch and sing a whole line, because you are able to hear/recognize the intervals between the notes. Sight singing exercises usually start out very basic.

Now, all of the above has to do with your ear, but when it comes to your technique, there are also some things you can do with pitch. Here's something you need to keep in mind when you're doing these exercises, both above and below this line: a lot about singing is ALL in your head. For example, if you know that you're off pitch (say you're flat), just think about going higher. You will go there. This psychological component of singing is really important to more than just pitch, though.

Anyway, technique: I want you to try singing in choir sort of way. You don't have do to this when you perform contemporary music (because obviously, more singers don't), but if you do it when you're practicing, it will help a lot with discerning correct pitches and it will also help with other technique things, like correct support of your breath, etc. So what is a "choir sort of way"...I'll probably leave a lot out here. However, of foremost importance are pure vowels. Pretending you're British is probably a good way of thinking of it, because it's hard to describe over the internet. All of your vowels must be very open. Make sure your "ah"s sound almost like the noise you would make at the dentist's office. Very open, and pure. You'll want to keep your teeth about an inch apart, if not a little smaller (about the width of two fingers stacked inside your mouth). Keep your tongue down, no matter the vowel; make sure there is space in your mouth. When you sing "oo", make your lips very round and raise your eyebrows, which will help keep the pitch up.

One more thing: always make sure to "warm up" before using your voice. This involves singing scales and different intervals of pitches to both ends of your range. (This will also help you improve your range).

I know that's a lot to throw at you; I also understand that the choir singing is not necessarily the best thing for contemporary music training, but having had the choir training, I can say that it's helped me immeasurably with basic technique. Feel free to PM if you have any questions. Don't give up, I'm sure you can sound great. Almost anybody can be trained to sing well.

EDIT: Here's an interesting article on supporting one's voice. Also, check this out for some ideas for warm up exercises.
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Last edited by jengoesup; 01-27-2008 at 08:42 PM.
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Unread 03-20-2008, 06:16 PM   #7
1 John 4:17
 
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Here's a new sample. Do you notice even any improvement? Even a little bit? I have been practicing this with a singing teacher, and asked several times about pitch specifically. He said my pitch was fine on this song. I have had mixed feedback from different people...some think I'm alright, I've also had 1 or 2 people say maybe I just don't have potential to be a good singer, but the thing is...out of 2 different singing teachers, neither one says pitch is a big problem for me, and both think that I've got a pretty good voice...who's right? Anyways, here it is:
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Unread 03-21-2008, 07:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam B View Post
Here's a new sample. Do you notice even any improvement? Even a little bit? I have been practicing this with a singing teacher, and asked several times about pitch specifically. He said my pitch was fine on this song. I have had mixed feedback from different people...some think I'm alright, I've also had 1 or 2 people say maybe I just don't have potential to be a good singer, but the thing is...out of 2 different singing teachers, neither one says pitch is a big problem for me, and both think that I've got a pretty good voice...who's right? Anyways, here it is:
I actually think the first sample was better. I thought the pitch and breath support were worse on the second one. If your teachers are saying that your pitch is good, then you must be doing something different when you are recording. Have your teachers heard you when you sing through a mic? I know I have to be careful when I sing through a mic to make sure I still use good breath support. Even though you don't need the breath support for volume when singing with a mic, you still need it for pitch and good technique. I noticed that your pitch and breath support were worse when you were singing softly. Your pitch was right on when you were singing louder. Don't give up yet. I still see potential. I don't think you are tone deaf; I think you just need to keep working on technique.
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Unread 03-23-2008, 09:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam B View Post
Here's a new sample. Do you notice even any improvement? Even a little bit? I have been practicing this with a singing teacher, and asked several times about pitch specifically. He said my pitch was fine on this song. I have had mixed feedback from different people...some think I'm alright, I've also had 1 or 2 people say maybe I just don't have potential to be a good singer, but the thing is...out of 2 different singing teachers, neither one says pitch is a big problem for me, and both think that I've got a pretty good voice...who's right? Anyways, here it is:
Who are your teachers? No offense but it doesn't sound like they are helping you much. Try to find someone with choral experience. It may not be the kind of singing style you want but they should give you wonderful tips for breath support. If I could see how you were singing I could help but I'm not there.
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Unread 03-24-2008, 02:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam B View Post
Here's a new sample. Do you notice even any improvement? Even a little bit? I have been practicing this with a singing teacher, and asked several times about pitch specifically. He said my pitch was fine on this song. I have had mixed feedback from different people...some think I'm alright, I've also had 1 or 2 people say maybe I just don't have potential to be a good singer, but the thing is...out of 2 different singing teachers, neither one says pitch is a big problem for me, and both think that I've got a pretty good voice...who's right? Anyways, here it is:
Hm. I've never really taken lessons, so I don't know what they are trying to teach you, or what methods they might be using. All that to say, take my opinion and associated advice with a shaker of salt. That recording does not sound good. I don't mean to say that you can't sing. I mean that what you did on that recording didn't sound good, but I think you already knew that. It goes from sounding wavery and going in and out of tune on the soft parts to something like screaming on the louder parts. I don't think you are as out of tune as some others have suggested. I think the problem sounds more like you have a problem with
1. The way you are holding your mouth and throat - try to relax your throat to get a fuller, richer sound that isn't so pinched.
2. Work on dynamics in between the two extremes you've displayed here (for now). Later you'll need to expand those dynamics to incorporate softer and louder ranges.

I think that these two things are seriously affecting the tone/timbre of your voice. Too soft and you're not supporting enough to stay in tune, too loud and your vocals sound more like screaming. Too pinched (like when you make an eeee sound) and the tone suffers.

Like I said, just an opinion. I think that there's a reason that people here haven't said "don't sing anymore." They aren't just being nice. You have some potential. Don't be disheartened. Another thing you can try to do is RELAX and SMILE when you sing.

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Unread 03-24-2008, 04:40 PM   #11
1 John 4:17
 
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Am I trying to sing in a range that I shouldn't be trying to sing in?
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Unread 03-25-2008, 08:15 AM   #12
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Am I trying to sing in a range that I shouldn't be trying to sing in?
That's entirely possible. Are you tensing a lot to sing in that range? Have you tried dropping the key? It's hard for me, personally, to tell from a clip or two if you are in the wrong range. I can tell you that it sounded a bit strained. It's OK to have a lower voice, ya know? My choir director can sing much higher than I can. However, he can't sing the verses on "Sweetly Broken" in the key that it's written. It's just too low for him.
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Unread 03-26-2008, 08:10 PM   #13
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You say it's fine to have a lower voice, do you? Fine, name me one, just ONE well-known worship leader who's songs are widely known that has a low singing voice. I don't feel personally that I'm straining a lot to hit those notes, it's just sustaining them. Both of the singing teachers I've had have told me that I'm probably closer to a tenor.
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Unread 03-26-2008, 08:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam B View Post
You say it's fine to have a lower voice, do you? Fine, name me one, just ONE well-known worship leader who's songs are widely known that has a low singing voice. I don't feel personally that I'm straining a lot to hit those notes, it's just sustaining them. Both of the singing teachers I've had have told me that I'm probably closer to a tenor.
Mac Powell. And don't get snippy with people who are offering you encouragement. That's super rude.
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Unread 03-26-2008, 10:38 PM   #15
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