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Unread 07-03-2008, 09:52 PM   #1
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duet help?

hiya guys uh i need some help with our praise team
actually we have like over 5 or 7 singers... and i truly can not distinguish any body's voice from all this. but it's alright- so what if i cant hear some people, least people are giving praise ya know?
but as of the moment we are limited in our supply of stuff- we only have 2 mics
in truth i am a guy trying to blend in with girls
my voice is loud and strong, and i'm also a tenor so i can sing high stuff
but the girls don't sing too strong, (maybe cause they're self concoious of sumthing iono) and i tend to over power them
i try to lower my volume and try to use my headvoice when singing with them so that it blends with their voice, but girls are girls and guys are guys. i cant blend that well.
i need advice also on when to come in. if a girl begins a song, when should i come in? during the chorus or should i not even sing? Also if i come in during the chrous, would it sound akward if i stopped singing in verse 2?
thanks for your help =]

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Unread 07-04-2008, 06:38 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jguy2591 View Post
hiya guys uh i need some help with our praise team
actually we have like over 5 or 7 singers... and i truly can not distinguish any body's voice from all this. but it's alright- so what if i cant hear some people, least people are giving praise ya know?
but as of the moment we are limited in our supply of stuff- we only have 2 mics
in truth i am a guy trying to blend in with girls
my voice is loud and strong, and i'm also a tenor so i can sing high stuff
but the girls don't sing too strong, (maybe cause they're self concoious of sumthing iono) and i tend to over power them
i try to lower my volume and try to use my headvoice when singing with them so that it blends with their voice, but girls are girls and guys are guys. i cant blend that well.
Talk to the girls and ask them if they have some kind of stage fright, or however you'd like to politely approach the issue. If it's not something like that, then the girls are probably weak because they are not supporting their breath properly.

As for blending, your situation probably has more to do with your/their technique than your gender (though it is true that well-trained all male choral groups tend to have a better tone together than well-trained coed groups).

I possibly wrote WAY too much but, I would say that when it comes to blending, the easiest thing you are going to be able to do here is the third section, mouth shape. This section is probably going to be the easiest thing for you to address because it doesn't involve the singer using weird abstract images to move muscles in ways they've never done before, as sections one and two may ask.

Also, I apologize if I define something or discuss a whole section's worth of something you already know; I'm just assuming you know nada rather than assume you know something and then talk about something for which you do not understand the background.

So, on to ze advice

1. Breath support:
I would say that before approaching the blending thing, work on proper breath support.

So, step one: make sure that when everybody inhales, their abdomen expands. When they exhale, their abdomen should contract. Try to keep their shoulders from lifting as much as possible; you want to see all expansion in the stomach. They will have much better control over the pressure of the air this way (since they are controlling with their diaphragm; if they don't understand how the diaphragm helps to support air, explain here) and will have a better intake of breath. Imagine the space between the neck of the person and their abdomen as a bellows:


When you pull apart the handles at the bottom, it fills with air. But the top of the bellows, the neck, does not expand. Then, when the bellows are pushed together, the air comes forcefully and well pressured out the top. So you want it to be with your singers: you want your stomach to expand, but you don't want your chest (the neck of the bellows here) to expand. Then, you want the diaphragm to push out the air. However, you should not make a conscious effort to hold your chest in place or introduce tension or anything like that, that would be bad.

If the girls find it difficult to understand that kind of breathing, get them to lie down on the floor on their back and try it, it should be a lot easier (you usually breathe properly when they're sleeping).

Once they've nailed the proper breathing, then try this exercise:

1.) Breathe in on four counts
2.) Exhale all your air on four counts on the sound "tsss" (like air is being released from a balloon)
3.) Breathe in on four counts
4.) Exhale all your air on eight counts on the same sound
Then repeat step three, then repeat step four except do 12 counts; then do 16, then 20. Then repeat the exercise from the beginning. It might be helpful to have them lie down on the floor and do this a couple times to aid in the whole breathing thing.

To make them more conscious of how their diaphragm can make them louder, try to get them to laugh or remember the last time they laughed. Air is usually expelled pretty forcefully from the diaphragm when you laugh and it's loud, and that is exactly how well the diaphragm needs to be supported when you're singing.

Once you've gotten them to laugh, then get them to say, "HA!" as loud as they can, from the diaphragm. Have them put a hand/s on their diaphragm, so that they can note their diaphragm pushing in to create the HA sound. This might take a lot of tries and they probably aren't going to get this at all in one day. In fact, most of this make take at least a couple weeks if not longer.

2. Registers:

So, the core idea is to get everybody producing the same tone, and preferably a warm tone. (cause warm tone is yummah.) Tone is influenced by breath support, how freely the air is allowed to flow, and where the air is resonating. So, if we compared your body to a guitar, all of the spaces inside of you (sinuses, chest cavity, space inside your mouth, your head) are like sound boxes, and your vocal chords are like strings. Generally speaking, your guitar resonates best and most warmly when the sound box is large and unobstructed, so it is with your body.

Your body, unlike your guitar, has multiple sound boxes. Going from bottom to top (this is not a technical list), there's your chest cavity, your throat, the spaces inside your mouth/nose, then the sinuses above your nose. Low pitches produce best in the chest cavity, intermediate ones in the throat/mouth/nose, higher ones in the nose/upper sinuses.

Assuming that you're a good blender, the girls in your group aren't using their sound boxes correctly. The first thing you can do is check that they are singing their pitches in the right cavity. For instance, those who don't know how to sing pitches in the head voice (intermediate/higher sound boxes) will sound strained.

Exercise: An exercise you can do is get them to sing a scale, starting a pitch low in their range. Try ah, and have them open it like they would at the dentists' office, "ahhh". Make sure their teeth are about two fingers stacked apart (jaws as low as possible). This is just for this exercise, at the moment.

So, starting at that low pitch, sing as high as their ranges will go and note the sound, then come back down. Now, explain to them that they're an on elevator, and that the elevator's stops correspond to the different sound boxes. So when they're singing in the low, altoish range, they should feel their chest cavity vibrate (have them place a hand on their chest, below the throat). As they go up the register, this vibration needs to rise into the throat and beyond; if they place their hands next up their throat and then continuing up the back side of their head, they should be able to feel it rise up to a point. Once we hit the higher pitches (above middle C), the elevator should be stopping in the nose and then finally the sinuses. They will probably feel a little discomfort or vibration in the sinuses/bridge of their nose. Then have the elevator descend. Ask them to maintain the mental image, because mental images surprisingly help people do the strangest things in singing. The elevator image will help them focus the sound into the right place; even I don't know how I'm consciously doing it and yet I can, it's weird.

3. Mouth Shape
Mouth shape strongly impacts blending, as different shapes can push the air into different cavities, and different vowel shapes make the same word sound differently. So, first problem to address:

1.) Ze Vellum: Often, people singing higher pitches don't lift their soft palate, or vellum (or even when they're singing lower). In order to understand what that is, feel your hard palate (the part in between all of your teeth at the top of your mouth) and then keep moving your tongue backward, until your reach that soft tissue. That's your soft palate. Try yawning, and feel how that lifts (put a tongue back there too). In order to produce good, free flowing air/good tone/non nasal tone, this neeeds to be lifted. So make sure you do. Have them practice singing ah, the ah at like a dentists' office. Then have them practice with the vellum completely closed, so that they can hear the difference between the two. One will sound very nasal and closed off, and the other one very open.

2.) Ze Vowels: This will be the easiest part to work on.

Make sure you're all pronouncing the words the same way, especially vowels. Since you're singing contemporary music, it isn't important for you to have perfectly round, I-have-a-British-accent vowels. Just know that, the more open your vowels, the warmer your tone will be, and the easier it will be to blend. So, some ideas for exercises could be, having everybody say the vowels "ah", "eh", "ee", "oh", and "oo" and make sure that they all sound the same on them. Also, have everybody go through the words together, pause on each word, do it slowly.

Also, pay special attention to dipthongs (more than one vowel producing the sound, such as "I"/"eye"). Some people will pronounce these very nasally and closed. Generally, the idea is to emphasize one of the vowel sounds over the other while excluding the other as much as possible, but without changing it so much that people don't recognize what it is. So, for "eye", you want to put as much "ah" in it as possible and you want to lift your vellum as high as possible.

3.) The Mouth: Make sure that the mouth is as open as possible at all times, preferably a distance of two fingers stacked (for lack of a better image, pretend you're shooting yourself in the mouth). This will help with the free flow of air.

Quote:
i need advice also on when to come in. if a girl begins a song, when should i come in? during the chorus or should i not even sing? Also if i come in during the chrous, would it sound akward if i stopped singing in verse 2?
thanks for your help =]
Well, depends on the song. If the song is more anthem like, and the choruses are very loud and "let's praise God!", then everybody's probably going to want to sing on both choruses and verses. If the verses are a little softer than the choruses, it makes more sense to have a soloist on the verses and then have everybody come in on the choruses.

Sooo...have a good day. Feel free to ask questions. Good luck!
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Unread 07-04-2008, 07:00 PM   #3
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Also, read through the Vocal Advice Thread, much of what I mentioned here and other stuff is mentioned, in a much more compressed format.
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Unread 07-05-2008, 06:13 PM   #4
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lol wow thanks so much! i learned so much from you, and ill make sure to tell our youth group of this info =] once again thanks for the help
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Unread 07-05-2008, 08:28 PM   #5
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You're welcome
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