We are glad you have ventured back! You are doing yourself and your audience a huge favour! Breathy tone, off pitch singing, over doing the vibrato, using an awful sounding falsetto and Labosing (loud and brash over singing) can creep up on the unsuspecting performer. So today we have a lesson in prevention and cure of these performance killers. Read on to develop a good ear and also some practical ways to avoid letting your vocal performance be ruined by overdoing any of these singing techniques.
Where did that voice come from? Singing loudly and out of tune? Let’s eliminate that combo!
Volume and Intensity
One mistake that many beginning singers make is thinking that singing loudly or over singing will make them sound better. Not so. Being “loud” is harsh and non-musical.
Furthermore, the sound from over singing won’t just be unpleasant on the Ears—it will be hard on your vocal cords as well.
This does not mean that your singing voice should be hard to hear. “Volume,” in music terms, is not the same as “loudness.” Having high volume and intensity is like “projecting” your singing voice, while retaining your musicality.
High volume and intensity can be achieved by focusing your breath on the notes and not pushing too hard. It may help to imagine yourself projecting from your diaphragm.
Singing Out of Tune
There are two major mistakes that singers can make: they can either sing the wrong note, or sing off pitch (out of tune).
Singing the Wrong Note
In order to solve this problem, you need to develop your mental ear. For a fantastic and easy to grasp system to help you with this, check out Singorama 2.0
You cannot escape your study of music without a sense of pitch. The best way to achieve a sense of pitch is memorize a note (say, middle C) from which you base other notes.
Practicing sight singing can be a great help. Find some simple sheet music that you can “read.” Try to use your “musical ear” and memory to first internalize the notes, then sing them. Once you are able to hit all the notes, shift your focus to trying to be perfectly on pitch (in tune).
Singing Off Pitch
The only cure for singing off pitch is lots of practice! You can use pitch-meters, which tell you how close you are to being in tune (i.e., how sharp or flat you are, on a scale).
Try to pinpoint certain areas within your range where you may go off-key. This will generally be in the lowest and highest parts of your range. In fact, it is easy to fall out of tune when singing high notes. For example:
You may slide up to a note and never quite hit it. (In other words, you’ll always be slightly flat.)
The way to teach yourself to hit those higher notes right on pitch is simple. Think of your voice as coming down onto the note. You may wish to raise your eyebrows or stand on your toes, and then physically drop as your voice hits the note. Be careful, though, that you don’t actually sing higher!
As mentioned in the previous chapter, one cure for a breathy tone is to practice “miaow” in order to produce simultaneous onset of breath and tone.
A falsetto tone may be fun to sing, but its musical quality is poor: breathy and thin.
To avoid this, do exercises to ensure that you have a simultaneous onset, or produce the tone and the breath at the same time.
Too much vibrato (tremolo)
Vibrato, if you remember, is the repeated fluctuation of a pitch that gives a tone warmth. It is usually a desirable quality and almost always present in the sob voice.
However, the purest voices (such as choir boys) have no vibrato at all, and many professional singers now seek to use less vibrato when they sing.
In other words, a little vibrato is good … but too much is bad. An excess of vibrato can make your voice sound wobbly and unpleasant. Problems with vibrato tend to be due to poor breath control. Practice breathing exercises to improve your control: try to make your breath move faster, and keep it focused!
Slumping won’t do your posture any good, but what it does to your lungs and vocal mechanism is worse. If you are going to sing, you must practice good posture.
Never sit while you sing if you can avoid it. By standing, you keep your entire vocal apparatus free and clear. Always keep your head straight instead of tilted up or down, and avoid raising or dropping your jaw as you sing.
Well done! you are well on your way to correcting those annoying habits and leaving those less than best performances in the past. keep up the good work and prepare yourself for our next lesson. In it we look at times of brilliance and the times of “blah” your voice may experience due to health and the different seasons.