Monthly Archives: April 2013

Singing – Speaking Lessons – How the Voice Works, & Why Singing & Speaking Are Not So Different

Here is an article about this topic.  Then I’ll give you my take on the matter and refer you to some videos etc. that will help in this area.

“While a whole book could be written on this, we are just going over the bare bones here. Lets start with the anatomy. You have two tubes at the back of your throat. One carries food and water to the stomach, the other, air to the lungs. The one which carries air to lungs is in front. At the top of the air passage is the larynx, and it is made of cartilage. Inside the larynx is where the vocal chords sit. Oddly enough, we are a bit like a combination of a wind and string instrument. The vocal chords are a pair of mucous membranes that vibrate at very fast varying speeds to produce our voices. The slower the vibration, the lower the sounds, and vice versa.

The vibration is like that of a string instrument, but we use wind to cause the vibration. A combination of airflow, chord positioning, and the use of our bodies as a resonating chamber determines our pitch, volume, and tone. It is the pressure behind the chords that builds up that causes them to open an close and varying speeds. A benchmark commonly used is the A above middle C. To make that sound, the chords open and close at 440 time a second. Many singers neglect to look at their speaking habits as source of problems for their singing. I urge you not to make this mistake. Since singing is merely speaking while holding a tone longer, and changing that tone, many of the mistakes you will make while singing are also made while speaking.”

That wasn’t much was it?

Breathing is essential to life whether we are sleeping,working, resting talking or singing.  Some folks huff and puff to get air even when not exerting themselves.  That can be due to ill health or overweight.  But assuming one is in good health and is at the proper weight and is not exercising or working or running, breathing should as natural for an adult as for a baby.  And should be easy and not strained while speaking or while singing.

I made a video about this very topic so let’s go there and watch it right now before we so on with this.  It’s about 8 minutes long.

Five Steps For Better Speaking                     http://www.youtube.com/watchv=VMA2TGrq2_E

The video gives some good exercises for improving your speaking and singing.  And microphones pick up everything even the clicking of a fan in my computer behind my speaking. Hope it doesn’t annoy you too much.

Then I have another video that tells about getting air for speaking and singing.  It’s about 4 minutes long.

Breath right to speak and sing right

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pVXp3WMKW0

And what  did the author of that article mean with A above middle C?    I couldn’t hit that with my voice even if I were hit on the foot with a sledge hammer.

Well back to the article and how to breath properly.

“The foundation of singing is correct breathing and breath support. Without these two things it is impossible to sustain a beautiful tone. The first step in gaining these two vital aspects of singing is to learn to sing with the right posture. The correct posture allows the singer to be as relaxed as possible, to take in as much air as possible, and to support the tone. The feet should be at inside-shoulder-width apart, and the weight should be on the balls of the feet. The knees should be bent to allow flexibility and to prevent passing out. The spine should hold its natural curve, and thus be a strong anchor for the core muscles. The sternum should be out, allowing the shoulders to rest on top of the rib cage like a yoke. The shoulders should not be pulled back, but simply rest on the rib cage. The arms and hands should be relaxed and at the side of the body, thus giving the rib cage adequate room to expand. A good rule of thumb is that the middle fingers should run along the seams of the pants (or where the seams would be). The head should be balanced and looking straight ahead. The jaw, tongue, and neck should be relaxed in order to let the tone freely flow.

After the correct posture is learned, the next step is breathing. The correct breathing should set the singer up for the correct support. There are three different types of breathing. The first is called clavicle breathing, which is the expansion of the upper chest and rising of the shoulders, and is primarily used to re-oxygenate the blood after strenuous activity. It is impossible to control the air flow during exhalation, and there is a lot of tension in the neck and throat which is bad for the tone. The second type of breathing is called thoracic, or costal, breathing, in which the whole rib cage expands using the muscles called the intercostals and is held open after inhalation. There is no use of abdominal musculature. Exhalation is not constant with this type because there is only one muscle of exhalation so there is no antagonistic struggle to create support. The third type of breathing is abdominal breathing. In this type the abdominal muscles and strong muscles of the back are used to push the abdominal viscera (organs) inward, pushing the diaphragm up. The muscles of inspiration are the antagonistic muscles during expiration, and thus are creating a balancing support. You are able to have little or no tension in the neck and throat with this type of breathing. Too much abdominal pressure creates tension in the larynx. The correct way to breathe for singing is to combine thoracic and abdominal breathing.

Support is the last aspect to worry about and should come from correct breathing. It is the act of constantly sustaining the vocalized sound with breath pressure. As the singer breathes in, the rib cage should expand laterally and the stomach muscles should relax and expand out as the diaphragm pushes all the internal organs out of the way. As the singer exhales, they must hold the ribs expanded to serve as an anchor for the diaphragm to resist the abdominal muscles pushing in. This antagonistic fight between the muscles of inhalation and the muscles of exhalation are what creates support.

To explain this further, we need to know about the three postures of respiration. The first is the respiratory posture, which is used for normal breathing. In this posture the principle muscles of inhalation contract and the principle muscles of exhalation relax in order to inhale. The opposite happens to exhale. In this posture the larynx is open and relaxed. The second posture is the isometric posture, which is used for “fight or flight” situations. Both groups of muscles are tight and contracted, and the larynx is tight and closed. The third posture is the pelvic pressure posture which is the same as isometric, except there is downward force. This is used to excrete waste or give birth. The correct posture of respiration for singing combines roughly 90% respiratory posture and 10% isometric posture. That 10% isometric posture is what creates enough support for steady breath pressure and vocal tone, without being too much as to make the larynx tight and to constrict the tone.”

Two examples of unstrained singing are Deanna Durbin of movie fame in the 30s and 40s and Andrea Bocelli of today. Let’s go look at them do some of that.   The Lady first:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inV3RlOTOXM

And now Andrea Bocelli as introduced by David Foster.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAFj2-u2cGQ

See what i mean?   Remember to breath right and remember singing is just sustained speaking.

Was any of this worth any thing to you? Let me know.

Catch you next time.

 

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Singing Voice

I went to an article about the voice used for singing. This guy has some good advise.

“The singing voice is one of the most beautiful instruments in the world and everybody has one! Learning how to use your singing voice and how to sing good takes a little time and effort on your part and I’m going to explain the fastest, easiest way to go about it.

When learning how to sing, the first thing you’ll want to do is get together with a decent vocal coach. The first place I’d suggest searching is at your local college or university. Simply go to campus and find the music department. Then find the voice department and get the contact information of the head of the department and of some of the top singing instructors on the faculty.

Of course you could just go to some joe shmoe singing teacher that you found through a flyer on a bulletin board somewhere but I have to tell you that there are a shockingly large amount of incompetent vocal coaches out there and you want to avoid those people at all costs. Aside from draining you of time and money, these vocal instructors can ruin your voice forever and at best, you’ll be going to them and consistently find yourself frustrated that you’re not really learning how to sing but it’s not your fault!

The reason you should go to a university to find a teacher is because these are people who have received a thorough musical and vocal education and are much more likely to know what they’re doing and be in a position to help you succeed.

However, even in the university musical environment, not all the teachers actually know what they’re doing! So you’re going to need to test them. Here’s how. First off, your first meeting with them shouldn’t cost you a dime. They haven’t proven their worth to you yet and you shouldn’t have to pay for a service whose quality you haven’t yet determined. Then ask them to sing for you. They should sound pretty much amazing and blow you away. If they sound just OK or so-so, move on to another teacher! I mean, how can they possibly teach you how to sing if they can’t do it themselves?!

The most important test you should use is the larynx test. The larynx is the voicebox, the little bump on the front of your neck. If you want great singing technique, the larynx has to remain in a low, stationary position at all times. Ask your prospective instructor what they think about the position of the larynx. If they’re not sure or don’t have an opinion, move on because there’s only one correct answer! The reason this is so crucial is because the low larynx is one of the most fundamental and important principles of free, healthy singing and if a teacher ignores it or thinks it’s unimportant, you’re asking for vocal trouble by becoming their student.

Now I know that vocal coaches are super expensive. So another fantastic way for you to improve your singing voice quickly and from the comfort of your own home is to use Singing Software courses that teach you how to sing and run you through exercises and some sort of structured program.”

I agree.  When I was growing up I heard my mother singing around the house and as she worked and she taught her children many songs that way and a love for singing. All four of us love to sing and two of us have been paid to sing. When she was young, she’d write the words to songs she liked in a notebook as there was no money for sheet music. Her younger brother and sisters were able to get some sheet music and even one brother, Jerome, had a one man band. I’ll talk more about him another time. Her mother played the organ and she had a professional cowboy singer cousin. But she said she couldn’t sing. However, last year shortly before she died at age 96, she would sing the songs she remembered to the nurses and all who visited her home.  Once I couldn’t remember the third or fourth line of a 1940s song so I asked her. “Get me started” she said and after I sang the first line she continued the song to the end for me thus helping me to learn the words.  There were times she’d sing me songs I’d never heard before that she remembered from her childhood.

Now my father used to whistle and sing while he worked and while he milked the cows. The were very calm and gentle listening to his voice. That didn’t work for me.

And the town I grew up in was a very musical bunch of people back to Swiss immigrant days when their was the Staheli Brass Band.  We sang in school, the principle teaching us songs, and each grade teacher too, but he said,  ”What one lacks in quality, they can compensate for with gusto and volume.”  Many in my town played different instruments of sang. And in church, every age group would sing in groups or choirs.  Several young men even produced a LP record.

As a boy in the age group I was in , I sang soprano of course then. Once we sang “My Mother’s Prayer“.  My voice was golden and all around me said so.  Later after my voice changed, my first solo was “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”  Then I went to high school and in English, the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades were combined and studied a different aspect of English in a different room each quarter. In my 11th grade, the last quarter was about poetry and verse, lyric poems and the like.  When we came to the section on writing ballads, the group I was assigned to wrote our ballad and had to sing it.  The guy who knew how to play the guitar was a senior and he suggested we sing it to the music of the Beetles song “Yellow Submarine”.  I’d never heard the song before, even though I worked at a radio station, so I didn’t sing with the group to well and with the pitch being so much higher than my bass voice, I sounded bad.  One of the guys listening said, “Beacham, you can’t sing.”

So when I enrolled at the junior college (Dixie) a year later, I signed up for voice lessons from one of the teachers, a lady named Roene DiFoire. She taught music theory and a fun class called Program Bureau. The Program Bureau went to schools and civic events to do programs and to high schools in several states as a recruiting tool for interesting future students in Dixie.  Mrs.D., as she was affectionately called, found talent and cultivated it among all the students she came in contact with. She loved the element of surprise and had me do my first solo for the group at a performance at a local elementary school.  She had me sing “Asleep in the Deep”. It is a deep bass song that her father used to sing. Another one was the “Big Bass Viol”. When I had my first big sing, it was for the “Utah State Fireman’s Association” convention at the Dixie High School Auditorium before a packed crowd. I was an instant hit.  You know, I don’t know if that boy from high school who’d said I couldn’t sing, ever heard me or not. But I guess that doesn’t matter much.  I just opened an email from someone wanting to buy one of my singing cds.  Mrs. D. died a few years back and now there is a center for the arts called the DiFiore Center named in her honor.

Then I sang in a men’s chorus for 16 years after my wife died. One of the members, though now dead too, always said, “It hard to be sad when you are singing.”

Even Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue” expresses this thought.

The article talks about Karaoke and it’s value to cultivating a singing voice.  Amen. That’s right. I’ve done online Karaoke  for 6 or so years and have seen improvement in me and many others because its singing in a safe environment. And it’s fun.

I bought a singing course once called “Anyone Can Sing“. i haven’t looked at the book in years but may incorporate in in a course i might do someday.

A friend who used to sing Opera and with the Mormon Tabernacle Chior, said I perhaps ought to take more voice lessons. I can’t afford to. But I don’t think one really needs those top learn to sing well. More on that at a later date.

Well, my arms are tired from typing so I’m done for tonight. I’ll catch you another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What of social sites and singing?

There are on line karaoke sites and I think they are the best social sites.

Let me explain with some old blog posts.

I have noticed that with the changes on facebook, that unless I go to somebody’s wall, I seldom know what they are up to because FB decides what it thinks I should know or not know. I couldn’t connect with the guy I sit by in a men’s chorus I’m in or even with my own younger brother because all knowing FB said I didn’t know them. Finally did get my brother on the list. And about the posts, you are so right. On My Lincoln FB page the current month’s posts are only listed as one line notifications. Which is distressing. On Squidoo they closed my popular “A Healthy Me” page as I told you once before and now have locked another one saying it has to many out links. I couldn’t edit it for a long while and when I did and only put in One link to one spot but several times it has been locked. I’m not even sure that real people ever review these things or robots.On Linkedin, a person must know someone’s email address before they can send a message or connect sometimes. How often do you ask a person for their email address when you talk to them? And if you haven’t seen that person since high school, college, a mission or childhood, how are you supposed to know their email address which people change like they change their socks.I wrote a blog post on my main page about social sites ( http://jaybeacham.com/2012/02/06/is-there-a-best-social-network/) that post links to a longer post at:http://www.myspace.com/177349516/blog/545268093That explains my thoughts on the subject.Its long. At the end I mention a sing site I participate in. A member in Alabama has paid my way for a year and a half. A member in Florida talks to me on occasion on the phone and has bought dvds and cds from me. A member in Norway wrote today and asked for my prayers in her behalf with the surgeries she is having. When a friend in Brazil had a birthday, members world wide gave her a surprise birthday celebration.All on line of course. Most of my fans and singing partners and favorite singers are from Australia to Finland, Malta to California, Brazil to Canada. It is truly a friendship place unlike the sterile rule bound FB.You are right about Twitter. The more one follows, the more posts, that would take 24/7 watching to catch even a portion of it let alone anything what might be of interest to me.I’ll pass Real Fame on. It has great merit. Thanks,And please let me know what you think about my little article.Jay Beacham http://jaybeacham.com/ .

Social Networks.(March 6, 2012)

I have been on My Space the longest.

Then Facebook, Stumbleupon, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.
When I didn’t record more on My Space K-solo Karaoke site, a fellow singer invited me to SingSnap.
I’ve been on Karaoke Play, Karaoke for Cash, Karaoke Channel. K-solo, and Sing Snap.
I like Twitter and my connections with people on a number of other sites.
And for the time my daughter has lived in the South Pacific, I’ve found Facebook invaluable in keeping in touch with her. She messaged me from Figi today. Weather is sunny and no rain so the plane may leave as scheduled.
I’ve run into many problems at some of these sites.
but the most frustrating ones seem to be at Facebook.
Let me explain some of those with my post, the responses and my take on things as follows:
1/28/2012
Question of all friends:
How do you respond to this?
“We received feedback that you sent friend requests to people you don’t know, so you won’t be able to send friend requests for 30 days. Learn more.
If you think you’re seeing this by mistake, please let us know.”
If I try to request a friend of someone I know I get this message.
How does one “let us know”?
Can’t even send a message to my own brother because I can’t possibly know him.
I know a girl, her grandfather sings with me in the Master Singers, I knew his parents, know his brothers and sister, but fb claims I can’t know them because we have no mutual friends. But I get hundreds of “why not add as friends suggestions from fb for people I’ve never heard of just because we have mutual friends.
Do these actions by fb make any sense to anyone?
Unlike · · Share · January 29 at 1:29am
You, Sherry Milne and Relle Hansen like this.
1 share
Accalia Hancey Hinton: Strange… I don’t know, maybe close your account and start a new one??
January 29 at 1:56am
Relle Hansen: I’ve made a few requests that were not friends of friends when I found them by facebook search, but maybe they’ve changed their policy, though they still offer “search friends”. Could you make requests via Email address? That’s how I got my first friends – imported from my Email contacts list….
January 29 at 2:11am ·
Jay Beacham I’ll try that Relle.
January 29 at 2:14am ·
Steve Brunton: Isn’t this called a social networK? I have made alot of friends that I wouldn’t of known had I not sent out friend invites to friend of friends but apparantly if someone complains which I dont understand why they would, all they have to do is decline, big brother facebook steps in and cuts you off from sending out anymore. Apparantly, if someone doesn’t respond in a timely manner it is considered you sending someone a request you dont know. I have had this happen as well Jay. The other thing is, they do this and there is no way to fight it, it is like guilty before innocent. Maybe it’s time to start a petition like they did to get the banks to back down from adding fees. I am glad you brought this up, it has bothered me as well.
January 29 at 7:58am ·
Relle Hansen: Another tactic might be, when you do know the prospective fb friend, to call them or ask them in person, giving them your E address to “friend” YOU! Or you can Email them the request if you have their E address…
January 29 at 2:09pm ·
Sandy Davison: Wow, that’s crazy. A request for a friend is just that. They can always deny it! They don’t know what they are missing, Jay!
January 29 at 2:40pm ·
Jay Beacham: ofttimes I don’t know the e-mail address. That is what Linkedin demands. Like I ask people for their email address and not their phone number.
January 30 at 1:12am ·
Jay Beacham: Almost as if a person doesn’t exist unless they have an email address and everyone knows what it is, as if there were directories published like phone books telling us everyone’s email address. Let’s start one of those and put it out in hard copy. Steve, I like your idea of a petition. Where do we start to petition FB?
January 30 at 1:16am ·
Jay Beacham: Do you folks mind if I use your ideas in my weekly video blog?
January 30 at 1:17am
Steve Swapp: No, they don’t. It’s nonsense. If someone doesn’t want to be my friend on Facebook, it’s easy for them to deny my request.February 2 at 3:05pm
One of them said go ahead.
FB won’t let me contact my younger brother or the guy who stands or sit next to me in the men’s chorus we’re in because I don’t know them.
But 90% of the friend requests I get on facebook are from people I don’t know but have mutual friend with.
Does FB believe that mutual friends is the only way to know people?
And the tech help?
No one to email or call at FB. How do “I let us know” as the message said?
I have no way.
At My Space, Tom, the boss, emails all the newbies and welcomes them to MYSpace.
At Sing Snap, Trevor, the boss, video messages everyone on a regular basis telling of contests, events, or other happenings at SingSnap.
If I have a tech problem, I get a response from a real person within 24 hours to help me solve my problem.
We all have the common interest at Sing Snap: the love of singing.
If I record a song and people listen and comment on it, I listen to a recording or more of theirs and comment on those and visa versa.
There is messaging, which is as good as online chat.
If someone is ill, prayers, songs, and messages of support go out to that person.
Links are shared and people follow them whether to a SS spot or
to somewhere else on the net.
And people are helpful. If they find something good, they share and no one is offended.
People become real friends even off line who didn’t know each other before Sing Snap.
A world of difference between Sing Snap and FB.
Of the two, Sing Snap wins as the best social network.
There are others that are okay and there are those who really don’t care about the people in the network.
The other day I was in a $Tree store and a lady at the check out stand in front of me asked the clerk if the store
carried balloons that sang Happy Birthday.
No was the reply,
“I’ve got to have one for my husband’s birthday.”
The lady just in front of me said her husband had bought her one several years back at Albertsons for $6.
“Oh thank you”, came the reply and she left.
Then the clerk at the next register asked if my clerk had told the lady about the Party Store as that is where she had found that item.
No, she hadn’t thought of it.
To this I said to my clerk, as I got to the register, that this was true word of mouth advertising and no one was offended
but grateful for the information.
“Yes”, she said unlike the internet where people are offended if anyone shares such useful information with them.
Sing Snap is like that experience in the store.
People at Sing Snap like people and enjoy helping each other and are grateful for the help.
If someone is ill who is a member on Sing Snap Karaoke, Prayers are requested, names put on prayer lists. These people care. Isn’t that social?
Do you have a comment about this subject? Let’s hear it.

 

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Hello world!

New site for singing info and products.

What about singing?

Who is your favorite Singer- besides yourself?

Some times people praise those who are in the public eye.  There are very good if not better vocalists, mostly unknown to the world, out there. Do you know any? Is there a friend or acquaintance whose singing you like?

One friend of mine teaches French in public school. another one works in the computer software industry. One or two are professional singers. Others sound great but will never be know outside of their home environment.  I think that is a shame.

Do you like the way you sing.  Where do you sound the best?

Some of us sound best in our car or our bath because of the mini echo chamber that exists in those small areas.

Do others like your singing?

What is your opinion on this topic?

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