Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Learning to Sing  (Read 4801 times)

Offline Steel Pelican

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 347
    • http://www.modernwhaling.com
Learning to Sing
« on: July 14, 2008, 10:55:33 AM »
I think it's time I buckle down and learn to sing melodies.  Sadly, paying for voice lessons is out of the question at the moment, so I'll be stuck with learning from book/DVD/web/stone tablet for now.

Does anyone have an recommendations for a good place to start?  I'm not looking to win American Idol, just be able to sing melody and harmony when required (also for wooing of girls, who I will learn to talk to someday).

-Greg
-----------
'97 Classic Fly, Trans. Red
Mesa/Boogie DC-5

Learning to Sing

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Learning to Sing
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2008, 02:24:03 PM »
Hi Greg,
     Go for it!  In my opinion, voice lessons are generally a waste of time. (And I've taken vocal lessons).  Not what you might learn from lessons, but the need to learn it from a teacher.  You can learn whatever you need to know by yourself.  Don't feel that you're "stuck" without lessons.  I've worked with a million singers and virtually none of them started out with lessons. An important thing to learn is how to warm up your voice gently, increasing the blood circulation to your vocal chords without straining.  Your own voice and your artistic preferences will dictate your vocal direction.  I'm a tenor, and so I always sing the high harmony parts in a band setting and even though I don't have the rich, round tone of a baritone, I can belt out the high rock stuff that they can't.  Like playing the guitar or any other instrument, you'll find what works for you and what might not be as good. Start singing any songs that appeal to you and just have fun. As with playing, the more you do, the more you'll progress.  You'll be a better musician for it, and always get more work than guitarists who don't sing.
 

Learning to Sing

Offline bno

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
Learning to Sing
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2008, 03:32:15 PM »
Two more pence here.  Probably the hardest thing to learn is how to breath properly and get a good column of air behind your voice.  Talk to a vocalist you respect and talk to sax/flute/horn players if you can.  Working on the mechanics of getting good, big air, is like doing finger exercizes for strength and dexterity.  It might be worth it to take a lesson or two with a legit singer (opera) to get some pointers on breathing.  Without air you got no voice.  Without enough air you'll be straining which creates tension which makes it harder to sing.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2008, 03:34:36 PM by bno »
'94 Fly Deluxe
Listen first, then play.

Learning to Sing

Offline BrainWorm

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2007
Learning to Sing
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2008, 03:22:44 AM »
Try making the motorboat sound with your lips, that will give you an idea of how much airflow singing needs. I practice singing the notes on my guitar, with different exercises. Chromatic up and down my range, that also helps me figure out my range, and my range limits change a little from time to time. A half step or so. I sing the do re me fa so la ti do words. I'll do  intervals on each string. Octaves skipping across the guitar neck. Half-step whole-step. Scales. Trying to sing a song without music is great practice, wish I had enough time to include that in my practice. Finally singing songs with the guitar. And always paying attention to what my voice is telling me, some days it is good and some days it is not good. Being careful and not forcing the voice, it's delicate. Trying to go too low can hurt like going too high.

"Brainverms come crawling and creeping and eat you when you're sleeping."
"Brainverms come crawling and creeping and eat you when you're sleeping."

Learning to Sing

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Learning to Sing
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2008, 07:17:39 AM »
Greg,
Singing is NOT hard. It is a natural thing that humans have been doing forever.  There is no need to do anything but open your mouth let it happen.  Just don't yell. If you're so inclined, find a DVD, so you can see and hear what is being demonstrated, but it is absolutely not necessary.  I must comment about the above posts, and please forgive me for disagreeing with some of their content.  With respect to Bno, talking to a vocalist I agree with, but horn players can't relate to singing.  In fact most horn players can't even relate to non horn players:)
I just tried making the motorboat sound as BrainWorm suggests and it has nothing to do with any singing I've done over the past 40 years.  You make the motorboat sound until you run out of breath.  The air comes out of the mouth differently than when you sing. In terms of range, once you've sung for a while, you'll know your range.  The extreme top and bottom of your range will hardly be of any practical use, so any slight variance is meaningless.  It's not like you'll tell your band to take "Fire And Rain" down a whole step today.... If you have a good ear, you will sing in tune.  If you can't hold a harmony part with other singers than you don't have a great ear and will have to do what you can.
What I'm saying, and I can't emphasize this enough, is just sing!  It's easy.  Your mom did it when you were going to sleep and never thought twice about it...
 

Learning to Sing

Offline bno

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
Learning to Sing
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2008, 09:00:46 AM »
My reference to horn players had to do with breathing as playing a horn obviously requires controlled breathing.  Good air goes a long way, literally and figuratively.
'94 Fly Deluxe
Listen first, then play.

Learning to Sing

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Learning to Sing
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2008, 10:25:41 AM »
Bno, I realize that, and I was half kidding. (Not about horn players relationships to other people and the world , though:) We are about the same age and if you tell me that anyone you played with took vocal lessons, I'd be surprised.  We all just took the plunge and started singing.  I can't remember one band member of mine ever saying... "Wow, this is hard." Especially if Greg's goal is to "sing melody and harmony when required," my advice is to just start singing.  Yes, diaphragmatic breathing is ultimately the easiest, most efficient way to sing, but you can learn it in a day on the internet, with a DVD, or by going to a yoga class. It's ain't rocket science.  Let's face it, how many morons have we seen in front of the band....
 

Learning to Sing

Offline mountaindewaddict

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1894
Learning to Sing
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2008, 10:57:04 AM »
I'll just chime in here and say that I don't believe I really knew how to sing UNTIL I took voice lessons.  I have a Batchelor of Theology degree, with a major in Preaching, and believe it or not, a semester of voice lessons was a required class (something about still needing to finish the sermon when the mic cuts out [:)])!  I had a good teacher who taught me how to breathe correctly (which BTW, doing that and playing guitar with a lot of energy and excitement are really hard to do simultaneously).  I owe Neil (my teacher) a debt of gratitude I cannot repay.  I have gotten great enjoyment from the fruit of those lessons.  

Greg, my advice would be this: don't take private voice lessons from a "professional" teacher (i.e., that's all they do).  Enroll at a local university or community college and take a voice class from the music faculty.  Odds are, you can get a grant (continuing / adult education grants are all over the place).  You won't be able to sing opera, but you'll be able to get the job done (you might even meet a couple girls in the process [:D] [;)] )!

Casey

Gear:
Parker P-44, Digitech GNX4, other stuff...
"Remember, if at first you don't succeed, you're doing it wrong."
God Bless!
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 01:17:56 PM by mountaindewaddict »
Casey

Gear: Parker Fly Deluxe, Parker PDF60, Way Huge, Digitech / Hardwire, Line 6, Source Audio,T-Rex, and TC Electronic Pedals, Egnater amps, other stuff... God Bless!

Learning to Sing

Offline bno

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
Learning to Sing
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2008, 11:06:08 AM »
quote:
Originally posted by prjacobs

.. and if you tell me that anyone you played with took vocal lessons, I'd be surprised.  We all just took the plunge and started singing.  I can't remember one band member of mine ever saying... "Wow, this is hard." Especially if Greg's goal is to "sing melody and harmony when required," my advice is to just start singing.  Yes, diaphragmatic breathing is ultimately the easiest, most efficient way to sing, but you can learn it in a day on the internet, with a DVD, or by going to a yoga class. It's ain't rocket science.  Let's face it, how many morons have we seen in front of the band....

I will admit that I did have a summer's worth voice training about 20 years ago and long after I started playing.  Finally learning how to breath properly changed my voice for the better.  The other thing was learning to hear my own voice and recognize when I was getting a good tone.  I'd have to say from my experience, the coaching was a positive thing.
'94 Fly Deluxe
Listen first, then play.

Learning to Sing

Offline BrainWorm

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2007
Learning to Sing
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2008, 03:39:14 AM »
... motorboat sound. Page 82,"The Contemporary Singer, Elements of Vocal Technique" by Anne Peckham, Berklee Press. Anne Peckham teaching voice at Berklee College of Music since 1987.

William Vennard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Vennard

http://www.amazon.com/Singing-Mechanism-Technic-William-Vennard/dp/0825800552


"Brainverms come crawling and creeping and eat you when you're sleeping."
"Brainverms come crawling and creeping and eat you when you're sleeping."

Learning to Sing

Offline Steel Pelican

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 347
    • http://www.modernwhaling.com
Learning to Sing
« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2008, 07:37:02 AM »
Wow!  Thanks for all the responses!

I've been trying the "just do it" method, and sadly that's not working for me.  Perhaps my ear's just not good enough, or perhaps I just need a little coaching on control.  I can hear when I'm off, I'm just never sure which direction to go to be on pitch.  It's tough for me to learn a new skill without some sort of direction from a book, or a teacher.  

I'll definitely take some time this weekend to experiment with some of these tips, though.

-Greg
-----------
'97 Classic Fly, Trans. Red
Mesa/Boogie DC-5

Learning to Sing

Offline bno

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
Learning to Sing
« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2008, 08:29:51 AM »
quote:
Originally posted by Steel Pelican

Wow!  Thanks for all the responses!

I've been trying the "just do it" method, and sadly that's not working for me.  Perhaps my ear's just not good enough, or perhaps I just need a little coaching on control.  I can hear when I'm off, I'm just never sure which direction to go to be on pitch.  It's tough for me to learn a new skill without some sort of direction from a book, or a teacher.  

I'll definitely take some time this weekend to experiment with some of these tips, though.

-Greg
-----------
'97 Classic Fly, Trans. Red
Mesa/Boogie DC-5

I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert or vocal coach.  But try this.  Hit just one note with an "ah" sound, with your tongue forward (think doctor's office) and hold it for as long as your air lasts and try to stay on pitch the whole time.  Have your guitar or a keyboard handy so you can refresh your "pitch memory" as needed.  You're probably not used to listening to yourself "non-critically" hear how your tone and pitch change as you run out of air.  Listen to the attack, are you sliding into the note or nailing it immediately?  Is your tongue trying to pull back and close your throat?  Muscle training and mental training.

Now, just pick out some songs you like and sing them.  Also, every time you get the chance, sing the Star Spangled Banner (range) and Happy Birthday (in harmony).  Just sing.
'94 Fly Deluxe
Listen first, then play.

Learning to Sing

Offline prjacobs

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Learning to Sing
« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2008, 08:58:05 AM »
quote:
Originally posted by BrainWorm

... motorboat sound. Page 82,"The Contemporary Singer, Elements of Vocal Technique" by Anne Peckham, Berklee Press. Anne Peckham teaching voice at Berklee College of Music since 1987.

William Vennard
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Vennard

http://www.amazon.com/Singing-Mechanism-Technic-William-Vennard/dp/0825800552


"Brainverms come crawling and creeping and eat you when you're sleeping."



Hi Marion,
    Thanks for the post. I stand corrected... I guess every technique isn't for everyone.  The motorboat just didn't resonate with me.   My intention was to encourage an attempt without any preconceived issues. Greg, it sounds like some guidance may be the right way for you.  Best of luck.
 

Learning to Sing

Offline mountaindewaddict

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1894
Learning to Sing
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2008, 10:48:09 AM »
Greg, another option is to join a community choir.  I've found that the best way to learn to sing is to stand next to a really good singer and listen / sing with him (not to be sexist, but when you're a guy, it's easier to learn to sing from another guy).

Or (and I'm tipping my philosophical hand here), go to a church in your city that's known for having a really great choir and listen to them.  Hey, the admission's free and they usually have coffee and donuts!  [:D]

Casey

Gear:
Parker P-44, Digitech GNX4, other stuff...
"Remember, if at first you don't succeed, you're doing it wrong."
God Bless!
Casey

Gear: Parker Fly Deluxe, Parker PDF60, Way Huge, Digitech / Hardwire, Line 6, Source Audio,T-Rex, and TC Electronic Pedals, Egnater amps, other stuff... God Bless!

Learning to Sing

Offline Steel Pelican

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 347
    • http://www.modernwhaling.com
Learning to Sing
« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2008, 11:39:09 AM »
quote:
Originally posted by bno
I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert or vocal coach.  But try this.  Hit just one note with an "ah" sound, with your tongue forward (think doctor's office) and hold it for as long as your air lasts and try to stay on pitch the whole time.  Have your guitar or a keyboard handy so you can refresh your "pitch memory" as needed.  You're probably not used to listening to yourself "non-critically" hear how your tone and pitch change as you run out of air.  Listen to the attack, are you sliding into the note or nailing it immediately?  Is your tongue trying to pull back and close your throat?  Muscle training and mental training.



These are the kinds of tips I'm looking for.  

I think one of my challenges is learning my natural range, and then associating that range with a singer.  That way, I'm not setting myself up for failure by trying to sing along with Peter Steele (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJhUs9PQvHs) or Rob Halford.  

I'm not entirely sure where my range sits, but I think my lowest comfortable note is the G below middle C.  How high can I go?  Good, good question.  Let's assume the answer for now is "not very."  Any clues what range this puts me in (I'm guessing baritone)?  Once I know that, I can start to identify some singers in the same range, so I can start to work on singing some of their songs.  

I have the Warren Zevon songbook, perhaps that would be a good place to start?

-Greg
-----------
'97 Classic Fly, Trans. Red
Mesa/Boogie DC-5
« Last Edit: July 16, 2008, 11:42:09 AM by Steel Pelican »