I am often teaching my singing students WHAT to do, and HOW to do it. But as the years have passed I find myself working more and more on helping people realise what NOT to do, and how NOT to do it. Let me explain...
Many of the things that result in really good singing technique are the things that our bodies naturally already do really well. Of course there are somethings that don't follow this rule, but in my experience the most important, fundamental basics of good singing are supported by the things we already know how to do. The problem arises when we consciously try to control those things that the body has been doing perfectly our whole lives. We start to add in the extra elements that we think are making us a 'good singer', but in fact get in the way. Let me outline my top favourites here...
You've been breathing air since the day you emerged into this world. You continued to do so throughout your whole life, while you sleep, exercise and go about your everyday lives. You very rarely think about it, and it works perfectly and faultlessly every step of the way.
WHY WOULD WE START TO INTERFERE WITH IT WHEN WE SING?!
A lot of the training I do with my singers is to get them connected to the body's natural breathing mechanism, and allow it work for them as it always has. The thing that needs work is not necessarily the in breath, but the efficiency of the out breath and the sound we send OUT.
Jo Estill said "you were born belting, you just forgot how". She's absolutely spot on, of course. The wail of a new born baby is possibly the most technically perfect belt you'll ever hear. They need to be heard and communicate a very raw, honest, truthful emotion and it is inbuilt in us to communicate that. When we try to belt we start to get 'involved' and take too much breath, yank in our abdominals, open our mouths to wide and a whole host of other things that prevent us from doing it efficiently. Connect with the truth of what you are singing about, learn the basic technical ingredients of a good belt (everything you already know how to do), and it's a lot easier than you imagine!
When you need to shout across the road to a friend and rise above the noise of the traffic, you do not consciously engage the abdominal muscles and support your sound, yet somehow your tone is full, rounded, clear and supported - without thinking about it! That's because your body is beautifully designed and very clever. Try standing with your hands on your waist and shout 'hey' increasing your volume by 20% every time and feel how your abdominal muscles increase their engagement WITHOUT YOU DOING ANYTHING! Support is about not getting in the way and letting your body's natural mechanism work the way it knows how. For high intensity extended belting we start to look at adding support in the Lateral muscles (just under the armpits) but NEVER from your abdominals.
Next time you practice, experiment with doing a bit less, cutting extra elements away and seeing what your body is naturally already good at, and what's needs adding.
Love Gary x
To explore any of the things discussed in this article feel free to come along for a voice session with me! :o) And if you enjoyed this article please feel free to comment with your ideas, and share with your friends.