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  • Index
  •  » Vocal Technique
  •  » Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

#1 2012-07-26 00:54:37

FelipeCarvalho
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Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

So, this comes from a few conversations that came up on some threads and on the conference call.

My view on this particular subject is very radical, its not what we want to develop so, during trainning, it has no place, besides when searching for some coordinations that you are still not familiar with.

The usual cause for both is that some muscle is trying to make up for the lack of coordination or strenght of another. Coordination problems may be caused both by a problem with the intention that originates the vowel or simply the lack of tonus on a particular movement that the singer is still not familiar with. Lack of strenght is the long term result of the previous condition, and remains for a while even after the proper coordination is found.

The first presents itself as constriction of the throat, jaw tension, tongue tension, soft-palate tension, neck tension, specially on the sternocleidomastoids, and so on. Even hand gestures may become connected to the act of singing when improperly used.

The later usually causes a loss of tonal quality, vowels shifting from the correct placement, or a sudden shift of it into a given direction, usually disconnecting from full voice.

If enough attention is given during the first stages of trainning, strenght building exercises, that involves absolutely no constriction, tension or veins popping, can get the strenght problem solved quickly.

Coordination problems simply need to be adressed. And their nature do not allow that repeating over and over the same thing fix the issue. If anything, repeating a problematic coordination will only make the alien muscle stronger and the tonus problem worse.

The usuall way to fix this kind of problem is to atack the source of tension. If the jaw is projecting, pay attention to it and try to relief this movement during the phonation. And then some other problems may show up, and its where a coach is needed to decide: Its ok, insist on it. Or: nope, not working, lets try something else.

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2012-07-26 00:54:37

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#2 2012-07-26 01:07:50

ronws
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I totally agree. Remove the source of strain or undue tension.

As for strength, people adduct all day long when they speak. Even those who have weak speaking voices can remedy the situation by practicing exercises. But that is a loaded word. The word exercise reminds people of weightlifting or strenuous physical exertion. When, actually, it's a matter of coordination.

I was reading one author who had a student that spoke so softly. And sang even softer. And the root caues was not weak muscles. It was a lifetime of being beaten down psychologically by others. So, he made her stand at the other side of the room and "holler." Her hollering equals most people's speach. And that had more to do with her releasing mentally her desire to be heard against the recriminations playing in her head thanks to the (oh, you don't know how close I came to using some profanity that would probably get me banned) persons who beat her down. That is, most of his work during a lesson, just to get to scales, was to overcome her own blocks against herself.

If I have not mentioned it before, singing is mental.

To me, the one thing that should be strengthened in training is the link in your mind was to what it feels like getting the right note with the volume and tone that is good.

I realize that I am an odd duck but I feel that singing should be without strain and constriction. At any point in time. If you are straining and constricting in training, you are building habits of constricting and straining.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#3 2012-07-26 01:24:05

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

this one's better left to a verbal discussion, but it's an excellent post topic.

i'll go ahead and officially elect myself a major proponent and member of the "muscle development" group...lol!!!  maybe i'm the only one in the group. this includes strength in the lower core.

and i'll go on record as saying in my humble opinion, no strain, no gain.....lol!!!! (not in the literal sense of course, but you know what i mean)...lol!!!

and it's okay if i'm the only one who is in the group....lol!!!!

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#4 2012-07-26 01:48:18

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Oh, muscle strenght on the lower core, I am totally with you, coupled with control of course. But yes, the more you workout, and suffer (and there are a lot of exercises that makes you really feel the muscles), the better :P.

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#5 2012-07-26 02:18:41

Owen Korzec
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I think the best approach is somewhere in between. If you aren't feeling anything after you train, you are probably leaning too far toward the no strain=gain mentality and will build great coordination but poor strength. If you feel like your voice is absolutely shot after your train, you are probably leaning too far toward the no strain=no gain mentality and will build great strength but poor coordination.

We obviously need both strength and coordination in order to sing well. Without strength we would be stuck in a light head voice and never have enough power. Without coordination we would be stuck pulling chest and never have enough range. They need to be trained evenly for healthy, balanced singing. Not necessarily at the same time, just evenly in the long term.

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#6 2012-07-26 06:14:15

Danielformica
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Ok sorry it took so long for me to chime in Felipe cause i asked you to make the thread so thank you..
Im going to answer this in 2 parts.. First athletically and second personal.

Pretty much any sport you do to build coordination, you start by learning the form and then after time put the strength into it. Golf, basketball, baseball, boxing etc.  Why would singing be any different. I believe you find and build on the coordination. If you come out of the gate full balls you are bound to blow the cords out, apart, etc. They are tiny and need to be finessed.

2nd part: 
Personally when I am singing songs that get challenging either staying on a passagio note the whole song note after note or singing a high piece of music, If i come out of the gate balls out thinking pressure volume strain for my gain it never happens. If I come out just trying to speak it on the pitch thinking to myself this is easy just take a nice low breath, initiate the sound confidently, sing on the breath, expand my body as i sing upwards I usually nail it.

thats my 2 cents sorry I cant agree with ya Bob. I have done it the other way to many times and failed or ended up straining all night just to make it through.
:D:cool::)


DANIEL
WWW.YOURVOCALTEACHER.COM
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Disclaimer-Anything I write or try to help people with on here are techniques and things that have worked for ME.  They are not necessarily" right" or "wrong" but have worked for ME and my 20+ yrs as a professional working
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Thank you

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#7 2012-07-26 14:43:08

geno
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I just got an interesting perspective on this subject from a Vocal Scientist and Coach Thomas Blaylock.  I'm in the middle of a Gino Vannelli master class on voice, and yesterday Gino brought in Tom - Gino's vocal coach.  Tom sits on a board with top vocal scientists around the world.  He is also a fantastic baritone opera singer and demonstrated some amazing things.  He shared a story that he once had a teacher that almost ruined his voice.  He told Tom to sing while "relaxing" his muscles.  It was this that almost ruined his voice. To make a long story short - Tom says there is muscle tension in everything.  You can't sing without muscle tension.  But it is the balanced tension that is the most important.  Just like TA and CT which oppose each other, same goes for the abdominal muscles and diaphram and a whole host of other muscle interactions involved with singing. 

What he said is developing coordination between muscles so that you can create tension with the least amount of energy that is the most important.  He also said when teachers say everything has to be "relaxed" what they really mean is "muscle independance".  A lot of times the beginner will inadvertantly evoke the constrictors along with singing higher notes.  We shouldn't "relax" everything - but we need the constrictors to be independant of other muscles.  What he was getting at is to acheive minimum effort of each muscle we need muscle independance.  Not relaxed muslces.

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#8 2012-07-26 15:24:44

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Yep, relaxed is not it for sure. Its very intense.

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#9 2012-07-26 15:51:44

Jens
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

the thing is, this witchhunt for tension is in my mind almost as contraproductive as people who strain their balls off.
Im gonna qoute Jorn Lande when he game me a tip "Du skall ikke vare redd for din stemme".
"you shall not be afraid of your voice"

You are gonna strain when your gonna try to travel to new sensations and soundqualities, man we have to challenge our voice, find out the limits.
Really take it for a spin, Strain is nothing dangerous as long as we dont make it a habit or go at it without vocalrest for several periods of days.
You must dare to be really bad to become really good

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#10 2012-07-26 16:10:54

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

That depends Jens. Going after the new postures, feeling that its still wrong and searching instead of forcing, very positive. Going after something that sounds good through force, no deal. Wont become anything other than forced even if you unsist one hundred years on it.

The problem is exactly that hardly people allow it to be bad, brakes and wobbles are quickly fixed by applying a little pressure here and there, which becomes larger and larger with each semitone. And many times, the spoken voice is already tense, so there is no safe ground to compare with.

I cant resist, quote:

Insanity is insisting on the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

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#11 2012-07-26 16:16:57

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

but as time goes by, and you get stronger and more developed you learn you can apply breath tension selectively. you can engage various levels of fold pressure, fold depth, cry level, etc., and balance it against the air pressure.

you realize you can isolate more, rather than feeling like you grabbed onto a bunch of things to sing.

that why you need to have requisite development before you tackle things like messa di voce. that exercise requires serious isolation of the breath tension and the vocal folds. if you're still in the stage where you constrict and bring in extraneous musculature you'll never get the benefit of that exercise.


my biggest help to my singing was learning (and i'm still learning) appoggio technique.

this technique taught me how to put braking action (check out franco tenelli's new video below) into my singing so i don't run away like a loose cannon with my air and slap it and force it into my folds. i'm better at regulating my air and more importantly my air pressure...both ways.

when you sing with appoggio, you get left with a lot of freedom upstairs. i know i'm not the best at explaining these things but i hope i did a decent job on this.

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#12 2012-07-26 17:11:18

Jens
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

the thing is, many great rocksingers for example use a controlled shoutmechanism(overdrive) wich actualy needs you to power up there instead of holding back.
You dont think dio, lande, coverdale did strain from time to time when getting their style? And finaly when they got into their peak vocaltechnique could do the same sounds without strain?
Thats atleast my core belif, many singers figure this out themselves, they dont go to a vocalcoach who will monitor them.
If you baby your voice, it will become a baby if you expekt great things from it, it will do the task after serious building of strength

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#13 2012-07-26 17:20:34

Sun
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

This is a topic which interests and concerns me.

I've been working on the D4-D5 range a lot for the past two months or so, and when I first learned to access this range it was bad, I strained like crazy, it sounded bad and I could hardly do it at all. On top of this my voice got very tired and I had to rest it quite a bit before I could do this stuff again.

Today I sound much better, it takes much less effort, I can do it for longer but it still makes my voice tired because I go balls to the walls and push the limits all the time. Still I have to rest my voice every few days or it gets too tired - BUT I'm still improving at a good rate. So I'm straining a bit and improving - I'm not sure if this is wrong or right.

I wonder if a bit of strain (and bad stamina) is avoidable at all when pushing the limits of the voice and learning to sing higher not only for longer, but with a heavier sound. The one thing I know for sure is that if I would have avoided straining I would NOT be anywhere close to where I am today...

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#14 2012-07-26 17:30:24

Jens
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

yeah erik, you use insane ammounts of support, I think your the only one ive heard live who has Belted a F5 for me ><
Youve really got a very chesty voice and its very cool :)

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#15 2012-07-26 17:41:41

Mivke
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

geno wrote:

What he said is developing coordination between muscles so that you can create tension with the least amount of energy that is the most important.  He also said when teachers say everything has to be "relaxed" what they really mean is "muscle independance".  A lot of times the beginner will inadvertantly evoke the constrictors along with singing higher notes.  We shouldn't "relax" everything - but we need the constrictors to be independant of other muscles.  What he was getting at is to acheive minimum effort of each muscle we need muscle independance.  Not relaxed muslces.

I completely agree with this. I would like to make an analogy between singing and learning snowboarding. The first few days you will be completely exhausted from falling (breaking) and from the sheer effort of simple turns (straining) and you will use alot of effort via muscle power to try to compensate for the lack of balance (coordination). If you would continue on this path, I guess you would become very strong in weird places, because if you look at someone who actually CAN snowboard, you will see it's very effortless. I say effortless, not relaxed because if you would relax you would fall down. You simply learn to tense the correct muscles and not waste as much effort as before simply because you found the balance (AND of course you also became stronger in the "correct" muscles on your way through some of the strain).

I'm very new here so take what I say with a grain of salt, but this is how it feels so far for me in the singing world.
Cheers!

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#16 2012-07-26 17:56:32

Danielformica
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Developing the coordination is key like I said.  I have only golfed once but I went with apro who was a keyboard player I played with with for years. The first thing he said and throughout the day was dont try to smack this thing with all your might, get the form down and just follow through.  To me it is like this in singing don't be wet noodle and not try and flip into falsetto there needs to be effort. But realize there is gonna be time needed for development of strength and coordination. Once you can sing your full range with the least amount of effort then the strength and power will come in with practice like any other difficult activity.If it was the other way around and you had all the power and strength and coordination without practice I don't think we would all be discussing this on the forum.:D:D:D


DANIEL
WWW.YOURVOCALTEACHER.COM
WWW.DANIELFORMICAVOCALSTUDIO.COM
www.soundcloud.com/daniel-formica

Disclaimer-Anything I write or try to help people with on here are techniques and things that have worked for ME.  They are not necessarily" right" or "wrong" but have worked for ME and my 20+ yrs as a professional working
singer.
Thank you

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#17 2012-07-26 18:02:29

Jens
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

well some people are born with power and strength, for example erik of this thread. He had sung for a less period of time than i had and still could pull his voice in chestvoice(fullvoice) up basicly as high as he wanted.
Not saying its an easy feat for him, but his voice reacted entierly diffrent than mine for example when going high and staying rooted to the speakingvoice.
I needed to build strenght to be able to do the same things as his, and he probaly needed to build coordination and tame that voice of his.

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#18 2012-07-26 18:12:44

Danielformica
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I think he just was able to get the coordination down quicker. Come on now we are splitting hairs,. Of course some people are gonna be able to pick it up quicker. Just like with anything learning a sport,language,chemistry , math.
Some people are gonna sound Chester some headier..
Some girls I think are smokin hot you might think are not that good looking.:D

Eric I like how you said "patience to tune in" very nicely put.

Last edited by Danielformica (2012-07-26 18:16:43)


DANIEL
WWW.YOURVOCALTEACHER.COM
WWW.DANIELFORMICAVOCALSTUDIO.COM
www.soundcloud.com/daniel-formica

Disclaimer-Anything I write or try to help people with on here are techniques and things that have worked for ME.  They are not necessarily" right" or "wrong" but have worked for ME and my 20+ yrs as a professional working
singer.
Thank you

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#19 2012-07-26 18:14:04

Jens
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Daniel are you implying your gonna hit on my mom?!...

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#20 2012-07-26 18:17:27

Danielformica
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

No...........Is she hot?:rolleyes:


DANIEL
WWW.YOURVOCALTEACHER.COM
WWW.DANIELFORMICAVOCALSTUDIO.COM
www.soundcloud.com/daniel-formica

Disclaimer-Anything I write or try to help people with on here are techniques and things that have worked for ME.  They are not necessarily" right" or "wrong" but have worked for ME and my 20+ yrs as a professional working
singer.
Thank you

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#21 2012-07-26 18:28:50

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

so i guess there are more members on the "muscle development/no strain/no gain" team.....lol!!!

i'm working on some of these old four tops tunes, where you just sit between e4 and a4 with this chesty, belty quality yet you still have to sound full and refined...tough stuff.

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#22 2012-07-26 18:29:21

Jens
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

She gave birth to the single most beautiful male in history of man kind, entitled to not one, but five titles of manhood and mystery. What do you think? ;)

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#23 2012-07-26 18:32:06

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

let's call it "tension isolation skill" ...you can push the voice to greater heights but using good form to do it.

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#24 2012-07-26 20:48:24

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

erik, when i was first learning foriegner and some led zep songs, the difficulty was so much that i ended up with headaches too. people don't talk much about the restraint effort sometimes involved in singing. the parts where you have to gear down really hard, really hard.

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#25 2012-07-26 23:26:08

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

you're so right erik.......this stuff is tougher than it sounds.

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#26 2012-07-26 23:58:10

ronws
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I liked Geno's explanation. It's not that there is no tension. There is tension when you walk, pick a drink, whatever. What allows for endurance is the minimum amount of tension required to accomplish the objective. In our forum, singing.

I also like the golf explanation. I can send a ball 150 yards with a 5 iron. And it was all technique. Because I could also take the 460 driver and puke out at 50 yards, swinging for the fences, because of wrong technique.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#27 2012-07-27 02:11:19

izzle1989
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

This is a superb thread.

You all pretty much covered all of the angles this can be approached.


"verum ipsum factum"

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#28 2012-07-27 02:45:03

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Jens wrote:

the thing is, many great rocksingers for example use a controlled shoutmechanism(overdrive) wich actualy needs you to power up there instead of holding back.
You dont think dio, lande, coverdale did strain from time to time when getting their style? And finaly when they got into their peak vocaltechnique could do the same sounds without strain?
Thats atleast my core belif, many singers figure this out themselves, they dont go to a vocalcoach who will monitor them.
If you baby your voice, it will become a baby if you expekt great things from it, it will do the task after serious building of strength

Jens, what CVT defines as overdrive is mostly the placement for mezzo dinamic ranges in the classical school, and is what is mostly used to sing pop material, the higher dinamic ranges are done in what is defined there as edge, which on its turn is defined and referenced using the italian EE vowel.

The strenght building part of the trainning consists on trainning the chest register up to G4/A4 (for the common light voice), using an open AH without darkening and almost no covering, with this very forward placement and at full volume, from bottom to top. And there is no need to strain for it. You just work on the range where the strain does not happen and slowly proceed into going higher.

Basicly a lot of pressure from support converted totally into sound, without any constriction or strain to hold it back. If strain happens, move back a few semitones, work more until the strenght is there, and proceed. How can strain be better than this for larynx strenght building?

Not really into babying anyone :P. Im just against a lazy larynx.

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#29 2012-07-27 11:34:21

Jens
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

yes me to, im not saying straining is an ideal and not something you should overcome. But im against staying in your comfortzone. Ive neverever gained an extra not better quality or anything if i didnt push over that barrier thats what im saying.
Just when i start working on my "weakparts" i often strain abit until i get them controlled or those muscles get stronger.
And when i mean strain i mean my folds work harder than usual, it can be pushed ext thats what i mean by strain

Overdrive works all the way up to high C if you want it to, edge can go well above high C for males and usualy stops around HIgh F for males(if the male is extremly skilled) and then goes towards neutral. Edge can be done on AA EHH iii Vowels also not only eee.

here is a great example! You can hear both fairly high overdrive and powercurbing(wich is used alot in classical singing)

0:50 talk of god is truuuuuhhhhhhhe powercurbing

1:00 saeeehhyy (swedish รครค vowel) overdrive
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ms13i6OZQ4

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#30 2012-07-27 15:39:20

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

felipe,

strain is a very subjective term. i even like a strained sound at times.

i strain....does that mean it's bad strain? it's targeted, supported strain...just like a doing a dumbell curl (in good form) slowly and pausing with the weight in the middle of the rep.

that's 10 times safer than just yanking up the weight and arching your back (extraneous muscle involvement)  like you see some guys do.

messa di voce is basically targeted stress. messa di voce is more than just training dynamics, it's training the voice to accept a greater load.

that's why a lot of advanced exercises involve some kid of leaning.

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#31 2012-07-27 15:49:41

Danielformica
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I strain......................wait for it.........wait..............when I poop........but I'm a little older than you guys.:D


DANIEL
WWW.YOURVOCALTEACHER.COM
WWW.DANIELFORMICAVOCALSTUDIO.COM
www.soundcloud.com/daniel-formica

Disclaimer-Anything I write or try to help people with on here are techniques and things that have worked for ME.  They are not necessarily" right" or "wrong" but have worked for ME and my 20+ yrs as a professional working
singer.
Thank you

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#32 2012-07-27 21:52:11

jonpall
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

"Strain" is an elusive word because it means different things to different people. A better word, even though it's still not perfect, is "hurt" - as in, "does what you're doing HURT your voice?". Vocalizing or singing should never HURT your throat.

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#33 2012-07-27 22:26:43

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Bob. I think I understand what you mean. But to me there is a whole world of difference between healthy effort and strain. Correct application of tension results on sound.

The dinamic exercises on mesa voce, causes support to work at its max, and yes for the support muscles, Id say its strenuous, feels like Im gonna blow up from all the pressure you need to countain. But thats what support is there for, to dampen the stress.

Please guys, Im not saying to sing airy and all loosen. You got to be strong, even when singing something soft, the intention must be very clear and defined.

All Im saying is that strain, meanning larynx constricting and receivig stress, does not develop anything, it actually hinders progress.

Of course, if a positive trace is within a strainned posture, and it always is lol, then its necessary to cope with it for a while until it can be isolated from what is working. But even on such case, its much better to develop the weak spot outside the problematic range, with defined and precise exercises with a clear goal, rather then insisting on bringing the problem up with difficult passages that depend on it.

Then its just a matter of applying it.

If its difficult, demands a lot of attention and support stress, but it can be properly coordinated by the larynx. Then its the student problem to repeat it, its working heheh. If it results in strain and the student simply can not practice comfortably, its simply cheating the exercise. Its like doing a scale to work the passagio letting the coordination change from full voice. Even if it sounds decent, its not serving its purpose.

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#34 2012-07-27 23:04:16

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

i'm just trying to get the point across that as you build your voice year after year you can be working on songs or passages within songs that just won't be totally right till after much work and effort has been expended.

to me, you can't just say "well, i can't do it, it's too hard, i'm too constricted, i'm straining and therefore it's all wrong." part of your skill as a singer (or much better in conjunction with a teacher or coach) is you both figure a way to get there that works for you.

believe me, i can't begin to explain the difficulty i had singing certain songs...and yet as time went on they began to get a little easier (not easy) but a little easier.

now, even when the constriction has been removed, and you're doing all the "right things" you still can have a royal bitch of a time singing certain songs.

they just call for more strength, or more finese, or more power or whatever...you have to forge onward with your voice.

a lot of guys on the forum are probably saying "no shit bob" but a lot of others don't realize (or don't want to realize) what's really involved sometimes.

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#35 2012-07-27 23:38:57

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

this is a great video to explain largely what i mean and believe is the way.

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#36 2012-07-27 23:55:11

Thornberry
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Hey all,

Id like to weigh in if I may. This is indeed a great discussion.

I think that while you are trying to learn a coordination, or building certain musculature, it is ok if some strain occurs. I am finding this to be true in my own voice as I work with Dante. I find that many exercises that I simply couldnt do 5 weeks ago, and were extremely tight and strained 3 weeks ago, are now much much more free and getting less strained all the time. It wasn't desirable to have the strain and wasnt always comfortable (never hurt though), but it really did build up the muscles/coordination that I needed to even make an attempt! Now that the muscles are on their way to being built, I can strip away the excess musculature that is causing my strain, but maintain my connection. I have tried for years the "relaxed" singing way, and Ill i got was more in debt ;)

Since we are using sport examples, Ill use a couple. I was a hardcore baseball player growing up, a pitcher. I learned the throw by throwing a tennis ball against my house (to my poor family's dismay, who had to hear a 'thump' ever few second for 3 hours a day!), and I didn't have the perfectly "relaxed" correct motion that I pitcher is "suppose" to have. But I threw fireballs. At 15 years old I was throwin 86 MPH (for reference, the average MAJOR LEAGUE fastball is 90MPH), and my arm was rock solid. Then I went to a pitching coach who changed my mechanics, to be the "relaxed and easy way" and at first it was great, but it was several months later that my arm fell apart, ending with surgery, and ending a strong possibility of making a run a pro career.

Another example is ab work. If you are like me and do "C-sit position" work (meaning that you sit on the floor and lean back half way so that your abs have to hold you up), you probably found that at first while your abs are weak, your stronger back muscles have to really work hard to keep yourself held up. But more and more the more I do them, the less my back muscles work and the my abs, now finally getting stronger, are able to do their job like they should.

Just my experience. :)

Last edited by Thornberry (2012-07-27 23:57:12)

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#37 2012-07-28 00:34:52

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Yes Bob in here I agree. And I got to say, from the way I see it, its the least that its expected, full voice can be controlled within at least 2 octaves, with power, comfort and freedom. If it cant be done, something is still not working. And yes, you are right again, its a lack of application of strenght.

I just believe in a more indirect approach to work the problem outside the places where it gets so critical that strain happens, this allows to really poke the wound with the tip of knife and can make the hard stuff become really easy to execute, after it is consolidated.

This not only allow a more safe trainning system, as it allows to effectively measure results easily and to slowly remove strain from  the equation. Easy from the point of view of the workflow, to the student it demands full atention and discipline.

Experimentation does not count as the actual trainning to shape vowels, my main concern is with consolidating stress into a fundamental posture, afterwards it becomes a monster to remove from the voice.

For example, I believe that Frisell uses an oo as reference for head coordination. And then build other vowels from it, slowly. What would happen if this oo is prematurely used to shape other vowels before its working as it should?

Its a very serious matter. I came from my previous coach with the problem I described above, using weak references based on theory rather than practice and positive results and also without comcern for strain: we sing rock, so its normal to strain.

Im not against experimentation and playing around to try new stuff. But I look at the consolidation exercises, using scales and vowel shapes, in a purpose and result way. Because they are much more effective than what it seems and what they do is a change on the voice as a whole, its irreversible, you dont simply learn a new movement, you consolidate it into the voice.

Its a very important part of a singer life, and you can easily handicap someone, not only with injuries, but also creating a vortex of shit into the vowels that would take years just to dismantle and allow a decent line of work to be possible.

It took me almost 2 years to finally coordinate my voice back into a more natural use, and I still have pontual problems related to covering. Some vowels that should be easy trigger almost a spasm reaction to shift the focal point to the soft palate. Only now its starting to finally release this.

Of course I dont prevent myself from singing just because its not totally lose and free yet. But on the exercises, its very important, and I never work with strain, be it on myself or someonelse. Been there, never going back.

Its not about working easy within a comfort zone. What I propose is trainning the causes of the problems where a correct posture can be find and trusted. Its very hard, and more than once I felt like I would never get it right. It takes time.

What jonpall says is very relevant also. But on exercises, I really think its important to build free and powerfull references, slowly stretching and working on the weakspots, rather then going into strain. My usuall reference for the right sensation is: does it feel good? It is necessary that it does.

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#38 2012-07-28 00:45:20

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Bob, to me thats what a healthy effort is. My concern is with that strainned thin production he used before the correct sample. What would happen if he goes for it with the thin idea? He would probably blow up an artery hehe.

Last edited by FelipeCarvalho (2012-07-28 00:55:48)

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#39 2012-07-28 01:11:39

izzle1989
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I have one point to make and it will be very brief.

Just because you are NOT straining doesn't mean the muscles are not being worked adequately enough. I am a firm believer that we must have strength, coordination, and the relaxation of antagonistic muscles, but this whole thread is like saying which one should come first???

They should all have an equal share of attention within a practice session and as you get better you will be able to give each one of the things more attention.

More coordination means I can execute the skill better which will help me to gain more strength because I am targeting the correct muscles. More strength will help me execute the skill better because I will have enough strength to keep the muscles that should be relaxed during a certain task from trying to overcompensate for the lack of the correct firing pattern.

To sum it all up it's like saying which can first the chicken or the egg when there should be no thought of which was first, but only thought towards how to achieve these two scenarios simultaneously.

My two cents :cool:


"verum ipsum factum"

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#40 2012-07-28 01:22:37

ronws
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Jens wrote:

She gave birth to the single most beautiful male in history of man kind, entitled to not one, but five titles of manhood and mystery. What do you think? ;)

I blew right past this before and missed it. And not only were you the most beautiful male in the history of the species, but also the most modest. :lol:

izzle 1989 wrote:

Just because you are NOT straining doesn't mean the muscles are not being worked adequately enough.

Absolutely brilliant and something I wanted to say but did not find the words. I think it is possible to tune the voice and increase it's power and ability without necessarily causing undue strain. In fact, I think that is the point of such systems as 4 Pillars. To get a sound that you want without shredding yourself in the process.

Count me in the camp that does not apply "no strain, no gain" to the voice. Count me in the camp that follows maximum efficiency to create volume, tone, and flexibility.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#41 2012-07-28 01:38:59

FelipeCarvalho
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Yes Izz, I think you have a point.


My sports experience is really limited hehe. But when practicing tennis I recall how important it was to keep the movement fluid and a steady hand, avoiding trying to drive the ball with the wrist. I remeber that hitting the ball wrongly would make me feel the impact immediatly.

Its kinda the same, from the correct posture, speeding up and hitting with more power felt good. Driving with the wrist was the kind of strain im talking about. Causes damage, becomes a habit quickly since its easier to do and never really becomes strong.

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#42 2012-07-28 01:40:28

izzle1989
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

ronws wrote:

Jens wrote:

She gave birth to the single most beautiful male in history of man kind, entitled to not one, but five titles of manhood and mystery. What do you think? ;)

I blew right past this before and missed it. And not only were you the most beautiful male in the history of the species, but also the most modest. :lol:

izzle 1989 wrote:

Just because you are NOT straining doesn't mean the muscles are not being worked adequately enough.

Absolutely brilliant and something I wanted to say but did not find the words. I think it is possible to tune the voice and increase it's power and ability without necessarily causing undue strain. In fact, I think that is the point of such systems as 4 Pillars. To get a sound that you want without shredding yourself in the process.

Count me in the camp that does not apply "no strain, no gain" to the voice. Count me in the camp that follows maximum efficiency to create volume, tone, and flexibility.

I agree totally!
I believe we all have been missing the boat by saying that we should only be doing this or only be doing that. Everything must flow together and nothing should ever be pushed or strained.


"verum ipsum factum"

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#43 2012-07-28 01:48:43

ronws
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Let me give another physical analogy. In golf ( I know how to play, I just don't win games), the number of swings to advance the ball are not called hits. Or smashes, or bashes. Or herculean feats of strength. They are called strokes. A par 4 hole means that from the tee, you aim to get the ball in the cup at the green within 4 strokes. Think about that. A stroke.

And the ball flies farthest with a fluid stroke, which is based on technique, not upper body strength. I have learned this the hard way. Once, at the driving range, I was flailing away and straining my forearms. Someone gave me the tip to start with my feet together. And swing with my torso. Muscles that are already there in abundance and strength. Just no previously coordinated to do that. Without even trying, 200 yards with the driver. That's half the length to the average hole (350 to 450 yards.) The strength is already there, you just have to be guided in how to use it.

Now, can you get exhausted, at first, learning this coordination? Sure. Because, for one thing, you are still fighting yourself and old coordination habits. But the more you learn the right form and coordination, the less you strain. And, before you know it, you have the endurance for the entire 18 holes. With 3 players, that can take 3 hours.

It's not that you build up massive strength, it's that you learn to use the strength you have correctly and efficiently.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#44 2012-07-28 01:53:25

ronws
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Let me add insult to injury. Let's say that you have a remarkable slice (ball goes quite a bit to the right after impact. That is because of how the arms change alignment as you swing from right to left. The surefire way to correct that slice is to creat a hook (curve to the left.) This is done by adjusting your left hand grip to rotate to your right until you see the middle finger knuckle of your left hand aligned with the ball at neutral stance. Then, you raise back with a twist and let it follow through. By the time the head impacts the ball, it is flat on. That is an example of working with, not against, but with how your body works to achieve the desired goal.

Same difference in other endeavors, if we really want to continue comparing singing to other athletic actions.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#45 2012-07-28 02:08:55

izzle1989
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

ronws wrote:

Let me give another physical analogy. In golf ( I know how to play, I just don't win games), the number of swings to advance the ball are not called hits. Or smashes, or bashes. Or herculean feats of strength. They are called strokes. A par 4 hole means that from the tee, you aim to get the ball in the cup at the green within 4 strokes. Think about that. A stroke.

And the ball flies farthest with a fluid stroke, which is based on technique, not upper body strength. I have learned this the hard way. Once, at the driving range, I was flailing away and straining my forearms. Someone gave me the tip to start with my feet together. And swing with my torso. Muscles that are already there in abundance and strength. Just no previously coordinated to do that. Without even trying, 200 yards with the driver. That's half the length to the average hole (350 to 450 yards.) The strength is already there, you just have to be guided in how to use it.

Now, can you get exhausted, at first, learning this coordination? Sure. Because, for one thing, you are still fighting yourself and old coordination habits. But the more you learn the right form and coordination, the less you strain. And, before you know it, you have the endurance for the entire 18 holes. With 3 players, that can take 3 hours.

It's not that you build up massive strength, it's that you learn to use the strength you have correctly and efficiently.

This is a great post, but I would like to add one factor to it.

I am a sprinter and when I run my fastest races or get a pb I usually feel like I am running very slowly, floating, or not giving any effort at all. This is because the muscles that work together are working together efficiently and the antagonist are not active will the agonist are turned on. This would be like trying to throw a punch quickly while flexing your muscles.

Relaxation and coordination are tools used to improve the efficiency of what we already have, but if you don't have much to begin with then you are missing half of the boat. Sometimes muscle imbalances are the cause of tension and the only way to address this is by strengthening the muscle that is lacking strength. The question is whose to say it's a strength issue or a coordination issue that stems from not using the muscle correctly in the first place???

At 185lbs I could bench press 345lbs which is 160lbs more than my body weight, but my friend who is 250lbs can only bench 350lbs which is only 100lbs more than his body weight. Although he may have 5lbs over me in the bench press he is not stronger than me pound for pound. I would consider this scenario maximizing efficiency for the given subject. If he was able to bench press 410lbs then he would indeed be maximizing the efficiency of the total task while still gaining strength.

Coordination only helps what you already have and strength helps to develop what you don't have. That's why we can choose one over the other. Of course both of these steps need to be taken as strain free as possible.


"verum ipsum factum"

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#46 2012-07-28 02:38:49

ronws
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

And bodybuilding does create a body by a certain aesthetic. But the fluid athlete capable of triathelons is not morbund with muscle.

The fastest fighters were not hugely muscled. They were flexible.

When I was taking Tae Kwon Do, the best fighter I sparred with was a bit roly poly. He could not touch his head to his knee or kick as high as his own head if his life depended on it. Instead, he moved closer in, used his knees and elbows, essentially shortening his weapons and using them effectively. He was one of the most efficient fighters. And it had nothing to do with muscular strength and everything to do with using his body to its utmost advantage.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#47 2012-07-28 02:40:19

ronws
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

But getting back to bodybuilding. The maximum results are achieved with the most efficient moves. Proper form. And to increase mass, heavy weights, low reps. And it's not how much you lift but how your body responds. One guy does not have to lift as much to create the cut and look that wins a competition.


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#48 2012-07-28 03:12:34

Owen Korzec
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

I see a very distinct split in this thread between the pro-strain and anti-strain approaches. I think what it comes down to is our personal experiences with our own voice, and our personal definition of strain.

I guess I define strain as any muscle tension that creeps into the extrinsic muscles of the neck, the shoulders, the jaw, etc.

Personally, I've found that if I'm not putting a lot of muscular effort into my higher range while training, I will get nowhere besides a very light connected croony sound. Before I started training with Rob Lunte, any time I tried to sing a high note above a certain volume level, my voice would constrict and crack. But Rob was the first vocal teacher I had that actually encouraged me to work the correct muscles to their limit while training, all the way to the point of fatigue and dealing with the naturally accompanied strain, and that as long as it's not pulling chest or grinding tissue, it is generally healthy enough to not lead to a major vocal injury. And guess what? Over time, the cracking and constricting lessened, and lessened, and lessened. So I had a successful experience with allowing a reasonable amount of strain and constriction into my training.

And over time my chest voice is improving a bit as well. After consistently training comfortably high belts (up to Eb4) in the chest voice on a regular basis, and tackling all the constriction issues in my head voice, when combined together, gave me the skill to start bridging slightly later, belting up to an E4 or an F4. So that situation was slightly different, I didn't have to push my chest voice really high in order to strengthen it, just by going comfortably high with it and working on technique, I indirectly acquired the ability to take it higher.

I wonder if anyone has the opposite experience, has anyone really pushed their chest voice range hard and noticed that indirectly, it improved their head voice/mix?

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#49 2012-07-28 03:25:39

izzle1989
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Owen Korzec wrote:

I see a very distinct split in this thread between the pro-strain and anti-strain approaches. I think what it comes down to is our personal experiences with our own voice, and our personal definition of strain.

I guess I define strain as any muscle tension that creeps into the extrinsic muscles of the neck, the shoulders, the jaw, etc.

Personally, I've found that if I'm not putting a lot of muscular effort into my higher range while training, I will get nowhere besides a very light connected croony sound. Before I started training with Rob Lunte, any time I tried to sing a high note above a certain volume level, my voice would constrict and crack. But Rob was the first vocal teacher I had that actually encouraged me to work the correct muscles to their limit while training, all the way to the point of fatigue and dealing with the naturally accompanied strain, and that as long as it's not pulling chest or grinding tissue, it is generally healthy enough to not lead to a major vocal injury. And guess what? Over time, the cracking and constricting lessened, and lessened, and lessened. So I had a successful experience with allowing a reasonable amount of strain and constriction into my training.

And over time my chest voice is improving a bit as well. After consistently training comfortably high belts (up to Eb4) in the chest voice on a regular basis, and tackling all the constriction issues in my head voice, when combined together, gave me the skill to start bridging slightly later, belting up to an E4 or an F4. So that situation was slightly different, I didn't have to push my chest voice really high in order to strengthen it, just by going comfortably high with it and working on technique, I indirectly acquired the ability to take it higher.

I wonder if anyone has the opposite experience, has anyone really pushed their chest voice range hard and noticed that indirectly, it improved their head voice/mix?

The middle ground between these two approaches will more then likely have the largest benefit for the majority.


"verum ipsum factum"

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#50 2012-07-28 09:19:12

vocalmad
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Re: Constrictions, Strain and Development on different stages of trainning

Can we talk about specific exercises for promoting vocal muscle independence in particular...how do you tell if your tensing your abs too much?

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