Have you ever thought of signing up for a marathon if you’re the type that gets tired running for five minutes? I’d say most people wouldn’t take a chance like that.
Many singers, though, believe that they are ready to perform for hours in gigs or rehearsals even without any previous vocal technique endurance. Asking a person to sing during long periods of time without this knowledge is basically like asking someone who doesn’t usually practice running to participate in a long-distance foot race.
Sometimes when we listen to amazing vocalists, they all seem to perform in such a natural way that it almost convinces us that singing is as easy as breathing or chewing gum. In fact, those who are well-trained enjoy their voices with total freedom and without any effort.
But keep in mind – that’s with proper training, similar to what an athlete undergoes before competing. Here are some common questions I’ve received, to help you understand:
- What is a vocal coach?
A vocal coach will help you improve your vocal technique and endurance, so you can achieve the best results possible. Just as every athlete has his or her own coach, singers also require this kind of support. With a qualified voice teacher, you can learn how to train your voice in a similar way.
- Why do I need to work out my voice for singing? Isn’t talking every day enough?
It’s important to understand the specific techniques involved in order to get the best results possible for singing. These kinds of vocal “workouts” help teach your body how to behave to be more productive while you build up the strength in the muscles engaged with singing.
For instance, in order to sustain notes and reach higher pitches for a longer period, you need to improve your breath control and strengthen your diaphragm and vocal folds. As your teacher, I can lead you through specific vocal exercises to help with this – the same way a trainer in the gym helps you target specific muscle groups.
- Why do I experience hoarseness or discomfort while singing or afterwards?
This is a common issue, and is typically caused by not using the proper technique. You may be engaging the wrong muscles to produce the sound, for example.
Singing should be easy, delightful, effortless, and without any pain or strain. Imagine what would happen if any athlete participated in a professional competition without the proper preparation, working out, and specific nutrition.
- How long will it take until I see the results of my vocal coaching sessions?
You will feel different and improve even after your first session, because you will understand your body and how to sing smarter. Long-term results, such as building muscle strength and adapting to the new techniques might take a couple of months.
- What might happen if I keep singing without the proper vocal technique?
At the beginning you will notice flaws in your voice and pitch, or experience fatigue. As time goes on, you can cause permanent damage to your vocal folds.
The more you repeat the wrong muscle engagement, the more you increase your chances of suffering vocal damages that can reduce your opportunities as an artist and can lead to more serious health issues like nodules, polyps, and contact ulcers. If not treated correctly, these issues might even require surgery.
On the other hand, if you practice the right way, you can understand how to train your voice so that you can sing more challenging music pieces. Your body holds the treasure of an amazing music instrument ready for you to master it. The right vocal instructor can show you how to explore its possibilities. Then you will feel free to sing as you always dreamed!
- I already sing well, but I’ve never taken vocal lessons. Is that OK?
Sure, it’s totally OK. If you already sing well without knowing how you are doing it, imagine what you would accomplish with the right training! You already have the most important things: musicality, intuition, passion, and an artistic sense. Vocal technique then will take you even further so that you can become the best singer you can be!
Lorna E. is a singer, composer and vocal coach in LA. Born in Argentina, she is of English descent, lived in Brazil, and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. As a vocal coach Lorna uses a proprietary method of vocal technique specially created for developing power and highlighting each singer’s personal style. Book lessons with Lorna here!
Photo by U.S. Army