i was wondering if any singers have tried vocal coaching or singing lessons - how was your experience? I’ve been a pow wow and west coast style singer for 6 years and i’m curious about looking into some conventional training for a western approach to voice but also improving my abilities with the traditional styles i sing. I guess the end goal would be improving my range? not so much in terms of pitch but timbre, as i’m not interested in falsetto high notes for my personal projects and pow wow singing is less about a high range than a shrill timbre, if that makes sense?
i think video is a good example for the kind of range and “approaches” to pow wow singing
i guess another way to frame the question is - if you have taken singing lessons has the experience been rewarding in terms of forming your own voice? or shaping your voice to a particular tradition? in your experience are vocal coaches able to help you develop specific skills?
I did ~ 10 lessons with a singer/songwriter friend of mine who had been singing/coached her whole life and what it showed me is just how complex and challenging singing can really be. It’s like learning an instrument AND becoming a yogi at the same time. There are so many things to remember & practice. I’m sure you know that though, was a surprise to me!
10 lessons was no where near enough to really get anywhere but I did get over some of my fear of singing in front of another person, learned about how pump the bellows of my lungs and use the “mask” for clearer projection. It also gave me some perspective, in that while I’m a decent parrot of other peoples sounds, I wasn’t really using my own sounds. She tuned me into that and now when I’m singing I tend to not parrot as much and just sing in my own voice, which is a combination of creative expression and what the cavities in my body are able to create
So yes to answer your question, it helped me find my voice!
Always do training!!!
As @forrest says, it is not also finding your voice but ensuring you will be doing that almost all your life without problems that appear later such as nodules and voice cracking. As we grow up, the vocal strings, if we singers do not take care of it, gather calcifications. As a car, you may be taking good care of the battery as not to run out of it!!!
For any (ANY) music style, I totally recommend a coach. So if you have found one, GO FOR IT!!!
I got my BA in music vocal preform and in doing so did four school years of vocal lessons while also being in choirs and doing musical performances and recitals. I would say that classical singing is quite different than other musical practices-in that you are the instrument and as such classical singing could be thought of as more of a sport. The goal of Classical singing is not to achieve a specific kind of sound but to sing in a way which your specific voice is most free and healthy and therefore has the most endurance and can prevent injuries. To sing “Free” is to sing without undue muscular tension or strain, to sing with good support from the breath. What is tricky is that so much of breathing is automatic and everything impacts your voice (what food you ate today, how hydrated you are, your mental state). A lot of what a vocal coach does is to improve their students technique without them being completely aware of what was being improved or how. A student who does not trust the process or wishes to stay in control and try and achieve the sound they want their own way will not improve. All this to say classical singing is in another detention and sometimes even stops feeling like it has to do with music anymore. I would like to say that all methods or styles of singing are artistically valid, and every persons voice deserves to be treated with respect. Classical singing is not “the right way” to sing but is a process which is trying to find each students healthiest way to sing. I no longer think of people as good or bad singers, singing is such an intimate form of expression to discount a persons voice is to discount them.
I took up vocal lessons at age 45 and had a weekly lesson for one and a half year. I don’t regret it. As other’s have said singing has a lot to do with body control, learning how to relax and how to breath. I also realized that just like any other exercise being a great singer is about staying fit. Doing your exercises, preferably daily. Learning to stretch and warm-up etc. Training got me a better awareness of my voice and my range. I also learnt to better control my range and to sing higher while staying relaxed. After 1,5 year with the same teacher (an opera singer) I took a break thinking I should get someone more familiar with styles I like, such as soul and jazz… Still haven’t found a new teacher though. (Thank’s for the reminder!)
I’ve spent a lot of time around a professional singer operating near the peak of the western tradition (they are now a professor at a prominent conservatory, have toured globally for fifteen+ years, etc…). One thing they always harped on was the importance of being a good “athlete” wrt singing – that much of the bodily awareness emphasized by vocal coaches translates to any stylistic context, even if the end goal is different. It’s about an awareness of your innards and an understanding that a tight face / throat / diaphragm / sphincter or w/e imparts a certain character to the sound. Even if the language a coach is using doesnt seem to directly apply to your ends, or the pieces they’re encouraging you to practice are radically different from where you want to go, there’s a lot of value to “cross training” in fields that come with a ton of ermmmm… “conceptual infrastructure” or “literature” surrounding them, since people have put a lot into developing a vocabulary that can help you deliberately intervene in your own technique.
I guess I say this, in part, because very specific musical training is harder to come by and finding someone skilled in your particular area of interest may not be necessary (esp. to start!). One set of experiences this friend related was learning other styles (a seasonal practice in their career). There were always touchstones where x new technique or concept was in some way analogous to y familiar technique or concept. In music, all change is global, and all practice makes you stronger regardless of context. Maybe go into it all with an eye toward similarities rather than differences and spend time between lessons relating concepts back to familiar styles. If you focus on growing your control and intuition, you can’t go wrong.
I’ve been working fairly seriously on voice for about 20-years and have done a large variety of vocal training (in tandem with physical training) and have developed some of my own methodologies to voice work along the way. Most of this is in context of being a theatre/performance practitioner but also specific work on songs of tradition, along with a decent amount of western (European) classical technique.
Since you are working in a specific singing tradition, I would be quite careful about choosing a teacher; a lot of western classical singing teachers will have very specific ideas about how the voice should be used and lack the context to understand other ways of singing. Some what you’d learn you should be able to apply to any singing tradition (work on breath), but some things are quite specific (work on vowels, placement/resonance). That said, I’m sure there are classically trained teachers out there that understand the context they’re working in, and in that case western classical technique is just as valuable (but no more so) as any other singing technique!
One approach you could take would be to really focus on use. A lot of singers/performers have had good experiences with the Alexander technique for this; it’s not a vocal technique but a system towards physical awareness that can allow for better use of the voice/body. I know a good teacher who does online sessions if you’re interested.
Another approach would be to go all in on another form of traditional (non-classical) singing, something that uses specific techniques that will also stand in contrast to classical western techniques. A lot of teachers in North America who are working within a specific tradition will also have some classical technique, and often have a better sense of how their tradition fits into the larger sphere of singing technique than a classical teacher would. Working on, let’s say, Albanian singing technique would open you up to a lot of ways of using the voice without subconsciously asserting that this is the “correct” way to sing. For me, whose family lineage comes from a lot of different places, singing songs from a place that I am connected to by history but disconnected from in practice can also be quite powerful.
I could talk a lot more about this but I’ll shut up for now!
I haven’t really used any. But there’s stuff everywhere. Like youtube-tutorials There’s even vocal warmups and exercises on Spotify. Sometimes a teacher is not an option so I respect that, but what I discovered taking lessons was the immediate feedback I was given. The teacher noticed some little movement in my face muscles and immediately launched a counter-exercise to combat my habits of error.