Tag Archives: voice lessons

Academic Arrogance – Vocal Instruction

In another article, I debunk the myth that somehow, inherent to the style of music, classical or operatic teaching somehow brings about a better technical ability for the student. This idea typically stems from the insecurity and arrogance of many of those in higher education – WITH or WITHOUT said individuals actually having the education.

I will occasionally receive rebuttals from University voice teachers (or even worse, the students of University voice teachers) who want to get into it with me on some of my posts. I choose not to engage those rebuttals in this forum, nor do I even allow the comments if they are not open to discussion that is helpful to the vast majority of people wanting to become better singers, though I will often speak with them “offline”.

Some might say that I am afraid of debate or to be questioned. Not at all! Actually, I have a ridiculous love of the subject of vocal technique and could talk for hours about the intricacies of vocal balances, the mechanics of singing, vibrato, etc., down to the most minute detail. However… that will rarely help anyone sing better!

My purpose in this blog is, for the most part, to teach the practical. I want to discuss topics in a way that is helpful to 95%+ of readers. They just want to sing better! That is why I assume folks are here. That is how I teach and that is how I write. Theory and detailed academic discussion of singing and the voice is fine, and has its place, but not here.

Teaching someone to sing with more ease, freedom, control, and more range is like teaching someone to drive. All that the vast majority of us need to know about a car is to keep the oil changed, keep the fluid levels high, put gas in it, and be sure the tires have enough air. Beyond that, it’s just learning to drive the car and the rules of the road.

The vast majority of singers don’t need to know much of the impractical stuff, just as a driver doesn’t need to know how the engine is put together or how it runs. They just want to turn the key and go!

I have students come to me all the time who have studied with these insecure (cocky) teachers who felt that they needed to teach in such an “accurate” way that it is no longer even useful! They can tell you all the theory of how the voice works and the names of every muscle and muscular process involved in singing, but they can’t even sing well themselves! In fact, one of the worst singers I have ever heard was a person who had his doctorate degree in vocal performance from a big 10 school. It was painful to listen to.

Listen, I can speak in the fancy-schmancy terms as well, and I do at times. Yes, know the processes, and in fact, I have an almost sick enjoyment discussing such detailed minutia, but that doesn’t necessarily help someone sing better. I admit that teachers need to know a bit of this stuff. Of course they do! But I try not to get so bogged down in the details when teaching that it doesn’t help someone sing better.

I shall dismount my high horse, and get back to teaching folks how to sing better, which is what I love to do!! I finished this post just in time for my next lesson in 2 minutes…

Happy Singing!!

Eric Bruner
BecomeAVoiceTeacher.com
SingWithPower.com

 



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Want to talk to me about voice lessons, the Voice Teacher Certification Program, or my self-study vocal training products? Click the “Live Chat” button now to talk to myself or my assistant.

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Is “classical” voice training best?

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The following is a post from Elisha asking about classical voice training. There is further explanations about classical “technique” (a misnomer) in the comments below the posts.

ELISHA WROTE:

I hope it is ok for me to be contacting you like this! My name is Elisha, and I was just perusing local vocal coaches and came across your page. I’m a singer who has been classically trained, but who has a bigger passion for more popular styles of music. I’ve learned to express myself in many different styles and using different tone colors, but the technique of belting in the upper range is really keeping me from getting to the next level.

I tend to overthink and analyze a lot of things, and perhaps that is part of my problem, but I am getting hung up on whether or not I should be using more of a “fake/mixed/head voice” belt or trying to work to extend my actual chest voice. I’m driving myself crazy trying different placements and thinning out the sound, but nothing seems to be quite right.. when I flip into a fake belt, it sounds fine in the extreme range (F5ish+), but in the Bb4-E5 range, it doesn’t sound “belty”enough to me.

When I’m singing a particularly taxing belting song, I’ve found that I get VERY vocally tired and sometimes can’t make it through the song (I end up losing my placement and range), and I’m just not sure what I could be doing wrong. When a song sits in that Bb4-E5 range a lot or repeatedly keeps having me belt out notes in that range, I just feel like I keep getting tighter and tighter and no matter how relaxed I try to be, there’s no stopping it…

I’m just really frustrated and starting to lose faith in my singing. I’m also starting to fear that I am somehow damaging my voice. I’d love if you could send a few pointers my way if and when you get the chance. You can hear several samples of me singing different genres of songs on my profile for reference…

I’d also like to know what your pricing is for private voice lessons. I think I’m at my wit’s end and have gone as far as I can on my own, and my classical training won’t help me with the problems I am now facing. Thank you for any info and advice you can offer!

Elisha

ERIC RESPONDED:

There is hope!!

Your problems are common with “classically trained” singers – especially women. “Classically trained” to me means “voice teacher who doesn’t know how to teach students to connect the registers”.

I love and teach all styles of music, but it is NEVER ok for a voice teacher to teach singing technique if they can’t help a student seamlessly line up the voice so that they can sing any musical style or vocal range. Your teachers should have eliminated your voice “cracking” or “breaking” before pushing you into any specific style of music.

If you don’t feel your vocal range, tone, and control improving within a few lessons, then work with a better teacher who will help you attain your goals faster.

Here’s a link from SingWithPower.com discussing finding a good voice teacher. Call Kathy in the office and let her know that I want to set up lesson with you. 281-222-1092

We will fix this.

Happy Singing!!

Eric Bruner
BecomeAVoiceTeacher.com
SingWithPower.com

Additional information from my reply to Stephen below:

One very good thing about the classical music environment is that there is a high value on the discipline of practice. Structure, organization, and practice with specific, measurable goals are very common in the practice of most classical musicians. It is that ORGANIZATION of practice, NOT the particular style of classical music, that is very important.

Also, as a singer, if you’re disciplined, organized and focused in your practice, but you’re practicing the wrong thing, what’s the point if you can sing in 5 languages or can hit a triple high C!?! If the triple high C is in a completely different balance (disconnected from the lower, chest voice) then the balance is bad, so the voice is trained poorly.

The main focus of study for a singer (from a technical standpoint) is to eliminate vocal breaks… period. Bringing that focus (with practice organization, discipline, and purpose) to ANY style will make you a great singer.

 

 



Live chat button

Want to talk to me about voice lessons, the Voice Teacher Certification Program, or my self-study vocal training products? Click the “Live Chat” button now to talk to myself or my assistant.

I want to hear your ideas on vocal and singing topics for future posts and articles! Leave ideas in the reply box below…



 

Web Voice Lessons

Yes, I’m teaching lessons by web-cam! I see you and hear your singing voice the same as if you were in my vocal studio, so voice lessons over-the-web are pretty much the same. I have the opportunity to work with singers from almost every continent around the world.  I work to help them find more powerful, solid, and comfortable voices.

 The lessons are not only really effective, they are very fun and have proven successful for hundreds of students. Give it a try! Within the first few minutes you’ll  start gaining higher range and a stronger, more controlled voice.