QUEST TO FIND THE MOST IMPORTANT VOCAL TECHNIQUES
The journey to vocal mastery has proven more fun and challenging that I had once imagined. Focusing on the most important vocal techniques improves my singing faster. But how do you find them?
There are hundreds of techniques to master. Sometimes we confuse goals with techniques. For example, "sing wicked high notes" is a goal. This goal requires mastery of dozens of techniques grounded in your physiology.
Where do you begin?
INTRODUCING A PHRASED-BASED APPROACH TO VOCAL TRAINING
It sounds simple enough. We sing one phrase at a time. To sing a perfect song you must sing perfect phrases. Each of them.
One blown phrase and the song has a flaw. It's not the end of the world, of course. Yet, small flaws accumulate, so we want to keep them to as few as possible.
My approach today is to place a huge emphasis in my training on crafting the perfect phrase.
COMPONENTS OF A SINGING PHRASE
A phrase has three parts:
- sustained sound
- offset (release)
Phrase onset is key to your singing. Many coaches will say that it's the most important technique to master. I get that. A big part of me agrees. I now list it as the third most important vocal technique to master.
In my dogged pursuit of the perfect onset I have found two other techniques that, if done wrong, blow the onset. In fact, they precede the onset by a fraction of a second.
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THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT SINGING TECHNIQUES TO MASTER
The three most important techniques where I put so much of my focus are as follows:
- the inhale
- the turn from inhale to onset
- the onset
The inhale is a marvelous thing. It's not so much a single technique, but a compound technique. A compound technique consists of many smaller techniques.
In standard vocal coaching, the emphasis is on two things:
- the exhale
- what happens below the vocal folds
We assume that the inhale is simple because we only consider the part about taking in air. And even that aspect of the inhale is often underestimated. What happens above the vocal folds during inhale is equally important to what happens below them.
The inhale is the moment where everything gets reset. I go into detail in another episode and post.
The takeaway here is to first see the bigger picture of the art of phrase crafting.
When you perfect the inhale, turn and onset you're in a position to perfect the entire phrase. You still need to sustain sound and offset the phrase without errors. It's much easier to achieve with a clean onset.
Blow any of the inhale, turn or onset and you blow the phrase. You spend that phrase playing catch up to fix your mistakes.
MY NEW APPROACH TO PHRASE CRAFTING AND ONSET TRAINING
I have meticulously rebuilt my technique, brick by brick, over the past 18 months. It's a work in progress, to be certain.
Before, I focused my efforts more on strength training. My inhale and onsets were sloppy. I never thought about them. My pitch was always off. The initial sound was ugly and flat and launched from the throat. My posture was off. My articulators were out of position.
The result was bad singing, plain and simple.
I now put my full attention into perfecting the details of the inhale, turn and onset and the good results pour in. A clean onset leads to a clean sound. Everything gets so much easier.
The changes don't come overnight. Knowledge precedes skill. It's how we learn. It's how we change deep seated bad habits. Repetitive muscle training. One day at a time.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
There are two more videos in this series and they are both inside of one article, The Most Important Vocal Technique to Master. One of the videos is dedicated to the inhale and the other to the turn from inhale to onset.
Be Well and Train Hard!