July 5, 2015
Was catching up with a friend recently and he recommended a couple musical theater pieces he thought would be good for me to work on. They've proven a healthy challenge.
Here's some of my first practice sessions on these songs. Make Them Hear You from the musical Ragtime, and Santa Fe from Newsies
Make Them Hear You was sung without warming up, as an experiment after reading that long discussion on TMV about whether or not it's important to warm up. It definitely is for me, as all of my tensions are way too engrained until after I consciously work on relaxation. I warmed up some before practicing Santa Fe, and that might be noticeable. I definitely have to work on onsets with the beginning - I've noticed a tendency to overblow my s in "so" which messes up my closure and breath management.
Santa Fe - https://app.box.com/s/i9no2e2urnfcbzh5jk94eobh3ud6hft5 (first practice session, basically sight singing a lot of it off sheet music and hearing it a couple times)
Make Them Hear You - day 1 - https://app.box.com/s/ws194l73vvpbk97u2w4mihxt1u7kg1qr (almost no warmup, just some humming before a couple of takes, this is maybe take 3... lots of pushing here that i don't like and i'm definitely not used to singing with a larger more classical throat space anymore)
day 2 - https://app.box.com/s/863avgtlglyuu4ufpja6jok70z51cf0o (lololol lots of issues with pronunciation of "r" too hard and pushing for sound when coordination wasn't on point)
Santa Fe - Day 2 Practice
First time singing the entire song, apologies for flubbing a couple lyrics that I haven't familiarized myself with completely yet.
The range seems very realistic for me. Currently focusing on proper breathing and onsets and then maintaining the coordination. I've noticed that my breathing can be very disjointed and then when I'm not counting accurately to know when to come in... I constrict extra. Also trying to add in some stylistic elements to some of it.
I think I can do this one decent justice as I keep working.
Strategies in practice:
trying to breathe freely before, during, and after singing (biggest problem for me in many ways)
count carefully so i can tell when to come in and breathe appropriately
practicing the lyrics by speak-singing and elongating speech to see what tensions are present (and don't have to be) when speaking the words to the song - trying to stay on vowels and be gentler yet coherent with consonants
using hands to help remind the face and jaw to remain relaxed
using hands to check for maintained ribcage expansion and core engagement as i sing - was definitely doing that during the opening lines of the song, I think it helped improve support for that part
playing with different mouth shapes for different phrases and colors and expression - lighter, darker, trying to sound more like the character from Newsies
try to use resonance and enjoy the feeling of proper closure and coordination vs pushing as a first resort like i used to sing
July 5, 2015
Santa Fe - Day 3 Practice
https://app.box.com/s/cdi2c1rpbjocfwxir1u4nytkt6mlz17r - with backing track
Santa Fe Day 3 - vox only
https://app.box.com/s/8f7vitvww6jlckbsqx41kkkphguqby6m (vocals only)
The pure vocal track with pretty much all backing track gone is in the second link. This should give a clearer picture of where I need improvement. I tried to think about technique less in the opening lines, trying to see if it still sounds alright. I can definitely hear where I'm improving and where I still need to work on. I think part of strengthening and polishing the high notes in the song (which aren't that high) is going to come mainly with balancing resonance which starts with the good onset, which requires me to have a solid command of the rhythm/timing so I don't tense up as I do when I'm off timing-wise. I think I hear a bit of a caprino vibrato/trill on some of my notes that seems to come from placing the note either too forward or constricting too hard.
I can def feel the improvements in singing after I warm up and especially after I do my pharyngeal/twang exercises and circular breathing practice. I have been practicing singing the most difficult lines of this song (When I dream, on my own).
July 5, 2015
Santa Fe Practice cover #4
Santa Fe Practice cover, vocals only #4
I feel incremental improvements, thank goodness. Mostly improvements in avoiding constrictions during as many inhales as I could and then planning my breathing out. I took a day off practicing the whole song and tried to focus more on working my breathing and onset exercises as well as Mastering Mix/Singing Success/Vocal Fire. I found that the Farinelli exercise is basically the logical extension on the exercise progression that Felipe teaches in the Support, Breathing and Phonation series - first I worked on learning how to breathe without constriction at will, and as that is beginning to feel a bit more consistent, I'm learning to experience what it feels like to sing off of the inhale sensation. The Farinelli exercise has been helping me greatly to establish familiarity with the correct sensation for a smooth onset.
Not sure if lack of stamina with breath management by the end of the song was due to mental focus/attention issues or physical stamina issues from not controlling (mostly slowing) the airflow with my core as much as I am.
Also recorded this standing up with decent posture today, versus the recent recordings from a seated position. Definitely easier to align myself when standing.
Feedback/constructive criticism welcome.
September 2, 2014
Yeah warming up is totally a necessity for accessing your best potential until proper technique is very ingrained. I can hear the issues you're getting without it.
day 2 of make them hear you - i got the vibe of over-pronunciation mostly. a lot of musical theater singers do that but it won't serve you well. Pronounce clearly but don't add in extra effort to exaggerate it.
Santa Fe Day 1 - Good approach even if not polished yet. Your low notes sound great here.
Santa Fe Day 2 - Range sounds balanced, a little tight on the top notes at times. In the beginning you were a bit pitchy and didnt have enough legato. PLEASE sing louder when the song calls for it haha.
Santa Fe Day 3 - See if you can make your phrasing a bit more natural and flowing in that first verse. Great emotion/interpretation/stylistic delivery starting in the first chorus till the end you finally drew my attention into the lyrics on this take. Your tone got a bit too whiny on that ending high bit with the repeating melody so just be sure to keep the depth there. Dynamics good overall
Sante Fe Day 4 - Singing too light here overall especially on the beginning sections and the sections where the music gets really loud. The middle areas are okay at the volume you did. Also your legato is much better. You got into the emotion really well on that last verse, nice volume too you can go quite light on that verse like that.
you're pinching the vowel on i'm FREE...relax that ee more, again on here to staYYY, again on catch a BREAK - all the ee's pretty much - those are the big things to fix now relaxing the ee vowel and paying attention to getting your dynamics balanced against the music.
fuTURE that "ture" was tight you need to hit more resonance there...the er vowel is always tricky, try shading in a little more UH or OUH and experiment until it feels free in the throat.
on family you can hear the pinched EE in your speaking range too, you need more hooty depth in your ee, you only have the bright thinness of it now and it's causing you to constrict because there's not enough depth in your EE vowel to keep the voice in the same placement as the other vowels that do have it.
Daniel Formica just posted a video that will help you, the section 3:13 is a good exercise for you to practice to bring the quality of your EE closer to the quality of your OO
Notice he doesn't leave that hooty depth of the OO when he goes to the EE it's the exact same amount of that depth in the sound. For singing you don't need the EE quite as rounded as he did but the color will be extremely similar. Definitely VOCALIZE it in that rounded way though to help balance you out
July 5, 2015
Thanks so much for the CC and ideas, Owen! Glad you can hear the improvements in the legato and expression. I've been doing more head voice practice after my SS and adding the oo-wee and working on opening my vowels from ee-ih-eh-aa and oo-oh-uh-ah in head voice recently.
It's a long road, reprogramming my mouth shapes and reflexive breathing, but I feel like there's some improvements. I tried to go for a little more open throat in this practice. Tried to keep the resonance in a good place most of the time, it felt relatively freer than before. Still not entirely free though, as can be heard.
I actually haven't practiced this song in like 4-5 days, but mostly just focused on putting in at least an hour a day into technique and getting comfortable with breathing in a relaxed manner. Recorded this approx. 1 hour after finishing vocal warmups.
Santa Fe Practice #5 - with backing track
Santa Fe Practice #5 - vocals only
September 2, 2014
This last one sounds much better. You've got more of the tone that I was looking to hear out of you. Does it feel better to you than the previous versions?
A little freer on the top notes and you're there.
I have a feeling the extra freedom may be found through releasing jaw tension. You sound to me like you may be unknowingly clenching your jaw slightly closed when you go higher to narrow the vowels and hold back the volume but the more relaxed way to do it is to keep the jaw very loose and dropped and get the tongue to do most of the work to articulate the vowel shapes and some of the consonants.
Let me know how that goes for you.
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