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Complete Vocal Technique
January 27, 2016
9:32 am
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Richard
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Hi guys, and Phil, and Marnell,

Question (below the introduction):
I recently had been taking vocal lessons for a couple of months. These did not fulfilled my needs, as I found the instructions far too abstract to be applied outside of class. Also, I was informed a lot about what I could not do, without being informed what I did do correctly. This this not help in being motivated to take lessons. In good consultation we terminated our collaboration.

My vocal coach suggested for me to look into the 'complete vocal technique', because he believes it may be more appropriate to what I am looking for in working with a vocal coach. He might be right. As I looked somewhat looked into the CVT, it seems to be a systematical approach. Perhaps that might work.

Phil (or Marnell), is your opinion on this type of technique anything you'd like to share here?
Perhaps, if my circumstances are more to my liking, I'd rather have you as my vocal coach.

Kind regards,
Rich

January 29, 2016
8:16 pm
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OwenKorzec
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In my personal experience, the CVT book didn't help me much at all. To be honest I've actually thought about selling it because I just don't really need it at all...I look at it once in a blue moon to see if I can gain more insight from having more experience to understand it, but it still rarely clicks with me. And I believe the CVT coaches don't charge any less than Phil or Marnell. So I've found their lessons much more valuable (I study primarily with Phil)

One thing I want to point out though, and this is something I learned the hard way from experience, is that singing training HAS to be abstract to some extent. It shouldn't be wildly confusing, but my point is it is a rather complex study that can't just be explained entirely concretely because it is so individual to the student, their mindset, and their body. So if a singing method tries to teach everybody the same way based on scientific facts, like CVT does, it sounds good in theory but fails in application. So just keep that in mind that a good singing teacher will use a more abstract, individualized approach and often utilize descriptions of sensations, visualizations, and sounds rather than explaining what's happening scientifically.

Regardless of how abstract it seems, you should be feeling improvement every week or every other week if you practice what they teach you though. That's how you'll know if a singing teacher is good for you.

January 30, 2016
12:10 am
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Phil Moufarrege
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Richard said

Hi guys, and Phil, and Marnell,

Question (below the introduction):
I recently had been taking vocal lessons for a couple of months. These did not fulfilled my needs, as I found the instructions far too abstract to be applied outside of class. Also, I was informed a lot about what I could not do, without being informed what I did do correctly. This this not help in being motivated to take lessons. In good consultation we terminated our collaboration.

My vocal coach suggested for me to look into the 'complete vocal technique', because he believes it may be more appropriate to what I am looking for in working with a vocal coach. He might be right. As I looked somewhat looked into the CVT, it seems to be a systematical approach. Perhaps that might work.

Phil (or Marnell), is your opinion on this type of technique anything you'd like to share here?
Perhaps, if my circumstances are more to my liking, I'd rather have you as my vocal coach.

Kind regards,
Rich

Hi Richard,
Here's the thing, it isn't really about what "method" you study, it's about how you study it. For example, there are plenty of bad coaches who claim to teach all sorts of different methods. What you need to look for is a good teacher not a method. A good teacher can use any exercise or any "method". Because a good teacher is only listening to how you create sound and seeing if there is any weakness or obstruction in your way.

The method is only as good as the APPLICATION, meaning no matter how sound the ideas are, if you are getting taught in a way that causes you NOT to do things properly, you will see no results.

Look for a teacher that knows how to get you to make the RIGHT SOUNDS. I'm not talking about exercises, I'm talking about the right setup, the right way you make noise. If you make noise in a correct way, your voice will grow. It doesn't matter what a teacher or book SAYS it matters what you DO with it. Are you now making good sounds or are you not? That is the only question.

There is only one vocal technique: sound that is strong and free of constriction. You are either free or you are not, that's it.

Hope this helps,

Best wishes
Phil

@PhilMoufarrege
Online Vocal Coach, Singer/Songwriter
Grow-The-Voice.com | PHILMOUFARREGE.com

February 4, 2016
6:09 pm
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Richard
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Thanks, Owen and Phil.

It is not my intention to discuss whether any method is more scientific or rather highly abstract. To set things straight, if any deviation has occurred, I don't believe I had a bad vocal coach. But I do believe he is incapable of "speaking my language", as he had put it. I felt at a complete loss, working with him. And there was not one exercise I could practice, outside of class, because I had no clue where to start. No sound I made with my vocal chords was good enough to start off with, and for any sound I made there was a list of things I had to correct. Therefore, I could not see any way out, literally--vocally.

Of course, I've seen several of your online video's, Phil. Some of which were with students taking lessons from you. I can see how working with someone like you, as a vocal coach, would work out for me much better. As of yet I see little chance of setting things up with you, since almost all louder sounds are easily being transmitted to all of my next door neighbors. And the thing about that is, is that I just don't like that to happen.

It appears that I was already able to sing in my mixed voice, several years ago. I did not know anything about such terminology as mixed voice or full voice, or that it was anything more than "regular chest voice". Back then, I just thought I was a tenor.

I lost it, as I was able to do back then. However, the good news is, I somewhat got it back, but I can now hit much higher sounds. The bad news is, something I do now is causing me heavy damage. It's within minutes when I find my voice to go raspy. It does not hurt me physically. It feels as if I am doing everything correctly, but I know I must be wrong, since I am quickly losing my voice. I try any way I can to not have it happen, but I have failed almost all of the time. There are moments when I can sing several songs without it happening, so I know it can be done. I just have not figured out what it is yet.

I do most of my singing in the car, when I am on the move. I can send an audio file with some of my singing.

Regards,
Rich

February 4, 2016
9:41 pm
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Phil Moufarrege
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Hey Rich,
I understand the frustration.
As for noise....I have a few students who figured out a solution. They bought a portable wifi device and take it in the car and we do lessons in the car. The connection works great. You might want to look into that option if you're interested in lessons.

As for the fatigue your getting...it could be a number of things. Please post a recording and I can listen and see if I can point out where the problem is occurring. One tip that may help, make sure when you create these powerful high tones that you aren't blowing a lot of breath to do it. If you hold your hand in front of your face you should barely feel anything coming of your mouth. If you held a piece of paper up 1 fist length in front of you the paper shouldn't move if you're being efficient with your breath. Excessive breathiness can cause that fatigue you're speaking of. Other than that, it could be neck muscles interfering and pressing the cords together, the answer to that is really learning how to support the sound properly with good contraction in the lower abdominals.

Looking forward to your progress.
Phil

@PhilMoufarrege
Online Vocal Coach, Singer/Songwriter
Grow-The-Voice.com | PHILMOUFARREGE.com

February 5, 2016
12:18 pm
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Richard
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Thanks Phil,

I was expecting a comment on excess breath. I have been focusing most of my attention on singing with the least amount of breath possible. This especially when singing at or above my comfortable pitch height.

Yes, my vocal fatigue does seem to occur more so when singing within the upper ranges of my voice. I am thinking of something...I did notice that I sometimes I get a good start with keeping the breath flow to a certain minimum, and then suspect that I might lose this compression unknowingly during my singing. I may _think_ I am (still) compressing the air flow properly, but I also may be wrong about that. I might want to do some random checks with that piece of paper or holding my hand in front of my face, while singing. Thanks for bringing that idea up, Phil.

Neck muscles. Phil, that might be a strong contributor to my fatigue. I sometimes feel my neck tightening up and hurting me. This did not happen before, several years ago. I guess that this sensation also means that the neck muscles you speak of are involved.

Thank you also for pointing out proper support in the lower abdominal. Very kind, Phil.

I'll consider posting a recording. Thank you for wanting to listen to it.

Rich

February 7, 2016
8:41 am
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Richard
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Hi Phil,

I have a recording. It was made in the car, last night. I do not yet understand if I was able to upload any file directly into this forum, so I have the recording transferred to the online 'WeTransfer' service. Here is the link: http://we.tl/YHI1vUHRnm

I deliberately have chosen to post a record which is not my best attempt at the sample I have uploaded. The song I have chosen is a cover of "You Make Me Feel Brand New", and contains the first verse and the chorus. The chorus is above my comfort zone, and I flipped into falsetto several times at the end.

I am looking forward to some feedback from Phil, or Marnell, or any other of you guys as well!

Thank you,
Rich

February 8, 2016
1:49 am
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OwenKorzec
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Hey Rich, first of all I do want to mention your voice is in a good place to be to start. Good volume, tone, musicality and range, and your voice itself is a very nice instrument, I don't know what your voice type would be called, but it's definitely something unique and exciting to hear, it's very expansive both in range and in dynamics. So I hope that inspires you to really make the most out of it. For you its kind of down to just learning the mechanics of using your voice with better technique at this point.

I definitely want to hear what Phil or Marnell has to say since they'll hear more of what's going on. But from the lesser experience I have, it definitely sounds like you have an interesting combination of pressing/squeezing/constricting the voice too much in some ways, but also having too much air leaking through. So it's an issue of efficiency in the voice, you're working hard to sing this way and not getting enough payoff. So you'll probably have to work on tweaking the overall "setup" of your vocal use in terms of which muscles are active and which are relaxed and balancing all that. I don't know the exact changes you need to make since I'm also changing the setup of my voice too (still developing into the "right" way), but I'm listening closely and can hear some possible problem areas I'm familiar with.

From what I can hear you should check for tension in the neck, jaw, and solar plexus. These areas should all be relaxed...actually the solar plexus will be engaged (expands out) but not rock hard. You also tend to overblow the voice a bit but I noticed you only started really overblowing once you hit that first B4. You started out okay, but after you did the high range wrong once (right when you got to the B4 and where you can tell it's too high for you to handle comfortably), the rest of the file you couldn't sing it right because you got locked into the bad habits from that upper range. That may explain your issue with going raspy quickly - maybe you're just going too high for what's comfortable and it's throwing you off right from the first attempt. Believe it or not, one strained note can wreak a lot of havoc on the voice if you continue singing immediately afterward! So it would serve you well to avoid going above an A4 or so and just focus on getting more comfortable in your range up to that point.

The way you sang from about 0:33-1:01 in the file was the most balanced so work on getting into that kind of smooth and clear sound more. Study what you did there and try to keep it going and slowly build upon that strong area of your voice. That section of the file is your voice in the most natural form I could hear it and it seems pretty technically sound there, so you can learn from that as your foundation.

February 8, 2016
6:32 am
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Richard
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Great feedback, Owen! Thank you.

Owen: ...combination of pressing/squeezing/constricting the voice too much in some ways
I'd bet on that to be correct.

Owen: ...also having too much air leaking through
That's a surprise to me. I thought I did pretty good with not leaking so much air through. I suppose it's some false assumption for me make that the "pressing/squeezing/constricting the voice" is equal to limiting the air flow. If so, I do not know how to properly limit the air flow, without constricting the voice.

Owen: ...you're working hard to sing this way and not getting enough payoff
I worked pretty hard on this piece, yes. I have found at least 2 other ways in which I can sing with mixed voice. Both of these two are, in some ways, easier, but are far more difficult for me to maintain stability, and one of these also causes vocal fatigue. I sense most control over the technique I used for the recording.

Owen: From what I can hear you should check for tension in the neck, jaw, and solar plexus.
I need to research those areas. I don't know about my jaw or solar plexus, but I can confirm neck issues, as it can tighten up badly.

Owen: You also tend to overblow the voice a bit but I noticed you only started really overblowing once you hit that first B4.
Yes, I did feel that overblow.

Owen: You started out okay, but after you did the high range wrong once (right when you got to the B4 and where you can tell it's too high for you to handle comfortably), the rest of the file you couldn't sing it right because you got locked into the bad habits from that upper range.
Indeed, I too noticed that I was unable to recover from my wrong or improper set up during the higher sounds. It was getting harder to sing as I was nearing the end of the recording.

Owen: maybe you're just going too high for what's comfortable and it's throwing you off right from the first attempt.
It sure is too high for me as of yet. Therefore, I purposely sang something that was well above my comfortable range. This way, I assume, we can be sure to find troublesome issues that need to be fixed.

Thank you also, Owen, for pointing out the areas in which you think I do better. For what I know, I am basically using the same approach to singing all throughout the recording. The difference with the higher ranges is in increasing almost anything that I think I am doing.

I am looking forward to read more comments...

Richard

February 8, 2016
9:26 pm
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OwenKorzec
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Regarding this:
" Both of these two are, in some ways, easier, but are far more difficult for me to maintain stability, and one of these also causes vocal fatigue"
Can you do a recording of the way that is difficult to maintain stability but DOESN'T cause vocal fatigue? Definitely don't work with anything that fatigues you, but instability is sometimes actually beneficial and a sign you are freeing the voice more.

Often when training, feeling like you are in complete control of your voice is not the first priority because anyone can strain and hang on to their voice and ram it around in a very physical way. But if they need to develop more flexibility in the voice, slightly unstable coordinations can be a good means to an end.

February 9, 2016
2:53 pm
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Richard
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Good comment: anyone can find a way to use the voice to their liking and with most control. However, such does not therefore logically indicate proper, healthy use.

Yes, yesterday I made a recording of the other technique. I only did one "siren loop" bottom-up, back to bottom. I am surprised how well I was able to perform during the recording I have uploaded, because the first trial was horrible; my voice jumped all over the place. The recording was my fourth attempt at it. I do know that on my way back (from high to low), I was using not the exact same approach. As you will be able to hear, I was on the move. I was alone and driving the car during recording. I feel somewhat compelled to say therefore; "please DO try this at home".

Today, on my way home from work, I only practiced this other technique and it certainly was a funny challenge. I did notice some irregularities and breaks in certain areas, but they were no similar to the vocal fatigue I would have with the other style of singing. I don't feel it in my throat, as with the previous recording. It feels completely different. I feel some action in the throat area, but it does not feel like straining or vocal (ab-)use. I do feel a stronger sensation more so in the front of my face, around the nose. This especially when I ascend in pitch.

By the way, only today did I notice you are represented on Grow-The-Voice, Owen. I am happy for your progress!

Here is the link to the recording: http://we.tl/GCCqkAOqPz

Rich

February 10, 2016
1:29 am
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OwenKorzec
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That one's pretty good, to me it sounds just lighter/thinner than before but not really too different in any other way. Keep working on that for sure, but although that siren is probably done in an easier way I don't think it necessarily solved the technique issues you were having so I wouldn't recommend one over the other. I think in both cases the same areas for improvement are there that I mentioned so it's not a matter of which coordination to use, that will just be up to your preference, the comments I made would probably relate to improving both ways of singing you did.

What you sang with was your full voice and that siren was a light mixed voice so that's the difference if you were curious. I think you should continue practicing both and just try to correct any problems you notice in your technique like what you pointed out in the second last post. You seem very aware of what's going on in your voice so that's good, that's important for continuing to improve on your own. Use that knowledge to realize when you're doing something wrong and then try your best to find a solution and you will improve slowly but surely. In all cases, don't try to initiate any wildly drastic changes like going to a completely different sound in the voice. Your resonance is quite good now so that will stay roughly the same, but as you improve you'll notice changes more in how your voice FEELS...try to focus on making the technique feel better and that will serve you well.

February 10, 2016
6:45 am
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Richard
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Thank you, Owen. Very kind.

I signed up for the 'free vocal assessment', at Grow-The-Voice. And so I sent in the previous two recordings with the request of sending in audio material. I should receive some feedback from Phil in my email account as well.

I am considering building a (cheap) vocal booth, for at home. That should solve the sound issues that is bothering me from going louder during practice.

I will surely explore more of the technique that I used for the siren. That one is still very unfamiliar territory for me. At a minimum, I want to find out if it really does not cause me vocal fatigue. As I mentioned, I tried the best I could, many times, with the other approach (the singing version) and could not fix my fatigue issue.

Kind regards,
Rich

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