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I want to learn how to sing, what CAN I do?
September 3, 2014
4:55 pm
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Felipe Carvalho
Brazil
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Can I learn on my own?

I don't know!

That depends on yourself, how you currently use your voice, your affinity with music, your habits, etc. I know awesome singers who learned alone, that does not mean that in your case it will be like that.

What I can tell you upfront is that if you want to learn technique (the explicit knowledge that exists on technique), it's really unlikely that you will learn alone, because a lot of the problems you will find are due to coordinations that are unknown to you, or counter-intuitive.

A simple example:

Release all air in your lungs, and hold it out until you get air hungry, dont let new air come in until you do. When you get air hungry, just relax and let your body do what it wants. Repeat and notice what happens to your breathing when you do this. Notice that there is no elevation of the chest, and that a lot of air comes in quickly without you doing much. This happens because when you get air hungry your nervous system triggers a reflex to inhale, taking you out of your habitual breathing pattern.

And these same kinds of habits will exist all over your voice, sometimes in the form of a tongue posture, jaw posture, tensions, etc... So its not just a matter of learning new things, but dealing with what is already there.

If you must learn alone, my opinion and advice is that you are much better trying to work directly with songs, and aiming to get comfortable while doing it, even trying to mimic what your favorite singers do. This does not work with everyone though, and most likely you will find barriers that you will not overcome in this manner.

What about Distance Learning programs?

With no disrespect towards any kind of program out there. Its like trying to learn a foreign language using a similar kind of program where you listen to samples on CDs and follow a routine. You can learn of course, but being fluent at it will be a very different matter. Chances are that if you are into learning it, you will want the fluency. And because of what I described above, no program will be able to adapt exactly to your needs.

So while I would not disregard it as a total waste of time, do not fall for promises of miraculous results. And its no substitute for orientation.

What to look for in a voice teacher?

If you are beginning, this is not so easy to judge. You need to find someone that you trust. Personaly, my opinion is that this person needs to have results in his/her voice that are pleasant to listen, at least within the style they are specialized with, it's also nice to look at the results of the other students.

As you take the lessons, evaluate if you are seeing improvements, and if you really understand what you are doing. If after 6 months you dont have a tangible improvement, and if it feels things are random, without purpose or reason, seeking another teacher may be a good idea.

What about videos on technique?

Depends on the video, depends on yourself, depends on what you expect.

There are videos that are helpful, of course. In these forums you will probably find a lot of them, I make some of them from time to time too, but in my opinion, they are also not enough. Not because of the info in there is incomplete or incorrect, but because of what I said above, after all, the video can not react to you, or correct something on the fly that a teacher would be able to notice.

Use them, but once more if you are into really learning and training, it's not a substitute for orientation.

What do I need?

Thinking about gear, there isnt much that you need. In fact you can make do with... nothing besides some way to play scales. But I recommend the following:

- Time to study.
Yeah obvious right? But this is about discipline, you need to have that time in your daily life where you will study singing. This is not as easy as it may seem at first and you will have to transform it into habit.

- Notebook.
Paper and pen, not computers. Maybe computers if you like it, but paper and pen will do (and will not take your attention from the study). To study lyrics, interpretations, note down the points you need to pay attention, doubts that you need to solve later, etc.

- Recording gear.
A lot of people will probably think of expensive mics, pre-amps, dedicated audio interfaces and so on. Not really, you need some kind of device that you can press a button and record what you are doing. You can make do without it, yes... But frankly almost any cheap cellphone nowdays can do so, it makes no sense to not use this facility.

If you have a good quality dedicated gear and know how to use it, better for you. If not, place the recorder in some point in the room, one or two meters away, and record yourself singing. This will give you the audio that the listenner would get, and this is what matters.

"But, but, what about the quality? Can this device capture good singing?" Well try it out, play a CD of a singer you like on a stereo, and record it on the device you are trying to use. If it still sounds good to your ears, you are set.

- A mirror.
If possible a full body mirror so that you can see what you are doing. Visual references are already scarce, without a mirror they will just not exist. Besides the technical side, its also important to check what you are doing and how you look when performing.

Probably the most expensive part here is the time to study, it's also the most important :).

How to make most of my singing lessons?

First point to me is: take the lessons willing to learn. What I mean is that if you are going to pay a teacher so that you can go there and "debate" technique, you are really wasting your money.

Some points you will not be able to understand in a simple manner, because it just isn't simple. Some points are not even completely understood yet, its just known to work.

Next: Don't hold back or be shy of the teacher. That's the time to show the issues, to do mistakes, to learn. Not to "look like a promising student".

And finally: Follow the instruction down to the details. If you don't understand it, ask it, if you still don't get it, say so. It's no use to be guided on how to make an incredible sound on the session by doing tons of manipulations if you can't replicate it on your own.

And, good study!

Felipe Carvalho
Singer and Voice Teacher in Brasil - São Paulo

September 3, 2014
8:37 pm
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Phil Moufarrege
Japan
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Great to have you here Felipe!
Excellent post.

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

September 3, 2014
10:02 pm
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Marnell Sample
Philadelphia, PA
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An excellent, excellent post, Felipe! I've made this topic a sticky!

September 4, 2014
7:30 pm
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Justin Chew
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I feel that another aspect about finding a coach is a coach that teaches you efficiently,

What i mean? There are some coaches who may be good but because they pamper you and won't push you, they will hinder your process. For example, my former vocal coach was good, but she barely taught me anything. How did i know she was good? She had students singing Dont Stop believing in full voice. Problem was that these students could only do so after 5 years.

My new coach who teaches at the same school and at the same fees literally teaches me something new every week and only uses the first 5 minutes of the lesson to warm up and revise what i learnt the previous week as he expected me to practise every day at home. Now, in just a month, Dont Stop Believing is much less of a burden to sing.

If you want to get the results as efficiently and as fast as possible, go for intensive vocal trainings with teachers who have been on stage and know what it is like to have a slow ass teacher

September 4, 2014
8:01 pm
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OwenKorzec
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Good point Justin. I would add that there is the other side of the spectrum. Coaches who rush their students hard into new concepts before they're ready will get the same weak results in their students because their students aren't really memorizing or understanding what they were taught. This becomes the most severe when the student also doesn't have much time to practice (which could just be a matter of busy life not necessarily lack of commitment)

The best teachers are definitely very responsive to matching their teaching pace to the student's learning pace

September 4, 2014
8:20 pm
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Phil Moufarrege
Japan
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OwenKorzec said The best teachers are definitely very responsive to matching their teaching pace to the student's learning pace

This is the key. It's easy to be a hard coach, all you do is make the singer feel like they can't do everything you are asking them to do :P
What is better is a good sensitivity to the student, where they are at and what exactly they need to do at their current level.

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

September 5, 2014
2:19 pm
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Felipe Carvalho
Brazil
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Thanks for the replies and the information guys.

I agree with the follow ups, indeed the pace needs to be towards the student needs.

And even a bit of patience on the beginning, from both parts, because there is no one size fits all in this matter, and sometimes, the needs do not match the "wants" hehe :).

Felipe Carvalho
Singer and Voice Teacher in Brasil - São Paulo

May 24, 2017
6:48 am
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musictalentindia
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Yes you can learn singing , for that there are various methods :

Learn to match pitch.
Develop vocal control.
Prove you can sing in tune.
Focus on breathing technique too
Learn at home or can join singing classes.
Learn with and without using musical instruments.
Listen more and more music (specially music which has a good and soulful rhythm)

June 8, 2017
7:32 am
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cynthiamyra
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Thanks for sharing the post. I really enjoyed it. 🙂

Thanks
Visit us - Almaden School of Music & Art - http://www.almadenschool.com/ &
David K's Music School - http://www.davidksmusicschool.com

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