Diane Pettipas, one of my students, has made INCREDIBLE progress with her voice (you can check out her Singer Spotlight interview here). I found a post she wrote in the Cool Singer Clubhouse Facebook group (if you’re not in the group yet, you can join here), and I figured it’s too good not to share:) So here’s a post by Diane on singing volume.
I wanted to share something with those concerned about volume. When I first started with this program I had some volume, but not without tiring my voice – I could sing at a moderate volume just fine, but when I wanted to get fairly loud I felt like I was “yelling”. I have been using Jaime’s technique and strengthening my voice for LESS THAN 6 months. I have really worked, done my “homework” and learned to relax, bring my folds together, and allow proper placement, air and resonance to carry the “weight” of anything I could possibly vocalize. I have not specifically worked on volume, just strength and consistency in my physical voice and technique/placement.
Last night I went out to a local bar for a night of fun and Karaoke. Of course as I was awaiting my turn I sang along with everyone else at a calm comfortable level. At one point someone sang one of my favorite songs that’s in a really comfortable heady key for me. I quickly found myself having to cover my mouth because I was TOO LOUD and had I not muffled my sound I would have been heard OVER the person on the microphone and sound system. I was surprised because I was not trying to be loud, I was only utilizing my resonance and breath as usual to approach the notes with proper tone.
HOWEVER – I have also noticed that some tones/styles/resonances by their very nature of delicacy do not have volume. Volume is not something that should be sought as a constant, do no strive for “well, I want to be loud,” strive for “I want to be strong and healthy so I can get as loud as I want when the tone/style calls for it.”
If singers were meant to scream out everything super duper loud at the top of their lungs we wouldn’t have microphones, volume knobs, gain knobs and vocal compressors, noise gates, feedback eliminators, etc.. That said – even your lowest tone should at least be as loud as comfortable speech to ensure solid fold connection, breath/air placement and resonance – any lower in volume than that and you run the risk of “chesty whisper tones” that can damage and dry your folds and cause a “dropped”, empty sound. Remember that even your low tones should tickle your palate and buzz your mouth! This is not a game of Limbo – it’s not about how low or how high you can go, it’s about how far you can carry the richness in tone up and down the scale – no one wants to hear hollow, empty lows and nasal, pinched, strained highs that don’t connect properly to anything else in your natural registers. Think more of the QUALITY of the notes in your range than the quantity. Quantity is about your own ego, it has nothing to do with singing or entertaining.
One of the reasons singers come to me is with help singing higher and louder, but just singing higher and louder doesn’t make you a great singer. You definitely need to focus on QUALITY. To improve the quality, you need two things: a SOLID grasp of vocal technique, and a consistent practice schedule. Don’t just practice with scales either, you HAVE to practice singing along to songs. Lots of singers can sound pretty good on open vowels like “ah” or “ay,” but once you start putting in hard consonants like “t” or “k” or “s,” the sound starts to falter. The best way to get better with using those consonants is to practice with them. It’s okay if you don’t sound perfect at first, no one does. Persistently practice and you’ll get there.
Thanks for the post Diane:)