Friday, June 30, 2006

Vocal lessons

Realizing that vocals are my weak point, I started private lessons with Ben Senterfit. Of all the instructors in the area, Ben is the best I've found.

The first thing we started working on was belting, that I described in the last posting. What I have been doing was singing down in my chest and throat, basically choking off the sound. The goal is to get a brighter sound by opening my mouth wider and have the sound roll off the roof of my mouth. Smiling, raising my top teeth, were some cues. A good test, was turning my head when singing. If the sound died as I turned my head, I was singing from my chest or throat.

Another thing we discussed was breathing. The breathing support is still in the abdomen. The progression was to relax my belly (let the beer belly hang out). Then while blowing out, pull my belly in and up (the stud look). To get more power, I started by reaching down and the rise up while singing, using every muscle (to my toes) to support the singing.

As we progressed I was getting more power, now all I have to do is stay on key with all this power. Hopefully next week.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Belting it out

I attended vocal day at Swallow Hill. It was a half day event with some general sessions and two workshops. The main message I've been getting is that singing takes the same discipline as playing an instrument. There's tons of different styles, techniques, etc. and to really improve you need to practice.

Tanya Perkins taught a workshop on belting. “Belting” (as opposed to “legit” singing) is the style used for musical theater, pop, rock singing. A good definition of belting can be found on the Leanne Hoad site. It is a brighter, cleaner sound for singing. In belting your sound chamber is the front half of your face (as opposed to your chest, or back of your mouth), more toward the sinuses. You project your sound out in front of you. For practices, we focused on using a more southern twangy sound, i.e. more nasal. If done properly, you won't feel this in your vocal chords. Based on this workshop I highly recommend learning this technique for Tanya.

I also worked with Ernie Martinez on bluegrass harmony. To sing harmony for major chords, you sing a 3rd or 5th above the major chord. For example in the key of C, the harmony works from E and G. Not sure if I understand this perfectly, but at least this is a place to start.

Another key that I learned was in changing keys in a song, you can use the 5th chord to make the transition between the keys. That was a pretty cool tip.

Since summer is here, I probably will be updating this blog infrequently. Hopefully I will become more regular in the fall.