Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More thoughts on vocal pitch problems

I want to add some thoughts to my previous post:
Slowwww Dowsnnnn when you try the target practice exercise. Take plenty of time to:
  1. Hear the music- the note(s) you play
  2. Intend to hit that pitch dead center (focus your mind in a purposeful aim)
  3. Support your aim (use your breath support centered in the pelvic floor to lift your voice into the right placement)

You can go a bit faster only when you are consistantly accurate in hitting pitch at the slower speed. This slowing down is vitally important... don't shortcut training the automatic nervous system. If you are used to being inaccurate with pitch it may take some time to re-train yourself and to trust yourself to sing in tune.

Before long your singing won't be like a game of vocal pin-the-tail-on-the-pitch. Your ears will be wide open and you will have begun habitually AIMING your voice at the right pitch!!

Another suggestion having to do with studio singing... don't think the recording engineer can make your vocal all it should be with vocal tuning. This technology is used, in my humble opinion, FAR TOO MUCH in today's recordings. The human voice sounds and communicates to the heart better with natural variences not usually allowed by those who over-tune vocals. Flying the same chorus everywhere can backfire and sound BORING!

Not to say vocal tuning and flying should not be done. On the contrary, sometimes it's wonderful to keep a vocal that has just the right magic but needs a slight pitch tweaking. And sometimes the chorus really is the same. It depends on the genre you're going for. Ask yourself (or someone whose opinion you trust) if you sound like a machine. If so, swallow your pride, get out your checkbook for studio time and sing a couple more passes of that song !!


Patsi M. Krakoff said...

Hi, Judy. Great blog. Have some questions about my own voice. I've never really liked it. I only use it for speaking, mostly on the phone (no singing). When I was living in Mexico I was in a couple of local theatre productions. My problem is that it isn't full and robust, sounds kind of 'tinny' to me; i don't project very well. I like it better when I have a cold and it is lower. Is there anything I can do to make it sound better? Recently I've taken to sucking on lemon juice during conference calls. When nervous, it seems to go higher and sounds even worse.

Judy Rodman said...

Oh my, yes Patsi... I'm glad you asked!

Sounds like you're just not using your resonators. Vocal sound quality and volume comes from resonation; your vocal cords just create a buzz, like playing an electric guitar without an amplifier. That buzz needs to reach your amplification zones in your head, throat & chest. That's how your tone can become much more interesting, and yes, louder.

The most important tip I can give you: USE YOUR EYES WHEN YOU SPEAK!!! Try this: keep your eyes very still and count to 5 moderately loud. Now count again, but move your eyes very animatedly while you speak, (check the mirror because sometimes your brain really doesn't know what your eyes are doing- your eyebrows should be active). Your eypads and eyebrows are very connected to what's going on inside your throat. You'll notice your voice is more melodic and can reach more pitches, and it's richer. It feels like you're pulling your voice out of your head by the word, with no forward "push" pressure.

For practical application, just know it's important to communicate with your eyes while you are speaking- imagine your audience is deaf and needs to read your face for the message. Or imagine talking to a child. Use animation. ESPECIALLY on the phone, we tend to speak without expression on our faces.

It also sounds like you're not using your power center properly. Speak from your pelvic floor! Keep your ribs open by your posture, and you'll have compression power for your voice. This is another thing we do when we're on the phone... slouch. Then the voice feels like it's disconnected from the body. WHen standing, your voice needs your legs (which are butt extentions). Another power point: Whether sitting or standing, even on the phone, talk with your hands. It helps your ribs stay weightless and gives your diaphragm room to control the airflow to your cords. Keep your back flexible and keep your head from going forward of your shoulders. All tension can and should be relegated to butt and legs.

In summary: Talk with your eyes and hands, keep your chest open and your back flexible. Loosen your jaw and form words distinctly.
And talk with your eyes! You have a lot more voice than you've been using.

Hope this helps...let me know!

Patsi said...

Yes, this is terrific, Judy! Now I have something I can practice. It makes sense. I will try this on the next radio show, Thursday morning. I'm wondering if standing up might help too. Of course, right now, I am still 'benefitting' from a cold and my voice stills sounds pretty good.