Singing Week 6 – focus on body

This week, I went through exercises in Lesson 5 of Singing Success called “Discovering Vocal Freedom”.  The objective of this lesson is to teach how to sing with more freedom using 1) vibrato 2)disengaging outer muscles of larynx 3)relaxation.

I admit that in the previous lessons, I skipped the parts where Brett explains the objectives. I should really go back and listen again.

Here is recording of last night’s practice. As a pianist who prides herself on perfect pitch on piano and many other instruments, it pains me to hear myself sing out of tune (middle f in “wretch” and “I once”- yuck!) because of lack of control and inability to hear myself properly while singing. Well, I guess division of half steps on the piano Keys can give a false sense of confidence. A lot can go wrong in between!

I think the beginning shows some progress. Yes, I realize that I come in too loudly on “I once”. It’s like a jack in the box surprise. I’m experimenting and trying to match sensations in my body to sounds that come out. I think once I got the louder sound out, tension crept in and I was unable to control sustained notes.

I admit that in the previous posts, I sped up the Noteworthy recording to make it easier on myself. I think I also need to work on lower notes and just basics of sustaining sound from other online lessons I had subscribed to in the past like- “Singing Transformation 360”.  What I really like about “Singing Success” is that it teaches you how to focus your sound.

I have been thinking about people who are natural singers. I think they are people who are really naturally in tune with using different parts of the body with sounds that they produce. This definitely does not come naturally to me and I realize that I need to think and focus more during practice rather than just blindly going through the exercises. I have a lot of work to do but I feel like I have a better idea of what I need to do to improve.

 

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Singing Week 5 -Zen

I have been slacking off. I guess like with many endeavors I start, I get discouraged, slack off and then quit altogether. And that’s why I started this blog, to have something to report to every week in absence of a teacher. I read that most people fail in achieving their goals because their expectations are too high for the amount of time that they invest. I did practice about every other day. I think I have to stop comparing myself to others, ignore snide remarks by my husband who has a touch of robot and just stick to the practice routine regardless of how I feel or think I sound. So here is my latest. I hate the way “I once was lost” is sounding but oh well.

Week 4 – Rocky Road

This has been a crazy week. Life happens. I did manage a few days of practice. I just continued with the Lesson 3 exercises which are variation of the same stuff in the previous lessons. I’m trying to get a more forward sound so I ended up sounding a little too nasal sometimes. I’m also trying to sing louder which brings out the wobbliness more. I still have very little control over volume or where the voice comes from. I think it’s step in the right direction although it sounds worse. Middle f is my Twilight Zone where I don’t know what’s gonna happen.

What do you do when you feel inferior? You try to make fun. So here are the fabulous Noteworthy girls possibly needing to go to bathroom. Really mature…

Music and Competition

Hi. I am resting my vocal cords before I start practicing again and I thought I’d write a short entry about competition in music and competition in general. I belong to a music teachers’ organization in my area and today I was obligated to work at an annual testing of theory and instrument playing. Children are tested on different levels in their knowledge of music theory and competency on their instruments. I have to tell you that it was one of the most joyless things I’ve witnessed. Parents push their children to these events so that they would keep up their practice and some do it just because other parents do it. Parents here are extremely competitive and they want their children to do as well or better than other children. They just keep doing what everyone else is doing to keep up or surpass. Children walk into the room looking grim, stressed and bored. What does any of this have anything to do with music?

Of course, discipline is important. A lot of children, given a choice will do nothing but play outside, play video games or eat candy all day. But honestly, what are we teachers training these children to do? Often the repertoire that we teach does not even resemble anything that they listen to. And what even the most musical children want to do, which is to play music that they love and to create their own music, are at odds with what most parents here want. Parents hear child X playing his/her instrument with virtuosity and they must find out who that child X’s teacher is and get their child to play the same way. Why? Just because their child has to be the best. To what end, they don’t even know.

I don’t have all the answers but I don’t think this blind competition to do exactly the same things as everyone else is good for anyone except for the most competitive parents with the deepest pockets to feel smug occasionally.

Singing Week 3 – out of the closet

No, I mean I’ve literally come out of the closet to sing. Well, I still practice in the closet but I realized that I can hide more ugly outside. Closet acoustics is very unforgiving. I’ve gone through the second lesson audio drills from Singing Success program which includes more of humming, lip rolls plus “Goo goo” and “nah nah” exercises. I think the main point of these exercises is to bridge the gap between chest and head voice.

Man, is singing hard for me. I played the melody on the piano because my pitch keeps going without it and also to hide the wobbliness in my voice. I still feel that my voice sounds like it’s coming from back of the throat and too thick. That “Ab, f, Ab” When I sing “I once was lost” is sooo shaky every time. To be honest, I am feeling discouraged.

Why Sing? Week 2

I’m on my second week of starting practice with Singing Success Program. I’ve been practicing 20-30 minutes a day and have gone through all the exercise files in Lesson 1 that include humming, lip rolls, and singing in “goo-goo” syllables. I think I’ve made a little bit of progress.

I had bit of a panicky moment yesterday where I thought, “Why am I doing this? This is so hard for me. Do I need to spend a million dollars on lessons with voice coach in addition to the program? What do I want to sound like?”. The first answer came pretty easily upon some reflection. I love to make music. It is cathartic, stimulating and relaxing. When I play the piano, there are moments where everything disappears except the sounds I am making on the piano.

If it’s for my own enjoyment, why not just enjoy and sing whichever way I can? Because although I know that I have limitations as a pianist, under best circumstances I enjoy my own playing. I feel like I have enough ease on the instrument to express myself someway. Not with singing. I don’t enjoy my own singing. What, who do I want to sound like? I don’t want to sound like a bad wanna-be opera singer. I would sound terrible trying to fully belt out a pop ballad. I think I would like a controlled, more forward sound like the girl who sings the opening of this “Amazing Grace” version I love.

Obviously, the girl has an amazing voice and years of training, but that is the style I’d like the emulate.

So I know that I’m not doing myself any favors by posting my own efforts to emulate this girl right after posting the video, but here it is.

I tried not to push the volume but just control what I have and tried to put the sound more forward. The notes from middle F on are so shaky. So basically, I have three decent notes. I am holding off on spending a lot of money. I’m going to see how far I can go just doing exercises and listening.

Beginning Piano 3 – Chords

Hello. I love chords. I love piano not only for the beautiful tones but also because you can play chords. I love how mood of a song can change with subtle changes in chords.

Did I mention that I love chords?  Ok. Here is index of Lypur’s third video with some visuals I found on Google Image search.

How to Play Piano: Lesson #3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5af1nGF5fc&t=29s

0-.35 Introduction – will cover chords and how to play D Major scale

.35- 4:05  Introduction of “triads” which are three note chords. Naming conventions.

This is a diagram of some Major chords I found on http://www.CooperPiano.com 

I hope that you notice same pattern of keys skipped in between each note.

Three notes skipped is called Major 3rd, two notes skipped is called minor third

Notice that on the Major triads, Major 3rd is on the bottom and minor 3rd is on top.

pianochords

Minor chords diagram

The difference between Major triad and minor triad is the middle note.

Minor triads have a minor 3rd on the bottom and Major 3rd on the top.

all-minor-chords

Concept of tonic and dominant.

4:06 Inversions of chords. (Chords played in different order)

chord-inversion-1

7:52 How to physically play chords properly

9:52 Full four note chord spanning an octave

10:48 Broken Chords. Warning – corny joke, make it jokes. Oh my more jokes.

14:06 Playing all inversions of C Major triad as broken chords.

15:33 Playing the same with G Major triad

16:26 Playing D Major scale

Beginning Piano 2 – Whole, half steps

Hello. Today, I will continue to provide index for Youtube videos on Lypur channel. “How to Play Piano:Lesson #2”  (covering whole steps and half steps ). I will also provide related visuals I find on Google image search.

Lesson #2

All about whole steps and half steps

Here is my short introduction.

halfandwhole.jpg

On the piano, the pitches go from lowest to highest, left to right in half steps, represented by each key black or white. That is the smallest interval (distance between two pitches played right after one another or together) you can play on the piano. Basically, when you press two keys together and you don’t see any key in between them (including a black key) that’s a half step. If you see one key in between, that’s a whole step.

Here is the video link of Lypur’s video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7b0i7BeJZg&t=104s

0-1:14 introduction. Just mentions terminology of whole steps and half steps

1:15 plays cool chromatic scale (playing all black and white keys in order left to right)

shows all combinations of whole steps and half steps.

4:15 explains concept of major scale which is made up of whole steps and half steps.

8:07 shows how to play the C Major scale with correct hand position. Shows how to tuck thumb under to play beyond five finger pattern.

9:17 Illustrates G Major Scale.

9:35 Explains sharp(#) and a flat(b)

13:37 How to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

15:10 Explains concept of “interval”

I think singing or playing simple songs is always the best way to start and most of the lesson should be playing or singing rather than talking. But I think these videos are good references to look up any concepts you don’t understand.

Tomorrow, I will continue with video #3 which covers chords!

Singing Success Start Day1

I was finally able to log in after a nice lady from Tennessee office helped me. You log into the http://www.singingsucess.com website and login using the email and password created when you purchase the digital version. I had to have the help desk walk me through the part of going under “My Account” section to go to “Downloads” tab on side to get to the audio file lessons. There are also videos by certified teachers under “Videos” tab.

I downloaded first few exercises. Five note mm’s and lip rolls. It’s a little talky sometimes but I really like the exercises. I like how Brett starts with something really easy that everyone can do and yet you can hear clearly the different resonances in his voice during the exercises.

Being impatient, I am uploading video I think with about .5% improvement. I think I got a little more solid sound in the beginning with less cracking but kind of lost it at the end. I need to get control over the shakiness. I don’t know what causes that. I think it has to do with air flow control. I will find some breathing exercises. Also I need to find my voice and keep the sound consistent. I can hear random shifting of gears in my voice. I think a lot of foundation work needs to be done. I will trust that these exercises will do that.

I know it will take time. I tried to sing this multiple times to make myself sound better but I got worse and worse because I think I was too eager on day one with the exercises. I’m excited. I hope to do Skype private lessons(linked from the website) once I feel more comfortable with these exercises. My goal is to be able to sing hymns and folk songs with consistent, controlled sound with easy pop-ish? sound.

Sometimes I feel discouraged because there seem to be all these people who just open their mouths and gorgeous singing comes out naturally. I have to shake a sense of despair and feeling of inferiority and focus on making small and steady progress on myself.

The Impossible Voice Student

I have been trying to learn singing for years. I have taken months of voice lessons, free online courses, several Skype lessons with a professional singer, community choir and voice classes. I AM STILL TERRIBLE. My natural voice is raspy and squeaky. I can accept that. But when I sing, my voice wobbles. It’s stuck in a place of trying to break out into some kind of chest voice and opera singer gargling under water. I’m not exaggerating. This is Exhibit A.

Yes. I am singing in a closet because I don’t want anyone to hear my singing.

People tell me that I need to train classically first. I love classical music and opera but I don’t want to sound like an opera singer even if that’s possible. I want to sing in a nice “mixed voice” I think that’s what they call it, I’m not sure. I don’t even know where to start.

I started by purchasing Brett Manning’s Singing Success program in digital download format. (It’s also available in CD’s) It’s not cheap. It costs $360. I guilt tripped my husband who forgot Valentine’s Day into agreeing to buy it.

I cannot log in with the password I created. I left a phone message with them. We will see.

I can’t get worse, can I? Not a rhetorical question.