puddingcat: (Default)
[personal profile] puddingcat
*rubs internet carefully & makes a wish*

Dear LJ Genie,

I'd like to get singing lessons. I cna find a teacher easily enough; that isn't my question. What I'm wondering about is this:

Am I too bad to bother?

I have pretty near perfect pitch. I can tell when 2 notes are within a recognised interval of each other (though I can't name that interval, or the notes). I can tell when one instrument in a band or group of up to 10-12 people is out of tune. I can tell when I'm singing out of tune.

I sing out of tune a lot. A few things I can stay in tune with (mainly John Lennon, the Carpenters, and the Eagles) but most end up being between what I think are two separate registers. Singing along with most women, I feel as if I'm singing falsetto, or have to cross back & forth over the break in the middle of my so-called range, but I *can* get lower than almost every woman I've met.

Thing is, I have no idea how to fix it, how to improve my tone, or how to remember what a particular note feels like to sing. I don't want to be an opera singer, or even be good enough to join one of the big choirs - I just want to be able to sing in the car with the windows down.


(x-posted to my LJ and [livejournal.com profile] ljgenie)

Date: 2005-09-05 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sesquipedality.livejournal.com
Everyone has transition points in their vocal range. It's nothing in particular to worry about, and training can help you compensate. There are some great low voiced female singers out there, and most modern music does not require a soprano range anyway.

I used to have singing lessons. I'd consider doing it again. I feel I learnt a lot from them and they were very worthwhile. Of course you may have to find a teacher who doesn't look down at those who aren't virtuosos, but they do exist. My teacher used to do leading lady roles at Covent Garden too, so it's not correlated to the quality of teaching.

I'd say it doesn't matter how good you are. If you'd get something out of it, then go ahead. If you find you aren't getting anything out of it, then stop.

Date: 2005-09-06 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
I know you're a lot better at singing than I am, but how good / bad were you *before* the lessons?

I know talent doesn't correlate with teaching ability. My violin teacher plays viola with the BBC Phil, has been in Meatloaf's backing orchestra, and was fantastic - yet my mumsy-looking amateur clarinet teacher was Utterly Horrid.

I expect I'll get something out of it if I can find a teacher sympathetic to my pertifying fear of being heard. I know that's the main reason I can't hit a note; I'm so scared & self-conscious, my throat freezes.

Date: 2005-09-07 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] westernind.livejournal.com
My teacher is 30 and a recent graduate from the Guildhall - she teaches in between opera and other singing engagements. I know she teaches people of all abilities because I hear the people before and after me. One of the women who comes, just wants to be able to sing karaoke without embarrassing herself.

At my first lesson, we spent 15 minutes with Karin making "prrr" cat noises and me (trying to) make them back at her (I couldn't roll my r then). My homework was to go home and make cat noises at my boyfriend... the ultimate object was to reduce self-consciousness, because that's what, as you say, makes the throat freeze up. And if your vocal production is frozen then the squeaking happens. (Me too!) ;-)

Date: 2005-09-05 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-s-b.livejournal.com
Have singing lessons. Trust your auntie SB on this (speaking as someone who was once the entire alto section for a particular choir). I have similar problems to you with singing along with female singers (and Freddie Mercury); so I don't - I sing in a different key, or make up a (low) descant. I find Jon Bon Jovi's pitch and tone is nearest to mine ;)

Date: 2005-09-06 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
Ah - I can't *find* a different key, and if I transpose up or down I seem to skip an octave or two in the middel of my voice, & end up having to re-skip back the other way half way through a line... Not Nice!

So far it's 100% "yes" for the lessons - I'll be dropping onto the RNCM soo, I think :)

Date: 2005-09-06 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-s-b.livejournal.com
You won't regret it.

And...

OMG that icon is TEH FREAKEH!!!

* shudder *

Date: 2005-09-06 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
Mmmm, Hamster in leather ;)

How about this "hamster" one?

Date: 2005-09-06 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] miss-s-b.livejournal.com
That one's pretty cool :D

Date: 2005-09-05 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tooth-fairy.livejournal.com
It's definately worth a shot. If you have a good teacher they will be honest with you as to whether you should continue or not so there is nothing to lose

Date: 2005-09-06 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
Ah, but it's finding someone sympathetic int he forst place... I've only just got the courage together to consider this, and my "Dealing With Rejection" tactics still aren't very well developed, so being told there's no hope forme would hurt, a lot.

Date: 2005-09-07 12:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tooth-fairy.livejournal.com
tell you what, how about me and you have a singing into our hair brushes session, I can sing pretty well and I have a good ear. I reckon I could be honest with you...we could have a good laugh too, get some vodka and ice cream in?

Do it

Date: 2005-09-05 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karohemd.livejournal.com
My old mate Stefan (from school days) is a brilliant guitarist but has always been a bit of a naff singer so he took singing lessons and when I heard him again a while later I couldn't recognise his singing voice anymore. It wasn't "thin and reedy" anymore but really not bad at all.

Re: Do it

Date: 2005-09-06 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
Another vote for "yes" - I really can't make excuses to everyone, can I? :)

Date: 2005-09-05 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elissaann.livejournal.com
[personal profile] wispfox pointed me to this.

You are not too bad to bother. Your ears work, and your mechanism works, so you can learn to make them work together. A good teacher can give you exercises for that.

If you have a lot of low notes, you probably have a lot of wonderfully high notes as well. Once you learn how to "mix" your registers, it won't feel so much like you're going into a different voice when you sing above a second-line-on-the-staff G.

Hitting the right note is done completely with the ears. There is nothing you can do with your musculature to make the right note. All you can do is hear it internally, let the vocal folds form the right shape, and breathe out. I know that sounds too easy. But it works!

If you need suggestions for finding a good teacher, let me know.

Date: 2005-09-06 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
I'd love suggestions, thanks :) I live and work very close to the local higher education music college and several very good music shops, so finding a list of names & numbers will be easy - it's nowing what to ask & look out for that'll be tricky.

Mainly, my problem is fear and self consciousness - I'm in tune a lot more often when on my own or drunk - but also a total lack of technique. To be confident I'm in tune, I sing so quietly and breathily I can barely get to the end of a line before running out of air.

Date: 2005-09-06 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elissaann.livejournal.com
Things to ask the teacher:
Do you still study?
Are you comfortable working with beginners?
What practicing will you expect me to do between lessons?
What will happen in a typical lesson?
Will you assign me songs, or will I choose my own?
How would you describe good singing and good technique?

If you don't want to sound classical, make sure the teacher understands that.

It's okay to try out more than one teacher. The teacher should bring out the best in you, not the worst.

Nothing should ever hurt. If it hurts physically, it's wrong. If it feels weird but doesn't hurt, that's okay.

Never listen to yourself as you are singing. If you're listening, it's too late. That note already happened. It's important to stay in the present as you sing.

I always sing along with a voice in my head. That's how I stay in tune. If you can't hear it internally, there is no way that you'll be able to sing it. Some people can sing along with others, but they can't sing by themselves, because they don't hear the notes internally.

Very important: what you sound like in your own ears doesn't sound the same as you sound to someone else. That's the nature of how sound travels. If it sounds ugly to your own ears, it might sound good to someone else, because your ears will be missing some of the overtones.

Oy. I am such a voice teacher geek. I'll stop now.

Date: 2005-09-06 07:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] westernind.livejournal.com
I agree with the last person - if you can hear it, you can do it.

When I first lived in Manchester I took half a dozen singing lessons because I couldn't get above a C (octave above middle C) without squeaking. (The teacher suggested it was because of too many Tina Turner impressions in my flat!) In the last three years I've taken regular lessons and the difference is really noticeable.

However - I've started to have problems with the transition - the separate registers thing. (The transition is called the passaggio). It feels like I'm tripping over a sticking up pavement - the transition isn't smooth at all - there's an almost-squawk if I push it, and there are three or four dodgy notes round about the D/E just above middle C. I was really worried about it and asked around the altos in the chorus - and found it's an issue, albeit to greater or lesser extents, for nearly everyone.

My singing teacher says that it's because my lower voice and middle voice have got stronger, so the break has become more noticeable. She says, it'll sort itself out eventually as long as I don't get paranoid about it.(!)

I guess what I'm saying is that a singing teacher won't be surprised, and will be able to help. Go on, do it! It's cathartic just being able to sing round the house!

Date: 2005-09-06 09:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
[negative reaction bit first]

Ah, but you could sing well while we were at university - I'm staryting from being Much Worse than you...

[reasoned response]

Catharsis and being able to sing with the car windows down would be great :) I think a visit to the RNCM noticeboards is in order.

About the (checks above) passaggio - I definitely have a break, and above it I don't feel *any* vibration below my neck, but if I try & sing a sliding scale across it, rather than discrete notes either side, I can get through it relatively easily. Is this normal?

Oooh, and is it usual for low notes to make you yawn?

Date: 2005-09-06 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elissaann.livejournal.com
It's normal not to feel vibrations below the neck when you are singing high notes. There's a reason that the registers are called "chest" and "head" voice.

Date: 2005-09-07 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] westernind.livejournal.com
oooh, you so get a Paddington Hard Stare for the negative bit. ;-)

Sounds normal to me. (Agree with earlier response about no vibration the higher you go - if you think about it in terms of physics, the lower frequency notes are going to be more detectable in terms of vibration.)

When you yawn, you're lifting the soft palate, which is one of the things that helps you get a good note. One of the things our chorus master tries to get us to do is to put our throats in a yawn position - without actually yawning. So maybe your body knows what to do if you let it...

Date: 2005-09-07 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
Oh, but aren't I a good little CBT-student to be able to identify & discard Negative ThoughtsTM?

Will keep you updated :)

Date: 2005-09-07 11:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dr-wez.livejournal.com
You should get professional lessons, then teach me! (Currently I can either sing like a tuneless zombie, or make people's pets howl along. Even cats and hamsters and budgies. It's bizarre.)

It sounds like you have a head start in being able to discern notes and stuff. More than a lot of people can do.

Date: 2005-09-07 01:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddingcat.livejournal.com
I've heard cats make all sorts of noises, and budgies too, but Hamsters? Do they howl at the moon, like werewolves?

Maybe you were just getting so sneezy from the cats that it made yu produce howl-provoking noises?

Date: 2005-09-09 11:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dr-wez.livejournal.com
Hamster are *so* *cute* when they're infected with lycanthropy. Their eyes glow red and everything.

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