Because I started learning to sing with such little initial talent, I can easily see how different concepts work cooperatively to create the sounds we all want to hear. It wasn’t always the case though. Early on in my training, each day was a planned attempt to get the loudest highest notes I could. That was the goal. Every day was met with disappointment and failure.
I didn’t understand that each small concept builds on the next to create sounds I hadn’t yet heard or felt. I also didn’t understand that
tensing and pushing negated any of the positive discoveries I made during a workout. If I found a really balanced tone and vibrato at a light balance, I would destroy any significance by immediately trying to find the same balance at a very loud volume. It always ended in frustrating failure.
The voice is a moldable instrument. If you spend a day making one type of sound, the next day it will respond differently than the day before. When we lose our voice, it isn’t because we forgot how to talk; it’s because it’s physically impossible for the cords to close as a consequence to earlier input into the instrument, i.e., yelling or singing heavily during a sickness for instance. This is why singers can sometimes feel like even the easiest sounds are near impossible. Truthfully, at that moment they are. This is no condition to continue the constant abuse. This can make a singer feel like they aren’t smart enough, qualified enough or even talented enough. These are the moments where I would almost quit singing entirely.
At one point, I did give up. I didn’t quit, I just finally stopped trying to get instant results. It was that first day I put a Singing Success CD in and apathetically began doing lip rolls and “nay” exercises without a concern or care in the world, almost depressed and sarcastic in my approach. Because I didn’t even care enough to try, I was beginning to observe this molding and shaping phenomenon from a new perspective. My light nays were naturally gaining more cord compression as I stopped trying to hold my voice together. The more I let go, the more sound I heard come out into the room. I ended the exercise with a nearly full high voice ringing around the room. It felt like I was doing nothing. It sounded like an explosion of sound coming out of my face. This opposite feeling of “less is more” is precisely what makes singing so difficult for so many people.
Many times, students never discover the sounds they want to hear because they are too busy preventing the sounds they don’t want to hear from ever coming out. The undesirable sounds are crucial to the complete understanding of powerful singing. This “control” of the quality of the sound provides just enough tension to prevent a truly free sound from ever being heard. Powerful high notes are made up of many advanced abilities that may or may not be mastered yet. Release, passive control, accurate pitching, steady exhalation of the breath, composure, optimum cord compression and tone balance are all essential elements to great sounding high notes.
Because you will master these in different stages, you need to accept that you probably won’t sound good until all of these micro-abilities are put together to create an even better sound. For now, stop trying to make a full sound. Find the smallest, seemingly simple exercise you can’t do and master it before moving on to a slightly more difficult concept. Face the facts: full powerhouse singing is an advanced concept. Build it right from the ground up and you will never lose it.