Voice and Music
Some people might find that my concept of separating the voice from music in learning to sing rather strange, controversial, or maybe even downright blasphemous. However, even though both processes can and are used together a lot, the fact remains that they are still separate entities. Professionals have been developing them separately all the time, although some might realize it and some don’t.
For example, professionals such as speakers, lawyers, actors, etc need to learn how to master their voices. They need to be able to do inflections, create tension and resolution, use different pitches, tones, effects, etc. But they do all this without using the harmonic and melodic laws as those found in music. Interestingly enough, the techniques that these master vocalists use can very easily be applied to singing in a musical context, given enough time and practice.
That’s interesting, but how can it help in the practical sense? A few ways:
1) Debunks the myths about singing: singing used to be a “gift”. You either have it or you don’t. And people who do have it flaunt it with such authority so that the “have-nots” would just drool at the apparent “gift” which was not bestowed on them. Well, once you realize that singing is nothing more than controlled talking, you’ll be free of these limiting beliefs. You can even apply it to other areas of life: painting is controlled writing, and .. I cant think of another example right now, but you get the point. The trick is not to have a “gift”. The trick is understanding the simple mechanics that make something work, and applying yourself to it until you reach a level of mastery that’s so enjoyable to the audience that it seems like a gift from The Creator himself.
2) Eliminates roadblocks from the learning process: most singers are taught early on to simultaneously develop their voices and ears using scales, breathing techniques, trills, bends, etc. Nothing wrong with them, but they are useful when you already have a voice that works in the range, tone, speed, etc that you want it to. Learning scales and learning musical structures at the same time is like teaching a baby the steps to a waltz. What the baby needs is fully functional legs first. He can decide later if he wants to use those legs to run, dance, jump, whatever. If he decides to learn the waltz, he’ll then train his legs to the specific steps to that particular dance.
3) Takes the pressure off of the ‘sound’: because we are not concerned about the sound in the musical context, we can be more relaxed and explore the voice further. You’d be surprised at what your voice can do, if you let go a bit and hear it from a perspective other than repeating notes and sequences. When practicing with scales, your attention is divided between two things: the actions required to produce the sound, and checking to make sure the sound produced is the “correct” one. By letting go of the need to produce the right note within the scale in perfect pitch, you can now focus on how it feelings involved in producing the notes.