The Invisible Instrument / Intro 2

There are many things that make singing different from playing an instrument, but the most profound, is definitely, that all we have to work with is language. There is nothing I can show you, nothing for you to see or touch, just words. Words that can lead you to a sensation that you can label and find your way back to. If just a vocal demonstration was sufficient, why use a teacher? Just use the recording artists and be on your way. But clearly, imitation only gets you so far, and someone’s words will get you the rest of the way.
So, as I said in MUSCLE/Intro1, we are dealing with muscle. And now we see we are dealing with invisible muscle! The external muscles are easy to see and understand even if the work to build them is hard. So we want to hang on to the logic and understanding of exercise and strength training, because although the muscles are not seen and will require a bit more ‘feeling’, the actual exercises are easy. Easy and fun, and they feel good. The reason I have had such a successful teaching career is because it all makes sense. Even when the exercise is weird and the noises you’re making are bizarre, you start to understand the logic behind it by the way it feels. Just like if you’ve ever gotten a correction by a trainer, and although you don’t feel as strong within the correction, you can see how without it, you would be heading down the wrong path. And let’s remember that ‘the wrong path’ muscularly means injury.
I think I mentioned in the homepage video that no one comes to me to show me their beautiful perfect voice. In other words singers seek out information when they are having problems. Even children and parents will enjoy the ‘all natural’, ‘never had a lesson’ crap right up until the fear takes over. I understand it believe me I do. If I sound a little sarcastic about it , it’s meant to desensitize that’s all. Sounding like you’ve had a million voice lessons is not going to help a contemporary singer. That’s it!! I get it. You want to sound so amazingly like yourself and competent that no one will know what you did to get there.
So if we apply what we know about muscle development to our vocal training, we know that we don’t address them all at once. Individual muscle groups do different movements, at different speeds etc.  We should also keep in mind that the musculature should be appropriate to the sport/style /movement of choice.  A line-backer wouldn’t be trying to look like a runner.

I think the biggest fear is that somehow the technique will strip away the originality that made you a singer to begin with, but that’s not true. Technique gives you tools, strength and information to work with as you see fit.  The health and development are in my hands and the artistry remains in yours. You’ve been doing the work all along, and no matter who you get information from, the bulk of the work has to be done on your own anyway. The truth is, I had very few lessons myself. When I was 17, I went for 4 lessons. I worked with those 4 tapes for 13 years and began teaching from them. Now those were some GOOD tapes!!!!! 13 years later, I was having a problem and I went back to Lynda, who said “wow, you got the whole puzzle, except for this one part.” She gave me the missing part, and I had 3 more lessons, and, at her request, stopped referring  clients to her and started my own practice.

DO NOT mistake ‘few lessons’ for ‘minimal work’. I dug in and got what I needed out of that information and they weren’t even geared for that kind of home study. So there, I told you. Less than 10 lessons and I’ve taught thousands.

The reason for the constant muscle reference is that the exercises to develop these muscles are almost all the same no matter what level you are at. In other words the movements themselves tell you where you are at with them. You’ll feel stability and ease in some and not in others , and I talk you through all of them. Just like a good exercise or dance class, you need constant cues . I was honest in the recordings and left many of my imperfections in to show how we all sound the same in process. You will find favorite exercises in every lesson that will last your whole career.

Oh yeah, although my muscular analogies all hold up, remember, the external muscles are huge compared to the muscles in the vocal folds. They take big, heavy, exhausting movements to build. This is fun…. and it’s art, not sport!

Patrick

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