Thursday, March 11, 2010

If you learn to sing it the classical way.................

When I was in college, I would often hear and read that if a singer was to learn to sing based on the classical vocal model, then he could sing anything after that. Well I can tell you that is NOT TRUE!!! Yes, you heard me- NOT TRUE!!!! Though there are many elements taught in classical singing that apply to all singers, there are some major issues that are not addressed. This misguided notion brings many pop, rock, R&B, and country singers to major college music departments for study, only to find themselves ill-equipped for the demands that their styles demand.

In my own experience, I found that my chest voice developed well with my classical training. It became very rich and strong. But I still struggled as tried to sing gospel and R&B without being taught an easy, efficient means of developing my mix or middle voice. It seems as if that part of my voice didn't need much attention because the view was from a purely classical lens. The truth is that I never set out to be a classical singer!! I love singing that repertoire and am grateful to discover that I could sing it. But it didn't help me to sing everything I wanted to sing.

Female singer have it rougher many times. In a lot classical teaching, a woman is discouraged from developing and using her chest voice. It is seen as crude and unfeminine. Ladies are even told that it is dangerous to use!!! This betrays what modern science tells us about how the vocal instrument works. For a woman who wants to sing Broadway, gospel, or rock, having a strong chest voice is a must. In order to sing with a strong, commercially appropriate sound, she must develop her chest voice so that she can then develop a sturdy mix as she climbs in her vocal range. Imagine what Celine or Beyonce would sound like if they resorted to a purely classical sound. Much of the power and passion would be lost.

Voice teachers should be concerned with teaching a technique that can be used for a variety of styles. Our job should not be to push students into singing the styles we prefer. We should train our clients to sing efficiently across a wide range of pitches in a connected manner. They can then apply that healthy production to jazz, blues, metal, soul, pop, and yes, classical singing.

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