Modern Vocal Training


This section of the site will answer any and all general vocal related questions you may have. Just type your question into the box, click submit, and then check frequently back to see the answer! For help with specific issues or if you'd like to receive critiques of your recordings please head over to the BOOK A LESSON page and we'll set up a 'Written Consultation'. 

Q: What's the best way to warm up my voice when I have a cold?

A: The main issue you're going to run into when your sick is swelling. When your vocal cords are swollen they can't stretch as efficiently as they normally do. Your body creates a coating of mucus over your cords to help protect the cords... for singing though, that coating is going to cause issues so our first priority is to gently get rid of it. Drinking lots of water will flush it out. Another way to get rid of excess mucus is to gently vocalize lip trills or sing scales in a comfortable range on the vowel 'EE'. Once the excess mucus has been removed the swelling will begin to go down and you'll be able to slowly thin the cords out and prepare for singing.

Q: Every time I sing I wind up hoarse after an hour, is this bad?

A: 99% of the time this is caused by poor breath control. People push through too much air in an attempt to sing stronger and wind up drying out their cords and causing them to swell. When you push through too much air you also begin to engage excess muscles which is all counterproductive since it actually takes a minimal amount of effort to sing correctly. Try singing softer at first with attention placed on your inhales... make sure you take a sufficient breath in that doesn't cause your shoulders to raise; only your stomach should come out. As you get more comfortable using less breath to sing you can increase the volume but do so slowly and only after you're comfortable singing softer. This will quickly become second nature once you take the time to focus on correct technique.

Q: I've been working on screaming with my teacher for years but still can't do it. I want to scream like Kurt Cobain and the guy from Soundgarden but just can't get my voice to do it, I'm too tense. What's the best way to start to at least initiate the scream?

A: As you acknowledged yourself, your tension is the problem. Screams usually sound huge and brutal, like there is a ton of effort behind it, but that's not the case. First off, you have to realize that an unamplified scream is going to sound a lot different than one done with a mic with some EQ, compression, and effects added to it. Keep that in mind if you're not able to practice with a mic. Once you do get that opportunity, you're going to be shocked at how true it is that a little bit goes a long way. 

None of thats helpful though if you can't get the scream sound going in the first place so here's what you need to try. First off, read my article on screaming to get a more in depth understanding. Basically, warm up as you usually do and sing through a few songs to make sure you're actually warmed up. Experimenting with your voice is fine but you need to be sure its actually ready to go and can handle the possibility of straining a little while you work towards the proper coordination. Sing an 'AH' vowel, as in father. An open vowel is a lot easier to rasp/scream when you're first getting started. 

As you're sustaining the AH, push down like you're going to the bathroom for support and let out a little more air. This air needs to be directed toward the back of your throat. To get this sensation down, try imitating a pigeon. By directing the air toward your uvula you're going to start getting that pigeon sound as it vibrates. Now... for the AH vowel you want to direct the air into that some place but this time with just a little more pressure. Keep trying this with different mouth shapes, tongue positions, etc. until you start to get a rasp sound. Does it tickle? If so, back off the pressure a little bit. If not, try it either at a higher volume or with just a tiny bit more air pressure. Then back off the pressure and see if you can replicate the sound with a normal amount of air but still focus it up high. 

Play around with this, always backing off if it tickles, hurts, or you choke. This is the first step to really getting a feel for where rasp goes. From there you can start to build on it and imitate the artists you mentioned. Feel free to contact me for more detailed information through a written consult or in person lesson!