Monday, April 03, 2017

Was I A Great Singer Before Getting Lessons?

Before training as a singer, I was good enough to work professionally and did.  I worked in Las Vegas, Florida, and 12 other states on tour.  I got a job, singing in a show in Las Vegas and I had a “break” in my voice.  I sang below the break and that is what I had done for years.  I thought that it was just part of singing and that there was nothing I could do about it.  Then I started studying with a lady and in a few months, I had no break.  I had no strain.  I had power throughout my entire range, which had over an octave added to it.  I could finally sing R&B songs in the original keys without cracking.

The lady insisted that I learn to teach what she taught me.  We met daily for several weeks and she then told me that I had to get some students.  I did.  The results were miraculous, the singers told me.  My teacher told me that she had never seen anyone get the results with singers as fast as I did.  I mostly did what she had taught me but I also had experience with trombone professionally, so I had some added insight that no other vocal coach could possibly have.  I had studied with one of the best brass teachers in the world.

One of my students was a plumber.  He had been a singer, playing the lounges in Las Vegas, until he injured his voice from singing wrong, had surgery, and could not work professionally after that.  He had a great tone quality.  He had a bad break in his voice and couldn’t get to the high notes like before his surgery.  When he sang, I noticed that he would fill up with air and then as he sang, he flexed his abs very hard.  A light went off in my head so I asked him, ”Are you a brass player, too?” He said, “Yes.  Trombone.”  Some brass players are told to fill up with air.  It is a very unnatural way to play, especially on short musical phrases.  My brass teacher had taught me a different way to breathe, which was to not fill up with air, unless it was a long phrase at high volume.  I thought about how to get him to relax.  I had him sit backwards on a chair, facing the back of the chair while straddling it and to lean his body into the chair, to take all his weight and to relax his abs completely.  My teacher was there and she and the man’s wife came running into the studio when they heard the return of his voice in all of its brilliance and range.  The three of them were crying and praying and thanking me, too.  He went back to work as a singer, which was his love and his passion.

For me, training got me to go beyond what I could do before training.  I went from frustration to freedom.  It took a little time but it also did feel like a miracle when in a lesson my break was gone.  There was one specific exercise I did when it happened.  The others before that one had prepared me for this day.

I studied karate privately.  There were many days of stretching before the day came when I could kick straight up.  Progress is incremental as long as you are doing the right exercises, the right way, in the right sequence, and for the right amount of time.  That amount of time will vary with each individual.