How do I Start?
If you have taken voice lessons before, or you have been investigating about the voice and the training it requires to improve your vocal chops, you may already have the answer for this question, one answer at least.
You see, a lot of beginners who have finally decided to start working on their voice, ask themselves this same question over and over. My email inbox usually has a few of these on a weekly basis, and it never ends! For some, it may be a very basic question, but for them it’s probably the most important question at the moment.
With so many techniques and methods out there, hundreds of videos that are published daily by vocal coaches all over the world, you may think all the answers are there.
And they may be…
But it’s far from clear.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice how a lot of these videos are dedicated to singers who already have some type of knowledge of the voice, whether it’s terminology or the difference between voice qualities and sounds. If you, however, are a complete beginner, it may quickly overwhelm you.
Don’t let it happen to you.
The very first thing you need to understand, is that it’s okay to ask these kinds of questions. It doesn’t matter how basic or even silly they may sound. Do not be embarrassed to ask. As a teacher, I love working with complete beginners and explain every single question with simple but scientifically based answers. Thus, if you ask something to a teacher, and he or she rolls his/her eyes, explains things a little too fast, or just doesn’t make sense, be careful; that’s a red flag that this person doesn’t know how to work with beginners.
Second, it’s time to read. Yup, I had to say it. And no, please don’t groan or sigh with frustration. I know this is singing and again, a lot of information is in video format, but trust me. The BEST technical information is only acquired through reading. Now, there is nothing wrong to have your personal teacher explain every fundamental topic when it comes to singing, but time is money…and you really don’t want to have your lesson time be reduced because the teacher spent most of the time talking and not assisting you with your vocal objectives.
There are plenty of books of singing that can help you understand the basics at a fraction of a lesson’s price. I recommend Richard Fink’s THROGA: The 7 Dimensions of Singing. It covers all the fundamentals in simple terms, it has clear and accurate diagrams and has audio samples for the exercises. The book can be a great reference for when you start taking lessons and if you work with any of us Certified Throga Instructors, we can explain the book further if needed. We have all read it and fully understand all the technical terms and concepts in it. Another book that you can also read is Mark Baxter’s the Rock and Roll Singer’s Survival Manual. Like the Throga book, it’s perfect for beginners thanks to its friendly format, clear images and easy to understand concepts.
Third, time to ask more questions. YES! Because if you read the book, articles or any other information online, I am sure you will start to have questions as you try to grasp the new concepts in your mind, it’s okay! This is where things start to get fun, because you’ll be able to make sense and understand the relation between the technical aspect (how it happens) with the practical (how it sounds).
Fourth, now it’s time for a lesson! And no worries if the very first thing you did was book a lesson. Most beginners do, and it’s okay. I am sure that it helped, and it was great. However, if you followed the previous steps, the exercises given in a lesson will no longer be “random sounds”. You’ll have a better understanding of how the voice works and with the instructor’s guidance, it will be easier to make the necessary adjustment to obtain the sound that you want. The results on your voice will also be clearer to your ears, and you’ll be able to relate it to what’s happening with you instrument instead of just using sensations as reference.
Fifth, by this time you are no longer a “complete” beginner, even if you still feel like one, but regardless of your level, there is always room to improve, and that’s what you always want to strive for. If things are going well, make sure to book weekly lessons with your favorite teacher to make sure you keep challenging yourself and your voice.
Now you may say…that’s a lot of work!
Singing is a lot of work.
Even if all you want to do is sing “Happy Birthday” without going off pitch, there are no shortcuts or “tricks” when it comes to singing. It’s all about training the mind and the voice, and like other crafts that you want to master, you will need to work for it.
So, if you have read this article up to this point, then you definitely have the desire and all the motivation to go with this, and I really commend your effort! I wish you a fun and successful journey discovering your voice, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.