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Course 1: Vocal Technique

Teacher: Curtis Hollembeak
FREE: Test your knowledge of vocal technique!

Learn the Fundamentals of Great Singing:

Whether you are a soloist, choir member, music director, or just someone who enjoys singing in the shower, you'll learn what it takes to have a free, open, resonant voice that will allow you to effectively communicate the message of the song you are singing. In this course, we will discuss the three main elements of singing: breathing, phonation, and resonance, as well as methods for becoming a better communicator.

Lesson 1. A Reason to Sing

"The Lord Is My Song"

Psalm 118:14 says, "The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation." The reason for understanding music, performing music, and striving for excellence in music is to bring glory to God.

Lesson 2. Supportive Posture

"Stand Relaxed and Expansive"

The goal of good posture is to release all tension from around the vocal chords, and to free up the breathing apparatus so that it can provide volume and tonal support. The singer's "instrument" is his body, from the bottom of the feet to the top of the head. Proper alignment of the body is foundational to beautiful vocal production.

Lesson 3. Breathe from the Diaphragm

"Fill the Barrel"

Once we have mastered good posture, which provides us with a free, relaxed and open body, we can learn how to obtain a good volume of air, and then measure it out in a steady stream to be used by the vocal folds in phonation. The goal is relaxed, expansive breathing which frees up the singer for a wide range of volume levels and phrase durations.

Lesson 4. The Vocal Mechanism

"All Sound Is the Result of Vibration"

God has created within us a wonderful, complex tool for communication capable of a full range of expression. The vibrations in the air which we hear and recognize as the human voice are created within the larynx, as the vocal folds are repeatedly blown apart and closed again.

Lesson 5. Phonation - Vocal Production

"The Throat Is a Hallway, Not a Door"

The muscles that control the vocal folds are mostly “non-volitional” or “involuntary,” that is, they are not usually controlled directly through conscious thought and effort. Trying to take direct control by using the strong “volitional” or “voluntary” muscles in and around the larynx can easily result in unnecessary strain. Our goal is free, open, and relaxed vocal production.

Lesson 6. Resonance

"Amplify the Sound"

Resonance is defined as “the amplification of the range of audibility of any spoken or sung sounds, by various couplings of the cavities of the sinuses, nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and upper thorax, and, to some extent, by the skeletal structure of the head and upper chest.” In other words, the vocal folds produce a vibration, which is then made louder by reacting with open spaces and hard structures located near the vocal mechanism.

Lesson 7. Vocal Registers

"Utilize the Entire Range of Available Notes"

The voice has certain notes at which it flips, breaks, yodels or otherwise changes in quality. To find these bridges, sing up the scale until the voice cannot go higher without changing the quality of the tone, either becoming strained and forced, or flipping into falsetto. Our goal is to be able to sing above these bridges and make full use of our higher range of notes by using the head voice. The key is to keep the larynx down in a relaxed, speaking position.

Lesson 8. Articulation and Phrasing

"Be Understood"

The goal of our music is to communicate a clear, heartfelt message to the listener. Therefore, the words and sentences must be clearly articulated. Unclear, overdone or mispronounced diction creates a distraction in the mind of the listener and must be avoided. The singer must sing as naturally and spontaneously as he speaks, and should always aim to tell the story to the audience.

Lesson 9. Communicate the Message

"Experience the Song"

Music is a wonderful tool for communication. A great song, performed well, can deliver a message that touches the listener on many different levels. As we see in I Samuel 16:23, music affects us physically, intellectually and emotionally, and spiritually. Our goal as singers is to remove any distraction that might cause the listener to miss the message we are communicating.