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Untraining Your Voice

Untraining Your Voice
Singing is crying – minus the tears – says Mark Baxter

“I would love to be able to sing better but I’m not sure if training would be worth the effort.”

People often toss me this statement to see if I’ll throw back a sales pitch about voice lessons. I never do.

I figure if someone refers to improving skills as effort, then they have no passion. What good is any artistic adventure if there is no passion?

What I do offer is a different perspective on the voice lesson issue. We all know of someone who has an incredible voice and never had a bit of instruction.


These people just open their mouths and it comes out great. Lucky for them.

However, the common belief that some people are born to sing doesn’t mean that the rest of us have to sit on the sidelines.

Anyone can improve the sound of their voice. My advice is to think of it as un-training.

Start Dealing with Trained-In Tensions

Pay a visit to a maternity ward and it’s obvious that we are born with the ability to produce sound.

Crying is reflex behavior. Singing is crying- minus the tears.

Most vocal problems can be traced back to speech. Unfortunately, we are so accustomed to the way we speak that our trained-in tensions go unnoticed until we start to sing.

Sit at a piano or pick up a guitar and the instrument is ready to play. In order to sing, though, you’ve got to build an instrument first.

Building an instrument requires nothing more than clearing a path from inspiration to phonation.

Whatever is blocking the flow needs to be un-done.

I’m not suggesting it’s easy, we worked hard to achieve these rigid states and the body is not going to be happy to let them go.

What I am suggesting is that you don’t have to accept your voice “as is.” The laws of sound are the same for everyone.

Release your throat and you’ll have a better tone. Allow your vocal folds to stretch freely and you’ll have better range and accuracy.

Return your breathing back to a reflexive, natural state and you’ll have dynamic control. Think of it as un-training and you’ll have a big head start on the process.

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Jarryd Fillmore Thumbnail Jarryd Fillmore “Love Is A Verb” (Cover)

Jarryd you are a very sensitive musician and singer – you play and sing with feeling! The way you affect your singing is great for verses but you would become even more dimensional if you would allow more of your unaffected sound to color choruses and bridges. Think of all the changes in our voices as we talk about different things – bring those colors into your singing.

James Patrick Thumbnail James Patrick “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down (Cover)

James I know you worked hard to get your voice to sound so raspy and rough – and it works really well with your intro of the song. The thing I suspect, though, is that now it’s become hard for you to sing any other way. After five minutes your velocity becomes less about emotion and more about what you need to do to sing high notes. Back off the gas pedal occasionally so when you do open up there will be a greater wow factor.

Jenna Pool Thumbnail Jenna Pool “Skinny Love” (Cover)

I love it when people sing songs they love because it adds a special magic quality to the voice. Keep singing songs you love, Jenna, but I think you would really benefit from spending an equal amount of time on vocal exercises. Your voice will gain strength and stability that will reward you when you connect with a song.

 The Ultimate Guide to SingingMark is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing Available in print and Kindle versions in the US, the UK and across the world.

Mark Baxter Professional Shoot

Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson
You can see more of Mark’s work here.

  • Poppa Madison

    When one thinks of the minute physical differences between humans that make up the differences in vocal tone, timbre and drive, the mind boggles.

    We are all endowed with essentially the same “vocal” tissue structure, musculature, airways, nasal passages and skull.

    And yet, each one of us can sound so different from one another when we speak or sing.

    An analogy to get the picture of this might be to consider that which forms the complex construct of a motor vehicle from Engine to exhaust tail-pipe.

    The difference being that a vehicle can easily be made to sound very different by mechanical modification that can alter a Purr into a veritable ROAR .

    We on the other hand need tutoring and heaps of different bodily exercises and perhaps ingested and inhaled concoctions of all kinds in order to effect the desired audible outcome!

    Sometimes I guess there would be those of us who wished we could just visit an Auto body shop, get a few mods done, get * “Bitronized” perhaps, and a sandblast here and there, so as to come out sounding like the greatest singer since Caruso or Edith Piaf.

    * Bi-tron is a registered trademark and is accorded here (only as it has been mentioned above)with the due reverence it deserves for its ability to superbly lubricate and rejuvenate any mechanical moving parts, engines, gearboxes, differentials etc.

    ♪♫ Yodel-odel-edel-odel-adel-edel-odel-adel-odelayee ! ♪♫



    © ♯♪♫ ♂PM