Rockers need to take their voices as seriously as opera singers take theirs –says Jeannette LoVetri
Classical singing is very disciplined. Rock is often chaotic. The parameters of classical singing can be beneficial for a young singer to know, as the contrast of what is expected in both worlds is extreme.
Classical singing carries with it the requirement that the voice makes very specific sounds in order for it to be classical.
The capacity to breathe has to be enhanced, the sounds made have to be efficient, and the person singing has to develop a way to be loud enough and clear enough to sing over a full orchestra (up to 80 instruments) without any electronic amplification.
Learning to do this takes years of training and hours of practice. The goals of a classical singer are to make beautiful music, in an expressive manner, sometimes while acting in an opera or oratorio, or when telling a story in a formal song.
A rocker could take the following from classical singing:
- Learn to breathe with deeper, fuller inhalation and measure out how the exhalation works while singing
- Learn to extend the length of the exhalation while singing while keeping the volume of the sound the same as you run out of air (difficult)
- Understand how to make a clear, precise sound that does not cause the vocal folds (cords) to work harder than necessary
- Learn to work off the resonance a voice can generate to give it greater penetration (in acoustic space)
- Understand languages (yours and others) and how they play a part in creating powerful communication in a song
Take Care of Yourself
Rockers need to take their voices as seriously as opera singers take theirs.
The vocal folds are very small and they make every sound you utter for all of your life.
You need to learn how they work, how to take care of them (and your sound), and how to handle things like being sick, being on the road, working with poor equipment (mics, monitors, speakers) and unskilled sound engineers.
You need to pay attention to your speaking voice, watching the volume and the amount of time you talk and avoid noisy environments when a gig is pending.
Also watch your hearing. Once you lose some frequencies, you can NEVER get them back and that can make it very difficult to function in both work and the outside world. Get good professional earplugs and always take them with you.
Know About Voice Specialists
You need to find a good voice specialist before you actually need one. Look for a “laryngologist” (lar-in-gol-o-gist), a medical doctor who specializes in working with the voice, and get an exam so you know how your vocal folds (cords) normally look.
That way, if you are traveling and have trouble, you can carry the photo of your folds from the exam, which will help a doctor in another location know how you look when things are normal and your voice is good.
If you have any doubts about how you sound, consult a medical doctor, a speech language pathologist or logoped, or a singing teacher who specializes in working with rock singers and vocal health (that may be hard to find).
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Nunzio Mastrangelo - Madness
Great voice, nice tune. Good energy in your delivery overall. Don’t get caught up with making musical or vocal “effects” just because you can. Always sing to express every word as a communication of something emotional. Be careful not to breathe in the middle of a word. Watch out not to be repetitive, explore different ways to sing both the melody and the rhythm.
Jeannette LoVetri is the creator of Somatic Voicework, her method for teaching Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM), a term she herself created which has since become widely used. She has been teaching singing since 1971, arriving in New York City in 1975 and currently lectures and teaches across the world.