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No matter your level of experience, it’s always a good idea to revisit the fundamentals.
In this episode, John discusses his brand new book, Beginning Singing, and his approach to the fundamentals for beginners as well as advanced singers.
Episode 187 – Beginning Singing
Hey there, this is John Henny, welcome back to another episode of the intelligent vocalist. I do so appreciate you spending this precious listening time with me.
Man, it is like the apocalypse outside of my door. California right now is literally on fire. It is raining ash, like we are in a snow globe. It’s just wild what’s going on here and I feel so terrible for everyone who’s impacted and losing their homes. We’ve had some warnings sent over the phone through the Emergency Broadcast System that we may need to prepare for evacuation. But it looks like the fire is moving away from where we are. Which is good for us. But obviously not good for those in the fire path. So I’m just sending out good thoughts to everyone impacted by this, it’s been a heck of a year.
Man, and in the craziness just keeps ratcheting up. So 2020 if it wasn’t already one for the record books, it definitely is now certainly here in California, we had temperatures of 115 degrees, I think that may be around 47 Celsius, one town in southern California. In the LA area Woodland Hills, which is a bit Northwest of us they hit 121 degrees, which is just absolutely nuts. And then the power grid is starting to go down. Transformers are blowing where we were without power for 20 hours in this heat and when you have Bulldogs that’s not good, actually, I had to pack all my dogs up and bring them to my music academy. And we had to hang out here and write it out. So the dogs had air conditioning, short snout dogs do not do well in this heat, nor do humans, but it was especially dangerous for our dogs. So we got the power back on only to have the fires kick in.
So boy, in better news though, my book is out my new book is called Beginning Singing and that’s what I want to talk to you today, as a tie into my book, I want to talk about beginning being an absolute beginner with the voice and even if you have been singing for a while, it is good to come to your instrument with a beginner’s mind and to revisit the basics and to revisit your understanding and how you build this voice. And I want to tell you how I’ve structured the book and my thought process behind it because the book is written for someone who has never had a singing lesson and who doesn’t really sing.
But I knew that wasn’t going to be the only reader and my intention with the book is to not just reach absolute beginners but again, to reach people who’ve been singing for a while but need to come back to basics and as a refresher. So as I put this book together, I really thought about what is important for people to know and if you’ve been listening to the podcast, you may know that I break singing down into what I call ACV – Air Cord Vowel or you can talk about breath, vocal fold or vocal cord, but the resistance at the vocal folds and the adjustment of the vocal folds for pitch and then vowel which is actually a controller of resonance. So it breathes to the vocal folds which creates the sound wave, the vocal folds resisting the air, compressing it, releasing that compressed air. That vibrating air is then filtered through the vocal tract through your throat and through your mouth and out into the world.
And I want to use that as the basis for understanding your voice and I think that it is important to understand how your voice works. Look at you, one of those rare individuals that just sings and is gifted with inordinate natural talent and you can just go out there and sing everything you need to sing with no issues.
Man good for you, seriously. But almost everyone, even gifted singers, I believe, can benefit from understanding their voice. This doesn’t take away your musicality or your soul, your emotion or your connection, it just gives you the ability to understand and control your instrument because there will be days when your voice is not working as well as you would like. Whether it’s allergies, fatigue, which you’ve eaten, you’re getting old, or all of these things will need you to understand your instruments so you can get yourself through vocal challenges.
So what I do in the book is, I basically start with the breath and how to breathe for singing. And then I go to make a sound, which is the vocal folds. And I want the reader to understand how the folds work, so that they can adjust properly and resist the air so that we get the sound wave. And then I go into resonance. And this is really, really key and what I’d like to do is read you the beginning of the chapter on resonance, because I think this is incredibly important.
So here we go, chapter five resonance. What is resonance? After the breath and the buzzing vocal folds, we come to the final and arguably most important part of the singing process resonance. Resonance is the enhancement of the sound waves into the full sound of the human voice. This enhancement is accomplished by acoustic spaces, which are areas where the air molecules can bounce and reflect off the sides. Think of the echoing sound of your voice in an empty High School, gym or underground parking lot.
These reflections create boosts in energy and this energy is the stuff hit records are made of. We have two primary acoustic spaces inside our own heads, namely, our throat and mouth. With the back of the tongue acting as an acoustic separator. Combined, the length of the throat and mouth is referred to as the vocal tract. The nasal cavity is also a resonator when making nasal sounds such as the consonant and then I have a nice illustration of air of the cavities of the throat, the mouth, etc. And I do have some cool illustrations throughout the book to help people understand alright going on.
The way we shape our throat and mouth resonators, has a huge impact on the sound waves emanating from our vocal folds. Changing the size and shape of our resonators by moving our tongue, lips, jaw or larynx will change the way sound waves bounce around or resonate within the vocal track, which changes the resulting sound. The enhancement of sound waves through resonance is why musicians pay much more for certain instruments. It’s the primary reason why one guitar cost $200 and another cost $5,000. You can put the same strings on both guitars, but the $5,000 guitar will do a better job of filtering and enhancing the sound waves coming from those strings in a way that brings out the best possible sound.
You will hear more depth of color and a fuller more transparent sound. A $200 guitar will sound fine, but not exceptional. Your voice can go from a $200 to a $5,000 instrument in the blink of an eye. By adjusting your resonance, you can bring out the finer qualities and details from the sound waves. You experience these changes in resonance in everyday speech. The difference between saying not a note is primarily a change in the shape of the lips, not has the lips further apart, while note rounds and closes the lips slightly. This rounding of the lips for note filters and removes some of the brightness of not trying moving between the words na and no, slowly paying attention to the differences of color between the two vowels.
You might even notice them feeling slightly different with subtle shifts in the sensations of the vibration and now I’m done reading from the book. That’s why Really important and you can even play with that moving? Nah, no, nah, no and and feel what changes, not just what you hear change, but what you feel changes and what is happening is the resonance is changing what is being sent out to the listener, the sound wave has all these colors in it. And actually, all these different vowels and I go into that as well, what vowels are? How vowels work? But this idea that just changing your lips moving your tongue is changing the filter.
It’s like an EQ system, and it’s boosting certain parts of the sound wave and diminishing certain parts of the sound wave. And then from there, I move on to how to registrate the voice? Because registration is incredibly important that’s moving from your lower register chest voice, through that transition into your head voice and resonance and vowels are the key to getting your voice balanced through the registers. And registering your voice and getting this balance all through your range is probably the most important part of learning to sing. And then that leads us to range, I’ve got a whole chapter on that. And then once we’ve worked that, then I go into building power, because getting into power too soon is just looking for trouble. So I get into that, then into vibrato, singing songs, vocal health, how to practice and then further study and resources.
And also what I’ve done for the book, as I’ve created a members area that’s free, when you get the book, you just, it’ll give you a link to go to, you sign up, there’s no charge. And I have video lessons, as well as recordings of scales for you to practice to and a whole warm up slash workout for the male and then one for the female voice. And I’m really excited for all of you to read this book, if you haven’t yet. Got it. I’m keeping the book at 99 cents for at least another week from the date of this podcast. So just go to beginningsingingbook.com and that will take you to my page where you can find your Amazon store. I’ve got the links for the US, UK, Germany because I know I’ve got listeners all over the world. If you can’t find it, go ahead and go to your Amazon store and just search, John Henny Beginning Singing.
But this really lays out how I look at the voice, how I think people should learn to sing what the basics are with the minimal amount of information that you should understand about your voice. And some of the concepts I introduce are not simple. I do get into some, some scientific concepts, but everything is easy to understand.
And I really spend a lot of time breaking this down and making sure that this is easy for the listener to understand, very important to me. And I did a lot of work and rewrites as I shared on the podcast. I mean they were paragraphs that I just tortured myself over for days rewriting every which way because I didn’t want to confuse anyone. I don’t want to over explain concepts or lead people down a rabbit hole. And I want all of the information to be useful. It’s not about learning science for science sake, it’s about really understanding how your voice works. So that if you are feeling a result in your voice, and you want to improve it you will have the understanding to know what to do and how to approach it. And again, I’ve got the book on sale right now because I think it’s really important for everyone to read it. You can get the Kindle version for just 99 cents. You can also get the paperback if you want to go in there and mark it up etc. I do uncertain books like to get physical books, but yeah, you can get the Kindle right away. And please share with your singing friends. I’d love to get the word out there. This has been a labor of love. I’ve been working on this book for about a year. This is actually the third book I’ve published in the last year and a half my first two books were for voice teachers.
That’s Teaching Contemporary Singing, which if you’ve been singing for a while you’re thinking about learning to teach you’d like to teach, I can highly recommend that book and then the next one’s Voice Teacher Influencer, which if you’re already teaching, and you want to start to grow your influence and grow your student base, and possibly sell products, etc, that’s the book for you. But if you’re a singer, and you’re just coming to singing, if you’ve had a layoff for a while, or you really want to get a refresher on the basics, beginning singing is the book for you. So I appreciate you indulging me in this little bit of a commercial here for my book. But I’m gonna be honest, I’m not making any money off this book. This book, I’m keeping it really inexpensive.
I want this to help singers. It ultimately helps grow my authority and so it’s good for my brand. But the book itself is not a moneymaker, after what I’ve spent on the editing, and the cover, and formatting and illustrations, and everything that went into it. And not to mention all the time spent doing the book, this really is a labor of love. And this really is I. I want this to be my gift to singers. And so I’m encouraging you, go, grab the book. .
If you’ve ever wanted to have a lesson with me, and you can’t afford it, this is the closest you’re going to get certainly for 99 cents, and it’s on sale all over the world. So whatever the equivalent of 99 cents is in your country, that’s what you will be paying.
So again, beginningsingingbook.com and also be sure to sign up for my email list. My email subscribers had the chance to be test readers for the book. And we were able to read it months ago before everyone else and they also get first dibs at any new courses I have and I usually have special prices. So you do want to get on that list. If you are interested in lessons. My associate Darlene Yam has some limited, have some limited availability. Darlene has been working side by side with me for many years, she’s been through all my training. I confer with her on students. So you can. She’s an amazing teacher and it’s not as expensive as studying with me. So if you want to get lessons I highly recommend Darlene Yam, just reach out to the [email protected] and Tracy can give you all the information on that.
And until next time to better singing. Thank you so much. Bye bye