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Episode 36 – Are People Born To Sing? | Vibrato exercises

The Naked Vocalist Podcast Ep 36 - Are People Born To Sing? Vibrato and Snapchat.

WE’RE ON VIDEO!!!! For the first time our new format for the podcast, now known as our ‘vodcast’, it gives you guys a bit more insight into us, and just makes the whole thing a bit more personable. Which we hear is going down very well! So thanks for that. The podcast is still available as usual from the usual download spots.

A little point to clear up before we crack on we make it quite clear that the straw video will arrive one day! We’ve had a few issues with recording and every time we’ve tried to film, it’s gone t*ts up. Lights exploded in our faces and everything. It’s gonna be free so keep your eyes open for that one! The straw topic is a very popular one at the mo and we wanna show you how it’s done properly.

Does natural ability exist?

Is it game over if you don’t have any?

So, there may be viral videos that you catch every now and then, when the kid aged 5 is playing crazy piano, or there’s a girl doing the most insane dance routine…and you hear that phrase ‘people are born to do it’.

In summary, this statement fills Chris with rage!

How is it possible to be born with the ability? Some people may be facilitated more to achieve these things, either in their bodies or environments. But the general gist is, you can’t necessarily do anything that you want, we do have limitations. HOWEVER you can achieve a hell of a lot with the right environment and a lot hard work.

So Chris says NO. “People are not born to sing”.

Steve agrees it’s two things; genetics and the environments we develop in (big fan of The Talent Code, read it!). This may be the people around you, influences through life, the things that spark it off, etc.

The spark could be triggered by the death of a relation for example (bit serious); many ‘geniuses’ (i.e.. Abraham Lincoln) have had someone close to them die at a very young age. The books research suggests that it’s a stark reminder that whilst life is given to you, it can be taken at any moment. That can be enough of a spark for some people to grab the bull by both horns, as it were. Not wanting to waste anymore time, they storm ahead with their passions, full gusto.

You can be passionate about anything if the spark is there and it’s not rare to hear people actually say ‘This is me, this is what I was born to do’. In reality, it’s more a case of the time and energy spent on achieving particular goals as an investment and not wanting to have wasted precious time.

The whole genetic link can be as specific as the vocal folds themselves. Over each fold is a layer called ‘lamina propria’. It is FACT that if someone has a thicker lamina propria, they can withstand more singing and can sing louder. Not everyone can not sing as loud, or intense as another person.

Now take Chris for example. He started singing when he was younger, when listening to Michael Jackson was a huge influence for him (a successful singers whose environment was key to his development!). There was no desire for Chris to be famous or successful in music, but just the enjoyment of expression through singing was enough for him. If you look at how people progress, Chris and his friends have spurred each other on for years. 10 whole years singing together in a band and before, that in a choir. The talent around you can spur you on to train twice a day and take singing lessons… and things change. You may see someone achieving more than yourself, and you may want to reach those goals too. In isolation, without guidance and advice, it may not have turned out that way. What if singers wouldn’t necessarily have been around him, especially talented ones that would motivate you to be better yourself? It’s about MOTIVATION.

Children, for example, are a great example of motivation. Imagine an excellent musical theatre singer at age 11, what is her motivation at such a young age? To impress the teacher? It’s mainly enjoyment. Achieving those high notes feels good! And some people will never experience that sensation in their life, which could be something to praise a child with who’s excelling. Those that don’t sing, will never experience that feeling of when you produce that banging high note. It’s a buzz. That girl will feel that constantly, and then she’ll get positive feedback and receive the encouragement to keep going and do even better. 

Check out the Vodcast for more discussion about this subject! It’s a biggun.

We move onto a couple of questions from Anon:

QUESTION 1 – Is it possible to get the first episodes of your podcast? As I’m late to the party and they only start from Episode 14 on iTunes. I’d be interested in hearing the others!”

ANSWER – You couldn’t get them for a while admittedly because of Chris’s lack of management with making sure they were there. But now they’re there! So go to your usual places for these on iTunes, Facebook, PodBean and and you’ll find all episodes available.

QUESTION 2“Do you cover anything on your podcast about vibrato? Any tips of getting it healthier and cleaner? I would like more of an open sound. I’ve been told I have a strong tongue root. Could you point me in the right direction please?!”

ANSWER – Dr Ingo Titze talks about it in Episode 20 and Ian Davidson in Episode 18. But what are the tips from us? We had some chat back and forth with Anon, and the  healthier and cleaner suggests she’s feeling something. Which could be related to tension. Vibrato come with balance. Efficiency is key.

Dr Titze has been clear that unfortunately there’s not very much research on vibrato, but we’ve been taught varying methods over time. A teacher said to Chris once, you’ve got terrible ‘tonguey’ vibrato. For the record, the tongue DOES NOT create vibrato. It is an oscillation in pitch, between the muscles that make the pitch high or low. The muscle that gets you low are really thick, and the opposite muscles which raise pitch are much smaller. And they react at different speeds. So if your vibrato is slow, and feels weighty, your ‘chest voice’ could be too heavy. Versus, if tension is high on the other side, then there will be something more ‘bleaty’ or rapid. It makes sense that if someone hasn’t gained control of the whole of their range, then vibrato is not going to be as easily achieved. Balance is the key word here.

Essentially, vibrato is a crucial tool for the voice and can actually be used to help relax certain parts of it.

Further to Anons questions, it may be that a singer can not achieve vibrato at all. How does one go about finding their vibrato? An exercise you can try is to place fingers under the rib cage in the centre over the stomach, gently push repeatedly and consistently whilst singing a note would encourage a vibrato sensation. Then moving forward, try to achieve the sound without using your hands.

There are other demonstrations on this vodcast so it may be worth checking the vid at the top for this one if you find yourself struggling with vibrato. Skip to around 27:10 secs for some demonstrations.

So that concludes the episode! Catch up with us regularly on Snapchat (nakedvocalist). We’re getting more confident with that now we’ve realised we’re not that old .  In summary, our posts are about 10% educational, 90% fun, 10% celebrity interviews, 60% something else… we ALWAYS give 170%.

Like this episode, we’d really like some more questions from you all! And please don’t be afraid to send some audio, so we know what you’re talking about in a bit more detail. We won’t play it on the podcast if you don’t want us to.

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See you soooooooon!