Devout choir members spend a lot of time in practice and even more time performing at mass. One thing they all seem to have in common is incorrect vocal posture—which if they had corrected and rebalanced, it would allow them to sing with absolute freedom and with no pain or strain whatsoever—suffice to say, the best place to butcher your voice is when you sing in a choir. And no, I’m not trying to be nasty. This is the gospel truth—if you will excuse the pun—from my observation over the years in training singers who come from churches and choirs. You’ll be surprised to discover that this phenomenon rings true in every sense of the word, and I will try to elaborate a bit more on this with a couple of real life scenarios.
To begin with, the group environment in which they practice and the allotment of particular voice types by choir leaders is perhaps the main culprit. Now add to this the lack of vocal training, and you have a monumental recipe for disaster. And this is why I only train one person at a time. Groups tend to put you in position where you feel drowned by all the other voices and this triggers the tendency to overexert yourself to be heard, thereby inflicting sometimes irreparable damage to your vocals chords. I’ve received and trained choir members that come to my studio with vocals that are not quite their true voice… not by any stretch of the imagination, and worse yet, due to incorrect use of their voices for so many years, rebalancing in training takes a lot of work. Commonly, working with them on the scales proves significantly difficult due to the constant tendency—perpetuated over the years—to shout and to corrode the vocal chords when they sing.
Can this be fixed? Yes, but over time and by taking baby steps. The very first way to fix the problem is to get some voice training to rebalance the voice. Do a few scales a day, incorporating the lip rolls, tongue trills and humming to realign your voice to a speech level singing vocal posture. If you’re working with a vocal coach, they’ll help you evaluate your progress. However, if you’re doing this on your own—training from home, make sure you follow instructions to the letter and do your best to evaluate your own progress.
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You are the instrument, learn to sing like a pro!
Vocal Coach & Author "Letters from a Vocal Coach"