Author: Mark Williams

Mark is a touring musician seasoned in performing, as well as an experienced worship leader and choir and theater director. He loves to help others find their full potential and how to ‘communicate’ a song and make it their own.

Mark David Williams - Ask the Vocal Coach

How Long Does It Take to Achieve My Best Voice?

Your Question

Once you start the vocal exercises on daily basis, how many days, months or years will it take to reach your your best of the best voice? And also what period to reach your permanent voice which you might not need any serious training again.
Justin

Answer

It’s my experience that one never stops growing vocally. There is always something to learn, someone to glean something from, and something to challenge yourself on.

I know that may be a stock ‘teacher’ answer, but it actually is true. Music is constantly evolving and there is always something new. Even just from a physical point of view, every individual develops differently. The male voice for instance is still maturing well into the twenties and even early thirties.

How Long Will It Take to Achieve My Best?

Really, the best and simplest answer I can give you is this: The harder you work, the less time it will take. It is hard work and it is hard to work in a correct and in a healthy way.

So to answer your question about how many days, months will it take to reach your best—that is difficult to predict—but with proper practice it’s sooner than later.

When Do I Stop Training?

There is always something to learn, someone to glean from, and something to challenge yourself on


And when will you not need serious training? That is a good question. I studied seriously from high school through shortly after college and then would have ‘check-ups’. I was a committed student of voice and maintained the things I learned very well, which is what led me to want to share what I know and have experienced through the years.

So I stopped ‘seriously’ training after about 8 years. But, I learned to record and watch and listen to myself and be a good critic of my own voice. Still, I have always needed support and help from a trained ear that is not my own. When I need a checkup, run into challenges—or when I had viral laryngitis, Chris Beatty helps me get my voice back on track.

It’s so important to have that relationship where you can go to your teacher and say, “Hey, I need a tune-up?” or “Something isn’t feeling or sounding right.” I don’t think a singer actually ever ‘perfects’ the voice in every aspect.

We Can Be Your Vocal Coach

Wherever you are in your vocal training, we can equip and encourage you to be your best. And bring you there in the quickest, most efficient way possible. If you are committed to singing, you will need a good balance of self directed learning with good resources and professional training.

Vocal Coach will give true and honest feedback and help you through a challenging vocal time or get you on the right track. Sometimes a call back to foundational singing is all a singer needs—breathe, stand upright, watch your jaw and head movement. Sometimes we face specific challenges unique to our own voice.

I know that’s a long answer to your question, but this is truly the best answer I can give. Keep on singing!

Vocal Coach Mark David Williams

Singing Blue Notes

What style do you typically sing? Do you like to be precise when interpreting written music? Do you feel the need to put your own vocal signature on a song? This week, I discuss the inclusion of “blue notes” in certain styles of music.

Question

Hi! Gospel and blues is famous for blue notes and people singing notes which are between the piano keys. I understand that classical singing mostly sing the 12 notes of the octave but that blues and gospel singers have to learn blue notes as well. What can you say about this?

Answer

Thank you for your question! I appreciate this questions as I was trained in many styles as a Commercial Music Major at Belmont University. The first two years are foundationally classical and include a variety of languages and Art Songs. I loved it!

And then the final two years were studying and singing all different styles. My voice teacher was a Jazz singer rooted in Classical music. That being said, I was learning a lot about Jazz my final two years of school. I loved that too!

So to answer your question really makes me draw upon personal experience and you could possibly get a different answer from another coach or professional. Classical music really is about staying on the notes. They are written with purpose and intention and often are accompanied by a full orchestra. There is a precision needed in the pitch and execution of rhythm and basically what is written on the page.

A singer can learn a lot by trying out different musical styles

Jazz, gospel and blues leave much more room for interpretation of the notes and rhythms and for adding in ‘blue’ notes. There is freedom to scoop, to change a line rhythmically, to sing a different note and to just ‘feel’ the song with the band. In other words, blues and gospel singers will naturally learn blue notes as well, because it’s just a natural part of the style—and the more you sing within the style the more naturally the ear and voice will include some blue notes.

Perhaps a better way to look at it is not so much a ‘have to,’ but more of a ‘freedom to do so’. It can be very liberating for someone who has only ever sung what is written to sing what is ‘unwritten’. Being able to sing what’s written and what’s not is a really great vocal ‘tool’ to have. I hope this helps give some insight. I appreciate and respect all styles and I feel that a singer can learn a lot by trying different styles of music.

Mark Williams and a girl blowing snow

Freezing High Notes

This week we have another singer having trouble with their high notes, but in a different way. Brad let us know that his warm-ups are going well, but the song performance is having a little trouble. Do you ever have this issue? Read on.

Question:

Hi, My voice freezes up and or fades away on higher notes just when I am singing an actual song, yet I do not seem to have this problem when warming up or doing your vocal exercises!! Any tips to help me overcome this problem? Also when breathing should I purposely pull in my stomach on the exhale to sing better?? I am a bit unsure if I should pull in my tum or just keep the sides and back expanded and I do want to keep my breathing support correct. Hope you can help with some good advice.

Answer:

One thing you can try to help alleviate the ‘freezing up’ or ‘fading away’ of the voice is to actually sing the song while combining your favorite vocal exercise. Example – choose your favorite and possibly easiest exercise – like maybe the Lip Trill – and sing the entire song with the lip trill – use no words. Or if your favorite exercise is on an ‘ah’ – sing the entire song on an ‘ah’ (no real words, just the ah). I think the Lip trill could be a great place to start.

Practice it once with the lip trill and then try it as normal and see if there is a change or relaxation in the voice. You can also combine and sing half of the song (the easiest parts) with the words and then try the highest parts on lip trill. As far as breathing goes – No, do not pull in the stomach. Simply allow the frontal abdominal wall to go slightly out for the inhale and do what it needs to do for the exhale. Remember to keep the chest and shoulders still. Allow the stomach/diaphragm to work, don’t make it do anything. Rather, let the expanding back and sides be your focus.

You can also read this “White Paper” on breathing: http://vocalcoach.com/wp-content/uploads/Ten-Steps-to-Better-Breathing.pdf

We have an online lesson designed for just this problem. I can walk you through a particular song and help you work out all the technical and performance tweaks. It’s well worth your time! Find it on the Vocal Coach Store