When it comes to myths and false information, there are so many in the singing community that it would be impossible to name them all in one blog posting!
Why all the myths?
Well, the old schools of singing relied mostly on sensory identification and then made up visual imagery to teach young students how to sing. Many myths date back to the mid 1800s and still linger on today, as they have been transmitted form teacher to student throughout many generations of singers.
However, just as in many other fields, science has sharpened its tools to find out more about what is actually happening in the singing instrument when we sing. Slowly, the process of busting of all those lingering myths continues.
In the last 2 postings, I have focused on some breathings myths that are all too common, but there are so many others that are out there.
Here are a few other myths I have come across during the last 12 years of teaching and researching:
- “If you learn the classical approach, you will be able to sing anything.”
- “If you practice lip rolls and tongue trills, you will sing great”
- “If you sing off key, you must be toned deaf.”
- “Great singing is all about breath support.”
- “If you swallow something oily (like greasy potato chips), hot tea, lemon, apple cider vinegar, honey,… it will help you sing better, especially when your throat is sore.”
- “A good singer never sings from the throat.”
- “If you place half a cork between your molars, as in the “dumb jaw” approach, you will get a nice opened throat.”
- “If you squeeze your butt muscles, you will get those high notes.”
- “If you imagine you have an orange in your throat when you sing, it will stay nice and open.”
- “If you sing constantly, you will become a great vocalist.”
- “It is ok if you voice hurts or feels tired, it means you are training your muscles.”
- … and the list goes on!
Now I will surely be criticized for this one as many of today’s voice schools have based themselves on it, but no, singing is NOT like speaking!
As said by renowned instructor, performer and author, the late Richard Miller in his book “The Art of Singing”, “The position of the abdominal wall remains in the inspiratory gesture for a longer period of time than is the case in normal speech patterns. This is the basis of the “Appoggio” technique of breath management.
There is a set up that requires a great amount of coordination in singing and although the goal can be to get a certain tone that is vey close to that of the speaking voice, especially for many contemporary styles of singing, the two are not exactly the same. So voice teachers may ask their students to keep certain elements of speech in singing, but the two are not completely the same.
We are now in the age of information. Vocal teachers and coaches have the responsibility to find out what is really takes place within the vocal instrument as their students rely on this information. It can be a difficult task to keep up to date, I know, but that is not a reason to give out faulty information and potentially damage a singer’s voice.
As a singer or student of the voice, you also have this responsibility towards your own vocal instrument. If you take the study of singing seriously, then find out all you can about it and surround yourself with the positive support and knowledge you need to take your singing to the next level.
… and have fun while your at it!