Not all people who love to sing, love opera. While I may enjoy singing Die Fledermaus or Phantom of the Opera My singing goals aren’t set in becoming an opera singer. I enjoy opera, rock, country, jazz, and contemporary Christian styles as well, and I want to be a flexible singer. That means I need work on having the vocal control it takes to sing different genres. I may not be at the top in all styles but I can learn and practice enough to do it well enough that I won’t sing opera on a Sunday morning with the worship team.
So how does one learn to sing different styles? I know a fantastic classical singer but she can’t do anything else. She gets frustrated because she cant blend with worship team singers and she really would like to sing other styles but feels stuck. Just the other day I heard a soprano at a worship leaders conference say she was a backup singer but her classical training made it hard for her to fit into the team at her church. It’s not uncommon for singers to be stuck in bad vocal habits but singers can get stuck with good habits too, limiting themselves because they haven’t explored what is called “vocal placement.”
So how can someone who is “stuck” in a vocal style break out of the vocal habits they have been practicing for years? Or, how can a vocal student avoid getting stuck in the first place?
We each are blessed with one voice and with training we can learn that there are different places physically where the voice can resonate, creating different sounds that lead to various vocal placements. These vocal placements are found in chest voice, mask, head voice, and falsetto.
Just for fun here’s a link to an article discussing vocal placement that will get you thinking. Although the article discusses voice over characterization for animated characters like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd the basic concept is the same for singers. For now just begin exploring the idea that you can produce the same pitch with different tonal qualities. How those qualities are produced are up to you. Remember you have 1 voice but you can choose to use it safely in many ways as long as you maintain healthy, free vocal production.