Can I sing?
Is the most frequently asked question, followed by:”can I, too, learn how to sing?” and of course:”can anyone learn how to sing?”.
The answer is a threefold:”Yes!” You can sing. In fact, you have been doing that already, I am sure. Be it in kindergarten or secretly behind the wheel of your car or under the shower, singing is not prohibited to the extremely talented. Anyone can sing. So, there you are. You can stop reading now.
Still there? So you would like to improve your singing? That's great! You stumbled upon the best way to learn it. In this course we will cover the basics of learning how to sing better, be more effective and enjoying singing more without fear and without reservations. And since your voice is part of you, we will improve the “you” in your voice as well. Now there you have an offer you can't refuse, right? There is, however, one condition: immerse yourself. Be prepared to experience everything we will offer you in this course. Some things might sound strange or feel awkward. Just realize, you have been programmed in a certain way. Be prepared to open your mind in order to get a better self image. If you are willing to dive in completely, you will improve yourself and your skills significantly in a matter of weeks!
Who am I?
I was trained as a singer and vocal coach at the conservatories of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After only offering classical singing for centuries, in the 80ties, many conservatories in the Netherlands started teaching jazz and pop. This was still based upon the classical singing methods and the classical sound, but it still was better than offering no modern music at all. In my classes, I was trained to sound classical. In my band workshops, however, a modern pop sound was required. This led to uncertainty and misconception. I needed skills that weren't taught. After conservatory, I started a quest to find a better singing method. After discovering a new method that did it for me, I started noticing discrepancies. I decided I had to start from scratch and developed my own method. It took me several years and finally, in 2012, I published my first book in the Netherlands, “the essence of the voice”.
For myself, i wanted an easier way of singing and a way to sing in any style, with the sound and technique that was required for that particular style. In CVT, I already discovered that this was possible. If only I had a better model of the voice, not excluding the classical way of singing. That model appeared to be much simpler than I ever could have imagined! I asked myself:”what if.....I only look at the physiology of the vocal folds to determine the “register” or “vocal mode” I am using? How many possibilities are there really? This narrowed it down to only two! After discovering this, I was completely flabbergasted. I did not sleep well, the next days. My mind kept going in circles, thinking:”it can't be that simple. And if so, why has no-one ever thought of this before?” I started to study exactly that, and reading some books from the 19th century that I found with Google, I found long forgotten vocal trainers with ideas very similar to mine. The only difference was, that these people did not posses the means to investigate whether the physiology worked like how they thought it did. In this day and age, we do have the means, and I can finally confirm, more than 200 years after these books, these old trainers were right. And therefore, so was I!
ease of singing
When you can only sing with one of two positions, singing becomes a lot easier. But that did not give a complete answer to my personal question:”can I learn to sing better?”. Now, if you want to learn to do something better, you can find it out for yourself. You can try to correct the “mistakes” you make and eventually grow, piece by piece. That is a long, long road, paved with frustration and self-doubt. Another way, a much shorter route, is this: find someone who is doing it better than you. And mimic what he does. Imitate. Be a copy-cat. Now, the only thing to do now, is to find out, what happens in the mind of that singer who is “in the flow”. So I asked singers I admired. “how do you do it?” And I did not get any usable answer. Why? Why is it so hard to say how you sing when you sing so well? It took me quite a while to figure that one out. And I did get a very good answer in the end. And, more than that, I discovered what was going on in the mind of anyone doing anything successfully, be it singing, baking a cake or living life itself. Read on, it will blow your mind!
When I started to sing in my first band at age 14, I was not a very good singer. I did not know anything about technique or how I could prevent my voice from getting sore and horse. I just did what I thought was cool. That's it. After a few years I took some singing lessons, but unfortunately, my teacher was not aware of how to pass her knowledge along very well. Like many very good singers, she could not really explain how she did it. She had somehow a way of doing things that no-one ever taught her. She had not struggled for her sound. So she just gave me exercises that did not work very well for me. Exercises she did not do herself when she started singing. When I applied for conservatory, to my surprise I was admitted, even with my lousy vocal technique. “Ah!” I thought, “Now it's going to happen!”. But alas, I was again obliged to do exercises, vocalises (scales) that had nothing to do with the sound I was aiming for. And it did not make any connection in my brain.
Now let me ask you a question: suppose there are two vocal trainers in town. They both sing very well. The first one has always been singing very well. A natural talent. The second one has not been singing very well, but only lately started to sing as well as the natural talent. Now, if you need vocal lessons, who are you going to see? They both know how to sing, right? But which one will know how to teach you? Which one has been where you are and can empathize with your position?
I know there are many vocal trainers. The most of them do it as a side job, because their singing careers do not take off the way they would like. At this moment, it is hard to earn money as a singer: there is Spotify, that hardly pays the artists, venues do not pay as much money anymore to unknown artists, so in order to get by, singers teach. But their passion is on the stage. So they might be a little frustrated if you, as a student, do not progress fast enough. And teachers like that, tend to invest less in their own education after they leave conservatory.
So again, a question: there are two vocal trainers in town. One of them sings in a band which is quite renown but still has to teach as a side job. The second one has done many gigs, but retired from performing in order to dedicate himself entirely on teaching. Which one would you go to?
As a singer (and guitar player), I have done many things. I write my own songs, record albums, played in various groups. It was only in 2009 that I decided to commit myself completely to teaching. I wasn't prepared anymore to divide my attention between two things I loved, only to both do them with half of my energy. It turned out to be a very good choice: just months after this decision, the financial crisis hit the Netherlands. And while all my singing colleagues were out of work, I was on a roll teaching and picked up my studies on how to become even a better teacher.
Teaching has always been a passion for me. Even when I wasn't attending conservatory yet, I already had some students. Why? As a teacher, you only have to be one lesson ahead of your student. If you know how to do something even slightly better than someone else, try to explain how you do that. In the process, you will learn everything you teach better for yourself. So if you want to learn something, start teaching it! Your students will expect you to be ahead. So you have an incentive to keep educating yourself. Shortly after starting at the conservatory, I applied for a job as a writer for a professional music magazine in the Netherlands, called “Music Maker”. I started teaching on paper, back in 1994. I did that for 8 years. I worked for several other music magazines as well after that. And in 2006, I started working as a vocal coach for Dutch television. I did “x- factor”, “Popstars” and “so you wanna be a popstar”. And in all circumstances, I wasn't even sure I was up to the task. Still, I did it. I stretched out and grew into it. Just like my youth hero, Pippi Longstocking said:”I've never done it, so I think I can do it.”
Singing is so much easier to learn than has been told to all of us for so long. I will not rest until anyone who wants to sing better, can do so in a matter of weeks, using my method. I have never been a believer of teaching by the internet. I always thought one-on-one interaction is crucial. But lately, my ideas have changed. I developed a step by step protocol that, if followed correctly, can teach anyone what happens in the mind of a professional singer. There is no other method in the world that offers this protocol. Learning how to sing without taking lessons is now possible. Maybe it is not as comfortable as a “real” lesson, but it works. And it is much more affordable. So wherever you are, join this club and we get you through, you'll get support from your peers all over the world. Now, how cool is that?”
# 0 introduction
#1 homework: look for a song to start this training with. Record a video. What tools do you need?