I did a series of social media posts in the Autumn of 2023 about the Top 8 singing myths. If you missed the series, here it is …
Singing Myth #1 – You have to be born with natural talent to be a good singer.
Not true…although messaging from TV, movies and social media reinforce this myth time and time again.
The impacts of nurture (both infant and childhood) can create a false impression of talent, but the truth is that every human is born with the physiological and psychological equipment to make music as a singer. Sometimes what is perceived as talent is just good old fashioned smart/hard work!
Singing Myth #2 – Singing loudly and forcefully is the only way to hit high notes.
Not true… even though reality TV shows might try to tell you that “big notes win votes”.
However loud and strong volumes are only one expression of human emotion. Therefore they are only one way to sing high notes. If your upper range hasn’t been exercised and developed, accessing high/soft/wistful notes could feel elusive. But they are possible with the right development.
Singing Myth #3 – You can’t improve your vocal range.
There is a half-truth in this myth and it requires some fact checking about human anatomy to untangle it.
In the same way that the size of my foot is outside my control to manipulate without surgery, so too the dimensions of my larynx, pharynx, mouth etc are reasonably stable once I have finished growing. Therefore these biological realities will determine certain boundaries to my vocal range. BUT I can absolutely develop every bit of the real estate within my body’s boundaries.
Singing Myth #4 – You should always warm up your voice with scales and vocal exercises.
The first half of this statement is accurate…you SHOULD always warm up your voice!
But you don’t have to always use scales and vocal exercises. You can use simple, small range songs, song excerpts, or even instrumental solos! The main goal is to get the blood flowing to your neck, gently stretch your muscles, and get your brain in gear to coordinate it all.
Singing Myth #5 – Drinking warm liquids before singing will improve your vocal performance.
Well…not entirely. Warm liquids MIGHT help your throat to feel soothed and there could be a performance benefit from that confidence and sense of released tension.
So they might make a good addition to your pre-performance routine. But the liquid itself could be a deal breaker here. Warm water, herbal tea (nothing too drying though) and soup or broth would be a lot better than caffeinated tea and coffee. And alcoholic hot toddies are a definite no.
Singing Myth #6 – Singing from your diaphragm means pushing your stomach out.
Like so many myths, this one connects distorted facts. A clear appreciation of functional anatomy will clear it up.
I could wax lyrical on the unfortunate phrase “sing from your diaphragm” for a loooong time. But if we concentrate on the stomach half of this statement, I will say that we don’t try to PUSH anything anywhere when we sing. What you will undoubtedly notice is that as you inhale, your diaphragm descends, and there is a natural release/expansion of your lower abdomen which MIGHT feel like your stomach moves out. AND you might also notice that your pelvic floor moves down, your obliques move out, and your ribs in front, sides and back all move outwards. Try a slow inhalation through your nose to encourage this natural breath motion.
Singing Myth #7 – You should always stand up straight when singing.
Not true. Have you not seen innumerable singers, having long careers, singing in a lot of different physical positions? There is a but, of course…
Sure, an aligned skeleton will provide optimum efficiency for all of your body’s systems involved in singing. But we rarely perform in such a fixed state. We dance, move, bend up, turn around. I think the key is to know where a super healthy home base is, and to return to it as much as possible. I think words like flexible, buoyant, connected, and ready-to-move are much more useful than “straight”.
Singing Myth #8 – Singing and talking use the same muscles.
How is this a myth? This is fact. Talking can and should use the same vocal set up as singing.
This is why poor speech habits can affect our singing voice. Fair enough, we usually don’t regularly access the full scope of our vocal range, resonance or strength when we talk, but we COULD if we chose to.
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