How To Sing In A Choir – How To Sing Backup Vocals

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— How to sing in a choir – How to sing backup vocals.

Sorry Choir Directors. I had to do this.

After years of singing with show choirs, gospel choirs, and opera choruses, I have come to this conclusion: While singing in choirs is a great way to keep your voice active, it is not great for the development of the solo voice.

In fact, it is detrimental.

Keep in mind, the director of these groups is not interested in your individual solo voice, but instead he/she is interested in the overall sound. I have sung in choirs with a director that went so far to maintain a blend that he had us practically at a whisper!

And of course, there is the other extreme which says, ‘If it is not loud, it is wrong’.

SINGERS BEWARE!!!!

When entering choirs please be cognizant of what the director is trying to achieve, and do what is easiest for you. For me, it has always been 1st alto. Not that I could not sing soprano, it was just much more effort to:

1. Sing that high consistently over a two — plus hour period of time
2. Try to blend my heavy soprano tone with all the other ‘lighter voiced’ sopranos.

So my texture and tessitura was better suited for alto in most settings.

*The only setting that my full lyric voice fits perfectly is in the opera choruses!

If you find you are consistently hoarse after rehearsal, you are singing wrong! Ask your director to move you. Otherwise, you’ll need to find another singing group to which your voice is an asset.

Singing Careers have always been thought of as being difficult to achieve and only for dreamers who dare to put their livelihood on the line! However, there are a great number of freelance jobs as well as proper career paths that a singer may take, and it is not difficult to earn a good living as a singer!

Career No. 1: PROFESSIONAL RECORDING ARTISTE OR SINGER

This is a singing career that has great rewards, but is usually only available to a select few who are able to influence others with their personality, their looks, their singing, or their unique musical style. The road to becoming a singer is a rough and tough one, and only those who truly have the determination and the passion to become a singer will be able to make it to the end and achieve great success!

Most professional recording artistes would be able to make a living, and often also branch out into fashion, modeling, product or brand endorsement and even art and painting too! In order to make it big as a singer, one would need to have a great team of musicians to work with, as well as great production crew to create the bestselling records!

Career No. 2: FULL-TIME SINGER

Apart from the professional recording artistes and singers, there are also independent singers who are not signed to any record label, and who perform full-time at various locations in their country or in the world for a living! If you wish to have a singing career as a full-time singer, you would need to gain experience and perform at various venues like local pubs or cafes in order to build up a following or fan base. These would be the people who will support you wherever you perform, and also spread good word-of-mouth feedback regarding your performances to their friends! Some full-time singers also eventually become professional recording artistes too!

Career No. 3: BACKUP HARMONY SINGER

There are also some singing careers that allow you to be part of the production or support crew. As a backup singer, you would do recordings for the various backup harmony parts that each song may have, in order to make the song sound full and colourful! You would need to have a strong sense of harmony, and be able to sing various harmony parts easily and on pitch, because a song may have 5 – 10 harmony parts or more!

There are also those who perform live as a backup singer, being part of the backup chorus that is often on stage together with the lead singer at concerts or performances! These backup singers often travel together with the lead singer to various countries, and may even possess singing abilities that may surpass the lead singer!

Career No. 4: SINGING INSTRUCTOR

For those who do not really aspire for the limelight, and who derive their joy from teaching about singing and music to others, a career as a singing instructor is a great way to do what you love, and still earn a decent living too! Good singing instructors are in great demand, especially with the rise of various singing competitions like American Idol, World Idol and so on. The best singing instructors can even earn up to US$300/h for conducting individual singing lessons!

40 thoughts on “How To Sing In A Choir – How To Sing Backup Vocals

  1. Fakes Dennis says:

    The acoustic result of this vocal tract shaping, as well as the longer
    closed phase of the vocal folds during phonation, is a rise in the
    frequencies of all formants – which, in turn, produces a characteristic
    brightness in the sound.

    In belted voicing, the first formant is sometimes raised all the way to the
    frequency of the second harmonic and would perceptually appear to be quite
    edgy on a spectrogram (an image that shows how the spectral density of a
    signal varies with time).

  2. Fakes Dennis says:

    A Master’s thesis candidate, (who was advised by the speech therapist PhD
    Silvia Rebelo Pinho), observed no significant changes in frequency and
    amplitude of the first formant (f1), but did see significant increases in
    the amplitude of f2, f3 and f4 in the belted voice. In frequencies for f2,
    those voices that were perceived as being louder were correlated to an
    increase in amplitude of f3 and f4.

  3. Farage Nigel says:

    Vocalists who are experimenting with belt for the first time are encouraged
    to avoid practicing for extended periods of time because belting requires a
    new muscular activity that will cause them to tire easily. They are told
    that the muscles of their bodies need to be conditioned and that stamina
    needs to be built slowly, as in any new physical activity.

  4. Farage Nigel says:

    The body will gradually adapt to the given workload. The application of
    overload in a training program is supposed to be gradual, discontinuous,
    and progressive (e.g., hard training days should be followed by easy days
    with sufficient rest each day for adequate recovery). In other words,
    because belting is so hard on the vocal instrument, students are encouraged
    to balance ‘voice use’ time with ‘voice restoration’ time.

  5. Farmer Frances says:

    In researching this article, I read numerous comments in defense of belting
    that didn’t seem to make sense to me and didn’t line up with what science
    and medicine have revealed about healthy speaking and singing technique,
    nor with what research has revealed about the real physiology of belting
    technique. (Whether the subjects in the studies used ‘proper’ or ‘safe’
    belt technique, I cannot know for certain.

  6. Farmer Frances says:

    However, it stands to reason that, of the numerous studies of belters that
    have been conducted, not all of those subjects could have been poor belters
    using improper technique that is an abberration from the correct belt
    technique that is most commonly taught. In other words, it is improbable
    that the researchers, the results of whose studies were all consistent with
    each other, could have selected the only incorrectly trained belters around
    – those who do not represent the vast majority of belters.

  7. Favre Brett says:

    There are a couple reasons why singers might see developing head voice as
    irrelevant and unnecessary, and why they might instead choose to remain in
    chest voice at all costs. First, in most contemporary songs and styles of
    singing, head register is not typically needed. The use of head voice is
    very rare in contemporary genres – falsetto is more common – and is
    typically reserved only for embellishments that are intended to impress the
    listener, not for entire lines of text.

  8. Favre Brett says:

    Also, some teachers may lack the necessary tools and expertise to enable
    their students to fully develop their head registers, since it requires
    physical and acoustic adjustments, such as the laryngeal tilt, that are not
    often taught, and are, in fact, actively avoided in some contemporary
    singing methods because they are believed to not produce a ‘natural’,
    speech-like sound.

  9. Fawkes Guy says:

    Belters often get stuck in a cycle of singing the same way all the time not
    only because they need to cover up their technical weaknesses (e.g., their
    inability to sing at softer volumes, their range limitations, poor breath
    management, etc.), but because of the pressures that are often placed on
    them by listeners and record companies, and by judges like Kara, Paula and
    Randy who encourage and expect them to belt all the time.

  10. Fawkes Guy says:

    While the former American Idol judges may have wanted to select a variety
    of singers when they were ‘casting the show’ – an expression that Simon
    Cowell himself used – they managed to find only voices with similar
    capabilities and styles. It’s as though the judges expect all the
    contestants to be able to belt, assuming that audiences only want to hear
    these kinds of voices, and that puts pressure on singers (and reduces the
    variety of styles that the audiences gets to hear).

  11. Caesar Julius says:

    As always, these same skills can also be honed during private lessons.
    FOUR-LESSON EXTENDED GROUP SESSIONS (TOTAL HOURS OF STUDY = 4 HOURS)

    The benefit of an extended session over a two-hour, one-time lesson is not
    only the extra amount of time devoted to learning, but also the week
    between lessons that enables the student of voice to practice applying the
    skills that are being taught during the group lessons. With this extra
    practice time, more progress will be made.

  12. Caesar Julius says:

    Basic Vocal Technique Group Lessons

    These group sessions are designed to give singers with no (or little)
    formal training an overview of good, basic singing technique. The lessons
    are ideal for those who are not yet sure about committing to long-term,
    weekly vocal study but who are curious about whether or not they would
    enjoy and benefit from private vocal lessons.

  13. Cage John says:

    I will often stop the student during an exercise or have the student repeat
    the exercise a few times in the same key in order to address technical or
    tonal issues or to solidify the technique in that range of pitches.

    Solid technique helps my students learn to sing properly, skillfully and
    healthily.

  14. Cage John says:

    My vocal students are taken through a series of challenging exercises that
    increase in difficulty as their skills build. They are taught to gain
    control of their voices in all parts of their range, through the pitvotal
    registration shifts (the passaggi), and in all vocal registers applicable.

    Adults and teenagers, whether beginners or advanced singers, spend their
    lesson times learning technique, with an intense focus on developing skills
    through specially designed vocal exercises. Vocal coaching is an option
    after some of the fundamental skills have been acquired. (See Vocal
    Coaching.)

  15. Cain Peter says:

    Many of the ‘simple’ exercises that I introduce are actually deceptively
    difficult when one’s focus is on mastery of all the intricate aspects of
    technique rather than on simply singing the pitches correctly, so technique
    can still be developed using brief but challenging exercises. (I am
    currently working to remedy this problem by providing pre-recorded
    exercises -

  16. Cain Peter says:

    I generally encourage Skype students to warm up their voices before calling
    in for their lessons so that the amount of time that can be devoted to
    working on developing technical proficiency during the lessons can be
    maximized. (If a student does not know how to properly warm up the voice,

    accompaniment tracks – in MP3 format that my students can sing along to
    during the lessons.)

  17. Cameron Julia says:

    Many students who attempt to learn these skills on their own fail because
    the reliability of the resources on the internet or in print is often
    questionable, and because they haven’t yet learned to analyze their singing
    to know whether or not they are correctly applying good, healthy technique.
    This is where a knowledgeable, competent vocal instructor comes in.

  18. Cameron Julia says:

    They will teach them how to recognize the physical sensations associated
    with effective resonance and to listen for indications of good or poor
    tone. (Students can learn to listen to, feel and analyze their own voices
    through proprioceptive responses to sympathetic vibration in the body when
    tone is balanced, vibrant and healthy, and then repeat these techniques
    that help them create ideal tonal balance while applying them with
    consistency to their vocal repertoire.)

  19. Camus Albert says:

    While being able to hear whether or not something sounds ‘good’ doesn’t
    necessarily require that one have any singing abilities, training a voice
    does require that one understand the physics involved, and know what to
    listen for – the finest details – and how to correct problem areas.

  20. Camus Albert says:

    Your voice instructor should be able to do more than simply hear you sing
    and make either subjective or objective judgments about your performance,
    as though he or she were a judge on American Idol. It is not sufficient to
    think of singing merely as either good or bad, and a voice as either
    pleasant or unpleasant, and those who merely listen to singers tend to base
    their critiques on emotion, not technique.

  21. Daly Carson says:

    You may need to be willing to pay a little more for these lessons and
    commit to studying with your instructor for longer, but the rewards (in the
    form of a healthy, skilled, trained voice) will be well worth it in the end.
    Coaching or Technique?

  22. Daly Carson says:

    More often than not, ‘singing teacher’, ‘voice instructor’ and ‘vocal
    coach’ are generic titles that are applied to all vocal instructors,
    regardless of their method, approach or focus.

    Regardless of the individual singer’s long-term goals, it’s imperative that
    a vocal student begin by focusing primarily on developing proper technique.
    Without effectively supported and managed breathing, good tone, control and
    a reasonable range, a singer will be limited in terms of what he or she
    will be able to sing.

  23. Daniel Samuel says:

    All of these elements affect the quality of the singing tone, and should
    not be overlooked in any vocal training. Vocal posture also affects vocal
    ability. Whenever the vocal tract is configured in ways that deny normal
    phonemic laws and inhibit natural physical functioning, the singing voice
    will be adversely affected.

  24. Daniel Samuel says:

    A good teacher will be able to help a student find optimal resonance,
    freedom of production and beautiful tone. Many teachers lack knowledge
    about how to achieve these goals, or have incorrect ideas about how to
    achieve them. If a teacher asks a student to assume vocal postures that are
    uncomfortable and unnatural to the singer, there is a good chance that they
    are also incorrect and will cause tension and injury.

  25. Davis Bette says:

    Every church also allots a different amount of time for the musical portion
    of worship during its services, and so I’m not going to attempt to cover
    how a worship leader should arrange a song (e.g., repetition of choruses,
    tagging vocal lines, etc.), nor how many songs he or she should select for
    each set. What may work for one service for a given congregation may not
    work for the next service, and what may work well for one house of worship,
    may not work for the next. Every worship leader also has his or her own
    style, tastes and strengths.

  26. Davis Bette says:

    In this article, I’m not going to suggest a list of specific worship songs
    or choruses that I believe are most suitable for congregations, since every
    church has its own style, preferences and needs when it comes to musical
    worship. I’m also not going to discuss how a worship leader should order a
    worship set list to make it most logical and fluid, since every church has
    its own order of service, and many churches alter their order of service or
    structure from week to week.

  27. Furthermore, the vast majority or worshippers are not vocally trained, and
    have limited ranges. It is quite common for untrained singers to be limited
    to the range of pitches that lies below their second passaggio, making any
    key that places a song’s highest pitches above this pivotal registration
    point (i.e., in the head register) unsingable to them, (unless they sing an
    octave lower). Not only is the head register challenging for many untrained
    singers to access, but head voice tones, with their modified vowels and
    acoustics, are generally not as well suited to contemporary styles of
    worship.

  28. First, the majority of female singers are mezzo-sopranos, (not sopranos and
    altos), and the majority of male singers are baritones (not tenors and
    basses); neither high nor low voiced. Selecting a key that is compatible
    with these ‘middle’ voice types will instantly make the song singable for
    nearly everyone in the larger group.

  29. The intercostal muscles are found between the ribs, and there are two
    kinds: The internal intercostal muscles (in the inside of the ribcage)
    extend from the front of the ribs, and go around the back, past the bend in
    the ribs. In front of the ribcage, looking from the bottom of each muscle
    (i.e. the top of each rib), the muscles go diagonally inward. The external
    intercostal muscles (on the outside of the ribcage) wrap around from the
    back of the rib almost to the end of the bony part of the rib in front.

  30. They go downward and outward when viewed from the back. (At the bottom of
    the sternum can be seen the transversus thoracis muscle.) These muscles can
    be felt during coughing.

    Having the muscles on diagonals increases the amount of work that they can
    do, since a longer muscle can become shorter upon contraction than can a
    shorter, vertical muscle, as it contracts along the full length of the
    muscle fibres.

  31. Tannen Deborah says:

    Are you looking for vocal lessons NYC style? You can get vocal lessons by
    hiring a vocal coach or by opting to use less expensive online resources.
    So do you want to get vocal lessons NYC style where you live or do you want
    to opt for an online vocal singing lessons. What are the advantages to
    online vocal singing lessons to vocal lessons NYC style? The truth is,
    online vocal singing courses are becoming better and better as the
    technology is becoming mature.

  32. Tannen Deborah says:

    A great online singing lesson should include downloadable audio-visual
    components. You need to have video as well as sample MP3s that students can
    use for pitching and hearing how to vocalize. These videos and MP3s should
    be free from copy protection so that students can put the videos and MP3s
    in portable media players like the Apple iPod.

  33. Tate Sharon says:

    Remember that if you are going to do a short warm up, it is a good idea
    warming up your vocal cords. There is much benefit to be gained through
    warming up your vocal cords on a daily basis.

    You need to commit yourself to discover how to sing well for you master how
    to sing better. Follow the tips listed above and ensure that you plan your
    training sessions. Making a practice schedule is a good idea and you should
    stick it. This will not only help you how to sing well but also you will
    learn to follow through with a goal.

  34. Throttle Ben says:

    Since the head voice is seldom used during everyday speech – in women, the
    head register begins on the notes at the top of the staff – the muscles and
    the tone tend to be underdeveloped. Most classical technique instructors
    tend to spend more time developing the tone, intensity and volume of this
    high register because it needs more work than the chest (natural) and
    medium voices do, as they are more commonly used in speech and in
    contemporary styles of singing.

  35. Throttle Ben says:

    Head resonance, when properly supported, has a brilliant ringing tone
    quality as compared to the chest resonance singing tone. This bright voice
    tone is developed in the bones and cavities above, behind and around the
    nose that is often called the ‘mask’, or ‘masque’.

    When singing in head voice, a singer must maintain a forward “placement” so
    that the vibratory sensations – the resonance of the voice – can be felt in
    the bones of the face. If the tone is allowed to slip back into the throat
    or spread, it will be impossible to produce a good tone with effective
    resonance and volume.

  36. Vance Jack says:

    with regard to registration and resonance instabilities) are caused by
    resonance imbalances – by a ‘clashing’ of the harmonics of the sung pitch
    and the resonance frequencies of the vowel (formants). Furthermore,
    oftentimes the weakness or lack of power of the head voice is the result of
    harmonics falling outside resonance regions; of a failure to tune formants
    to harmonics so that they can receive an acoustic boost.

  37. Vidal Gore says:

    Many singers find that they experience a bit of a ‘tug of war’ between the
    suprahyoid (‘swallowing’) muscles and the infrahyoid (‘inhale’) muscles
    that pull the larynx up and down, respectively. This will exhibit itself as
    a bit of instability in the sound as the weaker infrahyoids attempt to
    stabilize the larynx. Although disconcerting, this is normal and temporary,
    and is an encouraging sign that means a better balance is being achieved.
    In time, stability will come.

  38. Vidal Gore says:

    Note: Laryngeal height is individual and relative. Depending on the
    individual’s anatomy, the larynx may be naturally positioned higher or
    lower in the neck. There are also varying degrees of ‘low,’ ranging from
    depressed to comfortably low to neutral (speech level/height).

  39. Vixie Paul says:

    In the event that I do not answer the Skype video call promptly, the
    scheduled student should remain on-line and not hang up or log out of
    Skype. He or she should wait patiently while I wrap up with the student
    before him or her. If I decline to answer the call – whenever a video call
    request comes it, it blocks my view of the current student on the screen,
    so I may need to deny the call request so that I can re-establish a
    complete and clear image -

  40. Von Karman says:

    You will learn about the mechanism of diaphragmatic breathing and how to
    “support your breath” with your accessory muscles, and you will develop
    good overall tone and effective resonance, as well as increase your
    stamina, control, vocal agility, volume and range. Classical technique
    encourages proper and safe vocal development. Having complete control over
    your voice, breath and tone will enable you, as a singer, to have more
    flexibility and versatility, not less.

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