Sounding “Bad”–the Fastest Way to Vocal Control

February 24, 2020

Sounding“Bad”–the Fastest Way to Vocal Control    


Just about every singer in the world says they want more vocal control, even if they’re not sure exactly what they need to control. The term can be used to mean sing more in tune, sing higher notes better, sing more consistently, to project more–basically to fix any problem a singer may have.

But would most singers be willing to temporarily make a “bad sound”to speed up the process of gaining control over these issues? Probably not, and here’s why they should…


If you’re a singer trying to maintain a good performance sound while working on any vocal element (tone, projection, intensity, vibrato, etc.), you’re actually getting in the way of gaining that control.


You can’t simultaneously sound good while experimenting with mechanics because you need to put all your bandwidth on the mechanics issue you’re working on.


The fastest way to gain that control you want is to take an element, let’s say your tone, and exaggerate both end of the scale of 1 to 10 that you assign to tone.


If 1 is as “bassy” as you can sing and 10 is as “trebly” (I call these dark and bright vowel color), expand the back of your throat as much as you can and sing a couple of lines of a song at a 3 vowel color.


This exaggerated tone will sound “bad” to you–not a beautiful performance quality by any stretch of the imagination. However, by exaggerating a dark vowel color, when you want to more easily sing a high note with power, you’ll be able to adjust the vowel color to a little darker a lot easier.


This is the beauty of exaggeration as a learning tool. And, you can’t do that if you’re constantly worried about making a performance sound while you practice.


I overheard a conversation in my gym between a personal trainer and his client. He was asking the client to use a 5-pound barbell on an exercise and the client’s response was “why should I do that when I can already lift 50pounds?”


It appeared the client didn’t want to be seen as “looking bad” by not being strong enough to lift more than 5 pounds. What he failed to see isthat his trainer was targeting a certain muscle that could only be isolated with a lighter weight.


The same goes with isolating the muscles needed to make small changes in your vocal mechanics.


If you can buy into making exaggerated, “bad” sounds as a way to learn to control a certain skill, you’ll gain that control WAY faster than trying to sound good while practicing it.


The well-known martial artist and actor Bruce Lee was famous forbeing able to kick higher than just about anyone else. However, he never kickedhigh during martial arts fights (he said it left him too vulnerable to hisopponent.)


Whenasked why he practiced something he would never use in a fight, he replied“kick high to learn how to kick low better.”


Exaggerate and make a bad sound to learn a skill 10 times faster?Sounds good to me…

Mark Bosnian

Mark is an award-winning songwriter and professional voice coach with 30+ years of experience teaching people how to take center stage. He has toured nationally with the 80's hit band Nu Shooz and coached Grammy award nominees, American Idol semifinalists, and singers on The Tonight Show.