Seeming Paradoxes

Paradoxes are related to the subject of a previous post of mine, “Training with reasonable extremes…“. Sometimes you have to think or do one thing, to get a seemingly dissimilar or even opposite thing to happen. Sometimes it’s in real time; sometimes the paradox is only seen through training over a period of time.

Example: Student “Hal” is a rocker. When he started studying two years ago his voice was raspy and unfocused, with a hole in the middle where the registers did not meet. He had a diagnosis of nodules, but the blessing of the throat doctor to take voice lessons. As Hal’s voice improved in many ways technically, the advice and exercises I gave early on were not the same I gave later. Now that his voice is becoming stronger in general, and the registers are stronger and integrating better, there are instructions I give for further strength-building that seem contradictory to what I gave two years ago.

Well, they ARE contradictory. Working on resonance issues with a constricted, raspy, recovering voice is not usually appropriate. Working on them with a well-functioning voice usually IS appropriate, if they are interested in getting a stronger sound and greater endurance. Some of the sounds that I ask for in order to build more strength in the tone, or as a counterbalance for certain kinds of singing, would actually harm a voice like Hal’s two years ago. Now they are what he needs, as he builds endurance and a bigger palette of sounds for his musical expression.

Many singers and teachers also perceive paradoxes related to sensations felt during the act of singing such as “I think down to go up.” or “The loud is built upon the soft.” or “Retain the sensation of inhaling while you sing.” Some work as instructions and some don’t. Paradoxes are in the eye of the beholder, and we as unique people don’t all think and feel alike. Trying to make a paradox happen is a confusion of cause and effect. They are usually best noticed as they happen, and can’t be well understood before they happen.

Use them with care, but know that they’re there.

If you enjoy this blog, consider grabbing a copy of Sane Singing: A Guide to Vocal Progress, available in print and ebook!

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