My thoughts...Wisdom from over the years

Vocals for men only Part 1 of 2

Posted in: Blog, tip of the week ♦ Monday, April 9th, 2012, 10:31 am ♦ No Comments on Vocals for men only Part 1 of 2

For MEN ONLY! – part 1 of 2

This month we’re going to talk about men – one of my favorite subjects.  For the record, I love men.  There are a few that have captured my heart (my sons), and there is one in particular that has captured my complete being (my wonderful husband).  But beyond that, the love and respect I have for these creations of God is truly magnanimous. For example, think about what the world would be like if it weren’t for men. I mean, who else can open a box from Home Depot filled with 1,000 nuts, bolts, and other varieties of objects and be completely undaunted?  In fact, men REVEL in this!  They love a challenge.  I recently watched my husband single-handedly put together a swing-set with NO directions available to him. Thousands of little nuts and bolts and weird looking connector things left him feeling quite manly when all was said and done.

So what does this have to do with singing? When it comes to men – everything! I find that the same element in men that drives them to try to accomplish things on their own (i.e. NO directions) definitely operates at full throttle when it comes to singing.  Most men will actually use the directions (which are available to them from the start) ONLY if and when they hit a place that they simply can’t keep going on their own.  Guys will take a look at a guitar, for instance, and then pick it up and start strumming – soon figuring out that they don’t know how to form a chord. Once they’re convinced they really DON’T know what they’re doing, they will buy a book of chord charts and be on their way to becoming a great guitarist. The rest is history.

When it comes to singing, however, there is no such equivalent (not that one can truly become an accomplished guitar player that way either.  Maybe I should come up with “Sheri Gould’s guide to singing in six easy steps”….ahem).  Most guys I know are proud to say they’ve never had a singing lesson (as if they think I’ll be surprised!).  And although I admire their pioneer spirit, men should seek help with their singing.  Here’s why:

The single biggest problem I see associated with the male voice is vocal strain. In their exuberance and attempt to sing powerfully is a tendency to strain from the throat. Women are typically more timid to be heard than men when they aren’t sure of themselves. Men, in their confidence, will “belt it out there!” They’ll mistakenly try to throw their entire body into it at times (from the shoulders up) to get more power. This typically ends up leaving them sore, and sometimes hoarse, for days.  Permanent damage can also be done to the vocal folds (cords).

Thankfully, there is a trend among some prominent male worship leaders to get vocal instruction – which is great!  It will help them in their performance, and it will also raise the standard for the next crop of male worship leaders to come.

Ironically, for the most part, I rarely see a guy push himself out of his range vocally. Men seem to understand this intuitively: sing too high – voice cracks or squeaks – extreme embarrassment.  This is a good thing, because if he were straining AND out of his range it would do double damage!  Most guys (gals too!) can benefit from vocal training in terms of increasing their range significantly – without the strain.  The following is a chart listing the various ranges for men:

Tenor – High Male Voice, C (an octave below middle C) up to high C or D (or above).
Countertenor – Highest male voice, also called alto, often falsetto
Heldentenor – Powerful dramatic tenor voice
Baritone – Middle Male Voice, low G/F an octave below middle C to B, F or G above middle C (just below the Tenor high C).
Bass – Baritone – More like a bass than a baritone, lacks the low bass notes
Bass – Low Male Voice, low E (or lower) an octave below middle C to E, F G above middle C.
Basso Cantante – High bass voice suitable for solo singing
Basso Profundo – Deep bass voice encompassing about two octaves above C below the bass staff


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