Voice Training At Home ~ Vocal Coach Singer #review
My middle son loves to sing. Not sure how he caught that bug, but that’s just the way it is. We’ve had a product in the house lately from Vocal Coach, called Vocal Coach Singer. It’s a huge collection of voice coaching products crafted for the privacy of at-home use.
Despite the name referencing “Singer”, Vocal Coach isn’t just for singers. It’s also excellent for actors, speakers, teachers, professors, really, anyone who uses their voice a significant amount, or feels that an improvement in their speaking voice would be of their benefit. All it takes is a little hard work to find a great deal of success.
Vocal Coach Singer is available in two formats, disk or mp3, and each are accompanied by digital files that include introductory information, music sheets, or journaling sheets for keeping daily logs of songs, performances and practices. The digital files are black and white, small files, and fairly simplistic, but then, they should be. The real meat of the program is in the audio files.
Getting Started (8 min) is an introductory CD that gives a brief overview of each of the other CDs and describes their relative importance, along with the suggested order and amount of time to spend on each CD. (8 min)
Complete Breathing (58 min) is a CD with a series of exercises designed to improve posture and breath capacity. The exercises range from very simple to advanced. My son, who was in a choir class at the public school for a short while, said that the breathing exercises resemble the ones done there, but went into a great deal more detail about the reasons why. That seems like a great idea to us – it makes the exercises that much more likely to be used, if the reasoning is know – rather than simply being rules to be followed.
It closes with a rap that’s on the Teaching Kids To Sing CD about breathing – I thought it was cute, but I heard my ten -year-old daughter muttering “creepy” on the other side of the room, and had to laugh!
Complete Warm Up (52 min) opens with a explanation of why a singer should always warm up, and how it’s important for a “voice athlete’ to always take care of their voice by warming it up. It begins with a reminder to adjust posture for correct and efficient breathing, and then moves into stretching, followed by a variety of interesting (and often amusing) exercises. (Yes, we’re clowns, I admit it – but does anybody *really* get through the Hum-Chew track without cracking up at least once?)
Surprisingly, though a glance at the name would have the exercises appear absurd, the instructors Chris and Carole Beatty manage to come across as so confident that even the “I’m not about to make a fool of myself doing that” teen is following right along, doing, you got it, THAT. Even though he’s not the one that’s a singer!
The Complete Tone (44 min) disk begins with a comparison of different sounds possible with voices, and then moves to a description of why and how some might come by their particular style of voice, and why and how some might want to change it. Among the less favorable tones of voice covered are nasality, variations in vibrato, very rough voices, and voices that are higher or lower than they should be and causing strain to the voice, among other things.
Complete Expanding Your Range (36 min) covers determining what your current range is with an accompanying instrument like a piano, guitar or a pitch pipe, and recommends writing down both your highest and lowest comfortable notes. Then guides you through your tessitura, or most comfortable octave to sing. Also included is a discussion of how important it is to choose songs to sing that are appropriate for both your range and your tessitura. Variations in range due to age are covered, along with risks due to changes in voice, and reminders of how to properly care for your voice during these times. (Exercises here, too, were familiar to my former public school student.)
Complete Diction (44 min) starts out with a series of people speaking in various accents – and then is introduced as generic term encompassing pronunciation, enunciation, and articulation. Chris and Carole Beatty teach what they call “Neutralized American English”, similar to what news announcers on global television like CNN speak. By learning to speak more clearly, you increase your ability to more effectively reach your listeners.
How to plan and execute your message is presented in Complete Performance. It begins with a reminder that your performance is not just about the singer, or the songs, but about the total package presented – if the songs aren’t the right ones to reach the audience, it won’t matter how good the singer in, it won’t have the desired impact. Song choice is incredibly important, and Chris Beatty guides you through choosing songs that are appropriate for the audience, the singer, AND their voice.
Other things to consider are the equipment being used to accompany the singer; musical instruments, sound systems. Care should also be taken by the singer to consider what, if any, physical gestures and facial expression are appropriate for the music, along with the clothing worn during the concern. “The visual you” can distract from the music during the concert. Also, take care to pace yourself and rest before the performance.
The Daily Workout CDs (High Voice & Mid/Low Voice) (72 min) are designed to be used on a regular basis, both while you’re using other CDs to target specific areas and after you’ve become comfortable with the other skills. Each CD has 35 exercises designed to strengthen your voice. The CDs can be used singly, or, if desired, use both and work to expand your range. The exercises vary in intensity from warm-ups and cool-downs to active exercises to ensure you have everything you need to safely stretch your boundaries and improve your vocal skills.
My teen singer found was alternately thrilled and a bit overwhelmed. He recognizes some of the exercises from when he attended choir at the public school, but I’m not certain he truly believes that “real singers” utilize exercises like this on a daily basis. He seems to think (and react) like they “just go and sing” – like it isn’t that hard, and they don’t have to work for what they do.
I’m tempted to tell him to contact the Vocal Coach – since there *is* that option on the website, and see what advice he might have for a student like this, who verbally expresses an intense desire to sing, but who doesn’t seem to have the drive – or the belief that there needs to *be* drive – into it. I’d love to see him succeed at this dream of his – but he doesn’t seem to have the focus he’d need, and I have no idea how to help him with that part of it.
As for me, mom – I love the product. I’m totally impressed. It inspires confidence, and even had *me* wanting to sing along (plus all the kids)… and I don’t sing. I don’t even think I can carry a tune, in all honesty, though I’ve been known to sing along with songs when no one is listening, and I’ve been known to sing Christmas carols with the kids. A large part of the problem, I think, is that I was always incredibly too self-conscious as a child, so I never had any way to find out if I could sing or not.
Though each of the disks (or disk sets, as the case may be) are priced individually, the best price is the complete Vocal Singer Package, at $119.99 for physical disks, or $99.99 for the downloadable version.
Other Schoolhouse Review Crew members received a product for younger children called Teaching Kids To Sing. A set that includes 2 DVDs and 1 CD, and is the “perfect way to teach your children and their leaders about the child’s voice.” All of the foundation skills from Posture, Breathing, Tone, Rhythm, Diction and more are demonstrated. It includes the same creators – Chris and Carole Beatty – plus a cast of children ages 5 to 13. Teaching Kids To Sing is $44.99 for the download version only, making it an affordable price, especially if you have several family members.
**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.**