The Singing Flowchart: How Anyone Can Learn To Sing

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This flowchart took 3 years, 2,500 hours and a Masters to write. Every singing technique I teach is on there, from breathing and support (top left), tuning and resonance (bottom left) to posture and anchoring (top right). Every bit of it has been researched, recalibrated, turned into analogy and delineated into little circles.

Every arrow shows us the interdependencies of each technique. Singing relies on dozens of muscular activities working together in unison. If one is faulty, the house of cards tumbles. For instance, a poor neck position engages tongue tension, flattening the tone and dismantling the tuning. A tense rectus abdominis engages the false vocal folds, inviting tension and vocal injury.

The act of singing is complicated. Even more so because we cannot, like a guitar, physically hold our instrument as we learn it. Singers have to be trained obliquely: through metaphor, imagery and conceptual understanding instead of rote-learning fingerwork. I have had students stuck on one of these arrows for six months at a time as they battle to make their body understand what their mind is telling it.

But when I look at this flowchart, I see hope. Singing is, in the end, mechanical. I am not a believer in supernatural things – and certainly not in supernatural gifts. Anyone can learn to sing – and sing well – if they are rigorous, imaginative and playful enough.

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An Untidy Beginning

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The beginnings and endings of all human undertakings are untidy.
– John Galsworthy

I write a lot for my job. But a lot of this is quite dull writing. It’s seducing search engines with keyword-friendly blogs, cranking out code for the web app, and jittery CV-tweaking for the next job.

But one day, I’d love to write something bigger. Something to help out my students with their voices, their accents, their singing.

So welcome to my patch: a little place where my untidy thoughts on the quiet miracle in our throats can come together.

Let’s see how it goes.