Contemporary music can be very demanding on the voice. And vocal technique is often the last priority on the list of singers of this style. A misconception that studying technique will change their tone or make them sound too “classical” are typical reasons why singers in these genres decide to not study vocal technique. Most often the only time a contemporary singer will decide to have some vocal training is due to the fact that their voices start to fail them, and the desire to continue singing drives them to find a teacher. I can relate to this personally, as this is exactly what I did.
Whilst it can be argued that style and an interesting tone are perhaps the most important elements of contemporary singing, without a solid technique to back this up, the voice will eventually decrease in quality and range. That is why, wherever possible making sure the contemporary vocalist has access to a full vocal range through exercises that strengthen and broaden the voice is vital to longevity.
Popular music in general relies on the singer having a strong chest register. The head register is often either neglected or used for embellishments or “licks”. chest voice finishes at A♭ for females and E♭ for males. It is possible and very common for singers of popular music to take chest voice up higher than it is meant to go. This is referred to as “pulling chest”. As the voice ages or tires this gets harder to do, and often results in vocal damage which requires surgery.
Speech Level Singing teaches a singer how to establish a “mixed voice” which blends chest and head voice together helping the singer to sing beyond chest voice with a stronger sound that does not damage the voice.
There are some elements of contemporary vocal sounds that are simply bad for the voice. Some teachers and performers claim that there are ways to scream, growl etc that are safe. Truth is that these are not “safe” sounds to make. However, these vocal qualities are synonymous within certain types of music and as such can’t be avoided. It is important that singers are able to rebalance their voice after making such sounds. This can be done through a series of carefully chosen exercises and also vocal rest.
Taking lessons should never diminish your creativity or personal style. It should only increase scope for expression. Using Speech Level Singing technique as a method for gaining extra technical skills will enhance your voice and help you to gain control, ensuring many years of safe, creative expression.
Some of the worlds most noted popular artists have studied, or continue to study Speech Level Singing. Micheal Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dione, Justin Timberlake, Prince, Kelly Clarkson, Steve Tyler, Ozzie Osbourne, Natalie Cole form part of a long list of SLS advocates.