Mar 21 2016 Masterclass Podcast #0007 - Singing Non-Classical Styles With Good Function

Welcome to the next episode of the masterclass Podcast Series. Before getting to the next episode I want to thank the several people who have contributed financially using the Donate button on the Home Page. That is certainly a welcome way to show how much you value the video classes. Thank You!

Now, today’s class is about singing non-classical styles with functional balance in the way I talk about. This comes from a question sent by one of the people I teach through my recorded video lessons.

He is obviously familiar with the concepts I teach, but he is still trying to figure out how they apply to other styles of singing where the assumption is that what is expected in those styles is inherently contradictory to good function.

There may be some techniques that don’t cross-over very well, but I try not to teach techniques. I am more interested in learning the fundamental building blocks of the functioning of the voice and using that understanding to express the style of singing we feel in our artistic self.

As I discuss in the video, functional balance starts with the relationship between the breath and the vibration of the vocal cords. From that starting point we can create a wide range of vocal expressions.

Our job is to figure out how we can express the musical ideas we have in our imagination with a well-balanced voice so we can keep the health of the instrument for life. Unfortunately, many of the ways non-classical singers express with the voice is risking the health of the instrument. And the reality is many classical singers fall into that group, as well.

Watch and listen to this class to find out if we can keep the functional balance of our voice while singing other styles of music.

Comments and questions are always welcome below. Thanks!


  1. Thanks for the good explanation on the video. the way you describe breathy tone in women Completely make sense to me , i always thought it was kind like a falsetto , but as their cords are shorter and Interatynoidd more developed , they sound less breathy than male falsetto , don’t know if it’s right by the way. Also i totally agree on “breathier is not lighter” concept. finally , I can do this lighter adjustement you talking about (the active light adjustment), but i have a really hard time passing from this to a more male vocalization. I mean , if i must sing a song going from A3 to D5 , i have to start the song on a light vocalization or somewhere along the way , i will start to strain by failing at letting go the weight of the voice. for the moment , as i sing my own song , the trick is to have “song range” that accomodate this (F2 to A4 or D4 to F5).

  2. sorry , this comment was intended to be below “feeling pressure at the larynx”

  3. John Navarrete

    Good stuff, Michael, on the importance of being sincere in expression. Much of what you discussed here was about the difference between purity and affectation. Because most of us singers learn by listening to and imitating other good singers, it’s easy to be distracted by vocal affectation and to take for granted the fundamental underpinnings that allow a great singer to do incredible things with their voice. I equate this to watching an elite athlete perform — say, a major league pitcher with a killer fast ball who makes it look easy and consistent with every throw. But what the fans don’t see, is the hundreds of hours spent in the gym doing strength training, the hundreds of hours stretching properly, the hours in the pool working the shoulder and rotator cuff, the discipline to hydrate, eat right and get rest. Instead, we see the 98 mph fastball and are inspired to pick up a baseball ourselves and throw it as fast as we can. In short, many singers don’t know how to practice optimally. They just get out there and “do it like the pros”, and wonder why they’re not really advancing at any kind of measurable pace.

    So, it would be tremendously helpful to demystify the difference between vocalizing for daily workouts vs. singing to express. When you strip away style and affectation, what should a healthy voice sound like and feel like from bottom to top when doing a daily regimen? How do you healthily exert the voice to encourage the right muscles to grow? How should your voice feel after a healthy workout? What kind of recovery should you expect?

    One of the mantras I hear so often from vocal “experts” is that there should never be any tension or stress when singing. But that seems so completely counter intuitive. As any athlete who has done strength training knows, there’s always some stress when exerting and working out muscles, whether for daily maintenance or for competitive performance. I get that the cords and muscles that control the larynx are very small and sensitive, but they are muscles nonetheless. So perhaps you can speak to the signals that tell a singer when they haven’t worked the voice enough, or too much.

    Thanks for your continued insights!

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