(2) Can Heavy Metal Singing Be Done Safely? Good... - Voice Soaring Studios | Jeff Alani Stanfill

Can Heavy Metal Singing Be Done Safely? Good morning all you beautiful singers/teachers of singing! The countdown is on to my favorite day of the entire year...Christmas!! Can you believe it snuck up on us so fast? Remember when you were a little kid and it seemed like it took forever for Christmas to arrive? Why does time seem to fly by at the speed of light as we.(cough cough)...."mature"? My post today is about heavy metal singing, and if it can be done safely without damage to the vocal folds? I get lots of requests from students around the world wanting to know if I can teach them to scream correctly? My general reply is that "If you can already scream, I can teach you to do it safely. If you don't know how to scream I cannot teach you that". If someone needs to learn how to scream I often suggest they purchase a copy of Melissa Cross' "The Zen Of Screaming" DVD. Melissa is a brilliant technician who was a classically trained as a singer and found a way of teaching healthy scream technique to heavy metal singers. Her DVD, which has been out for many years, is still the best selling resource for learning this highly specialized style of singing out there. A couple of years ago I began teaching a singer in Philadelphia who was a natural born heavy metal singer. He took about a month of lessons and then was transferred to Vietnam for a job opportunity there. In the month that we worked together, I noticed that he was using a lot of throat to produce the sound, but very little support with his lower body. He was struggling to maintain his vocal health but sincerely wanted to sing this type of music. He was just beginning to understand the concept of lower body support before he moved. Heavy Metal music is quite popular in Vietnam, and I was little worried that he was going to get there, start finding bands to sing with to sing and shred his vocal cords. Fortunately he practiced the concepts we discussed before he moved and found his lower body support. He recently started taking lessons with me via Skype, and I am happy to report that his voice is more powerful than ever and he has joined a band in Saigon. Exercises for Heavy Metal Singers I first start with "head-voice down" exercises first to take weight out of the chest voice, followed by tongue/lip trills (sometimes called "raspberries") and chest voice to head voice balancing exercises. Once the voice is sounding open, free and balanced, then we add exercises that invite more "edge" into the sound such as a nine tone ascending scale on vowel combination eh-ah-eh-ah-eh.... I have found this vowel combination to be most effective for all male voices, but especially heavy metal singers as it strengthens the cord closure on the thin edge function. As most of the heavy metal sound is produced with the "false cords", it is vitally important that the actual vocal folds are functioning freely and without a great deal of tension. Heavy Metal singing is what I refer to as "high velocity vocalizing" and can take a huge toll of the singer if done without proper support and technique. It has been quite a learning experience for me to teach this type of singer. But I now know that it can be done healthily and without a damage to the precious vocal folds. When teaching the singer in Vietnam, I will often have him speak to me after he has sung one of his songs so that I can hear if he is getting scratchy or hoarse. He has had a 100% "clean bill of speaking health" after each lesson. The speaking voice is, after all, the indicator of vocal health. If it is clear and functioning properly, then the singing voice will function healthily as well. This is all due to the singer's careful application of the concepts of the Swedish-Italian school of singing. I am sure the late Alan Lindquest would be thrilled to know that the concepts he taught my teacher David Jones, can be successfully applied to all genres of singing, even heavy metal! Have a great day everyone! "Keep Singing And Let Your Voice Soar"


Jeffrey Stanfill