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Vocal Box

Vocal Box - Size XXX??? Newest Trend - 'Opera Lessons'?

Written by Diana Yampolsky

In this article, I would like to start off by talking about human genetics, anatomy and physiology. It is a common fact that people come in all shapes and sizes and that, in many instances, their body shapes are determined by genetics. Some people's inherited structures have determined that they are very tall. Other people naturally have a smaller frame and thus inevitably are not so tall. These parameters often determine the size of clothing that all of us shop for. In other words, you could be a size small, medium, large, or Plus. Now what does this have to do with vocals you may ask? In fact, a lot! Just like people and the various body parts that make them up come in different sizes, so too do our vocal boxes. The size of your vocal box will usually determine the type of material that you are able to sing in a competent manner that doesn't put undue strain on your vocal anatomy. The very size of your vocal box will also determine the style of singing that is right for you, at least anatomically speaking.

Having been in the business of vocal coaching and producing for over three decades now, I have met a very large number of singers, some trained and some untrained. Lately, I have noticed that many people are talking about Opera Lessons! They very much seem to be in fashion right now. Many parents look at opera lessons as a trend and as something they can brag about with the relatives and neighbours, something along the lines of 'We just went to see an Opera, so my daughter is taking opera lessons now!' Personally, I think that many parents believe that Opera lessons are something that is safe and sound for their children. After all, there is no sex or drugs in opera, right? Also, many parents predominantly don't even want their children to grow up to be singers, they want them to become lawyers, doctors or accountants. And in the back of their minds they know that their children likely won't grow up to be the next Opera singing legend. So in their perception it is safe in a number of ways. But is that really so?

How To Become An Opera Singer And Really Assure That It Will Never Happen

Now, how many opera singers can most people name? Pavarotti? Domingo? Carreras? The answer is usually not very many. The reason for this is that really good opera singers are a genetic minority. For you sports fans, they are as rare as athletic 7 foot 6 basketball players from China. With all of the opera teachers out there you would think that opera singers are made, not born - but that really isn't the case. Unless you are born with a 3X size vocal box, you cannot swing (let alone sing) opera because the opera style requires of the performer to drop their jaw down low to interconnect the chest register, the throat and the head register. Unless the vocal box is really of an extra, extra, extra large size and is well arched, it won?t be possible, at least without wrecking one's vocal anatomy. Thus, because the whole world is trying to ?teach? opera style, I, meanwhile, am bombarded by those so-called 'opera' students (victims) from all over the world with requests for voice repair. Go figure! Yes, by all means, drop your jaw as far as your knee if you were born with the size of a 'Vocal Casanova'. (See my previous column entitled Vocal Casanova.) The term means to have an adequate size instrument and know how to use it to it's maximum capability. But don't worry, even if you have a medium, large or, better yet, extra large size vocal box, you will be able to achieve a great success in any other genre of music - Pop, Rock, R&B, Country, etc. In fact, each style has it's own application and none of them require the singer to drop the jaw down. (See my previous column entitled The Technical Aspects of Vocal Style.) On the contrary, bring your sound to the upper cheekbone muscles and coordinate them with your lower abdominal and upper diaphragm muscles and you will sing in style and with absolute ease and safety.

In conclusion, if you really want to become a singer, please define your purpose and style and then take your training accordingly. For reference, please remember that if you want to learn how to jump a triple axel while wearing figure skates, please do not search for a hockey coach to teach you how to do it.