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Ken Tamplin " How To Sing Better Than Anyone Else"


Welcome to Volume 1
Volume 1 lays out the foundation, and in fact is the cornerstone,
towards great singing. Begin by watching all of the videos several
times until you are familiar with all the concepts. This will give you a
visual overview to the exercises we then run through in the audio
Keep your torso straight and your neck straight. Don’t get your spine
tipped in any direction: not forward, backward, left or right. Stand or sit
straight up. If you choose to sit, remember you lose about 25-30% of
your support and makes it more difficult to maximize your vocal
Also, if you try to drive when doing your workout there are many
factors to consider:
1. You will get distracted on the road and not be able to give your
workout its full attention/concentration.
2. You will not have full support because you are sitting.
3. You will probably compete for volume whether it is from outside
noise and or playing your stereo too loud when practicing so
there is a strong tendency to over sing).
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
Some people feel they already know what this is, but in reality they
don’t. If they do, they are often not using it correctly.
Start here. Make sure you fully understand support and are using it
correctly as laid out in the Volume 1 videos/DVD.
When you take in a breath, your stomach will protrude outward, when
you sing a phrase, you will push down on this area releasing the air
(sort of like you are going to the bathroom, apologies for the crude
analogy) and then completely relax the diaphragm the moment the
phrase is done. This is very important so that it does not get bound up
and locked down inhibiting your diaphragm strength for the next
phrase. Visualize an accordion going in and out.
Some of the most seasoned singers who have studied the voice for
years still do not understand the importance of this simple vowel.
Some students say “Oh please, you’re not going to show me how to
sing an ah vowel are you? I’ve been singing that all my life.” Funny
thing is, they have been singing it WRONG all their lives, and old
habits are hard to break.
The Ah vowel is the introduction to open throat singing. Look closely
at the picture and demonstration I do on the videos and model it
exactly. The back of the throat must be as open as you can possibly
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
make it. The tongue MUST be dropped flat to the base of the jaw
(especially in the back of the throat) and must not constrict the back of
the throat in any way. Stand in front of a mirror. Look at the back of
your throat. Is your tongue completely dropped and as flat as it can
ALSO: Is the uvula, also known as the soft pallet (the little dangly
thing in the back of your throat) rise up and out of site as you start to
ascend a scale? When you get good at this it should disappear up in
the head. Your voice should have a nice bright, brassy “PING” to it
when you have good placement. ***PLEASE MAKE SURE*** your
digastric muscle (the muscle directly underneath your chin) does not
“come down” during your exercises. It should also stay flat with no
Constantly monitor yourself (especially in the mirror when possible) to
make certain you do not have any tension in the chest, neck and
throat. Also, hold your thumb underneath your chin to make sure your
voice box area does not come down. It must stay relaxed and flat.
This must be done VERY lightly at first so that there is NO break in
the voice between chest and head. First remember the previously
mentioned steps: POSTURE – SUPPORT – THE AH VOWEL - OPEN
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
There is much confusion about terms like Chest Voice, Upper Chest
Voice, Upper-Mid Voice, Mid Voice, Falsetto, Head Voice, Mix Voice,
Head-Chest Mix, Register Break and so on.
Scuola Italiana del Belcanto, translated freely as The Italian School of
Beautiful Singing, is the major component of what I teach and is
known as Appoggio.
DO NOT COMPARTMENTALISE all of these confusing terms and
phrases people have coined; they are not true. Don't buy into this kind
of thinking.
Your voice is your voice. It is not separate; it is not to be broken up
into sections. Like the full range of motion of your leg, your voice must
be thought of in the same way. Every part "leans" on another part to
make it work. The concept of diaphragmatic breathing (or "leaning" on
the support of your breath) is KEY. Many claim they understand this
when in fact they don't.
With that said, when we discuss the passagio (or passageway) from a
chest to head connection, do not think of your voice as though they
are two different voices in chest voice and head voice. Think of it like
your leg: a quad-hamstring section (upper) and a calf area (lower) that
connect at the knee. The "knee" (by way of illustration) would be your
passagio or your "break". I call it the "speed bump".
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
We strengthen the "knee", or passagio, to be able to support the full
power and range of the leg. When we build the voice, we must think of
it as one full range long note. Sure, the leg can have different
functions, but ultimately it is one leg.
You will find that once you build this full range, not favoring any part of
the leg, but working the muscle equally to have balance and support
to support full range of motion of the leg, it will serve in the full
capacity it was intended.
If we favor any area of the leg, and not "work out" any portion, like any
muscle it will start to atrophy and become weak. Once this happens,
this section of your voice will break down.
Therefore, we work the full range of the voice in the same way so that
we do not develop "soft spots" or "notches" on the chord.
So how exactly do you do the audio workout? Think of this as two
different workouts.
Part 1
• Watch the videos all the way through several times to get
comfortable and familiar with the concepts and exercises. Only
one volume at a time for those that have more than one volume.
• Apply what you are learning in a chest voice resonance to
strengthen the chest voice.
• Do not move on to bridging at this point.
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
• Try to make it all the way to the end of the audio portion (but only
if you can do it safely).
• Start out performing the lip roll and tongue exercise very gently
and easy.
• Once you are comfortable with these exercises in chest-only, you
can roll into head voice on these two exercises only.
• Importantly, as you are building a bridge between head and
chest, move quickly to get into a full chest resonant sound, not
rolling into head voice starting on the first Ah vowel.
• Refer back to the videos as much as needed for the correct
vowel modifications discussed in the video.
• Constantly monitor yourself for support and tension. It is also
extremely helpful to record yourself and listen back if possible to
“hear/see” if you are doing it correctly.
• Don’t be so focused on getting the scales perfect at first,
concentrate more on the support and feeling in your throat.
• Once you feel confident of the feeling in the throat you can focus
more on the pitch and exact scale notes.
• You will notice your volume will increase. This is a good thing.
Not to over-sing, but to build resonance.
Part 2
• After you have completed the chest resonance “stretching”, you
can move on to lightly building the bridge.
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
• Start to “hand off” the chest voice into the head voice where you
feel comfortable.
• As you feel more and more comfortable with this, keeping the
volume the same all the way through the scale. Do not favor the
break and do it lighter; keep the volume the same and only sing
as loud as you can connect, no more.
• Don’t stay in the “strike zone”. Meaning when connecting head
and chest, don’t “hover” on the bridge point. Go quickly and
smoothly past this point into the head. Don’t hyper-focus on it. If
you do, there is a reflexive tendency to “close off” the back of the
throat making it much more difficult to “get it”.
• If you do it quickly, it will cross over this area and you will learn
bridging faster and with more confidence.
• Once you get good at this, we will focus on “connecting” from
chest to head “later” or higher up the scale. Ultimately, it is best
to connect chest with head as late as possible. This will keep
your chest voice nice and strong.
• More appropriately around the end of volume two into volume
three, you will be able to bring the head voice “down”, connecting
as early as possible and moving into a mixed voice. Mixed voice
is a combination of chest and head.
• You will find that you will eventually be able to do this over about
8 to 10 notes or even more when you get really good at it.
• Once you feel you understand these fundamental elements, it is
time to move on to Volume 2.
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
• If you practice like I recommend, one hour per day 5-6 days per
week, you should be able to move to Volume 2 in about 3 weeks.
• Remember, everyone is different so don’t worry if it takes longer.
Some people need as long as 3 months. Everyone is different.
The important thing is to not rush through it. Make sure you fully
understand it. Don’t watch the video once and think you have fully
grasped all the info. Refer back to it several times.
If you want to achieve gains even faster, you may do your lesson
more than once per day. If you are going to do this, do your lessons
back to back with only about a 15-30 minute break in between. Try not
to do them at separate ends of the day as it will not be as effective.
Important Point 1: Always do your full warm up before your rehearsal
or show.
Important Point 2: Always try to do your warm ups the NEXT DAY
after a show. Try not to take the day off. This will help you stay in
good lean running condition to keep moving forward.
Important Point 3: Always try to warm up around the same time every
day. The voice has a biological clock and likes to be warmed up at the
same time every day. You will see better results this way.
What do I do if I am experiencing soreness in my throat?
I am not going to give you medical advice. I am not an ENT.
My experience is there are several things that factor into this:
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
Sore for the most part is okay (I’m not talking raw, I’m talking a little
sore). Like any muscle that gets worked out, it gets sore, so sore is
HOARSE IS NOT! If you keep going hoarse, you are doing something
incorrectly. I suggest you take a web cam lesson. Also, if you sang the
night before a little too hard and have a little hoarseness the next day,
that happens all the time. Work your lesson extra gentle and easy
until the voice warms up. You can then resume your normal workout.
This will help keep elasticity in the chords and keep you in good
shape, especially when on the road or in a club situation when you
must sing night after night. Going hoarse is also a sign of straining
and using too much air. I cover glottal compression in Volume 3, but it
is too premature to cover air stricture in Volume 1. My suggestion is
you refer back to open throat and the bright “PING” I demonstrate to
get the correct use of air at this stage.
before a show?
I have found that the very best thing during a performance is room
temperature water. Nothing else. No carbonated beverages. Alcohol
dries you out. People that use glycerin-based products need to
understand that you are “coating” your throat with sugar (like a form of
mucous). What do we do when we have mucous in the throat? We
scrape the chord with air (much like what we do when we strain when
we sing incorrectly) to get rid of the phlegm to dislodge it from our
throat and chords. Not good.
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
When should I eat before a performance?
Try not to eat up to 1.5 hours before a show. You will be burping up
your food when using your diaphragm throughout the whole
When is it time to take a web cam or in studio lesson with Ken?
These are always good times to take private instructions:
• When you feel stuck on a part.
• When you feel like you are ready to move on to the next level but
are not sure if you are doing it correctly.
• When you want help working up a specific song.
• When you are having vocal issues.
Again, always warm up about 1 hour before a show leaving only about
15-30 minutes before you sing. Otherwise you will have warmed up
too early. DON’T CHEAT. Do as much as you can. Find the best
possible quiet place with the least amount of distraction. If you do it in
the dressing room, make sure you are not competing with other noise,
such as the opening act already loudly banging it out (unless that’s
you LOL!) or guitarists warming up in the dressing room etc. DO NOT
OVER SING when warming up in these situations!
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
IN THE FRONT OF THE SET!!! I know the rest of the band wants to
“come out with a bang” but find another way to do it. Place your
toughest stuff about song 3-4 and dispersed between other easier
songs to sing. If you do this your voice will be so strong at the end of
the set, you will feel like you can do it all over again and even better! If
you don’t, you will struggle like the marathon runner who gave it up
too early and now has to figure out how to finish the race. Remember,
people rarely remember the opening, but they always remember the
middle and end. Save your killers for the end. Leave them wanting
I get this type of inquiry all the time: “I’ve lost my mojo and much of my
range because I’m now xx years old.”
Remember, your voice is a muscle. And like any muscle in your body,
if trained properly, can be built back up. Your progress will obviously
not be as quick or robust as if you were in your twenties, but very
achievable just the same. It will require a bit more dedication and a
little more patience. If you are consistent with it, you will see
substantial gains and ultimately find yourself very close to where you
were if you are willing to put in the time and energy.
Ladies and gents, you will get out of this what you put into it. It’s just
that simple!
How to Sing Volume 1
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Copyright 2011 Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy | All Rights Reserved |
Remember, the video portion is just the explanation. The audio
portion is your actual workout.
How Do I Know When It Is Time To Move On To Level/Volume 2?
• You have good posture
• You understand and are using correct support
• Your tongue is dropped to the base of your jaw
• You keep your jaw wide open
• You are consistently monitoring stress/tension away from the
chest neck and throat
• You have a strong understanding of the Ah vowel
• You are keeping the Ah vowel nice and bright at all times
• You are starting to understand vowel modifications
You would then apply the video content to the audio workout (ideally)
5-6 days per week.
After about 2-3 weeks of this kind of training, it would be time to move
on to Stage 2 and so on.