How to make voice last longer?

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How to make voice last longer?

Postby Belincia » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:27 pm

My throat begins to hurt when I try to do a lot of mantras, so like during retreats I'm unable to do them as much as I'd like to. I do drink water a lot while doing it, because that helps somewhat. No matter if I do them loudly/queitly, I still can't keep going as long as I'd like to. I always do them with my normal pitch, which should be the healthiest way.

Are you aware of effective ways to train the voice to last longer?

I am a young person, and I don't have any tendency for illnesses on my "speaking organs". I very rarely get this pain from just talking. I think doing mantras is a bit more intense, as it is continuous.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:46 pm

When just talking you´re probably not going as loud as when chanting or singing. And even from talking: Many teachers experience an exhaustion in their voice after having talked for a while, because when talking their vocal apparatus is far from as relaxed as it could be. Even concert singers can´t go on with the same quality of sound for extended periods of time, there must be breaks. Even for highly trained voices. In rehearsals, they have breaks, and the rehearsals cannot go on forever. You´re probably asking a kind of duration and performance from your vocal apparatus that even for highly trained voices is difficult to achieve.

Getting your voice to last longer involves several techniques that come close to becoming a technically trained singer:
- Use less air
- Don´t force the tone out
- Keep your glottis down (neither force it up nor down)
- keep your neck and root of the tongue relaxed
- sing with an inhaling configuration of your body
- reduce the pressure below your vocal chords
- relaxed, noiceless inhaling
- produce volume by vibration in more parts or cavities of your body, letting the vibes travel there, instead of using more air pressure or flux.
- don´t try to force subtones or a particular pitch or tone
- don´t produce the sound but let it float freely within

Take breaks. Take breaks. Take breaks. Practice in short intervals, but do it regularly.

Instead of lengthening the practice it is probably more useful to increase the "intensity". That does not mean "be louder" or "be stronger" or "try harder", it simply means: when you´re practicing, really be with what you do. Then ten minutes at a time may do wonders.

And whenever your vocal chords are strained after your session: Then it *was* too much for your current skill and capacity. You may even have seasonal deviations. People with allergies cannot strain their voices at all when it´s allergy season. Or some experience dryness in their voice. Then it just is like that. If you want to become good at that technique, get a good singing instructor/vocal therapist that helps you relax and pick up the right technique.

If swimming and you´re always going at full speed, you´re probably only be able to freestyle two or three lengths. You´ll be able to do miles once you´ve learned to do it so slowly that it will never exhaust you. Then you have control. You´re not going to extend that by bursting 3-4 lanes at a time to exhaustion. Maybe at some time you will be able to reach 5, but you will always hit a hard limit that is near when you don´t pace down. Exhaustion comes exponential when you go above what you can endure "at walking speed". And walking speed means: There is no strain while doing or after stopping.

Best wishes
Gwenn
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby Belincia » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:40 pm

Thanks for tips. There were many I hadn't heard before. What do you mean by singing with an inhaling configuration of body?
Also, I must mention that I typically chant mantras with less loud voice than I speak. Not louder.

Unfortunately I got the impression from you that it isn't possible to do retreats with a lot of mantra practices. But that can't be true, because a lot of Tibetans have done long retreats where they practice for hours and hours every day and in my understanding they may do for example ngöndro on a very short time. Somehow they manage to chant those mantras. Also, my partner is able to go on many times longer time than I am, and he says he never got any problems. I wonder if people actually do some of the mantras silently when they are gathering a large amount of them?
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby Gwenn Dana » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:44 pm

Belincia wrote:Somehow they manage to chant those mantras. Also, my partner is able to go on many times longer time than I am, and he says he never got any problems.


Every body is different, and people have a different starting point (basic technique) when they sing or talk to begin with. When there has been no technical training, what developed from own experience developed. That may be decent, good, or not good at all. Most of the time it will get worse once one starts to "try" to "improve" certain aspects of it, since trying usually involves strain. Then a teacher can help release what has to be released, and train what has to be trained. I personally only rarely chant mantras, even though my singing technique is rather relaxed. Dealing with allergies, my vocal chords tire fast during some seasons. Not much to be done. I´ve been working with a vocal trainer for a couple of years since my speaking technique was not effortless to begin with, and I´ve given many lectures, talks, training and presentations, so voice was necessary. Though we focused on speech, it did not really work without including singing, and experiencing the difference between the two, and going from one to the other. Usually the vocal apparatus is much more relaxed when speaking. Because you do not concentrate on pitch. Once you fix pitch (for example when chanting), there´s tension involved, if your technique is not good, since you try to "make" that pitch. Even low volumes need not be effortless, but dependent on your pitch can also be forced. In fact, very low volumes without proper technique tend to involve way too much tension. It requires practice for a tone to just "sit" at a certain pitch freely.

In fact, when that tone is just sitting there so that there is no strain involved, so it fills you completely, then you will have given up any strain. But that requires practice and letting go. Not trying to "make". Different vowels require different configurations of your vocal apparatus to obtain the same pitch and tone, and if you haven´t learned how they´re done effortlessly, if you fix a certain pitch and change vowels then there will be strain involved. Fixed pitch without natural vibrato usually tends to be strained anyway. So that´s definitely different between speaking and singing. Speaking on fixed pitch, vocally, compares to singing, not speaking.

About the "inhaling configuration": There are a couple of ways to reduce the pressure below the vocal chords. At earlier times singers learned to "support" the voice by keeping muscles of the abdomen "outward". But that is strain too, and as I heard there were many people who dropped out because of that strain creating wear and tear. A more modern approach would be to have a feeling of "inhalation" when you´re singing. It basically does the same: Keep your configuration so that your diaphragm won´t force the air out, but your vocal chords simply naturally vibrate with as little air as is needed to do the job. Of course that "picture" of inhalation also only leads you there. It counters the illusion of exhaling a tone which is widespread. In the end there is neither, but the tone just appears, without you thinking of any technique. But that will take practice. If you´ve mastered that, you´ve mastered the basics of singing, so to speak. Expect a couple thousand hours practice spread over the course of a couple of years for your voice to become "free".

But that will only work if you don´t overstrain your voice at any time. If you practice until you´re sore, you will only keep yourself from progress, or cause physical harm which may damage your voice in the long run. If you´re sore, then there was something wrong and needs to be corrected. The correction will need time. And it helps to have a vocal trainer.

Best wishes
Gwenn
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby Belincia » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:39 am

Hey,

Thanks for your thorough explanation. I'm not actually necessarily looking to "sing" mantras. I frankly have no musical ability, and I don't think the traditional way people do mantras is exactly "singing". The advice you gave was really profound and I'm not sure I understood everything, but I definitely got some ideas of how to do things better. I will keep doing practices and relax, I think the technique will improve slowly.
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby Kim O'Hara » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:55 am

Gwenn's advice is terrific. As a music teacher I might have said something similar, but without that level of detail, but now I don't have to :smile: so I might just add/reinforce a couple of points.
- Any voice production that has a specific pitch (note) is a "singing voice" whether you think of it as singing or chanting or nothing-in-particular. That said, it is perfectly possible to repeat mantras in a "speaking voice" and you may be doing just that.
- Changing back and forth between speaking voice and singing voice is harder on your voice than staying with either one.
- Drink lots of water, often. Speaking or singing with a dry throat quickly harms your speech apparatus. Singing teachers tell their students to drink so much they "pee pale". :thinking:

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby Malcolm » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:33 pm

Belincia wrote:My throat begins to hurt when I try to do a lot of mantras, so like during retreats I'm unable to do them as much as I'd like to. I do drink water a lot while doing it, because that helps somewhat. No matter if I do them loudly/queitly, I still can't keep going as long as I'd like to. I always do them with my normal pitch, which should be the healthiest way.

Are you aware of effective ways to train the voice to last longer?

I am a young person, and I don't have any tendency for illnesses on my "speaking organs". I very rarely get this pain from just talking. I think doing mantras is a bit more intense, as it is continuous.

Thanks in advance.


Mantras should normally be done quietly, quiet enough so a little guy on your shoulder cannot hear them. It is called "secret mantra" for a reason. Bellowing mantras like Vajrakilaya and so on causes obstacles.
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby garudha » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:15 am

Mantra in the heart makes no sound.
:alien: :buddha2: :buddha1: :yinyang: :zzz: :yinyang: :buddha1: :buddha2: :alien:
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Re: How to make voice last longer?

Postby Belincia » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:53 am

Malcolm wrote:Mantras should normally be done quietly, quiet enough so a little guy on your shoulder cannot hear them. It is called "secret mantra" for a reason. Bellowing mantras like Vajrakilaya and so on causes obstacles.


I appreciate your input on this. I haven't heard this before. My teacher has said it is beneficial for other beings (insects, spirits etc) to hear the chanting. But then again, I do Amitabha's mantra, which isn't that secret in my understanding. Maybe it is different for more secret practices. I will consider this if/when I start doing different kind of mantras.

I've actually been wondering, if I am gathering certain number of some practice, can I count mantras that I did silently? Based on this I suppose yes. I always thought it wouldn't be "complete" if I didn't do it aloud, but maybe I'm mistaken. I'm talking about gathering mani mantra, or ngöndro, or something like that.
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