Superhuman Singer: A Fourteen-Year-Old Voice Student Shares His Creative Perspective on SingingMarch 29, 2018
Voice Student Alex Urlaub, Vocal Warm-up Strategy
By Alex Urlaub, ECMS Student
with a note by Hannah Harrow, ECMS Voice Intern
A Note From Hannah Harrow, Alex’s Teacher:
“Why do I love to sing? Singing is my most deeply personal and honest means of emotional expression; singing is relevant and relatable to my life experiences; singing gives me an outlet for creativity and imagination; singing allows me to communicate feelings and ideas with people. Singing is the most fun and enjoyable way for me to express who I really am.
And that’s why I love it so much. Whether I’m listening to an 11-year old composing a song about her favorite animal, or coaching a high school student on his musical theater audition piece, or helping an adult student prepare for a recital debut, I love to hear and see people’s unique personalities come to life through their songs. Singing can meet you right where you’re at in life, and give you the confidence to express yourself.
And, so, if you’re a 14 year old boy who loves playing video games and fighting monsters, there’s no reason why your singing shouldn’t meet you right where you’re at and be relevant to where you are in life. Below, you will read an article on vocal technique written by Alex, a 14-year-old student of mine who loves to play video games, watch basketball… and sing Italian arias.
Together, we developed a healthy and creative vocal technique for Alex that utilizes his love for fighting monsters and his vibrant imagination. We took concepts like breath energy, vertical vowels, and mask resonance… and put them into a context that Alex can relate to and have fun with. We call our vocal warm-ups “attack strategies.” And you can use these different warm-ups, each with different note patterns and vowels, to fight different kinds of monsters and shoot different weapons. For example, when we sing any exercise using the vowel O, we imagine that as we round our lips for that vowel, we are shooting an O-shaped bomb out of our foreheads. When we sing the vowel “e”, we imagine lasers shooting out of the top of our heads.
We hope you enjoy reading about how to fight your enemies with a correctly formed “O” vowel and about why this 14 year old thinks other teenagers should try classical voice lessons!”
A Note from Alex:
Who are you?
“I am 14-year-old superhuman. I like to sing and play video games. I have been singing for 3 years, I started singing in 2015. I really love to sing. I love that it is different and it is not something someone my age would usually do; it makes me stand out!
We always do warm-ups at the beginning and we usually go through a song, fix something and then go through it again. Since the beginning of lessons, we have invented a different type of vocal warm-up strategies. The vocal warm-up strategy is that we view all of our warm-ups as attacks.”
VIDEO GAMES MEET … ITALIAN ARIAS?
By Alex Urlaub
What if I told you you could go to voice lessons and drop bombs on your enemies? Or shoot [i]-lasers out of your head? Or defend yourself with your [O]-shaped shield? Or pour poison down your enemy’s throat with your [uiuiu]? What if I told you that every Italian song you sing is a sneak attack, where every vowel sound shoots a different type of laser? If I told you all this, you would probably want to go to voice lessons, right?
My name is Alex. I am 14 years old. I like to play video games and watch the Boston Celtics … and I like to sing. I have been studying voice for two years with Ms. Hannah Harrow and I am going to tell you about my special warm-up strategy and vocal technique. It all started two years ago when we were talking about Batman, a unicorn, and an owl during the warm-ups in our first lesson. And then we had the idea to make each warm-up into an attack because I love playing video games. Here is a sneak peek from the notebook we created to keep track of all my attack strategies (or, vocal warm-ups!) Each warm-up has a different strategy to help me sing better, and a different type of monster it can fight.
It is more fun to warm up when we use these attack strategies. Because I use the attacks to think about good vocal technique, I feel more ready to sing the actual pieces. My goal is to illustrate and publish a vocal warm-up book with my teacher so we can share our strategies with other singers. My favorite aria so far is Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento. It has a lot of faster notes in it, and all of the different vowels are really fun to say. It is fast and happy. Sometimes, I even catch myself singing in Italian outside of lessons. I remember one time I was playing a video game and I was winning, so I just started singing Gia il Sole dal Gange because it expressed my excitement and I love the song!
Nowadays teenagers might think that classical singing is boring, because most music today is rap and that’s what teenagers listen to. But, people are missing out on the classical stuff… that is also fun! Not everything has to be rap! There’s so much to love about classical singing: the different dynamics and how you say the different languages and how the words flow together…. It is just something so different and unique!
So here’s my advice to you if you’re thinking about classical voice lessons. You have to be willing to try something new; singing can be hard at first, but, in the long run it became one of my favorite things. Practice helps, as it should, and singing will also get easier with experience. Classical singing can be boring…but it can also be fun! So, I say forget what you might have heard people say about classical singing… and try something new!