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#2551267 - 06/22/16 08:52 AM learning piano vs singing
iamanders Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 04/15/15
Posts: 130
Howdy!
I would like to know what you piano experts think of this:

Learning the piano and signing seem a bit different. With vocals you just sing whereas with piano you look up more about the instrument before you play. It's like the most natural instrument is vocals. I saw a video with Bobby Mcferrin showing people, with a singing experiment, that pentatonics are very natural but I guess people don't sing pentatonics with equal temperament tuning like modern piano use. On a piano, my instrument, you would look up the notes of the pentatonic scales. With vocals you basically just find the first note and then sing the scale(s). This means that learning the piano and learning how to sing must be very different? Singing is more of a second nature to us so I can never learn it like i learned to play piano? What do you expert say about this? I want to be very practical here...

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#2551275 - 06/22/16 09:49 AM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
bravoteddy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 8
Loc: midwest
A voice teacher I once had started my instruction with stating, 'The singer's body is their instrument' - I found that a very cool concept! Her statement ties in with your 'natural instrument' statement above. Then, there's the whole aspect of __'playing/singing by ear' or 'reading' music__ . A pianist who plays by ear finds those pentatonic scales naturally and easily too, I theorize (now, myself, I generally use printed, pre-notated, music to play). When I sing, I actually visualize the notes on the piano keyboard as I sing them, even without a piano nearby. I think if I were to continue to study voice, I would start to relate notes on the page with how they feel in my vocal range (and maybe not need the 'piano keyboard visual' as much). I know many instrumental teachers advise parents to have their children take a few years of piano before starting an instrument, for the musical foundation that gives.

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#2551326 - 06/22/16 02:36 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3637
Loc: Maine
Are you thinking of piano and singing without lessons (for both of them), or with lessons? Can you say more about what you mean by "with piano you look up more about the instrument before you play"?
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#2551336 - 06/22/16 03:58 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
prout Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 2047
Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Originally Posted By iamanders
Howdy!
I would like to know what you piano experts think of this:

Learning the piano and signing seem a bit different. With vocals you just sing whereas with piano you look up more about the instrument before you play. It's like the most natural instrument is vocals. I saw a video with Bobby Mcferrin showing people, with a singing experiment, that pentatonics are very natural but I guess people don't sing pentatonics with equal temperament tuning like modern piano use. On a piano, my instrument, you would look up the notes of the pentatonic scales. With vocals you basically just find the first note and then sing the scale(s). This means that learning the piano and learning how to sing must be very different? Singing is more of a second nature to us so I can never learn it like i learned to play piano? What do you expert say about this? I want to be very practical here...


Sadly, most people think singing just comes naturally, which is why there are so few truly great singers in the world.

Anyone can sit down at a piano, and, without any lessons or knowledge of the instrument, play notes, make noise, or play a melody. Many peolpe are self-taught, and the lack of proper technique immediately shows. Practically all great concert pianists studied with phenomenal teachers who provided the essential technique.

A truly great singer needs a truly great teacher to provide them with proper vocal technique. Unlike the piano, where body tension, hand position and motion are visible, the vocal apparatus is not visible, yet knowledge of the cricothyroid muscle, essential in tone production, proper breathing techniques, along with controlling the shape of the resonant chamber to produce the singer's formant, is not widely studied, which is why there are so few great singing teachers.

If you are serious about learning to sing, take piano lessons first, then take singing lessons.

Good luck.


Edited by prout (06/22/16 04:01 PM)

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#2551339 - 06/22/16 04:12 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
WhoDwaldi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 1635
Loc: SE USA
The problem with piano is that the same interval can feel different ways. A major third, for example, can be white key to white key, black to white, white to black, or black to black. Add to that different fingering combinations in each hand, and things get tricky quickly.

Singing: do mi. 😀

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#2551347 - 06/22/16 04:47 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 432
Loc: Midwest USA
I have seen the Bobby Mcferrin video. It is great, and explains a universality.
While I don't consider myself an expert, I do play and sing out there in public.
I honestly don't think I ever sang in tune/on pitch until I played an instrument. One really needs that sustain to sing along with. Pianos are just Ok sustain-wise. I think that's why organs are popular in churches. Ashamedly, I don't think too much about it.
I know it probably makes the Classic types cringe but, the more I learn, the more I admire those Barbershoppers. I sing three or four part harmony in one combo, and that has helped me be a better vocalist. But real singers have a lot of breath and sustain, besides being on pitch. I'm not there.
What's easier? At my level, I really don't play or sing anything that's not comfortably within my capability, it would be a toss-up.
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#2551387 - 06/22/16 08:32 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
AndrewJCW Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/10/14
Posts: 670
Loc: Middle of nowhere, Australia
The either you're born with or not mentality of singing is a myth, at least in the same sense that it's also true for mathematics or piano or tennis. It's definitely more natural for some people, but anyone (barring the 0.1% with a real medical condition) can get to a decent standard with enough effort, and even talented people need to work hard to reach their potential.

Where singing is different is how pervasive the myth is, and how singing is a personal and subjective experience. So much so that when you say "I don't like the way she sings" is as much an attack on that person's personality and character as it is on how they sound. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone over the age of 11 to actually try and practice and improve singing if they already have the idea in their head that they're not a singer. Also there's a very strong feeling that a singer is a show off and an egotistical sort of person, doubly so if they're a poor singer and they're trying anyway.
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#2551506 - 06/23/16 10:49 AM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 432
Loc: Midwest USA
Like any instrument, voice still needs to be on pitch and on time. I always use the late Joe Cocker as an example. The polar opposite of a Belle Canto, yet he was in tune, and in the groove. If those criteria are met, most voices sound remarkably similar.

Coincidently, I've a mandolin student right now, who would like to sing & play for one's own edification. The sustain situation is sort of an issue, because it's more difficult sliding into pitch, if the reference pitch isn't there. We're not in a hurry. We trust we will get there.
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#2551533 - 06/23/16 01:15 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: prout]
TimR Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3694
Loc: Virginia, USA
Originally Posted By prout

A truly great singer needs a truly great teacher to provide them with proper vocal technique. Unlike the piano, where body tension, hand position and motion are visible, the vocal apparatus is not visible, yet knowledge of the cricothyroid muscle, essential in tone production, proper breathing techniques, along with controlling the shape of the resonant chamber to produce the singer's formant, is not widely studied, which is why there are so few great singing teachers.

Good luck.


What, you're going to totally neglect the thyrenoarytenoid? (not sure I spelled that right)

Good post. Few people can teach singing correctly, but MANY people THINK they can.


Edited by TimR (06/23/16 01:18 PM)
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#2551540 - 06/23/16 02:15 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: TimR]
prout Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 2047
Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Originally Posted By TimR
Originally Posted By prout

A truly great singer needs a truly great teacher to provide them with proper vocal technique. Unlike the piano, where body tension, hand position and motion are visible, the vocal apparatus is not visible, yet knowledge of the cricothyroid muscle, essential in tone production, proper breathing techniques, along with controlling the shape of the resonant chamber to produce the singer's formant, is not widely studied, which is why there are so few great singing teachers.

Good luck.


What, you're going to totally neglect the thyrenoarytenoid? (not sure I spelled that right)

Good post. Few people can teach singing correctly, but MANY people THINK they can.


thyroarytenoid - but I thought it best to keep it simple. smirk

This interesting thing is that a lot of self-taught professional, non-classical singers end up coming to classical singing teachers and to speech pathologists, hoping to correct the damage done to their vocal folds (usually scar tissue nodes) due to years of bad technique. Everyone thinks they can sing naturally, but few can.


Edit: I am trying to teach myself to play the Theremin. Without a knowledgeable teacher, it is easy to create unnecessary tension in the body, such that even my heartbeat causes a pitch change. Watching videos of Clara Rockmore and Carolina Eyck have helped me to relax a bit, but a techer would be best. Unfortunately, Theremin teachers a very rare.


Edited by prout (06/23/16 02:37 PM)

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#2552506 - 06/27/16 07:09 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
cmajornine Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 44
Originally Posted By iamanders
Howdy!
I would like to know what you piano experts think of this:

Learning the piano and signing seem a bit different. With vocals you just sing whereas with piano you look up more about the instrument before you play. It's like the most natural instrument is vocals. I saw a video with Bobby Mcferrin showing people, with a singing experiment, that pentatonics are very natural but I guess people don't sing pentatonics with equal temperament tuning like modern piano use. On a piano, my instrument, you would look up the notes of the pentatonic scales. With vocals you basically just find the first note and then sing the scale(s). This means that learning the piano and learning how to sing must be very different? Singing is more of a second nature to us so I can never learn it like i learned to play piano? What do you expert say about this? I want to be very practical here...


You can learn to sing to a decent standard by doing vocal exercises and singing your scales & songs as you practice. I devote approximately 15 minutes day from my practice routine to singing technique ie Diaphragmatic breathing, octave jumps ect. I can now sing most of the songs I practice to an acceptable standard to demonstrate the song. Playing the piano and singing compliment each other very nicely and you avoid all the complications of getting singers to voice your tracks. Checkout the singing section on my site to see some of the resources I use.
_________________________
Did you know that you can purchase Pianos, courses, books, studio equipment and more from Ebay, Amazon and many other reputable vendors via my website? Visit http://cmajorninekeyz.info/index.html


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#2552538 - 06/27/16 08:55 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
JohnSprung Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 3205
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By iamanders
Learning the piano and singing seem a bit different. ...


Yes, quite a bit. With ten fingers, you can play big complex chords on the piano. If a singer wants chords, they need friends who also sing.

Pianos, or rather keyboard instruments in general, are ideal for teaching music theory, because everything is so graphically clear: press a key, hear a note. Play all the keys one at a time in order, and you get the chromatic scale. Likewise whites only, you get the C diatonic scale. Your voice makes the same notes, but you can't see what's going on....
_________________________
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I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body.
Then I realized who was telling me this.

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Yamaha CP33
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#2552561 - 06/27/16 10:28 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
Nahum Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 1523
Loc: Israel
Singing is the language of our soul! Even unprofessional, it's part of personality, and is very important for us. Although I've never been a singer, with no voice, but "consultative vote", now after the surgery on vocal cords I just suffer from inability to sing music which I'm listening or playing .

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#2552587 - 06/28/16 01:50 AM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: JohnSprung]
johan d Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/14
Posts: 868
Loc: Belgium
Originally Posted By JohnSprung
Your voice makes the same notes, but you can't see what's going on....
So you have to hear and feel it. that's why singing is the top-notch ear training

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#2552625 - 06/28/16 08:36 AM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: johan d]
prout Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 2047
Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Originally Posted By johan d
Originally Posted By JohnSprung
Your voice makes the same notes, but you can't see what's going on....
So you have to hear and feel it. that's why singing is the top-notch ear training


So is playing the Theremin.

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#2554310 - 07/05/16 01:14 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
Nahum Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 1523
Loc: Israel
I do not know whether this article has found the way to this forum, so I place a link. The material for thinking.
http://www.keyboardpedagogy.org/2015handouts/beyondthekeyboard

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#2554339 - 07/05/16 02:36 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: Nahum]
dire tonic Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 2850
Loc: uk south
- check him out (Edwin Gordon) on youtube. Easier to listen to and watch him talk than to read him.

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#2554340 - 07/05/16 02:46 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: prout]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 14161
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By prout
Originally Posted By TimR
Originally Posted By prout

A truly great singer needs a truly great teacher to provide them with proper vocal technique. Unlike the piano, where body tension, hand position and motion are visible, the vocal apparatus is not visible, yet knowledge of the cricothyroid muscle, essential in tone production, proper breathing techniques, along with controlling the shape of the resonant chamber to produce the singer's formant, is not widely studied, which is why there are so few great singing teachers.

Good luck.


What, you're going to totally neglect the thyrenoarytenoid? (not sure I spelled that right)

Good post. Few people can teach singing correctly, but MANY people THINK they can.


thyroarytenoid - but I thought it best to keep it simple. smirk

This interesting thing is that a lot of self-taught professional, non-classical singers end up coming to classical singing teachers and to speech pathologists, hoping to correct the damage done to their vocal folds (usually scar tissue nodes) due to years of bad technique. Everyone thinks they can sing naturally, but few can.


Edit: I am trying to teach myself to play the Theremin. Without a knowledgeable teacher, it is easy to create unnecessary tension in the body, such that even my heartbeat causes a pitch change. Watching videos of Clara Rockmore and Carolina Eyck have helped me to relax a bit, but a techer would be best. Unfortunately, Theremin teachers a very rare.


Very well-put, prout and TimR.

Here's how I compare learning piano to learning singing:

With piano, someone made the instrument and made sure it worked (hopefully) before handing it over to you. You don't have to know a lick about the mechanics of a piano - digital or acoustic - to be able to make a decent sound on it. So you focus on how to play it.

With voice, you have all the parts, but they need to be conditioned and coordinated in order to function well. Dysfunctional muscles can cause an inability to sing on pitch, tension, and even damage. So one must get everything working together properly first - i.e., build the instrument. This is where all the technical work comes in. Then to can work on how to "play" it by applying the technique to repertoire. Often a singer will fluctuate back and forth between these two states as their instrument improves.

So a lot more goes into just getting the instrument to sound right in voice. Yes, some people have great influences growing up, start good proper singing at a young age, etc. which will give them an advantage over someone who wants to start singing at age 50. The latter can be done, but it will be harder.
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#2554346 - 07/05/16 03:29 PM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
prout Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 2047
Loc: Southwestern Ontario
Excellent points Morodiene.

Many vocal students initially wonder why the teacher spends so much of the lesson time on technique, and also requests that the student continue daily techical warmups throughout their singing career. Only after years of lessons do they figure out how essential all that effort was at allowing the student to identify and control their own instrument.

An interesting discussion occurred here on PW regarding piano warmups before practice or performance. Again, many posters questioned the necessity for technical excercises. That is their perogative, but I find 20 minutes of technical warmup daily allows me to focus on body position, muscle tension, tone production, and technical facility, since I already have had the excercises memorized and under my fingers for decades.


Edited by prout (07/05/16 03:30 PM)

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#2554841 - 07/07/16 09:58 AM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 13506
Loc: Canada
Morodiene, it can't be stated often enough, and needs to be stated repeatedly since this idea keeps coming up. Some of us take singing seriously.

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#2557092 - 07/17/16 02:30 AM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: TimR]
cmajornine Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 44
Originally Posted By TimR
Originally Posted By prout

A truly great singer needs a truly great teacher to provide them with proper vocal technique. Unlike the piano, where body tension, hand position and motion are visible, the vocal apparatus is not visible, yet knowledge of the cricothyroid muscle, essential in tone production, proper breathing techniques, along with controlling the shape of the resonant chamber to produce the singer's formant, is not widely studied, which is why there are so few great singing teachers.

Good luck.


What, you're going to totally neglect the thyrenoarytenoid? (not sure I spelled that right)

Good post. Few people can teach singing correctly, but MANY people THINK they can.



Think if you will of a game of tennis. If you don’t warm up before the game, initially you might not notice anything wrong. However as you start to stretch for shots, move faster, volley harder, you begin to realise that there are muscles working beyond their comfort zone. By this time, it’s too late. The muscles have been strained, stretching too much too soon, and you know that walking the next morning might be a slight issue! The same is true of singing. At first you may not notice the damage that is being done to your voice by not warming up. However as you begin to push yourself, that’s when you feel it and by the time you feel it, it’s often too late. As with warming up your body for sports, warming up the voice must be done in stages, each of which has specific benefits for us in terms of warming up, and of general vocal stamina.

Most reputable vocal courses will start with warm-up exercises, so you should always begin your vocal studies with warm-ups.





Edited by casinitaly (07/17/16 05:00 AM)
Edit Reason: removed advertising link
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#2557121 - 07/17/16 07:37 AM Re: learning piano vs singing [Re: iamanders]
Rerun Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 1082
Loc: Louisiana
Quote:
Howdy!



Howdy ... practically speaking, I've found lip syncing or whistling is better (no worry about singing flat or fouling up lyrics).
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