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How I Learned To Tune My Voice by Timothy Kelly
I was born into a musical family. They were all classical musicians Piano, Violin, Opera, plus even Ballet, I was not that kind of long hair. I announced to the world when I was 4 that I wanted to be a singing cowboy. In the next few childhood years, I pretended I was Elvis and after that, with a badminton racket and a towel on my head the Beatles. I tried to learn to play the guitar when I was 12, but my hands were too small. I had to make do with a few 2 finger chords. And finally when my hands were fully grown at 17 I got a Goya Classical Guitar. But I had to take classical guitar lessons in return for the guitar. I progressed very rapidly, for my desire to learn to play was great. So I practiced a lot and took the classical guitar techniques and applied them to other styles of music - Elvis, the Beatles, Peter Paul and Mary, Chet Atkins, Jazz Guitar and Blues Guitar.
My earliest childhood memories were of wanting to write and sing songs. Now I had the guitar part down, I needed to learn to sing. High school and church choirs were my first singing groups. And I got invited to parties to play guitar so everyone could sing popular songs. People said my voice sounded like John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, and Perry Como. That was cool. I simply wanted to sound like me.
I was 19 and a freshman in college, when I first started studying and creating my Vocal Tuning Method. I had performed my first song at the local campus coffeehouse in front of a packed Friday Night crowd. One of my favorite Peter, Paul and Mary Songs. I'm In Love With A Big Blue Frog. I knew even then that audiences always enjoyed a funny song. This was the first time I had sung anywhere, outside of church, high school choir, and high school parties. I was very good on guitar and I sang all the right notes, but I wanted to sing better. In high school I was inbetween a tenor and a baritone. I could not sing the top tenor notes nor could I sing the low baritone notes. I tried normal voice lessons where they want to change the way you breathe, but they did not work for me.
I went to the college library and went down in the basement stacks, where the old books were kept. I found a book from 1940, called Vocal Resonance, Its Theory and Practice by M. Barbereux Parry. Pasted inside the front and back book covers were ads for a correspondence course in Vocal Resonance and information on private lessons at the Barbereux School in Evanston Illinois. I was excited as I read the book the next few weeks and did all the vocal exercises. My voice started changing and became more musical as I learned how to Tune My Voice. It still sounded like me, just more musical, as my voice got more in tune. My voice range was increasing and I had more carrying power, just from Tuning My Voice.
When I believed I was doing everything right and had a good understanding of what was in the Vocal Resonance book, I wrote a long letter to the Barbereux School, asking for information on private and correspondence lessons. And the same voice teacher, Hewa Weber, who had the lesson ads in the book 30 years ago, answered me back. Yes, I still teach via correspondence and private lessons. I immediately signed up for the correspondence lessons. I was sent the same correspondence lessons that M Parry and Hewa Weber had written between 1918 and 1938. The lessons would ask me to write in a singing journal about my daily singing and vocal tuning experiences and then send them in to the teacher. Who would send me a new lesson back and her comments on each lesson. We had to way to send audio or video files back then before PCs and before iPods, CDs, ete.
Meanwhile my voice kept changing, not like what happens to many teenagers, but changing into a true living musical instrument. . I could sing longer with less effort, my voice range was wider, and best of all, my voice sounded more musical. When I finished the correspondence lessons, I wrote again to the school and made arrangements to travel 5 hours one way to Evanston for lessons on Saturdays.
I went to Evanston every weekend for years, studying and training to teach vocal tuning. Hewa Weber had been teaching Vocal Tuning for over 50 years. She was Madame Parry's best friend and had been trained by Madame Parry to teach Vocal Tuning when she was a teenager. Now Hewa was teaching me, and sharing all her teaching methods and everything she had learned from Madame Parry. She gave me copies of all their published and unpublished writings on Vocal Tuning. She told me its time everything was rewritten and expanded for today's students and I know you are the one who can write a new book on Vocal Tuning and use it to teach others to sing.
So I did write a book on Vocal Tuning. Hewa really enjoyed reading my book and hearing all the stories sent to me from voices all over the world that successfully tuned their voices and were singing freely as the songbirds do. I am sure she would have enjoyed my newest Vocal Tuning book, Teach Yourself Singing If You Can Talk You Can Sing, even more.
It You Can Talk You Can Sing.