Breathing New Life with EVT

by Aaron Matthew Lim

As a singer in the Mandarin pop music scene in Singapore, I learnt to sing the way many beginner singers learnt: through a lot of trial and error. I imitated how other singers sounded and focused on ‘feeling’ the music in songs. I did take up lessons with vocal coaches in the past during my younger years, but most of these coaches were also teaching from their own experience as a singer, and they certainly did not know much about vocal anatomy or how the voice worked! Many of them also merely repeated the age-old advice of ‘singing from the diaphragm’.

It was only in the year 2011 when I came across Estill Voice Training, that I truly began to comprehend how important it is for us singers to know about our vocal anatomy, and to understand how we create the sounds that we do. I learned it was possible to replicate certain tones and voices that we hear in other singers safely and without hurting our own voice!

In the past, I used to push really hard with breath when I sang, because my vocal coach taught me to do that in order to ‘support’ my voice. In fact, he told me, the higher the note, the harder you push! And the more I pushed, the more trouble my voice got into, to the extent that my vocal folds were blown out of symmetry, and one side was working much harder than the other. I was also prone to false vocal fold constriction, and frequently suffered pain in the left side of my throat due to my constriction and asymmetry.

After embarking on my certification journey and finally becoming an Estill Master Trainer in July 2016, I no longer feel that pain that I felt previously. Even if I did, I know what I can do in order to rehabilitate myself and prevent any further incidents. Also, I push with breath much lesser, and I am more aware of how much FVF retraction I have in my singing, and how little breath we actually need to sing!

Mandarin Pop Singing

Having sung in public for more than 17 years now, I have noticed that many Mandarin pop songs (and English pop songs too) require singers to use a lot of breath when we sing. It is just part and parcel of the genre, as most Mandarin songs begin with quieter and softer tones. A breathy quality is often used to create a more intimate effect in the vocals.

This sometimes makes it hard for us Mandarin pop singers to make that transition to a fuller tone with more complete vocal fold contact when we reach the chorus section of a song. This change in breath management is something that Mandarin singers struggle with, and many of us use the same amount of breath to push on the high notes, which then might create vocal problems for the singer. With my knowledge about vocal anatomy, and also with the Estill Figures for Voice, I am able to make this breath adjustment and manage my high and strong sounds better!

Because of this, I am a more confident performer now, knowing that Estill Voice Training has got my back. In fact, I launched my solo EP in the year 2014, and also have been performing at prestigious venues in Singapore, for example Esplanade Waterfront Outdoor Theatre, Esplanade Concourse, The Arts House, and many more!

Coaching with Confidence

As a vocal coach, I have also begun to share what I know with my students and supporters online. I have begun uploading teaching videos on Youtube and Instagram, and also recorded some music videos and cover songs of my singing. These would not have been possible without my new-found confidence as a performer and a vocalist.

Estill Voice Training has certainly breathed new life into my singing journey, rejuvenating my passion for singing and teaching. It’s also helped me become confident enough to be able to share my knowledge with others, in the hope that I can influence other singers and coaches to learn more about the voice and how it works.

Everyone has a beautiful voice. This is certainly true and is something that should be celebrated!

About the Author

Aaron Matthew LimAaron Matthew Lim is a Singaporean vocal coach who specializes in teaching English and Mandarin pop singing. With 17 years of experience, he has coached singers and enthusiasts to achieve their vocal potential. Aaron also owns Intune Music, a music school in Singapore that provides performance opportunities for budding singers and musicians.

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