Being a vocal coach, over the years I’ve learned the trends and figured out what students want. Singers want range, they want power, they want stamina…but many, and I mean many of them want to know how to scream without shredding their throat. I’ve discovered that it doesn’t matter what style you sing, whether pop, rock, metal, country, blues, or practically any style for the matter, being able to add some grit seems to spice things up and all singers like to sprinkle on the spice.Unfortunately, many shy away from grit because of the fears that have been implanted into their heads about “screaming will ruin your voice.”
So, then the age old question—“Can I scream, or add grit without hurting my throat?” The answer is YES. I’d say that the majority of vocal coaches would disagree with me, but there are a chosen few out there who teach girt religiously as part of their repertoire, and they are doing so safely, thus saving lots of voices. I commend them for their work! But, if you have a coach who has told you, “no way Jose”, your coach is wrong!
I actually started learning about grit at a very young age. I remember watching the movie “Cujo” with my uncle Ritchie. Ritchie was my hero. He had one of those character voices that could sound like Cujo, Kermit the frog, Yoda, Prince, you name it. So, when I heard him imitating that heavy Cujo dog growl, I had to give it a try. Of course I coughed and thought I spit up a chunk of lung, but ‘uncle Ritchie’ set me on the straight path. He said, “Jaime, you can’t feel it down in your throat or it will make you cough. Feel the growl against the roof of your mouth.” At the time, I didn’t know anything about vocal technique, placement, support, etc., but that one little tip did help…I was instantly able to redirect the sound up and out of my throat and into what’s called the “soft palate” or the part of the roof that raises when you yawn. Suddenly, I owned my grit without any ill affect on my voice.
Since the tender age of ten, I was hooked on the gritty sound. Luckily, six years later, it came in really handy when I joined my first semi-pro band. We played every weekend around our tri-state area. I was singing many songs by bands like Poison and Billy Idol, but during one practice, I took a stab at an ACDC song and that was all she wrote. They heard my grit and the setlist grew to Guns N’ Roses, Cinderella, Bullet Boys and ACDC. Looking back, the grit never bothered me, but I did lack vocal technique so it affected my stamina, but that’s another story.
So, what’s my point? It’s simply this. I don’t care if you sing ACDC, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Arch Enemy, Sex Pistols, Bob Segar, or just need a little blues grit to spice up your version of a Christina Aguilera song, grit can be accomplished. Best place to start in my opinion is by checking out the Extreme Screaming site at screaminglessons.com. Volume I is out, which is more for deth & screamo type screams, but volumes II and III are coming soon, which focus on ALL mid-range and high type screams. The lessons will cover ALL styles of screams and all volumes will work together to develop the art of grit.
Now, if you are a total newbie to vocal technique, you might want to read through The Ultimate Vocal Workout at theultimatevocalworkout.com to learn a bit more about pure technique to prep you for screaming, as well as check out all the testimonies by famous rockers, and of course, get access to some free videos to start you on the right path.
Bottom line, screaming can be done safely. In fact, I was filmed for a show called, ‘Humanly Impossible” for Nat Geo, with a scope up my nose and down my throat to check out my cords while vocalizing. The doc said she’d never seen someones vocal cords without stress while screaming and hitting high notes…until she saw mine, lol. So, get ready to scream like you’ve never screamed before…all without losing your voice!
PS- For all my blog readers, we’ve set up an instant discount for the screaming program. Get 20% off automatically when you buy Extreme Scream Volume I at screaminglessons.com!