Giannis and the Voice

I’m a big fan of the Milwaukee Bucks and the team’s superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Not such a big fan that I didn’t have to look up how to spell his last name. But a big fan. I subscribe to NBA League Pass so I can watch every game. And it’s going great this season. The Bucks have the second-best record in the NBA at about the midpoint of the season. They have a deep bench and great team chemistry. New coach Mike Budenholzer’s system seems to be a perfect fit for the players. And Giannis is having an MVP-caliber season.

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The only thing missing from Giannis’s game, they say, is an effective three-point shot. 

This is where I compare myself to Giannis Antetokounmpo: 

The only thing missing from my musician game is an effective singing voice. 

No, I Am Not the Giannis Antetokounmpo of Music, But Hear Me Out...

Okay. I know — I’m far from being the Giannis Antetokounmpo of singer/songwriters. But I’m pretty good and I’m having some notable success by applying my talents and putting in the hard work. That success is largely due to the way I play the guitar and the way I create songs, though. My voice is not bad. It might even be a little better than the Greek Freak’s outside jumper, but it’s probably only a little better than adequate for what I’m trying to do with music. And it does not match my skill levels in other areas. 

No one ever taught me how to sing. I only became a vocalist because I could sing and play my instrument at the same time, which is a useful skill for a young musician, even if that young musician is a little wobbly in the throat. Historically I’ve been kind of opposed to being taught how to sing, as well. That’s not going to cut it anymore. I have too many bad habits, and my whole approach to vocalizing makes me exhausted. There’s got to be a better way! 

Help! 

I know that I have a strong, focused and tonally interesting singing voice inside me. I hear it come out about once or twice every show. But I’m only ever stumbling upon it; I can’t seem to recreate the conditions that lead to good sounds emerging from my pie hole. Like Giannis, I keep taking my shots, but I’m going to have to improve my percentages to rise to the next level. 

So I’ve considered taking voice lessons. It would be a potentially excellent investment, especially if I could find a teacher who understands the vibe I’m going for with my music. But it’s also something that costs money, and I just can’t seem to justify the cost. 

Which Leads Me to YouTube 

I’ve been watching singing videos on YouTube, and I’ve been learning a lot. Really, it only occurred to me to dig into the video vault to locate lessons recently. Like, this year recently. There’s a lot of stuff out there that doesn’t quite resonate with me. I mean, it’s YouTube, so yeah. But I’ve found a channel for a vocal coach I like. She seems to be able to frame her tips in a way that makes it easy for me to digest and implement them. Her name is Felicia Ricci, and she has a vast collection of short videos with excellent advice for vocalists like me. 

I’ve only watched a handful of her videos, but already I feel like my voice is 10% better. 

You know what’s also improving steadily in recent days? Giannis Antetokounmpo’s three ball. I wonder if he’s been working with the Felicia Ricci of shooting coaches. 

Anyway, I’ve been doing some little things like moving my voice up and forward for tone while keeping the breath and power coming from the, uh, crotchal region. Articulating and creating space. Relaxing my tongue. Putting less strain on my neck. Being more efficient with air. 

I had a chance to try out my “new” voice last night at a gig, and I think it turned out all right. Many of the same old habits made their usual appearances, but I also noticed some obvious improvements. I felt a lot better, physically, too. More efficient. The Bucks beat the Jazz last night, too, so that’s pretty cool.

I’m going to keep watching Felicia Ricci’s videos until I decide her whole deal doesn’t work for me anymore. I’ll see what else is out there, too. And I haven’t ruled out lessons IRL entirely. 

At the end of 2019, I’d like to feel like my singing voice has improved by 50%. I am going to be recording soon, and I want to be happy with how my vocals come out. I am also planning on playing lots of gigs this year. And I want to hang with the real cats. I also want to celebrate a Milwaukee Bucks NBA Championship and not worry about how screaming for team will affect my ability to sing the hits. 

What About You? 

Are you a singer or someone who relies on their voice for their livelihood? What vocal techniques, hints, tips and tricks work for you? Have you taken lessons? What about YouTube — have you seen anything there that I should check out? And who do you like in the NBA? Any Bucks fans out there? 

I want to know what you think, so please leave a comment below or contact me here. I’m looking forward to hearing from you! Also, FEAR THE DEER!

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