Like many of us, I’m not particularly comfortable singing in public. I’m normally an extrovert, but whenever I have to sing in front of people for whatever reason, I clam up, evade eye contact, and grow timid like The Hunchback of Notre Dame (in the first part of the film).
My dad, on the other hand, loves belting out songs in front of crowds. He has a good voice; I’ve been told mine is similar, but I think I sound like Björk or Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of Liturgy, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.
As such, I was intrigued to hear of the new Voice Builder iOS app, based on the teachings of voice-training legend Gary Catona. This man has reportedly taught everyone from Lionel Ritchie to Brian Wilson and even Whitney Houston to sing better. He claims his app, available to non-famous mortals too, can strengthen, build the endurance of, and generally make your voice a more formidable instrument.
In the interest of embarrassing myself and testing Voice Builder, I recorded exercises from my first and last sessions with the app, just to see if there was a discernable difference in my voice’s quality.
Here’s the “before” — the “after” is further down:
Inside the comfort of my own room (where I’m not guaranteed privacy), I began training. It started with a helpful tutorial explaining how the lessons were to be conducted, then Gary and I stepped into lesson one. The app asked about my demographic information (I’m a male baritone, as you should know from my online dating profile), then we began the vocal exercises.
These were simple yet effective; after a two-part, 66-minute session, my voice felt incredibly worked over. First, I worked through five lower-register exercises with different vowel sounds, ostensibly to train different parts of my vocal chords. The second part had me uncomfortably jumping octaves while bellowing AH-EE-AH.
These vocal calisthenics should probably have been the focus of my investigation, but I spent more time trying to decide which was more horrifying to behold: the bald human head in the app, with its odious open-mouthed grin and unexplained matrices (left), or Catona himself, performing the vocal exercises in an unapologetically chilling video demonstration (right).
As the app suggested, I took a day off between each session. After a week and a half of work (you’re supposed to take more time with it, but a week and a half is a long time to test an app), I am ready to share the results of my work with the general public.
Here’s the “after” — what I sounded like after working my voice with Voice Builder:
The difference in voice quality between my “before” and “after” recordings might not be easy to discern, but after using it fairly extensively, I feel that Voice Builder is not a scam. With each session, my vocal chords really did feel a little bit stronger.
With a dedicated practice schedule and willingness to keep up with the program, one could learn from Gary’s teachings — as silly looking as they can occasionally be. The exercises may be a bit tedious, but they’re helpful. And ultimately, $5 is not much to pay to hire a vocal coach to the stars.