▲ Approaching the date of the revealing of their new song, group Infinite’s vocal trainer Kim Heesun (middle) is sitting at the piano, teaching the members techniques of vocalization
March 11th, Nonhyun-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, at a certain studio. “Mm~mah ahhhh”, Matching the piano’s tune, the pure voices of the boys were resonating. These voices belonged to the male 7-membered group Infinite. In January, they promoted ‘BTD’ and on the 17th, they will be revealing their new song ‘Nothing’s Over’. Looking towards this date, their practice has been at its peak.
◇ “Don’t just let go of the air” “Stand up straight” – Their vocal trainer is really the vocal trainer.
“Woohyun. Your F-sharps are flat!”
The comment was directed toward the team member in charge of the main vocals, Nam Woohyun. His couldn’t hit the notes properly and seemed to be going flat.
Since the exact tone was not coming out, he even changed his stance. Straightening out his back and even bending his knees slightly, different techniques were used to help find the perfect key.
“There are a lot of high notes in this new song,” explained Kim, “and in order to hit a perfect high note, they need to use their ‘head voices,’ but it’s a hit or miss for Woohyun so we’re trying out different methods to help him reach those notes.”
Comments were given to the other vocalist, L, and the other main vocalist, the team’s leader Kim Sunggyu.
“L. Maybe you’re burdened by the high notes, but you put a lot of strain on your chin. That’s why you’re sound is being captured and thrown away before it even comes out!”
“Sunggyu. When using your head voice, try to imagine it coming out of a satellite.”
The members who have been standing still quietly ended up singing while jumping up and down a little later. This kind of drill was necessary in order to prepare them for onstage performances.
◇“You have to work at focusing” – Lessons on the mental aspect of singing
L, who was not satisfied with his high notes asked, “Please give me some time to focus. And at this Kim raised her voice, “When you’re recording for a broadcast and the song is not going the way you want it to go, are you going to ask ‘Please give me some time to focus’? Who’s going to give you that time? You have to find out a way to focus quickly.”
During the vocal practice, L developed a bad headache. Although Kim was none too pleased and even a bit regretful, she gave L some time to rest. Leader Sunggyu slowly walked over to L and gave him a hug.
Not only did Kim give them lessons on singing, she gave them advice on being mentally armed. While she gave each member a private lesson, the other members were left on their own. As soon as they became loud, she said, “Are you not going up on stage? Why are you so excited? If you’re going to do something, do it well!”
As in any teaching job, there are always difficulties. Especially, when there are very stubborn students. When they first learn it, they say “okay” but when they sing, they do it in whatever style they want. Especially for idol groups who have to both dance and sing, their sense of accomplishment is much greater when they’ve digested a perfect dance routine and song. Kim calls herself ‘the singers’ supporter.’ Of course, there were times when I’ve wanted to stand there on stage myself and sing. But, it’s worthwhile just being the ‘supporter’.”
▲ Kim Heesun (on the left) is teaching Infinite’s main vocal, Nam Woohyun, how to let out a strong vocal during high parts.
(Just took out one paragraph because it was irrelevant to Infinite)
To find out more about what a vocal trainer does, Sports Seoul went to the studio that the newcomer male idol group, Infinite, were receiving vocal training at.
Infinite has been receiving vocal training from Kim Heesun since October 2009. When there’s no special schedule, they usually practice 2~3 days a week. Each lesson is 3 hours.
Infinite said that they can receive a very important thing through constant training. “If we practice by ourselves, we can create a bad habit when singing. However, if we receive training, we can fix it according to the teacher’s points. We can also find our own color that we didn’t know of, as well. And the level that we can sing at increases much more. While practicing each and every day, there was a moment where we could all of a sudden feel how much our skills improved.”
Besides Infinite, many idol groups are both mentally and physically doing their best in vocal training. It’s a reality where if these skilled idol groups lack in looks, performances, or vocal skills, they will end up falling behind. Especially because there are many fans who specifically give interest in the singers’ vocal skills.
When they received vocal lessons in the beginning, Infinite paid attention to their own voices. This is because Kim-sshi (T/N: their vocal trainer) stressed, “You need to correctly hear the sounds you make to let out a beautiful sound. You need to know your own voice.”
They have recently been immersed in practicing their high pitches. This is because their comeback dance song, “Nothing’s Over”, has more high pitched parts than their previously revealed songs.
They sometimes get scolded for “not paying attention” during practice. But as they talk with their teacher about singing, it’s like the scolding never happened and they converse like friends. The Infinite members put up their thumbs and said, “Our teacher is really scary and has the best charisma in the practice room. However once the lesson is over and we leave the practice room, she’s really kind, innocent, and pretty.”
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