|Last month we took a look at how your thoughts can cause your body to react and present you with a variety of difficulties when singing. Let's take a closer look now at just what some of these problems are and start exploring their solutions!
One adverse effect of excessive air is that the muscles of your vocal folds will tend to tighten in resistance. Sometimes this pressure is so great that it bends them upward or makes them vibrate a bit too fast. Anyone ever tell you you're singing off pitch? Perhaps this is the reason why!
Another side effect of excessive air is that it pushes the vibrations into your head. This accentuates the treble and loses the bass and mid range resonance in your voice. Ever wish you had more "bottom" or depth to your voice?
Along with this idea of reaching the pitch, your throat muscles tighten and pull up or down in the direction in which you consider you have to go to get the sound. The back of your tongue will raise and stiffen, pulling up your larynx and creating a choking position as you reach upwards.
Singing in this position strains your sound, adds effort to singing, and contributes to "register break." If you push down for lower notes, your muscles will again mirror your thought, manipulating the position of your vocal tract. This keeps it from being in the position needed for you to easily sing in that area of your range.
Demonstration: Swallow and notice the feeling in the back of your throat. Place your fingers on your throat and swallow again. Notice how it feels, how the back of your tongue tightens and lifts, and the top of your larynx first moves up. This movement closes off the opening of your larynx, within which lie your vocal folds. Singing with this position requires greater effort and produces the feeling that some singers refer to (and you yourself may have experienced) as having to push up against a ceiling to get the pitch.
Ridding yourself of any tendency to reach or push up or down for pitches and letting your vocal tract (larynx, tongue, back wall of your throat, and soft palate) remain relaxed, you will make tremendous progress towards your vocal goals!
Singing Like You Speak
If you just consider each sound on its own, it is neither high nor low! It's just itself. Thought of in this way, there are no high or low notes. There's just sound made by different small, natural and coordinated movements inside your body and determined by the varying speeds at which your vocal folds vibrate.
To achieve a full sound throughout your range, your larynx must be allowed to float in its normal position in your throat, not uncommon to that of speaking. When you speak, chances are you don't reach up or push down to make different pitches. As well, you probably place more importance on communicating to someone while the pitches and colors of your voice spontaneously flow as an extension of your emotions and concepts.
Try thinking of pitches as vowels of different colors, rather than different heights to climb. Benefit can be gained by first speaking the words of the song you are working on and exploring what it is like to just say each word. Then add the melody "color" to each word and practice singing like you speak, talking on pitch.
Jeannie Deva, international vocalist, teacher and recording session vocal specialist, is the Founder of The Deva MethodŽ and The Jeannie DevaŽ Voice Studios with a network of teachers certified in her method. Clients include singers on labels such as MCA, Sony and CBS, Grammy Awardee Amee Mann, Magic Dick and J. Geils, members from the cast of Fame and Jesus Christ Superstar, Dar Williams, Patty Griffin, MoodCrush, backup singers for Elton John, Celine Dion, and many more. Jeannie has a private voice studio in LA. For information on services or voice enhancement products by Jeannie Deva:
Jeannie Deva Voice Studios
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