The Miracle Of Singing
The human voice is nothing short of a miracle. When we hear the sound of our loved one’s voice, children laughing, or listen to a singer belting out our favorite tune, admittedly it’s pure enjoyment, and certainly one of life’s pleasures we all take for granted. In a previous discussion, we examined how important breathing and posture is in supporting our voice, particularly when it comes to learning how to sing. Now we will discuss how other vital parts work in harmony with these, when understood and controlled can help us tune our ‘instrument’ and express our voice with confidence.
Stretched across the top of our windpipe(trachea) are two vocal cords. While at rest they sit apart, but as soon as air passes over them from the lung from exhaling, they draw together and vibrate very rapidly and create sound. Normally the larynx rests quite high in the throat, which closes to protect your windpipe while you are eating. But this is to no benefit while you are singing. The best position is for it to be relaxed and neutral. The simplest way to achieve this is by yawning. Did you know that it only rises at the end of your yawn. You must avoid tension to creep into your tongue or jaw. Regardless of how high or low the note, the larynx must remain in that neutral position. The normal response when approaching a high note, would be to tighten up. The opposite is true. The key is to ‘think down’ and your larynx will follow. Try this easy exercise to give you an idea of how this process works, watch the short video below:
Your tongue is a huge muscle that stretches down your throat. It helps you pronounce certain sounds. For example: the consonants s, l,and t.The tongue then returns to its resting place, flat with its tip touching your bottom teeth. For vowels, the tip of your tongue remains behind the bottom front teeth, but arches back and forth depending on the vowel you are trying to pronounce. Generally, we need it to stay relatively flat and out of the way. Make sure you are not pushing down it and creating tension when trying to prevent this unnecessary movement. Try and relax and let it lie flat.
The actual sound of our singing voice is produced by on the vowel sounds. So, basically to have a great voice we need great vowel production. Just like you learned in grade school. A-E-I-O-U. The a, eh, and o are the open vowel sounds connected to the wide open, yawn feel, a deeper sound that resonates in your chest and throat. The ay, oh, aw,e, and oo are brighter vowels, which resonate mostly in the face or what we call the mask. To help you better understand, and rather than trying to explain everything in technical terms, please view the video below, the intro is someone singing, wait or fast forward 12 seconds and then it gets really interesting, ENJOY!:
So now that you appreciate the importance of beautifully sung vowels, we need not become lazy with the pronunciation of your consonants, as our audience will notice your mumbling. Most of us already know how to pronounce our consonants, all you need to do is practice with tongue twisters. This will train us to pronounce our consonants loud and clear. Watch the video below for an example:
Imagery Of Openness
As you take in a deep breath of air, you are opening your chest and rib cage and fill your lungs. Open your throat, and lift your soft palate( the soft fleshy part on the roof of your mouth) while maintaining a relaxed larynx position. You want to create openness and space. Here’s where imagery plays a role. In order to make a closer connection between this open feeling and your breathing, imagine that your soft palate, throat, and windpipe to your your lungs are open to the point that you could shove your fist down your throat. But don’t actually try it! Remember to stay relaxed, don’t allow tension in your jaw, tongue, or your neck. This applies only to inside of your mouth, not a gaping wide open mouth. In fact it should only be open no more than two fingers wide. Give it a try. Concentrate and learn to feel your progress. Well that’s it! I hope you enjoyed learning a few more singing techniques to improve your voice. Check in for updates. See you soon!