There are basic things that always need to be done right in order to give your performance a good foundation from which to build on. Building on the basics can mean, riffing or melismas, dancing on stage, changing the arrangement or singing in different parts. But if you don’t have the basics right or if you have developed bad habits, your dramatic and artistic extras will not give the fantastic effect you are hoping for. Keep reading to make sure you haven’t fallen into any of these traps.
Kicking the habit. Fixing your vocal stresses and strains!
All of us find that bad habits are easy to pick up, especially when we are first learning something new. The best cure for a bad habit is to realize you’re doing it! The following list gives you some typical problem areas for both new and established singers, as well as some suggestions for improvement.
Disconnect / Break between Chest and Head Voices
This is perhaps the most common problem among singers and is extremely hard to overcome. The best way to connect your chest and head voices is to practice, practice, practice, by continuing to use these exercises!
Connecting the Voices
Your task is not just to find your break—but to eliminate it. This is very difficult and can take years. Some singers don’t even bother to connect their chest and head voices; instead, they incorporate the two separate voices into their style.
Nevertheless, the most agile singers find that a connection between their two voices enables them to create music the kind of music of which they’d only dreamed.
Exercises to Bridge the Gap
One excellent exercise to blend your head and chest voices is the ‘ng’ siren introduced in letter 6. Along with that exercise, you can do the following:
Try this exercise. On a ‘tah’ sound…
1. Using the Piano, play a note which is a few notes above the area you shaded in earlier (i.e., in the upper register, or your head voice range).
2. Sing this note in your head voice as if you are crying. The feeling of crying should come from inside your mouth. This is your sob voice, and you may experience some vibrato.
3. Sing down the scale, trying to stay in your head voice.
Listen to the example:
4. Stop when you can no longer stay in your head voice but need to move to your chest voice.
Now sing down the scale again. Start in your head voice, but as you approach the shaded note, try to transition into your chest voice when you feel it coming on. Come in lightly to the chest voice; do not “fall” into it.
7. Keep practicing this until you hear no definite break between your two voices.
Repeat the exercise, this time singing from low to high. Move cleanly from your chest voice to your head voice.
Listen to the example:
Make sure that you retain good posture and do not move your jaw.
Repeat the exercise, this time singing it as an arpeggio.
An arpeggio is a breakdown of a whole cord, where each note of the chord is
In this case, the arpeggio will be Do, Mi, So, Do, So, Mi, Do, where the notes move from Do upwards to the Do seven notes above it, then down again to the original Do. Sing the arpeggio slowly, paying close attention to blending your two voices into a uniform tone.
Listen to the example:
You can feel these exercises working by thinking about which parts of your chest and head are vibrating during the exercise. Around your break area, or transition point, you should feel a smooth continuation of vibrations between your sternum and your mouth/nose/forehead. With enough practice, you will find that you will no longer have a jump between your chest and head voices. Rather, as you reach the break point that you shaded in on the piano diagram earlier, you will feel both areas of your body vibrating.
You may find yourself producing dull, irregular vowel sounds, or creating diphthongs
where only one vowel sound is needed.
You can brighten your vowel sounds by:
• raising your eyebrows
• imagining that you are smiling, or
• visualizing that you are just “resting” on the note, from the top.
Try this exercise. Hum. Can you feel the vibrations in your head and mouth?
How do I make my voice work for me?
When you study singing, you may hear about a variety of voice problems that require you to understand vocal anatomy, such as a high larynx, vocal cord tension, or excess air pushing through the vocal cords.
It’s natural to wonder how you can adjust your vocal cords when you can’t even see them, wiggle them, or feel that they’re there. Nonetheless, you do have some important clues as to how they’re functioning.
First and foremost, of course, is the sound of your voice. Clues may be whether your voice breaks at a certain place in your range, or whether it sounds deep, wooden, brassy, etc. Another clue is the place in your body that you feel your voice “coming” from. For example, your singing voice may feel as if comes from the area around your eyes or nose, while your speaking voice may feel as if it comes from your mouth. You should also feel physical vibrations when you sing, such as tingling in the area above your lips.
Last of all, you need to be wary if you feel tension in your face and throat. Although singing is a form of physical exertion, your face should not be scrunched up. Your head should be in a natural position, not craned up or tilted down. If you feel muscular tension in your neck, chin, or jaw, do some simple stretches—such as neck rolls, or pretending as if you were chewing a wad of bubblegum—to relax them.
‘Now its time for the truth to be told, and for you as a singer to get real about what your voice is actually producing and how it can sound to an audience. Take time for this next lesson, as we look at harsh and loud singing and overcompensating during a performance. Its all about eliminating the dreaded combo of loud singing and brash oversinging. You wont want to miss this one!
Another Singorama Success Story!
“Uh, oh” you may be thinking…I have a lot more habits and techniques that need fixing. Well dont worry, because with Singorama 2.0 we look more deeply at what can go wrong with your voice AND how to fix it. you will find information and practical help to deal with far more than just bad vowels and disconnection between your chest and head voice. So don’t delay, check it out today.