When I talk with singers (and I talk with a LOT of singers!) the three biggest things I hear is that they’d like to have more vocal range, sing with more power and eliminate vocal strain. Over the next few months we’ll be looking at some of ways to do just that!
In this, Part 1, we’ll address one of the most common reasons for limited range and increased vocal strain – pushing too much air when singing.
Did you know that you actually need to use less air when singing “higher” in your range? I realize that may seem counter-intuitive, but here’s why? Your vocal sound is produced when your vocal folds (commonly known as vocal cords) vibrate. These vocal folds are muscles that lay horizontally on top of your trachea (windpipe) just below your larynx; they are vibrated by air. As you sing through your range, the amount of air that is required to vibrate them varies because the length of them that actually needs to vibrate varies. When you speak or sing around your speaking voice, the length of the vocal folds that needs to vibrate is longer. As you sing higher, the length of the vocal folds that needs to vibrate becomes shorter. This is not unlike playing guitar. When you play an “open string” you get a certain pitch. If you want to play a higher pitch on the same string, you put your finger on the fret boards, shortening the length of the string that will vibrate, and voila, a higher pitch. While your vocal folds are not strings, the same concept applies.
Forcing too much air on higher pitches and you make you go off-pitch, feel strained, crack, etc. If you normally take a huge breath in preparation of the “high note” and then “blow” with all your might, you may have experienced what I’m talking about here.
A powerful step in the achievement of proper breath control is a simple stretching exercise found in the Deva Method® Vocal Training Program that I coach at my studio. To learn more about this and other great vocal warm-up exercises, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a FREE Vocal Warm-ups worksheet!
Singing with confidence and ease is a tremendous joy! I wish you much success!