How to Avoid Getting Caught in Your Chest Voice – Part 1

You probably know how it feels – you’re singing higher and higher, and your throat is getting tighter and tighter, and you feel like you’re going to break unless you push harder and harder to hold it all together.

This is “pulling up” your chest voice.  You don’t want to sing like this.  It simply doesn’t sound good.  Yes, you CAN bring a full voice up high, but don’t do it by yelling and straining!  Nope, not even in rock, and not even if you want edge or grunge.  You’ll destroy your voice quickly if you sing this way.
 
In this newsletter and the next, I’m going to talk about ways to sing high without that straining feeling.  This week is a simple technique to help you avoid that tension completely.  Next week will be about keeping a fuller, stronger voice, but without yelling.
 
The overview of today’s technique is simple:  Start in head voice so that you’re forced to sing without that gripping tension, sing down into your chest voice, and then sing back up again with the same feeling.
 
First, pick a note high enough in your head voice that you are forced to sing it nice and easy rather than having the slightest option to yell it out.  This might be a high B for the guys and D above high C for the gals.  Sing “tho” (“oh” with a breathy “th” on the front of it) on every note, down an octave.
 
“Tho,
     tho,
         tho,
             tho,
                 tho,
                     tho,
                         tho,
                             tho.”
 
Pay attention to how your throat feels when you drop into chest voice.  Don’t let yourself get louder or experience more pressure and tension just because you are in a lower range where you feel like you can sing harder.
 
Now, sing the same thing back up:
 
                             tho.”
                         tho,
                     tho,
                 tho,
             tho,
         tho,
     tho,
“Tho,
 
Try to make every note FEEL the same going up as it felt going down.  It may be harder than it seems.  (But if this exercise is easy, then connect the notes into a single slide, first on the closed vowel “ee,” and then on the open vowel “ah”.)
 
It’s tempting to squeeze more and more as you sing higher, but the more you squeeze, the more you back yourself into a corner!  With each higher pitch, you are more and more trapped in this increasing tension.
 
You have to recognize when you are engaging those muscles… and DISENGAGE THEM… earlier.  Don’t let the tension start to set in at all.  
 
The key is to start becoming aware of small amounts of tension in your lower pitches, so that you can disengage it and avoid getting backed into that corner as you go higher.
  
You may feel at first that you can’t sing loud or strong this way, but if you practice, you will be able to sing louder and stronger over time.
 
… 
 
I hope this week’s and next week’s methods work for you, but remember that there’s no substitute for working with a voice teacher at least once in a while.  If you’d like that person to be me but you’re not in Colorado’s Front Range, remember that I do offer lessons via Skype.  I have students in other states and other countries, and it works very well – even to Australia, Italy and the UK.  The first 30-minute lesson is now free, and there is no minimum commitment level and no obligation.

 


(c) 2010 Adrienne Osborn

Adrienne Osborn is a vocalist and performance coach based in Colorado.   For more free articles and tips, visit http://PerformanceHigh.net.