How to Avoid Getting Caught in Your Chest Voice – Part 2

Last week I wrote about how to avoid getting caught in your chest voice by learning to identify tension sooner than you used to, using an octave scale down, then up.
This week is about keeping a fuller, stronger voice, but without yelling.
Yelling is an unpleasant, strained, tense way of making loud noise on a high pitch in your range.  Yelling doesn’t have very many high frequencies or nasal resonance, so it sounds bottom-heavy even though the pitch is high.
In this technique, we’re going to take a nasal syllable and closed vowel to guide you toward the direction you want.  The syllable is “nay.”
Pick a start note in a comfortable chest voice range – perhaps E below middle C for the guys, and A below middle C for the girls.  Sing up and down an octave:
                         nay,     nay,
                     nay,             nay,
                 nay,                     nay,
             nay,                             nay,
         nay,                                     nay,
     nay,                                             nay,
“Nay,                                                     nay.”
The key in this exercise is to LET YOUR RESONANCE COME UP AND FORWARD INTO YOUR FACE.  You should think of the sound as being laser-small and residing in your nose.  You can sing this in full voice.  But if you do, you need to let the resonance split, sort of “bleeding” some pressure off the top, rather than keeping your voice confined in your chest.  
You do this by simply imagining your voice going forward.  That, together with this particular syllable, should guide you in the right direction.
Repeat this exercise several times, each time starting a half or whole step higher.  Don’t force yourself to go higher – just push your current limits a little.  You’ll find over time that your upper limits rise.
This week’s technique is particularly difficult to describe in an article, so again, I suggest working with a voice teacher to make sure you’re doing it right.  And 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.


(c) 2010 Adrienne Osborn

Adrienne Osborn is a vocalist and performance coach based in Colorado.   For more free articles and tips, visit