How to get forward placement without sounding nasal

I have some students who have learned to focus on opening the back of the mouth so much that they sound too “hooty” and don’t have any nasal balance.  They have managed to achieve a round sound, but the voice is all mouth-oriented.

I have other students who come from teachers who have taught them to focus on forward placement and a nasal edge to their voice.  They have managed to achieve good connection, but the voice is too thin, sharp and nasal.

Record yourself so you can associate physical sensations of resonance with the outside sound of your voice.  Look for a good balance between mouth resonance and nasal resonance.

Become aware of where your voice is actually vibrating and resonating.  It may take a while – believe me, I remember reading about feeling vibrations in your head years ago, and thinking, “I don’t feel anything!”  But as you improve your breath support, practice opening your mouth, and learn to relax, eventually you’ll start feeling the vibrations.  They are subtle but they’re most definitely there – they’re sound waves, you can feel them like you feel a speaker’s vibrations.

When you figure out a good balance, you’ll retain a nice round sound while still keeping a bright, clear tonal balance.

Here are some quick examples to help you hear what I’m talking about.  If you can’t figure out how to do it, try just experimenting with both extremes so you can feel what you’re doing.  Then move toward a blending of the two.

Track 1 is too nasal and thin.

Track 2 is too throaty and hooty.

Track 3 is a decent balance.

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(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn

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