I still remember when I was 16 and had ‘two different voices’. That’s right. I had my ‘not-so-great’ American Idol voice, and I had my ‘choir-like’ sweet voice. They were two separate voices coming from my throat, and they never met each other in the same performance.
I struggled with the challenge of deciding “which voice to use” for years. I would go out and sing with my band, or at a party with my ‘power’ voice. I now know that this was my chest voice, and I was pulling like crazy. It wasn’t uncommon to become hoarse after a night of singing.
Then I would wake up the next morning and go to church and sing with my sweet voice. My sweet voice was breathier and not really that powerful…..but my choir director seemed to like it a lot. Every time I tried to add a heavier sound in the choir, I was instructed to blend with the other voices. I know now that I was singing in my head voice only….I wasn’t mixing…..it wasn’t until years later, that I finally figured out how to mix my two registers (mostly chest to head mix) to get a nice balance of both registers.
It took me 20 years to figure out how to mix my voice!! I’m 50 now, and my voice is sounding better that ever before! And that’s because I now know what I’m doing. I now understand exactly how to coordinate my laryngeal muscles to achieve exactly the sound and textures I want.
I still continually challenge my voice in new and different ways. IMHO, you never stop learning, and you never need to settle for “what is”.
I’m currently working on my 4th passagio. And, although I may never make a noise beyond F6…..I know I will continue to vocalize everyday in the same manner that I have for the last ten years. Because, before the age of 40 I could never sing C6! That’s right….these notes have transpired in the last ten years. Who knows what notes I’ll be squeezing out at age 60!
The ability to tilt the larynx happens at the thyroid cartilage and the cricoid cartilage (in the larynx) which are connected at the cricothyroid joint. There is a space in between that can be either open or closed. Tilting happens when the space is closed.
Working on the ‘ng’ sound through your break will work the small muscles that tilt the thyroid cartilage. If you are breathy as you ascend through your bridge, then you need to practise the thyroid tilt daily.
Another great sound that helps tilt is the puppy dog whimper. Again, key is ascending upward through your passagio without getting louder. (Use your breath control and body anchoring from your neck down to try and achieve this sound).
Learning to sing better doesn’t happen overnight. Once you make the decision to improve your voice, it’s very much like commiting to go to the gym regularly. Except you commit to vocalise regularly. How and what you vocalize is important. There is lots of free information online to help you, if you know what you’re doing. However, one of the biggest mistakes singers make is singing “too big” too soon. In other words, singers need to learn to not push to make the sounds they want, but instead get very familiar with their head voice and the coordinations that are necessary to increase power and strength in the correct way. This isn’t the path that the amateur singer is naturally inclined to take. Most singers want to work their voice from the bottom and go up, instead of from the top and go down. This can cause problems if you do not know how to bridge through your 1st passagio. However, in saying that, there are some singers who have opposite problems, and in fact need to work from the bottom and go up.
So, take the time to learn about your unique voice and the proper ways to train your unique vocal habits. Learn what your passagio is, (there is more than one, but let’s start with the 1st one!), where it is, what it feels like, and why it causes so many singers such havoc! Then, figure out how to get through it correctly to make some fabulous sounds!
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