Types of voices

Singing starts with our speaking voice….and we are all blessed with a speaking voice that is uniquely our own.

Some people have a breathy voice, while others don’t. Some people have thick cords while others have thin. Some people have a larynx that sits higher in their throat than others. Some people have short tongues, while others have long. Some have limited jaw mobility.

As you can see, the list is endless for physical reasons why you sound the way you do.

It’s always a good idea to learn from a professional the type of speaking voice you have. Good singing starts with good speaking.  Good speaking requires the same vocal habits as good singing.

There is a singing coach who is also a speaking coach names Roger Love. I believe he trained in speech level singing years ago. He has loads of valuable resources. Check out his website here. http://www.rogerlove.com/

Knowing your instrument

We know the voice is a delicate little instrument that can easily be damaged when used incorrectly. Did you know the vocal folds (cords) are composed of three elements: muscle, ligament and an outer fleshy mucous membrane. When used correctly, this little instrument can accomplish amazing feats.

We can’t see the cords while we sing, so it’s important to understand the effort needed elsewhere to ensure the cords are being coordinated correctly for great singing. There are several factors involved: Air flow (which is your breath and involves many other factors to do with your body), position of the larynx, and maximizing your resonance. It is the attention to this balancing act that will allow the cords to stretch out, thin out, stiffen, thicken, lengthen and shorten.  The control at the vocal cord level should be the goal of every great singer.



Learning how to “cry”

Are you a cry baby? When was the last time you cried? If you want to learn to sing better, then you need to learn how to cry.

All good singers have a cry in their voice. You might not notice it, but it is there.

Try it. I mean really sob. Not loud…this has nothing to do with the sound…this has everything to do with the sensations you feel in your body.

Notice the ache you feel in the back of your neck. Notice your ribs expand to accommodate your breath. Notice your face and the inside of the back of your mouth lift.

If you don’t notice any of this, then relax and start over. Do not make these things happen, simply engage in the smallness of these facts.

This coordination helps to keep your larynx stable and low, and creates a perfect body support for singing. It also thins out the vocal folds and allows the thyroid cartilage to tilt.

It also creates an easily heard passion in your voice…..and this is why we love to listen to great singers. They are emotionally connected to themselves…to their voice.

The degree of “cry” can be varied. You may hear it a lot in a crooner or jazz singer, or even a country singer. It may be difficult to decipher in a rock singer….but believe me….it is there!



I can’t control my break!

I want to thank all my readers for your comments and questions. It is my pleasure to help you learn how to mix your voice and sing better.

I received an email recently from a young man who says he always breaks as he ascends in pitch. Here was my response.

Hi Taciano, Thank you for your comment.

With practise, you can control your break. You need to revisit your exercises everyday.

Some vowel/consonant combinations are easier to mix, so try starting with a “koo” or a “goo”, and grow into other combinations such as “mum” and “buh”. Notice the “g” and “k” will help you maintain your mix. This is your tongue helping with breath control, which in turn helps keep you in a mix (so your folds don’t blow apart from too much breath escaping).

A “staccato” sense to your exercises will help you maintain your mix as well. This, again, is due to the breath pressure you create at the vocal folds. But be careful that you doing this correctly. Many students try to make staccato happen with their body or their throat, and this only gets in the way of the natural ability of the vocal folds to do their job. A sense of a bouncy “staccato” delivery of your notes will happen easily and automatically if you are creating the breath pressure necessary to maintain a good mix.

Another useful tip to maintain your breath control is to engage the muscle at the top of your stomach. Simply focus on this area as if someone were going to hit you. Don’t do this down low in your stomach….just at the top where your rib cage meets. And, when you breath notice how your ribs and back naturally engage too. Notice the smallness and the exactness of these sensations. Notice how it also engages your head, neck and posture. Stay in this coordination as you do your exercises, and see if it helps.

Remember, it does not take much breath to sing well. Most amateur singers use way too much breath, which in turn causes many problems. So try the opposite. Allow yourself to enjoy the sensation of singing with less breath. Your ribs and back muscles will learn to engage while you are singing…and this will help you maintain your mix.

Good luck. I hope these suggestions have helped! Susan

The root of the tongue

Learning how to sing better means knowing about your voice, and all the elements that can affect your sound. The tongue can be a major player in sound production. It can help you make beautiful sounding tones, or it can cause your voice lots of grief.

The root of the tongue starts in the same area as the vocal cords in your throat. Most untrained singers don’t even realize the tongue is causing problems with their singing. Usually this creates a tightened or strained sound, and sometime it causes a nasal sounding singing voice. What is happening is the tongue is actually backing up and “covering” the vocal cords, instead of coming forward, staying relaxed, and allowing the throat to be open.

You can check this by singing your favorite chorus with your tongue lying out over your bottom teeth and lower lip. You don’t have to force it out, because again you would be creating tension in the tongue. Is your jaw and tongue relaxed enough so that your entire throat feels free? Now sing your chorus.

It is difficult to pronounce words this way, but the purpose of this exercise is to notice the open throat and tongue release.

This is a great way for rock singers and singers who are learning to belt to get in touch with the physical effort necessary in their body for optimum breath support for their mixed voice. Notice you may need to decrease your volume to maintain the balance of cord closure to allow the voice to mix in the upper register.

If your sound is breathy, then that is a key indicator that your vocal cords and breath support can be engaged better with proper coordinations. You have taken the tongue out of the equation so you can focus on your “cry” to get cord closure.

Do this everyday with the tongue out and experience an open throat with good vocal closure. Use sounds like “uh-uh” (as in “us”) and sing up and down through your register break. Don’t force your sound. Your voice will eventually start to become less breathy and you will start to hear and feel the edges of your cords touching. This is a great way to get in touch with “vocal fry” too.

Questions? Comments? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a message a below.

Ladies: Your Money Notes

Getting fit as a singer means learning how to sing through all your vocal breaks–your entire vocal register. Ladies, the average range for you is approximately F or G below middle C (C4) to G above high C (C5). This is the average…..good female singers may sing through to high high C (C6) and even through the next passagio to G above C6. And yes, some singers–(men included) can easily make sounds higher than that. Just listen to Brett Manning from Singing Success on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lx-BpQFbLrg

Most genres of music in the 21st century are written with certain pitches “money notes” in mind.  These notes usually fall within the 1st and 2nd passagio, and for women, that’s between B flat (below C5) to E flat (above C5). A range of about 4 or 5 tones. This is an important area of your voice called the middle voice.

This is the belting range. This is the area of a female voice that is most difficult to manage.

Here at 21st Century Singers we work this area in both directions to get fit. Top-down exercises will create the muscle memory of using your head voice in the middle pitches. Bottom-up exercises will create muscle memory of establishing a strong chest voice as you transition into your head voice register through the middle pitches.

This is how you mix. This is singing in a mix….in other words….your middle voice.

Book an online singing lesson with me and learn how to strengthen your middle voice. Whether you are classically trained, or have no training whatsoever, this area is key to learning how to belt and sing with power. Lessons are only $50 for 45 minutes.  Get started with learning how to sing better today. All you need is a webcam and a desire to sing better than you ever thought possible!

Questions? Comments? Please leave me a message below!! Thanks.



Get that sound out of the back of your throat

I know how it feels. I know you want to control it. I know it’s uncomfortable.

But, if you want to take your singing to the next level, you need to be willing to let it go.

That’s right, let go. Stop relying on the inside of your throat, tongue and jaw area to help you control your sound, and let the sound go. I know it’s breathy. That’s OK. Experience it. Let’ go of it and start in the correct places to get control of it.

Control start deep down….way down. When you breath in, visualize your entire belly and groin area expanding to allow your breath to go low and deep. Allow your abdomen to rhythmically expand and relax with the timing of your breathing.

Be sure to allow your body to maintain that bouyancy sensation of your ribs and abdomen slightly expanding as you breath in, and slightly returning as you exhale. But, don’t let this spongy, bouyancy feeling of breathing in your body leave you. You can control it. You can go about your daily chores and activities with this sensation all day long. It may be uncomfortable. It may feel like you are expanding your rib cage and your back, and your upper belly in an unusual way. Learn to welcome it, learn to engage it, learn to live with it. You are re-learning how to breath like you did when you were born….diaphragmatic breathing.

Next, is learning how to take in a quick, small sip of air that will accompany your breath support when you go to sing. Notice I said small. At this point, that’s all you really need to sing your phrases. However, if you need a little more, your body will tell you. Typically it’s not the amount of air you take in that matters right now, it’s how you are taking it in, and how well your body is controlling it. It’s the quick, rhythmic intake that sets you up for that first onset of making great sound happen.

Spend some time getting to know your breath. Your singing will thank you for it. It may not feel exactly like mentioned above, but if you allow yourself to get in touch with your own breath, amazing things can happen!

Best “Ah-ha” moment

One of the best “ah-ha” moments about my voice came to me the summer I had a quaint little gig in the bar area of a classy restaurant. It was a quiet room that only sat about 6 people at the bar, and had six tables in a room approximately 20′ X 20′.

I had a small speaker system that was a perfect set-up for me and my digital piano. Now, the point I’m making here is how I learned to sing better that summer.

Prior to this, I always sang in bands. Loud bands. Big bands.

This experience was revolutionary for me.

You could hear a pin drop at times. My job was to entertaining the romantic couples who were waiting for their table, or who came in after dinner for a dance or two before going home. My job was to sing my heart out without being annoying loud.

Have you ever tried to sing/belt your heart out to a Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, or Kelly Clarkson tune, without being too loud? It’s an interesting combination, and one that is the key to your success as a strong singer.

I must say I did this well, and got better at it week after week.

The effort came from deep within. Almost deep within my soul, if that makes any sense. I had to take in huge breaths to build enough pressure to create the illusion of singing loud and belting. With careful play on the microphone, I was able to add emotional intimacy to my voice on the verses (usually the lowest pitches of a song), and then build intense dynamic power by increasing the strength and breath pressure in my body for the choruses.

Yes, the choruses were a bit louder, and I would simply back of the mic just enough to create that build up of intensity that matched the intensity of singing close to the microphone in the verse.

Does any of this make sense to you?

Questions? Comments? Please let me know below.


Copy, copy, copy

There I said it. Now I’ll wait for all the criticism.

Oh yes, I’ve been criticized for telling you to copy from your favourite singers. I’m constantly thinking about the pros and cons of training and listening to your teacher, versus listening and copying as many different singers as you can.

My own teaching experience shows that anyone with a sense of musicality and self-awareness can learn so much by experimenting and copying other singers. Notice I said musicality. These are the singers who notice the subtleties in someone else’ voice as well as their own. These singers are able to recognize the definite connection in their own body with the efforts that make good and healthy sounds.

Too many singers put the emphasis on their teacher only to teach them how to sing. I suggest that you get out of your comfort zone and experiment! Read everything you can about how to sing better. There is loads of information online.

But, remember these rules: If it hurts, tickles, or scratches, then your body needs to figure out what is wrong. And, more likely than not, you are simply pushing. So back-up, relax, and do it again.

This is not the answer for everyone, but it surely is for many. Self-awareness is key to self-improvement.


How to Become A Vocal Athlete

To become a better singer, you must simply exercise. You must exercise with correct form and attention to detail. It’s no different than going to the gym to workout your body.

We have all seen people who go to gym and simply go through the motions. Their form is not disciplined, and therefore the correct muscles are not activated when doing the exercise.

This is the same situation when singing. If you are not activating the correct muscles and coordination within the throat and larynx to do the exercise on hand, then you are simply wasting your time. Other muscles are doing the job instead……..and that is what we are trying to change in the first place!