How I Learned Not to “Pull Chest”

Do you automatically sing louder as you sing higher? If you do, then you are likely a “chest-puller”. The vocal cords will keep stretching and stretching as you sing higher and higher, and you end up just blowing a lot of breath through a very wide space. This is not a good thing. Not only will it cause damage  but it causes your voice to lack luster, crispness and presence.

The vocal cords need to thin as you go higher. It’s the same for EVERYBODY! You must allow this to happen. You may not like the sound at first, and this probably means the vocal cords are not adducting (closing) the way they need to. Test yourself, can you do a quiet whine or cry in your head voice. Does it have an edge and crispness, or is it flat and dull?

Here is how I learned to stop pulling so much chest. First of all, you need to know I started playing music and singing as a teenager in rock and country bands, like so many kids do. Gig after gig I would sing hard and continually lose my voice. This all stopped the day I got a solo gig in a very small but quaint bar in a restaurant. I was basically “live” elevator music, if you know what I mean. I was able to really practise the skill of leaning into my notes, because I had to create dynamics, variations and presence at a low volume. My voice was amplified and I used a crisp reverb effect for ballads, and a short delay and slight reverb for fast songs. When I did need to pull chest, I would always work the “lean” as well. They work very well together.

Hope this post is helpful. All you singers out there, let me know what you think. Susan