I love the idea of “speech level” and “allow”

Speech level singing can get a bad rap these days.

For me, having my first lesson with a SLS instructor over 10 years ago, was true validation. Two main things happened for me:

1. I finally had a coach who was working my entire range at one time. Two and a half octave scales, going up or down by semi-tones, had me singing through five passagios in one exercise! I heard and felt improvement in my voice within the first day.

2. I finally found a teacher who encouraged vowels that didn’t sound classical.

Now, I’m not saying that forming classical-sounding vowels is a bad thing, I’m simply stating that I am not a classical singer, and had never encountered a teacher who allowed me to sound this way. I had been taught belting, and that just felt wrong. I now know that belting doesn’t need to be shouting. Healthy belting is done by mixing your registers.

Thinning out those cords

This is the challenge.

We do the exercises, day after day, hour after hour…..nothing is changing. What’s up?

What’s up is likely a combination of two things: Old habits and undiscovered territory.

It takes time and commitment to get to the next level of new discovery. Are you putting in your time? Are you willing to do what it takes?

Then allow yourself to back up for a minute. Get in tune with your body and your voice. Allow yourself to thin out your cords…one pitch at a time.

Is it easy….no, not necessarily. But is it possible. Absolutely!

In the beginning, you must practise thinning our your cords every day……many times throughout the day. Your voice is made up of very small muscle movements. The vocal cords cannot learn to thin out if you only practise for a short time everyday. You must commit to training regularly throughout the day. I suggest 3 times….morning, afternoon and evening to see good results.

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes!

Exercising the larynx

I think it is very important for singers to get to know their larynx. The larynx is the mechanism that houses your vocal cords. You can put your finger on the bump on your throat and find your larynx. Good singers have a larynx that is flexible. It can move up and down, and tilt forward.

You can easily make the larynx move up by swallowing. It will move up to close off your windpipe so food doesn’t enter when you eat.

Getting the larynx to go down isn’t so easy. For some, it is a coordination they have never experienced, and therefore the muscles required for this coordination have never been used properly.

The possibility of using the wrong muscles when trying to lower larynx are strong. Therefore, I highly recommend seeing a professional vocal coach to ensure you are practising correctly.

Here at Bee Music Studios, all singers learn to control their larynx. We don’t sing our songs with a low larynx, but we do learn the co-ordinations and exercise the muscles that keep the larynx down. We get to know what it feels like. We enjoy the rich, deep, beautiful tones that a lower larynx can provide. This co-ordination is very important for mixing, and for singing your high notes with beautiful tone and resonance.

Here is a video of Justin Stoney from Voice Lessons to the World. He says it all. Take a look.

Tongue out and hum exercise

My last post was about the tongue and how it can get in the way when you are singing.

When you let your tongue hang out over your bottom lip, it cannot interfere with the back of your throat and stop you from mixing. This is a great way to exercise your voice, although you can look pretty silly doing it!

Try this: Choose a song where the highest pitches are above your passagio….(for women that is A, B flat, B or higher, and men that is E, F, F# or higher).

Let your tongue hang out and hum your song.  If you feel strain in your throat while humming the highest pitches, then lighten up. Try again with less volume.

If you feel the need to “flip” or “let go” in order to achieve the highest notes without strain, no worries! You are now in your head register but having trouble keeping the cords connected as you ascend in pitch.

With careful attention to the engagement of your body (from the top of your stomach and down…including your back and buttocks), and also attention to how loud you are humming your song, you should be able to hum your high pitches without disconnecting the cords (falcetto).

Once you have found this balance where you can hum your high pitches while keeping your vocal cords connected, it is time to allow some of the sound to come out of your mouth. Do not move on to the next exercise unless you can indeed hum your entire song with your tongue out….even if it appears to have no power or substance. If you do this exercise regularly with your songs, your cords will get stronger and allow you to hum with more pressure (volume).

There is more to tell about this delicate yet fascinating exercise. Stay tuned!


The tongue and “mixing”

All too often, we as singers forget about the tongue. Yes, the tongue is an important link in our efforts as singers to resonate fully and “get in the mix”.

Tongues come in all shapes and sizes, but nonetheless it is BIG. Even small tongues are big.

You shouldn’t move your tongue out of the way. It is there to help you enunciate your words clearly and precisely.

The tongue should naturally rise at the back as you ascend in pitch. If you are having trouble in the middle of your voice (the mix…i.e. head voice and chest voice resonance), there is a good chance your tongue may be involved.

Here is an exercise to see if your tongue is stopping your from mixing.

1 Open your mouth to a natural hanging-jaw position….not too big, not too small…..just o’natural.

2. Let your tongue hang out over your bottom lip.

3. Stay relaxed in the back of the throat. (I use the Estille silent laugh to avoid constriction).

4. Starting on an easy pitch, sing the vowel (a) as in cat, and slowly go higher in pitch through your passagio.

5. If you feel your tongue wanting to pull back in, then you know there is trouble.

6. The tongue should actually rise at the back as you ascend in pitch. Your mouth may get bigger. Your tongue may extend out even further. Allow this happen. Experience it.

7. If it’s really troubling, hold on to your tongue and repeat.

Yes, this is your mix. This is you allowing your voice to resonate in all the efficient spaces for optimum singing.

How did it go? Any comments or questions? Why not let me know.


Are you mixing?

Have you figured out your vocal habits yet?  Are you mixing?

Are you getting through your passagio without a flip?

Are you feeling strain in your throat as you sing your high notes?

There are many facets to singing well, but mastering your middle voice (mixing) is key to building strength and stamina.

Try the nasty buzzy hum exercise. Go from your lowest notes to your highest notes. What do you feel? Are your high notes dull?

If you are mixing well, you will siren through your entire vocal range.

If you feel strain or an awkward feeling in your throat, then try again….but lighter. Find that “light is right” coordination that gets you through the middle voice. You may find that your low hum is weak. That’s OK, this is where you need to be. It will get stronger as you focus in on the sensation of allowing your voice to resonate in your “head” as well as your “chest”. Add a puppy dog whimper sensation to your hum. This will help get those cords to close.

Questions? How did it go? Let me know!

Previous voice training

When I think back to the voice training I have had (6 different teachers in the past 20 years), speech level singing was the eye-opening experience for me. That is not to say that the classical training I had wasn’t useful….because it was….in many ways….but in other ways, it was detrimental.

It wasn’t until I took speech level singing lessons that I found a teacher who understood the actual bridging of my voice (and taught me to understand it)! I was vocalizing through three passagi in the first lesson and over 2 and a half octaves. I had never experienced that in all the previous lessons I had taken.

The blending of the registers is key, in my opinion, to developing a strong and healthy voice in all registers. Here are three favourite links to teachers who teach “mixing” and blending registers (formerly called speech level singing).





Extreme Singing

So you want to sing with more “belt” in your song?

Well first, let’s check…..do you know if you are mixing? Do you know if you are accessing your head voice resonance and tilting your larynx?

Belting cannot be done safely (or sound good) without these two conditions first.

I suggest that you continually work on bridging (mixing) exercises every day as a warm-up and as a build-up to more extreme singing. Once you can easily go up and down your entire range without strain then you are ready to “intensify”.

Not sure if you are bridging correctly? Sing your entire song with a hum…..the kind of humming sound you make when you say “uhm, uhm, that tastes good!” Notice the slightly “nasty” and “whiny” sound you are making.

Make sure your nasal port is closed. In other words no sound is coming out your mouth.

You may notice that you have trouble reaching your high notes…..yes, this is a true indicator!!

Take your volume back to a point where you can manage your high notes with this buzzy hum.

Add a slight “sob” feeling to your voice….as if you whining about something…you will notice that your cheeks and your nose and even your eyebrows will engage with this sensation. Relax into this. Don’t fight it. Recognize that all the action is in this area……what classical singers call “the mask”.

Now back to your song…..are you sure you are ready to belt?

If you cannot hum your song with ease in your head voice (without flipping into falcetto), then you are not ready for belting out a song……..

So…..back to your bridging (mixing) and building exercises!!

Questions? Why not drop me a line!


Can You Feel It?

As a singer it is important to “feel” your voice. It is a true balance of listening while you feel the cords stretching and thinning that will lead you to the next level in strengthening your vocal cords.

I like the “ng” exercise for establishing cord closure above the first passagio. It’s easy to do below your passagio, but as you go higher you may notice a dulling between the first and second passagio.

You can find the “ng” by saying the word “hung” and letting the “ng” continue like a buzzy hum. You should notice no sound coming out the mouth…..only a hum in behind your nose and soft palate area. You may feel it at the back of your upper throat and even in the top of your head…..you should not feel this hum deep in your throat or on your bottom teeth. If you do, then lighten up your “ng”.

Now “siren” this sound through your first passagio without flipping. It’s good to siren both ways….starting on the bottom and going up, as well as starting on the top and sirening down. Men, I would start with A below middle C and siren up to at least A above middle C (without flipping). Ladies, I would siren from middle C to F above high C.

If you feel you are not “mixing” (in other words, it feels and sounds like there is no chest voice in your mix), then start on a lower note, and start from the bottom going up first to establish a good mix.

You may find you need to lower your volume in order to maintain good closure on your high notes, and to stop you from flipping. This is why you need to “feel” your hum.

One more thing…..the larynx will move when you do these sirens….it has to move!! It is going to move up and tilt forward!!

Put your finger on the larynx as you do the sirens. Allow a “whiney-sob” feeling. This will help the larynx tilt as you ascend in pitch.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions below!



Too perfect?

I have a female client who has been training with me for the past year. She has lovely sound. A very pretty voice.

However, she is not happy with her sound. She wants to sound more like a radio singer (she names examples likeTaylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Rhianna).

This young lady had previous classical singing lessons. Her breath control is wonderful. Her head resonance is crisp and present, and her glottal onset is precise and clean……so beautiful, so lovely………and she hates it.

This young lady is so well trained that she is having trouble undoing her perfect classical sound.

What can she do to sound more contemporary?

1. Change the vocal cord set-up. She currently has a seamless onset where her breath and cord closure meet with smooth connection. There is not much edginess. We have been working on her “speech level” closure in her chest voice with wide vowels.

2. We have been working on changes at the vocal cord level in her speech level chest voice. She is doing exercises that keep her in stronger mix of chest voice versus head voice with lots or oral twang and mouth resonance.

3. I have suggested listening and copying other singers. One of the best ways to explore and grow your voice is by trying new co-ordinations. When you do this, you need to pay special attention to how your throat feels. It should never hurt, but the co-ordinations may definitely feel “different” from what you are familiar with.

Questions? Comments? Please leave a message below.