“Learn the rules like a pro, and then break them”

There is a saying in dance “learn the rules like a pro, and then break them”.

It’s perfectly appropriate for singing as well.

Freedom to express yourself is directly related to the amount of control you have over your voice. With good singing technique, you have equal control of your high, middle and low registers. You are essentially creating a baseline that you should always return when warming up and vocalizing.

Does this mean you have to stay there? Absolutely not. Once balanced, the voice can explore the qualities that ring true with the style of music you want to sing.

Although good singing technique is necessary to sing all styles of music well, certain styles can require the voice to do certain unique co-ordinations, especially with vowel formation, amount of breath being released, glottal attack and twang. However, most important is knowing that you are mixing well from the top of your range to the bottom.

Get your voice balanced and then start to build the qualities you are looking for.




Ladies, this one’s for you

The female voice has so much potential. Typically our range extends much farther than the male voice, and because of this fact, the first passagio (or your break) can really feel like it divides your voice in two.

Men don’t have to deal with the same sensations at the first bridge. As the male voice drops after puberty, it is usually clear to them what their “chest voice” is. Then the challenge is usually how to negotiate their register shift so they can sing higher. Without the ability to thin out their vocal cords (mix) as they ascend, they may feel strain,  or they may “flip” into falcetto. There are many great exercises available to singers who want to increase their range from their chest voice up.

However, ladies…..your scenerio can be much different.

Quite often vocal training for ladies starts with focus above the first bridge (rather than in the chest voice which is below the first bridge). In other words, from about E above middle C to F or G above high C.  This is  a common range when working with female voices in a choir. Your first bridge is around A or B above middle C and your second bridge starts around E flat. Notice that this range of pitch encompasses TWO passagios. Included with this traditional approach  is the purity of Italian-formed vowels and a low tongue (open throat).

What you might notice is songs requiring you to sing below middle C are breathy or light. Or, you might notice that some songs have the sensation of singing from the bottom and going up……..while other songs have you feeling like you are singing from the top and going down…..giving you the impression of two different voices; a low voice for low songs, and a high voice for higher-pitched songs. Does this ring true for any of you?

I draw attention to this because knowing how to negotiate the first passagio from the bottom up is important when singing certain styles of music including pop, musical theatre, gospel and R&B. Working from the bottom up will usually have you using less air, and work muscles that require the larynx to tilt as you sing higher, which in turns will let you move through your passagio without flipping into your “other” voice.

Do you experience this? If so, please leave a comment. Tell me what it feels like and how you handle this break in your voice. Susan


What “kind” of voice teacher do you have?

Singers beware…..or should I say parents beware for your child. Check out this scenerio.

You daughter is 13 years old, has a beautiful voice and loves to sing.

You have started to take her to singing lessons every week to the lady across town. She is the teacher everyone takes their children to. She has been teaching for over 30 years. The students all have beautiful voices. Some of these students have gone on to pursue singing as a career, and a few have majored in voice at university.

The students are auditioning in jazz bands and orchestras, theatre productions and radio. Some are looking for record deals and travelling in a band. Unfortunately, some of these singers are not getting “the job”, largely because of ONE REASON.

Are you ready for the reason? Are you sure you’re ready? It’s very simple.

These students, with their beautiful voices, are unable to sing powerfully in their lower register. That’s right. That’s all it is. Power in the chest register.

Their technique is so developed in the head register (with an open throat and lowered larynx), that they have trouble allowing this to change in order to sing pop, rock, contemporary, and Broadway……yes….I said Broadway. To these singers, this feels “wrong”.

So, in closing, parents beware. There are different ways to train the voice. Do you know how yours is being trained?



The yodel

What is a yodel? It’s simply a defined change in register from your low “voice” to your high “voice”.

Can you make your voice yodel? I actually have trouble doing it. My mixed “middle” voice is so well connected that imitating a yodel takes a certain coordination for me.

If you are a trained singer and you have a defined yodel, then your middle voice is not well established. Unfortunately, this is an all-too-familiar issue with some my students who have had classical training. The “yodel” may not be an exactly defined pitch in the voice, it may simply be the section where you have trouble controlling the quality of your sound–in other words losing that connection from your low notes to your high notes….you sense a “flip” or “disconnection” as you sing higher.

The “yodel” can be a preferred quality of sound in some voices…..Sarah McLachlin and LeAnn Rimes come to mind. There are many voices like this in pop/country music.

If you like your yodel then that’s great. But most singers have no control over this “flip”. The control happens in exercising the middle area of your voice (two registers in balance).

If you are training to sing and your teacher always exercises your high register and your low register as two separate voices, then you have a problem. If your teacher is always training your high voice and working downward, then you have a problem.  They are setting you up for this problem, and it will become very apparent when you need to sing songs requiring your chest register to “belt” out songs in theatre.

Is this blog hitting home with you? Let me know your experience. Please leave a comment.