In our last blog we discussed dynamics and explained that they were a combination of airflow vs muscle and the correct balance of each. Without learning how to balance the voice control over dynamics is going to be difficult. Once you have learnt the skills set out in previous blogs we can begin to explore an awareness of dynamics and try to control them. However if you still struggle to control vocal balance even though you have discovered chest, head and how to connect them it could be a simple case of bad coordination caused by too much external muscular involvement or modification to the vowels interfering with the pitch making process.
When we coordinate the voice we should have even vowels and adduction (cord closure) but sometimes we modify these vowels in ways that can manipulate the voice and the larynx. It is useful for style but not if it hinders our vocal balance.
How is this achieved?
Often we are using our tongue or widening the vowel or keeping the mouth too closed and so the airflow and muscle is not balanced. For example, if there is not enough cord closure in the bottom of the voice we may lift the tongue thinking it is closing the airway and helping us keep a pitch. As we go higher, the result is tension outside the larynx which is bullying the muscles inside the larynx and forcing them to give way. So we need to first be aware of what we are doing when and why and counterbalance this with an equal and opposite reaction. It could be a slight tendency or a really ingrained bad habit.
How do we do it?
We are not always aware we are making these modifications and it can often take a second opinion and a trained ear to point out what is happening mechanically in the voice. A trained Voice Coach can give you the correct tools to release whatever it is you are doing and retrain the voice in the best way to coordinate. In the meantime it is good practise to record a video of yourself and watch what you are doing in the places where you feel a struggle. Is your mouth widening through the first bridge? Are you lifting your head up for the high notes? Are you reaching down for the low notes? Is your mouth too closed or do you lock your jaw? Are you singing through gritted teeth? If we have a tendency to widen then the solution can be as simple as thinking or voicing a narrow vowel as we go higher which in fact evens out the vowel and keeps you on the correct vowel.
We have given some examples on our YouTube Channel “Legacy Vocal Coaching” on how to practise but the best way to discover your habits is always to ask a professional coach.