Occasionally, I'll get asked for pointers on vocal technique. Here's a 1-minute voice lesson with four essential components that need to happen each and every time you open your mouth to sing:
- Take a good diaphragmatic breath. The diaphragm is the power source for singing. Your body is naturally wired up to breathe this way (pay attention when you go to sleep tonight. Your tummy will naturally rise and fall as you breathe). We often try to change the way we breathe when we sing but ONLY a good diaphragmatic breath will give you the support you need to make it through phrases of vocal music. It helps you articulate vowels and serves as the basis for everything else a singer does.
- Lower the larynx. When you swallow, the larynx goes up. When you yawn, the larynx goes down. As a vocalist, you want to create as much space in your oral cavity as possible. Lowering the larynx is one step to creating good, high and forward, resonant sound.
- Raise your soft palate. If you run your tongue along the roof of your mouth, you cross your hard palate and toward the back of your mouth, you get to the soft palate. Raising the soft palate is another step to creating oral space. The idea is to create a focused beam of sound, much like a spotlight (rather than a floodlight).
- Keep your tongue down and forward. The tongue is your consonant articulator and shouldn't warble around in your mouth. If it does, you'll change pitch and (if you're singing with a choir) be unable to match pitch with the people standing around you. Something as simple as a moving tongue can make you sound out of tune even if you're still singing the same note as everyone else.