Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vocal Technique: Why Know Why

When you venture into the world of vocal training as student or teacher you can be quite overwhelmed with all the different methods, systems and approaches... even with vocal teachers, trainers, directors and coaches seeming to teach opposite techniques! This is why you, as student or teacher, should know the 'why' behind the 'what' is being suggested in the vocal training.

Here's an example:
  • THE VOCAL TECHNIQUE: 
Some say you should inhale from the nose, some say the nose and mouth.
  • THE 'WHY' BEHIND THE TECHNIQUE: 
When sounding the voice one needs to inhale in such a way that causes...
  1. ... the nose and throat channel to expand so that vocal cord vibration has full access to alternative resonation zones in mouth, pharynx, etc. An open throat channel will also prevent inhaled air from excessively drying the edges of the vocal cords.
  2. ... the lower ribcage to widen and the belly to expand so that the dome of the diaphragm can easily flatten out as its muscle fibers shorten. This enables the floor of the lungs to come down and draw enough air in quickly and efficiently.
  3. ...the air 'fuel' for  'powering' the voice to be drawn in low. WHERE the air is felt to be drawn in tends to become WHERE the air is acted upon, and for best control of breath it needs to be acted upon (supported by muscle contraction) from as low as possible (the pelvic floor) instead of from the ribcage.
I know some teachers encourage inhaling from the nose. Many sports encourage this because coming in through the nose moisturizes the breath, and it's true that it causes the nose to flare, opening up that part of the throat channel. Yes, a good inhale for the voice can be taken just through the nose... IF you do it in such a way that you make the above three points happen.

However, I've had many new students come in to me who had been taught to inhale from the nose and had become 'chest breathers' instead of 'belly breathers'. This caused them to get all three of the above very wrong, resulting in all kinds of vocal problems for them from incorrect breath support and control. So my choice in "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training is to teach singers and speakers to inhale from both nose and mouth simultaneously. This gives the safest voice-enabling inhale, in my experience.

Who knew? You should, if you are training your voice. Then however you choose to inhale, you'll be able to do it and get the right effects.

HELP:
I'd like to do a de-mystifying series of posts on the 'whys' of vocal technique. What other vocal techniques have you heard taught opposite ways and/or seem puzzling to you? Put them in the comments to this post, and thank you for joining the conversation!

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