Raising and lowering the Larynx - should you? UPDATED 2022
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- She suggests that some rock singing and saucy musical theater tends to use a slightly more raised position (#2),
- while classical, cabaret jazz and some R&B singing requires a slightly lowered position (#4).
- She warns that no one should ever use positions #1 (very raised) or #5 (very lowered).
The larynx does (and should) move when you sing, and not just for controversial techniques like belting. Even in classical singing, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies have confirmed that the larynx gently rises up on the higher pitches, and depresses on the lower ones.
Here's what I recommend, from my experience with my and my clients' voices:
In fact, it's not just slight raising and lowering that we need to allow. To accomplish higher notes, the thyroid cartilage which comprises the largest part of the larynx needs to be free to tilt in your neck! Tension in and around the larynx from trying to keep the Adam's apple stationary can interfere with these movements. What's the Adam's apple you say? Officially named the larygeal prominence, it's the pointy front of the thyroid cartilage that sticks out as a bump right in the middle of the neck. It's very noticeable in a man but a woman has a small one, too. I like to call it 'Eve's apple'! The front end of the vocal cords are attached directly behind it.
What can you do if your Adam's apple and larynx are too stationary, not free to move?
What can you do if you are raising or lowering your voice box (larynx) too much?
Here is a very effective exercise I adapted for my students from yet another great voice teacher, the late Jeannie Deva:
Lightly touch your adam's apple with the tips of your fingers. Feel for it in the middle of the front of your neck; and ladies it will just be a little bump. Again, this is where the vocal cords are attached at one end, inside the thyroid cartilage. Now, just let your fingers be "brain flashlights" and make a mental intention not to tense the area under your fingers as you sing. It's an amazing tactic when your larynx tries to lift for high notes. Notice how high notes, including higher middle voice notes, just float out almost effortlessly instead of strain!
For low notes, try this to keep your larynx from lowering too much: Stand tall and put your hand on your sternum and try to pull your voice from there. It will help your lower notes sound rich, not hooty, and will feel better, too. Don't bend over or down to get the notes. Be aware of the vibration and keep your chest open.
In conclusion: Go with what WORKS:
Want some incredibly effective vocal exercises to get this right? Either book a lesson with me or get one of my vocal training products, all of which include not only exercises, but how to do them.
Want to see more detail?
- 1:45 min for the hyoid bone.
- 4:45 min for the thyroid cartilage and the laryngeal prominence (Adam's apple).