These common tests are used by vocal teachers all over the world. They do not cover every aspect of singing technique but they do put a few critical areas to the test. Try them now.
1. Sing open vowels like “ah” with your nose plugged.
Now, the trick is to make your tone sound totally ‘normal’ – if it doesn’t, you are singing through your nose.
2. Cradle your face in your hands
And, while singing some open vowels, pull down on your jaw so it opens more than it usually does. Be amazed by how much freer your voice sounds with a more open mouth.
3. Sing on a lip trill
This is where you let your lips flap together as in saying ’brrrr’ on a cold day. If you do scales on this exercise, not only will you sound like a total nerd, but you’ll also find that you can sing to the top of your range with more freedom in your throat.
4. Press your thumb up into the flesh behind the bone of your chin while singing.
If it feels soft and supple, you’ll know your tongue is tension-free. The back of your tongue is practically attached to your larynx (voice box) so if it’s firm and tense, your poor voice has to work way harder to do it’s thing.
5. Make singing sounds through a straw
(and you’re not allowed to let any air go through your nose). The thinner the straw, the more aware you’ll be of how little air you use when singing. You’ll also enjoy a more focused, resonant sound.
Use these five tests to remind yourself that you can have a beautiful tone without excess air, throat and tongue tension.
Kathy Alexander is a writer, singer, vocal coach and choir director. She has appeared in Vision TV’s Let’s Sing Again, The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra and the Victoria International Jazz Festival (main stage). You can see more of Kathy’s work here.