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How To Sing with More Control

Banish feelings of grabbing, choking, squeezing your voice –says Lisa Popeil

A common problem singers share is the feeling of tightening in their necks and throats, especially when singing high notes.

I call that ‘compensatory tension’.

Instead of simply trying to relax these areas, I suggest making sure that abdominal support is correct.

When support is working (not too little and not too much), the grabbing, choking, squeezing and excess tension tend to go away.

So the answer is not to relax, but rather to move the work.

Your Need for Support

Why is support so important? It’s because the vocal folds vibrate hundreds of times each second and require a steady stream of pressurized air to create the vibration.

Abdominal breath support can be defined as the jobs we do between our shoulders and our hips that create steady pressure in the outgoing air stream.

We could even say, “support creates controlled vocal fold vibration”.

The Four Main Support Jobs

There are four main support jobs and here they are:

#1- Keep chest up when singing, don’t let it drop
#2- Ribs should be slightly expanded and keep out for singing
#3- Upper Belly ‘magic spot’ should gently firm OUT for all sung notes,
#4- Lower Belly should gradually go IN for singing, relax it completing for breathing.

I’m not saying other support methods don’t work…just that these four jobs seem to work for everyone for all styles.

Remember that vocal control leads to consistency and then ultimately to confidence.

If you use support as the main controller of your singing voice, compensatory tension will disappear and your singing will feel easy, free and controlled.

Gina’s Reactions to Our Peer Review Vids:

Jacob Foster – Black Pumped Up Kicks Cover

Jacob and friends, you guys create such an impressive, full sound! The video itself is really interesting to watch, and the vocals are well done. The lead vocalist has a sweet sound, and I can see how he and the other singers are using the muscles in their faces to create resonance. For the lead vocalist and “goatee” vocalist, try to communicate the meaning of the pieces a little more with your faces – so it’s not only a cool sound, but a cool story. Thanks to the high-singing vocalist for the emotion, but pull it back a little for authenticity.

Rochelle – Santa I Need a Time Machine (Original)

Rochelle, this is a very professional looking and sounding video. You have a beautiful (and beautifully-controlled) voice, are communicating emotion well, and are interacting nicely with the camera. The fullness of your voice comes out in your middle range and higher. Add more warmth to the lower notes by opening your pharynx. Your pharynx is a tricky muscle, but you can open it if you think about laughing silently. You’ll feel your throat pull out sideways when it is working. Keep this feeling on the low notes, and you’ll create an even more alluring sound down there.

Jeff Bangerter – Born and Raised (Cover)

Jeff, you have a full, natural sound – reminiscent of the rockers of the 80s. I like how you are keeping the sound forward by using your nasal resonance while still, generally, keeping your throat and jaw open. Make sure you always keep that opening, as the sound occasionally gets too nosey. Your posture and the way that you crane your neck forward are creating tension on your vocal cords. Keep your body in alignment by sitting up straight and keeping your head directly above your shoulders. Also, get your camera in closer next time so we can see your face!

-Gina Latimerlo

Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is a top LA voice coach, voice scientist and researcher, contributor to the ‘Oxford Handbook of Singing’, is a voting member of NARAS (Grammys®), creator of the Voiceworks® Method, the ‘Total Singer’ DVD and a new book ‘Sing Anything-Mastering Vocal Styles’ and has taught voice professionally for over 35 years. www.popeil.com

Co-author with Lisa Popeil of Sing Anything: Mastering Vocal Styles is Gina Latimerlo. Gina is commenting on our Peer Review Videos.

Gina Latimerlo is a polished performer of over 20 years. Teaching and directing since 1995, she opened The Latimerlo Studio in 1998. Her students have performed on Broadway, in touring companies, and have signed with talent agents and record labels. In addition to the main studio, The Latimerlo Studio oversees private voice teachers in over a dozen cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.latimerlo.com