Strengthen Your Singing Voice
In our last post, we gave you some ways to strengthen your voice, including working your breath control, adding some brightness for that extra forward drive, and lifting your soft palate to get some additional mouth resonance. Today we’ll give you a few more tips for giving your voice the power you’ve been looking for.
1. Posture and Anchoring
This goes along with breath support but is its own beast. Standing (or at the very least, sitting) tall with a spine that’s in line all the way up through your neck is very important for power. If someone were to try to knock you over by pushing on your shoulder or forehead, you should be so stable that they wouldn’t be able to.
Here’s How: Stand up with your feet about hips’ distance apart. Use your back muscles to make your torso wide and long, and your neck muscles to stabilize your neck and keep it in line with your torso.
Try this! Put your forearms and hands out in robot position and keep your elbows in at your torso. Ask someone to stand behind you and to try to hold your elbows down. Next, work against that resistance and lift your elbows like you’re about to imitate a chicken spreading its wings. Do you feel those muscles working? Keep those same ones working when you sing to get some additional power and stability.
Here’s Why: Think of what happens when you try to write without resting your elbow on the table. Your letters tend to get bigger, sloppier, and lighter. When you prop your elbow, however, your writing gets neater. Stabilizing those larger muscles frees your smaller muscles up to be more effective. Stabilizing your torso allows your breath control muscles to work more effectively, and stabilizing your neck frees all those little muscles controlling you’re your vocal tract to do their thing with more precision.
2. Open Your Mouth
It may sound obvious, but opening your mouth is a major part of volume control. There are better and worse ways to do it, but if you’re looking for a bigger sound, your mouth will need a certain amount of aperture.
You’re not going to want to create a bunch of tension, so prying your mouth open as wide as it goes isn’t a good idea. Simply let your jaw release downward. If you’re belting or going for a more contemporary sound, you might also try making a face like you’re biting an apple.
Here’s Why: Your vocal folds may be the source of the vibration, but your mouth is a major resonating chamber. Closing it will kill the sound.
3. Thicken Your Vocal Folds
This won’t be appropriate for every genre, but simply put, chestier singing will usually yield bigger-sounding results. Belting that C5 is probably going to be louder than singing it in head voice. But there’s a spectrum from chest to head voice (i.e. thick vocal folds to thin vocal folds), and verging more toward the chesty side will keep your voice louder.
Here’s How: While making sure you use all of the above tips about anchoring and breath control, bellow, “Ho Ho Ho!” like you’re Santa Claus. Do you feel how thick and chesty that is? As you go higher, maintaining some of that chestiness will help make your voice louder. Be really careful though! Not allowing your vocal folds to thin out will eventually lead to a rough voice break when you can no longer maintain the musculature to stay chesty on a high pitch.
Here’s Why: Think of 2 strings vibrating at the same frequency (i.e vibrating the same number of times per second). Now imagine that one of the strings is thicker than the other. It’ll be a weightier sound than a really thin string vibrating at that same pitch. Your vocal folds are way more complex than strings, but the same principles still hold.