What You Can Expect to Learn at a Molly’s Music Voice Lesson
At Molly’s Music, we always tailor our singing lessons to the individual student. If you’re interested in making it on Broadway, we’ll help you build up your musical theatre audition repertoire and your arsenal of vocal techniques most relevant to the musical theatre stage. If you love hard rock and cringe when you hear a show tune or an aria, we’ll show you the technique that best fits your style and make sure you don’t show up to your rock concert sounding like a Wagnerian soprano. And, of course, if classical vocal training is what you’re looking for, we’ll get you what you need. We always strive to pair students with a teacher who best fits their unique set of interests.
But there are certain aspects of vocal technique you’ll learn no matter what your stylistic preference. Here’s what you can expect to learn at a Molly’s Music voice lesson.
Breath Control and “Support”
Whether you’re singing classically, belting, or even doing breathy indie vocals, it’s important to learn how to control your air. You won’t find our teachers giving you any mythology on how you should “breathe from your diaphragm,” because, frankly, that doesn’t mean anything. Whenever you’re breathing, your diaphragm is at work. Breath control is about relaxed, comfortable inhalations and controlled exhalations. Yes, you use more air on certain styles (like breathy vocals) than others (like belting), but no matter what, you should be monitoring your airflow, and your body should learn how much air it needs for a specific vocal maneuver.
Frontal Resonance, i.e. Brightness
You know how some singers have that really forward, bright quality to their voices? Well this is something you’ll need to know how to do at least to some degree for almost every style of music. The perception a forward-sounding voice is created by higher overtones. Anatomically speaking, this is related to tongue position and the narrowing of the aryepiglottic sphincter (the uppermost tube in the larynx). Don’t worry! That action is waaaay less scary than it sounds. We’ll be able to help you learn how to do it using vowel modifications and sounds and images that you’re already very familiar with, like a bratty child, a duck quacking, or a cackling witch.
Soft Palate Control
You may not have spent much time thinking about your soft palate (i.e. the back of the roof of your mouth) before, but I bet you will once you enroll in voice lessons. The soft palate is the gateway between your nose and your mouth. When your soft palate is high, the gate is closed, and and you don’t sound nasal. When the soft palate is dropped, some of that resonance will get sucked up by the nose, and you’ll get a more nasalized sound. Now, nasalized doesn’t always mean bad. Think of singers like Kristen Chenoweth. Sometimes a nasalized sound is exactly what you want. But you want to be in control of it! Simple actions like yawning, snorting, and taking a sip through an imaginary straw can help isolate the right muscles.
There are so many components of vocal health, from hydration, to freeing up unnecessary tension, to simply listening to your body and knowing when to call it a day. A huge (and often overlooked) aspect of vocal health is something we can learn to regulate no matter what style or vocal register we’re singing in. On top of our vocal folds, we have these things called false vocal folds, or sometimes vestibular folds. When your false vocal folds are squeezed against your vocal folds, your vocal folds can’t vibrate freely, and you’ll have a tense, constricted sound. On the other hand, when your false vocal folds are open, or retracted, you’ll get a much clearer, healthier sound–what some voice teachers refer to as “open throated,” (although this term can be confusing, because some teachers use “open throated” to refer to the lifted soft palate). Don’t worry! Our teachers will never simply tell a student to retract their false vocal folds, since that won’t mean anything to them. Instead, using images like pulling your ears apart, smelling a rose, laughter, and sobbing, are much more helpful to students.
At our voice lessons, we’ll give you the pertinent information on vocal health without going into all the mythology, like that you should never belt, or that your larynx needs to always remain in a low position, or that you shouldn’t take voice lessons until your teens.
Is it chest voice, mixed voice, and head voice? Chest voice and head voice? One long, continuous register? There are so many different philosophies about vocal registration. Here’s what we know: Your vocal folds are thicker in chest voice and use more of your Thyroarytenoid (TA) muscle–essentially just the muscular part of your vocal fold. In head voice, your vocal folds are thinner and use more of your Cricothyroid muscle. However, both vocal registers use both of those muscles to some degree. Your mixed voice isn’t any one thing. It can be anything from a ton of chest voice with a tiny bit of head voice mixed in to a ton of head voice with a tiny bit of chest voice mixed in. It can sound like a light belt or a low, well-grounded classical sound. It’s all a big continuum, and the amount of chest or head resonance you use should be determined by the style you’re singing in, the aesthetic you’re going for at that moment, and what your own unique voice is currently capable of producing in a healthy way. There’s no one answer.
Your voice teacher will help you navigate your vocal registers, strengthen all of them, and help you determine when it’s best to use each one as you work toward stylizing a song together. Your voice teacher will help you navigate your vocal registers, strengthen all of them, and help you determine when it’s best to use each one as you work toward stylizing a song together.
Honing Your Style
At Molly’s Music, our teachers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and methodology that they grew up with, from Speech Level Singing, to Estill Voice Technique, to choral instruction, to operatic, to jazz vocals. We’ll always put you with a voice teacher who’s capable of helping you with your stylistic preference. You’ll never get paired with a rock-only teacher if your goal is classical or a classical-only teacher if your goal is rock. Most of our teachers are great at a number of styles, but each one has his or her unique set of strengths. We’ll make sure you’re with the best instructor to reach your goals.
Molly is the founder of Molly’s Music. She is a dedicated singer and pianist whose musical journey spans 2.5 decades, with stops along the way to sing for the pope, pass Certificate of Merit at the highest level, study with Gwen Verdon and Ben Vereen, and record an original album.