VOCAL HELP: The 5 Necessities For Every Songwriter — #3, Eliminating Vocal Strain

Vocal Help: The 5 Necessities For Every Songwriter

Necessity #3:  ELIMINATING VOCAL STRAIN

It’s awfully hard to show up to a songwriting session knowing that your voice is so limited because it’s damaged. If it’s painful to do something, you won’t do it well. If a basketball player is playing with a sprained ankle, he or she is a liability to the team. Take care of your instrument and bring your best instrument to the game of Songwriting.

Remember your songs are lyrics & melody. The melody is represented by your voice, and if you are straining to sing, the listener straining to listen. Also, the embarrassment of not having your full voice can cause you to be self-conscious. Self-consciousness while writing is often your very worst enemy. [See: Part 1]

YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO TURN OFF YOUR INSIDE EDITOR AND FLOW.

A voice that is straining does not flow well. There are exceptions, but this is almost a universal truth. Almost! I’ve met some terrible singers who were great songwriters. I’ve met many seasoned hit songwriters here in Nashville who can sing better than the artists who cut their songs.

It’s very hard to write notes you can’t picture singing yourself. I’ve been in numerous writing sessions where my co-writer chose a less than inspiring note because they were straining to sing the note well.  Whenever this happens, I take a few (but extremely valuable) minutes to teach them how EASILY this can be corrected.

REMOVE STRAIN FROM YOUR VOICE BY WARMING UP PROPERLY & SYSTEMATICALLY

• Begin in your chest voice
• Then gently into your head voice (not falsetto)
• Then blend head & chest together – which is your “mixed” voice (commonly referred to as “the mix”)

For now, press your thumb underneath your chin where it meets your neck. Now swallow. Feel those muscles tighten up? If they tighten up when you simply hummmmm up in your upper range, then you are straining. These simple exercises will reduce the unnecessary engagement of the swallowing muscles, which are the muscles that interfere with free vocal cord vibration. Any whiny consonant and vowel combo can help. Try octave scales on: nay, naah, mum. mmm, or a sustained “ng’ sound.

These whiny sounds will get you started, but to disengage the harmful swallowing muscles, you need to do something called: edge therapy. Singing with a groggy voice and staccato on a every other note in a triplet while ascending a scale can restore closure of your vocal cords without pushing, squeezing or straining. Start with these simple tips and begin training your voice.

Knowledge…true knowledge will set you free!

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Brett Manning is a world-renowned vocal coach in Nashville, TN. He is the author of the best-selling vocal training program, Singing Success.For more information about Brett’s singing programs, before & afters, or to read hundreds of testimonials, visit: www.SingingSuccess.com

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