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Voice Yourself! 10 Common Singing Problems & Solutions By: Valerie Bastien

Voice Yourself! 10 Common Singing Problems & Solutions By: Valerie Bastien 1) Out of Breath:

Try to exercise 20 minutes 3 times a week. Go for a run, swim, lift weights or go to your local gym! It will increase your energy and breath capacity and benefit your singing. You are a vocal athlete! This could also results from the way you breathe. I teach diaphragmatic breathing; it’s the healthier way to breathe! Start breathing through your nose then, let air in through your mouth. Imagine your breath filling out your lungs from the bottom to the top. Feel your abodomen expand all around your waist. Take a long, big enough breath every chance you get during a song. Breathe, sing. Breathe, sing. There you go! 2) Incorrect Voice Support:

Lack of support from the diaphragm will prevent your registers from connecting and limit your range. Too little breath support will prevent your voice from projecting and you will have difficulty hit hight notes. Too much support can send too much pressure on your vocal cords, dry them out and create your larynx to squeeze, your tongue to tense or affect your ability to remain on pitch or sing higher. To support your voice with your diaphragm, use diaphragmatic breathing. Proper diaphragmatic support feels exactly like blowing candles on a birthday cake. How much support equals how much air there is left in your lungs and how high you sing. In other words, if you start a melody at the top of your range and your lungs are full of air, only a little pressure from your diaphragm will be required to support your voice. However, if you finish a melody at the top of your range and are starting to run out of breath, a lot of pressure will be required to hit the pitches. It is important to sustain your support with at least a gentle downward push from the beginning until the end on a sentence. Don't let it go until you are finished singing. Always find your balance between too little and too much pressure or support! 3) Inability to Connect Registers (Bridge): If you sing very loudly in your lower range, and need lots of energy to reach higher pitches you might be pulling chest as you ascend making it difficult to keep on pitch while trying to bridge into you head voice or a higher register. A lot of people can't bridge because they pull chest or simply haven't aligned their

instrument correctly. It means that the front of the larynx is raising as opposed to the larynx tilting forward. When they try to mix the resonance between the chest and head registers, they often loose some volume in the beginning because the instrument is not aligned enough to let in the needed resonance. Instead of seeing this as a natural learning progression to correct mixing, many students think they are on the wrong path and give up or revert to pulling chest which limits one's range quite a bit. Nothing happens overnight and it takes practice to discover and tame your instrument. Remember to drop your jaw similarly to yawning and always open your mouth vertically while relaxing your throat. This will allow the front of the larynx to tilt and the back to raise in order to pull the vocal cords. 4) Unwanted Rasp: This also has to do with correct alignment and unwanted tension pulling up the front of the larynx in the way of effortless singing. Unlock your jaw and check for signs of tension such as raising eyebrows, a frowning forehead or lip corners engaging unnecessary when singing. Relax your face and throat to let the sound out naturally and freely. 5) Inconsistent Vibrato or Lack of Thereof: A natural vibrato only comes when the voice is fully relaxed and all the vocal components are aligned. A pleasant vibrato vibrates at about 5-6 times a second. A fast vibrato indicates a high larynx. A low vibrato indicates lack of support or a tensed tongue. No vibrato at all also means that you haven't quite reached that perfect equilibrium between relaxation and support. A straight tone is actually very pleasant and common in pop and rock music so I wouldn't consider it so much of a problem. If you would like to add vibrato to your singing however, continue practising opening up your throat by dropping your jaw and aligning your vocal instrument and vibrato with come with time. Patience is key! 6) No Projection: Volume is increased by resonance and carried by the breath as opposed to pushing the voice more; a common mistake. In order to increase your projection, you must create the necessary space in your resonance chamber for the voice to travel and resonate freely. This is done by dropping the jaw and allowing the larynx to tilt back and forth to pull the vocal cords to pitch. Diaphragmatic breathing and correct use of your diaphragm will allow to control the required pressure to propel your voice into the right space of your resonance chamber and sing louder with minimal effort. Imagine your voice resonating inside of your head and chest as opposed to sending it out through your mouth! Don't try to sing loud. Just let it happen naturally.

7) Singing Out of Pitch: Lack of technical control on your instrument will affect your pitch. First you have to eliminate tensions in order to be able to listen to your voice better and remain in tune. This is done by learning to support the voice properly with diaphragmatic breathing, relaxing the throat open to create space in your resonance chamber for your voice to travel and resonate freely and releasing stress in the tongue, soft palate, cheeks, etc... Try to internalize your voice by listening to it with intent. Listen to a note in your mind before your start singing. If a particular passage of a song gives your trouble, isolate it completely during practise time. Sing it over and over double-checking yourself with another instrument such as a piano or a pitch wheel. If you find yourself singing sharp most of the time, this indicates that you are using too much support and pushing your voice too much. It is also a hint of restriction and lack of relaxation in your neck restraining the space for the larynx to move up and down. If there is less space, you will require more effort to send the voice through and that is why you are going sharp. If you find yourself going flat most of the time, this is a clue that you are not supporting your voice enough. Add a little bit of pressure using correct breathing and a downward push with your diaphragm. 8) Dehydration: Coffee, some teas, alcohol and sodas can be dehydrating for the voice. I personally avoid all juices because they are very acidic for the voice. Why not eat a whole fruit instead? Some people complain about milk producing mucous on the vocal cords. Try milk alternatives such as rice or almond milk that are excellent for one's health and very tasty. Monitor how these beverages affect your voice after you drink them and decide accordingly. Try to avoid these drinks right before singing. Hydrate yourself by drinking 5-6 bottles of water daily. Don't smoke and stay away from drugs! 9) Fear Of Performance: Be kind to yourself by accepting that mistakes are opportunities to learn and normal. Perform with no other expectation than trying your best and that nobody is perfect. Don't pressure yourself. Go in with a “I don't care� attitude and you will increase your chances of success. Be content with your performance no matter what! Before performance day, sing for your family and friends. Help yourself relax by taking long deep breaths and visualizing yourself singing beautifully before getting on stage. 10) Low Confidence: Learn to LOVE your voice! You also have to let go completely of your ego and accept that it's ok to make mistakes and that you do not have to be perfect all the

time. A wonderful book on this matter is "Effortless Mastery" by Kenny Werner. He inspires me very much. Read my interview with him a few years ago: Proper guidance, solid technique and daily practice should fix your vocal issues. Determination and perseverance will take you a long way. Set realistic goals for yourself, create opportunities and go after what you want in life. Only YOU can do it. YOU can make it happen! Find your natural dynamic singing voice and maintain it. This is what I teach. If you cared enough to read these tips and strategies, I care enough to get you started. I would be happy to help you achieve your full singing potential. Please let me know if you'd like further advice in the form of a lesson. I teach on Skype to students abroad using face-to-face video calling technology and from my home studio in Toronto. To find out more about who I am and what I do, visit my website: Until then, I hope this was useful to you. Continue to educate yourself on the voice and sing your heart out! Good luck!

Valerie Bastien Vocal Coach and Teacher

Profile for Valerie Bastien

10 Common Singing Problems & Solutions  

Discover easy solutions to 10 common singing problems. Learn diaphragmatic breathing, how to support your voice, connect your registers, ma...

10 Common Singing Problems & Solutions  

Discover easy solutions to 10 common singing problems. Learn diaphragmatic breathing, how to support your voice, connect your registers, ma...