To improve voice control, aspiring singers should diligently practice improving their vocal technique. This involves mastering the middle range of the voice. All singers possess a “breaking point,” which is a range of notes that lie within the chest voice and head voice. To eliminate the croakiness and loss in quality of sound in hitting certain notes, aspiring singers should practice transitioning between vocal ranges. Consistent practice is the key to retaining a high quality sound between the high and low ranges.
In our prior review of vocal resonance, you’ve been introduced to the idea that sound is produced when air passes through the vocal cords and bounces across the cavities within the body. The surfaces in the throat and mouth that sounds bounce off of are called the “placement.” An advanced vocal technique to improve the quality of your sound involves the manipulation and rearrangement of the surfaces in your voice box to produce a higher quality sound.
Sound Placement Anatomy
Two surfaces that singers should possess keen awareness of manipulating are the soft palette and hard palette within the mouth.
The soft palette is the soft tissue located in the back of the throat. You can feel this tissue when you curl your tongue into the back of your mouth. The hard palette is a skeletal like structure located at the front of your mouth. It includes the roof of your mouth above the tongue.
Very often singers will seek to bounce sound waves off of the soft palette, producing a hollower, deeper sound. But aiming the voice towards the hard palette can help amplify sound and can reduce any muffling that occurs when sound waves are bounced off the tissue in the soft palette.
In order to practice the manipulation of space within your mouth, practice the following voice exercise for improved vocal technique.
Sound Placement Exercise
- Take a deep breath
- Pick a comfortable range and sing the alphabet from A – Z with your teeth clenched together.
- Repeat the exercise alphabet, only this time with your teeth slightly apart
- Sing the alphabet with the jaw pulled back
- Sing the alphabet with your jaw pulled back as far as possible
- Sing the alphabet with your chin raise as high as possible
- Sing the alphabet with your chin moved as forward as possible
You should notice that the sounds produced by your voice box are very different with each step of the exercise. For example, raising the chin should close off the back of the throat and this can limit your ability to hit higher notes. Singing with clenched teeth reduces projection of sound. Practice this set of exercises diligently and you will soon discover that best placement of your soft and hard palette for higher quality sound.