“Sing from diaphragm, not from your throat! Tuck in your butt when sustaining high pitch! Imagine the voice is going out from the back of your head! Change into falsetto! Control your wind pipe! Push!” etc.
Sound familiar? Ever wonder what do all these mean, or how to achieve them?
The mouth is on our face, and the vocal folds are in the throat. How does one sing ‘through diaphragm’, and why must one ‘tuck in the butt’? Using the same mouth and throat to speak, why is singing so different from speech?
Technically speaking, singing is correct speaking at various pitches. It does not mean that we should just sing as if we’re speaking, because there are people who do not speak correctly; but a good vocal technique will certainly help you to sing healthily, with a much wider range, and no “breaks” in the middle.
Yes, we do agree that breath support is a key to good singing. However, we believe it is a result of good vocal production, rather than the cause. Because if the vocal folds are not strong enough to withhold the amount of air gushing out from the lungs, they can be blown apart resulting airy and light head voice, thus creating an abrupt change in tone quality, limiting the vocal range of the singer. In some extreme cases, where singers try to belt all the way through their bridges, this action of disallowing the natural thinning process of vocal folds for pitching, very often, cause damage to the folds.
Nowadays, there are many vocal courses founded or created internationally. Be it Speech Level Singing (SLS) technique, the Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA) technique, or the Estill technique, I personally think a good vocal technique should always allow a singer to find his/her home ground, i.e. vocalising with a balance between the airflow and the intrinsic muscular resistance, all within a resting larynx. One can bend the rules at times, to suit the styles of their songs during performance, but they should always be trained to come back to their normal, balanced voice production when they are off-stage.
The IVA technique is based on 17th and 18th Century principles of singing developed by the Old Italian School of Singing. It was designed by a few very experienced and well known voice teachers in the US, Canada and Germany, to help to achieve a balance and connected voice from chest to head voice. It can improve one’s singing range, stamina, breath control, resonance, vocal strength and vocal quality across all styles of music with less fatigue and no damage to the voice.
Singers, actors and school teachers are trained with this method, to empower their vocal ability in their role, while protecting their voice for longevity.
Author: Alice Wong