How to Sing Better by Preventing Laryngeal Tension
Many singers – both amateurs and professionals – are unable to reach the maximum potential with their voice because they could not prevent laryngeal tension from developing. If you review your anatomy, remember that your larynx (or voice box) is small cartilaginous box in your throat that is both surrounded and supported by small muscles.
It is the larynx that is primarily responsible for tone production whenever you sing. These tones are produced in the following steps…
- If you are going to sing, your brain automatically sends signals to your vocal cords to prepare.
- In response, your vocal folds begin to close shut.
- Air rises from your lungs.
- This air pushes through the vocal folds, producing vibrations.
Looking at anatomical diagrams of the vocal apparatus in the throat, you will notice that the trachea extends upwards to your vocal cords that are contained inside your larynx. Above the larynx is the epiglottis. The air that rises from your lungs and causes your vocal folds to vibrate produces a pressure inside your larynx known as “subglottal pressure”.
To feel your larynx, place a finger lightly at the base of your throat. As you swallow, your larynx moves up. As you yawn, your larynx goes down. Your larynx is in an open position if it is situated low in your throat. In this condition, the air flow is unrestricted, enabling you to produce solid, full and rich tones.
How to Produce Fine Tones Effectively
The keys to producing full tones are the position of your larynx and the subglottal pressure. Singing better would entail maintaining the larynx in a central or lower position in the throat and regulating the air that flows through your vocal cords.
During laryngeal tension, your vocal folds tend to close shut, so that you increase subglottal pressure in your throat. If the pressure becomes high enough, the folds will burst open, producing a strange clicking noise – called a glottal attack – before you even produce a single tone.
It is this glottal attack that causes your throat to produce a tone even before you start to sing. The use of a strong word as “attack” is warranted because high subglottal pressures can prove detrimental for your voice. You need to regulate air flow through your vocal cords, so that it is free and smooth.
There are a few reminders that you need to consider if you want to produce fine tones effectively, and these are…
- Prolonged and repeated glottal attacks can cause significant damage to your vocal cords.
- Always maintain good posture when you sing. Poor posture will result in your vocal cords not being able to open and close properly, so that air flow is not smooth.
- Pushing your larynx to the upper position will result in nasal tones.
- Tension in the laryngeal muscles also causes improper functioning of the vocal cords, so that you produce poor tones.
- Breathy tones or voices develop as a result of too much air flow through the vocal cords.
From these reminders, you can probably see the vital role that your larynx plays in producing quality tones.
Maintaining Laryngeal Control
Many singers harbor the erroneous belief that it is impossible to control the larynx and the vocal cords contained within. However, there are factors that can affect the functioning of your vocal cords. For example, the position of your head has an effect on the vocal cords ability to open and close. The same also applies to your body posture.
In order for your larynx to remain in the lower position in your throat, your head should be straight and upright, so that your neck is aligned with your spine. Do not tense your jaw; instead, keep it relaxed. The same also applies to the neck muscles around your larynx. Relax your neck to prevent tightness from developing in your larynx.
Singing better does not just involve singing the proper notes. All singers should be aware of one’s throat and body anatomy, and learn ways by which all these parts work in unison with the larynx so that fine tones are produced.