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Eliminate Throat Tension - Article
As a Vocal Coach, I hear it all the time. I love to sing but when I do, I get hoarse and need to shout to be heard after only a few hours. Some days I just want to give up. What am I doing wrong? What can I do about it?
Sadly, this is an all too common problem for many singers (and even people who talk a lot such as teachers and business professionals). The good news is that it is not your fault. Many people sing from a place of passion without having the control to protect their voice. We are encouraged to do so from other musicians, choir leaders, friends, our audience etc. Oh yes, and because we love to belt out our favourite tunes. It is no wonder we forget that the voice is "our" instrument and that it is to be treated with care and respect.
Bottom line is you are ether using your voice properly and do not get throat tension or you are not.
Some singers are born with a gift to sing but most need to understand how the voice works, the things that interfere with that such as medication/bad habits, and learn how not to sing in a way that restricts the voice.
What are you doing wrong you ask? While you are probably doing many things right, I suspect you have developed one or two bad habits throwing everything off track. Let me explain. The throat does only two things. One, it produces the tone that differentiates one sound from another. This is what makes you sound the way you do and me sound the way I do. Second, the vocal cords vibrate creating a pitch/note. Slow to fast vibrations happen when you sing or speak. If we do anything to interfere with that the chords abruptly shut causing the muscles around the vocal cords, larynx/voicebox, and throat to tighten up. If done for an extended period, the voice will get tired and sore. If done on an ongoing basis, it will cause damage decreasing your ability to sing and speak. Many people who sing well in their 20's lose their voice early in life because of this lack of information. Sounds simple doesn't it? That's because it is.
When someone tells me they do not like the sound of their voice or that it is good in some parts of their voice and not other parts, I am almost certain that they are causing tension around the vocal cord and throat.
A Technical Diagnostic / Assessment is the best way to find out what is really going on. Before you do any vocal work such as vocal scales or singing/speak for prolonged periods of time, you need to be sure you are not doing things that reinforce the problem. It is important to have a professional assess what you are doing, why you do what you do, and give you things to correct that. That is were I come in.
It is easy to reinforce bad habits or use the voice improperly putting stress on the voice, which makes the voice dis-engage. If you have a tight voice, need large amounts of air to sing, or feel physically tired / hoarse from singing, your voice is giving you clear warning signs. My background as a Vocal Coach as well as background in the medical/healthcare of the voice will help you zero in on the key areas that you need to focus on first, eliminating the most common culprit of doing things that cause and make the problem worse.
Singers have an enormous amount of fear when it comes to singing. They worry about what people think so they inevitably put far too much emphasis on the throat. This must stop. Taking the emphasis off the throat will eliminate the tension that cuts off the sound we produce. Use proper breathing techniques to support your singing, taking in only as much air needed to sing a phrase. Remember, the voice has the ability to get stronger and better over time, not deteriorate.
To wrap things up. . ..what I am saying is please stop putting emphasis on the throat when the throat has very little to do with your singing ability. One last thing. . ..relax, relax, relax. Singing was meant to be enjoyed by you and your audience, so don't take things too seriously. In time, with a little practice, it will all fall into place. Trust that you are on the right path and that you will reach your goals. It's really that simple!
Voice and Performance Coach - The Forefront of Voice Training, Author, Singer, Speaker
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