Building a Voice

One of the first things I explain to a student is the fact that anyone who is willing to work can develop a fine voice with range, beautiful quality and subtle capabilities The only case where this might not be true would be a situation where there are physical abnormalities such as a clef pallet or throat cancer or nodes or other damage to the vocal chords.

At what ever level and in what ever style a person wishes to sing, they are using their body in a physical manner to create sound. This is why individuals who have already been active in certain athletics such as running, basket ball or swimming very often find vocal development easier than a person who has been less active. However, anyone who is willing to put in the time and energy can develop a fine singing voice. Just as athletes exercise to improve and develop their skills, a singer performs various exercise which over time improve their physical stamina, vocal range, vocal quality and vocal power.  

Just as an athlete learns the subtle moves and skills unique to their sport, the singer must learn to understand and use two basic elements of the voice: the head voice and the chest voice. Simply put,  the singer must then learn to combine these two elements until they work seamlessly together. Most woman merely need to strengthen their voice by slowly adding the chest action, while in the male voice, the falsetto must be strengthened until it unites with the chest voice. **

In other word, singing is an athletic process  requiring daily exercising. These exercises, called vocalizes, as well as various breathing exercise strengthen and open the body and resonating chambers in the head. One might think of a singer as a kind of trumpet and trumpet player all in one. A trumpeter applies great pressure to the trumpet mouth piece while the lips learn to resist this air pressure in order to create the needed vibration which then resonates in the metal trumpet. The singer uses his or her whole body to produce the energy with the  mouth piece being the vocal chords. The singer engages the body in order to focus and direct the breath to produce the tone (phonate), which then resonates in the singers "trumpet", the skull.

And, just as athletes  "work out", singers "work out" and just as athletes need a coach to focus and design their work outs and practices, a singer needs a teacher to help them develop their instruments in a healthy and safe manner. I stress healthy and safe because without correct guidance, a singer can ruin his or her voice .

Unfortunately, many singers over develop the chest voice because it is more powerful. This "belting" limits their range and leads to damage that can take years to repair. In these cases the head voice must be worked extensively to bring the voice back into balance. I have taught many performers how to belt in a healthy manner but it requires a thorough  knowledge about how to use and exercise the head and chest voice. My advice is:  don't belt unless you absolutely have to. 

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