No Tension = Big Sound

Many singers subconsciously associate tension with big emotion and a powerful voice. Unfortunately, just the opposite is true. To sing louder and harder you need less tension so you can get more resonance. How to do this is the trick.

Tension, especially in the back of your tongue, can make your voice offensively strained and piercing rather than full and powerful. There are definitely exercises that help you achieve a powerful multi-octave and healthy voice without compromising your stylistic qualities or uniqueness.

Exercise for Increasing Resonance

Here’s an exercise which may seem ridiculous but which has surprising results. It uses vibration as a sort of massage to stimulate and relax certain muscles and resonators. If done correctly you’ll be able to sing louder with greater ease at the same time.

  1. With the fingers of one hand lightly pinch closed the opening of your nose.
  2. Open your mouth slightly. Let the tip of your tongue rest against the back of your bottom teeth. The tongue has nothing to do with making this sound.
  3. Using the brattiest, most nasal tone you can muster, sustain an “E” vowel sound (as in the word “seem”) or an “I” vowel sound as in the “word “him.” Take your time establishing the buzz vibration in your nose. This is what we’re looking for. Make sure you aren’t pushing or forcing. The volume should be just enough to get the buzz in your nose and not more. When you have found and can easily sustain the buzzing in your nose, go onto the next step.
  4. Choose a song you know that’s relatively easy for you.
  5. While maintaining this nose vibration, buzz slowly through the melody of the song with no lyrics. Keep in mind that this is an exercise, NOT a way of singing. Move through the melody slowly so that you get as much buzz in your nose as you can on each note.
  6. Repeat any phrases as needed to ensure that you maintain the buzz through the entire phrase.
  7. Once complete, sing the song with lyrics. Don’t apply the above directions now; just sing the song normally.

You should notice a greater ease in singing the song. Any notes that seemed too high should now seem easier and more comfortable to sing. Your voice will naturally sound louder. If you do not experience this result, go through the exercise again and make sure you are following the directions closely.

Keep in mind that the nose buzz is being used to relieve throat muscle tension, so make sure that when you do the exercise you do not use any force that creates tension. If you want to fully expand your range, volume and power, you have to be able to sing without throat muscle tension.

I hope you found this helpful. In the 5th and final part of Expanding Vocal Range we’ll address the last primary cause of throat muscle tension – Compensating for under-developed vocal muscles.