If you feel tension and strain when you sing
high notes it’s very likely you are going into swallowing mode. Try humming while you
swallow. (hmmmm) Going into swallowing mode when you sing high notes causes real problems.
Inside this video, I’ll show you an x-ray video of what that looks like and what you
can do to avoid it so your high notes don’t get choked off. Hi, I’m Chuck Gilmore with
Power To Sing. If you strain while you try to sing high notes it’s likely you are going
into swallowing mode. The larynx is the box where your vocal cords are located. Your Adam’s
apple is part of the larynx and the vocal cords are attached just behind your Adam’s
apple. Start humming (hmmm) and then swallow while you hum. You can’t do it, right? Here’s
what swallowing looks like. Pretty freaky, huh? As the larynx rises, the epiglottis covers
your wind pipe. This allows the water or food you eat to slide down into your stomach and
stay out of your lungs. If water goes down the wrong tube, your vocal cords try to close
to prevent the water from going into your lungs. Usually this starts us coughing to
clear out any fluids. When you swallow, the air from your lungs is shut off, too. No air
equals no sound. Also, the muscles around the larynx start working to help, which is
good if you’re swallowing, but bad if you’re singing! The more the muscles squeeze the
larynx, the more squeeze and tense the vocal cords become. When we feel things tighten
up around our singing voices, especially as we are trying to sing high notes, we panic.
Then we stretch our necks upward and try and hit the note, which gives us more tension
around the vocal cords and now we’re even more worried and so then we sing it louder
and harder and this makes the problem worse. Now we have tension around the rising larynx
which is squeezing the vocal cords. The vocal cords are now more tense because we are sending
too much air, which tightens the vocal cords even more. Then we go flat, we yell, we splat,
we crack, we break, we flip into falsetto or worse. This is how we damage our voices,
sometimes severely. How do we keep the larynx resting comfortably, like when we’re talking
nice and easy? This is the ideal condition for singing, too. Here’s a few tips to help.
Number 1, be patient. Developing a great singing voice does not occur by pushing your voice
hard. 2- Reduce the volume when practicing and singing. Number 3, use good posture when
you sing. Chest up, shoulders back and head straight ahead. Resist the temptation to reach
your chin up to sing the high notes or to push it down with the low notes. 5-The Lip
Trill, Tongue Trill and Dopey Gee are especially helpful in reducing tension. Substitute these
in place of the words. You can feel the larynx relax and the tension ease. Let me show you.
Let’s say, for example, I’m jumping an octave and have to hit a higher note. That’s always
a little bit concerning and if I say “God on high” – if I start to reach, then things
start tightening up. Now, a way to counteract that is let’s do it now with the Lip Trill.
(demo) Can you hear there’s less tension in that? I could do the same thing with the Tongue
Trill. (demo) Or the Dopey Gee. (demo) And so by substituting those exercises where you’re
feeling the tension, then you can go back to it and try and find the same thing with
the words. God on high. Last is maintain the purity of the vowel. That means that you don’t
let the vowel spread or widen. For example, to widen the oo to uh. (demo) Or oh (demo)
or uh (demo) Do you see what happens when the vowel widens and spreads? The muscles
around the larynx start to kick in and everything tightens. You go in to swallowing mode. If
you strain when you sing high notes, it’s likely the larynx is rising higher and higher.
That means it’s also likely your vocal type is high larynx, part of the pulled chest-high
larynx category. Do you know you vocal type? I don’t mean whether you’re soprano, alto,
tenor or bass. Your vocal type is what you tend to do when you sing. There are special
exercises in the Knowledge Center that will help you retrain what you tend to do when
you sing. Now visit PowerToSing.com and take the vocal test, which I call the Power Test.
Immediately you will learn your vocal type. Then go to the Knowledge Center and learn
about your vocal type. Watch the video examples. Download the free exercises for your vocal
type and start improving your voice today. I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power To Sing. You
can sing higher with beauty, confidence and power. I’ll see you inside the next video.