Use the Mechanism Wisely
Myth vs Fact
Myth: Understanding the anatomy and physiology of your vocal mechanism will interfere with your artistry while singing.
Fact: Oh come now. That myth has been dispelled for a generation.
The more you know about your voice and how it works, the safer you are.
The more you understand the individual characteristics of your OWN voice, the safer you are.
Here are some fundamental concepts about voice and voice use that we find ourselves saying in the Lions Voice Clinic over and over again. These aren't meant to be preachy; they're to help you understand the nature of the voice, so you can use your voice effectively and comfortably for your whole life.
Are you cast-iron, or porcelain?
- Our bodies have individual strengths and weaknesses, and voices are no exception.
- Some vocal mechanisms could be described as "cast iron", some are more like "porcelain." That is, some voice users can withstand strenuous voice use better than others.
- Cast iron is NOT BETTER than porcelain (In much of the scientific literature, the term "fragile larynx" is used; we prefer the term "porcelain" to remind you that a delicate vocal mechanism can be a good thing. Many very talented singers are prone to fatigue or vocal fold swelling. They can have superb, lifelong careers as long as they take care of themselves.).
- Hardness or delicacy of the larynx has nothing to do with talent.
- Don't compare your vocal endurance to anyone else. Their mechanism may be inherently different from yours. BUT, if you experience frequent vocal fatigue, decline in voice quality, or discomfort that is affecting your life as a professional voice user, there are probably things you can do better to keep yourself in prime condition. Come visit us at the Lions Voice Clinic, or find the voice team in your area.
Are you a lion, or a lamb?
- Louder voices aren't necessarily more talented. (We didn't really have to tell you that, did we?) BUT, if your voice isn't loud enough, it may be a technical problem. Find a good teacher or coach.
- Working harder is not necessarily helpful for producing a louder, or better, voice. EFFICIENCY is very important to producing the best voice possible.
You can't feel very much in the larynx itself unless something is wrong. There aren't sensory receptors to tell you your vocal folds are vibrating, or your muscles are contracting, so don't try to feel it. Singers sometimes feel gratified if they can feel the pressure “on their cords” but that can be too much pressure and effort. In efficient singing, you’ll feel the sympathetic vibrations in your face and head, and even in your chest, but not in your larynx or the surrounding neck muscles.
One more thing: the novelty of new sensations wears off quickly. A new technique that you felt keenly two weeks away may be barely noticeable now. Be careful about trying to get the same new sensation - it may now be too much of a good thing!
Vocal Mechanism Quick Review
The voice is produced at the larynx (voicebox), a framework of cartilage that houses the vocal folds. Each vocal fold is composed of a muscle, covered by a sheath of pliable, moist mucosal covering (mucosa). The larynx has other muscles that make the vocal folds move.