In the last blog we covered singing without strain and gave you some basics about your vocal anatomy and how healthy it is to sing with retracted False Vocal Chords (FVC’s). This will help you sing with ease and put less strain on your vocal cords and allow you to produce a beautiful, clear and clean tone.
So that’s all great – but its really tricky to retract your false vocal chords and the reason is because the nerves which connect your brain with the muscles that control the FVF’s have to travel a long way and even have to bend down and around an ‘S bend’ to reach the muscles that control FVF’s retraction. So the ‘message’ or ‘feeling’ of these muscles moving is a little hazy at first, but with practice you can get the sensation of retracted vocal folds and just by thinking about them, you’ll be able to control them and move to a healthier singing voice which produces better tone that you ever imagined possible.
I love sharing these three tips to retracting your FVFs with my choir because they make a huge difference in your singing quality instantaneously - even for the untrained voice. Try one or all of these three methods and pick the one that works best for you, then I’ll give you the final test you can use to check that your FVF’s are retracted.
1. Silent Smiley Breath
3. Smelling a Flower
It’s a really fine movement and may take some practice to perfect. This quick little test will let you know if you’re retracting those FVF’s successfully. Block your ears with your fingers or use ear plugs so you can hear your breathing. Close your eyes to reduce any distractions find a quiet spot and breath normally through your mouth to reduce noises from your nasal passages. Hear the air passing over your vocal folds (this is pretty quiet but you can still hear it). Try one of the three methods shown above and you should be able to reduce or eliminate the breath sound all together when your FVF’s are properly retracted.
Now with controlled breaths and your larynx in a neutral position, with your fingers in your ears use a count of three to breath in and three to breath out. Alternate between normal breathing and using one or all of the FVF retration methods I’ve described. With practice you’ll recognize the sensation of retracted FVF’s and be able to control them when your singing.
So to sum up – constricted positioning of the FVF’s is an unhealthy way to sing and I’ve given you three tried and successful methods to help you achieve retraction. You should maintain ‘retracted FVF’s’ when singing to avoid vocal problems associated with constricted and strained singing techniques. It’s recommended that you get help from a vocal coach to help you maximize the benefits of singing with retraction and make sure you are doing it correctly and safely.
Melbourne Contemporary Choir
Jason or (Jase) as he likes to be called is Founder & Creative Director of Melbourne Contemporary Choir (MCCHOIR) and is a passionate musician who wants to bring his love for music to a broader audience.
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