How to project my voice when singing
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Your own built-in microphones - Vocal Resonators
So you've sorted your breathing technique and you're good to go right? Not quite.
You know that air flow is the all important thing for you to understand to get your voice to work at its best.
So the air leaves your lungs, goes past your vocal folds and leaves your mouth to make your 'voice' right?
Oh not so fast, not so fast...
What about the soft palate?
What about the mask
What about your resonators?
What about your internal microphones?
The 2nd Most Important Vocal Technique.
Understanding how to make your voice resonate and fill a room (even without a microphone), will wow your audiences and allow you to go deeper into interpretation, dynamics and articulation.
You may say to me, 'but I don't need to make my voice louder, as I have a mic', and I would say 2 things back to you:
1. Please know that a mic only AMPLIFIES your sound, it doesn't just make it louder.
For example, if you sing loudly, we will hear it;
If you sing softly, we will hear it.
If you go wrong, we will hear it.
If you use your resonators, we will hear it.
Being able to use your resonators will in turn enable you to use your mic to its full potential. Your mic will love your resonance, and so will we.
2. Making your voice more resonant does not only make it louder, it ENRICHES your tone.
Now I'm sure you want THAT! :)
Imagine a cave
By the time you've heard all that I have to say on resonators, you will be able to manipulate your voice to create resonance. I'm going to give you a very simple exercise to do in a moment.
Before that though, I want you to use your imagination for a bit.
I want you to imagine that you are walking in the rockies with a friend and you've gone slightly off piste and found yourselves by 3 doors, set in the stonewall.
You open the first one and see a candle and some matches on the floor. Right by the door. The cave is very dark and very quiet. Your friend decides to stay outside. So you light the candle and go in. The door closes behind you.
The cave is spotlessly clean & completely empty.
You walk to the very centre of the cave.
You turn to face the door, and being the fabulous singer that you are, you sing a note full blast. Your voice resonates around the cave. Above you and all around you. You enjoy that feeling and smiling, you exit the cave.
You friend has rolled their eyes at you. Really?
Next door, next cave, same deal....except this cave is slightly bigger.
You go in and sing another note. Same resonance feel, but this time your voice is louder.
Because the space is bigger.
And, I'm sure you've guessed it, the 3rd door leads to an even bigger cave and when you sing in there your voice is the loudest of all 3.
Too much space can weaken the intensity of tone, or fracture it, but the space I'm talking about here, the space you need to make your voice fully resonant, is within you. Within your own body and therefore will not be too big!
The deal breaker though is that you have to make the space yourself. It doesn't happen automatically in your body.
The Soft Palate
Here it is!!!! The key to getting your resonators to resonate!
Where is your soft palate you may ask?
Well, please don't try this at home, but if you were to put your fore finger up to the roof of your mouth, this would be the hard palate, and if you slide your finger back slowly, where the hard palate ends, you will find the soft palate.
It is made up of tissue and muscle, and it is this muscle that you must use.
Because, when you flex this fabulous muscle, you can raise your soft palate high up in your mouth and create? Yup...SPACE.
How to raise your soft palate
Go on, ask me how to raise your soft palate.....
OK, before I go on here, I want you to remember again your end goal, which is to enrich your sound by using your resonators.
And also that I will get you to do this using a very simple exercise, different from the one I'm about to mention.
So firstly, back to the soft palate...I'm going to give you 3 examples of when your soft palate is raised, followed by an exercise to make sure you can raise it with ease.
When you yawn - go ahead and yawn so you can feel what it feels like.
When you are surprised – Oh you just won the lottery - react as if you have!
When you are presented with something that smells awesome and you sniff it – place the tip of your tongue on the back of your town front top teeth, and sniff.
Here is the exercise to do:
say the word 'sing'.
Notice that the middle of your tongue meets your hard palate.
Say 'sing' again, noticing this action.
Now just say the 'ng' and notice the same tongue position again.
Now say 'ng-ee'.
Notice how your tongue disengages from the hard palate.
Say it again to feel this 'ng-ee'.
Now imagine you have an orange in your mouth and you have to talk and breath around it whilst saying 'ng-ee' on the 'ee' bit. You've now created space.
Now sing 'ng-ee' on one note. Lift your Soft Palate on the vowel.
Last point.....do not cheat by using your tongue too much, rather use the muscle of your soft palate. The tongue can move a bit but not too much.
You can stand in front of a mirror when doing this exercise to make sure you're not 'cheating'. The root of the tongue goes right down your throat, so if the front of your throat is visibly moving too much...you're cheating.
Think of the orange
As with most exercises, the more you do it, the less foreign it will seem and the better at it you will get. Plus, because it's a muscle you'll be engaging, the more you exercise it, the more flexibility and strength you will get from it.
Where are my resonators?
Well, most of them, and in fact the more powerful ones, are in your head. Sometimes referred to as 'the Mask' although I find this term misleading as it refers only to your frontal resonators.
I'm going to list them in order of power. i.e. The ones that give you the most bang for your buck.
1. The Pharynx This is your best friend and is at the back of your throat. How come something at the back is resonant? Well, due to its size and flexibility. The soft palate leads to it, plus it's the first port of call after the larynx, where your vocal folds are.
2. The Oral Cavity Your mouth, including most of your tongue (the front part.) your inner cheeks, teeth, lips and hard palate.
3. The Nasal Cavity
Your nose. It's actually the space inside your nose and goes above your hard palate and back along to join the throat. When singers don't use the previous 2 resonators, and just go straight to the nose, this is when you get the nasally sound. Often like a child uses. This is because it feels safe to us as singers and sounds the loudest in our heads, although this is not true for what we the listener hear.
4. The Larynx
Made up mainly of bone and cartilage. It is where your vocal folds live and contains a bone called the hyoid bone. It is famous because it is the only bone in your body that is free floating.
In terms of resonance though, the larynx is a bit of a let down due mainly to its small size.
5. The Chest
Although you may feel your chest vibrate when you're singing, it really is the weakest resonator. The reason for this, is fairly obvious.
It sits on the wrong side of your vocal folds, and there is nothing to reflect the sound off to propel it to your larynx.
Exercise for Using your Resonators when singing
GET READY TO BE IN AWE OF YOUR VOICE.
Now you understand where your resonators are and what they do, I want you to know how to make them work for you and your voice. How to manipulate your sound through your resonators and enjoy playing with your voice.
OK so it's not really magic. It's biology and science, with a bit of imagination thrown in.
I promised you the exercise, and here it is;
Find a room with resonance, like your bathroom to practice this exercise.
Place your forefinger along your hairline on your forehead.
Close your eyes and sing 'oo' (as in 'blue') on one mid-range note.
Imagine that your sound is literally coming out through the side of your forefinger in front of you and slightly upwards.
Open your eyes and now remove your hand and place it this time with your palm at the nape of your neck.
Close your eyes again and this time imagine the sound piercing the palm of your hand and out the back as you sing to the vowel 'ah' (as in father).
It should sound quite bad really...almost a gargle. Then you've got it right!
Open your eyes again and move both of your hands to cover the top of your head from side to side like a small bonnet.
Close your eyes and sing to 'ee' (as in 'free'). Imagine the sound coming out through either ear and then out through your hands on top of your head.
Now I'm going to play with your mind – and voice - a bit!!
I want you to swap the two vowels 'oo' & 'ah' around, so 'ah' will now be at the front & 'oo' at the back.
Still be focused.
Still using the same note.
Still close your eyes and now repeat steps 3 & 6 with the vowels swapped over.
The 'magic' is about to start...
You have just manipulated your own voice by 'placing' your vowels forward and back.
('Ah' is naturally a backward acting vowel, and 'oo' a forward one). You managed to change this 'natural' action by using deep thought and conscious manipulation.
Here is the FINAL and most magical part of the exercise.
You are going to move between all 3 vowels in their original order and move your voice through the different resonators on one note.
Pick your same mid range note and use the 'ah' vowel.
Have your eyes open, but in your mind's eye, you will move your voice from the back of your throat to the front.
(for an example of this you can watch this exercise scene free on my YouTube video. @muzikplanet)
That's it. You've cracked it.
Now when you are singing and you want more resonant, enriched tone, experiment on moving your sound.
Practice using your mic and PA if you have one so you can hear what we hear. You will be able to hear more clearly when you are 'spinning' your sound and enriching your voice.
Your voice will fill auditoriums and your mic will love you, live and in recording.