Singing is Counterintuitive

Weekly Teaching Tip – June 27, 2011

One thing that Dr. Titze said once that really clicked for me was, “One of the difficult things in learning how to sing well is that many things associated with good singing are counterintuitive.” In other words, some things that singers need to do aren’t really logical and don’t seem to make sense.
For example, when singers sing a higher note they feel the resonation sliding up their body. It seems logical for the singer to try and “help” the sound move up the body. However, it is the very act of trying to “help” the sound by “pushing” it up or trying to “lift” it that actually makes it more difficult to reach the higher note. If the singer will “stay down” and continue to sing as if they are singing a low note, the sound will rise all by itself and make it mush easier to reach the note. It is like when you are flying a kite. The air lifts the kite, but you must hold onto the string in order to create the lift necessary for the kite to soar. If you let go of the string or try and push the kite up the kite will fall to the ground.
Another counterintuitive part of singing is that most all singers try and open or spread the vowel as they try and sing higher because the brain thinks that this will help. However, it is by “narrowing” the vowel that makes it easier for the body to function properly and get to all of the notes.
This is really why we need voice teachers. If it was logical everyone would sing well. But we must help our students accept that some ways in which our bodies work while singing don’t seem to make a lot of sense to our brain. We must experience these feelings, then continue to repeat them until they become habit and we stop fighting what our body is trying to do. We need to work with our body and not against it.
Keep Singing!


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