Working with an “airy” voice

Weekly Teaching Tip – August 19, 2013
by Sonia Lachowolska

The airy voice and the airty voice… it is not always the same…
Listening to the voice at the beginning of the class we try to localize where and when the singer is too airy or to muscle, as we have to look for the balance.

The teachers sometimes when they hear airy voice thing OK, the cords are not enough closed so I must close them as quickly as possible, so i.e. “ney” will be fantastic.  “Ney” will work in a case of no-chest singer or the beginner who has no technique and is afraid of the high notes.

Before we decided which exercises we are going to apply we have to ask ourselves a question: WHY do we hear air in the voice.  That WHY in the vocal pedagogy is of fundamental importance. John Henny used to repeat it a lot working with us in Cracow.  So we have just heard too much air in the voice and instead of applying without any reflection “ney”,  let’s think WHY do we hear air in the voice. . The very common case is that the singer is airy doing scales but when singing a song he/she will push too much. Pulling chest when used systematically weakens the muscles of the larynx, and they are too weak to close the folds so the singer pulls stronger, and the muscles are weaker… vicious cycle…

If we don’t know well a singer or we work with her/him for the first time we may ask her/him to sing a song. We will know a lot about her/his vocal habits. For me it is more important than the diagnostic scale “aaah”, which is the one of the diagnostic elements for me only. If I discover that I am going to work with a “puller”, who is pushing too much during a song and  has too much air on “aaah” I know that the stabilization of the larynx will be crucial and instead of rather aggressive exercises that provoke the immediate vocal cord closure (ney,) I will use exercises that will close the cords but in a less aggressive way and will relax the external the previously abused muscles of cheeks and neck. “boo”, “boh” and “bah” is a good choice here.

The other proposal – fantastic, I tried it! and recommend a lot – is Dr. Noe’s exercise on octave: oh – uh – oh. The lower “oh” is a bit louder than the higher “uh”. This exercise – among others – “teaches” our CT muscles to work without the external muscles of neck and cheeks!

And one thing more; working with the tired voice (the singers who used to push too much, sooner or later have very tired voices) do not exaggerate with the volume. At the beginning of the vocalization do not go above the mezzo piano.

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