The Three Fundamental Principles to Singing

The Three Fundamental Principles to SingingNo, you cannot learn to sing by solely reading an article, but you can learn the principle theories of a well balanced and efficient singing voice. You can utilize this knowledge in your own voice lessons in Seattle with a voice teacher. A singer needs to master the principles of breathing, embouchure, and resonance awareness in order to reach their full vocal potential.

Principle I – Breathing

There are multiple terms used in the singing community to talk about breathing. Some of the commonly used ones are, “Breath”, “Airflow”, “Support”, “Wind”, “Inhalation and Exhalation”. In my studio I usually use the term Airflow. Airflow is encompassing the air you breathe in (inhalation) and the air you breathe out (exhalation). There are tools and exercises to practice each of these separately but ultimately they should be tied together in a cyclical pattern. The singer needs to learn to take a deep, low (diaphragmatic) breath. The singer needs to next learn to open the rib-cage and relax the abdomen to allow the most air in. The singer then will learn how to release the air in an efficient manner as to utilize it to produce and sustain sound. Sounds easier than it is. This is not the same breathing we do at rest which is subconscious and happens naturally. This type of breathing takes conscious attention and muscle memory to maintain. It can take years for a singer to master their breathing.
Proper breathing is the foundation of a well supported, stable, consistent, and resonance voice. The vocal cords need that air in order to vibrate and they need enough so that other muscles do not have to compensate and bring the folds closer together. When this compensatory muscle action happens, there is an impact on pitch, tone, and sustainability. These muscles get tired quickly and are not efficient. In order to have a consistent airflow exiting the lungs to support the voice the singer needs to take a full inhalation.

Principle II – Embouchure

The word embouchure comes from the french root “bouche” which means mouth. Embouchure for singing has to do with the shapes of your mouth. This specifically refers to the lips. The shape you make at the opening of the mouth will affect the shapes happening on the inside. If you gather the lips together, a rounder space inside the mouth is possible. If the mouth is open widely, there is less space internally. The embouchure a singer needs to use will depend on a variety of factors. One factor is the note and the vowel used on it, this will dictate the shaping needed, however the specifics are unique to specific singers. This is where a Seattle voice teacher will be an invaluable tool. A voice teacher can help make those minute adjustments needed at certain pitches or with certain vowels. For example, a soprano may need to lift the soft palate and create a more vertical space internally to sing an [ah] at or just above their passaggio. The gathering of the lips more narrowly will allow for that internal lift. Not every singer will have the same passaggio and therefore will need different shaping at different pitches.
There is a science to every aspect of singing. Physics can explain a lot of phenomena that occur with singing and why certain adjustments can have such significant impacts on vocal quality. I like to use the simple analogy of a cave. A rounder and taller cave will have more echo. A shorter and flatter cave will have less echo. The inside of the mouth is like a flexible cave that the singer can change the shape of. Adjusting the cave opening, embouchure, and cave height (soft palate), will change the sound.

Principle III – Resonance Awareness

Resonance can be a difficult to understand concept. Sometimes it can be abstract and sometimes more scientific. First off, when I talk about resonance awareness I am talking about that ring in the sound you hear from a good singer. There are higher and lower tones in the sound, there is a richer tone, the sound is projected and pleasant to the ears. The awareness aspect has to do with where the sound lives in the singer’s face. Is the sound up in the mask area, in the middle of the mouth, towards the back of the throat? Is the sound clear or muffled? These are hard to decipher for the untrained ear, but a well trained voice teacher should be able to hear these minute differences and can help you make adjustments to maximize your resonance potential.
A singer can definitely hear and feel the difference but the how to is where a teacher comes in. Changing airflow, embouchure, nasality, and vowel modification will all change the sound quality. What is really tricky about vocal aesthetics is that they vary widely between genres and people. One teacher might prefer a darker tone, one a brighter tone. One genre might warrant a raspier breathy sound and another a more forward clear tone. It is important the singer can adjust to the genre and the coach but also find what sound they personally like as well.

An Experienced Voice Teacher Can Help

There is a lot more information and exercises to help you master the three fundamental principles to singing. Mastering the principles of breathing, embouchure, and resonance awareness takes time and an experienced voice teacher. Lessons In Your Home takes the time to hire professional and well qualified teachers. Every student is matched with a teacher that best fits their needs. They can either come to your home to teach or can also provide online music lessons. Our virtual music lessons are taught by local music teachers who plan their lessons to suit your child. Contact us today to find an instructor near you who will help your child master their skills.
By Leigh Toltz

The Three Fundamental Principles to Singing

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