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Hey singers, I think today's episode is going to be a real eye-opener, or at
least a real throat opener, because today we're exploring the classic vocal topic
singing with an open throat.

Hi singers! I'm Justin Stoney the founder of New York Vocal Coaching here in
New York City.
Welcome to episode 102 of Voice Lessons To The World.
Today's question comes from Rodrigo F. in Formosa, Argentina.
Rodrigo writes, "Dear Justin, my voice teacher says I must keep an
open throat when I sing, but what does that even mean?"
That's glorious question Rodrigo.
And I can see why you're confused.
Singing with an "open throat" is one of those vague vocal
buzzwords that often plague singers, sort of like bringing the sound "forward"
like we saw in episode 91.
"Now that's a forward!"
Or, "singing from the diaphragm", we looked at that in episode 83.

So I don't want you to be confused by yet another one.
The issue with concepts like these is that they mean different things
to so many people.
What do you mean I should sing with an open throat?
Should I lower my larynx?
What about my mouth? Would you like me to open it wider?
How about the tongue? Tall? Retracted? Flat? How can one be sure?
Seems to me that the pharyngeal constrictors deserve a thought.
And don't get me started on the soft palate, that's like opening Pandora's box
and finding it's not a box at all, but a giant can of worms
and each worm disagrees about vocal pedagogy.
And that's really the problem.
It's tough to pinpoint exactly what to do.
But that's our task today.
We're going to look at all the specific ways that you can sing
with an open throat.
Quick question first though, what's a throat?
[Frog and cricket sounds]
I know it sounds like an easy one, but did you ever really stop to think about it?
The throat is the space at the back of your mouth.
It includes your pharynx, larynx, soft palate, epiglottis, and vocal folds.
You know, all the stuff that makes singing work.
But does it really need to be open all the time?
To answer that, let's go to the lab!

I think the primary thing that vocal people mean when they ask singers to
open the throat is to lower the larynx.

Lowering the larynx literally opens the throat.
Like, it actually increases the size of the resonance tube.
So should we lower the larynx in order to sing with an open throat?
Well, yes and no.
Lower larynxes accommodate volume and projecting the voice, rather well.
This is why classical instructors might suggest lowering the larynx.
Contemporary singers though, sing with neutral larynxes and high larynxes
depending on the genre.
So we certainly don't want too deep of a larynx if we're singing a more modern style.
But, regardless of style, lowering the larynx is probably the most
important element in singing with an open throat.
The larynx loves to fancy itself a pitch changer.
It likes to raise up for high notes and drop down for low notes.
We need to develop a downward sensation with the larynx as pitches go up.
This skill flat out helps us to sing better in any musical style.
But what do we do with the jaw?

Opening the jaw doesn't necessarily open the throat.
However, a loose jaw
helps the larynx to remain free.
A vast variety of vocal varmints like the geniohyoids, mylohyoids, and digastrics-
Whoa. [Hits piano]
-think that they can spoil the vocal party.
Well guess what fellas, y'all ain't invited.
We need to find a jaw position that's not clenched and not open too big and wide.
Something like this.
Give it a try.
Looks great!
When we establish this neutral jaw position we maximize our
chances for open throat singing.
Next, let's check out the soft palate.

The soft palate is the soft spot at the back of the top of your mouth.
It raises whenever you say any of your vowels.
AH, EE, OO, try it!
Well done.
So you don't really have to stress about raising it.
The real consideration actually, is when do I drop it?
We drop it anytime we recruit a little bit of nasal resonance.
This helps open the throat by taking the pressure off of the vocal folds.
Nasal resonance adds an element of freedom and flexibility to our sound.
Now, we never want to over do it.
But, all styles of music can really benefit from a little splash of nasal resonance.
If you listen closely, you'll hear it used by contemporary singers
but also many classical singers as well.
He who has ears let him hear.
Next, let's examine the tongue.

The tongue is really the innocent bystander in all this because what
happens is singers like you, Rodrigo, have been told to open their throats.
And they've tried dropping their larynx as far down as it will go and lifting their
soft palate as high as it will raise but if it's still not working the poor
tongue is the only thing left so the tongue starts to pull back and retract
and interfere with everything.
But it's important, really important, that you don't let this happen.
For your vocal best, your tongue should stay as relaxed as possible.
Ideally like the NG sound that we explored in our last episode.
NG, the king.

Finally, let's visit the vocal folds themselves.

Last but certainly not least, the vocal folds.
Never forget that these two little 17 millimeter miracle workers
have a mind of their own.
That's right they can decide to be too tight, too loose, or just right.
If your singing is getting tight or raspy or vocal fry-ey, then make
sure you're not over compressing in there.
To sing with an open throat it's vital that those vocal folds
are as good at letting go as they are hanging on.
So make sure that your singing isn't all super solid.
Falsetto, head voice, head dominant mix, and breathy tones
need to be as easy for you to access as your strong sounds.
Alright, alright, alright, that's enough technique talk here in the lab.
I think it's time to look at a song.

Today I'm going to explore a song that I think models all five of our
singing with an open throat ideas.
The song kind of blends elements of pop, opera, musical theatre, and rock.
So it's a perfect way to put myself to the test with Anthem from Chess.
Okay J, remember don't raise the larynx for high notes,
release the jaw, add a smidge of nasal resonance, loosen the tongue,
and keep the vocal folds free and breezy.
Alright, got it. Let's do this thang.

♪ How could I leave her? ♪
♪ Where would I start? ♪
♪ Let man's petty nations tear themselves apart ♪
♪ My land's only borders lie around ♪
♪ My heart ♪

Well alrighty then, singing with an open throat feels pretty swell.
And now that I've challenged myself it's time for your challenge.
With this week's Voice Lessons To The World challenge.

Your challenge this week is to try out all five of these open throat concepts.
You can do it on an exercise as simple as AH.
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
Go through them one by one.
Lowering the larynx.
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH ♪ Whoops!
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
Releasing the jaw.
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH ♪ Uh, uh...
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
Experimenting with nasal resonance.
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
Loosening the tongue.
♪ AH - AH ♪ Oh! Bleh.
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
Decompressing the vocal folds.
♪ AH - AH ♪ Oh. Uh, uh.
♪ AH - AH - AH - AH - AH ♪
Try them one by one and see how you do.
Find the ones that your voice is most challenged by
and spend extra time on those.
All of us here at NYVC would love to know how
you're doing with your challenge.
You can send us updates on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all the usual suspects.
And you can send your questions for future episodes to
[email protected]
Here's some more things that I hope help you stay open to your vocal best.
For voice lessons or Skype lessons with the NYVC staff
visit us at NewYorkVocalCoaching.com.
If you'd like a vocal course that you can do at home check out the
Voice Lessons To The World Vocal Course.
This twelve part program takes you on a singing journey from beginner
to master level vocal exercises.
You can find it at VoiceLessonsToTheWorld.com.
Or, if you'd like free vocal tips sent to you each day
sign up at DailyVocalTips.com.
And now, here's Justin with this week's vocal benediction.
The world of vocal pedagogy has long been eager to open our throats
but I think it's much more important that we open our minds.
Your voice is unlimited and you are unlimited and you're deeply loved.
Let your love and your singing open you to living with more passion than ever.
And, make a joyful noise.

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Ep. 102 "Singing With An Open Throat" - Voice Lessons To The World

21 Folder Collection
z11305 published on March 24, 2020
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