20 Facts About Vocal Training
There’s a lot more to singing than opening your mouth and bursting into song. But there’s an equal number of myths that circulate about training and technique.
Here are some facts that dispel those myths and offer insight into how you can improve your vocal training habits.
1. Vocal Cords Aren’t Cords At All
They’re folds. You also have two sets, a ‘true’ and ‘false’ set.
False vocal folds or cords have no impact on your singing. However, true vocal folds do. As you exhale diaphragmatically, you cause the vocal Cords to vibrate. These vibrations create sound.
2. You Don’t Use Your Diaphragm for Vocal Support
It’s true that for good vocal technique, teachers encourage breathing from the diaphragm. It gives you a fuller, more oxygenated airflow. This sustains your singing longer.
The support you need to keep spinning those phrases out doesn’t come from the diaphragm. We say it in vocal training classes because it helps aspiring singers visualize technique, but you actually rely on your lower abdomen and abdominal wall to support your breathing.
3. Vocal Cords Are Muscle
In addition to not being true Cords, vocal Cords are muscles. That’s why, with the proper vocal training, almost anyone can sing.
4. Only A Handful of People Are Tone Deaf
We throw tone-deafness around to describe poor vocal training.
But tone-deafness is determined by the thinness or otherwise of white matter in your right frontal and temporal lobes. The thinner the white matter in your lobes, the more tone-deaf you are.
5. Whispering is Hard on Your Voice
We tend to think of whispering as therapeutic, especially when we’re hoarse.
And whispering at its simplest is talking but without your vocal cords. However, anyone with vocal training will tell you whispering is harder on your voice than speaking.
Prolonged whispering can exacerbate the hoarseness your cold or sore throat causes.
6. Style of Vocal Training Affects Your Sound
Just as a clarinet’s C sounds different from a piano’s C, no two singers sound the same either.
That’s because the voice is an instrument, and how you train, it affects your sound. For instance, a classically trained opera singer uses ‘resonant tuning’ to hit her High Cs. That makes them ring out in an opera house, but it’s a significantly different High C a colleague on Broadway belts.
Why? Because singers who belt bring their chest or lower register up into their head voice to round out the sound. It’s the same note but with a different vocal color.
7. Hormones Affect Your Singing, Too
If technique and style of vocal training affect your sound, so do hormones.
This is why boys’ voices deepen as they age, even if they start as boy sopranos.
Women on birth control or experiencing a period may also notice changes in their voices for the same reasons. As hormone levels fluctuate, your control over your vocal technique varies because hormones like estrogen the vocal folds.
8. Size Matters
It’s not just about hormones. The other determining factor when it comes to your vocal range is vocal cord size.
As your vocal cords shorten or lengthen with maturity, singers gain and lose high notes. Part of the reason boys’ voices break so dramatically is that they’re adjusting to the shifting size and position of their larynx.
9. Singing Stops Your Voice Aging
A good vocal training course does more than get your voice in shape. It also stops your voice from aging and losing its stability.
10. Singing is Inches Away from the Primal Scream
It’s fair to say vocal training courses teach you how to control that scream and convert it to sound. When you sing, the sound leaves your mouth at approximately 75 miles an hour.
11. Singers Don’t Hear Themselves the Way They Sound
And if they could, it would shatter their eardrums. Instead, sound filters through the mask of the face. This protects your ears and affects your perception of your voice.
12. You Shouldn’t Eat Before Singing
This is one of those myths perpetuated by vocal training courses everywhere. But it’s not necessarily true that certain foods coat your vocal cords.
The real reason you don’t want to eat before singing is the same reason you’d avoid eating before any strenuous activity. It causes cramps and isn’t comfortable.
13. Nodules: The Argument for Vocal Training
If singing is inches away from the primal scream, nodes develop when we give in and scream.
They’re hard, blister-like growths that develop on vocal cords subject to poor vocal technique, over-singing, and stress.
14. Nodule Surgery – Not Always Bad
15. Singing Makes You Happier
Singing as little as ten minutes a day can boost your mood. That’s because singing releases endorphins. So, whether you’re singing in the shower or at your piano, you come away feeling relaxed and happier than when you started.
16. Singing Together Brings People Together
Research shows that singers in choirs synchronize their heartbeats. This makes sense because sustained and uniform sound requires singers to inhale and exhale at the same time.
As a choir’s breathing syncs up, their heartbeats do, too.
17. Singing Reduces Snoring
One of the first things vocal training courses teach is breathing. That’s because breath is integral to projecting sound.
The unexpected result of this is that some singing exercises improve throat muscles and reduce the likelihood of:
- Sleep apnoea
18. Listening to Music Needs All of Your Brain
In addition to breathing, learning to listen is a key part of vocal training.
But listening to music is about more than using your ears. It also lights up other parts of the brain, including the limbic system, which is responsible for your emotions.
19. Tight Vocal Cords Give the Best Performances
Most muscles need to be loose to function effectively. But years of vocal training have led teachers to the conclusion that the vocal cords work differently. They’re at their musical best when they’re tight.
Conversely, the muscles around them should be relaxed, including muscles in the:
20. Reading too Much Can Hurt Your Voice
Specifically, reading too much about vocal training and technique may be detrimental to your vocal health. So says Cornell MacNeil in the opening of Great Singers on Great Singing.
He’s not wrong. Voices come in all shapes and sizes. Trying to replicate what worked, even for famous professional singers, may not work for your voice.
Instead, try a vocal training course and learn what feels right.