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How to Avoid Vocal Fold Trauma #3: Hard Shell, Soft Middle

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You know the candy I'm talking about crisp chocolate shell on the outside, ooey-gooey center (imagine your favorite filling). Mmmmm mmmm!

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Oh yeah! So, what does this have to do with good singing?

Well, once your breath is free (How to Avoid TVF Trauma #1) and your Trueand False Vocal Folds are better organized (How to Avoid TVF Trauma #2) now it's time to find your support where it actually counts!!

In Estill Voice Training, we make a distinction between the muscles of breathing and the muscles of support. The muscles of true support are known as the anchoring muscles: Torso Anchor, Neck Anchor and Head Anchor

Torso Anchor: Engage the Lats, Pecs, and Quadratus Lumborum Muscles by

1. Standing as if you were about to walk backward.

2. (standing with your hands at your side) pretending to lift two heavy suitcases one in each hand!

3. Imagining there are small balloons under your armpits then squeezing them.

Neck Anchor: Engage the Sternocleido-mastoids and muscles at the nape of the neck by

1. Bringing the back of your hand to your forehead. Without throwing off the alignment of your head and neck, pressing your hand against your head and your head against your hand, equally. (Notice the muscles engaging at the sides of the neck the SCMs and the back of the neck.)

2. Shivering your head quickly left and right with a very quick, but small movement as if your were actually cold and shivering to keep warm.

Head Anchor: Engage the muscles above and behind the Soft Palate by

1. Snorting! Feel that lifting up sensation behind your hard/soft palates. Maintain that feeling and breathe in and out normally without snorting.

2. Sneering and flaring your nostrils while breathing in and out normally.

With each of these exercises, be sure that your breath stays free, easy and soft, that your face and throat stay relaxed and that you can use varying degrees of effort (Low/Medium/High degrees of effort)!

The muscular regions targeted by these Anchoring exercises ARE the regions of muscular support that actually make the difference when singing AS LONG AS the breath remains boingy and pliant below!

Once you get the feeling of these and the previous exercises, try putting them all together while you speak and sing:

1. Release the belly, and reduce the air pressure

2. Retract the False Vocal Folds

3. Add Head, Neck and/or Torso Anchoring

Remember:

Hard Shell (Anchoring), Soft Middle (Easy Breath and TVFs)! = Healthy Singing and Speaking!!

***If it doesn't feel right or good while you are doing these exercises, you are doing something wrong! Check your breath. Retract the FVFs. Slow down, be gentle and stay aware! Try doing it a bit differently next time!! OR stop and rest.***

Enjoy!

Robert

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