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Avoiding Vocal Fatigue - a quick answer

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Draven Grey
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I'm trying out some quick answer videos on Youtube, addressing questions I've gotten from students, in comments, and more. Here's my first. It's not meant to be a comprehensive answer, rather a quick tip that demonstrates the one thing I've seen help the most for singers dealing regularly with vocal fatigue, "vowel anchoring" and "relaxed speech." I plan to do a follow up about sobbing for higher notes.

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

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Thanks Draven, For some reason "Singing" coordinations are easier to understand when regular speech is used as an example. People tend to "Go into singing mode" when thinking about singing or practicing and they just slip into their default uncoordinated singing posture. Which can be anything depending on the environment they grew up in.

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3 hours ago, Lord Zefron said:

Any questions........

Well first off regarding Fatigue and straining your self; as ever proper breath support pushing from the lower stomach then the throat

Yes you say that singing valves are better placed in the soft palate, But would this not give too much of a nasal sound?

Infact I see no reason what so ever why placing the resonance in the soft palate and not the throat will save the voice

Yes, proper breath support, sob vocal mode, and a ton of other things help with vocal fatigue. Lifting resonance to the soft palate is the #1 thing I keep coming back to with the 200+ students I've taught over the years. To note, even with the vowel anchor, the larynx can still be dampened and/or soft palate lifted, to expand the resonance chamber, incorporate sob vocal mode for releasing tension in higher pitches. And as the pitch rises, and pressure moves deeper into the soft palate because of it, that vowel anchor will keep your sound color consistent, regardless of the curbing overtones that join with it.

Even Classical techniques, which sing with a more open-throat or throat-centric position, lifts resonance up to the soft palate and out from there. Anchoring your vowels in the middle or front of your soft palate doesn't make it more nasal sounding, rather it is where those singing vowels will resonate the most, and brings a much more relaxed feeling to the rest of the phonation package. Edging further forward, into the hard palate, can start to cause too much edging acoustics and possibly nasality. But keeping the vowels anchored in the middle to front of the soft palate helps with what Bel Canto calls "brilliance," activates vocal twang mode, causes better glottal closure and balance, allows for more control and stability, and helps with sound color consistency across the vocal range. Forming your vowels in the throat causes a lot of unnecessary tension when singing at pitch, especially as you go higher. It limits the voice, pulls on muscle groups not needed for singing, generally keeps you from resonating with brilliance, ping, and ringing of the voice that is associated with great singing.

I describe and give an example of that vowel placement in the video (which, to note, wasn't nasal when I sang with the vowel anchor). Other ways to help lift the voice away from the throat and into better resonance and brilliance is to sing up and over a finger, also called "over the pencil" in more traditional settings. Another is horizontal embouchure, which helps narrow the vowel passage and lift the voice for a much better sound and less tension. Yet another is tracking, humming and buzzing the lips, which activates vocal twang, pulls resonance up and forward, and helps keep the voice healthy and resonant.

I'm sorry if you didn't understand the video. It was, admittedly, a quick answer, rather than comprehensive. I do suggest you try and work with what I suggested, including the "up and over" I just mentioned. 

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19 minutes ago, Lord Zefron said:

This is not how I have been taught! In you video it says you leverage your tongue against the soft pallet to place the resonance there. An example I was taught on how to fonate between nasalness and non nasalness is to go from an ung sound to an ar sound and notice that on ung the tongue totches the soft pallet and on ar it dose not. now do this exercise pinching your nose and you will see you can not do ung as all the air exits from your noise, so what I am saying is that in this exercise while your tongue is anchored against your soft pallet it produces a nasal sound

I didn't say to anchor your tongue against the soft palate. I said to anchor your vowel resonance into the middle to front of your soft palate, using the tongue to help place them there.

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I have a vocal fold gap, and have to constantly work to erase it. The best way I have found to avoid fatigue is actually talking in a med to loud volume and with clear and well placed vowels. If my vowels are lazy, I immediately hear the buzz of turbulent air making my voice brighter unintentionally, and this translates in adjacent larynx and neck muscles trying to compensate the lack of compression.
This could turn very fast into heavyness and a burning sensation on the left side of my neck. When this gets bad it turns into an electric feeling.

The placement of the tongue is very important, as Draven already pointed, its the back of the tongue which should be raised to direct the sound up into a place where a natural mixed voice starts ocurring. If you do an IH or EE your tongue naturally rises on the back. if you keep the velar port under control and dont go crazy on the NG sounds you should be fine. I tend to sing with a sensation more towards Ds and Bs, to avoid nasailty.
 

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59 minutes ago, Lord Zefron said:

I have just tested doing the ee to ih thing while pinching my nose and you are right! there is a slight buzz on my nose. So raising the tong onto the soft pallet really dose create a nasal effect

You won't experience the buzz in your nose at all if you hold /ee/, /ih/, or any other vowel in the placement I mention in the video. Holding your nose would make absolutely no difference in the sound of your voice with that placement either. Placing further forward or further back along the soft palate will add more edging or curbing acoustics, but not nasality. Placing in the pharynx can definitely cause nasality though, as can Tracking on "n" or especially "ng." But buzzing on nasal consonants is not what I was talking about in this video.

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