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Throat tensing

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jzhang172
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Ive been trying to fix this for a while.. Whenever I do my scales, I can feel my throat tightening as I try to reach my higher notes. My comfortable range is 2nd octave below C to middle C. I can hit about 4 notes higher then middle c before I start straining I try to hit that note because I don't want to go into falsetto. I also feel like in an attempt to reach my high note, I'm pushing (using more air) and thus sounding louder. I think this is wrong because it's wearing my vocal chords out.

I'm trying to eliminate my throat from the equation but the damned thing keeps tightening no matter what exercises I do. What should I do? Are there some exercises I should be working on?

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Sounds to me like you need help bridging between chest an head voice. This process takes time and hard work. And also proper exercises . If you don't have a teacher or coach , you can develop all sorta of bad habits along the way. I suggest a coach to help you . High chest tones and low head tones can be very taxing. The pillars program is designed to help the bridging process. If you don't already have a coach or a singing program , I suggest buying pillars.

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Ok, my vocal coach told me everytime I do breathing exercises, the "sss" exhale, I should be pushing my stomach out so that it doesn't get back in. She also said that I should be trying as hard as I can to keep the stomach out while doing exercises

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Also when I breathe in, the top part of my diagphram pokes out before my bottom, isn't the bottom part supposed to go out first, how can I make it go out first and what should I keep in mind while exhaling out the air?

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Hey man,

Your higher notes are supposed to use more breath, and thus you need to work on better support. When warming up, and you feel like you are tightening, sacrifice tone quality (yea it's gonna sound awkward) and relax. Push the air strictly with your diaphram whilst everything else is loose. Still allows the air to flow over the vocal chords and the notes come out. Even if they sounds like: aawwwwq[uhw[jn[q'iouhjnfjbdjksdbbdfb;ubbdkjsbnjskdb;kjsbkj;wwww....

What I suggest is researching ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE. It's Changes everything.

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Get rid of that holding your stomach out thing. It's wrong.

Yes, I dare say that, I dare to go there. I don't think I've ever held my stomach out. It is a hold-over from almost 100 years ago from someone's idea of how to sing wagnerian opera.

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What your vocal coach needs to teach you is vowel modification. If you aren't modifying correctly, it doesn't matter how good your breathing is, your body will fight you. And if you force it, it can be damaging. Navigating the passagio is a tricky thing.

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Yea, the diaphragm doesnt have too much too do with whether your stomach is in or out, its mostly other abdominal muscles, which don't have anything to do with singing.

ive always heard 'breath with your diaphragm', use more air pressure, hold your breath, all that stuff. and it just doesnt seem to help. its hard to understand exactly how to use the diaphragm and what it feels like. let me try my hand at explaining this...

Even when breathing correctly and powerfully with your diaphragm, you can still control your breathing wrong, and it will be impossible to sing correctly. As I understand it, there are two ways to control your breathing: 1. with your diaphragm, and 2. with your vocal chords. Take a deep breath right now. There are two things you might be feeling right now. The first (wrong) way, is that when you hold your breath, the diaphragm relaxes, and you can feel slight pressure pushing upwards in your throat area. You can further get the feeling for this by trying to breath out, but keeping your folds closed. Do this, and you can also figure out how to release bursts of air, which is the folds opening up and letting the air through. This is all wrong but its good to get the feeling I think so you can understand the way everything works.

The second (and correct) way: take a deep breath, but keep breathing in until you are running out of space. Once you have run out of space in your lungs, hold it there, without relaxing the diaphragm. It is a different feeling of holding your breath, but you should now be holding your breath with your diaphragm with your folds relaxed. Instead of that pressure against the folds, you have the ability to push the air in and out without pressure, as slow or as fast as you want, without the sudden burst of air escaping the vocal folds. This is all before any phonation in the folds and is completely silent. Besides the point where you are full of air, it is difficult to hold your breath with your diaphragm, any other level of air in the lungs, and you are either very softly breathing in or out. That’s ok because if your holding your breath, you arent singing. We want to sing. this feeling is basically what you should feel when you are singing. if you arent controlling your breathing in this way, the throat will try to control the air pressure. that is one huge place where tension can creep in.

i believe that breathing/ breath control is the foundation for pretty much every activity you can do in life. its the first thing to master but its only a piece of the puzzle. but if you can control your breathing like this, then you can check it off of the list of things that are causing tension and move to the next thing.

i really hope this helped. let me know, maybe i can help more

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Get rid of that holding your stomach out thing. It's wrong.

Yes, I dare say that, I dare to go there. I don't think I've ever held my stomach out. It is a hold-over from almost 100 years ago from someone's idea of how to sing wagnerian opera.

AGREED. you shouldn't be pushing your diaphragm to stay out.

The important thing to remember is everything should be natural, there should be no pulling, pushing etc. When you take a breath in your diaphragm should inflate like a balloon and when you breathe out your diaphragm should slowly deflate without holding it out or pushing it out to stay there

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hymm, i would have to say it depends.

if you are singing a very demanding song and are really going to be leaning in and connecting a lot of fold, you may need to inhale and sing while you keep the expansion in the lower core and actively resist the return of the diaphragm.

it may be a situation where you may need additional horsepower or you have to "turbocharge" a note(s)....you get that ability from below.

support is such a tricky thing to explain. there is physical exersion at times and at other times very little. it all depends on the singer, what the singer is going for, the inherent obstacles in the song, etc., etc.

i just want to state that if beginners think that nothing needs to happen down below before you can sing really well...some folks will say singing should be effortless? no sir ree bob!...my opinion.

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And therefore, it makes sense to practice the correct breathing until it feels "automatic," ala Ron Keel. Before he worked on scales, he spent a month or so, just walking around, concentrating on the breathing so that, in scale and phonation work, he did not have to divide his attention between pitch accuracy and breath management.

But that takes patience, which is often in short supply. And that is regardless of age.

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I can tell you that I had your exact problem and I've mostly fixed it now. I did it the hard way by watching and reading on the internet, practising a lot of scales, sirens and breathing exercises, and probably a bit of luck. If you don't want to bang your head against the wall, you should get an experienced teacher to guide you and listen and point out what is going wrong.

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