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Singing in the "Mask"

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miss pk
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So I know this is a good thing to do and that it involves feeling vibrations in your face, but i can't seem to do this all the time. When i'm able to do it, i'm not sure HOW i did it and then the next day i can't do it again. Any tips on how to get into the "mask" reliably?

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Buzz... make sure you lightly establish your resonant track and then insure you support it with enough respiration... blow into your resonators... track & release. Patty, we do this at every lesson for the first 10 minutes... Glad to see you here at TMV!

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hi robert! so i can do it with my mouth closed (the buzzing), and then with the "mmmayy" exercise, but after doing this as a warm up - i feel like i lose it once i start singing? that's what i meant in my original question. :)

look forward to my next lesson!

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So I know this is a good thing to do and that it involves feeling vibrations in your face, but i can't seem to do this all the time. When i'm able to do it, i'm not sure HOW i did it and then the next day i can't do it again. Any tips on how to get into the "mask" reliably?

I used to have this same issue. It took some time for me to figure this one out. What I did was to experiment with various ways of sending highs throughout my head--ranging from the top of the head to the front of my teeth. Each time, I tried to sense how the vibration felt.

While doing this, I had to learn to control the emitter (vocal cords to the back of the throat) and opener of the high sounds (the back of throat muscles controlling how much sound and placement of sound ranging from the nasal pharynx to mouth), so that these would open more and have better placement control. This is more challenging with greater volume, because then muscles tend to try to tense more. Hence, you can hum and buzz in low volume reliably, but this is much more difficult with volume. After getting a feel for all this, I could control vibrations to my mask reliably.

However, this is only part of the mechanism. Though, it is entirely possible to control these processes, and practice to gain better skill with these, I don't think this is the most expedient, natural, or best sounding ways. I believe the mechanism to your mask is natural and should simply be restored, which will be described in ZenSinging.org, whenever it launahces.

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So I know this is a good thing to do and that it involves feeling vibrations in your face, but i can't seem to do this all the time. When i'm able to do it, i'm not sure HOW i did it and then the next day i can't do it again. Any tips on how to get into the "mask" reliably?

miss pk: sensations in the bones of the front of the face occur as a result of the sound energy of your voice, and can occur as a result of 2 things: 1) a lowering of the soft palate, so that sound is conducted via the air passageway into the nasal cavities, and 2) the presence of high-frequency harmonics in the vocal tone.

I'll talk about #2. When phonation is balanced with the breath energy, the resulting phonated tone contains a wide range of high frequency harmonics. When the vocal tract is tuned (via vowel selection) so that any of these harmonics are resonated strongly, the small bones and spaces in the front of the head are set into sympathetic vibration, and can be felt, and become especially prominent as pitch ascends.

Here is the key point: to get the tone 'in the mask', look to the basics of the way you are producing the tone, and what you are looking for will happen automatically.

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For me, the 'mask' is a secondary occurance that lets me know my voice is properly placed up out of the throat. When the sound is allowed to leave freely without feeling as if it is 'stuck' down in the throat, things such as buzzing cheeks, nose, eyes, teeth, etc. will occur. But at the same time, I personally feel a slight physical sensation up against my soft palate; sort of a pleasant nudge. If I focus on the feeling of that pleasant nudge, all other buzzing sensations, such as the 'mask' happen simultaneously. So ty focusing your voice into your palate;)

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Thanks for the approaches! One other thing - is there a difference between men and women in terms of what proper placement may feel like? I had read some where that for men, placement feels like it's lower (around the mouth area) where women feel it higher (behind the nose area)? Is there any truth behind this?

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Thanks for the approaches! One other thing - is there a difference between men and women in terms of what proper placement may feel like? I had read some where that for men, placement feels like it's lower (around the mouth area) where women feel it higher (behind the nose area)? Is there any truth behind this?

Yes, the sensations of placement are individual, and vary from person to person. Not all singers, even of a given voice type or sex, feel them the same way, or feel them at all.

Its one of the challenges of using placement imagery in voice lessons. IMO, its rather better to go for the proper function and tone quality, as evidenced by the teacher's hearing, and then let the singer discover what that feels like to them.

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I do specific exercises for strengthening the pharyngeal voice and thereby getting the tone into the mask. I do nasty nays and nahs and sometimes nees. Just bratty as hell like a kid says "nah nah nah nah nah nah!" taunting soemone else. Or like a witch's cackle as the Italians so aptly called it centuries ago. I think of the wicked witch of the west. Or I think of Axl Rose, like extreme to really get it "in there" and then I let it relax out but what I do is I keep my finger on my nose to make sure I continue to fele the vibration in my nose or I lost it. I practice specific phrases of songs that really get me in there. For me its the "Ahh" thing Robert Plant does at the beginning of "The Immimgrant Song". That gets me right the hell in the mask. In Complete Vocal Technique it suggests that it is like a cat snarling like that "rannow" thing they do. And that works for me especially for the extreme highs cuz its an aggressive sound and image. When I practice I even swipe my hand like a cat attacking. LOL! I am telling everybody way too much about my little singing rituals. :)

Robert is the man, though, as far as getting the voice into the mask as far as I'm concerned. So definitely heed his advice. Well, that's about all I got.

Yours In Music,

Denis J. Lanza

Lyric Tenor

My guitarist once said "You sound like Steve Perry with an attitude problem." Damn, I loved that comparison!

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i have been taught to try to not ´´place `` the voice anywhere-that is to say that if the sound or vowel has been set up or started poperly in the first place then proper placement will naturally occur but that you should try to make sure the sound is coming out the mouth and not being ´´swallowed`` in the back of the throat or going into/out of the nose-though that is not placement but more to do with projection. once again it about it being the effect of good singing and not the cause though of course i understand the idea of practicing or feeling out how/where it feels like . i think maybe some teachers through out time have misinterpreted the thing of the mask and end up getting students to focus too hard on it and then the sound ends up coming out the nose which has a tendency to hike up the larynx...

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Thanks for the approaches! One other thing - is there a difference between men and women in terms of what proper placement may feel like? I had read some where that for men, placement feels like it's lower (around the mouth area) where women feel it higher (behind the nose area)? Is there any truth behind this?

This would also have to do with what your singing. In Bel Canto male or female you want the voice in the head and foward. Broadway style tend to be more dental. Rock and pop styles vary. In Opera we have what is called closed mouth (like a vantriliquest) You should be able to produce all tones, resonance and register changes with the lips closed( although the top teeth do not close to touch the bottom teeth. In practice it should be fully supported from the diaphragm. The lip muscles and other muscles are used in stylizing, shape, pronuciation, effect and charecteristic enhancements. Mose people today when hearing opera such as The three tenors should realized in Opera performance is quite different from concertizing or the studio recordings which are recorded/performed more as songs- In opera performance is usually more dramatic calling upon more muscle usage for character expression. ie anger, sadness, sobbing stronger impact must be made when performing these piece in a full context with other characters as opposed to just singing an aria pretty in concertizing.

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if humming or "nnnnn-ing" on a medium-high pitch slide, or just saying an enthusiastic "mm-hmm!" don't get you there reliably, try sliding/gliding on zzzzzzzz, errrrrrrrrrrr (mouth position like "fur" with lips pushed forward), or eeeeyyyyyyyyyyy. These are just facilitators; focus on sensation NOT trying to match a certain sound. then from whatever resonant consonant (one of the above) works best, slide from there into vowels, words, vocalise.

Also try hanging upside down (bend at hips, heead to floor,), wiggle head around & get more sensation that way.

Finally, look at some of the new software programs that show you the sound spectrum you're producing. "Forward placement" corresponds to certain frequency bands, & for visual learners, seeing your production in pretty colors on a moving spectrogram can be very helpful. NO sorry I'm not up on which programs are best.

And these techniques are just the ones I'm in the habit of using; there are as many others as there are teachers I suspect...

cheers,

Joanna

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As Steven says, everyone is different. However, I still have my male and female students focusing to the same spot, although each individual will related to me how they connect to that spot as an individual. My trained pro rocker friends will all agree that if they didn't focus or 'place' their voice to a generally specific spot in the roof of their mouths, that they wouldn't last one tour;)

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 7 months later...

Everyone has their own way of doing things as long as they get to the right point. For me, I tell myself not to think from the mouth but think from inside the face, behind the palate and up into the skull. This helps me to keep the resonance inside the face and so that I don't lose it.

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Hey!

I wonder, as i've thought until this point it's mostly the first option you gave, but what about the second.. Do I still have my soft palate lowered or can it be locked up and still have these boney resonances in my face!!?

The first option causes me to go abit breathy, coz I've found out that I used to sing locked up soft palate, and wanted some brightness to my tone.. So the way I managed to lower my palate, was to think I'll "breathe out thru my nose".. It works, but it's hard to do coz it actually makes me kinda breathe out more and it'll make breathiness. So if it's not necessary i'll stop doing it. Or try to figure out another way to do it..

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Hey!

I wonder, as i've thought until this point it's mostly the first option you gave, but what about the second.. Do I still have my soft palate lowered or can it be locked up and still have these boney resonances in my face!!?

The first option causes me to go abit breathy, coz I've found out that I used to sing locked up soft palate, and wanted some brightness to my tone.. So the way I managed to lower my palate, was to think I'll "breathe out thru my nose".. It works, but it's hard to do coz it actually makes me kinda breathe out more and it'll make breathiness. So if it's not necessary i'll stop doing it. Or try to figure out another way to do it..

Hello, masqutti!

Great question. Though I listed #1 as one of the ways that sound energy can be felt in the frontal bones of the face, the resulting tone quality (somewhat nasal) is (for me, anyway) not optimal for singing. I listed it for completeness.

On #2... the most resonant vocal tract configurations occur when the soft palate is high, to the point that it closes the velopharyngeal port (the opening to the nose at the top of the back of the throat). This creates a tube of varying dimensions beginning right above the vocal bands and ending at the lips.

When the resonances in the vocal tract are strong, and combined with efficient phonation, the high frequencies of the vocal tone will carry lots of energy.. and this is sensed (by very many, but not all singers) in various places in the head.

I apologize that my earlier post did not make a recommendation to use method #2. I will make that recommendation to you now. Unless you really _want_ the somewhat nasal sound, I think raising the palate gets you more powerful resonance, and results in easier singing.

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Great! :) So what i do "naturally" now is better, thanks :)

As my chestvoice is strong I can feel these kind of resonations in my face. I think it partly comes from that I do sing in chestvoice with lowered palate, my tone is so dark that it actually doesnt sound nasal at all, at least in my chest. If I lower my palate in headvoice, i Don't know if it's nasal... But kinda brighter at least..

at higher range i'm still trying to figure out the balance of air flow&proper squeeze etc. So it's not so great yet. I may feel sometimes nice higher frequenzy boost when singing goes well, but not necessarily resonation in my face. I feel i tend to oversqueeze abit, and i'm not truly "free" in the higher range.. But the day will come =).. I'm up to a vocal teacher next month so we'll see if it helps. I'm abit cautious about the teacher thing as I don't value the "traditional teaching method". Maybe mostly because i haven't had any that kind of training nor knowledge about it. Mostly SS/SLS... We'll see that also if they'll manage to make me "a singer". :cool:

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  • 1 month later...

So I know this is a good thing to do and that it involves feeling vibrations in your face, but i can't seem to do this all the time. When i'm able to do it, i'm not sure HOW i did it and then the next day i can't do it again. Any tips on how to get into the "mask" reliably?

I'm sometimes lazy and don't drop my jaw before doing the humm (or hunn) and then tend to lose that buzzing sensation. I also found that the little horizontal smile like Robert says is very important also definitely adds intensity to that buzzing sensation. I also found that I retain that buzzing quality when I go into falsetto but that's not what you want to do when I go there, like Bruce Dickinson says in Pro Secrets of Heavy Rock Singing you have to train your voice not to go into falsetto. When I warm-up I will do that exercise a few times, but most of the time I do it once where I do the whole scale I drop down after I have bridged into the head voice a few notes, afterwards I just focus on the scales around the passagio and focus on strengthening the bridging and getting a nice cut there, make sure its not a falsetto tone that sounds shit. To not lose that buzz you need an attitude adjustment that says I'm going to keep that buzz if and when I break I'm just going to try it again until I bridge seamlessly. You are training yourself consciencely to be able to do it unconsciencely.

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So I know this is a good thing to do and that it involves feeling vibrations in your face, but i can't seem to do this all the time. When i'm able to do it, i'm not sure HOW i did it and then the next day i can't do it again. Any tips on how to get into the "mask" reliably?

Miss pk:

I read your original post, and thought it might be useful to offer a specific exercise with this response.

Because these sensations are more likely to occur when phonation is balanced, IMO, the key to reliably 'finding the "mask" placement' is to pick sounds that cause it to happen without really trying to. Here is one of my favorites:

In your lower speaking range (wherever that is,) sustain the voiced consonant 'Th', the first sound of the syllable 'Thee'. Make it clear and buzzy, and fairly firm. Its likely you will feel pretty strong vibration on your front teeth doing this. What you may also feel is vibration on the bridge of your nose. Check it by putting the index finger of 1 hand there, while you are making the sound. Just for fun, put the palm of your hand on the crown (very top) of your head, to see if you can feel vibration there, too.

Once you have the sound, move the pitch around a bit using some slides, keeping the Th sustained... like a siren on that consonant. I think you'll be surprised how much of your range you can sing this way.

After a few minutes, you should start one of the voiced Th sounds, and separate your teeth just slightly to open to the 'ee' vowel, without changing anything else. It should be a fairly clear sound. (Its really a very small amount of distance to go from the Th to the ee of this exercise). Put your index finger on your upper teeth, and see if you feel vibration there. Try the top of the head as well.

With that sound in mind, sing a scale, from the A below middle C to the A above mid C, using the syllable 'Thee', with the sounds you have just used. Sustain the voiced 'Th' for a moment, assuring that it is firm and buzzy, and then opening to the vowel ee as you have done. As you come up past the D, E and F, you will likely feel the sympathetic vibrations of your voice change location. You can let this happen in whatever way does, as long as you keep the Th and the ee clearly made.

Do that scale upward a few times, with the voiced Th and ee.

Now, change the syllable to They, with the same voiced Th, but opening to the the vowel ay, with minimal teeth opening, as before. Do this a few times in your lower voice, until you get the hang of it. Then, sing the scale from A to A as you did before.

Now, for the last step of the exercise, change the syllable to 'Th-ah', same voiced Th, but opening to the vowel 'ah', with about 1" of jaw drop. 1" is about the width of your thumb across the nuckle. Do the A to A scale, and then keep on going upward as high as you can comfortably make the voiced Th. As long as you do the voiced Th without strain, the Ah will come out very ringy.

If you have any questions about this particular exercise, respond here. Otherwise, let me know how things go!

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Great exercise, Steven! Now my head buzzes!

Does that make for better singing? Or does it give me a wider variety of sounds to make? When we were little, my next door neighbor and I played with trucks and airplanes and used to make incredible sounds; when we got to high school, we actually used our sound repertoire as the background for a science fiction audio tape story. Foley artists, we were.

So how does this "mask" trick make singing "better?"

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Great exercise, Steven! Now my head buzzes!

Does that make for better singing? Or does it give me a wider variety of sounds to make? When we were little, my next door neighbor and I played with trucks and airplanes and used to make incredible sounds; when we got to high school, we actually used our sound repertoire as the background for a science fiction audio tape story. Foley artists, we were.

So how does this "mask" trick make singing "better?"

HearFones: The voiced consonant part of this exercise brings the muscles of the vocal process into a balance that results in stronger high harmonic components in the phonated tone. With repetition, the phonation during the following vowel is coaxed to be similar to that of the consonant.

The resulting phonation will have a wider range, be 'ringier', have easier/smoother register transistions and greater overall power. And, directly to miss pk's question, IMO it increases the liklihood that 'mask' sensations will be present, because those smaller bones and spaces respond to the intensity of the high frequency harmonic content of the tone.

The use of the finger on the the front teeth, bridge of nose, or hand palm on the top of the head is to become aware that all parts of the head will vibrate during strong singing, not just the mask area.

Whether that is 'better' is a matter of the singer's value system. For me, those attributes make for better singing.

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hi miss pk..if i can offer a suggstion i use to feel the mask "buzz" (and to get my face muscles loosened up as well) simply do a lip trill and as you you're doing it curl your lips inward while trying to make the sound of a car engine. keep your lips closed but supple don't allow any tension and send a nice even breath into your pursed lips. when i do this i can feel it in my entire face even my eyelids vibrate. then after a few minutes i get this really nice soft "massaged" sensation....disclaimer: i'm just a singer trying to be helpful, not a vocal instructor.

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hi miss pk..if i can offer a suggstion i use to feel the mask "buzz" (and to get my face muscles loosened up as well) simply do a lip trill and as you you're doing it curl your lips inward while trying to make the sound of a car engine. keep your lips closed but supple don't allow any tension and send a nice even breath into your pursed lips. when i do this i can feel it in my entire face even my eyelids vibrate. then after a few minutes i get this really nice soft "massaged" sensation....disclaimer: i'm just a singer trying to be helpful, not a vocal instructor.

VIDEOHERE: Your exercise is based on the same physical principles as the one I wrote, and certainly should work, too!

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