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Open throat feeling vs closed throat (what im stuck on)

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nariza77
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I am having trouble understanding how the throat feeling should feel like when singing. Am I supposed to not feel any tension in the throat at all? Or is it like some tension, but not much. No matter what I try, I always feel like my throat is tensed as long as I even make a sound. It's as if the only way I know how to make a sound is to tense the throat and push a little bit of air out. When I make a sound too, it feels like my vocal cords(maybe the fake ones) close in and strain the airflow.

Is open throat supposed to feel like you're just letting air out, and the sound naturally comes out or something? I've seen the example where the guy blows air between 2 parallel sheets of paper and they come together. That's how I imagine how open throat singing should be like, but right now, it's like im forcefully closing them to make a sound. I see no other way to create a sound otherwise. All of that could be completely inaccurate so correct me if I'm wrong. I'm still practicing support and trying to keep my throat hydrated so that it isnt dry.

How do you control the air pressure with your diaphragm so that you can create sound without tense feelings or without a closed throat? I also tense my diaphragm too much to the point where my throat tenses up too, so I am trying to figure that out also.

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I am having trouble understanding how the throat feeling should feel like when singing. Am I supposed to not feel any tension in the throat at all? Or is it like some tension, but not much. No matter what I try, I always feel like my throat is tensed as long as I even make a sound. It's as if the only way I know how to make a sound is to tense the throat and push a little bit of air out. When I make a sound too, it feels like my vocal cords(maybe the fake ones) close in and strain the airflow.

We had a discussion about this, not too long ago. If you have a chance to see laryngoscopies of singers singing, you will notice what is called the singer's formant. The epiglottic funnel, the area just above the folds and kind of near where the epiglottis is, actually diminishes in circumference as a "shaping" of the throat takes place to provide resonance to the basic tone emanating from the folds. Add to this various movements of the tongue because of vowel changes and articulation, as well as whatever the soft palate is doing and it's not all that open, after all. Open throat is more of a sound quality than the actual state of the throat. For me, open throat means clear and resonant, minimum impedance to a sound, regardless of what shaping is taking place to guide it, or maybe because of that.

As for tension. No, there is no absolute absence of tension, only absence of undue tension. One of my favorite quotes is from opera singer Ffrangcon-Davies. "When I sing, I feel as if I have no throat at all." Which is probably inaccurate, physically, but it spoke of the mindset she had.

What should be absent is the feeling of strain or something breaking or of choking or trying to get constriction. At least for me and I learned that the hard way. You have tension in the throat when you speak, just as you have tension in the arm when you raise a glass to drink water.

I also think it is possible for a beginner to feel some "tension" because they are doing something differently than they did before.

I know some others here will talk about acceptable strain. And those are people who have been singing for decades and have plenty of experience singing without strain and can introduce it when they want to, for effect. And don't necessarily do it every day.

Then, there is the strain of doing something for too long. Even professional, trained athletes can get strained in a not so good way from work overload. Working too much for too long. And that has limits, too.

Let me equate it to special forces. A friend of mine was an Army Ranger. And ready to retire from it when he was 30. Because you perform at the absolute physical limit of your body without stop. And the body will give out, regardless of desire. And so some guys retire from their appointments in a special forces unit and either go back to regular enlisted roles or become teachers in the special forces training programs.

And some will say, that's extreme. Yes, it is.

My friend, Lee, US Navy SEAL, 1964-69, Da Nang, Viet Nam. Served 3 active combat tours, way deep in-country. Spent 3 christmases on assignment in classified locations so that he could not even call his family for happy holidays. And came back from the Big Asian Vacation with surgical pins in his right hip, right ankle, and proud owner of a teflon-coated stainless steel knee-cap in his left knee. He had the rank of Second Class Petty Officer and could have eventually risen to chief or master chief petty officer, certainly ranks that allow you to become a teacher at bud/S.

But he was done, wore it out in 3 years. But he could still do some things. Some of the best tips I have in hand-to-hand combat come from him. He was 6' 1" and when he was 50, he could still clear my shoulder with a crescent kick.

So, before you worry about how high and how hard you can sing, practice first, singing without too much strain.

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I'm interested in what people define as an "open throat." In the classical world, I know many who say that it is basically synonymous with a low larynx. I have read interviews with famous opera singers who disagree, however.

Nariza, have you tried exhaling on an "sss" sound, like I mentioned in the other thread? Support is something that is hard to describe, and you'll hear different things from different people, but that's what really clicked for me. Inhale on a mock yawn, and then exhale on an "s" like you're a balloon slowly letting out air. Feel your sides underneath your lower ribs. That's your support in a nutshell. Practice this exercise, trying to let the air out over a span of 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and so on for as long as you can. You might be going overboard by focusing on muscle engagement leading to that tension you feel. Just think about slowing that release of the breathe and not about squeezing anything one way or the other.

You might be aware of a subtle tension in the throat muscles, as it does take muscles to make the cords come together. This is fine, but it should be subtle. Do the "sss" exhales and then try going into an "eee" with as little effort as possible - low volume but not breathy.

I should ask: are you a naturally tense person? I know I am, and my caffeine habit sure doesn't help (recent studies which show that coffee doesn't really dehyrdate you any more than water have dampened much of my motivation to reign it back - hey if it works for Dickenson, why not me? haha) . But tension could just come from personality or how you're feeling that day. This is why many singers practice yoga, meditation, etc.

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The more you feel that the tension rests on top of your voice and acts as a ceiling to your range the worse it is.

Support when done correctly frees the voice so it's extremely important to get it right. It shouldn't be something that gets in the way of good tone. You don't really need to oversupport either, only as much as needed. You should keep the ribs expanded, focus on the lower abs and let the solar plexus area come outwards. Maintain a pretty relaxed feeling on your upper body.

Singing is heavily influenced by psychological factors. I really think one could benefit from activities like meditation that take away the stress from your body.

Edit: I guess you were faster than me Simon. lol

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Singing isn't "totally relaxed" and "feeling totally relaxed in the throat" is a subjective sensation that may work for some but not everybody. If you feel like there is some effort in the throat then that's probably fine as long as: i) it feels comfortable, ii) it isn't fatiguing, and iii) it sounds the way you want it to.

If one or more of those things isn't true (especially the first two) then support would be the first thing I'd check.

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the ultimate goal is to get to a point (in time) where the vocal folds feel isolated and controllable and can be worked without any assistance from surrounding extraneous musculature....you don't want to be engaging extraneous tension of any kind, not just the throat.

for me the answer was support...physically inducing the transfer of tension away from the vocal area to the lower core muscles.

is the tension you feel above or below the vocal fold region?

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