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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Lynn Help: Problem with head voice (29) RE: Help: Problem with head voice 16 May 02

Just a bit of clarification...None of us ever breathe without using the diaphragm. It's part of the mechanism. The problem is when we're upright we tend not to breathe as low as we could. By bringing attention to low expansion (which is actually a relaxation of the abdominal muscles), we as singers draw in as much air as we can. It is then the CONTRACTION of these very same abdominal muscles which supplies the physical support to the flow of air, helping to free the throat and neck from unwanted tension. Watch a baby when its wailing at its loudest. When she's lying on her back, her abdomen will expand out tremendously, then contract visibly just before the shriek. Ever wonder why babies don't get hoarse even after crying all night long???? That's why. They do it properly, naturally. We forget when we get upright.

Early in her career, Joni Mitchell had a wicked split between her head and chest voice. She could sail in head, and flip in a moment to chest (just listen to the end of Big Yellow Taxi). Problem was she never reconciled the two. Years of chain smoking have obliterated her head voice. Tragedy? Well, maybe, or maybe not. Her voice sure has character!

But Amy was right when she said, 'practice, practice, practice.' By using it, especially descending, you'll eventually figure out how to make the transition from one to the other. Amy's suggestion of easing the head voice down lower is good. I'd be very cautious about trying to push the chest voice too high. That can be damaging if you don't pay attention to what your body's telling you.

Not all singers have this problem. I've had a few students who have virtually no discernable 'passaggio' - that point where you transition from chest to head. Admittedly, they're rarer than the rest of us.

Find a good voice who won't insist on doing just classical material. Good luck!


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