I recently had a singer email me with the following question: “I am a singer, my voice is shrill and not strong. How can make it smooth, deep and strong for singing?”
The Italian School of Singing spoke of creating a voice with what they called “chiaroscuro,” which is a voice with the right blend of bright and dark sounds. Our sound is changeable depending on where we hold the voice in the mouth. You adjust the sound (brightness or darkness) of the voice by where you direct your vocal stream. If the voice is placed too forward, it can be shrill. If the back of the throat is stretched too much and the voice is placed way back in the mouth, the voice can sound dark and woofy. We are looking for a balance of the voice from front to back. Try bringing your voice really forward and saying, “I’m five!” Children and young people have naturally forward voices, as we age the voice tends to move backwards in the mouth. Each singer or actor has to play with moving their voice from front to back until they find a tone that they like. One important requirement is that the air connect with the roof of the mouth. Many languages, like American speech, do not connect sound to the roof of the mouth, the voice floats out over the tongue. The voice needs to connect to the roof of the mouth to balance air pressure coming from below. Try lifting the soft palate by imaging you are smelling a rose and then sing “um” with the lips closed, allowing the sound to vibrate on the hard palate. Once you feel the vibration of the voice on the roof of the mouth, alternate between a closed mouth “um” and opening the mouth to “uh,” still keeping the vibration of sound on the roof of the mouth. This is how singers and speakers find their best tone, if there is no focal point for the voice, no surface for the voice to bounce off the voice can be shrill and unstable.The hard palate, which covers the top 2/3rds of the roof of the mouth, acts as a sounding board for your voice. Having a focus for the voice also extends the breath, similar to the way the breath is extended in ujjayi breathing. Power comes through practice and by never pushing the voice. The more we go within our body for resonance, the greater the power.