Throat Tightness When Singing –
Learn To Relax….
Many of us experience a certain throat tightness when we sing, especially for the high notes in a song. We may start to strain our throat muscles, or even squeeze our throat unnecessarily as we start to sing higher and higher!
As a vocal instructor, I have to teach my students to relax their throat when they sing, so as to avoid unnecessary strain in the throat and to work their way towards releasing their full singing potential!
The reason why we may experience throat tightness is because our voice originates from our vocal cords, which are situated in our larynx or voice box in our throat. When we sing, we subconsciously feel that we need to control our voice with muscles that we can consciously control. This results in our throat muscles being activated, and some slight strain in our throat occurs as we try our best to ‘control’ the notes that we sing.
In order to overcome this problem, each time we sing or practise our vocal warmup exercises, we should preferably practise in front of a mirror. In this way, we are able to monitor our throat movements when we sing, especially when we sing the high notes, telling ourselves to relax our throat more as we reach higher in our singing.
One way to understand more about throat tightness is just to swallow and to yawn! When we swallow, our throat constricts slightly, and this is the sensation we should try to avoid when singing. Imagine singing when we are swallowing! It is really really difficult, and not very productive for us to sing like that!
However, when we yawn, our throat is at its most open state, allowing more air to enter our body through the throat. In fact, we can easily make a loud sound when we are singing, and this is what is commonly referred to as our yawn! Some people can really yawn very loudly, and I am sure we have observed that some time in our lives.
When we sing, we should try to achieve throat relaxation similar to the extent of a yawn, allowing our throat muscles to be fully relaxed so as to allow our voice to pass through without obstruction! On the contrary, if we were to try to control our voice by straining our throat when we sing, we will find that we are unable to sing as well, and most probably will also be unable to sing the high notes properly!
This is also because our vocal cords are situated in our throat, and whenever we sing, our vocal cords are subject to muscle tension as well as air pressure, having to withstand the breath that we apply on our voice in order to sing! Once our throats also begin to strain and tighten, we unknowingly also squeeze our vocal cords, making it difficult for them to stretch properly and fully in order to hit the higher notes.
In order for us to be able to hit the high notes, we need to relax on our need for more control, and let our vocal cords do their work!
To some extent, some of our throat tightness can also be attributed to a lack of breath support when singing. Whenever we run out of breath when singing, we start to support our voice with other related muscles, and our throat muscles start to strain and tighten up.
Practising some breathing exercises for singing as well as understanding how to achieve good breath support when singing will go far in preventing the need for throat tightness when we sing!
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