Turtleneck Singing
Hinders Your Vocal Prowess!

Turtleneck Singing refers to sticking your neck out when singing, especially when we need to hit the higher notes during a song or during a vocal warmup exercise. As the term suggests, the singer will resemble a ‘turtle’, which is able to extend and retract its neck when it moves around.

The reason why singers may extend or stick out their neck when they are singing is because we have this false notion that we have more conscious control over our voice whenever we control our throat muscles. That is why we may strain our throats when singing, creating throat tightness and making it even more difficult for us to sing the high notes well.

As with other common singing problems like throat tightness, turtleneck singing also involves straining certain throat or neck muscles whenever we sing or practise our vocal warmup exercises. In this case, we are actually straining the muscles in the back of our neck, stiffening these muscles as we sing and making us behave like turtles, causing the back of our neck to become tired after singing for some time.

In order to solve this problem and learn how to relax our neck more, we can do some simple neck stretching exercises before we sing, so that we reduce the level of fatigue and strain in our neck before we begin our vocal warmup exercises for singing.

A very simple neck stretching exercise would be for us to keep our heads facing front in a neutral level position with our eyes at regular eye-level, and slowly pivot our heads horizontally to the left, and then back to the centre again. We can do this for our right side as well, keeping our necks in a neutral position, feeling as though our head is perfectly balanced on our neck!

Another neck stretching exercise would be for us to keep our bodies upright, and just gently drop our heads downwards, keeping our chin tucked in. We should feel a good stretch in the back of our neck, and this will help to remove the strain that we may feel if we were a turtleneck singer.

At the same time, when we are straining the muscles at the back of our neck during turtleneck singing, our jaws also stiffen and to stick out when we sing, and this actually causes us to look like turtles with their necks outstretched. As singers, our jaw should be relatively tension-free, and we should be able to open our jaws without much stress or strain on the mouth or jaw muscles! Check out these simple exercises to keep our jaw strain-free, and also to prevent our jaws from locking or stiffening!

Another useful solution to prevent us from sticking our necks out when we sing would be to just gently place one finger on our chin whenever we are singing or when we practise our vocal exercises or our song repertoire.

Placing a finger on our chin will help to keep our chin and jaw in check when we sing, and whenever our jaw begins to stick out, creating the turtleneck effect, we can just gently restrain it with our finger on our chin and keep our jaws in a relaxed and neutral position.

We can also practise our singing in front of a mirror, standing sideways so that we can check the side profile of our jaw and neck when we sing, and make sure that our necks do not stick out during our vocal exercises. We can also face the mirror directly in order to check the strain on our throats when we sing, and keep our heads in a neutral level position during our exercises. As a general rule of thumb, keep our eyes level and maintain them at regular eye-level whenever we sing, so as to prevent some of the common singing problems that may occur!

In order to fully resolve turtleneck singing and other singing problems, we need to also always practise good breathing for singing, and keep up a regular practice schedule for our breathing exercises as well as vocal warmup exercises like the lip trill, in order to gain full mastery of our set of vocals.

Other general guidelines include keeping our bodies upright and maintaining a good body posture when we sing so that we are able to support our voices well! This will reduce our need for unnecessary support from other muscles like our neck, jaw and throat muscles when we sing!

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