Open Throat Singing Technique
How to sing with an Open Throat is a hotly debated topic in singing, and one that I’ll tell you a little secret about – good singing often requires you to sing closed. In this singing tutorial I’m going to explain the true meaning of the Italian singing term La Gola Aperta, which is literally translated as “The Open Throat” – and how this well meaning figure of speech and simple process for building a powerfully resonant singing voice has been turned into a marketing term for expensive vocal courses by singing gurus who package techniques like Open Throat, Appoggio and Compression into the ‘secret’ to great singing, and that only they can teach you these secrets.
Open Throat singing requires you to close your soft palate, close your vocal chords and often sing with a narrow vowel width, in essence closing your throat in all three main elements of your singing.
How to sing with an Open Throat
Open throat singing starts with your posture and foundation, and as I often say, your singing voice is only as strong as the foundation you have built it upon, so make sure you use our free foundations short courses to set up a strong and healthy foundation so you can learn how to sing with an Open Throat the RIGHT way.
The Soft Palate
To sing with an Open Throat, you first need to develop control over your soft palate so that it remains closed on your vowels sounds, and can naturally open on your open resonant consonant sounds like M and N. The best way to build control over your soft palate is to toggle your breathing in and out between your nose and your mouth – opening and closing the soft palate is a skill that you likely already possess, but simply aren’t aware of. We use the soft palate in every day breathing, when we sneeze, when we yawn and sometimes in general speech too – if you learn how to control the soft palate, you will see an almost instantaneous improvement in your singing tone.
Second to the soft palate, you need to develop proper chord closure – known as adduction. Adduction requires you to develop control over the level of chord closure you use when singing, and is linked specifically to your onsets and resonance placement. An onset is simply how well coordinated your air flow is with your chord closure, and can be the make-or-break of any budding singer’s voice.
Appoggio is more of a concept than a singing technique itself, and refers to your airflow being controlled solely by extension of the diaphragm rather than expansion and contraction of your ribs using the intercostal muscles. I like to introduce my students to Appoggio singing technique by adding an honorary final step to their posture – a wide rib position. Keeping your ribs wide in this fashion allows you to control your breathing and air pressure by contraction of your diaphragm instead of using your ribs – the best way to do so in your posture is actually to raise your sternum without breathing in, which often results in a wide rib and contracted stomach setup that is excellent for Appoggio breathing.
Did you know that vowels are created by a specific tongue shape and vocal tract width in singing? Learning to take the right tongue shape for each of your vowels and then developing your vocal tract width by using Vowel Modification or Vowel Tuning will facilitate an Open Throat.
How to sing Open Throat
If you want to learn how to sing Open Throat, then the first step is develop each of the various elements of your voice, from controlling the soft palate, developing your vowel shapes and through to onsets, consonant grouping and your mix register. By coordinating each of these individual and controlled aspects of singing, you will be singing without strain by singing with an Open Throat.
If you’re ready to take your voice a step further and start developing a powerful, open, healthy singing voice, you can book a session with me now!
Feel free to leave some feedback or any questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.