How To Sing With Resonance [3 Simple Steps]
Are you struggling to sustain your notes, experiencing vocal strain or really having trouble hitting high notes with ease? The key is to sing with resonance.
Many singers struggle with the concept of resonance while trying to sing words and vocal lines. I mean, what about consonant sounds and the hundreds of different vowels and words you need to sing? “Sing” is the operative word here – singing and speaking simply aren’t the same thing; this is one of the most important definitions you need to learn to become a great singer with beautiful resonance. If you’re trying to push your speaking accent and clipped speech sounds, you’re obviously going to lack vocal resonance, experience strain and most of all sound like a pretty bad singer at the same time. Resonance truly is key to singing success.
Now, learning how to sing does takes time, dedication and practice – but with these 3 simple steps you can start singing with resonance and singing better right now!
What Is Resonance In Singing?
When many accents and languages speak, there’s a push of air as a sound is forced out of the mouth – consonant sounds are often more important than resonant vowel sounds in speaking, especially when you have an accent like mine that really tends to lean towards consonants and pronunciation rather than a free flowing resonance. When you sing, the air and vibration actually travels up and resonates within the vocal tract rather than the sound coming ‘out of your mouth’ in such a literal way – learning to identify this difference in your speech voice and your singing voice is very important in the process of becoming a better singer.
If we over-simplify the voice for the time being, your singing voice can be broken down into three main points;
Airflow comes from diaphragmatic breathing and support, vibration comes from fold closure and resonance comes from the vowel and your vocal tract shape, so let’s first look at your breathing to enable you to sing with resonance.
Step 1 – Diaphragmatic Breathing
Instead of sucking air into the top of your lungs like you would if you were hunched over with poor posture, instead, we need to engage the diaphragm and control our exhalation for the best possible resonance in our singing voices. Diaphragmatic breathing starts with your posture;
- Head up high
- Proud chest (not puffed out!)
- Wide ribs
- Shoulders back and down
- Strong stance
The key here is to slow the exhalation of air as you sing. Instead of gasping in air and then pushing it out with force, instead, we’re going to set up our posture, breathe from the mid section to engage the diaphragm, and then exhale half as fast to ensure we’re resisting the recoil of the diaphragm. Try it a few times yourself with a “sigh” – like “aaaaaahhhh” and try to sustain the “AH” portion of the word for an extra few seconds each time; you’ll notice that there is a slight engagement in the mid section as you slow the recoil of your diaphragm while encouraging a sustained resonant sound rather than a breathy push.
Step 2 – Placement
Where resonance is the key to great singing, vocal placement is the key to great resonance. While you can’t physically ‘move’ or ‘place’ your voice in a literal sense – you can (and should) encourage a bright, forward resonance that makes the most efficient use of your three main vocal resonators;
- The Pharyngeal
- The Nasal
- The Oral
Despite popular belief, the voice doesn’t really resonate “in the chest” or even “in the head” per se, and simple balances between these three main resonators to create fluid connection and balance between each register and tone. If you’re struggling with a nasal vocal tone, or a muddy/dark and weak tone – placement is your new best friend.
A great way to achieve placement in the beginning stages of singing is to sing with a bright consonant like NG or N and focus on limiting any resonance that occurs below your top teeth. You’ll notice that you get a loud and bright sound with very little effort – and over time, this placement will build and grow like crazy while being balanced out with step number 3; pharyngeal vowels.
Step 3 – Height In The Vocal Tract (Pharyngeal vowels)
Often when speaking, your vowels are formed and created in the mouth. In singing however, vowel sounds are created and sung in the pharynx. You can achieve this by creating height in the vocal tract by raising the soft palate. A great way to do this is to inhale from the position of a “K” consonant (don’t actually vocalise the K though!) or even a gentle yawn – which can be achieved with the internal smile;
- Raised cheeks under the eyes
- Bright eyes
- Sunken cheeks at the back
- Medium/Narrow mouth embouchure rather than a wide mouth
Inhaling from this position will allow you to raise the soft palate without being a slave to yawning or gulping before you sing. You’ll notice if you sing from this raised palate position that you’ll achieve a pharyngeal vowel, or more simply put – an internal vowel instead of a mouth vowel.
Learning to form your vowel sounds properly in the tract and with the tongue is paramount to resonant and powerful singing.
These three steps are the most important fundamentals in your search for vocal resonance. With time and practice, these simple steps will become an integral part of your vocal routine.
The next stage is to set up a rock solid foundation for your voice. Foundation in singing is just like the foundation of a house being built; the concrete slab that your roof and walls (tone and range!) are built upon and allow your house to stay strong over many years and even build and extend further at a later stage. Basically, vocal foundation is THE first stop for every single singer who wants to sing better, release tension and strain and increase range and improve their tone.
A great place to start is this exclusive Mixed Voice singing lesson which will show you the exact approach I use to help my own students connect chest and head voice and create mixed resonance when they sing.
If you want to see what all the fuss is about with the Foundation vocal approach, here’s just a few examples of what I’m achieving with my low baritone voice now that I’ve set up my vocal foundation and built my voice with time and practice – just imagine the incredibly resonance you’re going to achieve with a rock solid vocal foundation!