How vocal placement will SAVE your voice
As a baritone myself, I often struggled as a beginner singer to attain placement or even understand the concept that my voice could exist somewhere other than in my throat. I understand now after 20 years of developing my singing approach that while it’s not physically possible to ‘move’ your singing voice, it is possible to sing with a specific range of central frequencies which help your voice resonate in the most efficient, powerful and strain-free manner – in essence, singing with a specific vocal placement.
What is vocal placement?
You’ll find different schools of thought on singing with vocal placement, especially from a classical perspective where singers are often encouraged to sing in Masque, or what is commonly known as Forward Placement. That works for some singers, sure, especially those with a higher voice type and those singing classical or Opera where pure vowels are the goal – but what about us mere mortals with regular voice types, or Baritones like myself who often struggle with proper frequency production care of thicker vocal folds that result in more unruly frequencies than you can poke a stick at? It’s easy once you understand the premise of vocal placement, and how vocal placement will help SAVE your voice in the long run.
How to sing with vocal placement
I often remind my own vocal students that a singing exercise is really only as powerful and useful as the intention you sing it with. You can sing scales all day long and your voice will improve very little, but if you practice a scale in the RIGHT way for a few minutes each day, your voice actually will improve over time with practice. The purpose of vocal placement is to allow our voices to resonate in an efficient manner without force or wasted energy – if you often find yourself out of breath, or straining for a high note, or even just unhappy with your singing tone, it’s likely you’re singing with improper vocal placement, or in simple terms, you’re singing with the wrong frequencies.
My favourite exercise for developing placement is to have my students sing a simple “N” exercise where you sit the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth and make a small buzz behind your nose – continual training of this relaxed but resonant sound throughout your full vocal range will soon make it evident just how bad your frequency control is when you switch over to vowel sounds and actual words. The ultimate goal of placement is to sing with the same bright, well-placed frequencies you achieve with the N exercise and port them over into your vowel sounds when your soft palate is closed and you can no longer ‘feel’ such a strong buzz, even though it’s still there. Eventually, vocal placement will become second nature to you and you’ll no longer fight against your tone or pitch, and instead, a powerfully resonant sound will develop over time to make singing a much easier and more pleasant task.
Placement will SAVE your voice
This is something I’ve experienced personally, as I initially started singing for rock bands with no vocal training and a very improper approach to singing – walk up to the mic and just YELL as loud as I could. Eventually, this improper approach to singing led to vocal problems and a total loss of my range, until I learned the proper way to sing with vocal placement. I was formerly a bari-yeller because I was creating so many improper frequencies, and I often found it IMPOSSIBLE to sing quiet, light or with any form of dynamics, I was on TEN from the moment I opened my mouth to sing.
By training proper vocal placement, I eventually learned to create the powerful, extensive range that I once held, and more, due to better use of my vocal mechanism and better frequency production. After all, power in your singing doesn’t come from powerful vocal folds, it actually comes from powerful resonance.
Placement saved my voice from permanent damage and really set the stage for all future vocal techniques I have since developed, built and now coach my students in professionally. Techniques like singing in middle voice, resonance tuning, consonant grouping and so much more are all dependent on proper vocal placement. Without placement, your voice will be inconsistent and strained with the sheer energy you’re wasting on improper frequencies which simply don’t resonate properly – singing can and should be effortlessly easy, but only once you attain proper placement.
Learn to sing with placement
The most efficient way to develop vocal placement is to use my complimentary short course placement 101, along with the other free foundations courses you’ll find in the Bohemian Vocal Studio course HQ. Along with using the simple N exercise I showed you earlier in this post, learning how to sing with vocal placement will be super easy, and your vocal health will improve outta sight the more you sing. Singing with improper placement and improper frequencies is the leading cause of vocal strain and vocal damage – if you take your vocal health seriously, you NEED to develop vocal placement.
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice training here at Bohemian Vocal Studio – the premier online singing studio for powerful vocal lessons, you can book a Skype Session today!
If you have any questions about vocal placement, please leave any feedback or 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.