How To Sing With An Open Throat
Open Throat is a term that often gets used in contemporary and classical singing technique, and comes from a literal translation of the Italian term La Gola Aperta – and like most classical singing techniques, is intended as a figure of speech. Unfortunately, this has led some guru voice coaches out there to use Open Throat as a marketing term, packaged it as the ‘secret’ to great singing. In this tutorial, I’m going to SHOW you how to sing with an Open Throat the way this singing technique was intended, and break through some of the myths and marketing terms you may have heard while learning how to sing.
Open Throat singing technique refers to a very specific setup in the vocal mechanism surrounding your vowels, resonance, frequencies and finesse where onsets, breathing, support and articulation are concerned.
5 Simple Steps to Singing with an Open Throat
These five steps will show you the physical mechanism behind learning how to sing with an Open Throat so that you can sing with a powerful and naturally resonant sound – releasing strain and building healthy habits so that you are consistent with resonance, pitch and in control every time you sing.
Using these steps, you can easily create the right environment for open throat singing. Are you ready to sing with an Open Throat like a professional singer and your favourite vocalists? Lets get started.
Step #1 – Foundation (Breathing, Posture and Placement)
Foundation really is the most important step when learning how to sing. Setting up a healthy and strong posture will allow you to them support your voice and maintain efficient resonance when you sing. Healthy posture looks a little like this;
- Head up
- Shoulders back
- Chin Parallel with the floor (look straight forward with a high head)
- Proud chest/wide ribs
These simple posture steps will allow you to then engage the diaphragm more effectively and create support by managing air flow and air pressure to allow more powerful and efficient resonance.
Step #2 – Resonance
Resonance is truly key to singing with an open throat. Without resonance, you are singing closed and forceful, and when you are singing closed and forceful – you are singing without resonance! Resonance starts with your vowels, but we’ll get to that in the next step. For now, lets focus on practising the resonant sounds you’re likely already familiar with;
You’ll notice that most of these sounds, if not all of them, feature an element of continual resonance when you sustain them, that bright and continual ‘buzz’. With time, you can learn to create this same powerful buzz on each of your vowel sounds.
Step #3 – Vowels
Sung vowels are very different to speech vowels. In speech, we often pronounce our sounds using the articulators at the front of the face – the teeth, the lips, the tip of the tongue. But in singing, you actually need to shape each vowel using the back of your tongue while matching resonant space in the vocal tract using the pharynx, root of the tongue, the glottis, the soft palate and other elements of the vocal tract itself to shape, form and facilitate resonance throughout various registers of your voice.
Step #4 – Support and compression
With a healthy foundation comes the ability to support your voice effectively by moderating air flow and air pressure using the breathing mechanism at peak efficiency. Support occurs when you maintain engagement of the diaphragm as you ascend in range or sustain a note or phrase instead of allowing your posture, ribs, diaphragm and breath support collapse – causing a weak and breathy vocal tone. By maintaining diaphragmatic engagement through support, you will learn to increase and moderate air pressure instead of simply blowing weak air across your vocal folds.
Now, compression is a tricky term because it really refers to a balanced amount of compression, not “more compression” – many beginner to intermediate singers take the ball and run with it when they learn a new technique, so be careful to use compression for consistent airflow, not excess pressure
Step #5 – Finesse and Articulation
As you can expect, maintaining an open throat requires you to sing with balance, finesse and consistency. Things like balanced onsets, consonants, mix voice, frequencies, resonant space and learning actual songs – these are the final key and piece to the puzzle that will allow you to sing with freedom. Learning to sing onsets in particular has been especially important in my own baritone voice – consistency was one of the final steps that came together with consistent practice and training.
For many years, I too struggled with the concept of Open Throat, along with other advanced techniques and concepts like Mixed Voice and Placement. Taking these five simple steps will allow you to create the perfect atmosphere and situation for Open Throat singing to occurs – leaving you with naturally mixed resonance and a healthy, powerful placement that allows you to sing with freedom, power and consistency.
A great place to start with developing Open Throat technique when you sing is the Foundation 101 singing course that I have developed specifically for singers who are frustrated with a lack of progress found with other courses and coaching, for beginner singers and even advanced singers who are looking to ‘tune up’ their technique and approach. The Foundation 101 course will show you how to;
- Set up a rock solid foundation
- Breathe diaphragmatically
- Create a balanced onset
- Sing with consistency
- Increase your range out of sight
- Improve your vocal tone
- Sing your vowels properly
- Create resonant space in the vocal tract
- Sing with middle voice
- Learn to use the articulators
- Sing with peak resonance and efficiency
- SO much more!
Along with the Foundation 101 singing course, this exclusive Mixed Voice Singing Lesson designed for singers just like you who are struggling to sing with an Open Throat will show you the exact process that I have developed and used for the past ten years as a voice coach, along with the approach and techniques I have learned in almost 20 years of experience as a singer.
If you have any questions about Open Throat singing or the Foundation 101 singing course, feel free to 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.