Sing Better by Raising the Soft Palate
Do you want more vocal range?
Of course you do! Who doesn't want more vocal range?
The REAL question is actually: How do you increase your vocal range?
...And the answer is much more simple than you're probably expecting; by raising the soft palate when you sing.
If you've been struggling to sing high notes without straining, or your voice is flat and toneless - it's likely that your soft palate isn't raising as you sing.
Raising the soft palate is also one of The Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- Mixed Tonality
- "All In One Flow"
When you raise the soft palate, this creates resonant space for your frequencies to occur - in essence creating "Height In The Vocal Tract" as the palate raises up into the pharynx. This simply movement of raising the soft palate before and while you sing allows you to then tune each vowel sound to the correct width through each register of the voice - allowing you to connect your chest and head voice into one long, fluid and connected range from your lowest pitch to your highest.
Raising the soft palate is intrinsic to the Vowel Modification concept - as vowel modification actually involves a subtle change in the width and space in the vocal tract with various movements of the soft palate.
How To Raise The Soft Palate
Great singing is obviously a little more indepth that just 'raising the soft palate' - but you have to start somewhere right? So lets start by raising your soft palate to create Height In The Vocal Tract.
The most efficient way to raise the soft palate when you sing is with The Internal Smile - and it's called "internal" for a reason; you might have even seen one of those YouTube gurus advocating a "bright smile" when you sing - but this isn't correct; while you might get a few superficial benefits with this wide smile at the lips, your soft palate will be unnecessarily spread and wide and you'll end up with a permanent belt in your sound with a disproportionate dynamic change in your tone as you 'hand off' to head voice instead of blending your registers correctly.
The Internal Smile
The internal smile is very easy to achieve when you sing - simply brighten your eyes, raise your cheeks under your eyes, allow your jaw to sink a touch at the back of the mouth and then raise the soft palate. You can raise the soft palate either with the start of a gentle yawn, or even better by inhaling from an unvoiced "K" consonant sound.
Try this a few times until you can isolate the feeling of raising your soft palate with The Internal Smile and you'll soon learn why your high range has been absent in your singing.
With the palate raised in this fashion you can now start singing with pharyngeal vowels instead of "mouth vowels" - or simply put "speech sounds".
After all, singing and speaking are two different processes; yes, they use the same mechanism - but you don't raise the soft palate when you speak, nor use your full dynamic range of resonance and frequencies when you speak; so make sure you raise the soft palate before and while you are singing to ensure you are forming your vocals in the vocal tract rather than just in the mouth.
Open Throat Singing Technique
Raising the soft palate in this manner allows you to sing with Open Throat Singing Technique. While the word "throat" probably makes you think of the space between your vocal folds or even the back of your mouth where your tongue is - the "Open" portion of this technique really refers to the vowel occurring in the space created by a raised soft palate; in essence creating an Open Vowel.
Learning how to retain this space in the vocal tract when you sing does take time and relates directly to the concept of vowel modification - which you can learn here in this simple Vowel Modification guide.
By modifying your resonant space when you sing, you facilitate and encourage specific overtones within your vowel which allow you to sing in full voice in any register of the voice - yes, even in your high range where you currently have a weak falsetto!
Instead of continually telling you just how great it is to sing with such effortless freedom and power now that I've learning to raise the soft palate by mastering The Four Vocal Fundamentals, let me show you; here's a few quick examples of what I'm achieving now that I'm free of strain and tension in my high range - just imagine the killer singing voice you're going to enjoy when you learn to raise the soft palate when you sing!
The Four Vocal Fundamentals
If I had to go back to square one and learn how to sing all over again; I would focus solely on The Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract (Raising the soft palate)
- Forward Placement
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
You might be surprised to learn that EVERY single singing technique out there, yes even the advanced ones, relate directly to these four basic fundamentals. A great example is how Vowel Modification, Raising the soft palate, Yawning and Narrowing The Vowel are all related to Height In The Vocal Tract - and without this base fundamental; your voice will fail every time you try to use them.
The Four Vocal Fundamentals are used by EVERY great singer out there, from Chris Cornell to Aretha Franklin - any any vocal issues you're currently experiencing are a direct result of your current ability in relation to these four basics.
Isn't it time you mastered The Four Vocal Fundamentals?
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
With the Foundation 101 Singing Course
Do You Have What It Takes?
When I was first learning to sing I often wondered whether I really had "what it takes" to become a better singer - and really wished that someone would just TELL me whether it was possible or if I was just wasting my time - and even how I should be investing my time and effort for quicker progress and a more efficient vocal routine...
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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.