Strengthen your singing voice
In this free online singing lesson I’m going to show you how to strengthen your singing voice by improving your onset and adducting your vocal chords. Every vocal line you sing starts with an ‘onset’, literally meaning how your note starts, whether it’s a breathy onset, a glottal onset – or better, a coordinated balanced onset.
A perfect way to learn how to sing with a balanced onset is to practice a crescendo in various parts of your range, starting with a light, breathy onset leading into a fully resonant sound with proper chord closure. Once you’ve nailed this crescendo in each of your registers and at a varying range, you can then start practicing a balanced onset by starting your note in the centre of this figurative crescendo.
But what if I’m belting or singing heavy?
If you’re unable to control your onsets properly, then my first question would be why exactly you’re trying to belt, and secondly I’d tell you that register control has as much to do with onset and chord closure as chalk does with cheese – very little. Singing with a glottal onset will damage your vocal chords over time, so your favourite singer with a powerful voice who BELTS is actually singing with a balanced, coordinated onset and controlling their registers and delivery to create this powerful, yet fluid sound. Of course, belting is all but impossible without a proper onset, so of course I understand where you’re coming from – but the answer to singing with POWER is never “belting”, and the answer to belting is never “Onset”.
How do I balance my onset?
I’m glad you asked – perfecting your onsets is one of my FAVOURITE topics in singing technique, so a can of worms has now been officially opened!
A balanced onset is simply the centre point between a “breathy” onset – meaning that air is travelling through your vocal chords before they come together to create a pitch, and a “glottal” onset, meaning that your vocal chords are slammed shut BEFORE you create air flow and vibration – but did you know there is a BETTER way to treat your onsets?
I’m talking about a coordinated onset
Rather than aiming for dead-centre with every note you sing, it’s possible to train your voice to coordinate your onsets. By coordinate onset, I mean literally coordinating your chord closure with your support mechanism, so both parts of your vocal technique work in tandem, no matter the word, note, style or delivery you’re going for. With a coordinated onset, it’s possible to lean TOWARDS a breathy onset without actually releasing air across your folds, and on the flipside, you can sing a powerful and sharp onset without actually closing your chords prior to phonation – learn how to coordinate your onsets and you’ll soon be a master of your chosen singing style.
With a coordinated onset, you’re actually balancing your airflow with your chord closure no matter HOW or WHERE you’re trying to sing, rather than simple aiming for the centre in a blind way – you know that you’re always treating your voice in a healthy way, but have the added benefit of being able to sing with power and dynamics without butchering your onset.
How is ONSET different to CLOSURE?
Your onset is how a note starts, and chord closure is how well your chords are overlapping – your onset requires chord closure, but your chord closure is not necessarily linked to your onset (clear as mud?). By this, I mean that a lengthy vocal line may require you to learn how to control your adduction (aka chord closure), and each register and range may very well require a different level of, or different approach to, chord closure.
Here’s a super simple tutorial I’ve put together to help you understand and train your chord closure in a more efficient manner:
How do ONSETS and CHORD CLOSURE help to strengthen your singing voice?
Your onset dictates the power in the succeeding note and phrase, and your chord closure helps you to continue the control and power created by your balanced onset. Once you’ve learned how to control both your onset and adduction, your voice will resonate with power and control no matter where in your range and registers you are singing.
Are you ready to POWER UP your singing voice and learn the right way to sing with ONSET and ADDUCTION? You can book a session with me personally today and I’ll show the how it’s done!
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.