The One Singing Mistake That Guarantees Failure
As a professional voice coach myself, I often see patterns in the mistakes that beginner, intermediate and even advanced singers make throughout their vocal journey that thwarts their progress and puts them at the risk of failure. Failure might be an intense word, but as a singer, it’s your job to hit the right pitch, sing without strain and ultimately sing with consistency and confidence – if you miss the mark, push, strain or only remember half the words, you’re failing as a singer.
This one single singing mistake is the cause of more failure in singing than many other issues combined. Are you making this one common mistake and ruining your singing success?
The #1 Singing Issue
You might expect that the one singing mistake to guarantee failure would be something complicated like breathing or vowel modification, but in fact, the most common issue that effects beginner singers in particular right through to even the pros is improper coordination of your registers. You’ve no doubt heard of chest voice and head voice, but in reality, the facts about your registers might surprise you – a great singer actually sings in the middle coordination between these register extremes, while beginners often sing in the extremes with little connection or balance.
Balancing your register is actually pretty easy, but when your voice is a little under-developed you might confuse falsetto and head voice for the same thing, but I can assure you, they are not the same thing. Your lower register is classified as ‘chest’ because some genius hundreds of years ago decided that their lowest notes resonated in the chest, and then their higher range resonated in their head – this is inaccurate, but the terms have stuck. Connection and balance occurs when you have a proportional mix of vocal fold weight, and vocal fold tension. Chest voice is often thought of as full vocal fold weight, and head voice as no vocal fold weight (pure tension like a tight-rope), while falsetto is actually a false closure of your vocal chords that results in an airy harmonic that mimics head voice with very little resonance.
Often a beginner singer will ‘avoid’ the flip in their voice and try to force their voice to stay connected by holding on to vocal fold weight, in essence trying to sing higher in chest voice than is physically possible. Continually singing in this manner developed a permanent lack of true connection between the registers and leads a singer to belt even when they want to sing naturally or with a light delivery.
Balance is key to great singing
Balance in your registers occurs not just from proper release of your vocal folds and coordination between weight and tension, but also through the shaping of your resonant space and the way you articulate your vowels. If you aren’t shaping your vowels correctly and altering your resonant space (known as vowel tuning or vowel modification) through the middle of your voice, your resonance will make a drastic ‘flip’ as different resonators lose resonance or make a drastic change in the register coordination. Shaping your vowels correctly through your middle voice is absolutely key to developing a balance and ultimately becoming a great singer.
The first step to connecting your registers is through practising the humble lip trill. A lot of beginner singers feel like they’re ready to “move past” the basic lip trill exercise, but I can tell you personally, the lip trill is THE single most useful tool I have in my bag of singing tricks even with 20 years experience and a consistently balanced voice. Lip trills not only serve to release your registers, but also have the added benefit of moderating your airflow – are you blowing out all of your air when you start the lip trill? Yep, you have an airflow issue. Are you flipping through your lip trill? Yep, you have an issue with register release and you need to sing lighter or with less force.
By avoiding your head voice and that light flutey sound so many singers love to hate, you actually avoid the chance to build a POWERFUL and CONNECTED full voice at the same time, because your head register (ie: vocal fold tension) is a key element to extending your range and ultimately singing high chest voice notes.
How to fix imbalance
An imbalance in your registers is actually a foundation issue and really points back to your breathing, placement and way you shape your vowels. I suggest the following steps to alleviate an imbalance in your registers:
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Register Release
- Shape your vowels
- Tune your vowels (alter your resonant space)
- Connect your registers
- Develop efficiency in your resonance
Are you making this one silly mistake and putting your voice at risk of failure? A great place to start is the free foundations courses we’ve made available here at BVS which will set you up with the absolute best and strongest foundation you’ll ever need to balance your registers and sing with consistency. Then when you’re ready to knock it up another notch and take your voice to the next level you can book a Skype Session and we’ll start coordinating and balancing your voice so that your singing will be all killer and no filler.
If you have any questions about singing with balance, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!