Which Exercises Strengthen Vocal Cords?
If you wish to strengthen your vocal cords, the first thing you need to do is develop a strong foundation of breath support, correctly formed vowels and of course efficient resonance.
Excellent singing comes from balance in the vocal folds rather than ‘strength’ – a great singer isn’t a strong singer, they’re actually a balanced singer, so lets balance your voice and strengthen your singing abilities while we’re at it!
Singing itself is actually a very simple process of pressure, vibration, resonance and finally articulation. Pressure comes from diaphragmatic breathing, vibration comes from onsets and vocal fold closure, resonance comes from the manner with which you shape your vowels and resonant space, and articulation is an extension of your vowels and involves how you manage and manipulate your articulators (mouth, tip of the tongue, teeth, lips etc) to manage the sound of your vowels and ultimately create the sounds we identify as words and lyrics in singing.
Of course, this is easier said than done and requires training, practice and the right approach. So lets tweak your approach to singing and strengthen your vocal cords.
Foundation (Breathing, Resonance and Vowels)
The first step in strengthening your vocal cords is to set up a rock solid foundation. In singing, your foundation serves just like the foundation of a house being built – the concrete solid base that your walls and roof (tone and range) will be built upon.
By developing diaphragmatic breathing, creating support, forming your vowels properly and managing your frequencies, your singing voice will grow stronger and stronger with time and practice.
Step #1 – Posture and Breathing
By setting up a strong posture first when you sing, you will enable yourself to breathe more efficiently while creating breath support – the ‘pressure’ step in your vocal mechanism. Healthy posture in singing looks a little something like this;
- Head Up
- Shoulders Back
- Proud Chest
- Ribs Wide
With this healthy posture, you can now breathe much more efficiently and learn to engage the diaphragm more effectively to enable the second step in our vocal mechanism, vibration.
Step #2 – Vocal Fold Closure
One of the most important aspects of great vocal technique is vocal fold closure. The best way to ensure proper vocal fold closure is to develop a balanced onset. In singing, a vocal onset is literally the onset of your resonance – the way your resonance begins. A balanced onset is created when you balance between release of pressure and vocal fold closure centrally to create instant and strain free resonance.
If your tone is breathy and weak, it’s likely you are actually singing with a breathy onset, where airflow precedes vocal fold closure, meaning there is literally air coming out before you sing.
Now, if you experience tension and strain, or you have a harsh attack or pitchy intonation when you sing, it’s likely you are singing with a glottal or ‘hard’ onset, where vocal fold closure (or even glottal closure/compression) precedes release of air pressure, meaning that you have to force your vocal folds apart before they will vibrate with air pressure.
A balanced onset is truly the only healthy way to achieve proper vocal fold closure and ultimately achieve and encourage strain free singing.
Step #3 – Resonance
It’s likely you already know how to create various resonant sounds, from V and Z right through to M, N and NG. But singing actually requires you to create a resonant sound on your vowels too! In speech, your vowels are often pronounced via use of the articulators (the teeth, tip of the tongue, lips etc). In singing, your vowels (and efficient resonance) are created by shaping the tongue in a specific manner and allowing resonant space by altering the vocal tract using the tongue root, soft palate and other elements of the vocal tract itself.
By singing your vowels in this manner, you will have a very consistent, controlled and reliable voice that is always on pitch, always powerful and most of all, without strain no matter how or what you sing.
By setting up a strong foundation in this manner, you will strengthen your vocal cord closure over time and achieve vibrato, increased resonance and increased range. Each element required for a powerful foundation and strong vocal cords is featured in the Foundation 101 singing course available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, and will teach you;
- How to sing higher
- Improve your vocal tone
- Sing without strain
- Shape your vowels properly
- Allow and increase resonant space
- Sing with powerful resonance
- Breathe efficiently and create powerful support
- Develop a balanced onset
- So much more!
A great place to start is this exclusive singing lesson designed for singers just like you who are trying to strengthen their vocal cords and sing with more power and freedom. If you want to sing with endless range, without tension or strain and with a killer vocal tone, the first step you need to take is to set up a rock solid vocal foundation.
If you have any questions about strengthening your vocal chords 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.