Seasoned performer Paolo Morena shares how he achieved freedom with his voice.
It wasn’t until I took to the stage and confronted my stage fright, that I began to understand what my body needed to perform – and how my voice reacted to the various challenges of performing.
Now, in my best moments I can hold notes at the edges of my range as long as I need to.
It all started with learning a little bit about my voice!
Knowledge of the Voice = Power
The power to produce a sound comes from the air that you exhale (breathe out) from your lungs.
When you breathe in your diaphragm moves down or lowers while the rib cage expands, this draws air into your lungs.
As you breathe out you create an airstream trachea. The Trachea is the tube that allows air to pass from the lungs, better known as the windpipe!
At the top of your windpipe is the Larynx. It has two folds we call these the vocal chords.
When we breathe they open, when we swallow or produce a sound they close.
As the air passes up the windpipe and through these folds they vibrate, they vibrate very fast and depending on the pitch of the sound anywhere from 100 to a 1000 times a second!
It’s the length and tension of these folds or vocal chords that determine the pitch of the note.
Where Your Unique Sound Comes From
What’s wonderful about the science of the vocal chords is that they produce a sound that is like a buzzing sound, very much like the sound of a mouthpiece on a trumpet.
It’s the structure above the folds, the channels and chambers of the head that produce the necessary resonance to make the sound.
It’s here in the throat, nose and mouth, (known as the resonator system) that the buzzing vibrations created by the vocal fold are changed by the shape of the resonator tract to produce the sound, a sound as unique as our own appearance.
Learn more about the voice here – www.bbc.com/future/story/20160506-how-does-your-voicebox-work
My Top Tips to Maintain Your Voice
1.The warm-up is key. Working your throat and vocal chords is like working your muscles when you’re at the gym. If you don’t warm up you could cause yourself a serious injury, plus you don’t want to spend the first half of your set warming up then the second half painfully missing notes.
A) Slowly do your scales
B) Lip trills loosen the facial muscles, like blowing raspberries, pull faces, stretch open your mouth and extend your tongue.
C) Humming helps to calm and cool the voice, moving the vibrations around your mouth and throat.
2. Water, water, water! An average full-grown male is made up of 60% water. You have to keep yourself hydrated. You should be drinking around 2 to 4 pints a day but it depends upon the individual. There are loads of benefits to drinking more water and you can manage it with this helpful little App.
3. Keep an eye on your diet. Dairy and Acidic food types should be avoided on performance days. Dairy products can coat the Larynx. Juices and acidic fruit can shrink or inflame the larynx. Acid reflux can also be a problem. The vigorous pressure changes inside the body can produce acid reflux, avoid coffee, spicy food and citrus fruit and limit your alcohol intake.
4. Rest up and sleep well. When you sleep your body has the chance to repair and relax. Be sure to get plenty of ZZZ’z before performing.
5. Natural throat remedies – not over-the-counter products. Remember most over-the-counter products are designed to numb sensation in the throat. There are lots of natural products available that help the throat and voice, from Gargle Away to Manuka honey lozenges.
6. The three ancient and wise rules – Firstly practice, set regular sessions for yourself and find somewhere you can feel comfortable enough to relax and go for it. The second is far more important that the first, Practice some more and explore your range, anyone can practice, you want to be a master? Make it as natural as breathing, feel a little intimidated walking around singing? Then whistle. The third rule? You still reading this? Why aren’t you practicing?
Paolo Morena is a self-taught multi instrumentalist from the UK. His current project ‘TheMightySmall’ is a 21st Century One Man Band. Using live loop pedal technology, he indulges his passion for music by creating compositions using all kinds of instruments as the ideal platform to to create not only a huge sound but a great visual show. www.paolomorena.com