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Improve your sound instantly by starting to use the middle register

Singing correctly for choir doesn’t require all that much effort if you know the tricks of classical signers. You don’t have to be an opera singer to use the middle register, but using proper form when singing for choir will assure that you’ll be able to sing for many many years without ruining your voice and that you will sound great doing it.

Most problems singers face come from the fact that they are too tensed when singing, and as a result they use the chest register more than the middle and head registers. The trick I’m about to tell you will change all that.

Start singing a soft “ee” in the middle of your range and at a note that feels comfortable.
Sustaining this “ee” start moving your head downwards towards your chest.

As soon as you do that, you’ll see that immediately your sound changes to a richer and clearer “ee.” The effect will be less pronounced, the better your command of the three registers.

Trying singing the same “ee” but instead of moving your head downwards, move it upwards towards the ceiling. You’ll see that this has the opposite effect; your sound becomes thinner and poorer in quality.

Now don’t go around singing with your chin pressed against your chest, it looks funny.

The reason your sound becomes richer when you lower your head is because at the same time you lower your larynx and that creates a larger space in your voice box for the sound to amplify. The larger the space, the richer the sound. The same holds for musical instruments. Think about it: a violin and a viola can play the same note, but the viola is going to have a richer sounding note because of the larger belly.

But how can you achieve the same effect without looking funny? The idea is that you have to keep your larynx a little lower than usual. You can achieve that by either opening your mouth more, letting your jaw hang loosely and lowering your tongue. It should all be very loose and relaxed.

Unlike what most people think, you don’t need to lower your larynx all that much! I’ve seen people use bow-ties on their Adam’s Apple to work on lowering their larynx and others over stressing it trying to glue their chin in their chest. If it feels hard doing it and you feel you’re over stressing your muscles, stop right now.

When you lower your larynx properly and in a relaxed manner, your Adam’s Apple moves about half an inch. That’s it. If you put the tip of your finger on it and lower your larynx, you should still be able to feel your Adam’s Apple at the bottom of your finger. If it’s gone too far down, well, it’s gone too far down and you’re over stressing it.

Trying singing a few o’s and oo’s and remember, singing is about being relaaaaaxed.

12 comments

  1. Hi there, I am the Choir director of the King of Kings Community Church in Manahawkin, NJ. We have enjoyed tips from the Choirly all year. I would like to learn more about transition points. Can you help me or point (No pun intended) me in the right direction? Thanks, Cher

    • Hi there Cher,
      Thank you for your nice words. I’ll make sure to write a post about transition points soon. As a rule of thumb, though, it’s always best to use the head resonance as much as possible. More to come.
      Take care

  2. Hi have always been able to sing bass or CT. My question is I transitino from chest to Head b or middle C I have always done that just does not seem a normal transition point for a Bass? What do you think?

    • Hi Mark,

      Thank you for your question. I understand that this must seem confusing. I hear you say that you can sing either bass or counter tenor, which is highly unlikely. I’m thinking that when you say counter tenor you’re probably referring to being able to sing falsetto (which would make more sense). So thinking about the head voice you should first figure out if the transition point, or passaggio, you’re talking about is for your falsetto or head voice.

      Falsetto is a weak and “fake” voice. Head voice is full and strong. From what you’re telling me, I’d guess that your transition is a falsetto transition and it would make sense for a very deep bass to use falsetto for his upper notes.

      Another thing to consider is if you’re a bass or baritone. Most men are baritones; tenors and basses are very few. If you’re a baritone, then, also, that transition point would make sense.

      Stay posted. I’ll be writing a post about passaggios soon. I hope this helps.

      Best,
      Olga

      • Thanks Olga,

        let me clarify I have always had this range it extends right up to f5. Its not a weak sound it is a very rich strong sound. I can change easily between b below middle c and middle c and use any combination of registers in that range depending on the phrase.

        I guess the main point is that range that is most comfortable is in fact the higher.

        I find singing lower feels very uncomfortable when I have because it feels like I am singing way to low. Where as if I am singing an alto solo high or low it feels right.

        I am very comfortable with the low-high CT solos of Henry Purcell which in fact fit my voice like a glove.

        I am just curious because there seems to be no set idea where the register shifts for the CT are I tend use different registers for the same note depending on the piece.

        Also I have a seamless transition down or up between the lower and upper register.

        What do you think?

        Best regards,

        Mark H

        • Hi Mark,

          From what I hear, you’re hardly a bass… I can’t be sure without hearing you sing, but you sound more like a tenor. I don’t know why would anyone classify you as a bass.

          My husband is a tenor and most times he can reach my soprano pieces with falsetto. I have to admit that I don’t know much about countertenors, other than what I’ve read in books, as I’ve never met a real countertenor.

          If you really think that you could be a countertenor, I would recommend booking an appointment with the opera department of your local university or Conservatory to do a demo with them. Countertenors are VERY rare, so I’m sure they’ll be willing to hear you out.

          I hope this helps!
          Olga

  3. I have heard about something called the “whistle register.” What is it and how do I use it?

    • Hi there,

      The whistle register is used only by soprano coloraturas, so unless you’re one of them you won’t really be able to use it, when they reach really high notes, mostly above C6. The idea is that the vocal folds can’t vibrate at such high notes, so the air that passes through them creates a whistling effect, somewhat like if you try to whistle with a blade of grass between your fingers.

      I’m a coloratura and use this register when singing solo, not in a choir, and the idea is that you have to be very relaxed, open your throat, and use your diaphragm to push air. If done correctly it feels as if the sound is coming our from the top of your head.

      I hope this helps.

  4. I have another question. I think I’m a coloturea, but I can sing in my middle range quite effortlessly, but I can also sing in my upper range easily too. My range is from a B2 to a B6.and I can sing both soprano and mezzo soprano parts. I am really confused. Please help!!

    • Hi Fran,

      I think you might mean B3 – B5 (?), so B under the middle C ’till the first B above the staff? That would be a nice soprano range and you’re fortunate that you can sing both in your middle range and upper range effortlessly. Most women, more than 60% of them, are actually mezzo-sopranos but according to whether they can sing higher notes easily or not, they are classified as soprano 1 or 2 in a choir.

      At this range you might be using the whistle register for your top most notes, though I think that it’s highly unlikely. Keep in mind that most of the times no harm can come from singing lower notes than higher ones. So, in a choir, you can sing soprano and when sopranos separate between 1 and 2, you can go either way depending which one is easier for you.

      I hope this helps!
      Olga

  5. HI THERE!
    Please tell me… e’m I a countertenor?
    If yes… mezzo or soprano range?
    (Chest:C3-E4) (Middle: F4-D5) (Head: E5-B5) (Whistle: B5-E6)
    3.3 octaves
    Below G3 is dificult
    Above E6 I feel a little strain
    Confortably singing between G#3-D6

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