You know by now if you’ve been a regular reader that there is simply no substitute for vocal training when it comes to reaching your goals as a singer. However there are many small changes you can make that make a big difference, and I try to talk about those often in my blogs.
Almost all Gospel singers struggle with straining in the upper parts of their range. That’s because almost everybody sings much harder than they really need to most of the time. This “over-singing” causes a lot of the vocal strain we feel in the higher parts. One very simple thing you can do to almost instantly feel more comfortable and eliminate some of that excess pushing is to simply make sure you can hear yourself really well.
Just by our very nature, we all need to be able to hear ourselves well to be able to produce accurate tone. Musicians are the same way. Even a virtuoso must be able to hear what he’s playing to play accurately. So as singers when we are in a situation where we can’t hear our own voice clearly, we simply sing louder and louder until we can. This causes a lot of strain on the vocal cords by pushing the larynx high up into the throat.
If you’ve ever been to a recording studio you probably noticed that singing felt much more relaxed. Chances are you were able to sing notes easily that you were having problems with even while rehearsing on the way to the session. That’s because when you put those headphones on, they feed your own voice directly into your ears. This causes you to adjust automatically so you don’t hurt your ears. As a result your larynx drops some and you feel less strain.
You can duplicate a similar result in a church or other arena if you make sure you’re in a position where you can hear yourself well. In churches where there is no monitor present for you, something as simple as placing a small foam ear plug into one ear- nice and inconspicuous- can help amplify your own voice in your head.
Ideally though, if you can do so, you want to take a quick survey of where the speakers are in the venue and try to place yourself in a position that’s slightly in front of, but off to the side of them.
That is, don’t stand directly in front of the sound path of the speaker; you’ll get terrible feedback on your microphone if you do this.
Try to stand out in front of the speaker(s) but off to the side of them. You’ll be able to hear yourself much better there than behind them. And when you can hear yourself well, you don’t sing as hard!