The larynx, commonly known as the “voice box”, houses your vocal cords. Keeping your larynx neutral when singing is one of the most important things you can do. For most people, the resting position of the larynx is its neutral position. To find your larynx, simply follow these steps:
1) Take your finger, press the flat side under your chin and run it down your neck.
2) When the feel the bump in your neck (for guys it is easy (Adam’s apple), girls a little tougher), congratulations! You have found your larynx!
Now I just want you to imagine your larynx rising in your throat. Swallow for a moment and feel it rise. See how far up in your throat it is? When your larynx rises, it constricts the vocal cords and cuts off a lot of resonance space for your sound. What you end up with: tension, and a lot of it.
In fact, I would muse to say that this is the most common cause of tension when people try to sing high notes. Their larynx rises high because it falsely gives the “feeling” that it will make the high notes easier. You then discover that it just plain hurts to sing the notes. You also begin to wonder why you feel like there is a lump in your throat. Guess what? There is a lump in your throat – your larynx!
In order to neutralize your larynx, you must train your larynx. What I personally have to do is place my finger on top of my Adam’s apple when it is in the resting position. Then, when I go to sing, I make sure that my larynx does not rise above my finger. Warning: it sounds much easier than it actually is. If you have never worked on neutralizing your larynx before, this little trick may be difficult at first. But no worries, with time and training, you will have your larynx in a neutral state in no time!
Exercises that help keep your larynx neutral are “mum”, “buh”, and “guh”. Be sure to keep a dopey sound underneath your tone as you practice them on scales. Singing these phrases automatically lowers your larynx. Be sure to place your finger on top of your Adam’s apple when doing these exercises as well.
It will take time to train your larynx to stay neutral when singing. However, if you really focus and take the time to intentionally train, you can speed up the process dramatically.
When you have successfully trained your larynx to stay neutral, you will notice a freedom in the voice that you had not felt before. Less tension. More power. Isn’t this what every singer desires?
As always, sing on my friends!