Finding the ring in your mask: Block your ears while singing!

I liken this lesson to that of an old, blind sage, who, while he cannot see, his other senses are heightened.

Have you ever found it particularly difficult to discover the sensation of ‘ringing’ in your mask? One particularly useful hint that a colleague of mine told me was to “block your ears while singing.”

I have trialed this with a number of students and even on myself (I recorded and listened after) and the difference is unbelievable! While the singers had some difficulty with timing to accompaniment, it was instantly noticeable little their effort was to create the sound. The volume that filled the room was also phenomenal.

This is because the singer is no longer distracted by their own sound. They can focus on the ‘whirring’ sensation near their cheekbones and nose – which is something that students struggle to find when they are listening to themselves. I also encourage that the singer imagine the “Caruso vowel”, which is imagining the vowel starting under the voice box. Think of the vowel and voice as originating from the little grove in the middle of the collarbone, at the top of your sternum.

When the focus is on sensation, rather than sound, the voice is allowed to be vibrant and unrestrained. Visualizing the voice as originating beneath the vocal cords also grounds the larynx, so that the singer is in no danger of raising the larynx.

Try this yourself! Select a piece that you know well, get a recording device and try singing with your ears completely blocked. Be sure to start using a song that is vocally easy for you so that you can optimally focus on sensation. Do not be startled at the lack of noise you experience internally – nor any crackles you may ‘hear’ (as your internal hearing will be more sensitive to mucous on the cords), but just sing through the piece and listen to yourself afterwards. You may find that your problem all along is that you have been listening to yourself far too much.

Have a wonderful week!

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Michael

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