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Rid Yourself of the 2 Most Common Forms of Vocal Tension

Learn to Sing Freely – Singing Tips Blog presents:

Rid Yourself of the 2 Most Common Forms of Vocal Tension

If most singers were honest, they’d readily admit that they try to mimic the sound of the artists who did the song before them. While this can be an effective method of exploring your voice, it usually ends in us trying to manipulate things around to create a sound that isn’t our own. Being a good singer isn’t about creating a cool sound by whatever means necessary, it’s about relaxing enough that you can produce a great sound as effortlessly as possible. Put simply, if you feel tension in the voice when you’re singing, be it in the throat, neck, tongue, or anywhere else, you’re getting in the way of producing your best possible sound. Put even more simply, singing be as relaxed as speaking.

There are two main causes of tension in the voice. One of the causes of tension in the singing voice stems from allowing the larynx to move upward or downward while singing. This throws off the whole vocal mechanism and results in the closing off of your sound passage, resulting in a thin, pushed tone. The second major cause of tension in the voice is the tongue. Many people don’t realize it, but the higher they sing the more they press their tongue, be it downward or backward. This only gets in the way of good vocal production as it closes off air passages and creates tension that ends up spreading throughout the whole vocal system. Let’s look at these a little bit more closely.

Learn to Sing Freely with a Stable Larynx
What can we do to prevent unneeded movement in the larynx? Basically, I find that most larynx tension stems from pressure in the voice pushing the voice higher or pressing it lower. Most often than not, these unwanted movements are performed by what I like to call swallowing muscles. These of course are muscles utilized for swallowing and should not be used at all for singing. Singing should be as easy as speech. So, if you’re having problems with the larynx moving, try speaking the words first normally, then on pitch. They should feel identical. You can also make yourself aware of any unwanted movements by lightly placing your hand on your larynx while singing. If you feel a switch in the larynx placement, tell yourself to relax and speak the sound. You’d be surprised how effective this can be.

Learn to Sing Freely with a Relaxed Tongue
As I’ve mentioned before, I believe the tongue accounts for between 65% and 85% of all vocal tensions. Whether your tongue is pulling back while singing or it’s pressing downward, the result is an uncomfortable singing voice with a drastically limited range that tires easily. The easy solution to most tongue problems is relaxing the tongue to the front of the mouth. And don’t just allow the front of the tongue to go there, but feel the back of the tongue moving forward as well as this will give you more space in the back of the mouth and throat for relaxation and resonance. I usually try and keep my tongue resting on the bottom of my front lip (especially when singing really high).

As always, if you need a little extra help working these ideas into your voice, I’d love to help! We can set up a lesson via skype, or you can come to my studio in Orlando, FL. For more information on how to schedule your lesson, visit

Thanks for reading and Happy Singing!