When I sing I can usually hit the right note; but the vowel that I sing doesn’t sound right. I either quiver or screech when I hold a note. I don’t understand how to get a clear/crisp sound? Can you explain to me what I can do to sing the note correctly so it ‘sounds pretty’? ~ Melissa
If you’re experiencing a quiver or screech on the top end of your voice, then you’re over straining in some way. I’m not 100% sure what the cause of this is, but doing one or a combination of these three things should help fix it.
1. Release any tension in the tongue and the swallowing muscles. These muscles are not needed for singing, and involving them will only get in the way of good singing. You can read more about how to do that here.
2. Narrow out your vowels. The higher many singers go, the more they want to widen the space in the back of the mouth to create the sound. This is bad not only because it can lead to the vocal cords being pulled apart, but it also causes the larynx to rise. So instead, when you’re singing higher, narrow the vowel to more of a tall, narrow “oo” space instead of a short, fat “ah” space in the back of the mouth.
3. Lower the larynx. As a general rule, the higher most singers go, the more their larynx rises. This works against a singer in many ways. So, to avoid that, sing with more of a hooty or dopey tone, and that’ll help balance out the larynx more. I actually talk a little bit about larynx positioning in the article I linked to above as well.
I hope this helps. These three things will help most singers add clarity and ease to the higher notes in their range. I hope it does the same for you.
Best of luck along your vocal journey!
~ Vocal Coach Ken Taylor
ps – Here are a couple of other articles I’ve written that you may find helpful…
How to Sing High – This article actually goes into more of the concepts I mention in this article, and adds a couple more.
The Elusive Mix Voice – This article describes the mix voice and explains how to get into it. This is a must for learning to sing high with ease.