The Art of Transformational Voice

Post Your Questions Here

Thank you for posting below any questions or topics that you would like me to blog about. You are the reason for the conversations at MEANT 2 B HEARD and I’m excited to hear from you.

Be sure to “Follow” this blog if you want to be notified of posts and the answer to your question.

I also invite you to read through the titles and articles archived here on Meant 2 B Heard.  Go to the Q & A Archive pages from More Than Singing and More Than Speaking to see if I have already answered your question.

Comments on: "Post Your Questions Here" (158)

  1. Hello! My voice is too rough. Because of my rough voice I can’t sing. What should I do for smooth voice?

    • First of all, you have to determine what is making your voice rough. Perhaps it is from forcing the voice, from smoking, from allergies or acid reflux, or even from stress. A doctor can help you find the cause.

      Then you need to develop your technique with the same elements of vocal function I recommended to Emir. Please read the tips I gave to him in the post below. You can also read posts in the Q&A Archives for more information.

    • Hello. I ll ask some singing books. What do you reccommend? You recommended Richard Miller. Can you add more to this, cuz Millers Book is expensive and has no pdf file in internet :).

      Thank you.

      • Miller’s books are available at most libraries. Perhaps you could borrow it there? I think that no other books about the voice are any cheaper and his are really the best I know of.

  2. I am Male. I guess I am a baritone. My question is: Can I improve my vocal range? Here is some details: I am practicing everyday with a piano going higher notes, but in high notes (I am doing this with totally relaxed vocal cords and larynx muscles) I am getting air instead of the note as if I am just blowing air while trying to hit the note. When I am at this step I stop. I am studying with piano for 4 days. If I carry on, will I be able to go high notes? Will I IMPROVE MY VOCAL RANGE?

    • You can certainly improve your range, but the piano is not what will help you do that. There are elements of vocal function you need to develop:
      — the way you breathe
      — the way you pace the air through your vocal cords
      — the way your vocal cords come together to vibrate
      — the way you access the resonators in your head and chest

      Your best option is to work with a teacher or take a group singing class, either in person or over the internet. The best books are by Richard Miller. I do not recommend any particular CD or DVD programs but I am certain some of them would also have tips for you.

  3. I’ve been singing most of my life (in my early 40’s now). I am a baritone and usually have had a large range and have been able to sing pretty high. I have been able to sing with ease D – A (occasionally B flat). Most recently I have noticed that when I have sung for extended periods – particularly in the upper register – – – I lose my voice or do not have control. My voice does not hurt, and it comes back – but, it is gone for a while (3-4 minutes).
    As I reflect, the first time I noticed this was about three years ago. At that time, the occurrences were few and very far between. Now, it happens every time I sing. I am wondering what would cause this.

    • Because I cannot hear or observe what you are doing, it is difficult to say for certain. It’s always a good idea to see a laryngologist to see if you have developed a post nasal drip, acid reflux or something that is causing the cords to be a little thick or swell. Thyroid issues will do that too.

      Another consideration is that the voice changes with age. Because of this, you have to refine and adapt your technique. It sounds like the cords are getting a little too stretched as your sing in the upper part of the range and then need time to recoup before going on. You need to use a finer edge of the vocal cords and less air as you go into the top. You might have a sense of making the tone much “smaller” than you used to, but because of your maturity it will actually be richer. If you keep the resonance the same, this refinement should not affect the power or quality — it will just make the sound cleaner and easier to move around. Use a few more hums, agility exercises and staccato in your warm-up and spend a little more time gently working the middle voice before you go into the extremes of the range.

      • Is my throat supposed to clog when I am having puberty?

      • I can’t really respond to you Kyle because you haven’t given me enough information. Can you tell me what you mean by “clog”? Do you have a lot of mucus? Or do you just sound kind of fuzzy? If you can tell me more about what you are experiencing I might be able to help you more.

  4. Hi there! I have a problem, I usually have a strong, clear, and loud voice, but this week I have suffered a pretty bad cold. My noise is stuffy and my throat is raspy. Unfortunately, tomorrow I have to speak in front of my whole team with these nasally and stuffed-up voice. Is there a technique for me to speak as I normally do without sounding like I’m suffering a cold? Thanks for the help 🙂

    • You might try using a sinus cleanse (a simple saline solution) with a neti pot as well as kapalabhati breathing from the yoga traditions. If you do a google search you can get free instructions for both. These will clear the sinuses. Overtone chanting is also great for clearing the respiratory passages. Gargle with warm, lightly salted water. Use a pot of heated water, drape a towel over your head and the pot, and breath in the steam. Put Vic’s Vaporub on the soles of your feet and then socks (scientific research has shown this truly relieves congestion! Good luck!

  5. Thank you so much for the helpful comments!

  6. Im a 16 year old tenor, but actually more of an alto or mezzo soprano. I can go from middle c to c6 (two octaves up) and i can hit an a7 at least in my falsetto. Is my voice just unnaturally high, or will it change to be more like a regular tenor (even though my speaking voice changed two years ago)?

    • If you take singing lessons with a knowledgeable teacher your singing voice will develop. Whether or not it is unnaturally high is impossible to say — that depends on how large the larynx and vocal cords are as well as your overall body type. You need to see someone in person to get an answer. A singing teacher or a laryngologist can help you.

  7. whenever i speak the letter “R” it sounds like “L”, its also the case with the letter “D”..
    people make fun of me please help…

    • The sides of the tongue touch the upper side teeth to form “r”. The front tip of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth and the front teeth for “l”. For “d” the tip of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth but NOT the front teeth and stays wider than for “l”. The tongue releases immediately for “d” but can be more sustained for “l” and “r”. Because these actions that change the shape of the tongue are a little difficult to describe, it would be great if you could have even one session with a speech therapist so you can see and feel what to do. Then you just need to practice practice practice. A teacher or another wise and trusted adult might also be able to help you, to demonstrate how they do it and help you notice what you do differently. I wish you all the best.

  8. Hello. I ll ask some singing books. What do you reccommend? You recommended Richard Miller. Can you add more to this, cuz Millers Book is expensive and has no pdf file in internet .
    Thank you

  9. Stephanie said:

    What are the benfits of a vocal coach?! Do you recommend any places?

    – Thanks

    • A vocal coach, if they are truly a singing teacher, can help you develop your instrument. They will help you expand your range, develop power and beauty, flexibility and strength. Most importantly, perhaps, they can help you have a healthy voice that will last a lifetime. Some voice teachers and coaches can also help you develop your musicianship and performance skills. They all bring different strengths to the table; you have to be clear about what you need and that will help you choose the best person for you.
      I do not know where you live so I cannot recommend anyone to you.

  10. Hi, I’m a 16 year old male…..I know I’m going through puberty, but I’m becoming really furstrated with the way I sing. My voice sounds a little pitchy and wavy at time. I don’t know how to breath from my diaghram, and my breath control isn’t that good. I cant take voice classes for now, so what should I do? At least what are some proper warm ups I can do

    • Hi There,
      This is a topic I’ve addressed several times. Go to the archives for Q & A from More Than Singing and you’ll find things there under titles that include “breathing” or “support.” I’ve also written several things about the voice at puberty. You can check the More Than Speaking Archives too. Keep searching on the internet — there are all kinds of free tips on youtube and other sites. Don’t force or push, and trust your own timing. The change in the voice takes longer in some than others.

  11. Hi, I’m a singer, female, and I have been taking singing lessons since 2 years ago. The problem is the sound: I can hear that while i’m singing or speaking, there is an air sound at the side, like an air leak… I’ve heard that is because some much pressure of the air on the vocal cords. My vocal cords are Ok — I went to a ENT lately.
    Can you help me with that?

    • You likely need to improve the way your vocal cords are coming together. If you begin the flow of air before the vocal cords start to vibrate, that can create a “leak” as you call it. Ideally, the vocal cords and the airflow begin at the same. precise instant. However, in order to correct your problem, you might have to experiment with closing the vocal cords before the airflow begins. If you make a little grunting sound, like you are going to lift something heavy, you will feel the cords come together and the airflow will be blocked. You NEVER want to grunt or bring the cords together so forcefully while singing! What you want to find is the place exactly in the middle of too breathy and grunting. This coordination is so precise it is like threading your voice through the eye of a needle. You can also imitate a monkey: “EE, EE, EE, EE” or “OOH, OOH, OOH, OOH.” Notice there is a little closure to start the sound, to make it more squeaky as you imitate the monkey. Starting your sound with that little bit of a squeak might also help you diminish the airflow.

  12. Hi i’m a 12 year old female…all my life people have been telling me my voice is too quiet but pretty, are there any voice practice things I could do to help with this? Also, my voice is quite mucusy and I was wondering if I need to see a doctor about it.

    Kind Regards,
    Elayna

    • Hi Elayna,
      Whenever there is a physical issue it is a good idea to see a doctor. That way you can determine what is causing the mucus and what to do to alleviate it.
      To gain volume, you need to improve the way your vocal cords come together, the way you work your body to pace the breath, and the way you access the resonators in your body. The best solution would be to work with a singing teacher or a speech therapist. This is a complex matter and I cannot give you a true solution on a blog. However, if you read through the More Than Singing Archives you will find posts on volume, phonation and resonance. You can try some of the tips given. There are many teachers, tools and tips on the internet. Some will be useful — just be sure to never do anything that irritates or tires your voice.
      Best,
      Jocelyn

  13. Hi, my name is zoey and i’m 13 yrs old and i’m not sure if my voice is maturing, everybodys says i have a very low voice, but when i hear some of my friends i hear they have some vibrato in their voice, and i really want that in my voice, also i’m an alto, but my choir teacher says too that i have an incredibly low voice, so does that mean i’m a contralto?, because i can hit low DO and whats really weird is my voice sounds airy then it sounds clear then back too airy again, i know i dont have a breathy voice because my talking voice isnt breathy.

    • Hi Zoey,

      You are at a very tricky, developmental stage with your voice and the single most important thing is NOT to push or try to hard. You are getting another layer of skin cells over your vocal cords and you are also experiencing hormonal changes. While this is going on you might experience some breathy or weak areas; you’ll notice other parts of the range becoming stronger. It will even out in time, especially if you can work with a singing teacher. Meanwhile, you can move your voice higher by humming and doing little “sirens” on “OOH” as in the word “boot.” Imagine you can go as high as a bird or a little kitten and then slide back down to your speaking voice. As you slide up and down there are a couple things you can do to help yourself out:
      Lightly touch your Adam’s Apple, that little bump on the front of your throat. That is a cartilage on the front of your larynx (or voice box). Notice that when you are breathing in and out, it is very stable, not moving up or down. Then, when you do the siren, notice that it still stays stable and doesn’t move up and down with the pitch. Never push it down or manipulate it, just intend for it to stay stable and eventually it will.
      — Keep your posture very tall and feel your lower ribs expand when you breath in; try to keep the ribs expanded the whole time you make the siren. This will help to keep any excess air from pushing against your vocal cords.

      If you can, take some singing lessons!

  14. Sabyasachi said:

    Hi, I am a 33 years old male and I have developed this speech issue over the past few years where between a sentence my voice disappears and then again comes back. It is usually more prominent when I begin a sentence and then gradually it settles but continues to be on and off as I am into a conversation. My voice also breaks abruptly. Recently I have figured out that if I am speaking slowly and and calmly, the issue is not there. The issue is prominent when I am speaking fast and excitedly. I have a high pressure job and stressed all the time. I have shown myself to a doctor and my vocal chords are absolutely fine. Also, when my voice is going away, I have observed that air is coming out of my mouth but not the sound. I am not sure but I think it is due to stress and anxiety. Also, over a period of time I have picked bad speech habbits while trying to control my voice breaks and cracks. Can you pl advise the speech exercices that could help me here. I also downloaded more than speaking CD1 from your website for guidance. Thanks for your help and guidance

    • Hi There,

      The way you breathe and use your voice can definitely help with stress and anxiety. I just posted on performance anxiety and there are some quick tips there. The key is practice and repetition so that you develop a reflex to relax. The ability to stay calm under pressure is the result of conditioning, much like what athletes achieve with hours of practice.

      Also, there is a “more than” component for you. Research has shown the benefits of meditation. It does not have to be a spiritual practice, but it certainly can be if you are so inclined. It can be as simple as sitting, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Notice there are two little pauses in the cycle. If we wait inside those pauses, we can notice an impulse to exhale at the end of the inhalation, or an impulse to inhale at the end of the exhalation. As you wait for that impulse to begin the next half of the cycle, notice your breathing getting slower and more regular. You can inhale more slowly and the exhale can last longer. As you become very still, imagine that the pause disappears and that the inhalation and exhalation overlap. Toward the end of the exhale you simultaneously begin to inhale, and toward the end of the inhalation you simultaneously begin to exhale. Don’t worry if it doesn’t really happen. Just focus on the intention and your body will figure it out. You will enter into a deep state of circular breathing and calm. Memorize this state and become proficient at entering it. Then you can summon it any time through the day when you begin to feel anxious.

      A great deal of the power in breathing and vocal practice is that they take your complete concentration. You have to let go of all other thoughts in order to do them and they sort of “scrub your brain clean.” Once a thought pattern is interrupted it is easier for new ideas to come. The trick is to let go of the worries — problems do not grow bigger or worse if we set them down for a moment. They are like boiling water — it must be set aside to cool a little before drinking. Set the roiling issues aside for a moment and cool your system. Then use the voice intentionally, mindful of the breathing, phonation and resonance that you practiced. With repetition over time, stress becomes a short wave that passes through your system rather than the state of your days. You feel it coming . . . you shift your breathing, voice and concentration . . . and it goes.

      It only works with practice.

      • Sabyasachi said:

        Very insightful, thanks Jocelyn!
        Do you believe my diagnosis of my problem is correct or there could be more to it? Can you pl suggest any speech exercises to correct these? Another thing, because of these ongoing issues, whenever I am speaking to someone in person I almost sure my voice would crack and to hold that back, I put in a lot of stress to speak and that causes the issue mentioned in my previous post. Thanks again for all your help!!

      • The only way you will know if there is more to your problem than stress is to go to a laryngologist and have your vocal cords looked at. The doctor will know whether or not you need medical treatment. If you need speech therapy the doctor should be able to recommend someone near you to work with. There is no “instant” cure. Whatever changes you make, they will take time and practice. Work with the suggestions you receive and the tools you choose and put no limit on your potential. Only know that nothing will shift without time and mindful practice.

  15. When I was about the age of 12, my voice started going bad.It was cracking and still do.Can’t even speak properly without sounding like my dad.Does this have anything to do with the muscles in my throat or is it my vocal chords.Is there anyway I could fix it.

    • Check the headings on the top right corner of the meant2bheard blog:
      If you go to the Q & A Archives from More Than Singing you will find posts on the male voice at puberty:
      MALE PUBERTY
      MALE TEEN VOCAL RANGE
      If you go to the Q & A Archives from More Than Speaking you will find posts on the male voice at puberty:
      12 YEAR OLD MALE AND PITCH
      13-YEAR-OLD WITH A LOW VOICE
      14 AND SOFT SPOKEN

  16. Hi, I am a lyric soprano. I have been singing soprano for about three years now. I can sing a soprano D6, but its inconsistent. During my voice lessons I’ve sang to an F6 doing staccato scales, and without staccato I’m stuck at a consistent C6 or an inconsistent D6. I am familiar with my whistle voice, but when I try to access the D6 I go into vocal fry at about F6. So its almost like I’m missing notes to connect the two voices. Can you help me please???!!! Thanks!!!

    • Hi Moni,

      It sounds like when you are doing the staccato vocalizes you are able to engage a small enough edge of the vocal cords to make the high pitches, but when you try to sustain pitches you use more muscle and then the voice cuts out on you. Try an exercise beginning with staccato and then switching to sostenuto; be careful to not add any breath, engage additional muscle or shift the articulators with the change to sostenuto.

      For example:
      . . . . . . ________________
      1 3 5 8 8 8 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 (do mi sol do do do do ti la sol fa mi re do)

      As you descend the scale, do not allow the tone to “fill out.” Try to keep this tiny thread of voice all the way to the lowest pitch. This fine edge of the phonation is the “core” of the vocal tone. Think of all volume and fullness of the tone as coming from resonance rather than from extra air or from using the vocal cords more muscularly.

      Bridging between the whistle register and the full voice is much like the passaggio between chest and middle voice registers, or between middle and head voice registers. Descending glissandos from the highest note down into head voice can help you smooth the transition.

  17. Hi, I am a 28 year-old female singer. I have hypothyroidism and it has really affected my voice. I have lost my high register and it sounds raspy and weak. Will it fully recover with treatment? Will I ruin it if I sing in the state is is now? Is there anything I can do?

    • Hi Erika,

      Hypothyroidism is difficult to go through vocally, not only because it causes hoarseness but also because it is accompanied by low spirits. You can, YES, definitely and fully recover with treatment. Many of us have. Denyce Graves talks about her experience with it and she is singing wonderfully again. Until the thyroid is stabilized you need to take it easy, not singing in the extremes or forcing it in any way. You also need to be careful that you do not develop any compensatory habits from singing with swollen or irritated vocal cords. See a laryngologist and get his or her recommendation on whether or not you should sing on your vocal cords in their present condition. If you get the go ahead, work with a singing teacher who has experience with this disease as well as with vocal dysfunction in general, and also with a speech therapist your laryngologist recommends. Going slowly at this point will make you faster in the long run. Try not bring fear or anxiety to your singing and practice. That will create tension on the instrument. Work from a place of quiet, clear intention and patient faith. My endocrinologist explained to me that people with hypothyroidism have difficulty standing up for themselves and speaking against authoritative figures. He suggested I look at all the relationships in my life where this was the case and that I try to have all the difficult conversations I avoided because I was afraid of the outcome. I took that advice and it is one of the best things I ever did. It was a profound shift in the direction of having the full power of my voice in this life. I look at my thyroid disease as one of the hardest and best things that ever happened to me. My wish for you is that you will be gentle and persistent, allowing yourself to deepen and become a singer with a message and beauty beyond your wildest dreams.

  18. Thank you so much. I am so relieved to hear that my voice will not suffer any permanent damage. I’ll be sure to follow all the great advice and restrain myself from the impulse to sing. I’m really glad I found this site and find some comfort to my worries. Thanks again!

  19. I am 14 years old & are still going through my changes (puberty). My Voice has already goten deeper at age 13. I lost my voice yelling during an arguement at about d beggining of this month. I recovered from losing it, but it wasn’t that clear. I used to able to sing really well before this incident. Now i cnt Sing at all. For the past week & a half maybe my voice has been very froggy. It sounds clear and normal wen i speak softly but when normally speakig it sounds muffly & when i try to speak up it sounds all scratchy and very difficult to get my words out. It’s very irritating. And i need Help. I want my singing voice back. I want to be able to speak Clearly if normal or loudly without any trouble. Any Tips, Ideas . Anything .please help.

    • Hi Jerry,
      It sounds like you might have really stressed your vocal cords. You need to see a laryngologist (an ENT doctor) to find out for certain. At the very least the cords are swollen and continuing to use them without getting medical input could result in long term damage. You might need to work with a speech therapist or voice coach and the doctor might prescribe vocal rest. Do not whisper or speak loudly and speak as little as possible until you have a diagnosis.

  20. You’re welcome Jerry.

  21. Hey I’m 20 years old and my voice is too boyish. Will my voice get more mature even though I’ve already went through puberty, any tips on getting a more mature voice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Austin,
      There are several answers and tips in the Q & A archives for both speaking and singing. You can read through the titles and find ones that refer to puberty or other relevant issues you are having. You can also see a doctor to see if there is a developmental reason for your vocal quality. You might need to work with a speech therapist or voice coach or you might need some form of medical treatment.
      Best,
      Jocelyn

  22. Hi..am 16…and just wanna ask for some good breathing exercises. I wanna be able to hold notes for long… i have a great voice and a nice range. But i dnt seem to know whether am a tenor or baritone. I dont know notes but i wanna ask for physical stuff and things i should look out for to show whether am a tenor or baritone and also if you can please elaborate on the benefits of importance of resonance and forward placement. And also how to achieve this..thanks

  23. I’m 24 years old and love to sing. I’m really good its just sometimes my nose and throat get in the way. It sounds like I’m singing through my nose and I’m constantly clearing my throat. It’s making it very hard for me to sing. I’m not sick and have not been for a long time. I want to be able to sing again.

    • Hi Sharon,
      Look through the archives for items on nasality, a clogged throat and anything else that seems relevant. Also try to see a doctor, speech therapist and voice teacher. A little help is all you need and you will definitely get your voice back!

  24. Hi i used to sound like a girl version of usher,justin bieber,and beyoncé my problem is i got too excited when i discovered my talent. i can still sing but my voice is dry and it has a hissing sound . No matter how much honey i swallow and hot tea and warm water a dash of lemons i dont see any improvement and i have a song to sing at school in two weeks plzz help me. It would really mean the world.

    • Hi Zoey,

      I am sorry you are having such trouble. Most importantly you should go to the doctor to find out if it is safe for you to sing — you do not want to do lasting damage to your voice. Talk and sing as little as possible — rest your voice until the performance. Drink lots of water. Do NOT use Halls or other throat lozenges. They dehydrate. Better to just suck on a butterscotch hard candy. Drink LOTS of water. Steam. Drink tea with Slippery Elm in it. Gargle with a very lightly salted, warm water. Sleep as much as you can. And once again, see a doctor.

  25. Thank you soo much i really appreciate it 😃have a blessed day

  26. Goodman said:

    What makes my voicebox to dry because i end up loosing my voice even if im just talking

    • Goodman,

      There are so many possible causes it is impossible to say. I know I sound a little like a broken record but it is always advisable to see a doctor when you have an ongoing vocal problem. Dryness can be caused by:
      — too much breath mixture in the sound
      — over work of the vocal cords
      — an illness directly affecting the vocal cords
      — sinus issues
      — issues with glands, tonsils, adenoids
      — allergies
      — acid refulx
      — dehydration
      — lack of rest
      — menthol
      — citrus
      — alcohol
      — smoke

      Once you are in a cycle of vocal fatigue and dysfunction you need to get help from medical and voice professionals if it is at all possible. Like any organ in the body, the voice sometimes needs special care and help. Hope you feel better soon!

  27. I realy like wat u people ar doing,u ar realy helpn singers

  28. I am a 70 year old female who sang 1st soprano in my younger years. My voice has steadily dropped over the years and my range is now in the low tenor or baritone range. However, our music director prefers not to have women sing in the men’s sections. We perform a two-hour concert and I have such difficulty reaching the higher alto notes that by the second half of the concert I can no longer sing. Any advice on how to increase my upper range or my ability to continue singing the 2nd half?

    • Hi Pat,
      Before I answer can you tell me if you have continued to take voice lessons over the years as well as how much you practice each day/week? That information will help me to better help you.

  29. No…never had voice lessons. I practice the music for our concert everyday anywhere from 1 – 2 hours. I just think the range is too high for me, but director wants me to try and increase my range. I have been trying for several years without success.

    • Okay Pat. When you have no background studying, it is almost impossible to know what to do to change your voice. The good news is that you can! The best thing you can do is find a teacher who will be able to give you exercises to reduce the air flow by supporting more, to use a finer edge of the vocal cords so they can vibrate faster and make the higher pitches, and to access the head resonators without the larynx elevating.

      Meanwhile, some things you can try are:
      — Make sure your larynx stay stable — neither raising nor pushing down when you sing — and don’t let it elevate when you move higher in the range. You can touch it very lightly to feel if it moves but never press on it!
      — Keep your posture erect and your lowest ribs open the whole time you sing so that the breath doesn’t push against your voice.
      — Think of just barely touching your vocal cords together to sing, not pressing into them or in anyway forcing. If you don’t know how they look or function, find a picture and description on line so that you can properly visualize.
      — Use staccato and agility exercises — it is easier to get high notes on fast moving, small sounds.
      — Hum a lot, especially on the [ng] sound like at the end of the word sing.
      — Do very light voiced sirens on a childlike [a] sound. Pretend you are a little girl and don’t try to sound good. Just slide in and out of the high notes making sure that your larynx stays stable. (Do not press on it!)

  30. Adarsh.K.Nair said:

    I am a 16+ year old boy.my voice often slips and cracks while i am speaking.The problem started before two years.I am not able to speak gently/softly.Also my sound is not clear and I feel that something has got stuck in my throat.I have tested my blood and scanned my throat.everything is normal.the doctor told me that i have to do a speech therapy.what should i do?

  31. Hello! I’ve been singing for a while now and I’ve noticed something that just started happening recently. When I try and sing sometimes, air goes into my throat and makes it hard for me to inhale. I mean, it kinda tickles my throat and I can’t sing when that happens. Can you tell me why it’s doing this?

    • Hi Meagan,
      I’m a little unclear — is the tickle caused by the inhalation, or do you feel it when you start to sing? If you can tell me a little more I can make a better response.

  32. Christian said:

    Okay, so, I have a question, I’m almost 17, I don’t know when I hit puberty but I have a bass voice and I really don’t like it..because when I was like 10 I had a great voice, high one, obviously I was a kid with a high singin’ voice, nothing strange in that, i was singing at my church and all that and when I hit puberty, I lost my high range and was left with this low range. I know that I’ll never going to have the same voice I had and that’s not my point. Some bands I am referring to are Coldplay, Linkin park, 30 sec to mars etc.. u know, all those lead singers have high voice.. I wanna know is there a chance to get a higher voice naturally within next few years? not by practicing (I know i can extend my singing voice by praticing and all that) but because im 17, maybe my voice still isn’t completed? Is there still a chance for my bass to become baritone or just higher than really low bass?

    • Hi Christian,
      Since I cannot hear you and vocalize you, I cannot say what the potential range of the voice might be. What I can say is that the first job any of us has is to fall in love with the voice we have and to never long for it to be anything else.

      When you sing in the high part of your voice it will be just as thrilling as when a tenor sings high. When you are completely plugged in and communicating, no one will think, “Gee . . . if only his voice was higher.” It is about the frequencies making up the overtones and the quality of the sound.

      Sometimes the quality of the voice DOES determine what we end up singing. I never wanted to be an opera singer but I had that kind of voice from the time I was a little kid. Then, the first time I sang opera I felt like I had come home to myself. It was THRILLING to use my voice that way.

      The best advice I can give is to NOT decide who you are or what you can do. Let life surprise you and reveal the gifts that only you can bring. You will have ways to express things that will never be heard form anyone else and they are the reason you were born. The voice you have is not a mistake — it is a miracle of accuracy and it is precious to life. This is true of everyone. The real work is in having the courage to be who we are rather than an imitation of someone we admire.

  33. Joan Gibson said:

    I can’t seem to find the spot to click for asking a question, so I’m putting it here.

    You talk about visualizing yourself singing perfectly. Does it matter whether I visualize my self as I would appear to an observer, or is it better to visualize myself in my own body as I sing?

    • Hi Joan,

      This IS the place to post your questions. It is most powerful to visualize yourself in your own body. However, I do both as I learn and grow stronger from both perspectives.

    • Hello i am a 17 year old boy and since i am 12 my voice is not loud .when i speak slow my voice is clear and when there is very noise my voice cannot be heard to .it is not at all audiable when there is any other noise.what exercises should i do

  34. my voice has become hoarse since 2 days due to yelling in class at students but as a teachr its a daily thing so how to overcome it

    • Yelling is never a good choice. I know teachers who use a piercing, unpleasant whistle and then speak. They also have serious consequences for students who do not listen or respond — they must leave the class and serve detention, etc. Once you have strained your voice you must rest it and let it heal or you could have permanent vocal damage. Steam, drink warm tea and see both a doctor and speech therapist if you can. Work with a voice specialist to learn how to project without straining.

  35. Hello. My name is Ryan and I have been singing since I could basically walk. This last year I developed environmental allergies and lost my voice for an extensive amount of time. I know that you have to be patient with your voice, but it’s been almost a month and I still am missing a sizable amount of my range. I am using a kind of “vocal therapy” and I was wondering how low and high the average 14 year olds voice should be. Because normally when you get sick, you typically lose your upper voice. But both my upper and lower ranges are currently impaired. I am really
    Scared of what permanent damage could be done. Please help with anything. Thanks

    • Hi Ryan,

      I suffered terribly with allergies for many years. While you are searching for ways to bring them under control it is important not to push the voice into the extremes of the range or to sing too loud. The vocal cords are likely to be swollen or at the very least irritated.

      Some things you can do to help are using a neti pot (irrigating your sinuses) yoga breathing exercises, steaming, and drinking lots of water and throat coat tea.

      You can check out posts on breathing, stuffed nose and other topics in the question and answer archives for more information and tips.

      You might also try dietary changes such as eliminating dairy and other mucus causing foods. Some people also find improvements when they eliminate wheat. I had to eliminate almost all animal products to get rid of my allergies. It was the best thing I ever did. I rarely have allergies now.

      Good luck to you!

  36. Hi, i’m a 14 year olde female, and i’m an alto I have an incredibly low voice, My voice sounds breathy but I know I dont have a breathy voice because my speaking voice isnt breathy, I hear some of my friends have a very nice mature voice, and there’s no breathiness in it its very clear and strong, and they have vibrato in it, I’ve been in choir since 6th grade and now i’m in 8th grade, I want to get a rich, strong, and clear sounding voice like my friends, Is it possible if I stayed in choir throughout highschool, could I obtain a strong, rich, clear sound like my friends have? Also sometimes my breathy tone turns rich and strong one day then the next day its sounds breathy again????

    • Hi There!
      You are still very young and your voice is growing and developing just like the rest of you. The strength will continue to develop as you sing. Just don’t push or tire your voice. I think it is a great idea to stay in choir. It would be wonderful if you could also take some singing lessons!
      Good luck to you,
      Jocelyn

  37. Concerned Theatre Geek said:

    You have mentioned earlier not to push your voice as a 14 year Old male. I am very serious with my voice and theatre. It is my dream to be in Jason Robert Brown’s 13 the Musical. But, this is a very demanding musical. The males hit b’s and b flat’s all the time. Should I push through and do it or just do what is more easy and natural.

    • NEVER NEVER NEVER push your voice, especially at such a pivotal time in your development. If you truly are serious then you must develop patience and wisdom and find a way to work with a very knowledgeable voice teacher.

  38. Hi,My voice is like girl i am boy so i can change my voice plz give me tips

  39. Hi, namaste My voice is like boy so i feel bad and i want girls voice plz would u help me.

  40. I have heard from different places that you can can feel your chewing muscle under your chin. I also heard that this tells you about your breath flow. It talked about how if it was hard, then your breath flow was not good and that the air supply wasn’t good either. If it is soft that meant that the air supply was good. Mine is always hard. Is this true or not true?

    • Breath flow is determined by the ability to pace the breath through the vocal cords so that they can come together cleanly and vibrate freely. I think the most useful way to think about this is to focus on physical elements that actually affect breathing and the ability to pace it.
      1. The posture of the sternum (or breastbone)
      2. The expansion of the muscles between the lower ribs (without affecting the posture of the sternum)
      3. The ability to release the abdominals (without pushing them out or pulling them in so that their weight can help to retard the ascent of the diaphragm)
      Extreme and constant hardness under the chin would most likely be due to excess tension in the tongue. You will and should feel activity and engagement there when the tongue is articulating. I think it is better to simply make sure the tongue isn’t getting stuck, pulling back in the mouth or overworking to articulate different sounds.

  41. Hey! I am a performer and do lots of singing, acting, and dancing. For my voice as a 14 year old guy, it is sometimes hard to maintain excellence, especially when it is expected of you. What are some things I can do to help me ease through “the change?”

  42. Vincent said:

    Hi,

    I hope you can advise me.
    I have a WIDE range. An Octave below mid C and 2 and Half above midC. The other day I hit one of those high keys that Queen use to sing and I am NOT sure HOW I did it.
    I just sang a song and playd arround and out of the blue it came.

    • Hi There,

      Clearly you have a good strong falsetto and it blends well with the part of the range you are singing with your true vocal cords. I’m not sure how you found higher notes either — there just isn’t enough information here to even venture a guess. However, when something works, if you do it again chances are it will keep working. The main thing is to keep having fun — that spirit of play will take you a long way!

      best,
      Jocelyn

      • Vincent said:

        Hi Jocelyn,

        What I have found is that when I rehearse with Paula and Randy Voice coach I hit those high keys.
        Here in South Africa we don’t have the American coaches hence me immegrating west.

        My range is quite big and some power cord does come out. Just this weekend I pulled Tina Turner’s version of Proud Marry off. The judges were amazed. (This is a small competition)

        Just wish that we had what the west offers, I don’t know if they invented singing because seriously, I fit in that bracket. Just need some guidence.

        I have perfect Diction, resonance and pitching. My vocal placement is on the dot,

        How can I get my Demo to Western studios to look at me?

  43. Cecilia Dekovic said:

    I have a question on the effects of chewing gum daily. Does it affect the ability to relax the tongue when singing. I have a problem keeping a straight tone, because it wobbles, which makes me go out of tune.

    • Hi There,

      Anything done to excess seems to influence us. If you were to chew a little gum for a couple minutes it might help to moisten the membranes and would be fine. If you chew constantly, not only could it affect your tongue but also your jaw. The ideal is to drink water or sip on an herbal tea and avoid the other stuff.

      The issue with the straight tone and wobble would, I think, be completely unrelated. That will be the result of the way your vocal cords come together to vibrate, and the manner in which you time that with the exhalation. The flow of air and the beginning of the tone need to begin at precisely the same moment. You need to have neither too much nor too little air and neither too much nor too little engagement of the voice. Because the vocal cords are so tiny this coordination needs to be very precise in order to have a liberated tone and impeccable intonation. It would be really great to focus on this in lessons with your teacher or coach.

      All the best to you!
      Jocelyn

  44. Angela Brown said:

    Is it ok to have 2 or more voice teachers? I am a dancer and we encourage multiple teachers. My 13 year old daughter is a singer and I want to provide her with as much training as possible.

    • It is possible to have more than one teacher and sometimes it can benefit. However, most voice teachers don’t agree to it. Singing teachers can have very different techniques. One might believe the jaw should be dropped and very open all of the time while another might believe in a closed mouth position. A third one might believe in a dynamic, changing mouth position. One teacher might believe in pushing the abdominal muscles down and out to support while another believes in working the muscles between the lower ribs and ignoring the abdominals. It can get very confusing for the student and be extremely frustrating for the teachers. Because of this, most singers stick with one teacher for technique and then work with different musical coaches and accompanists to develop repertoire and style. They might also work with an acting coach for interpretation. If you do work with more than one teacher, try to get all of them to agree to it. Ideally they know one another and have a technique that is well-founded in physiology, having studied vocal pedagogy at a good university.

  45. I’m a young teenager, and last year I started practicing screamo, but I sucked so I stopped. All of a sudden, my voice got really deep and my throat felt big and my chest hurt like hell. I can feel a slight burn in my throat when I sing, I wouldnt dare scream, its sounds really um…airy? not much sound. please help, if you can then I love you! If not, I understand, neither could the doctors. Thanks!!!!!

    • Hi There,

      It is possible for the tissue to regenerate somewhat, depending on how much damage has been done and what the nature of the damage is. If the ligament has been stretched and traumatized, it will have to be rested and then very slowly and carefully worked to gradually regain strength and flexibility. If you repeatedly burst blood vessels, there could be a lot of scar tissue. Sometimes it can be surgically removed, sometimes it can be rehabilitated. Because you are young your chances are better. You need to work very carefully and slowly with a speech therapist and a voice teacher who has experience working with vocal trauma. Using your voice the way you have is the equivalent of setting yourself on fire and having first degree burns — it’s a profound trauma for the body and the recovery is complex. It comes in stages over time and it is extremely easy to re-injure the voice. Be sure NOT to whisper as this will increase the damage. Speak very lightly with no excess air and hum to find the resonance you need to be heard. Learn how to breathe and support. This could be hard but try not to be afraid. The worst thing you can do is be tense about it. Relax your neck muscles, your tongue and jaw. Breathe through your nose and feel the ease in your face and throat. Drink tons of water — no alcohol, soda or caffeine. Absolutely no smoking of any kind. Doctors and teachers can help some, but the person who can do the most is you. Stay curious and willing and count on a miracle.

      Best of luck to you.

      • You said no smoking of any kind, but I’m kind of fucked. My downstairs neighbor smokes nonstop, and my apt smells smokey, and hes not planning on stopping for me any time soon. My place has 2nd and 3rd hand smoke. Soooo… what should I do to fix myself?

      • You can ventilate your place using a fan and windows and you can get a device that removes smoke from the air. Place it by your bed at night especially.

        Good luck, Jocelyn

  46. Thank you. May your life be filled with happiness! I’ve been hurting for a year now, and I honestly thought I would die soon. Nobody I’ve talked to has helped me, you are the first to respond. Its really nice to know that smart people exist. I have become obsessed with this. Maybe, one day, I can do good as well. I prayed that somebody would help me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  47. Hello Ms Jocelyn, my name is Sarah i am 10 yrs old and enjoy singing classical & musical Broadway. I value your advice and wanted you to look at some of my videos on you-tube to make sure i am singing properly. I don’t want to mess up my voice because I love to sing and it is my dream to be a famous classical & Broadway singer..I would love to have a chance at auditioning in Disney world. Thank you so much. Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,
      You have a very pretty voice and a strong desire to communicate. Nothing you are doing will harm your voice or prevent you from singing in the future. As you continue to study and practice you will want to develop your breathing and support. You will also want to study a little piano and musicianship, take acting and a little dancing. Just keep growing and learning about all kinds of things. Singing isn’t just about your voice — it’s about your whole person. All of the other things you do in your life give you something to sing about and help you to understand the people you are singing to. Most of all, have fun and keep good friendships. The love and joy in your heart give the greatest beauty to the voice.
      Best of luck as you follow your dream!
      Jocelyn

  48. Hello there!

    I’ve had quite some vocal problems lately, and it’s quite bothersome and hard to deal with on top of all the curves life throws at me. So let me get down to the nitty gritty;

    I am an entertainer. I just graduated Highschool with multiple acting awards and I am now about to start college as a theatre major with a concentration in Acting specifically. I also adore being on stage in musicals. I’m a very loud, eccentric person, and my friends love me for my friendly, flamboyant personality. As I’m sure you can tell just by reading this, my voice is not only the instrument to my (sometimes tiresome) social life, but also the key to my career. Without the voice, as you know, an entertainer is helpless.

    My problem is not with the sound of my voice, but the strength of my voice. I am a male, and have a very high pitched voice, but I like my voice if that makes any sense. I’ve grown used to the sound of it, and even enjoy hearing it played back to me haha (: When I speak, my voice sounds deep to me, but in reality it’s actually very high, which is what I think alot of people can relate to.

    Anyway, when I’m very relaxed and not putting much effort into speaking (basically whenever I’m with my family) My voice is fine. However, when I’m with my friends or people I enjoy, my eccentric, energetic personality kicks in, and I project my voice without even realizing it. I notice that I start to put effort into speaking; I feel myself “pushing” as I speak (Because I project due to my personality) and out of nowhere I feel the vocal fatigue. Most of the time it’s just a tired feeling in my throat, other times it’s pain. But it’s a mood kill and very annoying. Sometimes I feel as if when I’m with friends, the tone of my voice rises due to my excitement, but this could just be a thought I have in my head, but it doesn’t exist physically. When in social situations I feel myself attempting to force my voice into a lower tone, because I feel as if speaking in a lower tone will add power. But attempting to speak in a lower tone probably does not help.

    I would say that I probably have vocal nodules, but my voice only hurts when I’m…well, when I’m being myself. If I’m very relaxed and not putting much energy into a situation, my voice is fine and there’s no problem or pain. But I don’t want to sacrifice my personality (whcih makes me who I am as a person and actor) so that my voice won’t fatigue. Is there any way to fix this? Perhaps surgery? Or should I just get used to it?

    My guess is that I just have weak vocal cords and vocal organs, so I should just try to adapt and get used to it. But I wanted to get someone else’s opinion. I hope you can help me in any way.

    Thank you very much!

    • Hi There,

      It is good to be concerned and to seek help so that you can sustain your instrument for the dreams and goals you have. I would not recommend surgery unless everything else fails; it is a last resort. It can take a very long time to recover the strength and wholeness and the surgery can be damaging too. I would recommend you work with both a speech therapist and a voice coach to learn how to use your voice without stressing it. It is highly unlikely that your voice is inherently weak, but it might have been weakened by the way you have been using it.

      Using the voice in a healthy way does not require you in any way to diminish your personality. It will in fact allow you to be more yourself than you dreamed possible. As an actor you will need to explore many dimensions of yourself. Don’t be too hasty to decide who you are and what best serves you. Try to be open to exploring as much of your potential as you can and include in that some serious vocal study and rehabilitation. That work will be an asset for the whole of your life.

      Good luck to you!

  49. Joseph Thelamour said:

    Hi, my name is Joseph, I was born in Haiti and move here when I was 12 years old. Now in Haiti school is in French and I can only speak my native language at home which is Creole. I ended up speaking more French then Creole. When I have move to NYC the ball game change now I start learning a new language which is English. My brain got confuse a little, I stop speaking French ended up speaking Creole and English. All my cousins that’s from here don’t speak Creole they speak English. Finally around 8th grade I start picking up English and my French is gone can’t even have a conversation in French. Now I end up speaking more English then Creole. What I have notice I still have an accent in Creole and in English. I don’t know if I have a speech pattern problem. My accent use to be heavy in English now it’s clearer but sometime I ended up speaking with a Creole accent so I sound like Creole. I don’t know how to keep my accent steady. I don’t klnow if I’m capable to keep a Creole accent and keeping an English accent. I’m worried one way or the other I might lose my native language people will not understand me. Do you know what can I do to keep a steady accent on both languages or how to switch from one accent to another. I never took any classes or have a formal grammatical in my native language so I don’t know any rules I just speak it as it is. lol. Please help. I think the tone of my voice sound the same on both language that’s where the problem is…

    • Hi Joseph,
      Sorry I was unable to respond sooner. There is a musical quality to languages and there are rules of construction. You are correct in thinking that both are important to communication. Being clear is not so much about the tone of voice as it is about being grammatically correct and then having the proper inflection and emphasis for each syllable. To truly shift this you could need to work with a teacher or take classes. However, some people make progress by working with recordings and computer programs designed to assist. Rosetta Stone is very popular and people report great success. http://www.rosettastone.com. Some people never lose their accent and it does not inhibit their life at all. The most important thing is to have an open heart along with a joyful determination to understand and be understood.

      • Joseph Thelamour said:

        No problem. I think you are right about the Rosettastone application. However, my English is not that bad. I am 32 now, I came to NYC when I was 12 years old, remember. My English is fluent, I do held a Bachelor degree in Networking and Communication Management. My battle is to be able to sound more like American. Instead my voice tone sound the same when I speak Creole and English. I have to say sometime my accent don’t come out at all. Especially when I’m on the phone, because I work at a call center so I have to speak clearly. I was once told when I speak with a deep voice my accent reduced verses when I speak with a normal voice. I shouldn’t be forcing myself to speak with a deep voice there have to be another way to speak with a normal tone voice and be able to sound different. I’m working on it. I do know one they said if you speak a new language after the age of 11 you will have an accent. I came to this country when I was 12 years old maybe that’s what happening here. I don’t have any huge issue on pronouncing the words in English like I told you I’m starting to have a heavy accent on my first language which is Creole. I speak more English then my native language. I don’t know maybe I just need to accept that I have an accent when I speak English. It is just native people here look down on you when you sound Foreign they think you not intelligent enough. I have seeing back in school how they treated them. However, I have seeing a lot of foreigners that is very smart then the one that was orginally born here. I don’t discriminate if I see someone struggling with pronounciation I just help them.

      • Joseph,

        I am sad to say I have witnessed this discrimination and poor treatment far too many times and it is heartbreaking. It takes great fortitude to endure and to respond to such ignorance with compassion. I appreciate your kindness and hope it is often returned to you.

        What I like about the Rosetta Stone is the repetition and instant feedback. You can also just imitate good speakers in radio and TV. Listen and try to sound like them as you repeat what they say. As children we learn mostly by imitating and it is very effective.

        I wish you all the best!
        Jocelyn

      • Joseph Thelamour said:

        Another thing I do a lot is reading. I read a lot of books that seems to help a lot.

      • Joseph Thelamour said:

        Thank you Jocelyn, I will keep that in mind, I think it would help me by imatating others on TV and radio. I just cannot understand how you have individual capable to speak three languages and able to speak them without an accent. I think it’s a gift. I have some friends that’s like that..

    • AND, that is the truth. Some people seem to have a gift for it!

  50. iam 24yr old female with pronounciation problem.people find it difficult to understand my language even in my mother tongue.i got less scores in ielts because of this problem in ielts.kindly answer.my voice is shaky and vibrating kind.

    • Hi There,

      As I said in the response above to Joseph, you will need to take an ESL (English as a Second Language)program in classes, work with a teacher, or perhaps try something like Rosetta Stone — a program you can use on your computer. http://www.rosettastone.com You will help the shakiness in your voice by standing tall and energized in your posture, by breathing deeply, and by speaking in a calm, steady way.

  51. I have two kids who may have ADHD , they are so loud ! They have speech delay , they did not talk in full sentences unti 4 and were not understood until they were 6 … Now they speak English with a bad accent! They were born in Canada they should not be speaking like foreigners ! Can speech therapy help ? They are 8 and 10… They did have few blocks of speech therapy through the school and a govt funded program …

    • Hi There,

      I am so sorry I did not respond sooner — there have been circumstances that prevented.

      The volume is clearly related to a very high energy. I would suggest work with the breath, which will help with all kinds of things.

      Speech therapy will definitely help with what you are calling a bad accent. The practitioner should be able to help with the breathing work as well.

      Something like karate could also help them regulate their energy. While there is a time in the practice for strong outflow of voice and power, there is also an incredible development of self-control, timing and respect.

      Best,
      Jocelyn

  52. When I speak its like I have excess spit in my mouth? LIke when I speak and particularly when I say things like ‘she’ or other things with sh in it it sounds slushy? Its really irritating and I deteste it, is there anything I can do to help it or anything? Thanks

    • I recommend seeing a doctor to get help determining what is producing the excess saliva. I have written some responses to questions about excess saliva — perhaps you could read those in the archives? It could help you to slow down, give yourself time to swallow and breathe through your mouth. A speech therapist might also have some helpful practices for your specific issues.

      Best,
      Jocelyn

  53. David Hughes said:

    For some years I’ve not been able to continue the invaluable help derived via a singing teacher’s expertise; in these circumstances, aged 77 and in reasonably good health, despite heart disease, I realize that I’m exceedingly fortunate that folks still want me to give regular recitals (light baritone, not opreatic, repertoire – Handel, Schubert, Copland etc., etc.), with twice monthly engagements booked for the whole of this new year. However, whilst the ENT man says that there are “No structural problems” I nevertheless have several annoying difficulties about which I’d greatly value your advice, please. First let me set my things in context. Doubtless age related, about 2 years ago the passagio shifted some two and a half tones, although the compass remains unaltered, necessitating immense expenditure to have 90% of my repertoire transposed down accordingly. The result of this occurrence brings me three main niggles, as follows: (1) in warm-up excercises, try as I might, a grating/crackling sound intermittently prevents production of a clear ‘e’ vowel in the middle-upper registers (grrrr!) (2) arround middle F/G/A a nasty and infuriatingly u n p r e c e d e n t e d tendency to wobble is now prevelant…. (3) despite almost eliminating dairy product consumption and ensuring that I don’t eat after 8 00 pm., for the last couple of years THE most frustrating ‘development’ is excess mucus (despite trying all sorts of so called ‘remedies’ nothing effectively works); recently,on two occasions, over a couple of bars, the voice faltered in the first two arias… Cumulatively, I’m crying HELP!

    Two orther queries about which I’d appreciate your added expertise: (A) how long does it take for the voice to lose the benefits of doing vocal exercises at home before, say, a lunchtime gig where there’s no facility to further warm-up at the venue? (B) we all know that moisture/wetness aids voice production when singing but do you reccommend swallowing to produce saliva between songs/arias on the concert-platform (in addition to there of course being a class of warm water on hand)?

    Apologies for the ength of my communication but it was unavoidable.

    Oer to you.

    • First of all, BRAVO! It is thrilling to hear from you and to learn about your singing. I’m delighted you went ahead and transposed your repertoire to accommodate vocal changes so that you can retain musicianship and expressiveness in your singing. The way we sing can make mucus and other things basically irrelevant, but if we can eliminate the symptoms, it is much more fun.

      For the mucus I suggest the following regimen, twice a day (morning and evening):
      1. Kaphala bati — a breathing practice from yoga, which facilitates clearing of the entire respiratory system. You can google it and find instructions, proabably even a youtube video that demonstrates it. (May be spelled in different ways.)
      2. Steaming — boil some water, put a bath towel over your head and breathe the steam for 15 – 20 min through both the mouth and nose.
      3. Neti pot — you can get this at any pharmacy and it will come with instructions. A mild saline solution is used to irrigate the sinuses and clear mucus.
      Diet, etc.
      Dairy doesn’t bother all of us and is not the only mucus causing agent. If you have eliminated it and you are still getting mucus, it is not the problem. You can try eliminating wheat, or wine, one at a time to see if that makes a difference. Just experiment with one thing for about a week or two. But stay in balance. Dramatic shifts are confusing to the body and rarely bring about the miracle we imagine is possible. You can try other foods too but again, slowly and one at a time.
      Maybe change your mattress, bedding and especially pillow. Or that very old, comfortable chair, sofa or carpet? There are environmental things that need to be changed with age.
      Have you started using any new cleaning or hygiene products? Or are there any old ones you have become sensitive to? The only way to know is to eliminate them one at a time and see if there is a change.

      SINGING PRACTICES:
      1. Finer phonation: as we age, the cords get a little thicker, heavier, and less responsive. The reflex can be to dig in more deeply but the adjustment is just the opposite. We need to use a much finer edge of the vocal folds so that they can vibrate faster. This will help the vibrato rate to increase again and will facilitate access of the upper range. It will also make navigating the passaggio much easier. Work for that “fil di voce” (thread of voice) and keep it throughout the range. Don’t allow yourself to open too much or work to hard for high notes. Find the little thread of sound and the rest will come. When there is excess mucus, there is a tendency to push against it but this never works. You have to have the sense of threading through the middle of it.
      2. Resonance: you will have to go for a more brilliant tone than you might imagine. While you do not want to close the sound into the nose, when there is congestion you can lose its essential contribution to the resonance balance of the tone. So work lots of nasal continuants and nasty “a” vowel. If you do this using just a thread of phonation that raspiness should be eliminated.
      3. Breath management: you need to keep your lower ribs expanded and strong, and use LESS air in the tone. The flow needs to be constant but the stream must be very small. Make sure your posture supports this and that the lower body is not locked in effort.

      Hope something in all that is of help.
      Happy New Year!
      Jocelyn

  54. Hi!
    I kind of have a few questions that I would love to get help with. I’m male, 25 years old.
    For a number of years now, I’ve realised that I have some issues with my speech. I don’t remember having these issues when I was younger, and wonder whether some of them are from a lack of confidence which I developed which resulted in some social phobia.

    One of the issues seems to be that I talk too fast, and can’t slow it down without sounding completely unnatural!
    I also struggle with certain sounds; For example, ”scent of a woman” will sound like ”scent of awwwmmmmm” ”Arron lennon” will sounds like ”Arron Lnnnnn”
    Long sentences are a struggle in general. I feel as though I am running out of breath as it goes on, and also speeding up as I progress.
    And my final issue is that my voice sounds a little ‘whispy’ to me. Not loud enough. Like my vocal chords aren’t vibrating like they should. Maybe feels a little ‘dry’?
    The only time this is temporarily ‘fixed’ is when I wake up in the morning after a night on the beers!! I love how my voice sounds for them few hours in the morning!!

    So. i’d love to hear your thoughts on the various points I’ve raised.
    I also wonder if you can recommend any CD’s / mp3 files / books etc that could help with my specific issues. (as opposed to a speech therapist)

    thanks!

    • Hi There,

      Sorry I didn’t see the alert for this one come through — I do try to answer in a timely fashion. Thanks for following up.

      On the one hand, if you can identify the issues you also know the solutions. If you speak too quickly all you have to do is slow down — just because it sounds unfamiliar to you doesn’t mean it’s unnatural. Breathe when you need to — you don’t have to speak an entire phrase on one breath. In fact, it might be easier to listen to you if you don’t. Send less air into the voice, and expand the ribs more. You’ll notice in the More Than Speaking Q & A Archives I have posted information about slowing down (speaking too rapidly), increasing volume (speaking too softly), using the breath and articulation. I encourage you to read through those posts.

      Alcohol and sleep create relaxation. Learn from the way you feel in the morning. If you can maintain that throughout the day, then do.

      I really do think your best bet is to work with a speech therapist but if you really want to do it yourself, there is an mp3 download for a Basic Vocal Tune-Up on my website: http://www.morethanspeaking.com that works with developing the breath, the way your vocal cords come together, resonance and articulation. If you are able to work independently, accurately assess what you are doing, and practice repeatedly over a period of time, the exercises on it could help you to address your concerns.

      Wishing you all good things and a healthy functioning voice!

  55. My voice trembles a lot when i try to sing High! Help!!

    • Hi There,

      In order to sing high notes with freedom and ease, we need to be able to adjust the flow of air. Otherwise, there is pressure on the voice and it can start to tremble or shake, much as your arms or legs would if they were being strained by lifting something too heavy for too long. This is why singing methods and teachers focus so much on breathing. They talk about “breath support” or “breath management,” or sometimes just “support.”

      The most important things you can do to have some influence over the amount of air going through the vocal cords are:

      1. Maintain excellent posture.
      2. Keep the lower ribs expanded.
      3. Release the abdominal organs and muscles — neither grip nor push below the waist.

      Richard Miller writes in detail and gives exercises in The Structure of Singing: System and Art of Vocal Technique.

  56. I am a untrained male baritone that is about I be 20 in a few months. I was wondering about how could I tell if I am a developing bass-baritone or a Dramatic Baritone. I have a hard time finding my passaggios, but my tessitura is from A2(Bb2)-G3 and I comfortably speak from A2-C3 without going into extremes. From what I have been told, I have a smooth and warm vocal tone. I can comfortably sing down to a D2 on most days and I don’t even know how I fry notes. I think in head voice the highest I have ever hitten was an F4-G4. I was wanting to know what is the main difference between Dramatic and bass-baritone and when do they essentially develop.

    • Hi There!

      It sounds like you have a very exciting instrument. However, given that you are so young, it might be some time before the full range opens up and you know exactly what repertoire will be best for you. The voice fully matures in one’s mid-thirties. A bass baritone may have a lower range than a dramatic baritone and the passaggi could be slightly lower, but even more telling than differences in range would be the timbre of the instrument and where the “sweet spot” is. In a dramatic baritone, the voice will tend to blossom and soar as it moves higher. In a bass baritone the lower notes will have more resonance and life. When you sing the repertoire for each you will find out which affords the most vocal beauty and musicality. You will learn if the color of your voice is most suited to the character of the bass or the baritone. Experienced teachers and coaches will be able to help you. The important thing is to not push in order to achieve one or the other. Work sensibly and the voice will reveal its true nature in good time.

  57. Johann Nepomuceno said:

    does drinking milk mess up your singing voice?

    • Milk affects everyone differently. One operatic soprano I know likes to drink a big glass of milk before she sings because she likes the “coating” it gives her throat. Other people get too much phlegm and it is awful for them. If you drink milk and become congested, that is your answer. If it doesn’t bother you then enjoy!

  58. Hannah Weakley said:

    Hi,

    I’m a 26 year old professional actress, singer, and voice actress/narrator living in Japan. I came down with the flu about a month ago and it mostly affected my lungs. I was careful not to cough too much or do anything that would scratch or irritate my voice so my actual voice remained clear although I often could not speak without coughing in between words. I had a narration job scheduled about 4 days after getting the flu, and was able to do the job but the cough remained for about 2 weeks while I continued to do recording work in narration and singing, as well as live plays and musicals where I had to yell and do vocally challenging work. I was careful not to do anything that actually caused pain in my throat, and my voice remained clear, in spite of the intermittent coughs, weak lungs, and constant mucus buildup. I have taken days or short periods of vocal rest when I could, but I have had to continue working at less than 100% for about a month now. Now nearly a month later I can finally feel a scratchy feeling and irritation in my throat and the mucus build up has resulted in another cough. Basically my throat just feels raw, and you can finally hear it when I speak. I have not lost my voice (I have not tested my range, so I don’t know how much of it has been affected) but I am worried that if I don’t get a period of intense vocal rest in soon I will damage my folds. I am of course drinking a lot of liquids and avoiding caffeine or alcohol. My question is whether or not Taking a day or two of rest in between jobs will allow my voice to recover, or if a longer period of rest is required. I have a very intense vocal schedule coming up in the next few months, and I want to make sure that my voice is at 100% before jumping into the crazy time.

    The blog is very interesting btw. Living in Japan, I have lots of friends into vocaloid so I was surprised and pleased to read your post on it.

    • Hi There,

      Congratulations on a wonderful, diverse career. I know how difficult it is to turn down work when you freelance, but it’s extremely important that you not damage your voice by overdoing at this time. It’s equally important that you don’t develop compensatory habits from working while ill. The only person who can answer your question about rest is an ENT (ear-nose-throat doctor) or laryngologist (voice specialist). From the sounds of things, I don’t think a day or two will suffice — you don’t want to get into a cycle of being just rested enough to re-injure. However, you also don’t want to rest so much that you lose tone and stamina. Without knowing your voice and hearing you, I couldn’t begin to guess. The steps you are taking are good. It sounds like you are sensible and willing to live the disciplined life of a singer/voice actor. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Jocelyn

  59. Troubled said:

    Hi! I’m just wondering how proper breathe support feels? I feel like sometimes I’m just sucking in my gut and it’s not real support. Also I’m just wondering about belting and mixed voice. My range goes up to about an Eb solidly and then if I’m singing really well I can hit up to a G above middle C (Baritone). However this is rare and I feel like I have to force it and can’t relax. How can I properly belt or mix it?

    • Hi There,

      Sucking in your gut certainly isn’t real support. Breath support comes from excellent posture, the expansion of the ribs, especially the lowest three. The abdominal muscles should be toned but not gripped, and lower sphincters should be released as well.

      To belt properly, you do not change the pressure on the vocal cords. If you do, you will limit range. Instead, you use more of the frontal resonance in the mix and this allows you to seamlessly blend the tone from the chest through to the head as though you never leave the belt. The voice doesn’t strain because of precision and balance, but NOT relaxation. Singing is not a relaxed activity but it feels free and thrilling when the function is optimal.

      Maybe you could try some lessons with a good teacher in your area to help you sort things out.

      All best,
      Jocelyn

  60. Vincent Obi said:

    hello.
    I am a choral director and singer of 26 yrs. I have been singing for close to 15years now. I stared as a choir boy (Alto) and later soprano and during my high schooml days I turned to a brillante tenor singer. But the problem is that Since I started playing instruments, my singing voice depreciated because I spent time playing for other. The worst is that my once brillante tenor fell to Baritone with rough sounds on Eb. And I suffer dryness, cracks and breathing problems. I can climb high notes any longer. Am so sad! I know how it was easy but now… Please What do I do? They said it is because I take some beer? Is it true?

    • Hi There,

      Everyone responds differently to different substances. Some singers have no tolerance at all to alcoholic beverages while others are largely unaffected. The best way to find out is to stop drinking and see what changes. In general alcohol dehydrates and so it is not the most ideal thing to drink. The health and ability of the voice is dependent on regular practice, good health and the ability to adapt to the processes of aging. Perhaps you should try a few lessons with a good teacher and see if you can sort it out.

      Wishing you all the best,
      Jocelyn

  61. jennings said:

    Hello…thankz a lot for this oppurtunity,..Am losing my voice,..its getting quit rough like chokking me up when ¶ try to go higher like ¶ used to,..and what caused it was after ¶ couldn’t help smoking,..¶ don’t know,¶ just wish u can tell me there iƨ a way out because am close to recording my first single,.

    • Dear Heart,

      There is no substitute for NOT smoking and taking great care of your health. Nothing can compensate for that. My best advice is to get support to put down all substances that damage your voice and your health and to live in service of your singing, of all your gifts.

      Best,
      Jocelyn

  62. Lera Hughes said:

    I can’t find where I can post a question, so I’ll try it here. I’ve been told since I was in my late 20’s that I have a beautiful lyric soprano vocal tone, but it’s extremely difficult for me to hold a tune perfectly in my head. In other words, I get off key though I’m told it still sounds very good, but I just can’t stay right on pitch on every note. I sing church hymns and other Christian songs. Have you ever heard of this? What’s my problem?

    • Hi There,

      Posting a comment is the way to get a question through. Thanks for letting me know that’s confusing — I’ll try to make it more clear.

      It happens sometimes that people with beautiful voices and musically expressive spirits have difficulty with “tonal memory.”

      Sometimes the voice wanders a little because of a technical problem, and shifting the technique solves the issue. For example, if you tend to use a lot of head resonance but not much chest, there might be a tendency to drift higher. Or if you don’t use enough head resonance the voice might drift lower.

      Other times it might have to do with the way you listen and translate what you hear. Some people hear overtone frequencies almost as powerfully as they hear the fundamental and that can be disorienting.

      It can also have something to do with how physical the experience of singing is and whether or not you feel the sound in your body. People who don’t have a strong physical engagement can have trouble staying on key.

      In all cases, once you know what is happening you can definitely work to improve it. Hopefully a good teacher can help you sort it out.

      Meanwhile, keep singing with all your heart and soul. Sometimes just singing enough is its own cure.

      All my best,
      Jocelyn

  63. I am a light lyric soprano ,or light lyric coloratura who can sing from a G3-F6, and I’m eighteen years old. I’ve been taking vocal lessons for two years now, and my teacher still won’t let me sing above a high Bb5. I really want to work on a song with a C6, but my teacher doesn’t think that I’m ready to do so. I’m not asking to sing anything above a high C, and I wish that she would let me.
    With that being said, when are most singers ready to hit notes like a C6 and beyond?

    • Every teacher has reasons for the choices they make, with the intention of best serving your development. I would think the decision at this point is not due to your age but rather to vocal function. You can sing as high as you like as long as there is no tension or strain on the voice. If singing higher in anyway stresses or tires the instrument, then you must wait. When you choose a teacher, you need to make sure it is someone you trust and believe in. Most of us have more than one teacher in our lives and there is a time when we feel we must move on. If you doubt your teacher’s choices and want another opinion, you might try a lesson with another teacher, but do so with care and gratitude. It is better by far to be careful in the development of young voices.

  64. Sanae Lambert said:

     Hello. I am a 16 year old soprano and I have a question? How come when I sing high notes to ewwwwww I find it much easier than singing it to the normal lyrics? Can you please answer this for me. Also I have one more question. How can I make my vocal range better. I want to hit high d because the highest I have hit it high c. I want to hit high g or f if possible. Thanks. Sanae.

    • Hi There,

      Sorry I’ve been away and haven’t responded sooner. There are a couple reasons why your high notes might be easier on “ew” than on words:
      1) When you use the words, you might be opening your mouth too wide or moving the articulators too much. The “ew” would necessitate adjustments on the inside of you mouth and throat that might be making it easier for you to go high.
      2) Perhaps the consonants in the words are getting in the way of the flow of tone or causing constriction of the muscles used to articulate them. In this case you would need to make smaller, more precise consonants that do not interrupt the flow of the vowels.

      Try an intermediate step of singing just the vowels. For example, if the words are: “The water is wide, I can’t cross o’er” do the passage first on your “ew”. Then sing the passage on the vowels from each syllable: ə ɑ ɝ ɪ ɑɪ ɑɪ a ɑ oɝ. Those are the symbols from the international phonetic alphabet. If you aren’t familiar with them, just do your best to sing the vowel in each syllable.

      As for increasing the range of high notes, you will need to work on a few things:
      1) Improve your breath management so that you have only a tiny flow of air. This will reduce the subglottic pressure on the vocal cords. That just means there won’t be too much air pressing against your cords as you try to make the high pitches.
      2) Think of just barely touching your vocal cords together — don’t press into the muscle.
      3) Without pressing down, intend that your larynx does not rise up too much in your throat.
      4) Access the resonators in your head, both inside and and the front of the face. Humming on m, n or ng might help you with this.
      5) Release tension in the shoulders, neck, throat, jaw and anywhere else in the body. High notes need to be liberated!

      As always, I recommend you work with a teacher! Best of luck to you.

      Jocelyn

    • That’s the smart thinking we could all benefit from.

  65. I have a problem with my voice, everytime sombody asks me somthing or I want to say somthing in general I am more focused on how my talking voice sounds to the other person more then anything else and I’m tires of it I don’t know what to do. I have a very deep voice one min then I sound like a little kid/gay guy the next and because of this I feel like people think I’m gay which I am not. This voice problem is taking a toll in everything in my life from family to friends and it’s even hard for me to talk to women because I don’t want my voice to go crazy and for then to think I’m crazy or gay. I just want a smooth loud normal sounding voice. My names henry I’m 21 year old male from America. Any pointers or advice, I hate I have to be quite when I can join the coversersation my family and friends are
    haveing around me. Let me know your point of view

    • Hello There,

      I’m so sorry you are having this issue. Because of your age, your voice should have settled by now, and I’m wondering if there is something going on with your vocal cords. Do you think you could get to a laryngologist and have them looked at? It is hard to know what to suggest technically without knowing if the voice is healthy. Once you find that out, perhaps I can be of more use or the doctor might refer you to a speech pathologist, which should then be covered by health care. Let me know what you find?

      Best,
      Jocelyn

  66. HI, I wanted to know what the notes in this vocal run were. FROM 4:29-4:31

    • You can have someone transcribe the notes for you, a pianist, arranger or composer who has the skills to do it, and you should be prepared to pay them for their time. While I have those skills it is not work I have time for. The other thing you can do is learn the notes by rote — simply play the recording and sing along until you have learned the passage. Good luck!

  67. High pitched voice when I sing?

    So I was singing one day, alternating my voice between a c# and a B and all of a sudden a kind of weak but peircing high pitched voice, probably around an octave or two higher just came over top of my chest voice. Two sounds out of my mouth at once. The same thing happened a while ago when I was singing ‘give your heart a break’ by Demi lovato except transposed 3 semitones down and I had a very low and loose voice underneath my voice. There was no strain on my vocal chords both times but the muscles in the side of my neck I use to hit higher notes tensed up when the higher voice came in. Is this bad for my voice? Will it ruin my voice? And what is causing this to happen?I have nobody to ask and I’ve searched it but nothing comes up. Please help I don’t want to loose my voice!!

  68. High pitched voice when I sing?

    Hey, So I was singing one day, alternating my voice between a c# and a B and all of a sudden a kind of weak but peircing high pitched voice, probably around an octave or two higher just came over top of my chest voice. Two sounds out of my mouth at once. The same thing happened a while ago when I was singing ‘give your heart a break’ by Demi lovato except transposed 3 semitones down and I had a very low and loose voice underneath my voice. There was no strain on my vocal chords both times but the muscles in the side of my neck I use to hit higher notes tensed up when the higher voice came in. I am only 17 and I have been singing for 2-3 years now. Is this bad for my voice? Will it ruin my voice? And what is causing this to happen?I have nobody to ask and I’ve searched it but nothing comes up. Please help I don’t want to loose my voice!!

    • Hi There,

      You might simply be creating an overtone or undertone as a result of the way you are adjusting the articulators, in which case there is nothing to worry about. The auxiliary tones could also be the result of sudden shifts in the amount of air you are sending through the vocal cords. An occasional miscue like that isn’t damaging, but it is desirable to have a more consistent flow, even when you are changing dynamic, leaping between pitches or expressing high emotions. If there is tension the auxiliary tones might be sounding because you are singing with too much pressure, and that over time would create fatigue. You’ll get plenty of warning, but if there are places where you tend to over sing you will definitely want to modify your sound to something that is within your vocal limits. If you have no sensation of forcing before hand or fatigue afterward, I wouldn’t worry. If this persists, the best thing to do is go to a voice teacher and have them help you sort it out.

      Good luck!
      Jocelyn

  69. David Hughes said:

    Hello Jocelyn

    Renewed greetings – it’s me again, the London-based, late septuagenarian English baritone with a Welsh surname

    You’ll probably not recall the help and advice you kindly gave me, last July, when I wrote to you about the fact that suddenly – literally overnight – a new/bullying downstairs neighbour vehemently objected to my daily singing practise and firmly put a permanent stop to it. To briefly refresh your memory: inescapably, I had to cancel all my forward bookings for a year ahead and, repeat, cease vocal activity in the flat. Into the bargain, I’ve not voluntarily listened to as much as one note of music since that ‘event’ for he’s all but killed my love of the sound. Please read on for an updated scenario with which I’d appreciate your further advice and comments, please, if your busy schedule allows, as follows.

    A new possibility presents itself but I’m wary of being ‘able’ to rise to the occasion given that (by way of compromise on my part, so as not to antagonise the beast below) the ONLY vocal sound I’ve allowed myself for the last eight months is to energetically hum in the shower. So far, his wrath has not descended on me for this daring modus operandi on my part. Against that backcloth it’s just come to my notice that a recently formed private solo singing group has been formed, the purpose of which is not for ultimate public performance but simply to enjoy each others’ singing gifts. (It’s not a college class.) What worries me is that under the described circumstances my voice will probably sound pretty awful… True, they’ll not be expecting a Sherill Milnes but, even so, certain standards are necessary if only for my own self esteem. I’m sure you see my predicament and empathise with the outlined situation. Any suggestions/opinion/advice etc., etc? Any and all of them would be greatly appreciated if you are able to respond. I shall quite understand if you’re not able or willing to do so.

    Kind regards

    David Hughes

    • Of course I remember you, David! And I retain my wish that you may be singing, for it seems that is when you are your happiest, best self. If the purpose of the group you describe is simply to enjoy one another’s singing gifts, I would think it’s a perfect fit. If it were me, I would contact the organizer and ask my questions, express my concerns, see what response comes. If that is positive, then attend a session or several to see if it brings you fulfillment. And I encourage you to find a practice space outside your flat. Here we are able to rent rooms with a piano for $10/hr. The bonus is that we also get to socialize with one another. It might also be possible to practice at a church in return for singing services? Or there might be a room you could use at a community centre? Or a local school? I’m not sure what the scene is in London, but I do understand the appetite for music being connected to the ability to make it. Georgia O’Keeffe never hung paintings. She lived in a clean white space because she was only interested in the art she was creating. I know there is a place for you to sing, David. You just have to find it!

      Best wishes,
      Jocelyn

  70. David Hughes said:

    Dear Jocelyn

    How kind of you to provide your thoughts on the latest scenario in my ‘singing saga’. Thank you.

    When the bully-downstairs-drama originally erupted I spent a whole day investigating local possibilities via which to carry on daily singing practise. As I suspected at the time, all to no avail so I had no choice but surrender to the realities of the situation. (I couldn’t afford to move.)

    I’ve written to the Organizer of the singing group I previously mentioned, appraising him of all the facts surrounding my enquiry. It will be ‘interesting’ to see what his reaction is to my main concern, ie, repeat, the state of the instrument in the considerably reduced vocalising scenario I described to you earlier this week… [I was rather hoping that you yourself might have had something to say on this latter, crucical aspect…]

    Kind regards

    David

    • Dear David,

      The miracle of your voice is in your relationship with it. You have sung your entire life and with a grace beyond what most could dream. It is your own creative genius that will determine what is next for you and how it shall unfold. The only thing I can offer when one cannot physically practice is to use creative visualization. I believe I might have suggested that in an earlier exchange? It is even more powerful than practicing when we trust it and sing from the deep well of faith that is ours for the asking. And on the other front, perhaps the organizer or someone else in this new group will be happy to share their practice space with you. Many of us here allow others to come and practice in our studios when we are out.

      Please let me know how it goes,
      Best,
      Jocelyn

  71. Mary Till said:

    My choir director said I have a strong vibrato I didn’t ask him what he meant by that but thought that’s his way to say excessive vibrato since I am 60

    • If you work with a gentler phonation and think of making a straight tone the vibrato should start to spin a little faster. It will be less wide or pronounced, and that will help you to blend with the rest of the choir. 60 is not so old — we can all still sound youthful!

  72. I am a girl with a very deep voice, and all I want to is sweeter feminine voice, can this be achieved? I am not a singer I just have a really deep toned voice that has been bothering me for years!

    • Hi There,

      Sorry I did not get back to you sooner — it’s a busy time! I think it’s always possible to sound feminine, regardless of the pitch the voice sits at. However, without a little more information it’s hard for me to say exactly how you would go about it. Can you give me a sense of your age, whether your voice was always low or if it shifted at a certain point? Do you have any allergies or other things that might contribute to a low pitch? It’s funny how we often want what we don’t have — so many women struggle to get their voice to sound deeper. I promise to respond in a more timely manner if you want to give a little more information.
      All my best,
      Jocelyn

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