Flexing Your Singing Muscles

Within your head and neck, groups of muscles help create tone. The brain sends a message to those muscles that create your singing voice: The air in your lungs begins moving out and the vocal cords move into position to create the pitch. The color of the pitch is the tone. Does it seem complicated? Well, it isn’t — this is exactly what happens every time you speak.

To change the tone, you change the space in your mouth and throat, your posture, and the amount of breath moving as you sing. Exercises can help you create the right tone and adjust the space in your mouth and throat so that you can change your tone and make your voice sound great.

Many different parts of your body influence how you sing, but understanding how they all work together to produce the best sound is the key to great singing, but knowing where those tiny little bands of tissue called vocal cords — your muscles for singing — are located and how they make tone is just as important.

When developing good vocal technique, you need to understand how your breath, posture, and tension affect the way your vocal cords work.

Your vocal cords are inside your larynx (pronounced lar-inks, not lar-nicks), which is the source of your singing voice. Your vocal cords are two small bands of tissue stretching across your larynx that vibrate to create pitch.

Your vocal cords coordinate with your breath to release a pitch by opening and closing (vibrating) as air (your breath) passes through. Each vibration is called a cycle of vibration or glottal cycle.

If you’re singing the same note that an orchestra plays to tune the instruments, your vocal cords are vibrating at 440 cycles per second — yes, that fast. To make those fast vibrations, you need to keep your breath flowing; otherwise, you run out of air and won’t be able to sustain the tone.

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