Varying the Dynamics in Your Singing

You’ve probably heard singers control the dynamics in their voice beautifully, whether they’re singing loudly or softly. As your flexibility increases in your upper register, you want to figure out how to vary the dynamics (volume).

The exercise in the following illustration is called a messa di voce, which means “placing the voice.” In a messa di voce exercise, the singer begins the note softly, gradually gets louder, and then grows soft again. Working on the messa di voce helps you get comfortable singing loudly or softly on any given note. Allow the vibrato to happen as you work on the exercise.

You can try the exercise shown in the following pattern, starting on any note. Just follow these steps:

  1. Start singing the note as softly as you can manage.

  2. Continue singing the note while gradually getting louder — crescendo.

    Maintain a steady flow of air as you grow louder. You want the sound to grow louder because of the increased airflow, not because you’re squeezing your throat.

    You may feel a bump or wiggle as you grow louder. Don’t panic: Your muscles need time to adjust to this new skill. Use a consistent flow of air to eliminate the wiggle.

  3. Continue singing the note while gradually getting softer — decrescendo.

    Keep the airflow constant as you grow softer. You can pretend that the note begins floating, to help you gradually decrease the volume.

As you work through this exercise, you may find that you can start the tone even softer and grow even louder. You’ll gradually improve this skill with practice — sing only as softly or as loudly as you can manage for today.

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