Top 10 Tips for Choristers

ChoirSinging in a choir can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences, but one you will enjoy more if you know a few ground rules before jumping in. Today I want to share with you ten pieces of advice that every amateur and professional chorister should know and follow. Continue reading

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The Larynx

If you’ve read the title of this article and are thinking, “No, not the larynx!! You can write about the intercostals, the faucial arches, even the zygomatic muscles, but stay away from the larynx!”, take heart, I fully agree. Despite its exalted status as the home of the vocal cords, the larynx, or “voice box”, is often better left untouched and un-discussed amongst singers (add to that the fact that laryngeal anatomy makes me want to bang my head against a wall).

True enough, all the larynx really asks from you is good breathing, clear diction and a noble posture, and the rest falls into place. Many singing teachers ignore the larynx and neck area altogether, not from lack of knowledge, but because efforts to manipulate the larynx are usually misdirected and can cause more harm than good.

Of course, if I were equally prudent, I would follow suit, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to read more about the alchemical powers of an instrument which converts breath into vibration and sound, all from our very own throats!  So let’s begin… Continue reading

The Rise of the Soft Palate

The velum, or soft palate, is Latin for "veil".

The velum, or soft palate, is Latin for “veil”.

For a muscle which is actually pretty straightforward, as vocal anatomy goes, the soft palate has been confusing students of singing for decades. What does it do? What should it do?

Before we talk about how the soft palate should behave, let’s talk about what it actually does. Whereas breathing is the domain of the diaphragm, resonance is the realm of the soft palate. Resonance is caused and shaped by air vibrating in the throat, mouth and nasal cavity. When we breathe, the air leaving our lungs has two options: it may travel through the mouth or through the nose, or “nasal port”. The soft palate, also called the VELUM, meaning “veil”, is the muscular flap that controls the opening of the nasal port. As such, the soft palate is the gatekeeper of nasal resonance. Continue reading