To be clear, this 5-note “AH” exercise is NOT meant as a warm-up, and it’s not meant to improve your singing voice. It’s just a tool that I use in all my first lessons to listen to what’s going on in a singer’s voice. It gives me an opportunity to assess where a singer’s vocal technique is currently at!
Here’s what I heard:
Overwhelmingly, women and higher voice singers struggled to use their real chest voices.
WOW! Those are crazy statistics, right?
I gotta say, it’s in line with what I see in my private studio as well. Many women have been trained (specifically or subliminally) from an early age to use a light, soft, or “pretty” tone when they sing. AKA, they drag their head voice all the way down to the low notes.
This results in a breathy, overblown, or light vocal quality in the lower part of the voice. It’s difficult to achieve a clear tone, increase volume, or sing a variety of styles when this is the case.
Not to mention, it’s just totally unbalanced!
Chest voice = speaking voice.
Your low notes can and should match the quality of your speaking voice. You can have the same resonance, tone, clarity, volume and power of your speaking voice when you go to sing!
What is chest voice?
Also known as your lower register — it’s the range of notes in which we comfortably speak. Chest voice is the foundation of your singing voice. Strength and success in the rest of your range depends on the stability of your chest voice! Chest voice is the strongest, thickest (literally, in your cords!) part of your voice. The rest of your voice is built on that foundation!
Without utilizing chest voice properly, singers may sound
breathy or weak, lack dynamics, and have a less powerful middle
and upper range. Whether you sing classical music or classic R&B, using your chest voice is essential to having a strong and balanced voice.
Without a solid chest voice, most singers strain for high notes.
It sounds counter-intuitive, right? If I’m light on the bottom notes, then I’m “saving my strength” for the top notes!
Nope, the opposite is true! Avoiding proper chest voice in your lower range is like trying to build a pyramid upside down. There’s a reason the Egyptian’s build the pyramids the way they did- otherwise, they would topple over!!
How do develop my chest voice?
Good news, you can always strengthen your voice, no matter where you’re coming from. If you identify as someone who sings with a breathy or overblown quality in your lower range, you may need to spend some time strengthening your chest voice.
Your goal should be to match your speaking voice to pitch.
Try saying, “1 2 3 4 5.” Just count out loud! Now, can you say those numbers on ascending notes, in a comfortable lower range? Check out my example at the end of this video. Can you maintain that spoken quality as you go to other vocal exercises? That’s the idea!
When you’re ready to take your vocalizing to the next level, check out my Mixing Warm-Up Series. Everything in those vocal exercises are built on the foundation of your strong, easy chest voice!