ONE VOICE (YES, JUST THE ONE!)
A lot of people who have come to me for individual singing lessons over the years (especially some of those who have had lessons elsewhere in the past) are worried about “where” their voice is at any given time and believe that they should be keeping to their chest “voice” rather than going into their head “voice”. Often this has been really embedded in their consciousness - and it’s easy to see that they’re worried initially when I’m telling them to let go of this thinking. It’s only when they see their voice start to improve/recover (and their range start to extend) that I think they trust me!
The truth, of course, is that we have one “voice”!............ Pretty obvious when you think about it – it simply resonates in different parts of our body. Lower notes tend to resonate in the chest and the higher you sing, the resonance moves upwards. You can literally feel notes resonating in your chest, neck, head – and this is all normal. What isn’t normal is trying to block resonation in certain parts of your body! Any teacher who wants to make you keep your voice in your "chest voice" is not going to help you learn to sing properly and may even end up damaging your voice as an over-developed chest voice ultimately means that you end up with no top to your voice as well as other problems....not good.
As training the voice involves developing muscles, over-developing the "chest voice" is akin to going to the gym and only using the weight machines for your legs and nothing else – you would know straight away that this was unlikely to give you a fit body. It’s the same with singing, the voice needs to be developed in a balanced and even way right across its range, which will then tend to extend (obviously within the parameters of the natural range that someone possesses in the first place) - and let's be honest here, most people want an extension of their range at the top.
When they come for lessons, most people have no idea how to access the top of their voice (and lots of sopranos consequently and wrongly think they’re altos for this reason) but it’s not a good reason to avoid the top of your voice. So, if you don’t know how to comfortably access it, get some singing lessons (via a classically trained teacher)! Next time, I’ll talk about types of voices.