I'm a beginner singer who wants to get it correctly. I've seen quite a lot of videos explaining how keeping the larynx neutral while singing is crucial, but not a lot of the techniques they teach work. I've so far tried the lips trills and making a woofey sound, and none of those works. It's just impossible for me to keep the larynx neutral while trying to sing high notes. I don't know if it's because I'm used to singing and moving my larynx or anything else that makes it impossible to keep it still while singing. Could anyone tell me how I can get rid of this bad habit? Thank you!
The idea is really more that you shouldn't be tensing your neck muscles when singing high notes or depressing the larynx when singing low notes. It's going to move in either case, so that's why we watch it as an indicator of bad technique.
So, when singing high notes, instead of focusing so much on the larynx, try to become aware of the muscles in your neck. If your technique is bad, you're probably using them to constrict the air passage when singing higher. This should be pretty obvious and easy to feel.
Next, you'll need to experiment with allowing the pitch to change while keeping these muscles completely relaxed. This will take lots of time and practice. Key things to be aware of:
These points are actually relevant to nearly all instruments. Excess tension is a VERY common problem in instrumentalists, but in singers it can be directly heard in your tone.
The additional point to be aware of for vocal technique is the position of your soft palate and oral cavity. I'll link to my answer on a different question where I go into this in detail.
So to sum up, make sure you're not constricting the neck and throat muscles to sing higher, use good supporting technique (lots of breath support when going up in pitch), and localize musculature tension only where required (muscular control of the vocal cords themselves should be as subconscious as possible).
It would be very useful to see a singing teacher who will help you with your entire posture and body use as well as specific techniques for the obvious areas. Many singers also take lessons in the Alexander Technique, which I did for several years. This technique helps the old, bad habits just fall away and you learn to fall into a neutral, balanced position for any activity. Some people adopt a posture when they sing, or when they reach high notes, that gets in the way of a good sound and can actually damage your voice. Interestingly, I've been trained to be extremely cautious about body use, and to model a very natural, neutral posture, when teaching children to sing. As you are new to singing, this is the best time to learn how to use your whole body as your instrument and develop a healthy, natural technique.
So I had a lot of trouble with this myself, and the problem that I faced is that Through ears of not being knowledgeable of how i produce tone, I was trying to form notes improperly. Notes are produced by the speed of vibrations in the air. and there are two basic ways this is done in music.
lets look at other instruments to explain. There are string instrument, like a guitar, violin, or piano, which produce notes but vibrating strings at different speeds, and using a solid UNCHANGING acoustic chamber, to amplify those vibrations. This is How the voice should work.
However, woodwinds produce sound differently, they have a constant vibration of the read, and this vibration resonates in the chamber. A larger chamber vibrates more slowly than a smaller chamber, and so by unplugging holes the chamber is reduced in size, making higher notes.
(brass instruments use a little bit of both, by utilizing overtones, however, brass is a lot more on the Chamber changing side of things then the vibration speed side.)
Well the muscles that move your larynx up and down are used very often (when you swallow, it will pull up, then down, or when you yawn it pulls it down.) Whereas, the muscles that control the vocal chords are more finite, and harder to consciously manipulate. Therefor many untrained singers will attempt to produce higher pitched notes in a way that feels more familier to them, I.E. raising the larynx, shortening the resonating chamber.
but the proper way to produce higher pitched notes is more similar to going up the frets on a guitar, as you pinch your vocal chords together it shortens the strings which produces faster vibrations however, when you play higher notes on a guitar, you do not change the size of the acoustic chamber, do you? no, a combination of both of these techniques would be very hard to control the proper pitch.
So when you raise the larynx, you are ultimately trying to make notes by doing both techniques, and furthermore, when you pull up the larynx, it puts strain on the vocal chords, so it just creates a lot more variables than should be involved in producing sound, and also strains the voice. that is why it is important to keep the larynx stationary when singing, and to only change pitch by learning to control the vocal chords.
Now how to do this? yes this is a very good question. You said you do lips rolls up and down scales, Now, do not stop that, lip rolls can be very good at improving the voice, by helping you transition your resonance from your chest to your head, and even mixing the two, but first you must master the larynx stability. what you should do for this is before you sing, give a big Yawn, and have your finger on your Adams apple, fell how comfortable that is? you are lowering your larynx with no strain whatsoever. Now sing up and down a scale using the sound "Mum" so "Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum". and make sure you keep a Doppy "UH" sound in the Mum, especially as you go higher. Keep a finger on the larynx the entire time, and if it starts to rise, check yourself, see what is causing that, and you will probably realize there is tension somewhere. That tension is in the digastic muscle in your neck. Try focusing on relaxing that muscle.
Once you master keeping the larynx down. it is time for those lip rolls. They help you learn how to transition where you let the sound resonate. Lower notes will resonate in your chest, and higher notes resonate in the back of the mouth, and nasal cavity. when the larynx is stationary, you will start to feel and become more noticeable of this resonance. If you are having trouble connecting your chest to your head voice smothly, try doing the "NNNNNNg" sound up and down a scale, like the end of the word "sing. No Vowel. This will make your soft pallet drop, and you should feel it rest on the back of your tounge, closing off the mouth. This allows you to more easily transfer rosonace from the chest through the throat to the back of the mount up into the nasal cavity.
By knowing how the voice works, anyone can start singing well!
You don't need to use your diaphragm..you may also use your chest voice in singing, or singing without raising your neck , larynx and head...i am just only 13 years old..and i discover when i read books about how to position your larynx when singing..... it tells me that i should control it...after two days i try those techniques and when i sing high notes like skyscraper i didn't get strain or falsetto voice and i wasn't be able to raise my larynx..i just straightly postioning my larynx..and i didn't raise it.. So here's the techniques....
This has been a problem for me as well. I started taking vocal lessons to correct a "slow wave" (vocal chords vibrating at different rates due to thyroid surgery). Most of what everyone is saying is dead on in terms of not tensing up the neck which restricts airflow and does not help your cause.
The one thing that I will add is that my teacher has me focused on using the pelvic floor, as opposed to the diaphragm, for being the basis of air flow. I think its the same principle, you want to use your core and lower body to do most of the pushing, otherwise you have the issues with the larynx getting squished as your neck muscles contract.
So what am I truly trying to add? Exercise/massage ideas:
As far as breathing exercises:
These are just some of the things that my teacher has me doing. I wish I was better as describing them. Hopefully with this and a little web searching (or other stack exchangers) this will give you some more ideas. Good luck!
Sorry to be critical but your answer to 'control' the larynx will not accomplish much.....you have to manually be aware of the base of your tongue which is connected thru the hyoid bone to the larynx below it....people freak out when they hear this and that's their problem, they probably still don't have control over their larynx to boot, but the point is you must maintain a slight control of lower tongue with larynx to stabilize it....don't really care what your reaction to this is, all I know is that it works and anyone who disagrees is still living in the land of belief, from books and teachers who do not know what they are talking about. There is no other way to stabilize the larynx.