I have been singing all my life. When I enter head voice my larynx uncontrollably shoots up initially. Once I have entered head voice I can then manipulate my larynx position. Is my larynx supposed to stay rock solid when changing from chest to head? Or is it something I have to control. I have tried tying a rope around my neck (desperate attempt) to stop it from moving up but it still does. Please help!!!
Yes, in principle you should try to keep the larynx low in order to achieve higher and clearer high notes, but "rock solid" is perhaps not the best metaphor, as what's needed is a high degree of relaxation and keeping that relaxation when changing register. Any attempt at exerting strength (over the larynx) will produce crispation of the larynx, the opposite result of what's needed.
Feeling the larynx with your hand is a useful diagnostic tool, but in no way should you try to externally force the position of the larynx, much less with a rope. You will only achieve greater crispation (the opposite of what you need), and you may harm yourself.
Another factor may be psychological; you know that your larynx tends to rise when you hit a certain register, so the larynx will inevitably rise whenever you reach that point. I suffer from that myself to some extent, I should say :-).
One exercise I was taught to counteract that is:
- Find a vocal exercise that you're familiar and comfortable with and that covers the transition register
- Relax physically and mentally
- Feel (lightly touching) your larynx with your hand. Try to relax the larynx and let it go as low as it goes
- Do the vocal exercise smoothly, at low to medium volume. Keep the larynx relaxed and low (focus on you hand touching the larynx, not so much on the singing)
- Do this for some time, and a number of different times over several days, BEFORE trying to reach the transition zone, until you're quite comfortable with the procedure
- Little by little approach the transition zone, always focusing on the position of the larynx. If you feel the larynx tightening or rising, go back and start again. Feeling your larynx by lightly touching it with your hand will give a "sinestetic" feedback that will teach you how to maintain it low and relaxed. You should do it frequently (but not 100% of the time) when doing this exercise.
- Eventually you'll be able to "navigate" the "danger zone" (just kidding, that's the opposite thinking one should have) while maintaining the larynx low.
I hope this helps, but I end with the inevitable advice of finding a good vocal coach, at least for a while until you overcome this difficulty. There are other aspects that may be involved (like head position, breathing, abdominal strength) and only direct interaction with a good professional will ensure you a proper diagnostic and help on all of them.
This advice may counter everything else you may find on the subject, but you may have some confidence in my words as I am a high tenor who has sung classical roles in opera and oratorio for 20 years.
Forget about your larynx.
Concentrate only on these three things.....
- Pitch. Make sure your pitch is accurate.
- Volume. Make sure your volume is mezzo-forte (loud-ish) up through your passaggio area.....and as you go through the passaggio, keep everything the same, but only control the volume a little (sing a little less loudly).....this will feel like you are "drinking in the sound" somewhat. The idea is to use enough volume to sing with the same legitimate tone as you do in the lower range, and then to reduce the volume a little so the vocal folds can thin enough to easily manage the top, but without flipping into falsetto).
- Sing accurate words, over-pronounced. Keep the same vowels with almost no modification for pitch.
Sing for the words, and forget about breath and larynx position. The larynx will float and modify slightly for pitch....let it. The vowel is what you want to control.
Most people will tell you this is wrong. Try it.