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!

7 Answers 7


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:

  • Breathe properly from the bottom of your diaphragm.
  • Ensure that your posture is upright and relaxed to allow for unconstricted airflow and no tension.
  • Use as FEW muscle groups as possible to achieve the desired effect.

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).

  • Wow, your answer's so detailed. Thanks a lot! The problem for me is, the muscles on my neck are not as stiff as I first started singing. Instead of my neck muscles tensing when singing high notes, the muscles under my jaw are very stiff. And the higher I sing, the higher my larynx raises up, which cause my voice to be completely cut off after certain high notes (around females' normal range). I no longer "push" my voice up by tensing up my neck muscles so much, which is good, but my larynx is still not under my control.
    – user14412
    Apr 9, 2012 at 6:31
  • That's a pretty bang on answer but I would worry about the point "use as few muscle groups as possible." being misunderstood, because of course, you want to use your diaphragm effectively. Some would say you want to use your whole body to support the note. A great singing warm up is the stretch your whole body and take breaths to stretch out your upper and lower diaphragms. Try it! You'll feel alive and limber when you start singing. But this comment definitely nailed the main point. Which is not to strain your muscles
    – user10893
    Jul 26, 2014 at 14:32
  • @user10893 Indeed; by "as few muscle groups as possible", I really mean "don't add tension in muscles that aren't required".
    – NReilingh
    Jul 26, 2014 at 17:14

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.

  • I agree; at this point, you really need hands-on instruction to tell you specifically what you need to work on.
    – Babu
    Apr 9, 2012 at 15:46
  • Actually, I'm new to singing correctly. But I've been singing incorrectly for quite a long time.. I'm 19 now, and I love singing. It's just one of my hobby, so simply sounding like my favorite singer makes me think that I can sing. And I really didn't understand why some people are whining "argh I can't sing!" because I thought singing is easy..and anybody can do that. Now I realize that singing correctly should actually be easier than singing incorrectly, but it takes time to practice.
    – user14412
    Apr 9, 2012 at 17:27
  • I know that getting a personal trainer is essential, but I'm not even thinking about becoming a professional singer. I just wanna get it right and sing for fun.
    – user14412
    Apr 9, 2012 at 17:29

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....

  1. Breath properly with your chest that makes you comfortable.
  2. Control your larynx
  3. Don't move your larynx upward. The best technique you should Do :

  4. Push your tummy, Don't push it with your hand, push it with your self, like a balloon that was blown up..or like your tummy is full of food ..or like you eat much..or like pregnant..but don't push it much..just like your full...or not hungry anymore...or your finished eating

  5. Don't push your tummy when you are not singing
  6. You should push your tummy firstly then next sing... 7.Control your larynx, Don't raise it upward....

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:

  1. Work on laryngeal massaging by pushing down the larynx (gently!) using your thumb and knuckle from your index finger.
  2. Massage the underside of your chin where the hyoid muscle complex is.
  3. Gently hold your hand on your larynx while you practice singing and see when you engage your tongue to tense that area up. I just recently started working on this.

As far as breathing exercises:

  1. Breathing through a stirring straw, which provides resistance
  2. While getting air through the straw, invoke a tone and make sure that your airflow does not decrease. This will take a while to get decent at, so don't give up!
  3. Inhalation - breathing in, in a manner that makes a tone, also is a technique for getting neck and throat muscles to relax.

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.


Oh Brother! where to begin....well

you don't know me,,,,so for what its worth;

the voice IS the EAR

Your singing voice is BUILT exclusively from your speaking VOICE

that's what so cool..you have all day to practice,,,by speaking well

singing is intensified speaking, period......elongated....musical.....and to do that you must have a ear that directs your instrument and a sensitivity to physically direct and compress your breath to elongate your speaking voice

what is your speaking voice, i.e nasal? gutteral? there is where to start...once you like your speaking voice,,,practice your poetry of the song...then ear train ear train ear train and REMEMBER

the strangest person you would meet would be yourself...YOU DONT hear yourself like others.....there is about a eighth to a quarter tone OFF of what you hear to what others hear.......you must learn to TRUST your ear

the EAR leads clairvoiently (sp?) to the voice

pay attention to how your "breath" is compressed for speaking...learn what is a resonant speaking voice,,,play with speaking....then try to "feel" what a compressed singing tone might be...it is all based on your natural speaking voice...if you and others like it,,,great,,,,if not....work on speaking before trying to hold musical tones

all these "physical" fix it "recipes" are like this;

you have an old car and a part wears out.....you get a brand new part and hook it in...its so new and strong and quick and efficient,,,it puts strain on all the other parts...and now you have no balance....and in fact over time...it could make other parts break....

it all starts with the ear and the heart sprung from your speaking voice....

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