Adding sweetness in singing
What is the secret to singing with emotions? Singing, so your audience feels deeply touched, gets Goosebumps or gets teary? That is certainly a goal in singing for most people. What actually differentiates singing from speaking? These are all questions that lead to the same answer: Thyroid tilt! Adding sweetness in the tone in singing is key to creating a beautiful sound. We do this by adding thyroid tilt.
Adding thyroid tilt
Jo Estill said that potentially the only difference between speaking and singing is thyroid tilt*. Now, how do we actually do that? Let’s do an exercise to get the feel for it first. Find your thyroid cartilage or your Adam’s Apple. Put your hands on your chin and move them down slowly feeling your larynx. The first bump you will feel is your Adam’s apple. Place your hands there. Say a bored ‘oh’ like it doesn’t interest you at all what the other person is saying. Now, say an empathetic ‘oh’ or a whingy ‘oh’. Could you feel your thyroid move/tilt? Practise this a few times until you can really feel it. This is a very small movement so you will need to tune into your body and small muscle sensations.
Why and when to tilt
Basically, when we sing we want to add a little whinge or cry to our voice. The amount we cry will determine on how sweet the tone gets. The more we cry the sweeter it gets. If we cry a lot we might experience vibrato (although there are other factors at play in generating vibrato!) The amount of thyroid tilt we are looking for in our singing depends on the music style or genre. Opera and musical theatre have a lot of cry. In contemporary music there is both lots of tilt and almost vertical or speech like singing (very little tilt) and anything in between.
Most importantly, we need to tilt our thyroid in order to access higher pitches. The vocal folds get stretched (thinned) with thyroid tilt which makes it easier to keep them on contact when voicing. This allows us to reach those higher notes. Larynx height also assist in reaching higher pitches.
Practising your thyroid tilt
To practise tilting your thyroid, do silent practise to feel it first. The key to efficient singing is feeling what you are doing and not going based on what you hear. Then move onto practising on sounds. Do lots of whinging practise with sentences like “why me, oh no, not now, I don’t want to, mummy” etc. Find that nagging child voice inside of you, you will need it in singing!
Are you keen to learn more and how to make your voice really sweet? Come and book in for a singing lesson and experience it first hand.
Until then, Corinna
*Estill, J. (1992), Primer of Compulsory Figures: Level One. Estill Voice International