Vocal Corner: Let’s talk vocal fry.

This weekend I got to sing a duet with the insanely talented Stephanie Beinhorn and man, it lit a fire under me. I’ve decided to really apply myself and to get my voice back into real shape.

Here are a couple clips of Steph and I rehearsing in my office the night before:

I was grotesquely outclassed and it was awesome!

So, aside from running my daily scales and what not I need to go back to basic care for my voice. One problem I really have is that I get loads of vocal fry first thing in the morning. Vocal fry is when your voice has kind of a growling quality to it, and it feels like it’s locked in your throat.

Some people even do it on purpose:

It’s very unhealthy for the voice. The effect is like rubbing sandpaper on your vocal folds.

The way I get away from this sensation early in the morning is by buzzing my lips for about 5 minutes. This quick video is a really good example of what I’m talking about:

When you buzz your lips this way, you’re actually naturally very close to perfect singing position. You can test this a few ways:

1. Feel your throat. As the pitches change, the openness of your throat remains the same.
2. Put a hand on your tummy. Feel it pushing outward in order to keep your throat open?
3. The sound can be felt in the very front of your face, which is where the pitch changes, rather than in the throat.
4. You’re making pure sound, but everything above your sternum should feel pretty relaxed.

For me, this gets the voice physically warmed up so I’m not grating my cords when I speak at the start of the day.

This also serves as a good part of your pre-singing/pre-lesson warm-up.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.