Vocal Tension and Decreased Vocal Range

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn, Rob and 7 others

Singing gets frustrating when you cannot attain the tone quality of your voice because of vocal tension. It even becomes painful when your vocal range is restricted. You feel your encumbered singing self is being compromised. What's causing the problem? How can you correct it? You need a tune-up and here's how to beat vocal tension and improve your vocal range.


Issues Surrounding Vocal Tension

Not only are there many reasons for experiencing vocal tension, and many ways to treat it.

How Do You Know You Have Vocal Tension?

  • When you are struggling to reach high notes or experience shortness of breath too easily, it is likely a problem relating to vocal tension.
  • When all the muscles in your neck, throat, jaw, tongue, lips face, abdomen and torso tighten up when you sing a very high note.

Vocal Posture

As a singer you must realize that the outer muscle of your larynx are incompetent in sustaining the cords together; that is why they are outer muscle. The larynx's outer muscle is the muscle you use for tension-free singing. If you are singing with tension, your vocal range is decreased. Eliminating this almost doubles your range.

Vocal Tension and Decreased Vocal Range 87260.jpg
  • Vocal tension arises mainly from an undisciplined vocal technique.
  • People sing with their swallowing muscles engaged; that is, the sound they emit becomes strained and unpleasant.
  • The outer larynx (swallowing muscle) engages when too much or not enough air pressure is used to keep the cords together.
  • Since the vocal cords are unable to hold in sync for that certain range in one's voice, the larynx outer muscle takes over and try to keep them.

Ways To Help You Eliminate Vocal Tension

  1. 1
    Warm up your voice
    It sounds too simple, right? Sometimes simple is the way to go. Warm up your voice when you perform, and when you practice. Warm up your voice. Did we mention you should warm up your voice?
    1. Spend 15 minutes warming up with easy scales. This improves your circulation and increases the effectiveness of the inner muscle of your larynx.
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  2. 2
    Use the right singing technique
    The right singing technique involves relaxing the larynx's outer muscles, while the inner muscles are for adjusting the vocal cords when necessary. So how do you control the outer muscles and use the inner muscles to produce your desired singing voice? The answer to this is to sing high and learn the proper singing techniques so that you always sing tension free. Singers also experience difficulty in singing when a decreased or their vocal range is limited Even beginner or amateur singers can learn from these steps to build a strong vocal range.
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Some Vocal Exercises

If you really desire to sing high with that powerful shrill or low range, incorporate some basic exercises to get the high and low notes.

  1. 1
    A good exercise

    For a good high range, practice singing from your chest voice to your head voice without breaking or switching to falsetto. You are capable of doing this. Give it some time.

    It feels easier as you go up. There is no pushing, tight abs or strain in the throat. Just work on being relaxed.
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  2. 2
    Do some exercises to improve circulation and you will also improve the quality of your singing.
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  3. 3
    Be persistence
    Do not give up on practicing.
    Doing it regularly keeps you in-tune with your throat muscles.
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Negative Effects Of Singing With Tension

Negative effects of singing with tension 41713.jpg
  • It prevents you from reaching your true potential.
  • It's a high note killer.
  • It will affect your breathing.
  • Your tone will suffer.
  • It can lead to vocal disorder.

How To Release Tension

  1. 1
    To release tension in the neck
    1. Gently move head from side to side and back and forth. Get used to the feeling of relaxation. Sing your phrases while doing the head movements. Doing this prevents the muscles in your neck from tensing in one position.
    2. Another neck exercise is to bend over to allow your head to drop and sway. This is very helpful for the relief of tension in the back of your neck.
      Vocal Tension and Decreased Vocal Range 80725.jpg
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  2. 2
    To release tension in your throat
    1. Do the following: Humming, lip rolls, and vocal sighs. These exercises make your throat relaxed and your larynx low. It allows the muscles that manage your vocal cords to synchronize in the right and most efficient manner.
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  3. 3
    To release jaw tension
    1. Chewing stretches the muscles that control your jaw, thus allowing for more flexibility.
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  4. 4
    To release tongue tension
    1. Put out your tongue as far as you can and hold it out for five seconds. Repeat three times. This is to stretch the roof of your tongue, which is responsible for most tongue tension.
    2. Hold the tip of your tongue with your fingers and try to sing your phrase with as Much clarity as possible. It stops your tongue from pulling back into your throat and adds clarity to your tone.
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  5. 5
    To release lip tension
    1. Do lip rolls. Do the "Brrrr" sound that makes your lips vibrate. This is not possible with tense lips, so when your lips vibrate, it means you have released the tension.
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  6. 6
    To release your abdominal tension
    1. Stretch out on the floor on your back and put an object on your stomach. The goal is to make the object jump up and down as you breathe in and out. Achieving this means your diaphragm is descending. It's important to do an exercise like this to improve one's breathing. Do not tense your abs to make your breathing possible. ##Try panting like a dog. Your stomach heaves up and down as you pant.
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Try to include these exercises in your everyday vocal routine to get the most out of your voice.

Working With Your Vocal Range

What is it, how do you know when you have a problem, and how can you improve it?

What is a Vocal Range?

  • This is the gauge of the extent of pitches that a human voice can phonate.
  • It is used as one of the major elements involved in determining a person's voice type.
  • Voice types for females are the soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto, while for males, they are the countertenor and tenor, baritone and bass.
  • Vocal range is simply the extent to which a voice can produce, from the lowest to the highest note a singer can sing without straining their voice.

Recognize When You Have A Problem With Your Vocal Tension

Problems are evident when singers experience a decrease in their voice range, be it the high end or the low end.

  • A decrease in a singer's vocal range can be a result of voice simple maturing.
  • The main reasons you cannot sing high or low notes:
    • Wrong technique.
    • Too much weight in your voice.
    • Lack of air.
    • Fear of singing high or low.

Ways To Help Improve Your Voice Range

  • Work closely with a voice teacher who can listen to your voice and can offer tips to help you expand your vocal range.
  • To hit the highest notes if you are a soprano, you need to sing in either your mixed voice or head voice. Most singers sing in chest voice throughout their entire vocal range. This prevents them from reaching their highest notes. If you do this, you automatically cut your vocal range in half, and that can result in a big decrease in upper vocal range.
  • Do the "lip roll" exercise, which is one of the most effective exercises.
  • Always warm up always before starting the actual exercise. Vocalize.
  • Practice all types of scales that go through your entire vocal range. This can gradually strengthen both your current vocal range and push its boundaries.
  • Hum while practicing the scale mentioned. This is an effective exercise, especially for reaching high-pitched notes.
  • Challenge your voice range. Push the boundaries of your vocal range every now and then, but not too much. Overdoing may give you a hoarse voice at the end of the practice time.
  • Sing it right. Proper breathing with the diaphragm supports your singing.

You have a God-given talent and a gift of voice, but you also have to learn to take care of it. Always take into account your physical limitations.

Questions and Answers

Excessive Vocal Tension (Kind Of Dysphonic)?

Hi, I have been suffering from excessive vocal tension for the last three years which has mainly formed due to incorporating bad techniques in singing. No organic damage (been through all sorts of tests) but the vocal therapists can't help. Its unilateral and with deep breaths I find release a bit as my right nasal pathway (parallel to my right side vocal tension) doesn't seem to take in air freely compared to left nasal cavity. I have tried: A plethora of exercises, voice assessments and also visited a boatload of vocal therapists - but they were no help since I lack any kind of physical damage. I think it was caused by: Incorporating bad singing techniques and pushing my voice to hit the high notes.

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How to stop decreasing my vocal range?

Last week I could sing a high note but not too high, but now this week I can't!!!. I have tried: I tried and tried but I can't sing high notes. I think it was caused by: I don't know

You need to prepare your vocal cords for singing. Choose food and drinks recommended by artists and determine the factors that might have affected you voice are two articles that would be useful for you. Eliminate any of the factors and give your vocal folds some time to recover: do not speak loudly or do not even speak at all until it is required. Regarding drinks, choose only warm water with a tablespoon of honey or prepare licorice root tea. Practice daily at the same time, preferably 2 hours after you wake up. Wear a scarf all the time and hire a vocal teacher who teaches your music genre - at least for a couple of exercises to observe your techniques when singing high notes: maybe the technique is overstraining the vocal cords.

Why am I straining my neck?

My neck area is always stiff and under my jaw hurts after I sing.

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How do I reduce throat tension on the outer muscle?

I try to stop tensing, but I cannot do so. This takes away my chord closure and makes me break into falsetto as I try to sing somewhat high.

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It has been determined that stuttering is caused by tension in the vocal chords.

Any ideas on how to permanently remove that tension?

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How come some days it's easier to hit my higher range, and the other days I just suck?

I smoke cigarettes 1 pack in 2 days. I know I should quit but I just hope I don't have nodes. I have tried: Vocal exercises, warm tea, and other things. I think it was caused by: Smoking or improper singing? I'm not 100%

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My daughter is a dancer. She has tension and shallow breathing. What can she do to relax and breathe deeper?

When she sings there is so much tension in her throat and neck. She has lost her confidence. Stopped practicing and of course, the result is her voice is getting tenser when she does sing. I have tried: Relaxing exercises, voice lessons, and warm-ups. I think it was caused by: Lack of confidence in vocal ability, training as a dancer - i.e. holding her breath in. Now I'm afraid she will have voice cracks. She has had stage fright a couple of times in auditions, so tenser fearing that may occur again.

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Was intrigued with the reference to tension in inner or outer larynx muscles?

My throat started regularly tightening up whilst singing, speaking and occasionally whilst doing nothing at all. Tube down the throat took photos, all healthy there. Was treated for silent reflux to rule it out. I still seem to be getting what I call a throat cramp. I do have a type of dystonia which affects my eyes and face and was worried it has gone south to the larynx. Perhaps if I get a better gauge of which muscles I am engaging (along with correct breath control of course) I could improve? Have had to cancel all gigs. Very frustrated. Does the humming, for example, focus on engagement of the outer larynx muscles the article suggests we should be using? I have tried: Treated for silent reflux which has stopped me needing to clear my throat in the mornings, humming instead of singing. Cancelling singing work. Avoiding speaking at length. No speaking over background noise. Plenty of sleep and hydration which I was getting anyway. Making sounds through a drinking straw. Camera down the throat ruled out anything sinister. I think it was caused by: I can't point at one thing but my throat did start to feel drier than usual whilst doing my singing work preceding this issue (as if I could never sip enough water) but I was perfectly hydrated. One venue has an air conditioning vent aimed right at the stage!! Since then, a customer told me she saw a lot of mold on the ceiling in an upper level of the club. Also, I had a very tense month beforehand in the lead up to losing the family dog of 15 years. If it is the dystonia, then I would require Botox injections which I would only do as a very last resort.

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I feel a buzz in my throat and voice when I sing and I don't know what it is.

When I sing or attempt to hold a note, something switches in my throat and my voice resembles the sound of when I'm doing a vocal fry and sometimes I do vocal exercises that help make it go away, but it always comes back! What is this and how do I get rid of it?

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How can I move from a very low tone to a high tone instantly, and how can I maintain my own vocal tone or key without changing?

Hello, sometimes my voice just remains low or on a base key. I try to change the tone or go higher but it doesn't work.Please, I would also like to know how to sing with my own key without changing into other people's key. Thanks a lot.

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High notes I have trouble hitting a high C Vocal cords twist into a knot the more I sing then can't sing at all?

This has been going on for about eight years. I used to have two octaves. I no longer have that. High C I could hit all my life, but now I can't hit it if my life depended on it. The more I sing my vocal cords feel like they are twisting into a knot, then I can't sing at all. No high notes. I thought maybe something is wrong with them.

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Categories : Voice Lessons & Tips

Recent edits by: Nuance, Jaga, Doug Collins

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