February 2011 | Vocal Bliss

February 2011

How To Cure a “Breathy” Voice

By Fabio Ramesha Nani

In working with singers, mainly women, I’ve often noticed the tendency at the beginning of their training to sing with a “breathy” sound, meaning a sound that is not pure but mixed with some air.

​I don’t know if there’s a physiological reason why women in general have to deal with this issue more than men. What I have observed is that many women instinctively tend to sing with a softer, almost ethereal sound, and to shy away from using their voice in a way that perhaps feels almost masculine to them.

​The problem with this tendency is that the voice needs the proper support that comes from correct placement; that lack of support will become more and more noticeable as you move higher in the range. Your high notes, if they’re there at all, will probably sound so weak as to be almost non-existent.

​Some singers, especially sopranos, make the mistake of singing lower notes in their head register, instead of the chest register. This is sort of like driving your car in the parking lot in fourth gear: not very efficient! Their voice seems to “kick in” only at a certain height, the point at which it becomes appropriate to sing in the head register.

​Here are a few suggestions to correct this tendency:

  • For a time, work primarily on the lowest part of your range. Try to hit those low notes more as if you were speaking rather than singing.
  • Try the following exercise:  Start at the very bottom of your range and produce short sounds on each vowel: ee, ay, ah, oh, oo. Then move up to the next note and repeat the same thing.
  • Practice a 3-note exercise, starting at the very bottom of your range. For example: A-B-C#-B-A. Try to produce a sound that’s close to your speaking voice and keep it that way as you move up and down those 3 notes.
  • In both the above exercises, try to create a sound that’s as full as possible by exaggerating the enunciation of each vowel, rather than by forcing the voice out

You can download an mp3 recording of a guided practice of the two exercises mentioned above.

Enunciated Vowel Exercise:

 

Three-Note Exercise:

 

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Feel free to contact me about any singing-related issue or doubt that you might have. I will do my best to help you  find a solution for it.

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