Vocal Cord Closure and Connection

June 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Singing Lessons

Welcome to your free weekly singing lesson.

This week I want to focus on proper vocal cord closure and coordination.
So what is vocal cord closure and why is it so important for singing?
When we sing and speak our vocal cords come together and as the air passes through them sound is created.
If our vocal cords don’t come together there will be a lot of space between our cords for the air to pass through.  This will create a very breathy tone.
The result would be similar to a whisper.
So, how does all of this relate to singing?  One of the biggest and most common problems I see is singers losing connection as they sing higher notes.  The result is usually a very obvious break followed by a flip into falsetto like this:
Refer to the video for a demonstration.
I know how frustrating and embarrassing that can be because it used to happen to me all the time.
I’m going to share with you some tips and an exercise that you can use to train your vocal cords to stay connected.
First, what I want you to do is take a breath through your mouth, then hold your breath with your mouth open.
Refer to the video for a demonstration.
After you have done that I want you to vocalize an “OH”.
Refer to the video for a demonstration.
When you hold your breath with an open mouth position your vocal cords have to close to stop the air escaping.  This puts them in a completely connected position.  By vocalizing a vowel from this closed position it makes it very hard for your voice to flip into falsetto because you are starting from a connected position.  Does that make sense?
I’ll slow the process right down for you to demonstrate how the vocal cords gradually unzip to create a pure connected sound.
Refer to the video for a demonstration.
Before I move to the vocal exercise I just want to point out a very common mistake that singers make when singing words that start with a vowel.
I was working with one of my private students on a song from the musical Chicago.  The phrase goes like this:
“Think of those autographs I’ll sign”
On the word “Autographs” she was putting a H in front of the vowel, so it ended up sounding like this:
“Think of those hautographs I’ll sign”
She wasn’t aware that she was doing it and as you can hear it creates a very breathy and unconnected tone.  The way we fixed it was exactly what I showed you earlier doing the breathing in, holding and vocalizing a vowel, technique.  It worked straight away and got rid of the breathy tone.
Be careful if you have words which start with a vowel in your own songs.  Make sure you aren’t putting a H in front of it because you will lose connection.
To finish with I want to share with you an exercise that you can use to train you vocal cords to stay connected through your range.
Refer to the video for a demonstration
Notice that I wasn’t trying to sing too loud and my tone was quite edgy.  I was basically doing the exercise I showed you earlier, just over a series of notes.  Each note should be short, with time for your cords to close between each note.
I’m going to provide you with an mp3 of this exercise on my blog that you can use to practice with.
That’s it for this weeks lesson.  Download the mp3 exercise.  You can find the link below.
I’m Ian Castle.  Thanks for watching and I’ll be back next week with another lesson.


Vocal Cord Connection Exercise

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9 Responses to “Vocal Cord Closure and Connection”
  1. Ted says:

    This is cool and it’s harder than it appears. It’s helping find and hit the perfect note. Remember back when I mentioned that I had not really been using head voice previously. The excercise have helped me get the feel of where those notes are that I’m looking for. Ian “You Rock” I’m sticking with all the way!

  2. Arturo says:

    Marvelous video, very useful too. Where do you keep getting these cool exercises :p. — Please do keep up your great work :) It’s admired.

  3. Aniah Griffin says:

    Ian Dis Program Iz Great Very Inspirational..yu make every1 feel like singing is sooo simple

  4. ct says:

    Hmm, it seems as though I have heard alot of people say to do just the opposite of the “H” in front of the vowel. In my experience with this it puts the sound forward.

  5. Nathaniel Newman says:


  6. tom jackson says:

    Hi Ian very well described, I have images in my mind of my vocal chords zipping and unzipping, very useful thanks

  7. Mokut says:

    you ROCK!

  8. anna says:

    This is exactly the exercise my speech therapist gave me just now because I have a very breathy speaking voice that’s gone almost to constant wispering. I was confused by this because it makes me feel like I am choking, so searched the net for an explanation, and I’m glad to see that I am doing the right exercises. It’s been a lifelong habit for me so it takes more than a few days to correct. Let’s hope I get rid of this breathiness.


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