Magic Choral Trick #83 Vocal ‘catches’ that make you cough
These ‘catches’ are the ones that give you such a vicious tickle in the throat that you absolutely must cough. If you can’t cough because the choir is mid performance, then you’ll spend the next few phrases with your eyes streaming, unable to continue singing.
This is very common when you are singing loudly and at the top end of the vocal range. It’s caused by over singing and from trying to sing through too wide a mouth shape.
Unfortunately, whenever we’re singing high and loud the body is programmed to think that we’re screaming. If we’re screaming in order to scare off a sabre toothed tiger, the body doesn’t care how the voice will feel after the emergency, and so some animal part of our brain directs the mouth to open as wide as it possibly can – to produce the maximum amount of really unpleasant noise. While this is useful for attracting the attention of our caveman buddies, it doesn’t do our choral performance any good.
In order to be confident in our vocal production when the notes are high and loud we need to exert some control over this natural reflex by narrowing the mouth shape. It also really helps to know our own voice’s dynamic limits.