Magic Choral Trick #111 The Voice in Your Head
Nope – I’m not talking about the nagging little voice that never says anything nice, speaks to you in the second person and loves to tell you you’re stupid, ugly and incompetent. That’s a post for another day.
What I mean is the quality of sound you hear in your own head when you sing.
Most people are only too aware that the speaking voice they hear on recordings of themselves is not at all what they’re accustomed to hearing in their heads. So it always mystifies me when singers are surprised that their singing voices are different from what they’re used to hearing.
This is another reason that I love the digital age. They don’t have to take my word for anything – they can just record themselves and listen.
With some voice students or choir members, I talk and talk and talk about forward placement – using all the Magic Tricks (Jerry Lewis, Brass Buzz, Zzzzz, Moustache Hands…) but something is still not quite clicking. Sometimes people need to be able to analyse the actual sound, while they’re singing. These are the folks that need to know that the sound they hear in their own heads should be quite thin, and slightly edgy and ‘unpleasant’.
I asked a singer the other day to sing a phrase with full on Jerry Lewis/Edith Bunker, then to sing the phrase again in her normal voice. Her normal voice was indeed now further forward, but I then asked her to use a half of an eyedropper full of Jerry and Edith. That wasn’t quite enough, so I asked her to use a full eyedropper of J&E – and this bright, wonderful sound popped out.
If the sound you’re hearing in your own head is rich and round and luscious, it means that the voice is getting stuck inside your head, and we’re not hearing much. In all likelihood it’ll sound to us like you’re singing through your sweatshirt.
But if you have good healthy singing habits, and the sound in your own head is a bit edgy and thin – chances are that we’re all very exited out here by your bright, lovely, ringing voice.