The larynx….an interesting subject….

As I study various singing methods, I realize that we are all trying to invent the same wheel safely…. just a little differently.

I want to talk today about one of the differences I see in Speech Level Singing and some other modern contemporary singing methods.

The subject on hand is the larynx.

From my experience with SLS, the larynx needs to remain stable and reasonably low (or neutral) as you ascend in pitch. However, in some contemporary methods it is said that the larynx will rise as the pitch ascends, especially around E flat above high C for women and A flat below high C for men. This is typically where the male and female 2nd passaggi are, or in other words the 2nd “gear change”.

This intrigues me and I explore it with most of my students.

In my studio, those who sing more “classically” are encouraged to keep their larynx low in song. This allows them to ascend higher with a nice warm, full and open classical tone. These singers have up to five octaves when vocalizing.

On the other hand, my students who sing rock and country in song are encouraged to monitor their larynx and surrounding muscles to ensure that there is no undue tension as they ascend into their 2nd passagio. The larynx will rise a bit as they belt out above their 1st passagio in song. However, they are encouraged to vocalize with a neutral larynx, which allows them to exercise in 5 to 6 octave ranges.

ALL my students under 16 are encouraged to sing with a neutral larynx, and a full balanced voice in exercise and in song.

The rising of the larynx is an interesting discussion among vocal teachers.

Is it safe and OK for the larynx to rise in rock/pop/belt singing? What do you think?

6 thoughts on “The larynx….an interesting subject….”

  1. Hey Susan!

    I wonder if you’ve heard about Complete Vocal Technique.

    I’ve been training myself with Singing Success for over an year now.
    Trained myself with a bit of Mastering Mix.
    Didn’t go all the way into it.
    Struck down with Malaria, and then procrastination, i took around two months or so off.

    And when i got back back, i found my voice as good as ever.
    Though the control is way lesser, but i feel better.
    I found your site just 20 minutes ago.
    I am nothing short of delighted to have an SLS certified coach ansswering our questions herself.

    I dropped singing success and started off with Singing for the Stars.
    And i’m going to refer to the CDs from Singing Success from time to time, particularly for style scales.

    I just want to ask you, am i going the right way?

    I know i’m a bit too focused on a lot of products at the moment, but my point is i want to teach myself continuously.
    I’ll soon start taking part in local competition and stuff like that as well.

    I have a little faith in myself growing i guess.

    • Hi and thanks for your post!
      Yes, I’ve read a bit about CVT and Cathrin Sadolin. It’s a very interesting way of looking at the voice and the various sounds that can be made safely.
      It’s nice to see you are back to dedicating the time and commitment that is necessary to develop a better singing voice. Let this be a journey of your love of singing, and your desire to be the best you can be!
      My main comment to you as a singer is to know your issues or your “habits”. Understanding your unique voice first, is the quickest and most efficient way to improve your singing. This is best done by having it assessed by a professional. Once you know what exercises are best suited to improve your voice, then you can work on your own and know that you are addressing the correct issues. And, it’s a sure bet that those exercises are on both Singing for the Stars, and Singing Success!
      I agree that focusing on a lot of products is not very useful, although it is interesting! Susan

  2. Just another quick post to clarify that SLS coaches I’m sure would agree with everything you said, Allan. We state that the larynx should be relatively neutral….not too high….not too low. What I would like to understand better is how high is too high? I think a singer should be able to monitor their own larynx while ascending, and recognize when they are “straining” to reach….which in effect is the larynx going up too high.

  3. Interesting post! I think if we leave methods aside and simply consider the anatomy and physiology of the voice, the muscular forces at play make it clear that fixing the larynx in any position (be it low, neutral or high) is unhealthy – the larynx must be mobile. The only healthy approach from a muscular point of view is to allow the larynx to find its own optimum position, then choose to lift or lower it very slightly from there. This, however, is purely a sound colour choice and has nothing to do with vocal health. A healthy larynx is a mobile one – it should rise in all styles of music – it just won’t rise as high in some styles. Keeping it fixed makes no acoustic or physiological sense.


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