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Learning to Sing Better – The Importance of Chest voice

Read this before watching the video.

I’ve hinted that if you want to sing better, it is important to not only know the difference between a head voice and a chest voice but also that it is worthwhile to develop your chest voice. I’ve mentioned that a strong chest voice gives you more control of your volume and your breathing and that it gives you a clarity to your singing. I’d like to demonstrate part of that here.

This is a rendition of Mary Did You Know, with Mark Lowry singing with Voctave. Mark is quite accomplished in the control of his chest voice. He starts out singing with his head voice and his words are soft and gentle. He transitions into a chest voice to give the words a bigger impact. I want you to notice how beautifully wide open his mouth is when he is singing a full, strong chest voice.

Especially, notice what happens at the 2:21 mark on the video. Mark is in full chest voice when he sings “praises of the Lamb”. What is spectacular is that he holds the note for at least 17 counts. That is extraordinary and not many people can do it. Most won’t even try. How can he hold the note so long, belting it out, not lessening the intensity of his voice? Chest voice. If he tried doing it with a head voice, he would have run out of air halfway through the note, and he couldn’t have put as much power into his voice. He does the same sort of thing on the last note, though it isn’t as pronounced.

Something else to notice here that I haven’t mentioned before. What sound is Mark holding (and holding and holding)? It is a vowel sound, the A in Lamb. This is a well-known technique for holding a note. Don’t try doing it with a consonant sound, do it with a vowel sound, thus A instead of the M sound. It takes much less air.

Incidentally, you might notice that the singers of Voctave seem to be holding the note just as long. They really aren’t. Since they are providing the background music, which would traditionally be provided by a band or orchestra, they are actually staggering their breathing. You can’t hear it when one of them takes a breath because the others continue to sing. It makes them seem to be holding the same note as long as Mark is. If Mark took a breath, it would be instantly noticed since he is the soloist.

Believe it or not, this isn’t my favorite rendition of this song, but it is fantastic for demonstrating the importance of the Chest Voice.

By the way, don’t be afraid to make specific observations or to ask questions. That is all part of learning to sing better.


What do you think?


Written by Rex Trulove

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