When in doubt, blow it out!
Letting Go — Letting the Air Flow
My undergraduate voice teacher used to say this all the time: “When in doubt, blow it out!” What she meant was that when things don’t feel certain the best way to release the tone is by letting the air freely flow out, to not hold back or be too controlling when releasing tone. Another one is: “The higher you go the more you blow.” These really have to do with energy and support, but the catchy phrases are easy to remember and useful as a reminder that it takes more energy to sing high notes and it takes free flow of air in general to free up the natural sound.
I have both under-doers and over-doers in my studio, but the vast majority of the new students who come into my studio are “under-doers.” That is, they are not using ENOUGH energy to sing. Therefore, they are not activating the CORE sound that is the most natural and beautiful tone they can produce. These catch phrases work well in helping them understand that it REQUIRES lots of deep support (diaphragmatic/abdominal support) in balance with breath control (how much air is released when singing). Many singers who are new to vocal study do not realize how much athletic energy it takes and how much whole body connection is required to access their full voices. This is a big part of what we do in initial lessons: work on getting them CONNECTED to their bodies for support and letting the air flow out more completely when they sing.
If you have trouble accessing the support needed for full voice singing, try the following exercises:
Hiss out strongly and feel what it happening in your abdominal area; or,
Roll your r’s if you can (on sound) and feel the abdominals working; or,
Do lip trills and feel the abdominals working.
All three of these exercises require the abdominals to work AND air flow to be released (not held back). This is what should be felt when singing tone on vowels. I often have students to trills or hisses, notice the feeling of support low and air flow through the mouth, then immediately sing on a phrase, either a vocalize or a phrase of a song, and try to feel the same connection and flow.
So, remember, “when it doubt, blow it out!”