So far, I have mentioned quite a lot of technical aspects of singing. That might give you the impression that I think vocal technique is the most important thing in order to achieve a good performance. 

But, as the title of this post already suggests, I do not think so. On the contrary: for me, music is the expression of feelings. Vocal technique is not an end in itself but it can help you to become more expressive. If you understand the possibilities of your voice and if you train your voice well, there is a good chance that you will be able to let your voice sound the way you intent to and, as a result, express yourself the way you really want to. 

A singer that sings without emotions is like a forest without birds, a pond without fish… It is empty and will soon be boring.

The good news is: singing with emotions will help you to have a better vocal technique!!

If you really tell the story, if you really dive into your emotions, if you truly express your feelings and communicate them with your audience, then your vocal technique will be much better than when you are pretending or when you are commenting on yourself while you sing.

How is that possible?

When you sing with real emotions your breath support will be much better. You can experience this when you speak. Just say: “Hang on to your emotions” first in an angry voice, then happy, laughing, bored, afraid, irritated, with endearment… Can you feel the action in your body? Can you feel the action of your muscles when you breathe?

And did you notice that the sound of your voice changed with every emotion? 

If not, say the phrase again!  

This changing of color in your voice means that your vocal tract had different shapes…! 

In my post about “the flexible resonance box” I explained that our vocal tract is a flexible resonance box and that we change the shape continuously when we talk or sing, for example when we pronounce vowels and consonants. The vocal tract can have many shapes and therefore we can produce many sounds; not only vowels and consonants, but also colors that express our emotions.

If you study without emotions, your breath support will very likely be insufficient and your vocal tract will not have the right shape; in consequence it will not provide the right color for the expression of the song you are singing. You might be struggling and trying over and over again to find the right colors and the right pitch, but if you would just sing with the emotions appropriate to the song, you would probably sound much better.

And yes, I know: it is of course very difficult not to comment on yourself, not to look back and ask yourself: “was that note right?”    

Of course, when we study we need to be critical of our singing, but it is important to realize that you should always sing with emotions, both when you are studying and when you are performing on stage. 

And when you are performing on stage: be honest. You cannot fool your audience. Try to be “congruent”, which means: Let your voice and your whole body express what you feel and think and sing. And let the colors of your voice be the true expression of the story you deliver. 

So my advice is: “Hang on to your emotions” and your vocal technique will improve considerably. Do your exercises regularly to improve your vocal technique, but try not to think too much of technique when you are on stage; instead be “congruent” and honest.

3 antwoorden
  1. Ingrid Smeenk
    Ingrid Smeenk zegt:

    Dear Lieve ,
    I just read your article. So basically as I understand it ,I need to train vocal technique.
    Than I do interpretation of a song ,think of the emotions before I sing it .Than when I sing the song I always tend to self judge all the time like you described it . I look back ‘Did I do that note right”but than I get out of the emotion I want to deliver and as a consequence my technique is not working in the right way either. So than I hinder myself probably . I recognized myself in the article. So I try when I study to use emotion than I get the technique working as it should do as I am into my emotion . When needed concentrate on technique in the difficult parts when I study a song (isolate it)
    It will than go into my muscle memory and when I sing the whole song I should concentrate on emotion and deliver the message /tell the story and everything will fall into place . My muscles will remember the technique I studied and I should stop thinking about technique and looking back ,thinking how did it go and what should I change because than I ll get out of the story ,and the muscles directed by my emotions will get in a muddle .
    Very useful article Lieve !
    Kind Regards
    Ingrid Smeenk

  2. hyoseon
    hyoseon zegt:

    Hello Lieve!
    this is hyoseon.
    I have one question.
    I was wondering about lip trill exercise
    what is this for? breathing? legato?
    how does this effect for vocal chords?

    Thanks in advance.


    • Lieve Geuens
      Lieve Geuens zegt:

      Dear Hyoseon,

      The lip trill exercise is good for many things: for breath support; to train the little muscles that close the vocal folds (so to train the closure of your vocal folds and get a stronger sound) and it helps you to get rid of slime. Some people say it also gives a little massage of your vocal folds….
      I didn’t see you for a long time and hope you are doing fine. If you have more questions, please ask !!


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