Importance of Vocal Training for Singers
Michael Jordan. Lebron James. Kobe Bryant. Beyonce. At a glance, one of these All Stars’ professions might not seem to have much in common with the others. But like the world’s most talented athletes, professional singers dedicate their lives to the craft of their vocal sport and spend countless hours practicing and refining their skills.
Unfortunately, not all professional singers receive formal training, for a variety of reasons. For some, vocal coaching might threaten a singer’s natural approach to their individual singing style. But preemptive training is more beneficial to a singer’s longevity and vocal health than corrective training once vocal abuse has already occurred.
In 2011, vocal powerhouse Adele, who reportedly often relies too heavily on her chest voice, suffered a vocal cord hemorrhage following an extensive touring schedule. We know that many voice problems can be avoided with early professional training. Two of the most fundamental issues a singer must address include vocal production technique and careful attention to use, specifically over-use, of their voice.
Learning to tune into proprioceptive (rather than auditory) feedback concerning laryngeal positioning can be invaluable in achieving proper vocal technique. While singing, the larynx should be relaxed and low as laryngeal positioning is slightly lower for singing than in speech. Allowing the larynx to rise could cause a squeezing of the throat muscles, which could result in damage or irritation to the vocal cords due to increased force of contact. In addition to damaging laryngeal structures, an elevated larynx shortens the resonator tract, which impedes register changes, especially with high notes.
Like any athlete, professional singers benefit from formal instruction. A supportive team includes a laryngologist, speech-language pathologist specializing in voice, and a professional singing voice coach. Proper vocal training from an early point in a singer’s career can reduce the need for medical or surgical intervention to treat vocal cord damage.