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The Open Throat (Actually, The Un-Closed Throat)

"Singing with an open throat" is a technique used by vocalists to produce a clear, resonant sound while minimizing strain on the vocal cords. It involves creating a relaxed, open space in the throat to allow for better airflow and resonance. A more accurate description of the open throat is a "un-closed throat". Why? Because the throat is naturally "open" when we breathe. We don't have to "open" it. That would be really tiring if we had to expand the throat every time we took a breath. And how would we breathe when we're sleeping?!

So, the open throat is actually a natural openness. The problem occurs when we begin to communicate whether it's by speaking or singing. The throat essentially closes. This is why it's so difficult to learn how to sing with the "naturally open throat". There is nothing natural about producing this open-throated sound when we sing. As in anything, some people are just lucky and they managed to leave the throat in a relaxed, naturally open position. The rest of us have to learn techniques to keep it open.

To keep the throat open during phonation a singer must turn off this naturally closing reflex. That's the reason so many singers are taught to "force" the opening of the throat with various techniques including yawning and lowering the larynx. The most obvious reason why these are undesirable techniques is the voice sounds unusual. Yawning makes the you sing like you're yawning and lowering produces a "dopey" sound. Both yawning and the extended depression of the larynx are what I call "tension" techniques (as opposed to relaxation techniques). Any tension will be audible as the vocal folds will be tenser than necessary. But tension techniques have their place in good vocal training as long as the singer knows what the ultimate goal is. For the open throat, we want a naturally, comfortable openness.


Start with dopey sound, knowing that the dopey sound is caused by over lowering the larynx. Put your hand on the front of the neck slightly above the larynx. Sing a phrase of an easy song. Be sure it sounds dopey. Your hand will feel the difference between a closed throat and an open (dopey) throat. You can imagine a frog's throat. While concentrating on your hand feeling the frog throat, try to sing with less of a dopey sound. Do this in increments as long as the throat feels "froggy". Your goal is the larger, bassier sound that the dopey voice provides but without the obvious dopey sound. Many singers reject this deeper sound and should record their voices to hear when the openness is just right. This will be reinforced with the added comfort during higher and louder singing. BTW, if your throat is not naturally open, your diaphragm will not be working correctly. This is added incentive to learn to keep your throat open.


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