Have you ever wondered if your voice is as important as the instruments surrounding you on a Sunday morning? Well, it is! An instrument is known as a device that produces music (Merriam Webster Dictionary). As vocalists, our voices would fall under this category! Unfortunately, many musicians do not view their voice in this way and can harm it by not taking steps to care for and maintain healthy vocal techniques. As vocalists who hope to engage with the Lord in lifelong worship, we can take a closer look at all the pieces of our instrument while striving for continuous growth in our ability and understanding towards excellent worship.
The foundation for all vocalists is breath support and this is accomplished by diaphragmatic breathing. This allows us to push air through our vocal chords in a similar way to how a keyboard needs power to produce sound. The diaphragm is a muscle below your lungs that aids in sustaining air support and filling out your sound. Breathing from your diaphragm takes practice but can substantially increase the use of your resonators.
Just as an acoustic guitar has a large wooden body that amplifies and resonates the sound, vocalists have the ability to resonate sounds as well. Resonators in your body that work together to amplify your sound are the mouth, soft palate, nasal cavity, and your head. When you manipulate these pieces for the use of your instrument, the sound and tone your voice produces can be altered. For example, the wider you open your mouth, the more space a sound has to resonate, which results in a larger output.
Your entire body and posture also plays a part in your voice as an instrument. When a musician plays an instrument they play it in an ideal position to maximise the production of the sound. The same thing applies for vocalists. When you sing, an upright and aligned vertical posture with your head at a 90 degree angle is the optimal position. To utilize diaphragmatic breath support and your resonators correctly, your body posture must work together with these pieces.
Lastly, one of the most important pieces of your instrument is the soft palate. This is the soft tissue in the back of your mouth. When it is raised, it creates space for sound to resonate. Focusing your pitch in this space creates healthy sustainable vocal habits. A raised soft palate also softens the vowels you produce and promote blendability for a clear tone.
As we start to think of our voices as instruments with many pieces working together, we start to understand singing as being much more than just producing a pitch. It involves multiple moving parts. When we are mindful of these many components, we become more aware of how to better produce a final pitch and tone. Start thinking of your voice as an instrument, it will change the way you sing and ultimately develop as a vocalist. I guarantee it.