Pushing is another one of those ‘I know it when I hear it’ words, I thought it was about time I looked into what happens when vocalists ‘push’.
I’d like to use the analogy of sailing to help describe what happens when extreme air pressure hits the closed vocal cords. Imagine being on a calm lake in a tiny sail-boat. The air is fairly still and your sail luffs. You’re not going anywhere in this boat. This is what happens when you ‘under-support’ and not able to give the vocal cords ‘sails’ adequate wind to get the boat moving. Now the wind picks up and your sail fills out and you start speeding across the lake. The windspeed is matched to the size of your sail and the weight of the boat and the result is a smooth, easy ride. This action we could call ‘perfect support’, meaning the matching of windspeed (pressured air from your lungs) to the pitch and volume requirements of your vocal cords. In this configuration, your vocal cords work easily and will obey the demands of your brain and your ear.
But what happens when a hurricane appears and hits your little sail with a blast of high-velocity air. The sail stiffens in a futile attempt to resist the onslaught of pressurized air and the boat capsizes. This is what pushing is: forcing too much pressurized air against the penny-sized vocal cords (each is as big as a half-penny).
The goal? Use only as much pressure as you need to get the cords to do their work and they will reward you long vocal life.
Celebrity voice coach Lisa Popeil has an MFA in Voice and is one of America’s top voice experts. Creator of the Total Singer DVD and the Voiceworks® Method. www.popeil.com
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Originally posted 2009-08-11 05:54:23.