Feb 29 2016

VocalWisdom.com Masterclass Podcast #0002 - Feeling Pressure At the Larynx

Today’s Masterclass Podcast answers a question about feeling pressure at the larynx while singing. I discuss several possible reasons we might feel this and what we can to to relieve it.

Leave comments and questions below. Enjoy!


  1. Basel Sarweh

    In string playing, we discuss a very similar process. It’s a balance of pressure and counter pressure. So, in vocal function, we have pressure from the breath muscles and counter pressure from the vocal folds. When both pressures are equal, there is a feeling of balance, or as I like to say “nothingness”.

  2. John Navarrete

    One aspect of pressure I’d like to hear you discuss is how to maintain the precise amount of pressure as a singer moves up higher in register. It’s considerably easier to feel that sensation of “nothingness” (as Basel astutely puts it) when vocalizing in the lower, male register. But as a male singer progresses up through the passaggio and into higher notes, the balance becomes trickier to maintain. Flexibility in the vocal cords is key, I know, but there’s definitely a sensation of “stretch” when accessing the upper middle voice. The resistance becomes more apparent, especially at the extremes of a register break, and the “nothingness” becomes more elusive.

    This skill is important to build particularly for rock singers, like me, who need to keep that strong chest-like resonance well into the G4-C5 range, and beyond. What exercises would be healthy and appropriate for building that sensitivity to the perfect balance between air pressure and resistance in the upper range?

  3. Thanks, Basel. I still refer back to our discussions about string technique and the similarities to the voice.

  4. Thanks for the question, John. I always think from the vibration and not the breath pressure. The act of saying the note will determine the pressure if we are saying it reflexively. If we are trying to say it by doing the breath pressure we will have problems with it being too much. The breath actions need to be a natural reaction to the needs of saying the note. As we sing higher in pitch the needs will increase. We need to develop sensitivity to rely on the natural reactions and not try to control or predetermine what is needed. The only exercise is doing it.

  5. Excellent. Thank you. I get what you’re explaining. Now I can experiment with it.

  6. Thanks for the good explanation on the video. the way you describe breathy tone in women make sense , i always wonder then thought it was kind like a falsetto , but as their cords are shorter, they sound less breathy than male falsetto , don’t know if it’s right by the way. I can do this lighter adjustement you talking about (the active light adjustment), but i have a really hard time passing from this to a more male vocalization. I mean , if i must sing a song going from A3 to D5 , i have to start the song on a light vocalization or somewhere along the way , i will start to strain by failing at letting go the weight of the voice. for the moment , as i sing my own song , the trick is to have “song range” that accomodate this (F2 to A4 or D4 to F5).

  7. You’re welcome. I feel that many women are actually singing in falsetto when they think they are in head voice because they don’t have the integrity of pure vibration.

    It is very difficult to go from the light voice to full voice. I usually us the little light voice as a preliminary tool. Then, without breathing, I start the voice with a full expression. This taps into the reflex and creates a more natural balance than doing things too controlled.

    It is important not to breath in between the preparation and the full start because breathing will reset the glottal adjustment by opening. Hope that helps.

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