think injection not projection
Imagine that you are an acoustic guitar. Your vocal folds are the strings. Your body is the body of a high-end, well used guitar.
If you pluck the strings they vibrate. The thicker or fatter strings vibrate slowly and make a lower pitched tone. The thinner strings vibrate quickly and create a higher pitch tone.
Although your vocal folds don’t resemble instrument strings they do work in a similar fashion. When lengthened and thinned they make a higher pitched sound. When they are shortened and fattened they vibrate more slowly and make a lower pitch sound. Try plucking a rubber band as you lengthen and shorten it between two fingers.
If you were to pluck a guitar string in mid-air away from the body of the instrument you would hear a dull thud or a very low volume tone. It is the air and space inside the body of the acoustic instrument that picks up the vibration and transfers it to the wood which gives the sound it’s volume and tone. The listener hears the sound coming off the entire body of the guitar. If you lay your hand on the instrument body you can feel it vibrate.
The older and more broken in instruments tend to sound better because the structure of the wood have been broken down and is much looser. The more receptive the wood, the more readily it vibrates, the greater the tone and volume. Different types of wood (or other materials) affect the sound. Certain woods are known for their warmth, clarity and/or brightness.
Your body functions in the same way. Your muscles and bones would be the top back and sides of the instrument. Your lungs would be the air chamber within (or open space). Each body sounds unique because of it’s inherent structure and it’s ability to vibrate.The looser and more relaxed you are the richer your voice will sound.
Your body has a myriad of sounding boards which can be opened, loosened, and hardened by a mere thought or emotion. The physical vibrations that you create by singing cannot only be HEARD by the listeners ears, they are FELT INSIDE the LISTENERS BODY, transferred from your sounding board to theirs. This is why listening to music is often a physically moving experience. You may hear a singer and notice that the hairs are standing up on your arms, you may experience a huge emotion or be taken back to a personal experience. This is not just from the sound of the melody or the language of the words. It is the physical reaction to a RECOGNIZED VIBRATION, a vibration that is experienced within your own body.
Volume and tone are not created by what you push out and away from you but rather by what you BRING INTO the reverberation chamber of your body. Allow the sound waves to fully move inside of you. The looser (but not collapsed) you are the better. Think injection rather than projection.
These exercises are as simple as imagining yourself larger than you are. Rather than asking your body to relax by pushing outward, try instead to believe that your outer edges have expanded. Try making a sound while imagining your body image changed. Place your hands on your body. You will eventually if not immediately feel the vibration.
Although you may not notice it right away the change in your voice will often be remarkable and dramatic. These are your tonal palettes to paint with in the future. (try this exercise with a friend listening and get their response)
These can be done one at a time or mixed and matched. You can make up your own body images. Think BIG!!
Your head is round and as wide as your shoulders. Your cheeks are soft and widen out between your ears.
Your upper teeth are huge and bucked out past your lower lip. They are the most beautiful white teeth and you are proud of them.
Your butt takes up at least two bus seats and your stomach is round and jolly. You are eating the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever.
Your chest is warm and open as the sunshine itself. You are floating on a soft rubber raft in the salt seas of the Bahamas with the clouds slowly moving above you.
Your rib cage and shoulder blades open sideways and you have huge white wings fanning behind you. Your back expands backwards and you are flying.
Your nose is like an elephant’s trunk and your enormous leathery ears flap in the Savannah breeze. You spay water across your back.