“Singing Big” (vs Singing Smart)

A common myth reverberating in our modern “bigger is better” competition society, that also might puff up some of our egos, is “Big Singing.”  I used to wear it as a badge of pride when my choir directors would tell me I was singing too loud. I would say, “Well, I can’t help it.  I just have a big voice.” The truth is that I was quite a bit egotistical, and that I had no choice but to sing big because my muscles were overloaded.  

At any given moment, we have a certain size and weight of voice that is the max. When we go beyond this limit, we are singing too heavy and big, with too much “weight” and too much volume.  Our vocal cords are quite literally too big for the given pitch. Remember, there is an exact length, width, and depth of vocal cords vibrating to produce any given pitch.

In order to “support” excessive vocal weight, we have to start a vicious cycle of singing or “yelling” louder with breath blasting to attempt to secure the pitch.  This causes the cords to be even bigger. At some point the stretcher and closer cannot hold against big cords and forced air. The muscles buckle under the strain with results like flatness or sharpness, wobble or tremolo, loss of breath, distorted vowels, and an inability to articulate consonants. We are all red face and veins with much strain.  

Rather, what is needed is to learn how to sing “Smart.” Then, our voice will carry, words will be understood, and we will be on pitch and in tune. The goal of singing is to express with our vocal instruments what is in our hearts and minds so as to share that with others in a way that is meaningful. This goal can be achieved healthily. We do not have to bellow and yell and sing too big.  We can sing smart!

Allen Rascoe

about the author

Allen Rascoe Allen has been enjoying singing since he was a little kid. He officially studied voice at ECU and USC. However, he ran... Read More