Page 9 - Voice for Life Yellow Workbook
P. 9

                                 Tone and range
 Finding the larynx
Study the diagrams above and find the thyroid notch with your index finger. This is the V-shaped indentation at the top of the Adam’s apple (a projection of the thyroid cartilage). It is usually more prominent in men.
Gently place your thumb and middle finger either side of this notch and move them backwards along the top of the thyroid cartilage. You’ll notice that they rise and then fall as they follow the shape of the cartilage. About a centimetre back you will feel two small ‘horns’ sticking up. On top of this sits the hyoid bone, sometimes called the tongue bone because the base of the tongue is attached to it.
Remember this construction because it is important that the hyoid bone is always free when singing. If the tongue pushes down on it, the sound produced will be rather unnatural and swallowed. Similarly, if you have ‘fixed’ the hyoid bone with the muscles in front of it, you will produce a tight sound.
Try holding your hyoid bone between your thumb and index finger and see whether you can move it from side to side. Be very gentle! It should move easily and freely about one centimetre in each direction. Having checked that the hyoid bone is flexible, try moving the whole larynx from side to side (again, be gentle).
Vocal sound is produced by vibrations in the larynx (voice box). The larynx is at the top of the trachea (windpipe), and is made of cartilage. The parts of the larynx that vibrate are the vocal folds, which lie horizontally across the thyroid cartilage.
The diagrams below show the parts of the neck and throat that are involved in voice production. As you do the exercises below, it may help you to refer back to them to remind yourself of the different parts and what they are called.
 View from side
Hyoid bone
Thyroid notch Adam’s apple
View from front
Trachea (windpipe)
Epiglottis Vocal folds
Thyroid cartilage Cricoid cartilage
        The vocal folds
 The vocal folds are sometimes called vocal cords, but as they are made up of several parts, ‘folds’ is more accurate. They are about as long as the width of a finger nail. For them to work properly, the larynx must be able to move up and down and tilt freely. If it becomes crushed or fixed while you sing, the sound will be badly affected.
The exercises below will help you achieve this, but it is extremely important that you work slowly and gently. Before you start, discuss them with your choir trainer, a singing teacher, or an experienced singer. If you feel the slightest discomfort, stop.
 Module A: Using the voice well 9

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