Turning down the vocal volume

One needn’t max out one’s voice in every single practice session. Some days it is good for the voice and the soul to sing lightly and easily. There is a term in opera called “marking”, which means singing during a rehearsal in a way that is much lighter than in a performance. For lower voices, this may mean singing the high notes in falsetto. For all voices, it might mean taking some parts down an octave. It’s a way to save wear and tear when rehearsals are long, or if the singer is recovering from a cold or other throat issue.

For singers of any style, there are days when you might not have a lot of energy but need or want to practice. Maybe you have to learn some new material for upcoming performances. You can practice a lot of the elements of the music while singing lightly, such as intervals, rhythm, lyrics, and timing. It’s OK to learn your music without a huge effort from the body! Give yourself a break from giving 100% during practice sessions.

Sometimes I just want to end a long, exhausting day with some singing to soothe myself. Letting go of making “big” sounds and just enjoying singing a simple beautiful tune easily and sweetly can send me to bed a happy camper.

If you enjoy this blog, consider grabbing a copy of Sane Singing: A Guide to Vocal Progress, available in print and ebook!

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2 Replies to “Turning down the vocal volume”

  1. Oh, I so love this post! I’m semi-retired and only have a few students anymore, but I think I’m going to insist they read this. Sometimes it helps to hear someone else say what your teacher tells you all the time 😄 In my experience, the worst addition to high school curricula has been musical theatre class. Apparently volume is prized above technique. I feel as if I should have “back off” tattooed on my forehead, I say it so often when these kids come for lessons.

    1. Thanks Lynn! The irony is that almost all MT is amplified now, so no one, belting or not, needs to holler! Some of the kids I hear from our local “programs” are not being advised well on this.

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