22 May 2014

Crave Vocal Freedom? Join Me In Discovering A New Sense of Vocal Space

Planetary Nebula NGC 2818, Hubble Space Telescope

Boy, did I have a breakthrough this week and it was all about space!



Are you creating the space to sing each note successfully?


A Singer’s Challenge


When singing, we have words to communicate, and the way each of us decides to form those words while singing either allows the core of our sound to flourish or infringes on it, yet without accurate diction, our message is lost.


To add to the challenge, not only might the diction be slightly different from person to person, but it might be different depending on where the note lies in the range, what word is on the note, and what words and notes precede and follow it in the specific tone.


Whew! Sounds complicated.


But this is why we continue to study; the awareness of our instrument and how to best share it is well worth the journey.






When I was in graduate school studying voice with Patricia Misslin, she asked me with a smile in her voice,


“Tricia, what carries the sound… the vowels or the consonants?”


Of course the answer to this rhetorical question was the vowels, but the way I was using my tongue, jaw, and lips was stealing away from the purity of the vowel sound.


I was not creating the space needed to keep the core vowel sounds pure.


The result was an inconsistent tone.


I find this lack of continuity to be most exposed in classical singing, but the concept can apply to all genres.





In many songs there are large interval leaps on either one or two different words. Most often the challenge enters when the leap starts in the lower register and moves to the upper range… the challenge increases when the upper notes lie in the passagio, the place where the chest and head-voice transition. 



Question: When you choose to do so, how do you create a consistent timbre between the two notes?



Answer: Space



Creating space is one way that may facilitate this event.



How about a baseball analogy?


Photo By: Philpottm
Photo By: Philpottm



It’s all in the hips…


My son had his high school baseball tryouts last weekend and before he left to warm-up we sat around the kitchen table sharing yummy breakfast and hearing from my husband Steve his latest batting insight.


Steve had been watching slow- motion videos of pro batters at the plate, and he noticed that where the hips went the ball followed. Placing the ball in baseball is a vital skill and the batter uses his hips to intentionally carve out the space for the ball to follow.


The batter’s technique of creating this space aligns beautifully to singing.


As the batter uses his hips to set up the journey for the baseball, we may use our body, resonators, and breath to create space for the notes to soar.



Creating Space


1. Posture – Ground yourself with a fluid athletic posture; stable feet – shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hips buoyant, allow your spine to feel tall, neck, head, and jaw to be free and flexible and unobtrusive for the breath to travel through the air passage.  



2. Breath – Give your lungs plenty of space to allow air in the lower lobes. Allow your rib cage to expand and stay expanded as you exhale. Let the low belly drop and fill on the inhale. Allow the diaphragm to relax slowly on the exhale.



3. Resonance – An open throat; relax the larynx and allow for a domed soft palate.


For me, this week’s breakthrough came when my voice teacher, Madeline Abel Kerns, helped me discover a greater awareness of the sensation of the upper, back space in my throat 🙂 



4. Articulators – Use your lips, tongue, and teeth efficiently. Use your jaw to a minimum. It may help to record yourself to see how clear you can make your diction with the least amount of effort.



What’s the big idea?



Tao of Voice Quote 1




Bringing It All Together


So here’s the catch…



Once you bring awareness to the space you are creating in your posture, breath, resonators, and articulators, experiment with being like the batter and create the space BEFORE you sing the note…


Every note is set up in the moment before the note is sung.


If the phrase has an interval jump up, then the space for the high note is created either while singing the bottom note or in the seconds after. If you are traveling through your passagio, give yourself the space to sing that transition with ease.



Taking it up a notch…


For me, I found it very helpful to be aware of other places in my life that could create space, and in turn would help my singing space.  


[Tweet “It is all connected… how you live is how you sing.”]



 – In communication, am I allowing space for my thoughts… or am I rushing to push out my ideas? 


 – Do I struggle with feeling heard? Or am I calm and grounded in my verbal exchanges, allowing others to have their space as well.


 – Am I always trying to fill space with things, external input, and busywork, or am I giving myself clutter-free space to create, breathe,      and feel?



Explore the idea and sensation of space this week in your life and in your singing.



How can you create space for yourself, your voice and your song? …allowing those high notes soar?



Let me know how it goes in the comment section below and share this post with a singer friend!

Happy singing!




P.S. Would you like to take voice lessons?

Email me today for your free 30-minute singing lesson and voice assessment in-studio or via skype – my email: triciapine@rejoiceinyourvoice.com

I look forward to hearing from you! 




  1. This blog post reminds me of qi gong. It’s about physical posture, how you hold yourself, but ALSO about the intention that you hold and what you are concentrating on. This is a sign of a highly skilled practitioner!

    1. Thank you, Dorothy, for you comment! I so appreciate the qi gong reference. I have heard much about it and I wold to see how it would enhance my work. Thanks again!

  2. “It is all connected… how you live is how you sing.”

    This is so, so true. I believe that singing is directly connected to the rhythm of life. It is artistic, scientific, mathematical, and deeply psychological/mind-connected. You need to be so, so aware of what your thoughts and body are doing before and while you sing the notes. Like the photos of space in this blog, it is a beautiful mystery and an ongoing discovery process. We singers don’t ever hold on to the music – we are constantly creating, letting go, observing rests, filling space, and recreating space for more inspiration. Sometimes I have experienced a sense of space/time suspeded around me when singing – a sense of flow and a tiny glimpse of eternity in the beauty of choral sound. I’d like this to be a more consistent experience, so will think about how to create more space in my thoughts, my mouth, and life. I love the tips from the sports world too! Thank you Tricia for stretching our minds this week.

    1. Ohh, Therese, thank you so much! I love reading your words. Our journey is so amazing, isn’t it?!?! How beautiful that we have music to give us these loving nudges to deeper awareness. I feel so lucky to walk this mysterious path 🙂 I am so glad you like the tips. Big hugs to you!

  3. Love the analogy ~ because I’m a baseball fanatic ~ it helps me reference your concept.

    Finding your voice ~ critical in any relationship, and any line of work ~ especially yours!!!

    1. Thanks, Laura, for you comment 🙂 I am glad you could relate to the baseball analogy… My son is an avid baseball player and the game has taught me so much about my art. I am amazed how much baseball training and singing training are alike. Alignment is everywhere! Fun!

  4. OMG – will you just move closer to me so we can sing together… I LOVE EVERYTHING YOU TO SO MUCH!! Thank you for continuing to provide amazing content – I share it with the entire high school music department! Hoping to inspire more awesome musicians!

    1. Love you, Cena! Thank you so much 🙂 I am holding that thought for us! We will sing together in the future, I am sure of it!I so appreciate you sharing it with your high school students. Planting the seeds of these concepts will help to support many thriving singers! xoxoxo

  5. Great lesson, extendable to other areas of life as well.

    1. Thank you, Lilla, so much! I love how it is all connected 🙂 Have a beautiful week!

  6. I love a good analogy… It helps me visualize and truly understand your concepts and teaching… And hidden messages for all of us to learn from… Thank you!

    1. Me too, Kelly! Thanks for reading and for your comment. Hugs!

  7. “How you live is how you sing” – love this!

    Reading this post about creating space suddenly brought back a memory from over 7 years ago! This was the time I was pregnant with my first child, I was at a central facilities performing experiments and nipping out for walks to “get some oxygen for my baby”. On those walks I was trying to sing (to myself and to my baby). And at first, I could not remember the tunes and the words and could not get the notes right. I mean I have been singing my whole life before but then completely stopped for a few years. And now it was almost like I needed to adjust my posture and breathing to get the singing going again. It was like I was creating this new space … for new songs and for my new life! 🙂


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