Having an airy tone can be a serious problem. Although your voice can still make sound, the strength needed to speak or sing seems to disappear. This is because the vocal cords are not completely connected from front to back when we make sound. Over time, this can lead to a loss of strength and a reliance on other muscles for stability, which can cause irreparable damage in the long run. Here’s the good news: It’s easy to fix!
How We Make Sound
As explained in a previous blog, the arytenoid muscle, located in the back of the larynx, is responsible for bringing the vocal cords together to make sound. The process is very simple. As we inhale, the arytenoid muscle opens the vocal cords, allowing air to enter into the windpipe and eventually into the lungs. If we want to make sound, the arytenoid muscle brings the vocal cords together as the air is exhaled. This escaping air causes the vocal cords to vibrate against each other and the result is soundwaves. Sometimes, the arytenoid is not strong enough and the result is a disconnected cords, causing an airy tone.
One of the best ways to get rid of an airy tone and connect the vocal cords is to add resonance to the sound. Resonance is vibration of sound spinning as air is passed through it. Try singing the scale 123454321 on the nasal consonant “Nn”. Take notice how a buzz starts behind the eyes and nose, also called “the mask”. This is resonance. Place a finger underneath your nose as you perform the exercise. You will notice warm air escaping through your nostrils. This is the escaping air that is spinning the sound vibration causing resonance. As you ascend in pitch, concentrate the air by pulling the abdominal wall and diaphragm in. This will increase the resonance. When you feel you have mastered the “Nn” consonant, try the same exercise on an “Ng”. This will intensify the resonance.
Back to the Music
Once your confident of maintaining the resonance and breath support, go back to singing an open vowel or lyric in a song. Place the sound in the same place you feel the resonance, behind the mask. You will immediately notice the difference.