Looking forward to singing at our next performance on Friday 4th of June. I'm going to be doing some funky and quite interesting blues singing! Should be a hoot... See the flyer for details.

Some of the terminology out there to describe vocal registers can be very confusing because the terms “chest voice” and “head voice” can mean different things to different people - both male and female. There is a certain convenience in using these terms, especially when my students understand these terms in regards to whatever they are working on, but if I have a preference, I like the Thurman and Welsh model from their 5 volume set of books called Bodymind and Voice: Foundations of Voice Education which describes the structure of every voice as follows:

What the chart shows is 5 distinct vocal registers which are common to both men and women, ranked in terms of their pitch. These registers overlap to a certain degree and that when you enter the orange and red zones of a register, an accomplished singer would want to transfer up to the next register and avoid unnecessary strain. Straining or pushing at the top end of a register is otherwise known as “belting”.

The tonal quality of each register can be quite different, particularly between the natural and false vocal registers. A professional singer would optimally want to move into the next register by mixing or gradually blending the adjacent vocal registers together so that there is no abrupt change. The muscle control for this requires practice with exercises that bridge the two vocal registers. Generally for both men and women, the most difficult register change to negotiate is the one between the upper and falsetto (men) or flute (women) registers.

In the convenient terms of head and chest voice, the natural voice registers are generally considered to be chest voice and the false voice registers are called the head voice, Where the confusion can occur is when singers mistaken their lower register for their chest voice and upper register as their head voice, particularly beginners who have trouble going between these two registers when they start out.

There can also be confusion about defining head voice and differentiating it from a common misunderstanding of falsetto voice. It is possible to produce sound in the falsetto/flute range in two different ways; with connected vocal chords and unconnected vocal chords. With connected falsetto the vocal chords approximate together and engage fully to create sound allowing greater resonance and volume control. In the case of unconnected falsetto, the vocal chords remain apart with only the fringe areas of the chords vibrating to make sound. When additional airflow is introduced to try increase the volume of this voice, the vocal fringes blow apart, creating a more breathy airy sound, hence the term unconnected. This has been demonstrated with microcameras inside singers’ mouths and you can find various videos on youtube showing the difference in action. Nonetheless there is a convention which says that connected falsetto is “head voice”, whereas unconnected falsetto, the weaker and airier of the two is “falsetto voice”, despite the pitch range being the same. It should be noted that while there is a physical difference between the production of these two sounds, Thurman and Welsh still classify them both as being part of the falsetto register.

There is a fantastic video by Brisbane contemporary singing teacher Dr. Daniel Kay that explains the vocal registers very clearly, using the Thurman and Welsh model which is definitely worth watching. Find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAGR81QFIj0

Hope that this helps you navigate through your own vocal registers.

COVID-19 AlertUPDATE: As the new social distancing rules are now in efffect and rules for non-essential travel are changing daily, please keep in mind any current regulations may mean that your lesson cannot go ahead in person. Check the relevant Western Australian health departments website here for current rules.

Hi Everyone,

Just to let you know that for the moment it is business as usual at the singing studio. Yes, there are several government rules in place to restrict numbers of people gathering together and virus reporting rules, however in a one-to-one singing lesson, these precautions largely pose no significant issues. Please practice good hygiene when you are at the studio to prevent the spread of germs to other students (and teacher). If you are not feeling well, please let me know in advance and we can reschedule for another time when you are better. Also, if you prefer to stay at home for your lesson, we can hook up via video link and do the lesson remotely instead.

For those of you who are performers, this might be a difficult time for you as most venues are either rescheduling, postponing or cancelling performances in order to slow the spread the COVID-19 virus within the community. This isn’t the end of performing arts in this country and in due course I believe that the situation will normalise and public performances will return once the peak of the virus infections has passed.

Until then, keep up the practice, refine your instrument, and be the best singer that you can be for when you make your return!