Whenever someone talks about singing with an open throat or an open sound, it makes me want to eat my fist. Why? Because it is the WORST advice you can give a singer. And it’s one of the most common myths about healthy vocal techniques out there.
In this post, I’m going to explain what singing with an open throat really means, how it causes serious vocal health issues, and when the ONLY time singing with an open throat is appropriate.
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the video below!
What Is Singing With An Open Throat, Anyway?
An open throat, or an open sound, refers to making a whole bunch of space in the back of your mouth, kind of like a yawn, as you sing. You might have heard about using an open throat for reaching high notes.
Why Do Singers Sing With An Open Throat Then?
Now, singing with an open throat is really awesome advice—under one condition:
IF YOU ARE AN OPERA OR CLASSICAL SINGER.
In opera and classical singing, singing with an open throat is what is necessary to sing that type of music.
But if you’re singing ANYTHING ELSE besides opera or classical music, then singing with an open throat is terrible advice. It’s going to hurt and damage your voice and is a fast pass on the train to vocal damage.
Here’s the other thing (and this is controversial, so consider this your warning): most vocal coaches and teachers are under the impression that they are not classical teachers. They will tell you that they teach contemporary singing techniques.
But I’m going to give you a list of five words that, if spoken by any “contemporary” voice teachers, will help you know that they’re actually teaching you classical singing techniques.
Those five words are:
- Open (opening space)
- Lift in the back
- Chest voice
- Head voice
- Breaks (or passaggio)
If you’re hearing any of those words from your so-called contemporary singing instructor, stop right now. Classical technique is not meant to be applied to contemporary music. If you do, your voice is going to hurt, you’re going to lose your voice, and you’re going to feel vocally fatigued.
Just like classical ballet moves have no place on a nightclub dancefloor, classical vocal technique has no place in singing contemporary songs.
Not only does it sound weird, but it will hurt your voice.
Why Does An Open Throat Hurt My Voice?
First, you should know that if you’ve bought into this myth of singing with an open throat, it’s not your fault. The classical technique has been around forever, and it’s what many singers think is the only technique that exists.
So here’s what’s going on: When you make all that space in the back of your throat, that is what’s causing you to have breaks in your voice. The break occurs between your chest voice and your head voice. And when you open up more space to push those chest voice notes even higher past that vocal break, it’s going to hurt your voice every single time. It hurts me just thinking about it!
Repeatedly singing your favorite pop songs with an open throat will cause you to damage your voice because the chest voice is not meant to be pushed past that break. This chest resonance is part of the classical technique and is meant to be used for the bottom parts, the beefier lower notes of classical and opera music. That’s where that lift and open sound is appropriate in that particular range in your voice.
Anything above that break is in your head voice. And in contemporary singing, no one wants to be in their head voice. You don’t want to be in your chest voice either because it has limitations. Your chest voice can’t go very high. If you go past it, you’re going to run into vocal health issues.
Other Options (The Mix & Belt Techniques)
If singing with an open throat and using your head voice and chest voice are only reserved for classical singing, then how should you sing contemporary music?
To sing contemporary music, you have to learn contemporary technique—which does NOT include openness, or chest, or head, or breaks.
Let me tell you a quick story about Anna.
Anna, a singer, songwriter, and cover artist was part of my 2018 Vocal Health Case Study where she joined to learn how to overcome the vocal fatigue she was experiencing. Before participating in my case study, she had adjusted her voice and body to singing with limitations.
The first time I heard her sing, I spotted her problem immediately. She was trying to sing pop and country songs with an open throat, making space in the back of her throat.
In that case study, I taught Anna and four other students how to sing using the contemporary techniques of Mix, Belt, and Mix Like Belt (an additional technique I invented).
When I showed Anna what to do instead of making all that space in the back of her throat, the notes were suddenly no longer a struggle. She found that she could sing a whole set without feeling any fatigue at all. It opened up this whole library of songs that she couldn’t sing before.
This is the result of matching your singing technique to the music you want to sing.
What feedback would you give singers about learning Katti Power’s Unlimited Vocal Health™ method?
[Unlimited Vocal Health™] will help them reach heights of their voice and self care to their voice so they can sing whenever they want.
Anna2018 Sing Without Limits Vocal Health Case Study Participant
Learn Contemporary Singing Technique
If you’re struggling to reach high notes or sing the songs you want to sing without feeling tired or sore, then you might be following this myth of singing with an open throat.
My recommendation is to learn contemporary singing techniques if you want to sing contemporary songs with ease.
The best place to start would be to grab a copy of my international bestselling book, Never Lose Your Voice Again: The SECRET To Unlimited Vocal Health™ for Singers, Actors, and Speakers.
In this book, I lay out everything you need to know about singing with healthy and contemporary vocal techniques so that you can sing healthily, powerfully, and without limits to range, vocal breaks, power, style, or endurance.
Download a FREE Chapter of Never Lose Your Voice Again
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So there you have it—the TRUTH about singing with an open throat.