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When do you strain? And how do you know if you are straining?


Maybe it is a stupid question, but i am thinking about it often now.

This is also a question related to my other discussion see my link: https://forum.kentamplinvocalacademy.com/discussion/15396/what-should-i-do-after-a-cold-and-not-sing-for-5-weeks-hoarse-after-singing-high-songs-again#

I thought it would be easier to start a separate discussion about this.

But when do you strain and how do you know when you strain and feel while singing, or stretch chest with the course?

About straining it's not very clear to me when to stop while stretching chest or while singing. I don't know for sure when to stop on which note while singing the scales. Or what is exactly straining for you when you sing the scales? For my for example and what I think now is straining if you can't reach the note, and you want still reach the note what causes straining and yelling, that is for my straining, and not if you are sing high or do the scales high and do good support, but also feel little tension in your throat but still can handle the notes.

I don't know what everyone means with straining, and when you officially strain.

D you have a better explanation of what is easier for me to understand?


  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,404
    good question, not sure if i can answer it correctly. i think as soon as any tension creeps in, especially in the neck/thorat area, or you can FEEL that it is hurting/bad technique, or cracking, or loss of control over what is happening in general. being too loud/yell-y as you said. if it does not feel like you come from "above the note". they are all symptoms of it i think. anything that does not feel like relaxation in the right areas.

    or, if it all seems fine at the time, and then the next day there is some issue.

    i would maybe wrap it up like this: avoid anything that seems like it could be strain, and that way you should be pretty safe.
  • codeowlcodeowl 2.0 PRO Posts: 305

    Hey mate, I remember Ken talking in one of his vids saying it is not that there is no stress in singing, it is that our aim is to become really good at the management of stress, and this is done through technique. This is what is great about Kens technique it has the management of stress designed into it. So as @Klaus_T pointed out we don't want the stress getting into the neck/throat. I find that if I am not controlling my larynx well, so it doesn't raise to high when I go up in pitch I get tension in the throat that is no good. I find that if I don't lower my larynx a bit more when going for low notes I end up with tension in the throat trying to get there. I find that lifting my soft palate and dropping the back of my jaw when I go up high makes it way easier to go up in pitch and gets my voice out of my throat, so to speak. If I am not using good support it puts pressure on my vocal cords and my voice burns out. If I am not controlling my breath and I use to much it has a negative affect on my voice and wears it out.

    If I use mask it makes the vowels sound much better/brighter, and well articulated/enunciated, and if I don't use mask then I end up trying to achieve that with my throat, and this has a negative effect.
    So those are some examples of bad straining. I find they all lead to the throat. I think even tension in the jaw can lead to straining in the throat because as you go up and down in pitch your mask modifies to accommodate vowel mods etc... and if you have a bad habit of clamping your jaw into a specific position, and tension bounds it up then you end up compensating in your throat chasing the sound you want, instead of letting the mask do the work. Think of singing an E for example, you want a nice wide smile showing top and bottom teeth, and your teeth a pretty close together. As I move up in pitch on the higher triads, and go through the vowel mods, my jaw opens up and my teeth become further apart, and then come back at the end of the triad to reform the E mask and get the nice E vowel sound. If I had tension in my jaw holding it in place I would not be able to properly do the vowel mods and I would end up doing other things to compensate like pushing, using more air etc... and it would all end up with wear on my throat.
    Same with tension in the abbs. If I don't understand support correctly and I am just tensing up, it will not be effective and I will end up with pressure on my diaphragm, and poor breath control which will lead to unstable sound and my first reaction was to push more air to try and fix it and it all ends up with strain in the throat.

    For me all types of bad strain = bad technique, and bad technique = results in compensation which is pretty much always in the throat, if not directly then indirectly, and this results in a wear and tear on my voice, that if not corrected ends up going hoarse. That wear and tear, if not corrected, compounds pretty quickly over time as I am singing 6 nights a week.


  • MaxmuMaxmu 2.0 PRO Posts: 79
    Hello Everyone,

    And many thanks for your reply!
    @Klaus_T @codeowl

    I was watching myself in the mirror and when I did the
    Aye, EE, I, Oh, OOH and I saw little bit tension in my neck because, I did good support. But I still feel that how higher I came how more tension there was. But still I guess maybe good strain.

    Actually I never have problems the next day, 1 year ago sometimes but at that time my vocal cords where more weaker. I had a cold this Christmas I didn’t sing for 4 weeks say. I should never have done that, I regret that, because I need to strengthen again, but still I don’t have pain the next day. Maybe I do it good I guess.

    Can I ask when you have tension, and on which note you need more power and support when you do the scales?

    When I do the starters workout the tension begin by D4 a little bit, and I need more volume by the F and F#. So I think by D4 till F# is then healthy I guess. And if I go above then I push.

    And about rising the Larynx I thought he said don't lift your larynx and keep it in place?

    Codeowl, what you said about MASK and EE vowel I have also problems with that, I can’t sing a good high EE vowel.

    So you do a big smile and teeth together what makes it resonate in your mouth? Is it resonate in front or behind? Is that correct?
  • codeowlcodeowl 2.0 PRO Posts: 305

    Yes the AEIOU in the start exercise is one that I have to concentrate on to mitigate tension.
    I try and apply Kens technique to get around this. So what I do is:
    - I drop the back of my jaw down a bit, to keep the back of my throat open.
    - The above assists with starting with a slightly lowered larynx.
    - I sing it lighter especially at the start and end.
    - I lift my soft palate as I move up to the top note in pitch of that run in the exercise.
    - I have a nice cheeks high open mouth smile.
    - I allow my larynx to move up slightly as I go up in pitch of each run in the exercise, but it is still not high, as I get no strain or froggy sound, but it comes up enough so I am not fighting it as pitch raises. (Eg; each run starts pretty low and goes pretty high, so if you pulling your larynx to the floor and holding it there you will get strain, I start with it lower and allow it to come up a bit as I get to the top of the pitch in each run, but I am not pushing my larynx up to reach the pitch, I am lifting my soft palate to reach the pitch.)

    With the E vowel, again the key to moving up in pitch is lifting the soft palate and using the vowel mods as you ascend in pitch.

    The other parts of technique that assist with reducing stress on the voice are of course support and breath control.

    So here are some discussions I have had that you may find helpful in your research on these topics:

    Breath Control:

    Ping/Brightness, and Ease of Moving Up in Pitch:


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