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Top 3 Misconceptions About Singing – #1 Airy Tones

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Top 3 Misconceptions About Singing – #1 Airy Tones

Airy tone during singing Top 3 Misconceptions about singing

I’ve been teaching for years, but I never fail to be amazed how universally, no matter which corner of the world you’re from, what languages you speak, or how much passion you have for singing, the misconceptions people generally have about singing are the same. I see this interesting pattern in almost every student who comes to me, and I thought that it’d be great to share this insight with you today – the misconceptions people generally have about how they should sing.

Top Misconception #1 – Airy Tones

I’ve lost count of the number of times when I first speak to a student and he/she has a great speaking voice, but when they start singing, the voice becomes ​’airy​’ (leaks more air)​… almost as if there is an involuntary ‘switch’ for them to use another ‘system’… just for singing. ​Because of the airy nature of the tone, they will find it hard to have power when they sing. ​Generally speaking, there shouldn’t be too much difference in how you speak and how you sing (in terms of how airy a voice tone is).

Many of us tend to copy the tone of the singers we love or listen to, and we tend to copy the airy tone somewhere in their singing if we hear it. I’ll give a thumbs up for the copying, because all great things start from some form of imitation, and also because the ability to imitate is rather important in the learning of singing. But, there is a principle to when airiness in a tone is ‘ok’ – professional singers usually allow airy tone as an ‘effect‘ in certain words or part of the song to show vulnerability or more emotions. ​

 

Using Teddy Swim’s cover of Someone You Loved​ as an example, you will hear that only he only has ‘airy’ tones (in this case falsetto) when he sings those words highlighted in boldto show vulnerability and contrast:

“I’m going under and this time I fear there’s no one to save me
This all or nothing really got a way of driving me crazy

I need somebody to heal
Somebody to know

Somebody to have
Somebody to hold
It’s easy to say
But it’s never the same
I guess I kinda liked the way you numbed all the pain

Now the day bleeds
Into nightfall
And you’re not here
To get me through it all
I let my guard down
And then you pulled the rug
I was getting kinda used to being someone you loved

I’m going under and this time I fear there’s no one to turn to
This all or nothing way of loving got me sleeping without you

I need somebody to know
Somebody to heal
Somebody to have
Just to know how it feels
And it’s easy to say
But it’s never the same
I guess I kinda liked the way you helped me escape…. “

 

Can you recall your favourite singer belting high notes, or think about any favourite song of yours where there is a super powerful high note or a range of powerful high notes(YouTube the song and listen to it if you need to) Can you hear any air released during those belty high notes? Nope. Nada. Never.

Hence it would make sense to start thinking about having no airy tone as a ‘default template’, and release air only as an ‘effect’ to achieve certain emotions. One big part of the training in singing is to learn how to keep the air to yourself…through support! Here is one video where I showed how to achieve deep breathing and support to minimise airy tones:

Keep practising and have patience – changes are coming!