It’s important to be mindful of the (sometimes dubious) comments given by well intentioned choir and acting directors. Maybe you’ve yourself “is my choir director wrong?” Remember that their first goal is to create a full bodied, blended sound. Sometimes this might be at odds with what is best for your vocal health and your technique as a singer. If you hear iterations of any of the following comments, singer beware!
“You should sing alto (or bass).”
Just because you can sing the lower pitches (or can’t sing the higher notes yet) doesn’t mean you belong in the lower voice part. Your vocal range is dependent upon more complex factors. Examples of these factors include your speaking voice and your current vocal break (where your voice transitions into its higher range). Make sure your voice is properly evaluated by a qualified private voice teacher. Don’t let your choir director bully you into singing a certain part. Even if they may “need more people on the lower harmony”. Singing outside of your comfortable range for extended periods is unhealthy. This mistake can lead to vocal fatigue inflammation and even muscular tension dysphonia (a vocal dysfunction characterized by involuntary but high levels of vocal tension).
“Sing louder!!! Project!!!”
Singing louder simply so your sound fills a space without knowing the techniques for a healthy vocal tone can be really unhealthy for your voice. It can create long term habits of tension in the voice, leading to off key sound, and even damaging the voice. You can protect your voice by never straining to project. Learn the proper techniques for breathing and resonance to increase the sound in your voice over time and with regular practice. Being louder should never be the end goal in singing. Volume will naturally develop with practice, some singers will have more natural volume, but no one should force loudness.
“Never breathe in the middle of a line.”
I’m not a fan of strong arming your voice through a phrase simply for the sake of not interrupting line. If your voice is going to be strained or go flat because you’re low on air, much better to take an early breath.
“Don’t lip sync!!!”
You may have a choral practice or theater practice that is several hours long. It’s in your best interests not to overdo it. I give you permission to lip sync for the protection of your voice. If you visualize and imagine the muscle movements involved in singing your piece, your brain will still be learning the songs.
Find yourself asking “Is my choir director wrong”? Don’t be afraid to throw me under the bus! As your voice teacher, I’m here to protect your long term vocal health. Consider voice lessons if you want to pursue your theater or choral dreams!