Sometimes the key to controlling your singing voice is understanding that singing is simply an extension of your speaking voice. After all, the research suggests that as a species singing may have developed in us prior to speech.1
Gaining an understanding of your vocal habits can help develop strength and power in your voice;
recognising the patterns your voice makes when you speak or sing, how the voice feels as if it's bending, stepping, or flicking, is one fast and effective pathway to achieving vocal control.
If you say the word 'yesterday' you would probably feel your voice stepping with each syllable, and flicking at the onset of the word with the pronunciation of the 'y'. Whereas if you were to say 'lounge' this feels more like a bend as opposed to stepping or flicking. Gaining this level of understanding of your vocal movement can inform healthy and reliable singing and speaking techniques. Recognising that your singing voice is simply an extension of your speaking voice is only the first step to achieving that desirable vocal control.
For those who come to see me for vocal rehabilitation, or who are brand new to singing, we dedicate a certain amount of time to elocution. If we can enunciate correctly, and graduate to simply elongating our spoken words, we can begin to understand the connection. For example, if you are able to speak you technically should be able to sing. Try this exercise: say the word 'lounge' again, but this time sustain the vowels for around 5 seconds. This is what singing feels like. Now, granted you might sound completely flat and unpleasant but with a little bit of work on your breath control, tongue placement and larynx (Adam's Apple) positioning you would be AMAZED at the results!
I hope you can see a little bit about how learning the placement of the speaking voice is paramount to being a successful singer.
After all, our voice is our natural, portable instrument, and if we are unable to recognise its physical movements, how are we to recognise what is in need of repair should we ever experience such a situation?
Therefore there are two valuable reasons for getting to know your voices movements with speech: singing with control and injury prevention!
1. There is a current school of thought that music may have been the precursor to language: "This inclination is later shaped by human interaction in the context of culture-specific forms, i.e., different languages and different musical systems. Shared features between language and music have led to the hypothesis that a song-like communication system may be the phylogenetic precursor of modern language." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6558368/
Politimou, N., Dalla Bella, S., Farrugia, N., & Franco, F. (2019). Born to Speak and Sing: Musical Predictors of Language Development in Pre-schoolers. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 948. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00948