We've all heard singers with a nasal quality. For most people, nasal singing can become extremely displeasing on the ear, to say the least. But, if you show pronounced nasality in your singing voice, don't be discouraged! The good news is that nasality can be eliminated with the correct exercises and the retraining of your inner ear. The real question is, what creates a voice that is too nasal in quality; and what exactly can be done about it?
The Real Reason Behind Nasality
Singing in a more nasal tone is very common. The reason for this comes down to a number of factors. Usually, it can be one problem which causes a chain reaction. This domino effect makes for an unattractive singing voice.
The nasal passages are controlled by a "moveable doorway" into the nose - the soft palate.
The nasal sound you hear when you sing happens when the soft palate on the roof of the mouth is lowered. When this happens, it allows air to escape through the nasal cavity, creating the unwanted sound quality.
There are three different acoustic cavities involved in forming your sound. The three acoustic cavities are your throat, your mouth, and your nasal cavity. Your overall tone quality depends on the way in which sound vibrates through these cavities.
For those suffering from reoccurring nasality, this can be an indicator of improper technique.
A Simple Test For Nasal Speech
Remember, a little of that nasal sound is needed for a balanced vocal production, but too much will spoil the performance.
To find out if you suffer from nasality, here is a test you can do.
Start by choosing a phrase with no nasal consonants. For example, ‘This is the house that Jack built.’, or ‘Alleluia’, or even ‘I love you baby’, all have no n, m, or ng sounds. Say these phrases aloud in your normal speaking or singing voice.
Now, hold your nose closed by pinching the sides together. Be sure when you do this that no air can escape out of your nose at any time.
Then, say or sing your chosen phrase again, and this time pay close attention to what your nose is doing. Can you feel your nose vibrating under your fingers?
If so, it means that air and sound are leaking into your nasal cavities and trying to escape. This means that you do indeed have a more nasal quality when you sing.
How To Deal With Nasality In Singing
Usually, nasality is an issue because you have a tight nasal passage and you are squeezing the muscles behind the nose. What this means is that you have a breathe imbalance and a high placed tongue.
Having a high tongue means that when you sing, the back of the tongue is going higher than normal. This is harder to control and you need to create an "openness" at the back of the mouth in order to correct it. Here are two exercises you can do to help create this openness.
1. The Yawn
Ho ahead and yawn. Do it right now. Don't neglect to make the yawning sound while you're doing it. Whilst yawning, pay attention to the space inside your mouth. You should feel the extra space at the back of your mouth. Now, change the yawn into a single sustained note without losing that extra space.
2. The Egg
Open your mouth, and then imagine putting a boiled egg in there. Now imagine pushing it to the back of your mouth. As you visualize the egg taking up all the space in the back of your mouth, sing a mid-range note that you are comfortable with.
When you do these exercises right, and with a bit of practice, the sound you make should feel more resonant without any nasal quality.
Other Factors To Consider
There are several other factors that will also contribute to a nasal singing.
For example, most people with this problem also tend to hold their breath unnecessarily. By gaining better control of your breath, the problem can be corrected.
Also keep in mind that proper singing posture is extremely vital when it comes to getting rid of nasality. By slouching over, your speech organs no longer have a clear air passage. Therefore, proper posture is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to good speech.
Just by paying attention to your posture you should see an immediate improvement.
Nasal Singing Can Be Corrected
Some singers may have a bit more of a nasal quality due to the way their anatomy is made up. However, always keep in mind that every voice is different and you should embrace what you have.
While some musicians are known for their "unique" singing voice, many prefer to sing without the nasal tone. But whatever the reason for your nasality, always remember that it can be corrected. With a bit of perseverance and the correct vocal exercises, you should be able to train yourself to speak and sing with a more clear and resonant vocal quality.
About the Author: Julie Adams
I am a mom, a music lover and teacher from Tampa, FL. After completing a Bachelor of Music in Performance Arts, I traveled for several years before returning home where I started offering private piano and singing lessons as extra income. I met my husband in 2009 and 2 years later moved to Dallas where we settled down and I started focusing on vocal training to aspiring singers and performance artists of all age groups. I still enjoy playing the piano very much, and in my spare time you will catch doing some horse riding, drawing, doing some light reading, or just spending quality time with my family.