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Opera Singer PavarottiSinging with a "Yawn"

Some Classical techniques focus on lifting the soft palate and maintaining an open throat as you would if you were yawning. To get some idea of this, yawn and while holding your throat in that open position, try sustaining an "Ah" sound. Now say "Ah" like you would in normal conversation and without manipulating your throat, sustain an "Ah" as you would normally speak it, letting your throat shape itself. Can you feel and hear a difference?

There are many more degrees of throat muscle movement necessary in contemporary singing due to the variety of sounds and dynamics usually demanded within one song much less from genre to genre. The movements, however, are natural and will occur automatically as long as the singer is not trying to hold inner throat positions. To hold the throat in the same "yawn" position throughout overshadows your voice with only one sound quality which can sound contrived or fake in contemporary music.

Classical techniques were developed to enable Opera singers to achieve what was considered a beautiful voice in that genre. You can’t use the same techniques in Contemporary singing and expect a good result. The point of all this is just to bring to attention that you may have been taught a Classical technique and not even know that it is one.


  1. Denver on January 14, 2015 at 8:04 AM said:
    Isn't there really just one singing technique? - diaphragm regulates airflow which then flows through different resonators. So why the need to distinguish between classical technique vs other techniques? Different genres emphasize different resonators. e.g. the yawn technique is just to enhance pharyngeal resonance.
  2. Bob (Singer) on January 14, 2015 at 10:18 AM said:
    When I perform demanding vocals that require a "Big Tone" such as early Motown (David Ruffin, Levi Stubbs) I find the yawn like configuration or maintaining that openness and height is just what I need. I cannot afford to close down when singing those kinds of songs.
  3. Keith Fuller on January 15, 2015 at 7:58 AM said:
    Different strokes for different folks and different mouth shapes for different tones. When singing a solo or as the lead, I will find the tone I want that supports the song. If I find it fatigues me, I can always alter it slightly. When singing back-up harmonies, quite often my job is to match the other singer's tones. I can accomplish this if I am willing to change my mouth shape (among other things) and find the best way to support the "team".
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