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What Is Strength?

Overview

  • Why vocal strength is important to singing
  • The function of the muscles related to strength
  • Types of muscle fibers and how to develop them

Dimension Seven: Strength

Strength refers to the stability and stamina of the voice.

Improving strength is important because it will help you:

  • Sing for long periods of time
  • Gain control over the volume of your voice throughout your range
  • Create a consistent tonal quality that you can rely on

Anatomy of Strength

Vocal strength is dependent on the muscles directly attached to the larynx used for speaking and singing. This includes the thyroarytenoids and cricothyroids, along with the adduction and abduction muscles.

Muscles Related to Strength

  • Thyroarytenoids (& vocalis) – muscles that can increase and decrease the tension and mass of the vocal folds
  • Cricothyroids – muscles that interact with the thyroarytenoid, primarily used to adjust tension of the folds
  • Adduction Muscles – muscles inside the larynx that bring the folds together (transverse, lateral and oblique arytenoids)
  • Abduction Muscles – muscles inside the larynx that pull the folds apart (posterior arytenoids).

How do these Muscles Affect the Dimension of Strength?

  • Efficient usage and coordination of the strength based muscles result in less fatigue and greater stamina, allowing singers to perform consistently for hours at a time.
  • The stability of the arytenoid muscles are essential to keeping the folds together and to adjust correctly when adapting to multiple volumes (which require significant changes in air pressure).
  • The stronger the thyroarytenoids (and surrounding muscles) are, the more you will be able to achieve intentionally imbalanced amounts of air pressure and tensions to create additional tonal colors.

Types of Muscles

There are two types of muscle fibers that can be found throughout the body:

  • Slow twitch – measured by how long you can use the muscles for singing
  • Fast twitch – measured by how much force and tension the muscles can resist

Both types of muscles take time to develop and can be strengthened through both direct and indirect training. However, exercises specifically designed to target the dimension of strength can dramatically improve their development.

Activity

Take a deep, relaxed breath and sustain a steady “Ee” sound on any pitch for as long as you can. Using a stopwatch, record your time and then repeat the exercise, while making small adjustments to volume, pitch, tone and posture. Your goal is to “beat” the previous attempt.

NOTE: This activity targets stamina, stability of the folds, and application (or use) of the breathing muscles.

What did you Learn?

  • Why developing vocal strength is important
  • The muscles involved in vocal strength
  • The two types of muscle fibers and how they are they measured

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