Q: How Do I Stop Singing Flat?

August 16, 2018

To stop singing flat notes you'll nead to learn a few things about why and how singing flat happens.


What's causing flat notes

  • The larynx is following the pitch & moving upward

  • Mouth is widening & sound is more like a shout

  • Extrinsic muscles are engaged in a swallowing condition

  • ​Fear kicks in & self confidence takes a dive


How to avoid singing flat notes

  • Vowel shading and adjustments

  • “UH” mouth shapes

  • Breathe low 

  • Start sound checking with a monitor pre-show if possible

  • Set up voice for success earlier in the song


Connect Your Registers

  • Join chest voice, head, and middle voices to make one seamless voice

  • Understanding your voice reduces fear of singing flat

  • Practice specific exercises designed to join the vocal registers

  • Learning to sing in your mix significantly reduces the possibility of singing flat


Singing flat notes is a common problem for singers. The cause of this is something all singers should be aware of and understanding how the larynx works, and how shaping vowels gives singers a tremendous amount of control over their voice. As a voice coach my number one priority is to get a singer singing in their "mix" as quickly as possible.


Mix is a blend of the chest and head registers and allows singers to sing freely and easily throughout their entire range. Typically, flat notes occur when a singer is going for a note that should be in their mix voice but ends up staying in their chest voice. This starts with the larynx wanting to chase the pitch, the mouth begins to widen ultimately putting the voice in a "swallowing" like position.


Narrow the vowels through the troublesome segment by pursing you lips forward (like you are going to say ooh) and hold that position while singing. If you shade all your words with the vowel sound "uh" it will help stabilize your larynx releasing you from a tight swallowing position. Not only does this help words get into your mix, it also slighy drops the larynx into a more comfortable position. Now that we've got the mouth fixed, let's make sure we are breathing "low". If you're not sure what that feels like, take a breath like you are breathing through a really wide straw. You'll see your shoulders drop and your stomach slightly moving forward with each breath. Breathing this way before phrases puts the singer at ease and reduces tension in the chest, shoulders, back, and throat. Another really great tip is to meet with the sound technician or "sound guy" and make sure your monitors are set correctly so you don't end up over singing. 


Not all singers are able to sing from the bottom of the voice through the middle to the top efforlessly and seamlessly.  We've established already how important the mix is to successful singing. With these small adjustments and a better understanding of how the voice works, you'll be able to master your vocal potential!


 How do I stop singing flat? [audio transcript]


"Hey, what's up everybody and welcome to the Emmett Hayes Voice Show, let's jump right in, we're going to talk about how to stop singing flat. First and foremost, we're going to take a look at the throat and see what the anatomy of a flat note looks like. Generally, your larynx, which is located under your chin; there's a bump that houses your vocal cords and will typically tend to rise and put you in a choking kind of position. You'll see that your mouth starts to widen a little bit as you push into that note, hoping it doesn't go flat, the extrinsic muscles around voice box start to tighten and squeeze. I know you've been there. I have been there we've all been there right so here's just a few things you can do to avoid those flat notes or reduce them. 


First and foremost, vowel shading as an example: if you're singing the national anthem “and the rockets red glare”, you can actually narrow the vowels in each word “ind the ruckits rid glir.” I know it sounds stupid, I’m totally aware of that, but when you narrow your vowel you're, giving your voice better access to the middle register, and that is going to take a lot of tension and stress off the voice so that your voice starts to relax, your mouth starts to relax and the extrinsic muscles that are holding your voice hostage. Breathing low really helps facilitate that if you don't know how to breathe low, you can check out other podcasts about that. So, we don't want you to feel like to push and yell. The other thing, too, is if you can get into a sound check with the monitor before a show. Hear yourself in the monitor so that you're not over singing, which can also contribute to fight notes, so we, ultimately, we want to set up our voice for success as early as possible, not only at the venue, but also in the song.


Narrowing vowels is a super quick way to get through a rough part of a song. Narrowing can give you better access to your mix, which ultimately is the most important thing. If you don't know what the mix is. What we also call it the “middle voice” where the chest voice and head voice blend. The object here is to be able to access those registers and sing through them as seamlessly as possible. Understanding your voice, you guys, reduces your fear of singing flat. So, if you know your voice, you can know how to maneuver better and not let those muscles tighten up and ruin everything.


What I do with my singers is, I give them very specific voice exercises, design to join registers and get a nice balance in the voice making sure they know how to get into their chest and their middle in their head. That's super important, learning to sing in your mix will also significantly reduce the possibility of singing flat, so that’s is it for this show thanks you for listening. If you would like to follow me on social media, you can @emmettvoice. Thanks!" - Emmett's Voice Show Podcast



About Emmett


What do award-winning singers, singing tv show finalists, and television personalities have in common? Artists and professional singers turn to Emmett Hayes for vocal preparation, vocal coaching, and vocal advice. Voice problems can lead to fear and self-confidence issues for a singer, and that's where he comes in. If you're tired of your voice getting fatigued, running out of air, and cracking you have found the best vocal prescription.


Emmett Hayes has spent more than a decade as a vocal coach and technical voice instructor. Having taught thousands of voice lessons and more than one hundred public vocal master classes, Emmett has developed a proven and effective vocal technique.In an industry where "time is money" a skillful voice coach can save singers hours of studio time, days of vocal rest, and thousands of dollars in ticket refunds due to vocal issues. Eliminate the vocal fatigue, cracking, flipping and jumping through vocal hoops. Get personalized, straight-forward coaching and expert technical voice instruction by scheduling a personal voice evaluation now.




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