If you imagine a car on the road, think of the breath as fuel, and the body as the car. The two will work together as a pair, so it’s important to keep the car (body) in working order, and also to make sure you have enough fuel (breath) in the tank. For both ftm and mtf trans students, it’s vital to learn how to command the breath because it will inform all of our abilities and options as singers.
Breathing is controlled by the contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle in your chest cavity, underneath your lungs. When we inhale, the diaphragm squeezes downward, creating a vacuum inside the body that pulls air into the lungs. As we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and expands upward, pushing the air back out of the lungs.
Breathing is a natural process that we all know how to do. However, it can often be inefficient because of factors like anxiety, bad posture, or by subconsciously learning to mimic a stressed breathing pattern. This is very common, and for non-singers it’s often unnoticeable, and without large consequences. However, as singers, we are like athletes. We train our breath to function at the highest level of efficiency and health, so that we can achieve the best sound possible. This level of training will help trans students of all kinds to achieve their goals- whether it is vocal feminization, cultivation of masculine depth and richness, or the general strength and clarity of the voice.
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What are the false vocal folds?
The false vocal folds (FVF) are a secondary pair of mucosal tissue folds located above the true vocal folds. You can refer to our article on “vocal folds” for a complete explanation of the true folds, and how they factor into trans voice training.
The FVF serve by protecting the true vocal folds and the airway from food or liquid that may accidentally go down the throat towards the lungs, instead of towards the stomach. They will also have a large effect on sound creation, even though they are of lesser importance than the true vocal folds. When the FVF are constricted they will produce a rough and raggedy tone. By contrast, when they are retracted, they will allow for a clean, clear tone. This is particularly important for mtf trans students who are striving for vocal feminization. Oftentimes, the practices required for feminization will cause the FVF to constrict, creating this rough and undesirable tone. Through proper vocal coaching, the FVF can be trained to retract, allowing for the development of a relaxed and uninterrupted feminine tone.
Get help creating a voice you love! Schedule a class or consult with Seattle Voice Lab here.