Technique Tuesday: Resonance Part 2! Nasal vs Forward

Hey Everyone!  It’s Technique Tuesday and we are getting into the fun stuff of how to create colors and enhance the tone quality of the sounds we are making!  Last week we talked about how to add bass…Resonance Part 1   so this week, let’s talk about Treble!  So many of us have been told not to sing through our nose that we have often gone too far the other way and have neglected the amazing tool that our nasal cavity can be for us when we sing.  Yes, it is easy to get too nasally and for most of us that is not a pleasant sound, but a) it does have its place in certain styles, and b) using nasal or forward resonance can be a great tool and it is possible to use without sounding nasally if we know how to balance it out!

So let’s clarify, I do not want to teach you to “sing through your nose”, but I may teach you to think about singing into your nose. 🙂  The difference is this:  I don’t want air to come through your nose, rather I want you to feel the vibrations that sending the sound waves to that resonating cavity will cause.  I also feel like often it’s easier to learn how to feel and control the sensation when we aren’t worrying about how it sounds…so just experiment!  Let the sound be nasty, and then we can work to balance it out!

Here’s how forward resonance can help you:

  • Forward resonance can help you sound louder without having to push more air or strain your vocal chords. I recently attended a NATS workshop and I loved how Craig Bohmler (Composer in Residence at Arizona Opera) put it, “Forward resonance is the poor man’s volume.”
  • Forward resonance can also help you eliminate breathiness as well as hold notes/phrases longer. It can help you to focus your air so instead of extra air escaping your mouth, you are sending a more concentrated stream into a smaller area and use your air more efficiently.
  • It can help you mix your head and chest voice and bring your chesty belt up higher!! It helps to keep the powerful sound of your chest, while you are actually allowing the voice to shift.
  • It also helps to bring power and volume to your head voice!


So why don’t we all use this all the time!  Well, part of it is that it is easy for it to be too much and sound more nasal than we want.  If we aren’t in control of it, it can take away the warmth and depth of our voice, especially in chest voice/belt.  So it is really important to know how to use that open throat (see this blog:Resonance Part 1    ) in order to create a balanced sound.

Finding forward resonance can be a bit tricky, but is also pretty fun.  It’s a lot easier to demonstrate, so check out this video.  Forward Resonance Video

My biggest caution is this:  make sure you pay attention to the FEEL, not just the Sound!  You can make that nasal sound by squeezing your throat…but that is NOT nasal/forward resonance and can cause tension and strain on your vocal folds.  So make sure that you are focusing on feeling the “buzz” or “hum” in your nose/cheekbones/forehead, wherever.  Just make sure you think about keeping that throat relaxed instead of squeezing it 🙂  Happy Practicing!!