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Cures for Breathy Vocal Tone

Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 14:57:52 MDT
Subject: Breathy Tone Summary

And yes, by popular request and demand here is summary of the
responses to my question about Breathy Tone.

Dan Wagner said: " I wonder if the child truly has proper vowel
formation and support. If allergies and other physiological causes
shouldn't be looke into? (Vocal nodes, etc.). Without hearing the
singer it's hard to tell, but it's something to think about."

Dan Wagner Andante147(a)

Randall Moore said: "Try getting a very nasal sound that comes out
of the front sinus and nasal passages. Then keep some of that while
opening up the mouth more."


Barbara J Harolow said: "Have him make it MORE breathy, then less -
this puts him in control" She then refers to her video DAILY WORKOUT
FOR A BEAUTIFUL VOICE and mentions that there could be a physical
problem if this carries over to the speaking voice."

I would suggest contacting Barbara at : sbmp(a) for more
information on her publication.

Howard Austin said: "...Aduction (focusing the vocal cords) along
with good support and open resonators is the three part physical
coordination that produces good vocal sound for singing and effective
speech. You can quickly get the boy in touch with his 'focused'
sound by using the speaking voice in a calling mode.

W-H-O-A! / H-E-Y! "as if calling out to your friend way across the

--------- --- ---------|
---------------------\---| o

W-W-H-H-O-O-A-A |------------o-----------------
(SLIDE) | o


Follow this with downward scale using the "same sound". The speaking
voice calling out has natural focus, support and open resonators.

This is just a start. The Born to Sing vocal training package
contains many good exercises for accomplishing this and other vocal

Howard can be reached at haustin777(a)


Ken Lunde said: "Sounds to me like his tone is too deep in the
chest. Have him visualize pressing the sound against the upper rear
of his mouth cavity. This may take some practice, and he may only
move it up his throat to begin with. Anothyer thing you could try to
advance his head tones is to have him pinch his nose off and on when
singing "ah". If he has head tones, there will be a change in tone
as he pinches/unpinches his nose. No change at all indicates all
chest tones. No sound at all when pinching indicates ALL head tones!
When he learns the difference, teach him to sing with some of each
(chest/head tones).


Dr. Michael Rosewell said: "There is no 'solution' to the boy's
breathy tone. It is characteristic of many young singers' voices to
be breathy. If he is otherwise producing sound correctly, that is,
relaxed and supported and in tune, reinforce these good habits. A
better more developed tone will follow.


==============================Paul Meers said: "There's improper adduction of the vocal folds, and
that can be caused by a number of things.
1. child and adolescent girls have what's called a "vocal chink"
which is a little warp in the fold which allows air to pass.
Development cures it.

2. The vowe shape is causing the leak. I believe this is the most
likely cause.

a) use the vocal onset with all your singers. that is a balanced
start ( no/h/ and no hard glottal stop; think of the imagninary /h/)
of the voice on /i/ and /e/, progressing to /a/ and the back vowels.
This has done more to help my choir singers than anything else. It's
difficult to start the voice without a consonant, so I find this
practice to be essential.

b) combine three onsets on /a/ with an ascending legato arpeggio,
with the goal of a non-airy sound.
c) sing a 5 note descending scale very airily, then immediately
repeat the same scale with a full, non-airy sound, so he can feel the
d) Don't obsess over the airy sound; he may grow out of it. But
don't ignore it either.
e) See Richar Miller's THE STRUCTURE OF SINGING for more on this.


Again, a good weekend to all.

With repeated thanks

Myron Patterson
Head, Fine Arts Department
Marriott Library
Adjunct Associate Professor of Music
University of Utah


on April 6, 2004 10:00pm
ok, can someone tell me what exactly a breathy vocal tone is??? i have to talk in chorus about it in school for a project type thingy and i dont know what the heck it is so im gonna sound retarded if someone doesnt tell me...quick...pleeze?
on April 6, 2004 10:00pm
Breathy tone means that a lot of air is coming out along with the sound, so you hear breath along with it, like the letter H. Lots of pop singers use such a tone, because some people perceive it as sexy, but they have microphones to amplify their sound. Such an inefficient use of breath is impractical for a choral singer or other non-miked singer.

on April 9, 2004 10:00pm
ok, thanx a bunch. does anyone else have any more suggestions on how 2 correct it? i need 3-5 and so far i have.....none. and my project is due in a few days. i need help.
on June 1, 2005 10:00pm
My observation on some of my students who has the habit of singing airily is that they were not aware of the direction where the air should go. In stead of sending the air through the resonant mask area, they let the air out too early from the months. I don't have any fancy way to fix it. I just told them to sigh and yarn and remember their own focal point around the nose. Then we would add the vowels with n in front (e.g. ne, ne, or ni, ni) to maintian the same resonance. We practiced it day in and day out until they developed it into their habits.
on August 15, 2005 10:00pm
Many young singers do naturally have a breathy tone that is corrected with development. Nevertheless, the concept of appoggio and la lotta vocale should be studied by the proficient vocal instructor. Breath pacing is often the culprit in a breathy tone. If air is not sufficiently paced over the course of a phrase, its rapid release can be quite audible. I suggest reviewing Richard Miller's "Structure of Singing."
on February 17, 2008 10:00pm
Have your student place his fingers in front of his mouth and to breathe warm air as if he was warming cold hands. This should engage use of his abdominal muscles. Encourage your student to then transfer using those muscles while singing. Breathiness should be less.
on November 15, 2014 2:34am
Hey there, I've just read a book called The Voice Factor, which helps get rid of this breathy tone issue - it really turns the tables on traditional voice coaching and explains in plain english -  I heard it's a #1 Best Seller now and Kate Ceberano has written the foreword. If you wanna check it out, here is the link