I have recently found in a whole host of students that they are constricting when they speak and as a result, constricting when they sing. I am coming up against this so often that I felt it is worth writing about.
To explain the mechanics briefly: Next to the lovely, small, white vocal folds we have what we call the ‘false folds’. If you have seen a scope or picture of the larynx, these are the red fleshy bits next to the true vocal folds. They are very useful as they close when we swallow. This prevents food from going down our windpipe. However they also cause all sorts of problems when they press inwards or constrict. When you hold your breath, grunt, caught, rasp, make a ‘dirty’, raspy sound, the false folds are constricting inwards. This stops the true folds from vibrating freely. Good singers have nice, open, retracted false folds. The false folds are responsive to emotion. When we are sad and angry and tired or stressed and in shock, they tend to start constricting. When we laugh or giggle, they open and retract.