How to Place Your Voice for Better Sound and Volume

Control Your Voice's Resonance with Voice Placement

Jazz singer on stage, portrait
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Placing your voice means focusing your sound into a specific part of your face and neck to achieve more volume and better tone. The ideal placement is the spot where you feel resonance sensations between the neck and face that vibrate sympathetically and reflect resonance like a sounding board. By focusing on placing the voice correctly singers tend to have an easier time opening up the vocal cavities that will actually amplify the voice more efficiently.

Correct Voice Placement

Since placement is a sensation, correctly placing your voice may feel different to you than someone else. Most people sing best when they feel vibrations in the “mask” of their face; this is sometimes described as the area where a superhero mask touches below the eyes, on the nose, and cheek areas. One common mistake is to drive or force the sound there. Instead, sense vibrations in the mask while relaxing the throat, jaw, and tongue during singing. While there are variations as to where vibrations are felt, most singers tend to feel them high, lying somewhere at the roof of the mouth or higher.

Many singers feel high notes are easier to sing by placing their sound up and out through the top of their heads. Others describe well-produced high notes as feeling somewhere outside of their body. Specific sensations and visualizations are different for any given singer, the key is to know you sound different to yourself than others. Either record yourself singing to obtain a more accurate understanding of your own voice or allow your voice teacher or trusted friend to clue you in when you are singing at your best. Since you can’t trust your ears, learn to rely on how your body feels when singing well.

Exploring Placement Through Sensations

Using a scale of one through five, it's possible to explore five possible placements of the voice. We start with a narrow focus at the front of the face concentrating on the nose and moving backwards towards the throat. In order to successfully visualize the various placements, place your thumbs on your chin and move your index fingers based on the scale. You should focus placement where your index finger lies.

  1. The index finger is placed directly behind the nose; the sound should be brilliant and bright.
  2. Place your index finger on your cheek bone to feel sensations in the front of the cheeks and in the front of the mouth.
  3. Place your index finger in front of the ear at the jaw joint to feel sensations farther back in your cheeks and mouth.
  4. Place your index finger behind the ears to feel sensations even farther back in your mouth.
  5. Place your index finger on your neck, just below the jaw parallel with your ear, to feel in the back of your mouth (they will sound dark and fuzzy).

This vocal exercise allows you to explore the sounds you can produce and the sensations you will feel when you place your voice in different locations. Somewhere in the middle of the scale between two and three will produce the most pleasant sound for most singers. Broadway singers tend to place their voices more forward into the two area and opera singers slightly farther back between two and three.