Standing Above the Soft Palate?

What is this?  Standing on top of the soft palate?  How do we do that? Good news – we can’t, for there is nothing that we should do directly or voluntarily to manipulate the soft palate in any way.  Hence, no trying to lower or lift the soft palate.

That being said, if we focus on registrational adjustment, then we have a feel of standing on a step above the soft palate as we sing into the upper full voice.  This sensation originates from the size of cords vibrating, less and less, for the upper pitches. This causes the size of the glottal slit to be smaller and the air molecules moving through to be crowded together; meaning that the vibrating air molecule column has less diameter, increasing height, and a direction angling back.  

Literally, at a certain point – usually around D or E flat above middle C for men and an octave higher for women – the air column reaches an angle and height where it is at the level of the soft palate. The soft palate vibrates in sympathy with the vibrating air column. The vibrations of the soft palate act like a springboard for the vibrating column of air so that the air molecules are “re-energized” and able to travel higher.  The cords and the soft palate are friendly with one another as upper pitches are sung! The feel for the singer is of standing above the soft palate as one sings higher; leaving the first floor and moving around the second floor.

It is possible to feel and focus on multiple sensations.  So, there is another way to feel that one stands on top of the soft palate area.  There is a feel of what the vibrating air column is doing as per the cordal adjustment  – registration. There is also the feel of the resonance adjustment as one focuses on detuning the mouth as a resonator; freeing the mouth to do its job of articulation of consonants and finishing of the vowel form.  Thus, one will feel that one always, even when sort of under the hard palate as a sensation on lower notes, is at the level of the soft palate and standing on a step there or higher and higher as the pitch ascends.

Exercises are projected by the teacher to stimulate proper response from the muscles that will give correct sensations.  The teacher directs the student’s attention to focus in on a feel relating to either registration or resonance adjustment.  Then, ultimately, to both adjustments at once. The doing and feeling becoming one. The singer’s being becoming more and more automatic.   

Allen Rascoe

about the author

Allen Rascoe Allen has been enjoying singing since he was a little kid. He officially studied voice at ECU and USC. However, he ran... Read More