One of the fundamentals of singing has to do with our muscles and just how we get them moving.
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, our two main muscle systems become unable to move. If we focus on the closer muscle for a moment, then we can say that the closer muscle maybe is too weak to really do its job of closing. Or, maybe the closer muscle has been improperly used and as a result is locked into an unhealthy position. In both cases, the closer muscle is unable to close according to what it needs to do for establishing the pitch and volume, as well as defining the vowel.
An essential exercise for re-establishing closing movement is the Staccato Exercise. The staccato exercise can be done on just one pitch at a time, or it can be done as one steps up and down the vocal staircase. The feeling is one of “re-articulating” the pitch with a certain vowel, like one would almost say it. Just say it short instead of holding it for a long time. The duration of sustain would then be something like a second.
As one does this exercise, there is a feeling of closing and opening. At first, if the vocal cords have not been coming together well, then doing this exercise will be a bit difficult. It will take some time for this opening and closing activity to be effective. However, once the vocal cords are being nicely closed by a happy closer muscle, then we will be able to start sustaining pitches for longer. There will be a wonderful feeling of “togetherness” as opposed to having a feeling of being “blown apart” or “separateness.”
An added bonus is that as the closer muscle does its job of closing, the stretcher muscle can really shine as it does its job of stretching; regulating pitch. The closer and stretcher muscle work together as we step up and down. There will be opening, closing, and stretching. We will feel like the step on which we stand is flexibly firm; supporting us as we move!