Did you ever notice when your favorite singer is singing that torch that is so sad and sounds so great, he/she looks like they’re smiling! The muscles around the cheekbones are lifted up in what looks like a smile. The same with your role model public speaker. There’s that little lift in those muscles under the eyes. You’ve just noticed an age old technique for naturally projecting the voice.
Try it. Pretend you’re biting into an apple with your upper teeth only while sustaining a long A (ay) vowel. Feel those cheek muscles raise up. By smiling and putting a little lift into your voice, you’re creating a pathway for your vocal sound to travel out into the air reinforcing the higher overtones without being absorbed or muted by your soft tissue. Optimizing the acoustic of your vocal tract. Notice the buzzy quality. That indicates the presence of higher frequencies which are going to carry the sound further. Combine this “lift” with a full resonant space and the result is a warm, rich vocal sound that carries with less physical effort.
This smiling technique is something very simple you can do to shape your sound in a positive way. It helps in singing and speaking. Terms, like projection, point, ring, ping, singing/speaking in the mask are other ways of expressing this concept. It’s an essential tool for public speakers and professional singers in all cultures. Listen for that bright, ringy and almost buzzy quality in the voices of great speakers and your favorite singers.
Projection is a vital component in Bel Canto singing. This is what allows us to go back and forth between chest and head voice without a break. It’s what makes a voice be heard at a distance over many instruments. It allows you to sound powerful without strain, push or force. When you learn to use the acoustics of the voice to project, you can relax more. The more you relax, the less push or strain there is in your voice. You just shape the sound into what you want. By balancing and optimizing the acoustics of your vocal instrument, you sound your best. It starts with that smiling with your eyes.