The Power of Speech Level Singing: A Beginner’s Guide

Contralto singer

“We don’t think about how to talk, so why should we think about how to sing?’ says Dave Stroud, at a recent master class on Speech Level Singing.

This anatomical approach to singing was originally developed by Seth Riggs, singing teacher to the stars, to explore what the vocal cords actually do in order to create the desired note.

What is Speech Level Singing?

Speech Level Singing (SLS) is the method created by America’s top voice teacher, Seth Riggs. SLS is used and endorsed by over 100 Grammy Award Winning singers, including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Michael Bolton, Natalie Cole, Beyonce, Barbara Streisand and many more.

SLS allows a singer to sing through their entire range (3 octaves or more) with the same connected, even, strong, flexible sound at any pitch, at any volume, and in any style without strain or superfluous effort. Speech Level Singing eliminates the breaks and allows a singer to sing through their bridges (also called passagi) with a relaxed larynx, all with the ease of speaking. SLS is a completely safe and healthy way to meet your vocal demands.

So let’s get technical: of course, the bain of every singer’s life is how to create a smooth link from one register to another. These links are known as bridges, or to use the proper Italian term ‘Passaggio‘. An experienced singer with the best vocal technique can seemingly glide effortlessly across these bridges without us even hearing the join. But what is the secret?

The trick is to create a ‘mix’ of chest and head voice in order to give the illusion of volume/power. What you are really doing is projecting the voice.

The bottom line is controlling the air (blowing less air) and muscle (larynx). This is done by various exercises which trick the vocal cords into doing the right thing. If you practice for long enough, you’ll soon forget your lifetime bad habits.

Vocal Exercises

Here are some examples of exercises used:

Using a hard consonant such as ‘Gee’ encourages the vocal cords to stay closed.

Never widen the vowel or your mouth, as this creates the wrong shape, therefore not allowing the vocal cords to close/open.

Try singing ‘A’ with your tongue out – this stops air escaping.

Place both hands on either side of your cheeks and push together when singing a vowel.

There are also various ‘distraction’ techniques such as bending your knees or leaning forward when you go for the high note, giving the illusion that it’s not so high after all!

The technique clearly works – as demonstrated by audience participants. Dave’s approachability and enthusiasm for his work add to the fun.

Happy singing!

Written by Tamsin Pentreath at Line Hilton

Line Hilton is London’s only registered Speech Level Singing (SLS) teacher. Let me help you find your natural voice, expand your range, eliminate nasty breaks and yodels, and gain consistent strength and balance throughout your voice. Feel confident you will sing your best at all times.

Singing For The Stars

What do Michael Jackson, Anita Baker, Natalie Cole and hundreds of other professionals have in common? They have all studied voice with Hollywood’s leading vocal coach, Seth Riggs. You can learn to sing like the pros with this complete program for training the voice.

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