Why Voices of Singers Like Adele and John Mayer Are Stilled

Recently, I’ve had a lot of students come to me saying they want to sing like Adele. I am always more than happy to work on other artists’ songs with students, but with Adele especially, I’ve been compelled to point out that while she’s a kickass singer, her technique *might* not be the perfect example of how to maintain vocal health. I know, nerd alert here to ruin the fun. 

While I obviously have never worked with Adele (I’d likely be in a much different demographic and tax bracket than I’m in now!), I often wondered to myself how she managed to not blow her voice out by singing the way she does. Then I heard she had to cancel a slew of shows and performances to deal with a bleeding larynx. Yikes. In Adele’s case, it sounds like she takes her chest voice/belt up way too high- when instead, she should be flipping to her head voice. I have a lot of students who, when they come to me initially, are realllly reticent to sing up in their head voices. Truth be told, I used to be the same way until I strengthened my head voice and got comfortable with the tone and sensation of singing up there. I think the first step to approaching your head voice is really going for it (note: that doesn’t mean blast with volume or air pressure; keep reading!). What I mean by that is that you have to sort of give up control in order to gain it. I know…how philosophical of me. When working with the head voice, it can feel slightly unhinged, and as a result of that, people don’t open their mouths and actually SING, or they shy away from going up that high because they don’t like the tone. But by avoiding strengthening your upper register, you’re going to really hinder a lot of what you can do with your voice. Practicing somewhere that you feel comfortable singing out in (ie., you aren’t going to warp your placement, etc, by being shy/trying to be super quiet), taking it slow and really focusing on bringing the vocal cords together- not cheating by using volume or air pressure to squeak out notes- and going back down if you start to feel like you’re straining to get to the notes, are all really good tips for working with your upper register. 

That was just a little rant on your head voice; but article might make you feel better in general about why more singers seem to be canceling shows, etc. Not everyone needs a technique brush-up, but then again, it never hurts.  :)

So, the moral of the story: Have your idols, sure, but make sure you’re not just following blindly whatever it is they do. Take the good and use it for yourself, and let the less-than-optimal parts be.