It can be easy to learn or form bad habits as a performer, especially if you’ve picked up your technique from watching others. But what does it mean to sing through your nose?
If you’ve been told you have a harsh tone, or you find it hard to power your vocals, it may be that you’re using the wrong parts of your body. Find out how to stop singing nasally and you’ll transform your sound and open up more vocal possibilities.
In this article we’ll explain how your nasal cavities influence your singing and the simple changes you can make to soften it.
How to stop singing nasally
With the right guidance, singing through your nose can easily be solved. From breathing correctly, understanding your diaphragm and strengthening your soft palate, you can sing loud and clear without any nasal worries. But how do you know if you’re singing through your nose?
There’s an easy way to test this. Sing a song, then partway through, pinch your nostrils closed with your thumb and forefinger. Has the sound changed a lot? If so, you were producing it nasally. If it continues relatively unchanged, you are not singing nasally.
However, if singing through your nose is causing you issues and you want to know how you can stop it, read on. The tips and advice in this article will help you open up your vocal sound so you can project, enjoy a more pleasant tone and let your voice shine.
What does it mean to sing through your nose?
You may be surprised to discover, that singing through your nose, is actually to do with another part of your anatomy – the soft palate. This is located at the back of the roof of your mouth behind your hard palate. If you brush along your soft palette with your tongue, it feels incredibly soft and can move up and down. The higher you can keep your soft palate as you sing, the less the nasal sound and singing through your nose will take over. It’s the key to stopping yourself from singing through your nose, but more on that later.
Famous singers who sing through their nose
To help understand what a nasal voice sounds like, here are some examples of well-known artists who often sing through the nose. This also proves that nasal singing isn’t all bad, provided you limit it and use it in the right way.
- Celine Dion
- John Newman
- Nick Jonas
- Ariane Grande
- Miley Cyrus
- Britney Spears
- Paloma Faith
- Cyndi Lauper
- Ellie Goulding
Why does my nose get stuffy when I sing?
Mucus from colds and flus can also keep you feeling clogged when singing.
There are methods that can help you banish the clogged feeling. For example, steaming with a tea towel over your head, taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through the mouth can all reduce mucus.
The steam loosens the blocked feeling and your nose can feel relieved of the irritating clog. This makes it easier to focus on your soft palate staying raised and keep you from singing through your nose.
My nose feels clogged when I sing – stuffy nose when singing
Certain foods and drinks such as bananas and dairy products can make you feel more clogged up. Try and learn more about improving your diet based on what’s good for your voice.
There are some practical remedies for getting rid of a clogged voice. An effective method is sipping warm water infused with ginger with honey, or licorice tea. Apply this alongside some regular steaming and keeping super hydrated, and you’ll be well on your way to vocal improvement.
Why do my nostrils flare when I sing?
It may just be a habit, it may be that you have a cold and are struggling to breathe easily, or it may be that you are singing through your nose. It can also be down to your soft palate sitting lower than needed when singing. If you are struggling with avoiding singing through your nose, it may be because your soft palate is not being lifted high enough when you are belting out those tougher notes.
The lower your soft palate, the more unsealed air can travel through your nose rather than your mouth, resulting in a nasal voice and flaring nostrils. Although some singers love the edgy tone it may add to their style, many wanting to remove the clogged-up sound in order to let those crystal-clear vocals shine. When your soft palate is sitting just a little too low it can cause your nose to feel blocked – a telltale sign.
Vocal exercises for nasal voice
It’s common for inexperienced singers to use the nose or throat too much. Singing through your nose won’t cause the vocal damage that singing on your throat will. But it doesn’t sound as good, will limit you as an artist and may result in throat singing also.
Other than having a blocked-up nose from a cold, this discomfort may be from passages in your nose contracting when you sing. The tension from these passages flexing in and out can cause an uncomfortable feeling when you just want to enjoy a singing session.
How do I stop singing through my nose?
Breathing all the way down to your diaphragm allows you to have better control of how much air you release when singing. If we hold it in our chest, our vocal cords strain to control the air quality and lead to singing through the nose.
The diaphragm is a muscle in the shape of a dome. It is located just under our lungs and it moves in and out like an accordion as we breathe.
When your singing teacher explains to “sing from your diaphragm”, they are talking about you taking your breath down into your belly. It’s always best for your singing if your diaphragm is flat, which is why standing up is a great position to sing in.
How to not sing through your nose
There are some helpful exercises you can add into your vocal warm-ups such as; humming ‘NG’ to scales while bringing your mouth to a close. You’ll notice a humming sound develop, where you can take time to notice the breath moving through your nose causing tiny vibrations. This should be avoided unless passing through a consonant sound such as ‘N’, ’M’ and ‘NG’.
If it’s a vowel sound, the all-important soft palate should be opened wide for your vocals to thrive – if you find this is causing the pain, focus on how much breath is rippling through your nose when hitting the note.
If the breath is zooming through, raise that soft palate and sing from deep down in your stomach. This should ease the nose from hurting and give you better breath control.
How to raise the soft palate
We’ve established that when your soft palate isn’t raised high enough, the vocals sound distinctly nasal.
So you need to learn how to raise that soft palate. It’s very easy, but you must understand how it feels, to know when you’re doing it. For this, you should work on moving the soft palate up and down repeatedly by opening your mouth and saying “hung-ah”. Do you feel when the soft palate is raising?
Once you get that palate nice and high, practice holding it there for 4 counts, releasing back down and so on. You can also work on relaxing your tongue when the palate is up so you become familiar with the open feeling.
- Do you sing with your nose?
Yes and no. You use your nose as well as your mouth to breathe. Your nasal cavities resonate and contribute to the shape of your sound. Some singers choose to add a nasal quality to their singing. But you shouldn’t sing through your nose. It’s all about balance.
- Should your nose vibrate when you sing?
Breathing causes nasal resonance, which is the normal tingling you can feel in your nose when soaring up to those head voice notes. There are some great humming exercises you can add to your daily singing rehearsal.
What does it mean to have a nasal voice?
It means you have a harsh or squeaky tone. When you speak make sure you are keeping the back of your mouth open and the soft palette raised. When the back of your mouth is restricted and the soft palate is lying low, the nasally sound will begin because all your air is travelling through your nose.
Have you managed to stop singing nasally? Or do you choose to sing through your nose as a style choice? Let us know your thoughts on nasal singing in the comments below.