What is Speech Level Singing?
Speech Level Singing is a revolutionary technique created by Voice Teacher Seth Riggs. The foundation of the technique is built upon a highly relaxed vocal quality, free of breaks or flips, whilst being performed ‘at speech level’, hence the name. An experienced SLS trained teacher will be able to help you connect the different ranges in your voice through a series of vocal exercises. Thus eliminating muscular tension in the larynx and achieving a cleaner and clearer sound.
Speech Level Singing is used by over 135 Grammy winning singers around the world, including the likes of Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Stevie Wonder, and many many more!
WHAT IS A ‘CONNECTED’ VOICE?
First of all, it’s important to understand how our bodies produce sounds. To explain it in a few words, your vocal cords are like your body’s own string/wind instrument. The vocal cords are two muscular folds located in your throat, more specifically, your larynx. When you sing, your cords come together as air pressure is pushed through from your lungs. The cords open slightly to let a small amount of air through before closing again. This process is repeated many times and at a really fast pace in each sound we make. The higher we sing, more and more of these cycles happen per second.
Speech Level Singing places a great deal of importance in your larynx remaining stable and in a central position. This eliminates muscular tension in the throat and greatly aids in preventing vocal straining. Keeping your larynx stable may perhaps sound an unusual concept, as we feel we have no control over it. An experienced Vocal Coach that specialises in the SLS technique will be able to give you proper exercises and guidance to understand, control and stabilise your larynx.
A healthy, connected voice means the vocal cords can remain closed during your entire vocal range. And that your larynx will remain stable and relaxed. Cord closure, hand in hand with a stable larynx, form the magic combo that produces a healthy mixed voice. We need this mixed voice to transition smoothly between the different areas of our register and produce a clean, powerful and effortless sound.
WHY DO WE NEED THIS TECHNIQUE?
Most singers are able to realise when they are straining and damaging their voice. However, they struggle to figure out why and how to avoid it. When we sing, we usually engage our muscles much more than we need to. Especially when trying to produce higher or longer notes. This leads to unnecessary muscle tension and an involuntary rise in the larynx as our bodies attempt to ‘reach’ for those notes.
Implementing the SLS technique in your singing will help you gain more control over your larynx and make you aware of exactly what is going on inside your throat. Perfecting your technique will allow you to perform at a higher level during longer periods of time. This will allow you to access places in your voice you never knew you had. You’ll have a stronger and clearer voice with a far more interesting tone. As with any other skill, once you’ve mastered the technique, we can start incorporating stylistic choices. Such as intentional flips, falsettos or yodels to add some colour to your wonderfully polished skillset!
The Seth Riggs Vocal Studio is no longer overseeing training programs for vocal coaches. This is because many voice teachers who claimed to be SLS certified were not actually so. The Studio has now decided to stop their official training program altogether. If you find a vocal coach who claims to be SLS certified, we recommend checking with the official Speech Level Singing teacher record to make sure that is actually the case.
You can learn to sing with this technique with a vocal coach that has studied SLS in depth and who has acquired great vocal knowledge and experience in a number of other ways. Thus being able to provide their own take on a healthy vocal technique. The Vocal Hub recommends studying with a coach that puts vocal health at the centre. It is our belief that nothing is more important than keeping our voices healthy. Which is why we ask our students to undergo a vocal examination with a medical professional at least once every 12-16 months.