How To Sing With Your Adam’s Apple

adam apple 2adam apple 1adam apple 3
Whether you want to sing hard rock, opera or R&B, when you sing high notes, you will need to know how to use your Adam’s Apple correctly.

So what is this apple thing?
Do only males have it?
Is it supposed to be up or down when you sing?

I’m going to answer these questions one at a time.

What is an Adam’s Apple?

Simply put, it is the your thyroid cartilage.  Well, that may not sound simple, but it really is.

Take a look at this picture of a larynx or voice box and you’ll see what I mean.voice box

Notice the “saddle” shape thing in the middle of the picture.

That’s your thyroid cartilage.  It is the largest cartilage of your larynx or voice box.  Behind it is are your vocal cords.  Your vocal cords are delicate and your thyroid cartilage protects them.

As you grow up, this cartilage tends to enlarge during adolescence and it’s size varies with each individual.

It’s official name is “prominentia laryngea,”  which means the prominence of the larynx.  Prominence means that it is something that stands out or is physically noticeable.

How large or noticeable it is depends on the angle at which the cartilage grows forward

Are males the only ones who have Adam’s Apples?

Nope.

Females have them too, but they are usually much smaller and less noticeable or not visible at all.

Everyone has a thyroid cartilage because its function, as I mentioned above, is to protect the vocal cords.

However, the growth of the cartilage is often associated with a change in voice.  While this saddle-like thingy is growing in the male voice, it can be accompanied by all kinds of seemingly uncontrollable sounds, from squeaks to rough outbursts that can often be puzzling or embarrassing.

Is it supposed to be up or down when you sing?

The quick answer is down.

Why?

If it goes up when you are singing it means that muscles are pulling it up and tightening up the area around your vocal cords, therefore creating tension where you want relaxation.  This will definitely interfere with your ability to sing high note.

Here is a simple way to understand this:

  • Close your eyes
  • Lightly place the tips of your index and middle fingers on the area we are talking about
  • Hum – this will allow you to easily feel the vibrations of your vocal cords, which is what allows you to speak or sing
  • Feel the place where the protuberance is, or, in other words, find the bulge that is your apple (thyroid cartilage)
  • Gently move your fingers around until you can feel the “saddle” part of the apple
  • Swallow and notice whether the apple goes up or down
  • Yawn and notice whether it goes up or down

You will discover that it goes up when you swallow and down when you yawn.

It goes up as part of the swallowing mechanism because there is a flap of flesh attached to the tongue called an epiglottis that has to go over the windpipe when you swallow so that you won’t get anything down into your lungs.

If the epiglottis goes down, it closes off the the air passage, which closes off the power that allows you to sing.

The higher you go in pitch, the tighter this area can become.

The tighter it becomes, the harder it is to sing high notes without cracking.

The secret is to RELAX YOUR APPLE

The way you relax your apple so that it doesn’t go up is to think of yawning while you are singing.

Try this:

  • Close your eyes again
  • Lightly place the tips of your index and middle fingers on the apple again
  • Hum again but on a low note
  • Notice whether or not the apple goes up on a low note
  • If it goes up, yawn and then think of yawning as you hum it again
  • Do this until it doesn’t go up at all
  • Once you master this, try letting the hum go a little higher but without the apple going up
  • If it keeps moving up, start over until  you can hum without it going up
  • Then move the hum up little by little, all the time keeping the apple low by thinking of yawning
  • Relaxing your jaw and tongue will help with this

Eventually, with the kind of concentrated practice that enables you to deeply observe what is going on with your apple, you will begin to sing higher and higher without breaks, tension, cracks or trouble.

Pretty soon you’ll be soaring higher than you ever dreamed!

But it takes work so do what you have to do and love every minute of it!

Reward yourself for your patience instead of getting frustrated with yourself.

All of this has to do with your mindset about your voice, and particularly your singing tongue mindset

Your work and perseverance will pay off!

If you have more questions about this important topic, please put them in the Comments section below.

Thanks,

Joy

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Andrew December 14, 2011, 8:25 am

    Hi,

    I agree that there is so much confusion surrounding the Adam’s apple, so thanks for describing what it is so clearly! I should forward this to my singing students! 🙂

    I would say that the “beginning of a yawn” feeling is one of the most important concepts to develop as a singer, absolutely!

    Keep up the good work,

    Andrew

    • Joy December 14, 2011, 4:28 pm

      Hi Andrew,

      Good to hear from you and thanks for your comments.

      I took a look at your website and see that you also teach voice. Bravo! We need good voice teachers in the world.

      Thinking of that, and seeing that you are selling products from other people, you might be interested in putting my book in your Amazon widget so that you have another product that you can tell people about.

      It is called “Singing Through Life With Your Mouth Closed (100 Whimsical Sayings) and it is getting good reviews and filled with sayings that help singers to understand the singing mindset and the mind/body connection in singing.

      I find the sayings in it very useful for teaching voice so you may want to get it to use with your students and then encourage them to buy it from your website, once you have it in your carousel.

      It helps with many many deep-rooted issues that affect the voice, and is something that people keep going back to over and over again, according to the reports I am getting.

      Here’s the book page on Amazon if you would like to include it in your Amazon carousel widget on your page or purchase it for yourself.

      Enjoy and let me know what you think.

      Thanks!
      Joy

  • Rj Saranillo Martinez May 5, 2012, 11:55 pm

    Dear Madam

    Thank you very much this is a very good help for me because i can sing high notes in this days b’coz of this adams apple w/c stucks when i release power, Kasi when im still young i can really reach high notes specially the song of whitney Houston w/c is I have Nothing but now i cant do it

    I Hope That it will work! Thank you very much
    you may follow me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com?R.jsm2
    and on twitter: @aycee_2

    very Yours truly
    R.j

    • Joy May 23, 2012, 3:40 pm

      Hi RJ,

      I apologize for taking so long to reply to your nice comment.

      But please let me know if it helped or not.

      Also, your FB link didn’t work but you can find me on FB here: http://www.facebook.com/SingingMastermind

      Keep singing no matter what!
      Joy

  • Rj Saranillo Martinez June 12, 2012, 12:40 am

    Gud Day madam!
    Thanks for this article but my apple is still moving up, and even when I swallow.
    but I’ll try and try

    May I know are your are available here in the Phil.?

    Does it took for Years to relax an apple?
    b’coz when i swallow it goes up, then i always singing in the church even in low notes it still goes up and even when i speak(specially when I recite in school I really need to make my voice louder)

    sincerely yours,

    Rj

    http://www.facebook.com/r.jsm2
    @aycee_27

    • Joy June 19, 2012, 1:55 pm

      R.j,

      These are good questions. Thanks for asking them.

      Remember though, that your Adam’s Apple (thyroid cartilage) will always go up when you swallow, so don’t worry about that. It’s Nature’s way of keeping you from choking on food or liquids.

      The way to make your voice louder is to use your lower abdominal muscles (and your diaphragm muscle) to support your tone. Do a search on my site for the word “breathing” without the italics. The search box is in the top right hand corner of the page. You’ll find a bunch of things there that can help you.

      Also, letting out as little air as possible is the BIG KEY for keep the apple (thyroid cartilage) down when you sing.

      The slow leaky tire exercise is great for learning to let out a minimal amount of air.

      I am not in the Phil. area. Sorry about that but are you wanting singing lessons?

      Let me know if these things help.

      Thanks,
      Joy

      • Rj Saranillo Martinez July 18, 2012, 1:43 pm

        aammm… May I know how this cartilage protects our vocal cords?

        • Joy July 18, 2012, 3:14 pm

          Sure. If you click on the picture in the article, you will see that the large “saddle shaped” cartilage is the thyroid cartilage. The vocal cords are behind it. The cartilage acts like a “shield” to protect the vocal cords from any undo pressure that might be put on that area. For instance, if an object hits it or someone presses down on it too hard. It also protects the trachea, which carries air in and out of our lungs.

          You’re asking good questions!

          Be well, sing well,
          Joy

          • Rj Saranillo Martinez July 27, 2012, 8:25 am

            thank you! maam for answering my questions….
            promise I’ll never forget you When I’ll be star someday!

            Rj

            • Joy July 27, 2012, 8:45 am

              Rj,

              You are already a “star” with your kind manners and spirit of gratitude.

              And let me know if I can help in any further way.

              You might benefit from the digital resources for powerful singing I have created too.
              Have you considered any of these as a means to help you with your singing goals? They have helped many people to get more strength and freedom into their singing voices.

              And, as always, I’d be happy to serve you in any possible way that I can so do not hesitate to ask me questions. That’s why I’m here!

              Be well, sing well,
              Joy

  • Rj Saranillo Martinez July 27, 2012, 10:52 am

    ammm… sorry maam but I dont have any credit card because we are just poor…
    even though this self training of adams apple is difficult but Im really trying just to reach my dreams (I started May 31 until to the present b’coz I believe in you… I hope it will work..!!)

    😀
    Yours truly
    Rj

    • Joy July 29, 2012, 2:11 pm

      No worries. Singing is never dependent on money, only heart and a desire to learn. I will help you all I can.

      Joy

      • Rj Saranillo Martinez August 3, 2012, 1:07 pm

        Gud Day maam Can you answer My Doubts?

        Is it Good to drink Hot Beverages before doing this training?

        How bad is it to drink Cold Water before performing?

        Is it Bad to scream? because sometimes when Me and and My friends cheer, we really screm and shouting…

        Why is it some People can shout in high pitch but when they sing they cant reach that pitch?

        What is the difference between are voice when we shout and singing?

        >>>>>please answer my question Madam because I’m Really Curious..

        Thank you

        Rj

        • Joy August 3, 2012, 1:26 pm

          Rj,

          These are good questions.

          Cold water is not good before performance because it is important to keep the muscle area warm and supple.

          Warm beverages are fine, but not too hot. Certain herbal teas are especially good for the voice and throat, such as fresh ginger tea.

          Screaming is, in my opinion, not a good thing for a singer. There is a lot of strain that results from screaming and often people become hoarse afterwards.

          I think the reason people scream higher is because most people are secretly afraid to sing in front of other people. That’s because singing reveals the
          deepest parts of ourselves and we tend to want to keep that hidden because we are afraid of rejection.

          Most problems that occur in singing involve physical reactions to emotional beliefs, and there are many of them.

          Shouting is different than singing because there is no sustained musical pitch involved like there is in singing.

          I hope that helps.

          Joy

          • Rj Saranillo Martinez August 6, 2012, 10:59 pm

            there are still some doubts in my mind:
            Why is it a child can sing high notes very easy or effortless?

            How can I cure a strain muscles in my vocal chords? and how can I avoid vocal strains?

            Can You give me some tips on how to remove my anxiety?
            IT goes like this I really want to sing infront but when Ill be there My Heart beats fast?

  • Rj Saranillo Martinez (Jaycee) July 9, 2013, 4:16 am

    Gud Day again Maam!

    I think you will really not believe Me that I Can Now Hit the Seventh Octave! Effortless!
    Everybody seems to think that I’m Crazy, that I sound Like Boiling kettle or even much higher in pitch that I can Hit to G#7 and C#8 maybe, Mariah Carey, Nicola, Minnie, Georgia Brown and Adam Lopez Inspires Me… To prove to you it’s True, I’m going to upload a Video of My Full Vocal Range E1-A7 7.5 octaves

    Stay Tune…

    • Singing Master May 24, 2016, 11:59 am

      So glad to her of it Rj!

      Keep me posted,
      Joy

  • Nial August 19, 2013, 10:18 am

    Hello,
    Thanks for this informative post. I’m 17 male, my adams apple goes up when speaking and singing. I have a problem going high notes. I can’t do falsetto and head voice. When I try, just air comes out, no sound.
    Can it be related to my adam’s apple’s moving when I sing?
    Thank you

    • Joy August 22, 2013, 1:17 pm

      Hi there Nial.

      Thanks for your question. I want to encourage you to think about your voice as one voice with no breaks or differences between the high and low notes. Read this article. I think you will find it helpful. Then ask more questions. I am here to help you.

      Joy

  • Alen George September 10, 2015, 10:14 pm

    Thank you maam. This kind of worked with me. I was a bit tensed cause I couldn’t sing high notes. I even thought about quiting. But I’m more accurate with my high pitched notes now a days. I owe you maam

    • Singing Master May 24, 2016, 2:33 pm

      Hi Alen,

      I just now saw your very kind comment. My website was hacked so some comments slipped through the cracks at the time and I am now able to get to them.

      I would love to know more about what helped you here on my site because I believe that helping people with their singing voices is some of the most important work that I get to do.

      Most kindly,
      Joy

  • Macgregor Granville October 10, 2015, 8:49 am

    Great and informative article. I have a very prominent adam’s apple, which keeps me in the bass range. But I notice I can sing those high mezzo soprano notes but not tenor. Why is this?

    • Singing Master May 24, 2016, 2:05 pm

      Hi Macgregor,

      There is no quick answer to your question, but I can say that it has to do with your approach to singing registers.

      I’d like you to read this article about Singing Registers that help you to gain insights that will allow you to connect your singing registers as one voice instead of thinking about them as separated registers.

      Sing well, be well,
      Joy

  • nathan October 28, 2015, 3:14 pm

    hey I really think that these work, but i have question just thinking it maybe either something that hurts you in the long run or something that saves a lot of time but you still have to practice but it breaks the habit.

    • Singing Master May 24, 2016, 11:45 am

      Hi Nathan,

      It seems like it’s taken me forever to get back to comments on my website.

      I was horribly hacked in the past year and so everything had to be redone, a new server, new website… everything.

      So, my apologies for how long it’s taken me to answer your comment.

      Like everything else we do in singing that goes against nature (which often causes us to hurt our voices), it sometimes takes time to overcome the old habits.

      So, yes, in the long run it will not only save time but also the longevity of your voice as you age.

      Thanks,
      Joy

  • nathan October 28, 2015, 3:23 pm

    My range is E2 to B5 as of right now… just found out about mixed voice the other week and since then i looked at a bunch of things that just say, KEEP IT DOWN… well, that doesn’t help me at all, but i think your research is astounding! I really think that my mind is registering what you said about why its there and to loosen it up and to do a, well, sort of yawn. This is the first time that i could actually know how to keep it down. I really want mixed voice to be strong enough to power some of my head voice… I am 15 and i have been in choir for now, 8 years and this could very well be the best since i was taught proper vowel techniques

    • Singing Master May 24, 2016, 11:49 am

      Nathan,

      I am so happy that I could help you.

      Stay in touch,
      Joy

  • Mark Josua Patiño July 3, 2016, 3:34 am

    Hi!

    I have a large Adam’s Apple that can be clearly seen as a huge bump in my neck and my question is that does it affect my vocal range?

    I can usually sing all the way up to G4 but from E4 – G4 is when my Adam’s Apple wants to rise and build up tension and when I go up further from G4 – D5 I usually power it out by yelling just to reach that note and create its tone but resulting into hurting my throat and producing unpleasant sound. What I want is to produce a clear and powerful sound that sounds pleasant to every listener when I sing all the way up to D5.

    Another question I would like to ask is that does staying up late at night affect my vocal range?

    So far, that is all I’d like to ask. I hope to get any response from you.

    Thank you!

    • Singing Master July 7, 2016, 4:35 pm

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your detailed questions.

      Firstly, your Adam’s Apple is not the issue with your vocal range. Instead, the G4-D5 problem that you have described most likely has to do with how you think about your singing “registers” (I don’t like to use that term because it makes people divide the voice into sections), and how you approach them.

      I’d like you to read this article about Singing Registers and also check out the Singing Tongue links within that article.

      Anytime you push or yell to get out a sound as you go higher in your vocal range, something is not right. You should never have to yell to go higher, and that is why you are not getting the sound you desire and why you are hurting your throat.

      Instead, there are simple muscle adjustments that need to happen in order to relax areas that naturally change because of how the vocal cords are designed to function without strain.

      So, start with that article about about singing “registers”, check out the singing tongue stuff, then get back to me.

      Also, about your staying up late at night question: it depends on what you are doing, how early you get up in the morning, how you are resting, what’s going on in your mindset, etc.

      So thanks for your trust in writing to me. I can and will help you in every way possible with your singing voice.

      Sing well, be well, for you deserve to be heard.
      Joy

      • Mark Josua Patiño July 13, 2016, 3:38 am

        Hi Joy!

        Thanks a lot! That article you provided has given me the idea of how I should approach singing higher notes. Well it’s sure that it will take some time before I can get comfortable on the notes where my voice cracks but it doesn’t matter. I’ll just keep doing it until I get through it.

        Also I have another question and that is How do you differentiate Head Voice from Falsetto?

        I do sing high notes that usually hurt my throat like I said before so there are times I flip my voice into this bright, soft voice that vibrates inside my noise. As far I know, Falsetto has this soft breathy, female voice and when I do it the way how I described Falsetto, My voice gets tired and I can’t sing the notes I usually sing so I always do the other one that’s bright and soft but I’m still confused which is which that’s why I’m asking you since you have more knowledge when it comes to singing so that I could assure myself what I’m doing.

        I do have another question but I’ll ask it next time after I get my current question answered.

        Thank you!

        • Singing Master July 17, 2016, 10:48 am

          Hi Mark,

          I’m happy to hear that the singing registers article helped you.

          To answer your question about the difference between Head and Falsetto, there are lots and lots of different opinions from singers and singing teachers/coaches as to what it means. So remember to think of everything as one voice, one register, etc. The reason I don’t use terms like head, chest, mixed, falsetto, whistle, etc. is that singers and students tend to separate and disconnect from the core essence of the tone. This often causing strain on the voice, cracking, vocal fatigue etc.

          Here is my simple explanation:

          HEAD VOICE is used to give a label to high notes that result from a thinning of the vocal cords, ligaments and epithelium when ascending the scale. The resonance is felt in the bony structure of the head (nasal and sinus areas).

          FALSETTO VOICE is a label to describe the thinning-est (that’s a word I just made up) part of the vocal cords/ligaments/epithlium when stretching them to the max for the highest possible notes. It tends to sound breathy and weak if there is not enough support given by the lower abdominal muscles. The vibrations can be felt in the skull (top of the head) when everything is in balance between the breathing muscles and the vocal muscles.

          Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, at least in terms of being able to sing effectively and easily in either case.

          But I always tell people to stay away from those labels so that they learn to feel the vibrations and connect with the breathing as they go up in pitch. Stay away from thinking about your vocal cords and throat. Concentrate on the ease of your breathing and vibrations/resonance.

          With that being said, here is an image that will perhaps help you to understand my simple explanation.
          vocal cords high and low tones

          Keep asking questions. They are good ones.

          Sing well, be well,
          Joy

  • Dave Pajaroja November 7, 2016, 1:58 am

    hi Joy!!:-)

    I have only one question. Will it take a long time to reach high notes without straining but with proper exercise? Hoping for your response. THANK YOU!!!!

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