I am giving singing lessons and one of my students has a nasal tone when she sings. When she speaks it sounds fine, and the nasality is mostly on high notes. What exercises can I use to help her?
In this case it is not so much the exercise as the function. Have your student plug her nose, which will enable her to feel and hear the nasality come and go between non-nasal and nasal tones. Have her notice what is shifting — likely the relationship between the back of the tongue and the soft palate. Use an “OH” or whatever sound is NOT nasal in her voice and work it higher. Again, keep the nose plugged so it is really obvious when the tone shifts to being nasal. Once both of you are clear about what is happening it will likely shift quite organically.
Other elements to consider are if there is a fear of high notes or if there are certain beliefs that are causing constriction. The voice is a valve that paces not only the breath and tone but also emotions and beliefs. If your student is closing the back of the throat to prevent the release of painful emotions or to hold beliefs in place, no matter what you do to improve the voice technically will not be permanent until the work with the breath and voice completely releases the emotions or transforms the crystallized beliefs. This can take time and requires that you hold the space for gradual transformation with patience, compassion and wisdom. Don’t push your student or hold her back when feelings and ideas express. Keep using the voice and breath to transform them into artistic expression. Students often do not practice if there is deep releasing taking place as a result of voice work. They often need the teacher to hold the space for them.