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Tips on how to give an emotional vocal performance.

How to sing with emotion. During a vocal performance, one of the most important jobs a singer has is to inject emotion into the lyrics of their song. Learning how to embrace the power of emotion and sing emotionally is vital for giving your audience a convincing performance and conveying the lyrical content.

Many artists experiment with different vocal qualities and changes in tone in order to learn how to sing with emotion – notable examples include Adele, Michael Jackson and Eva Cassidy. The tone of our voice generally carries much more meaning than the words we actually say, so practicing methods to vary vocal tone is a sure-fire way to improve your overall performance.

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Your vocal tone is determined by a few important factors, one of which is the position of your larynx. The larynx is the grouping of muscle, cartilage, and ligaments in your throat, commonly referred to as the ‘voice box’. Making use of the different positions of your larynx will allow you to produce different vocal tones and sounds, which if used correctly can help you sing with more emotion.

Different larynx positions to help you learn how to sing with emotion include:

  • The mid-larynx position (favoured by artists such as Michael Buble who doesn’t often waive from the same tone).
  • The high- larynx position (used by Duffy, Cee Lo Green and Axl Rose).
  • The low-larynx position (used by Sarah Vaughn and John Legend).
  • A tip for achieving a low-larynx position is to place your fingers on your Adam’s apple and start a yawn. If used correctly, using these different larynx positions can be instrumental in helping to learn to harness the power of emotion into your performances.


Another vocal technique that can be used to help you learn how to sing with emotion is the ‘cry’ (literally mimicking the tone your voice carries when you cry). Much like the other exercises to experience different larynx movement, a cry is achieved by emulating tone. Cee Lo Green is a great example of an artist who uses cries to help him add emotion when performing. Listening example – Cee Lo Green – ‘Forget you’ circa 2.30 minutes.

It can be tempting to drop an octave when performing cries, so try your best to stay at the octave you would do if singing normally. Listening examples include – Beyoncé ‘1 + 1’, and Michael Jackson’s ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’.


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