Do you want your voice to feel free when you sing? Want to reach those high notes with ease? Want to be in control of your voice? Then retraction is something you need to be thinking about.
What you need to know... (and I am trying to keep this very, very simple... we will go into more detail at rehearsal)
True Vocal Folds (also know as vocal cords) these are what vibrate together to make sound.
False Vocal Folds - these lay over the top of your TVFs and will close if your body feels you are (let's say) in danger. Why? I hear you ask. Because the function of both folds is simply to let you breath or stop things entering your lungs - a valve.
So what is retraction? Put simply it is the act of getting your false vocal folds out of the way so that your true folds can move freely and unhindered. So, how do we retract....
Put your fingers in your ears and listen to your breath. Really focus on the sound. Take your fingers out and follow this exercise.
You have to be smiling. If you don't smile this won't work
Laugh. Laugh hard until you really start to laugh. Yes, you read that right
(Focus on how this feels
Keep laughing and smiling but silently this time - keep breathing
(Focus on how this feels)
Put your fingers in your ears and keep breathing - there should be no sound. You are retracted
The main thing you must remember is that there is no point in doing any of this if you do not try to connect with how this feels. For me my throat feels open. Sometimes it makes me feel like yawning. Aim to run the exercise before the song you are practising and whilst singing keep thinking - do I have that feeling? Often what I shout at the choir is THIS IS HILARIOUS, REALLY REALLY FUNNY , IF YOU'RE NOT SMILING YOU'RE NOT RETRACTED etc etc
Eventually you won't have to laugh and you won't have to always smile because you will feel it.
Here is a short video recap. Enjoy!