Singers are a special kind of musicians. While pianists, drummers, and guitar players depend on their physical instruments, the main tool for singers – the voice – is inside them. Maintaining the quality of the voice is a special task. It calls for a lot of practice, discipline, and dedication.
Fortunately, you can learn not only how to take great care of your voice, but also how to get the best from it.
Just like with most things in music, having a good singing voice is a bit of nurture and a bit of nature. While some folks naturally have an excellent singing voice right from the onset, others develop one over time.
I have compiled a comprehensive list of tips that’ll go miles in helping you improve your singing voice. Some might sound obvious while others are new. If you’re into reading, this book will be handy on improving your vocals.
Let’s dig into my tips on how to improve your singing voice:
1. Learn to Breathe Correctly
Do you know that singing sound normally rides on air? Consequently, as a singer, it’s paramount to learn how to support your sound. One of the major reasons most singers go flat is because their voice isn’t supported well enough.
Breath control is an important technique that every singer who desires to have a great singing voice should master. Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing is significant in applying the appropriate amount of support.
Here’s what you need to understand …
When you start phonation (singing or speaking), air causes vibrations to occur. As a result, the sound is produced and continues to happen until you’re depleted of air. If you breathe in the air using your upper part of the lungs only, your sound will be breathy and weak due to running out of air too early.
It takes practice to learn how to inhale properly. The first step is to inflate around your waistline. This method of breathing enhances your current voice, projects your voice, extends the vocal range, and enables you to sing with vibrato.
As you work relentlessly and religiously to master the belly breathing exercise for singers, you’ll unlearn the wrong breathing technique and replace it with the correct way hence improving your singing voice considerably. Check out the video below to learn more about belly breathing exercises for singers.
2. Completely Open your Mouth when Singing
This tip might sound silly, right? Completely opening your mouth helps you to sing with a more confident and powerful voice. If your mouth is barely open, the singing tone remains hidden or suppressed. For your sound to come out clearly, you must create enough space through the total opening of the mouth.
You do not have to be self-conscious when it comes to generous opening of the mouth. Unless the mouth is open enough for the sound to escape, your tone won’t ring. Have you ever watched a singer up close on television? Often, you can see right through the back of their throat!
Therefore, give your singing a major boost by making sure that your mouth is always open when you sing. Doing so guarantees that you’ll quickly hear a better and powerful sound. Being embarrassed that your mouth is wide open should be the least of your worries. Remember that as a singer, the mouth is part and parcel of your instrument.
To make sure that it is open wide enough, put two fingers between the bottom and top teeth. As the fingers are in the mouth, sing ‘ah’ and then remove them from your mouth as you still retain the ‘ah’ sound. After removing your fingers, did your mouth remain open?
The good thing is that there’s an exercise to train your jaw and mouth to the right position by using the ‘ah’ vowel;
- Use the mirror to monitor for openness. As you do that, sing these words in a comfortable and medium tone – broad, far, bars, stars, father, walk, talk, tall, hall, fall, not, brought, and hot. The rule of thumb is to avoid singing too high or too low. Ensure that the pitch revolves around your speaking voice.
- Sustain the vowel ‘ah’ for some seconds prior to closing the word with a final consonant. For instance, say you are practicing the word ‘walk.’’ All you need to do is sing the maiden part of the word ‘’WAAAAAAAH,’’ as you hold the ‘ah’ prior to adding the consonant, ‘k.’ Get the drift?
- As you practice every word repeatedly, begin by going very slow. Build your speed gradually until you’re able to sing through the words indicated earlier at a faster pace.
So how long must you practice the steps above? Well, you should do so until whatever you are working on becomes automatic. For example, if your main goal is to always remember to drop your jaw every time you sing a word that contains the ‘ah’ vowel, you should practice consistently until you master the technique, that is, you don’t have to concentrate on your mouth position anymore.
Because everyone is different, you might enjoy positive results after some time while others quickly. For best results, practice for several minutes daily compared to hour-after-hour, for longer periods of time, a couple times a week. Note that each song you sing utilizes 5 basic vowels similar to the ones we learnt in school. For every vowel, the mouth changes position a little. Therefore, the more you practice the right mouth position for every vowel; chances are high that the better voice you’ll have.
3. Activate your Resonators
The other thing you want to learn in order to improve your singing voice is how to activate all your resonators. Resonators are the following:
- Head areas
- Nasal passages
When you sing, you need to ensure your tone resonates perfectly in the above different spaces. Primarily, practice using the ‘ee’ vowel every time you sing. Doing so helps you to easily feel the vibrations within your resonating areas.
Secondly, you should avoid ‘’swallowing’’ vowels when singing. Swallowing is basically singing from your throat’s back. As you progress, consider adding other primary and secondary vowels.
When singing from low to high, it’s prudent to avoid the ‘’break’’ that happens sometimes. You can do this by developing a middle voice that resides between the high and low voices. You must have a middle voice regardless of the kind of songs you like or prefer to sing.
4. Stick to Songs within your Comfort Range or Zone
While this is the last tip on this list, it’s a very important one. In fact, it makes all the difference when performing or auditioning. Although some singers are comfortable singing in the middle range, others prefer singing lower, dark sounds. Another group finds it effortless to sing extremely high tones.
Here are some tricks to help you in this regard:
- If you’re an alto, choose low to middle tones
- For the high soprano singers, the best sound resides within the highest part of your vocal range
- For the male singers, it’s equally important to remain within your comfort zone in order to keep off the risk of vocal damage
After discovering your range, ensure you stick to it. When you sing higher than what’s natural for you, it results in vocal damage because you’ll struggle to hit the notes. How do you know when a note is too high?
Every time you feel gripping or tightness in the throat, you can rest assured that the note is too high (out of your range). Hoarseness is another sign that a certain note is too high for you to sing. Stop vocalizing if you experience some hoarseness when singing high notes.
Do you have a song that you desire to sing but it is in the wrong key (too low or too high)? The best solution is to have someone move it down in such a way that it’s comfortable.
5. Consider Taking Online Courses
There’s no doubt that the internet has completely changed not only the way we live but also how we do things. Today, it’s possible to acquire knowledge with the mere click of a button. Learning complex subjects such as new languages is very much possible straight from the comfort of our homes. Do you know that it’s also possible to learn how to sing and/or improve your singing voice online?
From private lessons conducted online with a vocal coach to live Skype sessions and YouTube tutorials, you can certainly make the most out of these internet-based lessons.
Online voice lessons such as the Superior Singing Method boast the ability to help you unlock the voice you even didn’t think or know you had. The lessons can help you discover as well as extend your vocal range hence enabling you to hit notes you did not realize you could sing. Some of the things you can learn through these lessons include breathing techniques, vocal clarity, and pitch.
Most importantly, you’re able to develop the ability and confidence to sing comfortably in front of others.
Some of the advantages of taking online voice courses include:
- Better warm-ups
- Recorded lessons
- Saves money and time
- Better choice of reputable voice teachers
- Unique vocal exercises
- Special bonuses
6. Sing Expressively
For a better singing voice, this is perhaps the most important tip. When singing, the most important thing is to express yourself emotionally. To do this, you have to breathe life into each musical phrase. Sing with feelings. Be in the moment. Create your own truth.
Do not allow any internal dialogue to distract and/or clutter your mind. Always remember that singing is a type/form of communication. As such, you need to know how to best communicate your peace, anger, pain, loneliness, love, prayers, joys, fears, wants, needs, passions, desires etc – basically all the feelings and emotions that are appropriate for the song you’re singing.
Instead of being over-dramatic, just be truthful. Use your experiences to reawaken everything that’s been tucked away. Through singing, you can be able to bring back into light all your insecurities, confidences, conflicts, tensions, dreams, and memories. Use these emotions to relay your song’s message. Of course, the last thing you want is to be a robot when singing.
Utilize an array of dynamics – medium, soft, loud and any sound in between. To establish more meaning, pair these dynamics with your lyrics. Every time you feel the message and/or relate to the words in a song, your audience will too. It is your prime responsibility.
When singing, your vocal folds vibrate. You breathe in air, then release and pass it through the vocal folds. Just like in two plucked strings, the vocal folds usually release some vibrations that in turn set off another set of vibrations. The vibrations are heard and felt in equal measure.
The feelings reveal past events and conjure mental pictures.
As you sing, be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to show and share what you’re feeling since feelings aren’t judged.
Singing not only involves releasing of energy but also a transformation of the same. The thoughts, emotions, and body are all one. Of great importance to note is that singing is holistic in nature. When you sing, you support your wholeness as a human being.
Now that you have learnt the above 6 tips, apply them to this tip as you express yourself truthfully through singing.
As a singer, the voice is a singing tool inside your body. To get the most out of your voice, you must learn how to excellently make use of it. On the foundational level, it’s very ‘’physical.’’
In other words, to have vocal consistency and a strong voice, there are some things you must know and do. Most singers, even the professional ones, unless they are trained, do not know this stuff. In fact, some vocal coaches are also clueless on the same. So it’s important to grab all the resources you can on how to improve your voice.
Of course, voice practice sessions aren’t the same for musicians. For instance, if you’re a pop singer, you’ll have to practice different from a classical singer. However, the tips featured in this primer are suitable for all musicians. They offer the basics for improving your singing voice.