10 Rules of The Singing Voice
If you’ve been struggling to sing and looking for ‘the secret’ to great singing, no doubt coming up short every time – these 10 Rules of The Singing Voice will change your life and change your voice. Singing is ultimately a process of balance and coordination that comes with time, not a game of muscular force or ‘secrets’, so adjust your TV sets and lets start obeying the law – the singing law!
#1 – Foundation is key
The foundation of your voice is like the foundation of a house, it literally makes the base that your singing voice is being built upon. I often remind my own voice students that their singing voices are truly only as powerful as the foundation they have been built upon. Have you set up a strong foundation? Foundation is key to a great singing voice.
#2 – Support is King
Much ado has been made out of support, compression and appoggio – but support is simply maintaining a balance between air pressure, airflow and vocal fold closure. If your high range is breathy, it’s likely that you lack support in the high range, literally, the balance between airflow and air pressure is skewed towards airflow instead of a nicely supported balance that leans towards pressure. After all, singing is more about air pressure than it is about air flow. Are you supporting your voice? While foundation is key, support is KING.
#3 – Singing is easy
That’s right, singing is easy. This is something I learned from singers like Chris Cornell, Jim Croce, Adele, John Legend and many other famous accomplished singers – singing is EASY. In short, if something is difficult, then you’re not doing it correctly. Singing is always a process of balance, so if you’re straining and pushing to hit high notes, it’s likely you’re suffering from imbalance and making singing much more difficult than it needs to be.
#4 – Balance creates balance
It’s a contradiction, I know, but if you sing with balance, then your voice will be balanced. If you balance your airflow and airpressure with proper breath support, you will achieve a balanced tone. If you balance your frequencies, you will achieve a balanced range and so forth. Singing itself is a process of balance and coordination, not a feat of muscular strength.
#5 – Vowels aren’t vowels
In speech, we often pronounce vowel sounds using the articulators at the front of the face, including the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips – now, in singing, you actually shape the vowel using the back of your tongue and resonant space in the vocal tract. This means that the vowels you speak with aren’t the same ‘vowels’ you sing with. In essence, a ‘vowel’ in singing is simply the character that accompanies an efficient resonant space – ultimately EQing your resonance into the illusion of each of your vowel sounds. Are you shaping your vowels, or are you pronouncing?
#6 – Singing and speech aren’t the same
I know I know, Speech Level Singing is huge, right? The truth is, singing and speech share about as much in common as running and walking do. Sure, they make use of the same mechanism, but running isn’t just fast walking in the same way that singing isn’t just speaking ‘at pitch’. There are too many differences between singing and speech to add to this list, but here’s one I prepared earlier – The Difference Between Speaking and Singing
#7 – There is no “secret” to singing
Again, I’m aware that there are people out there who say otherwise, but the ‘secret’ to singing contained in these uber expensive courses is usually something simply like middle voice, vowel modification, placement or even just a series of exercises. All of which I share for free on my YouTube channel.
#8 – Voice type is irrelevant*
Obviously, being a baritone myself – there is a certain character to my voice, there is a certain depth to my range which differs to that of a Tenor, but, this has no bearing on the range you are able to build, the technique you can develop, or the tone you can sing with. Voice type, vocal fach, vocal range is more a way to allocate classical pieces of music to appropriate singers (ie: you don’t give a low D to a Tenor). This has little effect in contemporary singing, least of all Rock – guys like Chris Cornell, Axl Rose, Brian Johnson, Eric Burdon, Paul Rodgers, they’re all baritones, with very different voices. If you have a low voice, it’s possible the approach you need, and the roadmap to your voice is a little different to a singer with a higher voice type, but your voice works in exactly in the same manner.
It’s likely you won’t actually know your true voice type until your voice matures and you’ve developed your range properly. Holding onto the idea that you are “this type” or “that type” purely based on your speaking voice before developing proper vocal technique is a huge mistake.
#9 – Not all voices are created equal
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t sing the things you want to sing, and you can’t achieve your goals and dreams as a singer – it just means that the path you take is likely going to be a different one that another singer may see success with. This is why I often share four or five different ways to achieve the same result on the BVS YouTube channel – no two voices are created exactly the same. Now, if you take five different people and tell them to sing the word “Love”, no doubt with their different voices types, different accents and unique voices you will get five very different results. Now, if you take each of these five singers and tailor your instructions to their voice type, their accent, their level of prowess as a singer and you SHOW them how to shape their vowels, create resonant space and support their voice – you’ll actually get the SAME result using five very different instructions. This is also what separates someone who a great singer, from someone who is also a good voice coach – there’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach to singing that will work for absolutely every person out there. Your voice is unique, and so should your approach to singing be unique.
#10 – You only have one voice
Now, I know you guys out there who are struggling to connect chest and head voice, and having issues with a vocal break and flipping probably feel like there is two different voices, but your singing voice is ultimately a blend of frequencies and resonance. When your voice flips, it’s rarely a physical phenomenon occurring in your vocal folds or your registers, it’s actually happening in the resonance, like changing between two piano keys, they just don’t join up – but if you play both of them together, you have a connection between both notes that can go in either direction.
These ten singing rules have absolutely changed my life, and will hopefully change yours too! Remember, singing is a process of balance that is built over time, not a feat of muscular strength. Take your time, practice often and of course, if you’d like some help with your singing voice you can book a Skype Lesson with me and we’ll start working on the connection between chest and head voice, extending your range and developing control and consistency in your voice every time you sing!
If you have any questions about learning how to sing or these ten singing rules, feel free to leave any feedback below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.