3 Vocal Techniques to Master in 2020
Learning how to sing can be pretty complex.
There's are countless methods and approaches and too many courses and coaches to count - and even more bogus advice and anecdotal tips than you can poke a stick at (YouTube anyone?).
I'd like to help you stop searching and struggling to find the answer like a needle in a haystack by showing you exactly what you should be practising and learning right now - "Less Clicking, More Singing!" has become my voice coaching mantra in 2020. If you've found yourself wasting hours, days, months or even years on all that bad advice and those tricks that just don't work; you should instead be spending 2020 mastering these three essential vocal techniques.
Why Are These Vocal Techniques Essential?
I call these three Vocal Techniques "Essential" because their root is in the fundamental workings of your vocal mechanism - they're not just a metaphor or allusion like Edge or Cry; they're a literal fundamental of how your voice functions physically to create a powerful and effortlessly resonant singing voice.
If these three vocal techniques are "Essential" in this way, then you might also be wondering why you've been wasting so much time overloading your brain with trick after trick and technique after technique when learning how to sing can be SO much easier; and that's the cold hard truth about what "great singers" know that you just haven't found just yet - singing is easy, and if it's not easy then you're just not doing it correctly.
Alright then, if singing is so damn easy, why don't I just show you? Instead of telling you over and over just how great it is to sing with such effortless freedom, range and power - let me show you; here's a few quick examples of the style of singing I'm achieving now that I've mastered these three simple foundation vocal techniques - just imagine the killer singing voice you're going to enjoy when you master these three vocal basics!
Before we get started with these three essential vocal techniques to master in 2020 - let me share with you my own experience learning how to sing.
Being honest, I really wasn't a "natural" singer; I struggled with strain and tension, fought against my naturally low voice and recently detailed how I even spent over $15,000 on singing lessons in the search of a better singing voice - or even just an acceptable voice that didn't sound bad.
I tried courses, more teachers than I can even recall and tried almost every single vocal technique ever invented - yes, many that I now wouldn't even consider helpful, let alone essential like the three techniques I'm about to share with you.
There was even a time where I wondered whether I really had what it takes to become a better singer at all - maybe I just had a bad voice?
Does this sound familiar to you?
The real secret to breaking through all of my boundaries as a singer wasn't a guru on YouTube, or a buzzword like Edge or Cry - or even advanced vocal techniques like Vowel Modification or compression - it was actually to master The Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
Now, you might be wondering why I'm talking about Four vocal fundamentals when there's only three "essential" vocal techniques I want to you master this year - and the truth is, every single vocal technique out there, from Vowel Modification right through to Diaphragmatic Breathing is actually related directly to one of these Four Vocal Fundamentals, so I'm going to make it as easy as possible for you to become a powerhouse singer by taking you three quarters of the way there right now with three essential techniques designed to help you master The Four Vocal Fundamentals with ease - I actually use these three essential vocal techniques to help my students find their own true voices while developing a powerhouse foundation for their voice.
Essential Vocal Technique #1 - Diaphragmatic Breathing
I know I know, diaphragmatic breathing is boring, right? I've found that most vocal methods and the majority of beginner singers out there focus on "how" to breathe using the diaphragm - while overlooking how to actually SING using diaphragmatic support.
In actual fact, everyone breathes diaphragmatically every single day - yes, even you and I right now. The diaphragm itself is the main proponent of breathing; so agonising about the process of breathing in is really a moot point when it comes to singing - as the most important aspect of diaphragmatic breathing when you sing is actually how you exhale and sing a vocal line.
Diaphragmatic breathing relates to Vocal Fundamental number four above - "All In One Flow"; in essence a literal instruction for how to exhale when you sing. Instead of gasping in a breath and pushing out all of your air on the first consonant or word - it's important that you exhale in a slow and controlled way as though you're singing "All In One Flow Of Air".
If you do nothing in 2020 but master diaphragmatic breathing and the concept of singing "All In One Flow" - it will have been a powerhouse and productive year for your singing voice as diaphragmatic breathing is the cornerstone of any great singing voice.
Essential Vocal Technique #2 - Mixed Voice
Depending on who you talk to, you might find a few different opinions on what mixed voice is and whether it's a "real thing" when it comes to singing - but I can tell you right now, as someone who wasn't necessarily a natural singer to begin with, learning how to sing with mixed voice has been absolutely transformative for my voice as a singer.
Now, the confusion around Mixed Voice really stems from how the term used - as it can be used to illustrate two aspects of your voice; a physical balance between weight and tension in the TA and CT muscles, and secondly a blend or "mix" of resonance between chest and head voice.
The first is simply a natural physical function of your voice - so some approaches out there gloss over the fact that you first need to develop this physical balance "because it's obvious" to them as natural singers who haven't really worked that hard to become good singers. This isn't a failing in voices like yours and mine, it's really a failing in these methods and teachers to be effective and inclusive teachers that cater to all voices and levels of ability as singers - not just cherrypicking the natural students who are great to begin with.
The second use of Mixed Voice is more in alignment with how I teach and how I personally sing - a blend of resonance between chest and head voice, or a "mixed" resonance as it's called. By first developing a physical balance in the mechanism with basic semi-occluded sounds like lip trills and resonant consonants; you'll naturally arrive at blended resonance with time and practice that can be used in various way to form the voice you've always dreamed of - and allow you to sing with endless range and the illusion of "one voice" from your lowest note to your highest note in head voice as you 'mix' and 'blend' resonance through the centre of your range to bypass your vocal break.
When it comes to powerful, expressive and extensive singing, especially Rock Singing, then Mixed Voice is truly king. Myles Kennedy, Chris Cornell, Steven Tyler, Aretha Franklin, Paul Rodgers, Layne Staley - these guys and gals are all famous for their used of the mixed register.
Essential Vocal Technique #3 - Resonant Space
In the Foundation and Growth 101 singing courses and also my YouTube coaching channel - I often instruct how to develop resonant space; which is a direct extension of Vocal Fundamental #1 - Height In The Vocal Tract.
If you've ever had a singing teacher tell you to "yawn" or "smile" when you sing, it's likely they're trying in vain to get you to raise the soft palate. Sure, a yawn will get you there - but you'll probably have issues retaining this raised position in the vocal tract along with experiencing all sorts of Larynx issues, strain and tension. Don't get me started on the "wide smile" that is often sold on YouTube as the answer to great singing - it is absolutely not.
This instruction is really a misnomer of "The Internal Smile" that gets passed around like Chinese Whispers (can I still say that in 2020?) - Where the internal smile involves raised cheeks under the eyes, a bright and open expression at the eyes, sunken cheeks at the back and a vertically oval aperture of the mouth; the "wide smile at the mouth" has the opposite effect of spreading your vocal tract too wide and forcing you to push and yell into the mid section of your voice. You've probably noticed when a singer (or YouTube coach) who smiles wide at the mouth ascends in range they become more and more tense with each note as the pressure and tension builds at the vocal folds from an excessively wide tract and improper balance of weight between the TA and CT muscles - a red face, veins in the neck, forceful "yelly" singing are all a result of a wide smile at the mouth. Remember, it's called "The Internal Smile" for a reason.
When it comes to increasing range, resonant space and singing with height in the vocal tract is king.
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
With the Foundation 101 Course
Do You Have What It Takes?
When I first started singing I often asked myself whether I really "had what it takes" to become a great singer. This self doubt really left me wishing that someone would just TELL ME if it was really possible to become a better singer and where I should be investing my time and effort for the best possible results and improvement as a singer.
Well now it's possible!
This simple Vocal Potential Quiz will calculate your exact potential for improvement as a singer. Best of all it's quick, super accurate and most singers are absolutely shocked by the results!
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.