5 Rules For Male Singers
Learning how to sing can be a tricky business, especially for us guys with lower voices, but with these 5 simple rules you’re going to find the process a whole lot easier and more enjoyable! Singing is ultimately a process of balance, not muscular force, so put that brute strength away while learning how to sing and focus on coordination and balance instead so that your voice works the way it was designed to work – without strain.
Singers with different voice types tend to feel different sensations and even require their own separate approach to certain aspects of singing, so guys, if you’ve been struggling to learn how to sing, and that low masculine voice feels like a weight dragging you down – this 5 rules for Male Singers will absolutely change your life! Lets get started.
#1 – Head Voice isn’t weak
Well, technically it MIGHT be weak in your voice if you’ve been neglecting balance by pushing your chest voice as high as possible. A powerful singing voice is simple the result of well tuned resonance, and if you’re using the wrong register, or your vocal folds are simply too thick to vibrate and resonate properly, then you’re actually going to lack power and strength. The reason that you enjoy singing in chest voice is because it resonates just so damn well, and the reason you likely avoid head voice is because it’s weak and breathy. The truth is, head voice ISN’T weak by nature, it’s just weak because of the way you’re using it. Learning how to use the soft palate correctly to allow resonant space and a powerfully connected bridge between chest and head will remove that unsightly ‘flip’ between your registers and unlock your high range. Are you transitioning between the registers properly, or are you simply pulling chest? Head voice is only weak if it’s undeveloped and underused. Tuned up that head register for a powerful high range.
#2 – You can (and should) connect chest and head voice
An extension of #1 is the fact that resonance from chest and head voice can blend in the centre of your voice to create a bridge between your two main registers, ultimately providing you with “one long note” that travels from your lowest pitch to the heights of your head range without a break. The simplest way to illustrate this process if to start with a small semi-occluded sound like a lip trill and focus on gently bridging between the registers through the middle of your voice. Over time you can then branch out into other sounds, N, EE, OO and finally your open vowel sounds AH, OH, AY etc. You’ll probably notice that these vowels are MUCH more difficult to connect or achieve resonance with when you sing, which brings me to #3
#3 – Tune and Sing, don’t Twist and Shout
Each of your vowel sounds requires ‘tuning’ by way of altering your resonant space appropriately for the frequencies you are singing. This might sound tricky, but it’s actually very easy to do. By directing your vowel up into the pharynx while raising the soft palate to allow more space, you’ll notice that you’re no longer straining or shouting in your middle to high range, and the bridge between chest and head voice on the more open vowel sounds is much easier with more space. Many singers experience a breakthrough in their voice when they learn about the concept of vowel modification or vowel tuning – I know I did. Learning how to tune my resonance absolutely changed my life as a singer and was the first step in my journey towards becoming a voice coach myself!
#4 – Chest voice isn’t a switch
Many Male Singers feel as though chest voice is either “on” or “off”. The truth is, your whole vocal range is actually a combination of vocal fold weight and vocal fold tension – permitted by the vocalis muscle and the CT muscle respectively. When you sing with FULL chest voice into your middle range, you are singing with excess weight, which is caused by the vocalis muscle contracting the vocal folds. Eventually, you get to a point where you are simply pushing and shouting, or you ‘flip’ up into a weak falsetto. The secret to connected and consistent singing is to learn how to release weight from the vocal folds as you ascend by releasing the vocalis muscle incrementally through your middle range and developing a smooth transition in the mechanism between weight and stretch. Again, the simplest way to illustrate this process is to practice light and small with a lip trill and work up to your vowel sounds over time – remember, if it’s not easy, you’re not doing it right.
#5 – Onsets, Onsets, Onsets
Onsets sometimes aren’t as much of an issue for those with a higher voice type, but for baritone male singers like myself they are absolutely paramount to a healthy and powerful singing voice. Many guys ‘hold their voice’ before they sing, meaning that their vocal folds are completely closed shut before they achieve vibration and resonance – this is known as a ‘glottal’ onset because your throat is closed. Learning how to balance your onset properly like those with a higher voice type is the key to releasing strain and tension, and makes the difference between a consistent voice and a wildly unbalanced voice. A vocal onset is literally the onset of your resonance, which occurs as a balance between release of air pressure and vocal fold closure. A balanced onset is a direct coordination between air pressure and vocal fold closure so that they meet together at the very same moment for instant and strain free resonance. If you skew the balance towards either side, breathy or glottal, your voice will lack power, you’ll hear noise and cracking before your actual note starts, and you will eventually strain your voice. A balanced onset is the key to a powerful and strain free voice.
Singing Tips for Male Singers
Learning how to sing can be difficult for some male singers, but using these 5 simple rules you will find the experience much more enjoyable and fruitful. Remember, your speaking voice and singing voice are two separate processes, just like running and walking are two separate actions – running isn’t just fast walking just like singing isn’t just speaking at pitch. If you have a low voice like me and you’re struggling to learn how to sing, it’s likely your perception of how your voice should sound when you sing is a little misguided due to your low speaking voice. It took me many years to understand that my singing voice isn’t an extension of my low singing voice, it is in fact a totally separate machine. Just because I have a deep voice doesn’t mean that my voice shouldn’t be pleasant and resonant when I sing, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I am unable to sing high notes – it simply means that the path I needed to take to get there was a little different to other singers, and I needed to find an approach that was designed for the idiosyncrasies of my baritone voice.
Guys really CAN sing well
From my own experience learning how to sing as a baritone, I once held the opinion that male singers, especially low ones, were limited in what they could achieve with their voice. This opinion is rife out there, and usually comes from either an untrained male singer, or from someone who has a high voice type themselves. This opinion really stems from classical singing where the baritone is usually portrayed as “the villain”, and the high voice tenor as “the hero”. The truth is, there is no limitation to what you can achieve as a male singer – you simply need to find an approach to singing which is designed for your unique voice type, and a coach that understands that while your voice might naturally sit a little lower than others, the way it works is EXACTLY the same as Tenors or Female singers – there’s simply a lack of resources out there geared towards helping you how to sing. This is the reason I started Bohemian Vocal Studio and began coaching other singers how to improve their voices, and has led me to design various singing tools like The Vowel Translator which continues to be a game changed for many, many singers looking to find their true voice.
- I can feel the resonance/placement into my head and it’s super cool , thank u!
- Awesome tool! Really helps with resonance and placement!
- I just bought your course and can already feel the resonance!
- My Brain starts to work in new – much better way – in aspect of vowels
- Mind blown, game changed.
- Kegan, I do love you! Practice has never been so effective!
A great place to start for male singers is the free Foundations 101 singing course I’ve set up for you here at Bohemian Vocal Studio. Using my own low male singing voice as an example, you’ll learn how to set up a rock solid foundation for your voice and halve the learning curve you might currently be facing as a male singer. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with profession coaching from a baritone teacher who has a wealth of experience working with male singers of all voice types, various accents and even ‘difficult to train’ voices like my own, you’re welcome to book a Skype Lesson with me and we’ll start working towards extending your vocal range and building control and consistency in your voice every time you sing!
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.