5 Weird But Effective Ways to Sing Better
You’ve heard all the cliched and basic instructions that float around for how to sing better like breathe from your diaphragm or more confusingly sing forward before, and while these really are important aspects of a great singing voice when implemented in the right manner, there’s more than one way to improve your singing voice – here’s 5 weird but EFFECTIVE ways to sing better!
#1 – Reverse your vocal placement
Vocal placement is something that simply didn’t work with my naturally low baritone range when I saw my first classical voice coach many years ago, that is until I understood the purpose of vocal placement and how it is intended to improve your singing. The purpose of singing with vocal placement, and vague instructions like “sing forward” is actually to help you resonate more efficiently, so with that I mind I’ve developed a reverse-placement approach where instead of trying to move or alter your resonance placement, instead you should remove any frequencies which aren’t resonating in an efficient manner. Rather than trying to sing in masque like most classical voice coaches will tell you to do, a better way to place your voice, especially if you have a lower voice type like me, is to remove any disproportionate vibration that is occuring below your top teeth or in your throat so that you can then put your energy into only those frequencies which resonate in an efficient manner – in essence, reversing the concept of placement. Don’t place your frequencies, remove those which aren’t required or appropriate for your unique resonators!
By only singing with efficient frequencies, you will build a much more rich and powerful singing voice with time than if you’re trying to place your voice in an unnatural way – after all, it’s not possible to physically move your voice, but it is possible to encourage a specific band of efficiently resonating frequencies when you sing.
The next time someone gives you vocal advice or a singing tip, it’s important that you understand how and why this tip or technique is intended to help your singing – next time someone tells you to sing forward, or sing downwards, ask them how and why this will help your voice – if they can’t tell you why or explain how it works, you’re drinking from the wrong fountain and need to get your vocal education elsewhere.
#2 – Stop TRYING to sing better
I know, weird advice, right? Beginner singers who are experiencing issues with their singing are often simply trying too hard or singing in a too-muscular way. Singing is a process of simple coordination and balance rather than a muscular feat, so make sure you’re not making things harder for yourself than they really need to be – start light, balance your voice and stop trying to so hard.
Instead of obsessing over your tone, volume or power – it’s important that you first develop a strong foundation and learn how to pitch your registers first. If you’re trying to run before you’ve learned how to walk, you’re trying too hard and you would do your voice a favour by backing off a touch and taking it slow and steady.
#3 – Stop taking singing so seriously
Some may cry sacrilege, but I often see beginner singers taking figurative classical terms and applying them in a literal manner. One that comes to mind is “Open Throat” which is a literal translation of the Italian classical term La Gola Aperta – “The Open Throat”. I’ve had students come to me after buying expensive self-service singing courses that teach Open Throat in a literal sense forcing their jaws open as far as possible and widening their vocal tract in a forceful way to “make more space” for their voices – a better interpretation of Open Throat is that singing should occur out of and away from the throat – breathe low and allow your sound to resonate high in your head instead of singing in a throaty manner. To illustrate a point, the soft palate is closed on vowel sounds when you sing, your vocal folds are closed when you sing, and your vowels are often narrowed towards closure in a great singer – there are very few elements of singing that are open in a literal sense, so why should you try to sing with an “Open Throat”?
If I were to do the same thing with any other classical term, lets say “Appoggio” and apply this technique in a literal sense the way that some singers and voice coaches try to implement Open Throat singing, then a direct translation of Appoggio is actually “Lean” – so that means we need to lean to the side when we sing, right? Of course not. Appoggio really means to “support” your singing laterally with diaphragmatic engagement and a wide rib position rather than contraction of the ribs like we often do in speech. Stop taking figurative singing terms and trying to apply them in a literal fashion – your voice will improve out of sight if you get to the root of what these terms are trying to teach you and instead develop your own approach to breathing, support, placement and how you set up your voice for singing.
#4 – Sing down, not up
By singing down, I mean singing with a pull-down motion in your support rather than PUSHING your voice up as you ascend in range. Remember, great singing is a balancing act of coordination rather than one of muscular force, if you’re pushing up as you ascend in range then you’re actually supporting your voice incorrectly and no doubt you’re having trouble reaching your high range without straining.
If you focus on the downward motion of your singing in a lateral motion (so, side to side), then you will find your voice resonates with more ease and power than with any form of pushing will ever allow. Sing downwards for better support and the best way to reach your high range.
#5 – Do it your own way
Your singing voice is unique, and so should your approach be – often, singers and voice coaches want to simply teach “what worked for them” rather than what may work for your voice. We all have unique issues and a unique resonant space that requires tweaking of the frequencies we sing with to build a great singing voice, so make sure your voice coach isn’t just rehashing the way that worked for them and instead get to the core of what your voice needs and use an approach which is designed around the way that you learn. Vocal coaches, especially those on YouTube often hold very strong opinions around their own stylistic interpretation of singing, and even the approach that they use for singing – but if you think about it, a low Baritone voice is very different in terms of the frequencies that naturally when we sing compared to that of a Tenor, or even a higher Baritone voice – each voice type and voice needs a unique process and set of instructions to function in the most efficient way. Don’t try to use the same method that works for someone else’s voice as it’s quite obviously not designed for your unique resonators, retrain any bad habits you may have and form an approach to the unique issues we all face in our voices. A good voice coach will design a unique approach to singing and developing your voice considering your natural range, voice type, native tongue, accent and idiosyncrasies of your unique vocal mechanism.
As you can see, there are many different ways to learn how to sing, and no two singing approaches should be the same for two different singers. Find a voice coach who’s singing you enjoy, has developed an approach that you gel with, and most importantly understands the unique issues you face in singing with your unique voice type.
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level while learning tons of other cool ways to improve your singing voice, you can book a Skype Session and we’ll get started today!
If you have any questions about how to improve your singing voice with these weird but effective techniques, feel free to leave any feedback or questions 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.