Baritone Singing Lessons
Learning how to sing as a Baritone can be a confusing task, and with most of the resources out there geared towards and taught by higher voice types, it’s simply a Tenor’s world, right? Absolutely not! While the learning curve and approach might differ from our higher voiced friends, the Baritone Voice Range can be trained to sing high notes with ease,sing without vocal strain and even sing like a Tenor if you truly apply yourself to the craft of great singing. The mechanism of singing is actually the same between every sing voice type, even between the lowest bass singer and a crystal clear soprano, and while the frequencies we create as baritone singers with thicker, more weighty vocal cords are obviously different, you CAN reach your goals of hitting those high notes and singing like even the highest most piercing singer as a Baritone, even if it feels like you have a second class instrument sometimes – being a baritone is a blessing, and I’m about to show you why.
As you can see, learning how to sing as a baritone is all about the approach you use and learning the proper singing techniques. Let me get you started with my top 5 favourite baritone singing techniques – these aren’t limited to Baritone singers either, so you Tenors and Sopranos pay attention too!
The top 5 baritone singing techniques
#1 – Placement
Learning how to sing with vocal placement is the difference between rumbling low frequencies, and a powerful singer’s formant. While it’s not possible to physically ‘move’ or ‘place’ your voice, it IS possible to encourage resonance of a specific band of frequencies, in essence allowing your voice to resonate in the most efficient manner. My favourite way to teach my singing students how to sing with vocal placement is by using an “NG” or an “N” exercise, where the tip of your tongue sits behind your top teeth – the purpose of this exercise isn’t to build a useful singing tone, in fact, the intention behind this exercise is simply to MINIMISE any excess frequencies which may be occurring below your top teeth. That’s right, even with my naturally low baritone speaking voice, those frequencies are generally sitting ABOVE my teeth rather than in my chest or throat.
If you’ve taken singing lessons before or you’ve purchased a singing course, it’s important to understand that vocal placement, and the technique you likely know as “masque” are not the same. Singing in mask requires focussing and building up a band of frequencies high in the nasal cavity, where proper vocal placement requires you to REMOVE excess frequencies that are unnecessary for your natural resonance.
Vocal placement is the secret to learning how to sing higher as a baritone without your voice getting ‘stuck’ in your throat and tripping over your low frequencies. Vocal placement is the key to singing higher songs without necessarily sounding like a baritone, even if you have a deep and low voice like I do.
#2 – Register release
Register release is paramount to a healthy singing voice, and without release you will be STUCK in your chest voice and forced to push and strain every time you sing. Releasing your registers is as simple as practising a lip trill, or the same “N” exercise from above and practising a “see-saw” (teeter-totter for you Americans out there!) between your main registers, ensuring that are focusing on how to connect chest voice and head voice. The better your connection, the sooner you’ll be able to develop step #3 – mix voice singing.
#3 – Middle Voice aka “Mix”
Learning how to sing in middle voice requires you to first understand register release and be in control of your vocal placement. Without release and placement, your middle voice will be ever elusive, and on the times you DO access your mix, it will be fleeting and inconsistent. Now, I like to think of my registers in this way:
- Chest Voice – Full length vocal chords
- Head Voice – Fully shortened vocal chords (“Zipped”)
- Middle Voice – Everything in between!
So the sooner you learn how to release your registers and build that bridge between Chest and Head, the sooner you can learn to ‘balance’ in the centre where your mix voice lies. Middle Voice Singing is that powerful and pleasant tone that professional singers seem to have available on tap, from Aretha Franklin to Chris Cornell, middle voice is the key to a powerful and extensive vocal range – especially for a baritone.
#4 – Support
Now, by support, I don’t necessarily mean you need to build MORE support – I simply mean you need to develop control over your support mechanism so you’re not forcibly lengthening your vocal chord coordination to the point of no return. Contrary to popular belief, breath support isn’t a ‘switch’ that you turn on, it’s a fluid and ever changing aspect of singing that is linked to your registers, vowel width, your onset and also your register release. In short, learning how to support your voice without pushing is paramount to the health and power of your singing voice.
Controlling your breath while singing starts with your posture, so make sure you’re setting up your posture correctly first:
- Head up
- Shoulders Back
- Chin Level with the floor
- Sternum up (ribs out)
Now, breath support, sometimes known as Appoggio singing technique, is dependent on this very last aspect of your posture. Starting with a wide rib position allows YOU to be in complete control of your breathing by extension of the diaphragm, rather than contraction of your ribs. When you learn how to breathe properly for singing by setting up a wide rib position in this manner, breath support becomes a secondary function and very easy to control. If you need some help setting up control of your breath while singing, make sure you book a Skype session with me today and I’ll SHOW you how it’s done.
#5 – Coordinated onsets
Now, learning to sing with a balanced onset is extremely important for ANY voice type, but especially baritones who have a deeper range and thicker chord coordination. The reason I left this one ’til last is because a coordinated onset is actually dependent on the four previous points, breath support, middle voice, register release and placement – without these four techniques working in tandem in a controlled way, your onset will suffer. Learning how to sing onsets properly is more a game of finesse and approach than anything that needs to be built physically – a coordinated onset is simply a perfect balance between release of air pressure, and closure of your vocal chords.
A great way to train your onsets is to split your onsets up into three types, breathy, glottal and balanced. If you practice each of these onsets before leading into a scale on the balanced onset, you’ll soon understand the mechanism behind your onset – and after some time practising, you can aim for THREE balanced onsets each time your practice the scale, in essence training muscle memory and familiarity with the coordinated onset. Here’s a great tutorial I’ve put together for you that will show you how to balance your onsets:
When you learn how to control your onsets properly, this is a great sign that you are also nailing the other important aspects of a baritone voice – you can then work on vowel tuning and further your register control so you can learn how to sing higher than ever before, and start tackling tricky songs that you never knew were possible with a baritone voice range by developing proper singing techniques like:
- Middle Voice “Mix”
- Vowel Tuning and Vowel Modification
- Advanced register control and belting
- Singing ANY song
- The key to consonants
- Building resonance
- SO much more!
Singing itself is a very easy process, but unfortunately learning HOW to do it when you are a baritone voice type is often overly complicated and confusing due to all the conflicting information out there that really isn’t designed for our low and rich voices. A great place to start if the free foundations short courses available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which were designed with baritone voices like mine in mind, and then when you’re ready to take your voice to the next level and POWER UP your baritone vocal range with professional voice coaching, you can book a Skype session with me today and I’ll show you how it’s done!
If you have any questions about learning how to sing as a baritone, feel free to leave some feedback or any 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.