Beginner Singing Lessons [How To Get Started]
Learning how to sing might seem a little daunting if you’re just a beginner, but singing is actually a very easy and super rewarding pursuit if you do it right. There are many, many different methods and approaches out there to singing, all with their own buzz words and marketing terms that no doubt add fuel to the fire of confusion you’ve been feeling. Well, I’m here to make it all a helluva lot easier for you by providing you with the very best beginner singing lessons right here at Bohemian Vocal Studio while showing you HOW to get started!
As I often remind my own singing students, your singing voice is only ever as strong as the foundation it has been built upon – are you singing with a strong foundation, or is your voice simply flapping in the wind when you sing? Lets find out.
Foundation is key
Vocal foundation involves posture, breathing, placement and vowel formation – all very simple and easy techniques I will show you in this very tutorial. We’ll look at posture first, and while it may seem obvious to sit/stand with a healthy posture, there are specific steps you need to take to ensure consistency in your voice and the very best support and foundation you can apply.
Great posture in singing looks a little like this:
- Head up
- Shoulders back
- Facing forward
- Chin Parallel with the floor
- Proud chest/ribs wide
Now, this final step is actually an extension of your breathing, so don’t agonise too much about a wide rib position. Now that you’ve set up your posture correctly, it’s time to breathe using the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle that sits at the base of your lungs, between your chest cavity and abdomen. When extended downwards, the diaphragm creates a negative-space which instantly fills with air like a vacuum. A great way to achieve this is to figuratively imagine breathing through a straw, low and sharp – can you feel how you breathing descends lower and almost feels like it occurs in your belly? Bingo, you just engaged your diaphragm.
Obviously, this likely all feels a little unnatural, and that’s okay – over time you’ll develop a more natural approach to both posture and breathing. Count these two techniques as the first two ‘steps’ of a steps-based approach to singing and your voice will continue to improve every day and get easier and easier with time.
Placement will change your voice
It certainly changed mine. Placement is the concept of limiting any inefficient frequencies and can be easily achieved with a resonant, buzzy sound like an NG or an N – the trick is to learn how to port this same placement and resonant buzz into your vowel sounds in a natural way. The more you practice these resonant and buzzing sounds, the more efficient your placement will become.
Now, placement might not be such a big deal for those of you with a higher voice type, but for a baritone, it is intrinsic to vocal health and building a powerful voice. Over time, the resonant buzz of the N or NG gets ingrained into your vocal mechanism, and it will occur without effort even on your most open and difficult vowel sounds and tricky words.
Placement really changed the game for my low baritone voice – are you placing your voice properly, or singing from the throat and mouth?
This is the secret to great singing
If you’ve been searching high and low for the ‘secret’ to great singing, it’s not one of those fancy buzz words like hyperglottal blah blah, or mixed blah blah, it’s simply VOWELS. Now, in singing your vowels are formed in a very specific way while also allowing appropriate resonant space for each of your vowels to resonate freely and with power. The easiest way to illustrate vowel shaping to you is to have you alternate between two vowels, such as AH and EE. No doubt you can feel the position of your tongue move between each of these vowel sounds, “up” on the EE and down on the “AH” – this is the essence of vowel shaping.
Each of your vowel sounds, except for OO, is based off a combination of either the EE or AH vowel. For example, an AA vowel is similar to an AH but features a more forward central tongue position, and AY is similar to EE in the same way – learning to shape your vowels instead of ‘pronouncing’ your vowel sounds like you do in speech is the true secret to efficient and consistent singing. If you’d like some help forming your vowel sounds efficiently for a particular song, here’s a Vowel Translator that will translate each song into each of the corresponding vowel positions for you.
Resonant Space is Ace
Allowing resonant space for each of your vowel sounds occurs when you elongate and shape your vowel tract in a particular manner. This might seem complicated, but in fact it’s a very simply process. If you “yawn” through your mouth only (not through your nose), you can feel this same effect of the soft palate raising at the back of your throat and root of the tongue moving forward – this is in essence the same mechanism that occurs in your mid to high range in various ways. You can try this yourself by altering the character of each of your vowel sounds as you ascend. If we start with an AH vowel like we just discussed, so, tongue low and concave, as you ascend towards your first vocal break, instead allow this vowel to travel backwards in your mouth and open up to an “OH” or “AUGH” (like Laugh) sound instead – can you feel this same stretch of the soft palate and movement in the root of the tongue? Perfect, you just tuned your first vowel sound.
Obviously, there is a little more to it than just changing your vowels to OH as you ascend – there are specific changes and higher changes that also occur above this point, but for now connecting your chest and head voice and removing your vocal break should be your first and main priority.
How to connect chest and head voice
Connecting chest and head voice might seem like a little bit of a mystery, but it’s actually very easy to do. The best way to practice and illustrate connected registers is to start with a semi-occluded (partially closed) sound like a lip trill, or even an N sound with the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth. If you practice light and quietly and gradually increase your intensity over time, you will develop a feeling for connected registers, and will soon be able to mimic this same relaxed, connected feeling on each of your vowel sounds.
Connecting chest and head should be your main priority, and occurs when you support your voice properly with a healthy and strong foundation, sing with the right placement and of course shape your vowels correctly. Are you connecting your registers, or are you pushing your chest voice? A great place to start is the free foundations short courses available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which will SHOW you how to set up the strongest foundation possible for your voice and set about forming healthy and constructive habits like healthy support, posture and breathing.
If you need further help with your vowel sounds or you’re ready to tackle your middle voice and higher range, you’re welcome to book a Skype Session with me and we’ll get started extending your 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.