How To Get Better At Singing (In Five Minutes!)
Signing is a simple process of coordination and really should be an easy, free and joyous activity. However, LEARNING how to sing is often a drawn-out and stressful task made even more confusing by our different voice types, different opinions and of course conflicting information from the various voice coaching methods out there. I’m here to tell you that singing really can be easy and fun without the headache and expense of pricey singing courses.
Lets cut through the BS and get better at singing!
Foundation is key
Building a strong foundation is paramount to a great singing voice. Your singing voice will only ever be as strong as your foundation, so it’s important that you build the best base for your voice to sit upon. Foundation starts with posture, breathing and how you create your resonance. Keeping a strong, tall, confident posture will not only make you feel better, it will also make you singing better and is truly the key to achieve Appoggio in singing, which means support.
Breath support in singing derives from the way that you breathe and how you moderate your airflow. In singing, you should control your airflow by expansion of the diaphragm instead of contraction of your ribs like we often do in speech. Extension of the diaphragm without the need for your ribs of chest to collapse is the basis of your foundation and should be the first step in your warmup routine.
Vocal placement is the manner in which you control and create your frequencies. As a low baritone myself, I often struggled with consistency as a beginner singer due to the wide and often inconsistent band of frequencies my voice would create – the secret to controlling your resonance and creating a brighter, more powerful and pleasant tone is called vocal placement.
Sing Better with Vocal Placement
Placement was something I was shown by my very first classical coach and is something that simply didn’t work for my baritone singing voice. That is until I got to the meaning of placement and how it is intended to improve your singing. While it’s not possible to move or place your voice in a physical sense, it IS possible to encourage the creation of a specific band of frequencies that resonate in an efficient and powerful way – this is the true essence of vocal placement.
Armed with this new knowledge, I was finally able to place my voice in a way that no voice coach had been able to explain to me previously. I went back to all the classical terms and techniques I was once shown and often didn’t have success with and delved into the true meaning of each term and broke down any figurative notions into practical and physical singing instructions to develop my very own approach to singing.
Vocal placement was the first of many archaic vocal terms that I deciphered and managed to turn into practical singing techniques, among Open Throat, Appoggio, Inhalare La Voce and others – singing was no longer a foreign language.
How to sing better
Great singing is a process of balance and control and really has very little to do with muscular force or physical exertion. To learn how to sing better you must first set up your foundation as we’ve discussed, and then proceed with building your coordination through vocal onsets, middle voice, shaping your vowels and releasing your registers appropriately.
Often beginner singers ‘fight’ their natural voice in place of singing in a strain free manner. Quite often, your true singing voice feels and sounds very different from how you expect, or even how you intend. This doesn’t mean your voice won’t be great, it simply means that you need to develop your singing voice in a non-biased way without stylist bent, at least while you’re still learning.
How to sing better in five minutes
This simple process will help you sing better in five minutes and do much more for your voice than any complicated singing routine with confusing terms and outdated singing exercises. I often remind my students that a singing exercise is only as useful as the intention and your understanding for how it functions – practicing scales all day won’t help your voice, but practicing the right exercise in the right manner for a few minutes a day guarantees your success.
1st Minute – Release your registers
The first thing you really need to do is set up your posture and breathing first, and then for the first minute that you practice focus on releasing your registers. A great way to release your vocal registers is to practice a lip trill. Remember, the intention of this exercise is simply release, don’t focus on making a powerful rock sound or focus on volume, simply focus on release.
2nd Minute – Place your frequencies
As we just discovered, vocal placement is simply a fancy way to describe singing with efficient frequencies. A great way to place your voice is using a simple “N” exercise with the tip of your tongue behind your top teeth. Remember, the intention behind placement is to simply sing without inefficient frequencies, so start light and try to limit any vibration that occurs in your throat or chest.
3rd Minute – Shape your vowels
To develop properly shaped vowels, you should spend a minute alternating between each vowel shape. While we often pronounce our vowel sounds in speech, you actually need to create your vowels through taking a specific tongue shape for each sound when you sing. A great example of this is if you alternate between an EE vowel, the most narrow vowel sound that requires you to raise the back of your tongue, and the widest vowel AH which requires you to concave and lower your tongue.
4th – Tune your resonance
You would have noticed how I mentioned “width” in the last step and how the AH vowel is wider than an EE vowel. By training control over the width of your vocal tract you can actually tune your resonance through the more difficult parts of your voice and sing past your vocal breaks with ease. Resonance tuning is sometimes referred to as Vowel Modification and in some approaches requires you to alter the character of each of your vowels so that the frequencies you sing with are changing to match the resonant space you sing with as you ascend in range (don’t worry, this is easy!). The simplest way to tune your resonance is to modify your vowel – AH becomes OH and EE becomes EH at your first vocal break, in essence widening your vocal tract. To sing even higher in your range and sing right through the passaggio you then need to re-narrow the vowel by returning to a more pure vowel character etc. By spending a minute doing this for your vowel sounds you will train this vowel character change into your singing voice as a healthy habit that happens naturally and without any effort.
5th minute – Reference songs
For the final minute in 5 minutes to a better singing voice I suggest taking a line or two from a song you know well and listening to how your voice reacts. If your voice ‘catches’ in chest voice, then you need to return to step one and release your registers again. If you feel as though your voice is stuck in your throat then return to placement. If you struggle with a specific word then you need to shape your vowels more effectively, and if you are pushing and straining then you are singing with an incorrect width through the difficult passages of your voice.
With these easy process, you can improve your voice and sing better in 5 minutes a day without the need for expensive courses.
The best way to learn how to sing better is using one of the many free singing resources out there, from free vocal courses through to YouTube channels packed full of professional tips and training. Of course, when you’re ready to take your voice to the next level you can book a Skype Session and we’ll develop your singing voice and build an extensive range.
If you have any questions about learning how to sing better, 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.