How Can I Be A Better Singer? [Top 5 Singing Tips]
So you want to be a better singer, you've trawled YouTube for all the hottest singing terms, maybe even bought a course or taken a lesson or two - but you're coming up short on your goal of being a better singer.
Want to know a huge insider secret from professional singers and even voice coaches? We've all often felt like this too. As Steven Tyler once famously said "Fake it til you make it!" - can you imagine a time where the lead singer of Aerosmith lacked confidence, or was shy about singing? Did you know that Jim Morrison actually sang with his back to the audience for the first run of The Doors shows in the 60's due to extreme stage fright? That James Hetfield wanted John Bush of Armoured Saint to sing for Metallica in his place because he thought his voice was no good? Rock history is absolutely full of stories about how iconic frontmen and frontwomen lacked confidence and wanted to be a better singer.
Even as a professional singer and well respected voice coach myself, I too felt exactly this same way when I first started - in fact, I even went through a period where I really started to question whether I really had what it was going to take to be a better singer; but I persevered, continued my studies, committed myself to the goal of strain free singing and eventually found an easier way - so let me show you just how easy and joyous singing can be when you learn to sing the right way!
The real question here is actually - how to sing the right way.
Keep this in mind; you already have the voice of your dreams but you just don't know how to use it correctly yet. You already have access to extensive high range and resonance but you're just not sure how to get there yet. And most importantly, singing is easy and should always be free of strain, tension and frustration.
This became my mantra in the early 2000's when I started to get serious about becoming a better singer. I was sick of taking singing lessons, sick of buying courses, sick of hearing marketing terms and buzz words and even sick of hearing my own voice. I decided at that point that I was either "all in" or I was "all out" - truthfully, I took me over ten years of training, constant practice, thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of patience to get where I am today as a singer; so let me share with you the 5 Singing Tips that I can only WISH I had been told from day one to save myself so many years of frustration and hard work.
Let me save you the time, money and effort that I spent going round in circles as a singer trying to find the answer - the only solution to your vocal issues is in your foundation. Not advanced techniques, not crazy terms, not edge, vowel modification, placement, mixed voice, cry, twang, glottal compression - none of these techniques on their own is going to magically make you a better singer; only a rock solid vocal foundation built by mastering the Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
- Forward Placement
I know, that's only four tips - but I'm going to give you the best bang for your buck that you've ever had while learning how to sing by counting these Four Vocal Fundamentals as just one single tip, and I'll follow up with another four powerful tips, techniques and insider tricks to follow.
Tip #1 - The Four Vocal Fundamentals
The four vocal fundamentals that we just discussed; Height in the vocal tract, all in one flow, mixed tonality and forward placement are absolutely intrinsic to developing a strong foundation as a singer. Every single famous singer with an incredible voice has mastered these four basic fundamentals - from Aretha Franklin to Chris Cornell, Adele to Michael Jackson.
These four vocal fundamentals really are the magic quadfecta of vocal training as every single other technique and vocal concept out there actual stems from these four basic fundamentals. For example, vowel modification, yawning, raising the soft palate, resonant space, hoot exercises, lowering the larynx - these concepts all relate directly to achieving and managing Height In The Vocal Tract.
Instead of being pulled every which way by all the concepts and terms that get thrown around on YouTube as "the secret" to great singing - let's keep it simple by developing these four basic fundamentals first; then growing and building your voice upon this rock solid vocal foundation once you're ready.
Tip #2 - You Don't "Build" a Voice; You Remove The Blocks
So many vocal methods, including my own Foundation Vocal Method talk about "building" and "growing" the voice - when in actual fact; by building a great voice you're actually removing roadblocks and tension along the way to release the voice you already have.
The strain and tension I experience when I first started learning how to sing wasn't really a result of my lower baritone voice type, although it certainly felt like it - the strain and tension were simple a block in my path of resonance to singing with freedom. I didn't create the high range I'm now well known for; I've learned not to stand in it's way.
Every single step in the Four Vocal Fundamentals is simply a way to release blocks and breaks from your voice - Height In The Vocal Tract simply opens up your ability to sing with natural resonance; it doesn't actually create a new form of resonance at all. Forward placement doesn't fight strain and tension at all - it simply allows you to bypass the strain and tension as you sing. Mixed Tonality isn't a special "secret" register in your voice either - it's simply a natural balance between the TA and CT muscles that is there by nature; and hence facilitates naturally blended resonance in between your two main register/partial resonance from either register in a "mix".
You don't "Build" a great voice - you simply get out of it's way.
Tip #3 - Exercises Are Useless
Say what now? I personally spent YEARS walking around with two pages of vocal exercises and a full hour warmup and I saw almost no progress as a singer. My final vocal teacher took one look at these exercise sheets, ripped them up and said "useless - every one of them!". The truth is, learning to sing better isn't really like learning to play guitar where you just drill a scale over and over again to a metronome, one beat faster each day as you improve with time; it's actually all about HOW you sing, not WHAT you sing.
You could practice vocal exercises all day long your whole lifetime and not make one iota of improvement; or, you could practice one single exercise in the right way and see almost immediate improvement.
Singing is all about HOW you sing, not WHAT you sing.
Tip #4 - Vowel Modification Doesn't Actually Change Your Vowel
I feel like a bit of an idiot saying this now, but once upon a time I really believed that Vowel Modification was a change in your vowel sound - like changing a small EE vowel in an EH, or changing an AA into an OH as you ascend.
Vowel Modification is actually a result of two main alterations in your vocal mechanism; resonant space and the balance in your vocal folds - resulting in a shift to your resonant overtone.
So in essence, Vowel Modification should really be called "overtone modification" or "vocal tract tuning" - but it's just easier (and more mysterious) for methods out there to keep with the confusion to ensure you keep taking lessons and stay forever in the "student zone" instead of unleashing your inner lion as a singer.
If you're serious about learning vowel modification, I just create the most intensive guide to vowel modification that you'll find online - no secrets, no paywall, no magic tricks or marketing terms; just great technique and practical instructions to help you sing better.
Tip #5 - Great Singers Are Doing LESS Than You Are
I get a lot of questions about what I'm doing when I sing high notes, with power and with the ease that I now enjoy - "which technique is that?", "are you using Appoggio?", "Which vowel is that and how is it modified?", "How do I get your placement" and so forth - when the truth is, singing is now just EASY; I don't overthink it, most of The Foundation Vocal Approach is now ingrained in my singing and best of all, I really don't have to try too hard to sing the songs I enjoy in the the way that I truly want to sing them.
Many beginner to intermediate students feel like they have to move a mountain to sing well - when the opposite is in fact true. How many singing techniques are you practising or putting importance on beyond The Four Vocal Fundamentals? If you've been singing for a while, I'm going to take a guess there is quite a few random terms and techniques you've picked up along the way that sound like they're important - but you really don't understand how to do them.
The key to great singing is actually to do as little as possible, and to sing as naturally as you can - and many of the advanced techniques that you're struggling to develop will happen naturally. When you sing with height in the vocal tract; you'll naturally modify your vowels. If you're singing with forward placement - you'll achieve mixed voice easily and quickly. If you're singing with consistent air "all in one flow" you'll achieve powerhouse compression without the need to clamp, squat or push - this is where subjectivity really muddies the waters for beginner singers, because it really DOES feel different to sing as a beginner than to sing as a seasoned pro; a great example of this is the fact of the matter that the voice really is just one long, connected note from lowest to highest pitch when you learn to blend resonance and connect your registers; but no doubt you currently experience a vocal break and feel like you really DO have two different voices - remember, the experience level and ability of the singer really make for a subjective experience.
A perfect example of this is airflow - a professional singer who is well trained uses very little air and also very little pressure when they sing; but they're not actually holding back their air or avoiding pressure - this is simply the result of effective breath control and the resulting compression that comes with practice, training and time. A beginner singer might look at this and think "Eureka! The solution to great singing is to hold my breath as hard as possible!" no doubt creating strain, tension and putting their vocal health at risk.
Remember, great singers really aren't doing very much or trying very hard when they sing - how much effort and energy are you using when you sing?
Instead of constantly telling you just how great it is to sing with such effortless freedom and power; here's a few quick examples of what I'm achieving as a professional singer now that I've mastered the Four Vocal Fundamentals - just imagine the incredible singing voice you're going to enjoy when you too master these simple vocal fundamentals!
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Do You Have What It Takes?
If you've been wondering whether it's really all worth the time and effort, or whether you really have what it really takes to become a better singer - this simple vocal quiz will calculate your exact potential for improvement as a singer and also show you where and how to invest your time and efforts for more streamlined and effective gains in your singing. Best of all it's quick, super accurate and most singers are absolutely shocked at the results!