How To Be A Singer [Technique, Style and Recording Studio Tips]
So you want to be a singer, and a GOOD singer at that - how do you become a great singer?
Great technique is obviously your first port of call if you want to become a great singer. In the same way a racecar driver needs a car, a football player needs to be fit and a doctor needs an encyclopedic knowledge of the anatomy; you need a great foundation as a singer made up of excellent technique and the practical ability to actually use that technique to sing well.
Beyond great technique, there's also a few other important aspects of being a great singer that we're going to talk about, from your approach in the studio to performing show after show with ease, right through to personal style and making unique tonal choices as a singer, but let's start with vocal technique first.
Vocal Foundation - The Four Vocal Fundamentals
I discovered many years ago that absolutely EVERY single technique, tip, trick, method and concept out there actually relates to just four simple vocal fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
Now, you might be asking "what about twang? And compression? And the guy that talks about vowel modification and open throat" - and you're absolutely correct, but, each of these techniques is simply an extension of one of the vocal fundamentals.
Twang helps you achieve Forward Placement, Compression helps you breath diaphragmatically and "All In One Flow" and Vowel Modification occurs when you alter the size and shape of the vocal tract using the soft palate, which raises up and creates Height In The Vocal Tract.
If you've been finding it hard to wade through all the crazy terms, techniques and jargon out there - then you need to simplify by first mastering The Four Vocal Fundamentals.
I believe SO MUCH in this simple but effective approach to great singing that I'm just going to show you how to do it right now. Watch this video to learn more practical information in less than 10 minutes than you've probably learned over weeks, months or even years of trawling through YouTube videos and "voice coach reacts" style videos:
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
With the Foundation 101 Singing Course
Stylistic Choice - Find Your True Voice
When I first teach my students The Four Vocal Fundamentals and show them how to sing with consistency, more range and power than they ever imagined and a healthy approach - they often ask how to make unique stylistic choices as a singer while still keeping with this healthy and consistent approach.
And this is where The Four Vocal Fundamentals really SHINE.
With a rock solid foundation, you can make all kinds of changes to the way you sing your vowels, vowel choice, placement, tone and registers, delivery, articulation and any aspect of your singing while also staying within the bounds of the healthy foundation you started with.
I know that when I first started learning how to sing and took classical singing lessons, I just HATED that covered, dark, rounded tone that I was made to sing with - so I went away from the lessons and didn't do it.
What I didn't realise, is that the healthy and 'open' approach I had been shown can be altered in many ways to achieve a more contemporary and even aggressive and intense tone with ease.
Want to sing with distortion? It's easy - simply alter your compression and focus on forward placement.
Want to sing blues and R'nB? Even easier - use that natural flow of air to help you achieve fluid runs.
Want to sing Metal with a CRAZY range? Easier again - just modify your vowel overtones as you ascend.
Stylistic choice is really the thing that we love most about our favourite singers - Steven Tyler, Adele, Chris Cornell, Layne Staley, Janis Joplin; these singers all make a hefty dose of style changes that give themselves the unique and relatable tone that they are so known for.
Master those fundamentals first and you'll be able to make healthy and informed choices about your vocal style.
In The Studio
Live singing is a different beast to studio singing - while consistency is really key to both, great studio singing needs to have an extra level of efficiency and professionalism. Your fans aren't going to be too fussed about how you hit that A4 while doing a cartwheel over the drum riser - but if your singing sucks on the album, there won't be any fans there at the show in the first place to hear you sing.
I have many students who are in the process of recording and releasing albums - I like to set tangible goals for my singers so that they have a serious goal to work towards, in many cases heading into the recording studio for the first time.
When it comes to studio singing - preparation is your new best friend.
Lead sheets, lead sheets, lead sheets - putting together lead sheets for your songs is one of the best ways to ensure you absolutely nail your songs in the first few takes without the need to do overdub after overdub to fix your flubs.
If you're struggling with a specific word or pitch, then you need to work out what base vowel you're singing, what modification you need to use, how it's placed, the level of compression and any stylistic choices you're making on the line. A lyric like "I love you so" might be written on your lead sheet as "AH oo/l-OU-v ee/y-OU s-OH", or even "I love you s-OH" if that's the particular word you're struggling with - you can even write the overtone modification above the word and make notes about compression on your lead sheet.
While the live setting is more spontaneous and almost anything goes (obviously, consistency is also the key to being a great live singer), nailing your songs in the studio while you're paying someone $100 an hour to record you comes with an added level of stress and pressure; so make sure you're prepared and make sure you've written out lead sheets for any potential issues you might be anticipating so that you can hit the nail on the head in your first few takes.
Great Live Singing
While we're talking about great live singing, let me tell you exactly what changed everything for me as a singer - you could say the number #1 most important thing you'll ever learn as a singer;
There are four register overtones for each vowel you sing.
I know, I know - it's not the fancy marketing hype you've become accustomed to on those YouTube videos where people tell you they're "better than everyone else" and that "every other method will damage your voice" and "my open throat technique is the only one that works", but that's just how we Aussies roll - it's the blunt truth or nothing, so prepare to take notes and learn more in this next video than you've probably ever learned in your whole time researching singing online.
I believe so much in The Four Vocal Fundamentals approach to singing that I'm just going to SHOW you how to modify your vowels correctly to achieve each of the four vowel overtones you need for your base vowel sounds. Seriously, this is more than you'll learn in most of those expensive vocal courses out there (you can also watch the full video HERE to see a "before and after" of my own voice before and after I learned what I'm about to share with you)
Having BIG DREAMS as a singer means you need a BIG VOICE to match - watch the video above to hear my "before and after" and learn how you're going to build a big voice too!
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