How To Get A Better Singing Voice [In 5 Steps]
Singing is easy, but learning HOW to do it can be a complicated and confusing process, in part due to all the conflicting information out there and so many different methods claiming to hold “the secret” to great singing – the truth is, there IS no secret to learning how to sing, it requires time, practice and perseverance. Singing is ultimately a process of balance rather than muscular force or strength, have you been manhandling your voice instead of singing with finesse and intention? Here’s how to get a better singing voice in 5 easy steps.
#1 – Balance
Singing requires balance and coordination. From air pressure and airflow to chord closure, to resonance – every aspect of your voice is a process of balance. Once you come to terms with this simple fact, the process of learning how to sing becomes easy and fruitful instead of frustrating and difficult. To balance your voice, you first need a strong foundation, and a strong foundation starts with posture and breathing. A great place to start is the free foundations courses available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which will show you how to set up the strongest base for your voice and lead to consistency and strength as you start to build your range.
#2 – Breathing
Once you’ve set up a strong foundation, it’s time to support your voice using diaphragmatic support, sometimes known as Appoggio or simply ‘support’ in singing. Once you’ve set up your posture correctly – head up, shoulders back, facing forward, proud chest, you can then engage the diaphragm to breathe with by imagining that you are breathing low and sharp through a drinking straw. You should feel the sensation of your breathing coming from somewhere around your abdomen or your ribs – congratulations, you just engaged your diaphragm.
Now, as you sing a phrase or ascend in pitch, it’s important that you don’t lose this foundational support and ‘exhale’ all of your air at once. This resistance of pressure and balancing act between airflow and air pressure is the nature of great singing.
#3 – Vowels
Vowels are key in singing, but not the way you probably think. When we speak, we pronounce the vowels using the front part of our faces, the tip of the tongue, lips and teeth – but in singing, you actually articulate your vowel by forming a specific shape with the tongue for each sound, while allowing sufficient space in the pharynx by altering your vocal tract using the soft palate and tongue root. A great illustration of this is to have you alternate smoothly between an EE and an AH vowel, no doubt you’ll feel your tongue rise on the EE, and your tongue lower to a concave shape on the AH vowel – WooHoo! You just shaped your first two vowels. Vowels are the lynchpin of your resonance, and without the right vowel shapes, your sound will not resonate in a free and powerful way.
#4 – Connect chest and head voice
Bridging a connection between chest and head voice is imperative to building a great voice, and fortunately for you, I recently put together a tutorial which shows you exactly how to connect your registers which you can see below. Your main vocal break is caused by an imbalance in vocal fold weight and vocal fold tension – you’re either holding on to too much weight as you ascend, or you’re releasing too much weight too soon in a reactionary way. The process of blending your registers is like a see-saw (teeter-totter for you Americans out there!), you aren’t just sitting on the ground, then magically sitting in the air – there is a balance and smooth transition between these two positions which occurs around the centre of gravity – your voice is the same. You don’t sing in chest voice and ‘suddenly’ arrive at head voice, the changing balance between chest and head is a constant and fluid one that is smooth like a gradient, not jagged like a staircase. Are you connecting your registers properly or just pushing your chest voice?
#5 – Finesse
Learning how to shape your vowels properly goes hand in hand with forming your consonant sounds in a strain-free but clear way. Grouping your consonants into similar types, such as plosives, sibilant, resonant etc will then allow you to form a specific and intentional approach to each sound and work around any issues that may come from any lingering speech pronunciation.
Finesse comes in many forms when you are singing, from the aforementioned vowels and consonants, right through to balancing your onsets correctly for a strain free, consistent and pleasant onset to your resonance. By centrally balancing your air flow and vocal fold closure, you can create ‘instant’ resonance which no longer starts in your throat, leading to a more powerful and accurate tone. A good vocal onset takes finesse and care, not brute force and guesswork – are you singing with a balanced onset?
These five steps are the cornerstone of great singing, and if you work on them each day consistently, you will improve your voice in no time. Remember, singing is a process of balance, not muscular force – are you pushing and squeezing when you should be releasing and balancing? When you’re ready to take it up another notch with professional voice coaching you can book a Skype Session and we’ll work towards extending your range and building balance and consistency in your voice every time you sing!
If you have any questions about learning how to sing, 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.