How To Sing Better
Everyone’s vocal mechanism is different and hence each voice requires a unique and tailored approach designed for your unique instrument. In this singing tutorial I’m going to show you the steps you need to take to learn how to sing better. As I always say to my students, your singing voice is only as powerful and strong as the foundation on which it has been built upon, so take it slow, ask me a question in the comment section below and lets get started learning how to sing better!
Step 1 – Set up a strong foundation
Your singing voice is only as strong as your foundation, so take care to set up your posture and utilise Appoggio while breathing using the diaphragm.
Step 2 – Release your registers
Often, beginner singers are shown a lip trill to get their voices started, but the reasons behind this exercise are often explained improperly, and as the singer progresses they fail to carry this simple but powerful exercise into their warmup at a more advanced level. The lip trill is the most efficient way to release your registers, in short, building a connection and coordination between the muscles responsible for chest and head voice respectively. Along with register release, a lip trill will train you to moderate your airflow properly.
Releasing your registers is the first step to building your Mix Voice – one of the most important parts of building a healthy voice and extensive range.
Step 3 – Place your resonance
As a low Baritone myself, my vocal chords make a somewhat wider band of frequencies than most, so it’s important that I rein in these frequencies to only the most efficiently resonating so that I can then put all of my energy into building my voice and extending my range in a healthy way instead of wasting time and vocal health fighting against frequencies which really have no place in healthy singing technique. My personal approach to placement is the polar opposite to that of many coaches with higher voice types, you shouldn’t try to make a specific part of your vocal tract or resonance chambers vibrate, you should instead limit and frequencies which are resonating in an improper manner. For those of you out there with a classical coach, resonance placement is not masque technique and requires a wholly different process and application.
Step 4 – Shape your vowels
While we often pronounce our Vowels in Speech, singing requires you to form your vowels by using a specific tongue shape for each vowel sound along with a corresponding vocal tract width for each vowel. As an example, an AH vowel requires you to keep your tongue low and concave while allowing a relatively wide tract, and an EE vowel requires your tongue to be raised at the back while keeping a narrow vocal tract.
Step 5 – Tune your resonance
Resonance tuning is an important part of a great singing voice, and can be done in a number of different ways. The most common way singers are shown to tune their resonance is by modifying their vowel sounds, which is a fantastic and simple way to tune your resonance, albeit not the most accurate way to fine tune your voice. It’s important that you understand how and why vowel modification allows you to access your higher range and lets you resonate in a better manner without strain – rather than blindly changing your vowel sounds and mangling your words, a much more efficient way to tune your resonance is to develop control over the tongue root and soft palate so that you can make minor adjustments on the fly without butchering your words and being forced to belt where your coach may have inadvertently explained this ultimately simple, but often misunderstood singing technique.
Step 6 – Balance your onset
It was pointed out to me recently that many budding singers out there simply don’t know what an Onset is, or how to start resonating in a healthy and powerful manner without strain. Along with resonance tuning and vowel modification, vocal onsets are often packaged up in expensive singing courses as “the secret” to good singing, but are ultimately a very simple process in your vocal mechanism that any good vocal coach with your best interests at hand will show you very early on in your vocal journey.
Step 7 – Group your consonants
Consonant Grouping is an incredibly important aspect of a great singing voice, especially if you have a non-standard voice type and odd accent, like I do as a low baritone with an Aussie accent where we often speak with a glottal onset and somewhat nasal vowel setup. I like to group each of the consonants into their corresponding types and then form an individual approach to each consonant considering each student’s voice type, accent, native tongue and various vocal idiosyncrasies. A great example of this is a word like “well”, where in a more closed accent like mine would instead become “OO-ELL” with a classical OO vowel replacing the glottal “W” that I use in speech.
Step 8 – Adjust your warmup as you progress
When you first start singing, your warmup will likely be fairly general, but as you progress in experience, a good voice coach will make continual adjustments to your warmup so that you keep your technique balanced and equally strong in every element required for a great singing voice – I often see an imbalance in singers who belt continuously without an adjustment to their practice regime, and eventually lose the ability to sing in a balanced way, leading to a permanent belt and the inability to sing in a neutral or light coordination without shouting.
Step 9 – Support
Supporting your voice shouldn’t be a crutch for poor singing technique, but it is a very important part of a great singing voice. Remember, you should support your voice with your foundation and breathing, but there is such a thing as too much and improper support. Clenching and pushing is not appoggio.
Step 10 – Rinse and Repeat
As we discussed with Lip Trills, often times more advanced singers often associate the basics of their foundation like breathing and placement, lip trills and register release as “Beginner” techniques that they no longer require to be able to sing well – this is why some singers decline with age. I like to treat my voice as a new instrument each day to ensure proper coordination and continually balance my voice after the hours spent singing for my own pleasure, and hours spent each week working with my students.
Singing is simply a coordination between the various elements of your vocal mechanism. Develop and train each aspect of your voice so that you have control over every part of your voice and consistent strength where need, and then simply bring these techniques together in the controlled coordination we know as a great singing voice.
In short, the best way to learn how to sing is with professional vocal training, and by following the above steps. If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching, you can book a Skype session and get started today!
Since launching in 2010, Bohemian Vocal Studio has grown steadily into the premier online voice studio providing professional vocal coaching around the world. Working with touring professionals and beginners alike, BVS helps singing students reach their singing goals sooner and more efficiently.
If you have any questions about singing better, please 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.