How to Start Singing
If you want to find your singing voice, finding the best approach for your voice and singing style is the the first step you need to take. Working out how to start singing is often the hardest step when learning how to sing – deciding on a course, approach or tutor really will make the difference between a professional and powerful singing voice or constant struggles. With so much conflicting information out there, I can be difficult to get the true answer on how to sing well, so this tutorial will show you the steps you need to take to find your voice, start singing professionally and finally start your singing career!
How to start singing beginners
A completely fresh beginner is a little different to a seasoned singer who is needing help with a specific part of their range. Beginner singers need to learn the whole package of singing well, but in an incremental way so that it’s not overwhelming or too confusing in the beginning stages – remember, singing should be a joyous and easy pursuit, not a painful and drawn out process.
The first thing you need to learn as a beginner is foundation, and as I often remind my own singing students, your singing voice is only as reliable and strong as the foundation it’s built on. By setting up a strong foundation of posture, diaphragmatic breathing, appoggio and proper frequency placement, you can ensure that your voice will build and grow over time in a healthy way. I like to think of singing as a steps based activity, and each of the techniques you develop along the way another incremental step towards being in total control of your vocal mechanism. Step one is foundation, step two is your vowels and articulation, step three your onsets, resonance tuning and support, Step five is delivery and consonants etc. Using the steps based approach I have developed allows you to immediately identify any ‘lacking’ part of your vocal approach and easily make adjustments as you sing to ensure continuation of a healthy approach.
Start singing professionally
After the beginning stages of learning how to sing like building your foundation and support mechanism, you can then develop your middle or MIX register by releasing your registers while tuning your resonance through the most difficult passages in your voice for an extensive and consistently resonant singing voice. We’ve all heard of Chest and Head voice no doubt, but with a central coordination of these two main registers, you can create a figurative third register which retains the rich depth of chest voice while accessing the extensive vocal range afforded by your head register. That professional and seemingly endless range that your favourite singers seemingly access with ease is actually their middle register, and can immediately be identified by it’s pleasant but powerful timbre, along with the seamless way in which the chest register and head register meet together for one long, continuous vocal range.
Help your singing voice coordinate properly by developing the middle register and you will find your singing voice is much more full and rich with much less effort than before.
How to find your singing voice
As a professional voice coach, I’m quote often asked by students how to find your singing voice, and find your own tone. This is generally accompanied by the student try to contort their voices into the same tone of their favourite singer – I too was guilty of this as a beginner. The tone of a great singing voice is unique to the singer, and the best way to find your singing voice is to develop your technique with a clean slate and no stylistic bent. When you can control your voice properly and you have a pure and resonant singing tone, of course you will then know the parameters of healthy singing, and be able to make stylistic choices in your tone and delivery which don’t put your voice at risk.
If there is a specific singer you want to emulate, it’s fantastic to have an influence or inspiration, but it doesn’t help to copy and mimic the natural qualities of their voice – in essence this will be the exact OPPOSITE of how they are actually singing. To sing like your favourite singer, the best approach is to identify the elements of their singing voice that you enjoy, and then impart these techniques into your singing so that you sing in a similar manner rather than blindly trying to sound like them.
My main influence when I first started learning how to sing was Chris Cornell, who was known for his extremely intense and sharp vocal delivery and extensive vocal range. I often have students who also want to sing Soundgarden and Chris Cornell songs, but instead of singing in a natural way with an intensely well tuned resonance that has a touch of twang and released register coordination like Chris Cornell sang with, they PUSH to get his intense sound – in essence singing in the totally opposite fashion to how he actually sang.
To find your singing voice, you first must learn how to control and implement it in a natural and resonant manner and the way that it was designed to be used. Learning how to sing in a pure manner first will eventually leave you with greater control and a better understanding of what is, and what isn’t a risk to your vocal health.
If you love the extensive range of a singer like Chris Cornell, but all means develop range extension through vowel tuning and register release – but don’t push and strain. This goes for the bright and twangy sound he was known for that is often mistaken for nasality. If you love this tone, then it’s important that you understand a singer’s twang actually comes from narrowing of the epiglottis rather than nasality, which in itself is a result of poor soft palate control.
If you want to find your singing voice, stop trying to copy other singers vocal tone and instead develop the same healthy techniques that they used to form their sound.
When did singing start getting easier?
I hear this question all the time, and in actual fact, it’s really a trick question. Singing should always be easy, and only really becomes difficult for singers who haven’t developed their technique to the level they are trying to sing, or are doing something incredibly wrong. By starting light and over time adding intensity and weight to your voice you can be sure that you’re never overreaching or straining your voice. Singing is simply a process of coordination rather than a muscular feat, and most beginner singers sing in a much too forceful and strained manner, either because they are ‘fighting’ their natural voice, or because they see other singers who sing in a theatrical manner as the benchmark for how singing should look or feel – your singing voice should be just as natural and easy as brushing your hair, or tying your shoes.
When did singing start getting easier for me personally? Honestly, when I stopped TRYING so hard and simply surrendered to the techniques I had been training and let my voice coordinate in the way it was designed. This has brought me much closer to my goals of singing Chris Cornell songs with ease.
Improve bad singing voice coordination
The only thing ‘bad’ about an untrained singing voice is that it doesn’t coordinate properly and the various elements of the voice aren’t cooperating in a controlled way. By building better coordination in your onsets, registers, breathing and delivery, singing will soon become an effortless and fun activity for you.
One of the key aspects of singing technique I wish I was told from day one is that everything in the voice should be balanced, and singing is often an act of tight-rope walking rather than lifting like a strongman. A perfect example of this is a vocal onset, which many singers often have an issue with, but simply aren’t aware that there IS actually a proper way to begin your resonance.
A balanced onset is the perfect mix of air pressure and vocal chord closure, occuring in central coordination at the very perfect moment to resonate in an instant and free way, manifesting in a powerful and resonant singing voice that is effortless and strain free. If you’re often flat in your intonation, then you are likely singing with a breathy onset, and if you are constantly sharp and forceful in your tone and intonation, then you are probably using a glottal onset – both of these onsets are known to cause excess wear and damage to the delicate folds of the voice over time. Balance your onset to keep your voice safe and resonating in a powerful and free way.
Why am i bad singing in front of people?
In a pure singing sense, confidence in your voice comes from surety in your vocal control. If you KNOW that you will nail your high notes and your voice will start in a controlled and balanced way every time you sing, then this will result in much more confidence when you sing. Now, confidence when singing in front of people isn’t just limited to pure vocal ability, but there are ways to ease your vocal anxiety and ensure all that hard work you’ve been doing with your voice in private translates to a live situation.
This works not only for singing, but in many other aspects of life where self confidence and anxiety are concerned – Identify, Acknowledge and Overcome. I know, it’s easy for me to say, right? I too once struggled with self confidence as a singer, even knowing that I could nail the song that was being sung, to find myself choked up and making bad choices where my technique was concerned. The first thing you need to do to build confidence for singing in front of others is to identify your fear and anxiety. Are you afraid of your high notes? Are you unsure what you’re walking into? Did you have a bad experience on stage previously? By identifying the fear and anxiety you actually limit the impact this fear has on your overall singing technique. Secondly, you need to acknowledge that YES, this is an issue, this thing could really happen – and then you finally need to develop an approach which takes away any possibility of this fear becoming a reality. If you’re afraid of the unknown, then warming up on the actual stage that you will be singing on later in the night is a great approach to removing this intangible element from your routine. Stand out on the stage with the stage lights on so that you’re not walking out blinded like a deer in the headlights when it’s show time – if you’ve stood on that stage before and warmed up extensively and nailed the piece you’re expected to sing earlier in the night, fear of the unknown will be lifted off your shoulders. Likewise with fear of high notes, and this really comes back to your vocal technique – if you build a steps-based approach to singing in the way that I’ve developed my voice, any anxiety and fear of high notes is inconsequential, because you KNOW you can hit high notes well beyond the spectrum of the highest notes in this current song you may be stressing about. I find identifying various reference points throughout a song where you recognise the possibility of a mistake, and then developing an absolutely foolproof method to sing this word or phrase is one of the best anxiety-beating tools any singer could ever keep up their sleeve. If this means you ditch the “H” sound from the word “Hello”, then so be it – nailing the pitch and diction of the vocal line is more important than a virtually inaudible consonant sound, and likewise with tricky pronunciation in certain words like “Love” – don’t sing an “UH”, sing a pure “AH” vowel and let your sound resonate on top of this word.
Confidence while singing in front of others is a special skill that requires time and training, but using this approach you really will be stage ready and confident in your range.
Help your singing voice help YOU
I often see singers fighting with their voices and trying to contort their voice to hit this pitch, or that word, or this tone – when in fact they are simply fighting against what is natural for their voice. If you find your voice is lighter than you would like, the answer isn’t necessarily to sing heavier, instead it may be a simple tweak to the width of your vowel, or a touch more support you need to attain the full and resonant sound you desire – but if you continually push and try for a heavier sound, you’re actually exacerbating the problem of an incorrectly tuned vowel. Likewise with a breathy vocal tone, the answer may very well be to add a touch more chord closure – but perhaps there is a reason that your chords are not meeting or vibrating in the correct manner, such as incorrect coordination, to much force, an improper onset or even an improperly tuned vowel that is resonating in the softer parts of your vocal tract and giving the illusion of a weak and breathy tone.
As you can see, the result of poor vocal technique isn’t always the direct cause – breathiness could be caused by an improper vowel, the need for a glottal onset might be a sign of improper register coordination etc. Get to the root of your issues rather than trying to treat the result and you will help your singing voice help you, in turn allowing you to work like a team with your vocal mechanism.
How to start singing
By finding a voice coach who’s approach you gel with, and who sings with the kind of voice you wish to achieve is a great starting point for learning how to start singing. Don’t buy into marketing hype, instead you should treat YouTube singing videos like a vocal lesson – did you actually learn anything? Fantastic – perhaps that coach is the one for you. Did you walk away with a warm and excited feeling, but didn’t actually learn anything? You were just on the recieving end of a marketing campaign, and this won’t help your voice in any way. Find a professional voice coach who can explain complex singing techniques like Mix Voice and Vocal Onsets in a simple and practical way that actually helps your singing voice for the best chance at building a professional vocal range that is extensive, controlled and powerful.
Since launching in 2010, Bohemian Vocal Studio has steadily grown towards becoming the premier voice studio for professional vocal lessons, and coaches budding singers and touring professionals alike all around the world how to improve their singing technique and reach their singing goals sooner and more efficiently.
If you’re ready to take your singing voice to the next level with professional singing lessons, you can book a Skype Session and we can get started today!
If you have any questions about learning how to sing, 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.