Three Amazing Singing Tips [For Baritone Singers]
I really used to struggle with high notes - in fact, I struggled with most notes regardless of how high they were. I even struggled with the most basic singing exercises out there and found that quite a few singing courses that I purchased started in a range that was really too difficult for me to practice in. I went to teacher after teacher until a friend of mine casually pointed out "oh, that's because you're a baritone" - "A bari-what?" I remember asking in response. It was pretty disheartening that a friend who didn't even sing himself knew more about singing and voice types that I did after years and years of singing lessons and more singing teachers than I could count on both hands.
Armed with this new information, I marched in to see my singing teacher at the time proclaiming to be a baritone and was pretty much laughed out of the studio "oh, that's not a real thing - you're just putting on a low voice" as though it was all my fault. Needless to say, I moved on from that teacher pretty soon afterwards and finally found another teacher who himself had a low voice like mine, but possessed a powerful and endless range to match. Confirming that yes, I was indeed a baritone, and yes, most of the exercises I was practicing weren't really meeting my needs as a lower voiced singer, and again yes, I was trying to start them way too high in the Tenor range - however, being a baritone wasn't a valid excuse for being such a bad singer.
I still remember the feeling of my cheeks turning red as my newfound guru quite casually crushed my spirit with the news that I really was a terrible singer, and that I really had no talent at all for singing. Fortunately, this was then followed up with the facts about why I was such a bad singer, and more importantly, the solution I'd been looking for all along.
"Foundation my boy" he said with a wry smile only a fellow Aussie like me can get away with in a professional setting - "You have absolutely no foundation".
He then proceeded to take me through absolutely every issue he had diagnosed in my singing, from a glottal onset, to imbalance in the registers, excess compression, too much weight, mouth vowels instead of pharyngeal vowels, incorrect placement and others. You can imagine the look on my face when my brand new singing teacher, pretty much my hero at the time, listed about ten different things that I absolutely sucked at, even with nearly ten years of singing experience and lessons under my belt.
The solution for my baritone voice was actually VERY simple, and my singing really improved out of sight in an incredibly short time when he took me through the three single techniques that my voice needed at the point - yep, just three simple setup steps that really blew all of my previous singing instruction out of the water;
- Consistent airflow (I was personally experiencing too much compression)
- Forward placement (Let's just say I thought placement was the thing you put your dinner plate on at the family table)
- Height in the vocal tract (Of which I had absolutely none because I was pronouncing all my vowels at the mouth)
Every single technique you will ever be shown by a singing teacher, or see on YouTube, or even make up yourself will fall under the banner of each of these concepts, for example;
Consistent Airflow = Compression, Support, Appoggio, Power Push, Fold Closure, Aspiration, Adduction
Forward Placement = Nyah/Nyaa, Bratty tone, Passive aggressive voice, Masque placement, Brightness
Height in the vocal tract = Vowel Modification, Pharyngeal vowels, Yawning, Raising the soft palate, Resonance tuning
As you can, singing really is a LOT more simple than you were probably thinking, and can be boiled down into those three very simple steps, even when you have a naturally deep voice like mine.
Armed with this powerful but simple approach, I dove back into all of my old training and exercise books with the newfound attitude that "if I don't understand why I'm doing it, then I shouldn't waste my time with it", and with each lesson and each practice session my voice opened up and grew like never before, and fast.
You see, Foundation in singing is just like the Foundation of a house being built - the rock solid concrete base that your roof and walls (range and tone) are built upon. Without a strong foundation, your house will fall like a ton of bricks in the same way your range will fail when you attempt a high note. Developing a simple but effective foundation for your voice is the real key to great singing, especially when you are a baritone like me.
A great place to start building a rock solid foundation for your voice is the Foundation 101 singing course which will show you how to;
- Connect chest and head voice
- Sing with mixed resonance
- Balance your onset
- Form your vowels properly
- Support your voice
- Create pharyngeal space
- Place your frequencies
- Warm up your voice effectively
- SO much more!
You can even get started right now with this exclusive Mix Voice Singing Lesson which will show you the simple but effective approach I use with my own students to help them connect chest and head voice while creating mixed resonance
If you want to hear what all the fuss is about the Foundation 101 singing approach, here's just a few examples of what I'm personally achieving with the Foundation approach, yes, even as a baritone who was told they would never sing well - Just imagine the amazing things you're going to achieve when you're finally fee of strain and tension with a rock solid vocal foundation!
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.