Improve your singing voice
Becoming a great singer takes practice, perseverance and the right vocal approach. I think we’ve all heard of diaphragmatic breathing, posture and resonance – but do you know how to sing in middle voice, how to tune your vowels, how to sing with vocal placement, how to shape your vowels and other advanced techniques? Mastering these professional singing techniques will allow you to sing higher than ever before and improve your singing voice like you never could have imagined. Learning how to improve your singing voice doesn’t have to be confusing or difficult with these top 5 singing tips to improve your singing voice.
#1 – Learn to PLACE your resonance
Vocal placement is often overlooked in contemporary singing approaches and even by some of the best online singing courses out there – vocal placement is especially important for the baritone voice range and those of you with a ‘thicker’ accent like Eastern Europe, Spain and some parts of America. While it’s not possible to physically ‘move’ your voice in a physical way, it IS possible to encourage the creation of an efficient band of frequencies that resonate like crazy! Vocal placement starts in your foundation and really should be one of the first things that you practice and warm up each day before you sing – improper vocal placement is likely the reason for any inconsistency you experience in your voice.
The first step to proper vocal placement is your foundation, so make sure you’re setting up your posture, diaphragmatic breathing and resonance first.
How to sing with proper posture – By keeping your head high, your sternum raised and your chin parallel with the floor, you can ensure that your breathing is controlled by extension of the diaphragm rather than contraction of the ribs.
How to sing from your diaphragm – Once you’ve set up your posture correctly, learning how to sing from your diaphragm is super easy. All you need to do is breathe low and sharp so that your chest and shoulders don’t move – similar to if you imagined breathing through a drinking straw, or even panting like a dog. Diaphragmatic breathing appears as though you are breathing from your belly.
How to sing with resonance – A great way to identify resonance in your voice is to simply hum, or sing a continuous “N” or “NG” sound. That pleasant buzz behind your nose is vocal resonance, and in essence IS your singing voice.
#2 – Learn to SHAPE your vowels
Taking the right shape with your tongue when you sing your vowels will alleviate your singing accent and most of your vocal strain. I like to think of the tongue as ‘EQ’ing’ your resonance to allow the sound of a vowel, rather than the pronunciation approach we mostly use in speech. If you find that you are fighting for your vowel sounds and fighting against your resonance to create your words, then it’s likely you’re not shaping your vowels correctly. Using this singing vowel chart you can learn how to shape your vowels correctly:
- AH – Tongue low and concave
- AA – Tongue slightly forward from the AH vowel
- EE – Tongue UP at the back
- EH/AY – Similar to the EE vowel but with your mouth ajar
- OO – There’s actually two different OO vowels depending on how you want to build your voice
Vowel shaping is an absolute must for efficient and powerful resonance – you might not realise it, but your favourite singers are all shaping their vowels in this manner for a powerfully resonant voice.
#3 – Learn how to TUNE your vowels
Along with shaping your vowel sounds, it’s important that you learn how to tune your resonance to each of your vowel sounds. By altering the width of your vocal tract through each of your breaks to allow access to higher resonance chambers, you will learn how to sing higher than ever before and finally sing high notes without straining! The most basic form of vowel tuning is called vowel modification, and while there is a more precise way to tune your vowels, it’s a great starting point for beginners. In short, if you make a subtle change to the character of your vowel sound, you will unlock each resonance chamber as you ascend rather than pushing and straing. Here’s a general vowel modifcation chart to help you learn how to tune your vowels:
- AH becomes OH then becomes OO
- AA becomes AH then becomes OO
- EE becomes EH then becomes EE/OO
- AY becomes EH then becomes EE/OO
- OO becuase OH then comes OO
Using this basic vowel tuning guide, you can learn the basics of vowel tuning by modifying each of your vowel sounds up through each of your vocal breaks. Now, as you learn to do this it’s very important that you pay attention to the WAY your vowel changes as you alter the character through each change – you’ll soon realise that this change happens at the root of the tongue and in the soft palate, and if you have a great vocal coach, they will show you how to tune your vowels without having to rely on a mangled vowel sounds in the vowel modifcation chart above. Here’s a great tutorial I’ve put together for you to learn how to tune your vowels the right way:
If you need some help tuning your vowels, or you’d like to progress beyond the basic approach of vowel modification, then you can book a Skype session with me today and I’ll show you how it’s done!
#4 – Learn how to sing in MIX voice
Learning how to sing in middle voice is an important skill that will develop over time if you’re following the right approach to proper singing technique. I like to use visual tools to help my students unlock their MIX voice, or the MIDDLE register as it’s often called, my favourites being the projection approach along with what I call ‘classroom voice’.
Projection – I’m not talking about projecting your voice away from your body, I simply mean that if you imagine your voice being projected back towards you around your first vocal break, you’ll likely find a release from chest voice while still retaining a full and resonant sound – aka your “Mix”. The projection approach is something that I’ve personally developed to help coach my students to access their middle register, you won’t find this in any online courses or from other vocal approaches, so make sure you book a Skype session with me to get the only official coaching on my projection method of Middle Voice Singing.
Classroom Voice – Pleasant and assertive, the classroom voice tone I often teach to my students forces you to take the mix coordination with your vocal chords, and teaches you the subtle differences between Middle Voice and Chest Voice. If you imagine singing in a teacher’s “Classroom Voice” like “Okay everyone, look over here!” without shouting, but making sure that you’re being assertive and in control, you’ll find that there is ALOT more range available to you without pushing chest voice or straining, and this middle coordination lets you connect chest voice and head voice without a break and very little effort.
Other middle voice methods include Vocal Fry and the common “Cry” approach, along with singing in a childish/boyish tone – but I personally believe these are ineffective, but you’re of course welcome to try them.
#5 – Release your registers
I find that a lot of the issues the budding singers are experiencing come from either incorrect terminology, or simply the wrong intentions while singing. A huge one is trying to sing higher chest voice notes, which in a literal sense isn’t physically impossible. Let’s first discuss the nature of each of your registers:
- Chest Voice – Full length vocal chords
- Head Voice – Fully shortened vocal chords
- Mix voice – Everything in between.
Mix voice is a direct coordination between the muscles responsible for Chest Voice, and the muscles responsible for Head Voice – literally mixing the two together and resulting in a “middle” register where your coordination balances between your two main registers. The better you get at this coordination, the more expansive and dynamic your middle register will become, to the point where you feel like you have one long connected “Voice” instead of three different registers.
Now, that’s all good an well, but how do we transition between our vocal registers? It’s actually pretty simple, and you can probably do this already/practice this already when you do a release lip trill or lip bubble exercise. That direct slide from your chest voice into your head voice actually travels right through the center of your voice, aka the MIX register (see where I’m going with this?), so, learning how to release your registers in this fashion actually creates strength and coordination in your vocal chord control so that you will be able to learn how to sing in mix voice and build a truly POWERFUL singing voice – in fact, releasing your vocal registers is the very FIRST thing you should learn as a singer, and even after almost 20 years of singing, the first thing that I personally practice each day before I sing.
As you progress in singing, this ‘release’ in your registers often manifests as a “Teeter-Totter” or “See-saw” effect in your voice when you first warm up, so watch out for these three signs that you’re on the right track with your singing technique.
Are you ready to Improve your singing voice with more than these five singing tips? Since launching in 2010, Bohemian Vocal Studio has become synonymous with practical voice training and GREAT singing, and has steadily grown into the premier singing studio for Rock Singing Lessons and professional vocal technique. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level and learn from the very best, you can book a Skype session today and I’ll SHOW you how it’s done!
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.