Improve Your Singing Voice Quickly [5 Singing Tips]
I’ll be honest – there are no shortcuts or cheats when it comes to building a great singing voice, but with these 5 singing tips, you’ll see an instant improvement to your singing and have a clear path for how to move forward as you progress.
These 10 singing tips are the ones that I wish that I had written on my wall when I first started learning how to sing. Each one is designed with practical application in mind, so we won’t just talk about singing better, we’re actually going to improve your singing voice quickly with these on-the-job singing tips. Let’s get started!
#1 – Syllables are for speech
I know, you were expecting me to go straight into Diaphragmatic Breathing, right? This isn’t your regular “Top 10 Singing Tips” list – many of these you may not have heard before, and some will downright blow your mind.
As you sing through the connected part of “SILLA” in the word Syllable, the vocal folds actually keep vibrating without interruption as you simply manage the resonance in different ways to morph the sound, first an AY vowel for the “i”, a slight OO mixed in with the “LL” and then an AH vowel for the “A”, a little like; s-AY-oo/l-AH instead of separating this into two speech syllables.
Keeping your words connected and as legato as possible is one of the main keys to releasing vocal strain and learning to sing with freedom from tension. Keep those syllables for speech only – in singing there is either a continuation of resonance or a brand new balanced onset and nothing else.
#2 – Sung vowels are in the pharynx
Most speech vowels are formed in the mouth, especially with more closed accents like my Aussie accent, Indian, English, most European accents and others – while some Americans are lucky enough to have a slight opening in their vowels that makes this process a cinch to learn, the rest of us have to learn how to sing properly to ensure that we’re resonating in the most effective way using a pharyngeal vowel.
Pharyngeal vowels really start with the position of your tongue, whether it is low and concave for AH based vowels like AH, AA and OH, or whether it’s raised a touch in the centre for EE, AY and OU (ER).
This in turn partially EQ’s your resonance and allows you to create the right overtone/formant for each register.
Have you ever pushed your chest voice as high as you can go until your voice breaks? You’re using the chest voice character of your vowel instead of allowing the overtone to shift as the frequencies change. Try this yourself by subtly altering your AH vowel into a slightly French sounding OH sound as you open your mouth a touch – you’ll notice that the vowel technically stays the same, but the overtone changes and you’re now free of that dreaded chest voice push.
Pharnygeal vowels are key to increasing your range and singing without strain and tension.
#3 – Forward Placement isn’t Nasal
But placement is in the nasal resonator, right? When you correctly achieve forward placement, you actually achieve balanced resonance in the mouth, nasal and pharyngeal resonators rather than an unbalanced nasal sound. That being said, when you very first start practicing a bright, forward sound, it’s likely that your tone IS a little bit unbalanced – leading many beginner singers to react in horror to this tone and try to darken their voices or even push chest voice to try and get a fuller sound. With practice and dedication, a forward placement is actually your vocal tone’s best friend, especially if you want to sing with a powerful and beautiful voice.
Remember, forward placement is all about balance, not about nasality. If you’ve ever felt like your voice is “stuck” in your throat, then placement is your new best friend.
#4 – Pushing isn’t compression
If you’re into BIG singing, or you’re a rock guy like me – it’s likely you’ve heard about or tried to implement the concept of compression before. Compression is really a multi stage process that involves many valves throughout the vocal mechanism, from resisting the recoil of the diaphragm, to vocal fold closure and medial compression, glottal compression and then finally compression in your placement in a figurative sense.
The problem with compression is that it’s really an ebb-and-flow mechanism that shifts as you ascend and move through the more difficult passages of your voice. Compression doesn’t just mean “pressure” when you sing, it also means releasing pressure when you sing – so the term itself really can create a lot of confusion for people just finding their feet as singers.
There’s two main processes involved in creating balanced compression – balance being the operative word here. The first is for creating a powerful and well placed tone, effects like distortion and even belting, and is akin to holding your breath a touch – but not necessarily from your throat. Each voice is a little different, and we’re obviously all at different levels as singers – so it’s important that you focus on the end result rather than too much of the physical aspect of compression; a well placed, strain free tone.
I see too many singers yelling and pushing in search of that magical “compression” tone or distortion when the sing, when the true key is actually to balance that pressure with a little airflow; which is really the second aspect of vocal compression – keeping consistent airflow.
If you find you’re really clamping and pushing when you sing, you’ll actually benefit from releasing compression a touch with a subtle “H” sound in anticipation of the difficult notes. Instead of “Lah-ah-ah-AAAAAAAAARRRGH” on a major scale, instead, allow a touch of air through the top of the scale, more like “Lah-ah-hah-hhaaaaahh” and you’ll notice you achieve a pleasant, full and balanced tone even though you’re technically releasing a touch of air.
Remember, compression isn’t choking off your air as much as possible when you sing, it’s really just balancing air flow with air pressure to ensure consistent airflow when you sing with power.
#5 – Your voice is in your head
No really, I’m not kidding. Many singers try to push their voice out of the mouth in a speechlike fashion, when in fact great singing is all about internal resonance and waves of vibration through the vocal tract.
There are MANY different techniques out there to help you with internal resonance, even classical techniques like Inhalare La Voce (Inhale your voice) really refer to internal resonance – obviously inhaling your voice is not a literal instruction, but you can figuratively imagine your voice is stationary within your head rather than flowing out of your mouth like when you speak.
The key to internal resonance is actually a combination of all of the above tips; pharyngeal vowels, vowel modification through each register, placement, consistent airflow, correct delivery – try to think of your voice as a circular ball of resonance rather than a stream of air flowing out of your mouth; when you get this right, you’ll be blown away by the sheer power and ease with which you can sing with resonance.
Each of these tips is an important part of your vocal foundation. Foundation in singing is just like the concrete base of a house being built – imagine trying to build a house on top of a swamp; your house will sink and fail very quickly, and the same can be said for your singing voice. Without a rock solid base of the fundamentals, your walls and roof (tone and range) will continue to fail no matter how many advanced techniques and trimmings you throw at your voice. Foundation really is key to your vocal progress!
I personally struggled with learning how to sing until I discovered and developed my vocal foundation. I strained, and pushed, and yelled until I was red in the face – but now singing my favourite songs is completely effortless now that I understand how my voice actually works, and how to use it in the right way every time I sing.
The best place for you to get started with your own vocal foundation is the Foundation 101 singing course here at Bohemian vocal Studio. Created with 20 years singing experience and a decade of voice coaching expertise under my belt, the Foundation course will help you set up a rock solid base of fundamentals for your voice while helping you;
- Connect chest and head voice
- Create mixed resonance
- Form your vowels correctly
- Place your frequencies
- Create resonant space
- Increase your range
- Improve your tone
- Warm up your voice effectively
- SO much more!
You can even get started right now with this exclusive Mixed Voice singing lesson which shares with you the approach I use with each of my students to help them connect chest and head voice while finding their mixed register.
If you want to see what all the fuss is about with the Foundation vocal approach, here’s just a few examples of the freedom I’m able to sing with (yes, even as a baritone!) now that I’ve set up my vocal foundation – just imagine the incredible voice you’re going to build once you’ve set up your vocal foundation too!
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.