Learn To Sing Better: The Ultimate Checklist
Learning how to sing can be a tricky business, even though the act of singing itself is a simple act of balance. Conflicting information, strong opinions, buzzwords and marketing terms all add to our confusion when we first delve into the world of learning how to sing, but you can learn to sing better easy with this ultimate itemised To-Do list. Check each of these goals off your list one by one and move on to the next goal and you will soon be on your way to achieving the voice of your dreams and learn to sing like a star.
Beginner singers often try to man-handle their voices into submission while trying to control every element of the vocal mechanism without realising that true power in singing comes from balance – every aspect of singing can be traced back to balance, from balancing your airflow and air pressure for support to balancing your frequencies for your registers to balancing weight and tension to connect chest and head voice and so many other elements of singing that require balance. On the flip-side, any issue you are experiencing with your voice can then be traced back to a lack of balance, like a vocal break, or tension, or an unpleasant tone.
Check each one of these goals off this Ultimate singing To-Do list and you will be singing with power and balance in no time!
Goal #1 – Support
Support comes from your foundation, and I often find myself reminding my own singing students that their singing voices are only ever going to be as strong as their foundation. Breath support in singing occurs when you rely solely on diaphragmatic engagement for management of your air instead of the contraction of the ribs like we sometimes do in speech – this allows you to play vocal fold closure against both airflow and air pressure for the perfect amount of resonance no matter how high or how heavy you sing.
You can achieve support in singing by setting up a strong foundation, and foundation starts with posture, breathing and placement. Singing posture is easy, you simply need to raise your head, keep your shoulders back and free of tension while facing straight forward so that your chin is parallel with the floor. If you retain this posture while breathing properly, you will achieve proper support which will ultimately allow you to sing with resonance and achieve proper placement.
Are you singing with support? A great place to start is the free foundations short courses here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, which will show you how to set up a strong base and foundation for your voice so that you can achieve breath support in the most efficient and fast manner.
Goal #2 – Connection
Connecting Chest and Head Voice is paramount to a great singing voice and is the perfect definition of balance. It may seem as though you have two disconnected, separate voices when you sing in chest voice and head voice with a break, but with time, practice and the right approach you can learn to balance between either register and sing with connection.
Are you connecting your registers?
Goal #3 – Shape your vowels
In singing, your vowel sounds are created by forming a specific shape with the back of the tongue while allowing sufficient resonant space in the pharynx by raising the soft palate. This is very easy to do, but is often overlooked by voice coaches who do this ‘naturally’ or have a somewhat more ‘open’ accent that lends to these shapes – this, of course, doesn’t help you sing any better and always leaves these natural singers one step ahead of you and up on a pedestal you can never reach (great for sales, not great for your voice!). Fortunately, shaping your vowels like these natural singers is very easily achieved when you understand the concept. The easiest way to illustrate the motion of shaping your vowels is to have you alternate between singing an EE vowel and an AH vowel – no doubt you’ll feel your tongue raise at the back for your EE sound and lower to a concave on the AH sound. Congratulations, you just shaped your vowels and learned more from this tutorial than many expensive singing courses would bother to show you. Shaping your vowels is key to a great singing voice – are you shaping each vowel sound, or are you using speech pronunciation instead? When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level, you can book a Skype Session with me in the online booking calendar for more in-depth training on your vowel sounds.
Goal #4 – Group your consonants
I like to group the consonant sounds into similar types, such as plosive, sibilant, open resonant etc, and then form an individual approach to each group with my students considering their natural ability, voice type, accent and other unique aspects of their voice. Have you ever wondered how your favourite singers manage to sing with resonance and power while still retaining the clarity of their consonant sounds? Consonant grouping is the answer. A great example of consonant grouping is my approach to closed resonant sounds like Y and W. Instead of forcing these consonant sounds out in place of your vowel, the most efficient way to sing these sounds is to replace them with a vowel – your Y sound then becomes EE (like EE-EAH for the word YEAH) and your W sound becomes an OO (like OO-ELL for WELL).
Are you grouping your consonant sounds to maintain resonance and placement, or are you forcing speech consonants out with force and limiting your resonance?
By supporting your voice, building connection between chest and head voice, shaping your vowel sounds properly while learning to group your consonants and approach them by way of resonance instead of aspiration or force, you will be well on your way to building the voice of your dreams. This checklist should be on your wall or set as a reminder in your phone every time you practice and every time you sing – if you forget or overlook one of these elements of a great voice, your singing will become imbalanced and you will experience issues of many kinds. If you need help shaping your vowels, building connection or grouping your consonants, you’re welcome to book a Skype Session in the online booking calendar here at Bohemian Vocal Studio and I’ll personally help you achieve these goals and MANY more.
If you have any questions about learning how to sing, 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.