Improve Your Singing With The (3) Fundamental Keys
Learning how to sing really wasn’t easy for me. I struggled, strained and probably spent WAY too much money on weekly singing lessons and books, courses and DVDs to the point where my head was swimming with so much information that I just didn’t know where to start anymore – was compression the secret? Was vowel modification the key? Belting? Placement? Sure, these are all important aspects of your singing – but let’s talk fundamentals first.
The true secret to great singing are these three fundamental keys;
- Consistent Airflow
- Pharyngeal Vowels
- Forward Placement
I just released a super simple and effective tutorial on these three fundamental vocal keys which you can check out here.
Beyond these absolute fundamentals, here are another three important keys that are often overlooked in singing.
#1 – Overtones are king
I’m not talking about Tuvan Throat Singing, I’m simply talking about the resonant character of each vowel, and then each register as you ascend in range. It’s important that you first understand that a vowel in singing doesn’t really mean “a word coming out of your mouth” and really refers to an overtone that occurs in your resonance, that when EQ’d correctly with the shape of your vocal tract and tongue, gives the illusion of your six main vowel sounds;
- Tongue Down – AH/AA/OH
- Tongue Up in the centre – AY/EE/OU
Instead of trying to ‘speak’ these sounds, simple alter your tongue position and create a resonant sound similar to a hum. Now, if you alter your tongue shape while making this resonant sound, let’s say down to up, you’ll notice that your overtone naturally changes from AH to EE – pretty cool, right?
#2 – Vocal Breaks Don’t Exist
Say what now? “But my voice breaks all the time!” I hear you say – mine used to break all the time as well. A voice break is really a result of HOW you’re singing rather than your vocal mechanism. If you’re pushing chest voice and yelling, then of course you’re going to break and flip when you run out of steam – but if you correctly blend your registers to created mixed resonance while managing your overtones and resonance, you’ll notice that your voice actually connects perfectly from your lowest to highest pitch.
Don’t believe me? Try a very light but bright lip trill from your chest voice and ascend without pushing – try this a few times and you’ll notice that the resonance stays connected through the middle of your range when you get this right. Great singing isn’t a magic trick, it’s simply using your voice in the right way every time you sing.
#3 – Positivity Is The Final Key
Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all hippy-dippy on you – but positivity is a key aspect of vocal confidence, and vocal confidence is a key aspect of achieving balance when you sing, and there’s a very important reason why positivity is key to great singing;
Two thirds of the vocal mechanism is involuntary – it actually reacts to how you feel.
Think about it, you can’t just sit here and flex your left vocal fold, right? And you can’t flex your diaphragm without intending to breathe in, correct? That’s because these are involuntary processes in your voice and body – meaning that there is a certain psychological process involved in singing correctly. If you’re afraid of a high note, you’re actually sending a cue to your vocal folds that they need to brace and prepare for strain – resulting in strain and tension that really has no physical basis other than your fear.
Then there’s also the esoteric benefits of positivity – and this applies not only to learning how to sing and how to improve your vocal range, but in every aspect of life; from every day hurdles, to running a successful business, to growth in any form as a person; Positivity truly is the key to success.
- If you see life through a positive lens, you’ll never feel stuck or at an end – the solution is in the problem itself
- Positivity is contagious (read: Negativity is contagious)
- Negative people and negative energy are dissipated by positive energy – who can hold back a smile when you’re met with a smiling face and a big “Hello!” or “That was great!”?
- Positivity frees you of fear (and ultimately gives you confidence)
- Positivity leads to action
These have all applied to my life personally and are all tied to Bohemian Vocal Studio intrinsically.
When I first started Bohemian Vocal Studio around 2010, I was very reluctant, in fact, against releasing YouTube videos or even simple posts like this with my name or face on them, all out of fear. Fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed, fear of having this or that pointed out, fear of imperfection – fear not only ruled my life, but apparently ran my business too. With my meek little Gumtree classified simply stating “Singing Lessons available”, I was lucky enough to experience a wave of great positivity come my way in the form of many students, who as they improved, built me up and encouraged me to “do more!” with my voice and with my coaching, to set up this website and release videos, tell people about my own music and just Get. Out. There.
This has not only manifested in a BUSY studio (phew!), but I’ve also released a ton of original music featuring my singing in a way that really demonstrates my approach and vocal abilities in way I was never confident to do in the past.
Positivity = Action = Success.
With this contagious positivity, I’ve now built an international singing studio built on positive action and practical feedback – I even get random comments on YouTube or via email that have said “You’ve changed my life!” or “Finally, someone who SHOWS you how to do it” and “You’ve inspired me” – which in turn gives me that confidence boost I need to keep at it and keep creating more awesome content and resources for you guys out there who want to learn how to sing.
It wasn’t always like this though
I originally started with a few simple videos in my loungeroom, lit ever so unprofessionally and with less than the best acoustics, I just let the camera run and did my thing, just like I would in a real session. Honestly, the first few were terrible, and of course, YouTube is a harsh place for the uninitiated and I copped an absolute beating about this, that, the other thing. I can’t believe some of the things that people are capable of saying to each other, and the pure cruelty dished out to someone who was sharing, for free almost a lifetime of study and hard work, again, for free. I didn’t understand, I was showing people, for free, what I’d paid thousands of dollars in personal coaching and courses to develop on my own, what problem could they have with that?
Rather than run and hide, I took the good with the bad and tried to work out what people were actually saying. I replied to alot of those harsh comments about my coaching with positivity and a “thanks” for their feedback and you know what? 90% of the time I got a much more positive response back and an explanation as to why the initial comment and how I could maybe improve my videos in the future. Most came back to say “you have a great voice and you can really sing – but you just don’t SOUND like so and so” or “You just don’t have the thing that so and so’s voice does” or “So and so’s videos are lit much better than yours” and it finally clicked – out of fear, I was hiding behind other singers and putting my videos out as “How to sound like this person” (which is definitely not my forte) rather than “Develop this powerful singing technique so you can sing in ANY range” (which absolutely IS my forte!) – the responses to my videos have been really positive since, and while I do get the occasional “you don’t sound anything LIKE blah blah” from people who just. don’t. get. it. – I now know the best way to respond; with a quick “thanks!” and technical explanation why I’m singing a certain way, or perhaps why my vowel positions differ to a Tenor or Alto, being that I’m a baritone.
I’m not here to share some shiny, perfect, edited ‘cover’ recorded by an engineer in a recording studio – I’m here to show you how to sing without any bells or whistles, and show you what you can do with your own voice once you’ve learned how to control your voice with healthy singing technique and open up the power in your voice like I have.
I realise now that a quick YouTube singing lesson doesn’t really show what has gone into my voice and this studio, and how I’m capable of helping a viewer build their own voice – when someone hears me sing Bon Jovi or even an Adele song, they probably don’t realise at face value my natural range is that of a bass, and 15 years of study and hard work have allowed me to sing into the tenor or even contralto range of these singers – this is what I’m sharing here at Bohemian Vocal Studio; Healthy technique and a powerful voice that will give you the tools to take your own singing in any direction you want, for hard rock to soft pop and everything in between.
Like I said, positivity is contagious.
Taking the negative, and turning fear around on itself and facing criticism has built my confidence immensely, not only as a singer, but as a vocal coach and also helped build my people skills.
I realise how frustrating it is learning how to sing
And I also realise just how much crap information is out there that muddies the waters, or how one approach may work for one but not another – I just leave it all at the door and start fresh each time I coach a session or each time I make a new singing video for my channel or website. Positivity frees you of fear and leads you to action, the more positivity I get sent back to me drives me to do more, create more and coach more – remember, the solution to the problem lies in the problem itself.
Confidence Starts With FOUNDATION
I took singing lessons for many years with very little success – until it was pointed out to me that the advanced techniques I was trying to use like vowel modification and compression were no use to a singer without vocal foundation. Foundation in singing really is just like the foundation of a house being built; the rock solid base that your walls and range are built upon. Without a concrete foundation, your house will fall – and so will your voice!
This is why I’ve designed the Foundation 101 singing course here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, which was created with 20 years singing experience coupled with a decade of professional coaching expertise under my belt, and will help you;
- Connect chest and head voice
- Sing with confidence
- Increase your range
- Improve your tone
- Place your frequencies
- Balance your onset
- Form your vowels
- Release strain and tension
- Warm up your voice effectively
- SO much more!
You can get started right away with this exclusive Mixed Voice singing lesson which will show you the exact approach I use to help my students connect their chest and head voice to create one fluid and connect range from lowest to highest note.
If you want to see what all the fuss is about with my Foundation vocal approach, here’s just a few examples of what I’m achieving now that I’m free of strain and tension using the Foundation 101 course – just imagine what you’re going to achieve when you’re finally free of fear and can sing with the voice you’ve always dreamed of!