Rock Singing Lessons: The Only Guide You Need
Rock Singing Lessons – that gritty ‘whiskey’ tone, extending your high range and singing with power HAS to be difficult to achieve, right? Nope! Singing itself, even Rock singing is a very simple act of balance and coordination, every single element of the voice can be traced back to balance, and every issue you experience in your voice can be traced back to imbalance. There isn’t a ‘special’ or ‘secret’ technique that you need to discover in rock singing lessons that will set you apart from those crystal clear classical singers, it’s balance.
Singers like Chris Cornell and Jon Bon Jovi are known for their extensive and powerful ranges and piercing intensity, which is achieved by singing with a balanced onset, balanced registers, balanced frequencies and even a balanced tone where distortion and grit is concerned. If you are having issues with your voice and you’re unable to sing rock, then it’s likely you’re singing without balance.
How to sing higher notes
The first step to singing rock is learning how to sing higher notes without strain. If you can’t sing high notes without strain, then you’re going to have a hell of a time singing rock songs consistently without blowing out your voice and risking vocal damage and vocal chord strain. Singing high notes is actually a very easy process and is partly physical, partly psychological in nature. Sure, if you’re not shaping your vowels, balancing your registers and singing with resonance, then those high notes are going to be impossible – but even if you nail all these techniques in a physical sense, if you doubt your ability to sing high notes, then you will fail every time you go for that money note.
The first place to start is a strong foundation, and I often remind my own singing students that their singing voices will only ever be as strong as the foundation they have been built upon. The free foundations short courses available here at BVS are designed for rock singers who want to learn how to sing without all the confusing jargon and without sounding like a classical singer. Vocal foundation involves posture, placement, breathing and resonance. Are you singing with a strong foundation, or are you pushing to sing high notes?
How to sing with distortion
Singing with grit is fun, but isn’t necessarily the sign of a great singer. Many singers who have fairly poor vocal technique manage to push out grit when they sing, but in the long run, it’s best to form a healthier and more consistent approach to grit so that you retain your vocal health and you don’t lose any range over time.
I like to think of distortion as an overtone when you sing, vocal grit isn’t created ‘despite’ a clean tone, it’s created ‘in addition’ to a clean tone. If you can’t sing a song clean and clear first, then you shouldn’t be attempting to push your voice into a distorted sound. Properly formed vowels, support, placement, resonance are all intrinsic to a great voice, whether you’re singing clean or not – if you’re achieving grit in your voice from pushing or bad technique, then you will eventually experience issues with your voice and lose your high range, not to mention suffer from permanent vocal strain and damage.
Grit should be as effortless as a clean tone. Are you pushing your voice to achieve grit?
How to sing with intensity
Vocal intensity comes from two main elements of the voice, your onset, and your resonance. A balanced onset which is a centralised mix of airflow and vocal fold closure at the very moment you sing with resonance, and the resonance you sing with is dependent on the vowel you sing and the shape of your vocal tract.
A singer like Chris Cornell or Bon Jovi sings with a technique called twang. Now, I’m not talking about Nashville twang or a country drawl, I’m talking about a narrowing of the AES epiglottis which creates a high-frequency overtone and allows you to sing with more power, more intensity and very little effort. Many great singers employ a small amount of vocal twang to their tone, from Aretha Franklin through to Myles Kennedy – twang is key to singing with intensity.
If you can sing an “NG” sound with a sharp buzz, then you are already capable of singing with twang. The key to singing with twang in a practical sense is to impart this same tonal character and buzz sensation into your vowel sounds without singing through your nose like you do on the “NG” sound. Here’s the kicker, when you sing a vowel sound, the soft palate should be ‘closed’ so that there is no airflow through your nose, and when you sing an open-resonant consonant sound like N, M or NG, the soft palate is actually open to allow airflow through the nose. The key to singing with twang to increase your intensity, volume and power when you sing is to achieve the same narrowing of the epiglottis while also keeping the soft palate closed, but raised, on your vowel sounds.
Clarity and diction
The way you create your consonant sounds and words is incredibly important to singing rock with ease. Rock singing lessons here at Bohemian Vocal Studio will show you how to shape your consonant sounds properly so they don’t take away from your vowel sounds and resonance, but instead, allow you to sing with clarity and power – even on T, S, P and B consonant sounds!
I personally like to group the consonant sounds into ‘similar’ types like plosives, sibilants, open resonants, closed resonants and glottal sounds like G and K. There’s a full consonant guide here which will show you how to articulate your consonant sounds with ease and sing ANY word with ease and without strain.
Since launching in 2010, Bohemian Vocal Studio has become synonymous with Rock Singing Lessons and great voices. A great place to start is the free courses here at BVS which will show you how to set up a strong foundation so that you can sing ROCK with ease. Then when you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching you can book a Skype Session with me and we’ll start working towards extending your vocal range while building consistency and clarity in your voice every time you sing ROCK!
If you have any questions about rock singing lessons, 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.