Anyone Can Sing Well With These Free Singing Tips
Great singing is only for those born with natural talent, right? I too really believed this statement - until I learned exactly WHY 'talented' singers had a head start on the rest of us who struggle with strain and tension and fail to achieve a great tone, and that's exactly what I'm about to share with you; the so called "secret" to great singing. Singing itself is a very simple process of airflow, vibration and resonance - but learning exactly how to do this in the right way is a total minefield of conflicting information and confusing terms. Have you ever sat down to practice singing and thought "this is all just too hard"?
I know I certainly did.
I recently recalled an experience I had where my singing teacher told me that I was simply a TERRIBLE singer and I would never reach my goals. This might sound like an awful experience to have been through, but it was actually life changing for me and really set me on the path to becoming the singer that I am today with 20 years singing experience and a decade of coaching expertise under my belt - I've even reached the point where I'm making a living creating the music that I love, which to many singers is just a pipedream, but when you discover what I'm about to share with you is absolutely a reality for any singer who dedicates themselves to this simple but effective process.
Over many years coaching students from around the world, I've realised that "the secret" to great singing is actually something very different for each singer. For a guy like me with a pretty big, deep voice who struggles with tension and strain - Mixed Voice might be the answer. On the flipside, a singer with an aspirate voice will benefit extensively from Compression and managing airflow, and a singer who flips from chest voice to head voice will most likely benefit from Vowel Modification. You can see that the idea of a 'secret' to great singing is somewhat flawed and deceptive, but I'm going to share my own take on what the true secret to singing is, for EVERY singer;
That's right. Even you advanced guys out there who've been singing for 5 or tens years already - ask yourself honestly, are you singing with a balanced onset? Are you forming every vowel correctly? Do you understand how to modify the character of each vowel through each register shift? Are you aware that vowel modification doesn't actually modify your vowel, but the overtone in your resonance and the balance between the full thickness of the folds, and the edge of the folds? Even if you're a total boss of a singer at this point - I'm going to take the educated guess that there's at least one of these points (or many other aspects of vocal foundation) that really could be better, or at least, you could understand and apply in a more practical way with some practice.
Think about it, a painter who doesn't have access to green paint is probably going to create terribly unbalanced landscapes - hand them a tube of green paint, and they're going to scream from the rooftops that the secret to beautiful paintings is green paint. Catch my drift? I've actually got a can of green paint in my garage right now, does that mean that I'm going to create beautiful landscapes and realistic portraits because I've unlocked the secret to great painting (aka: green paint)? Of course not, because it's not the key that I personally need to become a great painter.
The same can be said about singing technique.
This is where I started developing the Foundation 101 approach to singing, an all inclusive vocal approach that works for absolute beginners and touring professionals alike. The amount of singers who get in touch with me saying that they'd never heard of a balanced onset, or vowel shaping, or how to use the soft palate correctly is both mind boggling and heart warming.
The Foundation 101 course is the course that I wish I had first discovered almost two decades ago when I first became interested in singing - before I became side tracked with vowel modification, glottal compression, belting and vocal modes. That's not to say the course is a basics-only course, many of my students are actually singing teachers themselves, and the vast majority of my students are actually well seasoned singers, professionals or even stars in musical theatre. Remember, there is no single magic 'secret' to great singing - only a rock solid foundation created by practice, the right information and dedication to the process.
Let me share with you three simple tips I wish I had been told in my first singing lesson almost 20 years ago;
Free Singing Tips [For any level of singer]
With these three free singing tips, no matter what level of singer you are from completely green beginner through to a seasoned professional, you will see an instant improvement in your singing - and hopefully, you'll start to see a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the issues you've been experiencing as a singer.
Tip #1 - Consistent Airflow
I know, it seems obvious - but this is the number one issue I address with almost every singer singer who comes my way; inconsistent airflow. Now, this actually means different things to different singers, so let's go through each type and I'll show you how to fix the most common issues with airflow in your singing.
Clamp and push - if you've got a big voice and you just can't resist that forceful push into your mid range (no doubt ending in strain, tension and a hoarse voice at the end of the night), then you're likely experiencing excess compression; aka lack of consistent airflow. The solution? This one is easy - simply release a subtle "hHh" as you anticipate that brutal push and you'll no doubt see an instant release in your singing due to an improvement in the consistency of your airflow. Pretty simple, but effective, right?
Huff and puff - if you're experiencing excess aspiration in your singing, or, simply put you're a breathy singer, then the above release of compression will do you no good. Instead, you actually need to hold a touch from your diaphragm as you sustain a phrase - almost like breathing out half as fast when you sing. Try to think of your voice as stationary in your head instead of as air flowing out of your mouth - remember, when it comes to singing; resonance is king.
Consistent airflow, as simple as it seems, is the number one vocal health killer in my experience, and possibly the most common vocal issue on earth.
Tip #2 - Forward Placement
Directing your resonance towards the harder parts of the vocal tract and adding a slight amount of twang is truly the key to powerful singing. If you've got a weak voice, then you're simply not placing your voice correctly. Placement itself is pretty easy to achieve, but can be confusing to understand when you're just getting started. Now, it's not possible to "move" or "place" your voice in a physical sense, but it IS possible to encourage specific frequencies and overtones in your singing to make use of your main vocal resonators in the right way. Instead of singing deep, covered and muddy, try to direct your voice forward a little to achieve a bright buzz above your tone. Many beginner singers are scared of this sound because they don't want to sound nasal or weedy - but have a good listen to the greatest singers of all time, from Pavarotti to Chris Cornell, Aretha Franklin and Adele; they are all incredibly forward and bright when they sing.
Tip #3 - Height In The Vocal Tract (The Internal Smile)
This one gets butchered by many coaches that inhabit YouTube. In fact, I've seen so many singers and coaches on YouTube smiling at the sides of their mouth to try and force out a bright tone that I just can't take them seriously anymore - and I've abandoned YouTube as a singing resource almost completely. The internal smile is called the INTERNAL smile for a reason - it's not a crazy joker smile at the sides of your lips or teeth, it's simply a gentle raising of the cheeks under your eyes, a bright expression at the eyes, sunken cheeks at the back of the mouth and a raised soft palate - and really shouldn't be visible from the outside when you sing.
The key to a correctly set vocal tract is to raise the soft palate in the right way as you sing. The best way to do this is with the internal smile - imagine you make eye contact with someone at a bar; you're not going to bare your teeth like a lion, now are you? Instead, you're going to raise your cheeks in a subtle way and keep a pleasant and bright expression on your face. The Joker's smile belongs in DC movies, not on singer's faces. Now, with this internal smile, as you inhale you'll probably feel a cold feeling at the back of the mouth or even the beginnings of a slight yawn as you breathe in - this is the perfect position for you to start forming a pharyngeal vowel and eventually modifying your vocal tract to meet each register as you ascend. You can even accentuate this raised palate position by inhaling off a K consonant sound - don't actually vocalise the "K", just set your tongue in the position of a "K" and inhale through the mouth instead - you'll feel a massive amount of space open into the pharynx with this simple movement.
For me personally, learning to create height in the vocal tract and finally tune my resonance/modify my resonant space to match each register was my own key to great singing in the early days - but as I've progressed as a singer and moved into professional coaching, I've realised that it isn't a magic fix for all things vocal foundation, and most singers out there who just yawn or gulp before they sing to try and create resonant space suffer from one of the many fundamental vocal flaws we've spoken about already, and a general lack of vocal foundation.
Remember, there are no tricks, secrets or cheats when it comes to great singing; only a great vocal foundation.
The best place to get started with a rock solid vocal foundation is the Foundation 101 singing course here at Bohemian Vocal Studio, which will set you up with all the fundamentals that you need to start developing the voice of your dreams. Build with 20 years singing experience and a decade of coaching expertise under my belt, the Foundation 101 course will help you;
- Connect chest and head voice
- Blend resonance
- Form your vowels correctly
- Place your frequencies in the right way
- Manage your airflow
- Support your voice
- Sing in mixed voice
- Warm up your voice effectively
- SO much more!
You can even get started right now with this exclusive Mixed Voice Singing Lesson which will show you the simple but effective process that I use with every single one of my own students (and my own voice!) to created mixed voice while connecting chest and head voice.
If you want to know what all the fuss is about the Foundation 101 singing approach, here's just a few examples of what I'm achieving now using the simple method of foundation first. Just imagine what you could achieve with a powerhouse vocal foundation and freedom from stain and tension!
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.