Strengthening Your Singing Voice [4 Surprising Tips]
There’s so many things that I realise only now after many years that were holding me back as a beginner singer. I recently spoke about how confirmation bias was one of the biggest hurdles I faced as a fledgling vocalist – looking for ‘reasons’ and ‘confirmation’ of my issues instead of looking for the real way to sing better; a ‘solution’ to my vocal issues if you will. I fact, I posted recently about how I spent over $15,000 trying to learn how to sing while saying things like:
I can’t sing because I have a bad voice
This one was a constant for me throughout many years of lessons – I remember asking SO many different voice teachers whether they could just confirm my suspicions that I just had a bad voice and I couldn’t be taught.
My voice is REALLY low – so I can only sing low
This one was a persistent little link in the chain of vocal discontent – while I was told that it didn’t really matter, or more commonly wasn’t even acknowledged by my teachers that my voice is lower than average; it was always in the back of my mind – what if my voice is ‘special’ and unlike the hundreds of millions of other voices that have come before and will come after mine. Learning that a lower voice really CAN sing high with freedom, range, power and confidence took a very long time – lots of self reflection and yes, a crazy amount of practice.
My diaphragm is short/my mouth doesn’t open enough/my folds are a weird length/my soft palate is small
I was just clutching at straws with these ones – but they’re questions/statements I now hear pretty often from students who are seeking confirmation of their issues rather than seeking solutions. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had a comment on one of my tutorials or cover videos from a fledgling singer saying something like “oh, I can see that you mouth opens wider than mine does – that’s why you’re a good singer and I’m not” – then we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation as I’d be sipping a cold beer on my own private island somewhere.
I’m sure at least one of these has popped into your mind before – whether you think you’re just a bad singer, your range is limited, or even if you’ve done a ton of research and you’re resonating with the weirder points like the ones I just mentioned. But I’m here to tell you, without even having heard your singing voice yet, that none of them are true even in the slightest.
Let me answer some of these questions/statements from my own perspective of someone who just didn’t get it – to becoming a singer with the kind of freedom, range and power I could have previously only dreamed of.
I can’t sing because I have a bad voice – this one is just the obvious result of training, practice and trying new things. Right now, I’m pretty bad at basketball – in fact, as a kid I was pretty good; but without any practice for the last 20 years, nailing that three pointer seems like a total pipe dream. With practice, perseverance and a bit of help – it’s something I absolutely KNOW that I can do with ease. Singing is much the same – keeping with the basketball metaphor, I just wasn’t holding the ball right, I just wasn’t standing right, hell – I was probably even facing the wrong direction for all I knew when I first started singing. But with practice and dedication, singing has not only become second nature for me, it’s actually become a true joy due to the freedom and range I now enjoy.
My voice is REALLY low, so I can only sing low songs – While we’re on the topic of basketball, I could also say that “I’m under 6 foot tall, so I couldn’t be a good basketballer”. Any of you 80’s/90’s kids out there like me would likely remember Muggsy Bogues of the Charlotte Hornets who was only 5″3 tall and enjoyed a 14 season NBA career, and even blocked shots by guys like 7″ foot tall Patrick Ewing.
Still think you can’t sing high notes because you’ve got a low voice?
I hate to say it – but you’re just not that special to have a voice that functions unlike any other throughout human history. You have a CT muscle, you have a soft palate, you have a diaphragm; learn to use them properly instead of just yelling in chest voice.
My diaphragm is short/my mouth doesn’t open enough/my soft palate is small etc
These are all obviously BS – but when you’re having troubling singing, and your voice hurts, and high notes seem even further away than when you first started singing; you’ll grab onto almost anything which gives you closure on why you can’t do it.
Instead of looking for any more excuses and confirmation – instead, let me show you four ways that you can start strengthening your singing voice right now; I guarantee that with these 4 powerful tips, you’ll start moving forward with your singing again.
How To Strengthen Your Singing Voice
The first thing we need to talk about if you’re going to strengthen your singing voice is actually the psychological aspect to singing – in fact, let me start out by singing that Singing Is Easy.
Now, that doesn’t come from someone who was a natural, or found the whole thing easy to begin with – I also struggled for many years. But, in a physical sense, singing should be easy, comfortable and controlled – in short, you’re likely trying way too hard.
I remember thinking things like “if I could JUST get that little bit more support” or “if I could JUST get that tiny bit more compression” while going absolutely red in the fact trying to scream to reach notes like F4 which I could now sing in my sleep with ease.
This is because I had convinced myself that singing was HARD and that I had to TRY really hard and SING really hard to be a better singer and strengthen my singing voice.
At the end of the day – singing should be easy.
Now, there’s actually a good reason to adjust your psychology in this way; and that’s because 2/3 of the vocal mechanism is actually involuntary. You can’t just “flex” your right vocal fold and you can’t just “use” the diaphragm on it’s own – there’s a very specific psychological process to using the diaphragm and vocal folds effectively; and if you’re psyching yourself out before you even begin, the folds will try to protect themselves from your haphazard approach and bracing, and the diaphragm will turn into a rock hard brick of contracted muscle instead of the fluid support mechanism that it really needs to be.
If you’re about to sing a C5, and your brain is saying “Oh my god – this is too hard! I can’t sing this note!” then this is the exact psychological instruction you’re giving to your vocal folds and diaphragm – Brace. Clench. Yell. Shout. Struggle.
Singing is easy – write this on your studio wall and read it over and over while you practice.
The second powerhouse tip for strengthening your singing voice is more technique based and relates to your frequencies – in particular, The Singer’s Formant aka Forward Placement.
You might not realise it yet, but EVERY great singer out there from Elvis to Aretha Franklin to Chris Cornell and Adele sing with a slightly forward placement. I’m not talking ugly nasality, I’m just talking a balanced use of the bones of the face to bring the voice out of the throat and into the vocal resonators.
Now, to practice forward placement you might need to get a little ugly and quacky in the beginning stages of learning how to sing – and that’s mainly because your perception of where your voice and frequencies lie when you sing is probably a bit skewed. Great singing is balanced and placed forward into the bones of the face.
Forward placement is actually one of The Four Vocal Fundamentals, check out this tutorial video and take notes:
If you watched the video above the full way through, then you can probably guess the next tip I’m going to give you;
Powerful singing is Mixed Voice singing.
When many beginner singers first start learning how to sing/start fronting a band – they tend to think that “chest voice is full voice” and “head voice is falsetto”, when in fact head voice can (and should) be developed into a powerful, resonant and useable part of your voice. Sure, falsetto really isn’t a genuine register in your singing voice as it involves a false closure of the vocal folds (hence the name) – but with time, you can learn to connect chest and head voice by way of balancing the TA and CT muscles together to create Mixed Voice.
If you’re struggling to find mixed voice, I suggest checking out this tutorial: Exclusive Mixed Voice Lesson
And then we get to powerhouse singing tip number FOUR – resonant vowel overtones.
This is actually SUPER easy to learn and one of the most important things you need to develop as a singer, but I need to give you a demonstration and some instruction for how to do so, so check out the video below on vowel overtones, and then sign up to the free vocal plan below so I can help you strengthen your voice once and for all.
You can also watch the full video here to see a Before and After of my own voice.
Having BIG DREAMS as a singer means you need a BIG VOICE to match – watch the video above to hear my “before and after” and learn how you’re going to build a big voice too!
Sign up to your vocal plan below: