Teach Yourself How To Sing [In 5 Easy Steps]
I'll be honest with you - there's no "magic secret" to becoming a great singer. Excellent singing is all about excellent technique, so a two minute YouTube video really isn't going to cut it as an efficient guide to better singing in the long run - but with these 5 easy steps you can teach yourself how to sing better while seeing an instant improvement in your tone, range and freedom from any tension you're currently experiencing - and with these powerful fundamental steps you'll be setting up your voice for ongoing progress that will continue long after you read this guide.
Sound too good to be true?
The truth is - I wasn't personally a natural singer. I had what I would call a "bad" voice - full of strain, tension and absolutely no range beyond my speaking voice and a few pushed chest voice notes up to an F3 or so. In short, the range and power I now enjoy are a direct result of mastering the 5 simple steps I'm about to share with you.
But instead of telling you over and over just how great it is to sing with such freedom and effortless power, let me show you - here's just a few quick examples of what I'm achieving now with my voice; yes, even as someone who wasn't a natural at all - just imagine the killer singing voice you're going to enjoy when you nail the same 5 simple steps!
The Four Vocal Fundamentals
I know - you're expecting FIVE killer vocal tips, right? Well stay tuned as I'll share with you a bonus tip at the end that is going to help you bring these four vocal fundamentals together into one killer vocal approach. But first, we'll look at the first four tips in The Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- Mixed Tonality
- "All In One Flow"
These four steps alone will take you further than any other trick or secret you might find on YouTube - or even in those expensive singing courses that promise you a 'secret' which will probably just turn out to be something like Diaphragmatic Breathing or Yawning when you sing - hardly secrets.
Lets go through each step so you can teach yourself to sing better now.
#1 - Height In The Vocal Tract
You'll probably be surprised to learn that EVERY vocal technique and singing trick out there relates directly to one of The Four Vocal Fundamentals, in particular tricks like Yawning, Raising The Soft Palate and Vowel Modification are simply an extension of Height In The Vocal Tract in the same way that Brightness, Twang, Nay and NYAH exercises and a Bratty Tone are all attempts to create Forward Placement.
Now, the most important thing you will ever learn as a singer is to create Height In The Vocal Tract by raising the soft palate. Basically, when you speak you form the vowel in your mouth, which is sometimes known as a "mouth vowel" or simply pronunciation; but when you are singing correctly your vowels are formed in the vocal tract are are often called Pharyngeal Vowels - by raising the soft palate you are encouraging Open Vowels which are often referred to as Open Throat Technique.
When you create Height In The Vocal Tract by raising the soft palate - you open up the full dynamic range of your resonance and frequencies, in short facilitating an effortless but powerful high range and a more balanced vocal tone.
The BEST way to achieve Height In The Vocal Tract is with "The Internal Smile" - which often gets used in a misleading way on YouTube; it's called "Internal" for a reason - if you've been told to "Smile Bright" or "Smile Wide" by a singing coach previously then I'll take the educated guess you're experiencing a lot of strain and tension through the middle of your range and there is a pronounced difference in the tone between your chest and head registers, right? That's because a wide smile at the lips actually spreads the soft palate wide and creates a "spread" vowel that will splat as you ascend and the weight becomes too much to manage - which is great for yelling, but is poison to your vocal health as a singer.
Instead, the "smile" needs to happen internally. Imagine that you've made eye contact with someone across a bar - bright and friendly eyes but no Joker Smile at the lips or they'll think you're crazy. Along with raising the cheeks under those bright and welcoming eyes, the cheeks should be sunken a touch at the back of the mouth and the soft palate will raise as you inhale on this Internal Smile facial posture. You can even take this a step further by inhaling from the tongue position of a "K" consonant sound - don't actually voice the consonant, simply touch the middle of your tongue to the top of your mouth, build up a little pressure by trying to breathe in and then release your tongue so that air flows into the back of your mouth - you'll feel cold air ascend into the back of your head as you have now created Height In The Vocal Tract - pretty easy, right?
#2 - Forward Placement
Many beginner to intermediate singers in particular struggle with the concept of forward placement because they have a fear of sounding nasally or whiny when they sing. Sure, when you are first developing forward placement with N and NG exercises, or even NAY and NYAH sounds - it's probably going to suck tone-wise, but you don't actually sing with this same tone because you'll actually be singing with a pharyngeal vowel, not a pronounced, mouthy vowel that is imbalanced in terms of nasality.
That's right, height in the vocal tract and forward placement work together to create an incredibly balanced and beautiful sounding tone that is versatile and POWERFUL - but to get there, you first must practice light, bright and even a touch whiny or annoying to find your placement.
Placement is actually pretty simple; as long as you understand that it's all about frequencies and resonance rather than literally "moving" your voice - placement is simple a way to create balanced and efficient frequencies when you sing.
#3 - "All In One Flow"
This one really IS literal - when you develop excellent diaphragmatic breathing skills, it will feel as though you are singing "All In One Flow" as if your voice is being carried out gently on a pillow of air rather than being pushed out by force like many speaking voices. Instead of singing stacatto and choppy like "In. My. Eyes. In. Dis. Posed", instead, this should be sung as one phrase that is connected where possible in terms of resonance, more like "EHn-mAH-ee-AH-ees, EH-n-dEH-s-p-OU-zd"
Try it yourself by singing your favourite song one on release of breath per line instead of multiple - it feels like you're singing "All In One Flow" right? Congratulations, you just nailed one of the most important Vocal Fundamentals.
#4 - Mixed Tonality
Much ado is often made of Mixed Voice, whether YouTube gurus are arguing about whether it exists, or why it doesn't exist, or why it's imperative - there's really two forms of mixed voice which create this confusing and disagreement between vocal methods, and here's why;
Physiological Mixed Voice - Physical Mixed Voice occurs when you balance the TA and CT muscles for a blend of weight and stretch in the folds instead of two separate muscular movements that result in a pronounced break between chest and head voice. The key here is practice light and gentle in the beginning stages to encourage communication between these two processes instead of building chest voice and head voice separately and strengthening the disconnect and lack of communication between these muscles. When it comes to singing, your voice is a result of what you practice - so if you're always singing head voice and chest voice separately instead of blending the physical elements of TA and CT; you'll always experience a vocal break/pushing instead of mixed voice.
Resonant Mixed Voice - For me personally, this was a game changer. Learning that Chest Voice was really just a tonal centre for your low range rather than the "Chest Voice Muscle" as it is sometimes incorrectly taught was just life changing as a singer with a deeper natural voice like mine. If your main focus is retaining and blending resonance through the middle of your voice - Mixed Voice Singing becomes incredibly easy and second nature.
Remember, it's called Mixed Voice for a reason - it's part head resonance and part chest resonance; not "High Chest Voice" as some refer to it.
Its easier just to SHOW you how to sing with mixed voice in this exclusive Mixed Voice Singing Lesson where I'll show you the exact process that i use to help my own students created mixed resonance by connecting chest and head voice while increasing their range and improving their tone.
The Fifth Vocal Tip - Vocal Foundation
I promised you five vocal tips, so here it is: When it comes to great singing - Foundation Is King.
That's right - no amount of complicated or advanced singing techniques are ever going to fix an issue in your vocal foundation. Foundation in singing really IS just like the foundation of a house being built; the rock solid concrete base that your walls and roof (tone and range!) are built upon. You can't just keep building up higher and higher on a home that has a crack in the foundation as the base will fail in the same way that your voice is failing every time you sing without a great foundation.
The Four Vocal Fundamentals really are the most important part of a great vocal foundation for every killer singing voice - along with a balanced onset, register overtones, vowel modification, masque placement, compression and the other important foundation concepts you'll learn in the Foundation 101 and Growth 101 courses here at Bohemian Vocal Studio - but before we look at these next level techniques, it's time to set up your vocal foundation first.
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
With The Foundation 101 Singing Course
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.