That’s right, I’ve always been 100% open about how I built my voice, how I turned my .5 Octave range into four Octaves in full resonance, and all about which techniques you really do need to develop and most importantly, how you develop them. My YouTube Channel Bohemian Vocal Studio is FULL of free lessons that go through everything from Adduction, to modified vowels, to belting, to practical singing techniques and tons more – I’m not here claiming to hold some special secret, rather, that there IS no secret to singing, it’s just being sold to you disguised that way by the gurus at a pretty penny. Learning to sing is REALLY simple, it’s just been presented to you in a really confusing manner…
Here’s every secret technique you’ll ever need to learn to sing higher, sing with more power and generally become a better singer all round!
The top 10 singing techniques you’ll ever need!
Diaphragmatic Breathing – Stop breathing from your chest and learn to breath using your diaphragm! Try it yourself by holding the pose of ‘shooting an arrow sideways’ with your head facing forward – now take a deep breath, do you feel your stomach expand? Bingo, Diaphragmatic breathing. Number 1 nailed!
Resonance – It might sound a little odd, but singing is basically ‘humming’ but with your mouth open. Bear with me, your singing voice is actually created by air pressure causing vibration of the vocal folds rather than air flowing through them like a whistle, and those vibration become audible resonance in the chambers of your head/nasal cavity etc. Try humming up a scale, or even just a few notes – it’s pretty easy and ‘buzzy’, right? That’s resonance. Now, open your mouth and do the same thing – it’s harder, right? That’s because you’re doing something differently! Try it again graduting from one of the hummed notes to an open mouth note – that’s tons easier, right?
Now, there IS actually a slight difference between a hum and an open vowel, this is where you voice will really take off. Number 2, done.
Open Throat – This technique is often misinformed and even more frequency mis-instructed. You don’t need to “open your throat” per-se, you simply need to raise your soft palate so that the resonance can enter up into your head for accentuated resonance rather than exit through your mouth with very little resonance. Try breathing in JUST through your mouth with your nose blocked off (not with your fingers, but at the back of your throat), now, try to SING with that same feeling at the back – it feels easier, because this, my friends, is actually what Open Throat means. A raised soft palate. Now, getting back to resonance, when we hum, the soft palate is actually fully Open, meaning the air exits through our nose – but when we sing an open vowel, we need that same resonance, but we actually need to block of the nasal cavity itself (read: nasal cavity, not nasal resonators) by lifting the soft palate gently to allow a greater resonant space. Number 3? A little tricky, but dusted.
Vowel Sounds/Practical Vowels – Listen to any fantastic singer carefully, do you hear their vowel sounds? It all leans on the same open vowel sounds, right? Ah, AA, OO, EE and EH (or Aye, depending on your native tongue). Not Uh, UU, YY or NG… but Ah, AA, OO, EE and EH. Memorise these vowel sounds and your voice will grow almost immediately. Number 4, easy.
Modified Vowels/Vowel positions – Now, this IS where you likely do need professional help, vocal tract positions and modified vowels are a hairy subject when you’re first start learning, and to be honest – I believe they’re largely taught incorrectly by most contemporary singing courses and alot of prominent vocal coaches too. Not that I’m here to judge – it’s just that it’s all alot simpler than you really think. Basically, as you hit the first ‘break’ in your voice – you need to graduate most of the vowel sounds towards a subtle “OH” sound up into the soft palate (remember open throat?), then graduating through other positions (namely “UH” or “OU”) to reach “OO” at the top of your voice. Remember, it’s all very subtle – If you need help with this one, you can book a session with me at any time!
Placement – This is where most baritones, at least, go a little wrong. We’re so used to singing with loose, wobbling, deep vocal chords that we try to ‘sing’ in the same vocal tone – especially with a low voice type like mine, you actually need to ‘place’ your vocal resonance. Now, keeping it simple, placement is simply referring to the frequencies and timbre of your voice when you sing – rather than Deep and boomy, we want to be bright, open and focussed. This is another one where you may need some professional help.
Diction – I find alot of students who come to me from a music theatre background have been told time and again to “Enunciate your consonants!”, only to find they wear their voice out and lose their range show after show. Diction is your friend, and refers to both vowel and consonant production. The trick isn’t to over pronounce your consonants, or ‘slur’ through them to make it easier, or to twang your vowels – the trick is to develop a specific approach to each type of consonant sounds. Keeping it simple as always, next time you try to sing a word that starts with “W”, instead of gargling out that W, try it with an “OO” vowel. So, for the word “War”, it would be “OO-AH-AH/R” – did your mind just get blown? Number 7, boom.
Air control – As you ascend in range, you need to alter your air flow vs air pressure – sometimes known as compression. Before you breathe in by extending your diaphragm like we discussed earlier, you need to ‘expand your ribs’ (appoggio in classical singing) and keep your diaphragm controlled as you ascend rather than letting it ‘spring up’ and push your air out. You can try this by practicing a scale while lying flat on your back (stay with me people!) – it feels more controlled and even as you ascend, right? Without that big push towards the top? That’s actually because you now have access to all the breathing muscles that prior to lying down, were being used up by point number 9…
Posture – You’ve heard it all before, I know. Posture is paramount to your singing voice, and, I know, sitting up straight in class is TOTALLY lame, but you know what else is really lame? Bad singing (Bah Dum, Tsh!). Head up, shoulders back, chest ‘up’ and your knees relaxed, feet about shoulder width apart. NOW try your scale again, it feels pretty close to when you were lying down, hey! That’s because you’re controlling your diaphragm properly and you’ve set your posture up correctly for correct and efficient use of your breathing muscles! Number 9, in the bag.
A defined approach – You’re breathing correctly, you’re wailing sirens all day long and your voice is POWERFUL man, Powerful! But singing songs is a total mystery to you, right? You warm up like a boss, but you kinda suck at singing songs, yeah? That’s because you aren’t following a proper approach and eliminating any ‘iffy’ notes caused by incorrect placement or modifications, dangerous words, off-vowels and damaging tones by following ALL of the above techniques at the same time. Record yourself singing a few lines of a song that you’re trying to work on – can you pick what’s going wrong? Maybe you’re breathing correctly and modifying your vowels, but you’re SMASHING the consonants instead of keeping an open and clear approach to them. Maybe you’re hitting the consonants with finesse, and you’re totally nailing the placement – but your vowels are off. Take it slowly, write the practical vowel sound AND the modified vowel/vocal tract position above the lyrics and try again – it totally works! That’s 10 and 10.
That’s it, all the ‘tricks’ in my bag as a singing coach, laid out bare without any sneaky ‘buy my course for the answers!’. You can even send a recording of yourself singing the vocal line you tried above to me and I’ll personally help you (use the ‘ready to rock’ prompt in the below right to attach an mp3) – you can also book a session with me personally at any time!
Do you have any questions about THE top ten singing techniques you’ll ever need? Ask me a question or leave me some feedback in the ‘leave a reply’ box 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.