The 4-Point Vocal Checklist For Building a Powerhouse Singing Voice
Learning how to sing can be super complex - Support, Vowel Modification, Placement, Masque, Cry, Edge, Twang, Adduction, Appoggio, Tongue Position, Raising The Soft Palate, Yawning, Narrowing the Vowel, Articulation, Pharyngeal Resonance, the TA and CT muscles, Compression... Where do you start?
What if I told you that there was a simple 4-point Vocal Checklist that will help you build a POWERHOUSE singing voice no matter what level you're at as a singer, and one that can be used from now until the end of time as your 'go-to' for great vocal technique?
Yes - I'm for real.
You'll probably be surprised to learn that every single vocal technique mentioned above (and the plethora of other techniques, methods and terms out there) all relate directly these this simple 4-point vocal checklist which I like to call The Four Vocal Fundamentals;
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
For example, vowel modification, yawning, raising the soft palate, narrowing the vowel, resonant space and pharyngeal resonance ALL relate to Height In The Vocal Tract in the same way that masque, placement, twang, the nasal resonator, the sphenoidal sinus, Nay and Nyah exercises, brightness are all an extension of Forward Placement.
By mastering these Four Vocal Fundamentals, you'll ensure that you're singing correctly EVERY time you sing without overcomplicating your approach or getting confused about which technique to use or when to use it - these four vocal basics work together every single time you sing to create the most efficient approach to singing.
As you can see, singing doesn't need to be complicated, frustrating - or even expensive.
When you do away with all the mysterious marketing terms, the confusing classical terms and simply break the voice down into The Four Vocal Fundamentals, you can ensure that you're practising correctly every single time you sing!
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
With the Foundation 101 course
How To Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
Mastering the four vocal fundamentals is the easiest thing you will ever do as a singer - but I'm not going to sugar coat it for you, you're going to need to practice and it will take some time - but this is THE fastest and most efficient way to improve your singing in a consistent and ongoing manner.
Let's go through each fundamental step individually before bringing them together to create a dynamite approach to singing;
Step 1 - Height In The Vocal Tract
If you've ever had a singing teacher tell you to "yawn before you sing" - they're actually trying to get you to create resonant space in the vocal tract by raising the soft palate. The problem here is all the variables that come with yawning - should it involve the larynx? Do you yawn through the nose? How should you breathe? How deep should you yawn? Should you make a sound?
^ Each of these variables really makes the instruction to "yawn before you sing" to be fraught with issues and ineffective for the majority of singers - and that's why it hasn't been working for you. Sure, you might feel a little lift in the soft palate with a yawn, but the second you sing a vocal phrase that palate is slamming down hard like a broken garage door on a vintage Porsche.
The key here is to maintain that slight lift with "The Internal Smile" - and it's called Internal for a reason; if you've seen those YouTube gurus telling you to "smile wide" or "bare your teeth" then you've probably noticed just how much they're straining, pushing and yelling when they sing, no doubt with a red face, veins in the neck and the general look of someone passing wind. Instead, the internal smile occurs when you;
- Raise the cheeks under your eyes
- Maintain a bright, inviting expression
- Allow the cheeks to sink at the back of the mouth
- Maintain a vertical aperture of the mouth - not a wide smile!
- Gently inhale from the position of a "k" consonant sound to raise the palate
- Maintain this facial and tract posture as you sing
As you can see, The Internal Smile has very little to do with smiling and everything to do with how you manage resonant space in the vocal tract. Practice often and make sure to raise the soft palate each time you practice to make this a healthy habit in your singing.
Step 2 - Forward Placement
Many beginner singers are scared of forward placement because they fear singing nasally - and sure, some of the exercises you'll find for developing forward placement are a touch on the brassy side; but forward placement is actually a key component of a pleasant and balanced voice as the nasal resonator, along with the mouth and pharynx, is one of the three vocal resonators used in singing.
Actual nasality in your singing is a sign of imbalance, or possibly an opening in the velar-pharyngeal port - keep in mind that forward placement is a pleasant, powerful and necessary aspect of a beautiful vocal tone.
Step 3 - "All In One Flow"
Speech is often choppy, staccato and syllabic - but singing is resonant, fluid and constant. Learning to sing "all in one flow" as though each vocal line is one slow release of air is the true key to diaphragmatic support when you sing.
Many courses and vocal methods focus on the act of 'breathing in' without much elaboration on how to control the air upon release - treat each line like it flows out on one slowly released and consistently flowing pillow of air and you'll be singing "all in one flow" in no time; and sounding better when you do it!
Step 4 - Mixed Tonality
I talk about mixed tonality a LOT - and that's because I really struggled with my naturally low voice when I first started singing. Learning to sing with mixed tonality has absolutely changed my life as a singer and allowed me to rise above my baritone voice type and sing with ease in a range higher that I ever imagined was possible - and even more.
My favourite way for helping my students find mixed tonality is to encourage "classroom voice" when they sing - you know, the voice you'd use to get the attention of a bunch of primary school kids. You're not going to yell at the little darlings (because they're going to cry), but you're also not going to whisper at them (or they'll eat you alive!) - instead we want to aim for a pleasant but assertive tone in our mid range "okay everyone, pay attention!".
When you get this right, you'll notice that your singing in full voice - but it's not the same voice you use in the chest register, nor is it the weak, light voice you use in the head register; it's actually a combination of the two, or "mixed" resonance.
My progress has been pretty epic!
Kegan is a great teacher with a huge knowledge and talent - If you want to sing rock at the highest level choose BVS!
Top shelf sing-ninja wisdom! All kinds of awesome.
Master The Four Vocal Fundamentals
With the Foundation 101 course
Do You Really Have What It Takes?
When I first started learning how to sing, I often wondered whether it was all worth it and if I was EVER going to be a good singer - I just wanted someone to tell me whether I had what it takes and where I should be investing my time for better results.
Well now it's possible!
This vocal potential calculator will calculate your exact potential for improvement; best of all it's quick, super accurate and most singers are totally SHOCKED at the results!
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.