The best singing exercises men can practice!
Learning how to sing better for men can be a tricky task – with a low vocal range, issues with pitch, boomy frequencies and most of all, a lack of resourses out there and few singing exercises men can use – but I’m here to tell you that you really CAN learn to sing better guys!
With these simple steps, anyone can learn how to sing better – yes, even male singers low voices can learn to soar up into their high range with ease and power!
- Release your registers
- Place your voice
- Ingrain the right vowel sounds
- Tune those vowels!
- Build your frequencies
- Develop your registers
- Sing with POWER!
Now, you might be thinking “that’s easy for him to say!” – but the truth is, my low baritone vocal range was VERY hard to train in the beginning – not because it’s “harder” for a baritone or bass to learn how to sing, but because every coach I went to was either female, or a tenor with a naturally high range. It’s like learning to drive a gearshift car when your teacher has only ever driven an auto (not my best analogy, but you get the point!) – you’ll find that the big things missing from these coaches and courses is likely PLACEMENT, which is controlling your frequencies and vocal chord thickness, and also VOWEL TUNING – the classical approach of “OH to OO” really isn’t that efficient when you naturally sing with a super wide and bellowing vowel.
#1 How to release your registers
You’ve probably done this already without realising – the best exercise for releasing your registers is a lip trill, mainly because it’s a tiny sound with no preconceived misconceptions on how it should sound. When you’re practicing a lip trill, the whole purpose is to connect your chest, head and middle registers seamlessly and ingrain this easy connection as a healthy habit.
Another excellent way of releasing your registers is either a “hum” or an “N” sound – you may find that you need to sing a little lighter through your breaks than you would expect – but again, the purpose is to release your registers and connect seamlessly – don’t try to be a rockstar with this simple exercise!
#2 How to place your voice
This is where guys with low voices are sometimes different to other vocal types – their vocal chords create a wide band of frequencies that are inconsistent from day to day – leading to inconsistent practice and ‘undoing’ any good work from the previous day’s practice. The trick is to CONTROL your frequencies by way of placement – basically, TELLING your vocal chords which frequencies you want them to create.
To place your voice, you need to have a little faith in the mechanism behind your voice – largely because your vocal chords are actually involuntary, meaning you can’t physically control them without using adjoining musculature and the right though process. In this case, the right mental process is to figuratively ‘focus’ your sound above your top teeth, that’s right, not flowing out of your mouth or in your throat, but ABOVE your mouth so that your voice resonates in the chambers higher in your head rather than flowing out of your mouth.
An “N” or “NG” is excellent for practicing and develping placement. If you practice with the intent of singing ‘above’ your mouth for a good 5 or ten minutes each day, you’ll soon get the same feeling with your vowels and words – congratulations, you’re now placing your voice correctly!
Most females and guys with higher voice types actually do this naturally due to tighter, shorter chords – so using this trick, you really CAN send your voice way up into the Tenor range without any strain! Placement is often one of the big ‘secrets’ that is packaged and sold in expensive singing courses, so be wary of any course promising you the secrets of singing – there is no secret, it’s all in your placement!
#3 Vowels Vowels Vowels
You may notice that your favourite singers’ voices have a certain vowel quality to them, specific sounds that they use that somehow seem different to a normal speaking voice – that’s because they’re shaping their vowels correctly.
Basically, the sound eminating from your vocal chords is uniform, it’s the same no matter what sound or word you’re going for – this uniform resonance is then “EQ’d” by the tongue and vocal tract to create the vowel sounds that we all should be singing with:
Now, each of these sounds requires a specific tongue shape to resonate properly with the right EQ – so here’s a simple tutorial I’ve created to help you hit the right vowel sounds:
Using this guide to your vowel sounds, you’ll soon start to notice when they’re not correct in the songs you’ve been singing – for example, the word “Love” in most cases should be an “AH” vowel, and a word like “Pay” would actually be an “EH/AY” vowel.
Forming the right vowel sounds will keep your voice healthy and POWERFUL throughout your whole range – this is another one of those “secrets” that’s often packaged in expensive courses, but is something that would be shown to you in the first five or ten minutes of a session with a professional vocal coach who KNOWS their stuff. If you’re ready to start working on your vowels and take your voice to the next level – you can book a session with me personally and I’ll show you how it’s done!
#4 Tune your vowels
Now, this one IS a little bit more advanced and requires you to understand diaphragmatic support, vowel mechanics, frequency control and have the right approach to building your voice first – it’s a simple concept, but can be a little tricky in execution while you’re still learning.
Basically, each vowel sound has it’s own natural “width” – meaning that the root of your tongue is either closer, or further away from the top of your throat. For example, “AH” is the widest vowel, and depending on your approach, either “EE” or “OO” is the most narrow vowel.
Now, the tricky part is that each vowel sound needs to CHANGE width as you ascend through your range – the best way to do this is start with a small vowel like EE and sing towards your vocal break – if your voice flips up into head voice, this means that you need to WIDEN your vowel a little by lowering the back of your tongue ever so slightly. And if your voice ROARS and completely breaks, then this means you’ve actually gone to wide and you need to NARROW the vowel somewhat.
Clear as mud, right?
It’s a simple process with lots of confusing explanations out there, so lets keep it simple – A narrow vowel is the root of your tongue UP and a wide vowel is the root of your tongue DOWN. The basic premise is that you should ‘widen’ through your first break, go neutral through your middle section and then fully narrow as you release into head voice – if only it were so easy. This is where guys can be a little different, the lower your voice, the wider your vowels likely are – so using the guide above, you can learn to train each of your vowel sounds like so:
- AH – this is a wide vowel, so if you ‘roar’ and ‘push’, then it’s actually TOO wide as you ascend through your first break
- AA – similar to AH, but it’s a little more narrow, so you may need to widen slightly
- AY/EH – This is a fairly narrow vowel, so most likely you’ll need to widen through the break
- EE – definitely widen
- OO – ditto
I’d suggest focussing on your first break for the time being until the concept of vowel tuning ‘clicks’ and you can do so easily and in a subtle way – then you can use the same process for your second break, and then finally the release into head at the top. Remember, if you roar and push, then your vowel is too wide – if you ‘flip’ and go light, then your vowel is too narrow!
#5 Build your registers
Now, building your registers is tied in closely with your frequencies – if you’re going for a BOOMY and BIG sound, then no doubt your voice will get stuck in chest voice, and your voice will break. If you’re going for a weak and breathy sound, then no doubt you’ll be in head voice before you intend and your tone will suffer big time. Here’s the other secret that is often packaged into expensive courses – MIDDLE VOICE. That’s right, there’s actually another mysterious register that sits in between Chest VOice and Head Voice. I like to think of Chest as “full length vocal chords”, Head as “fully shortened vocal chords” and Middle voice as anywhere in between.
Basically, as you hit your first vocal break (somewhere between B to E for most guys) you should be releasing from your chest coordination and hitting you MIDDLE or MIX voice – make sure you’re not flipping up into head though! An excellent way to develop this is to imagine ‘projecting’ your voice back towards yourself from an imaginary point far away in the corner of the room. Can you feel how this ‘releases’ your chest voice, but you still maintain a full and powerful sound? If this doesn’t work for you, that’s okay – it does take some time, and there are quite a few different methods for developing your mix voice and creating the right frequencies. If you’re still having trouble with your mix, you’re welcome to book a session with me at your convenience and I’ll take your through the process step by step.
#6 Build POWER
Now, learning how to build Middle voice is where most of the power comes from in your voice – but there’s one final trick I’ll show you that is going to open up your voice and build power almost INSTANTLY.
Meet your newest friend – TWANG
Not country twang, not nashville, not an American drawl – but the technique of narrowing the top of the epiglottis so that your voice amplifies and resonates. Here’s a super simple tutorial on building twang in your voice:
Are you now singing with that powerful BUZZ and resonance that you can hear in your favourite singers? Congratulations, you’ve taken the first steps towards a POWERFUL singing voice! Are you ready to take your voice to the next level? My studio has now reached thousands of students all throughout the world and continues to grow and reach new countries every week – with a Skype session at Bohemian Vocal Studio you really can learn from the BEST!
Feel free to leave any feedback of questions 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.