The Best Way To Learn To Sing [The Four Vocal Fundamentals]

What If Singing Was Easy?

Hi, I'm Kegan from Bohemian Vocal Studio (that's me doing my thing in the photo above!). Let me tell you something that most voice coaches wouldn't dare admit - I really struggled with learning to sing; and I mean really struggled.

I thought I was someone that just had a bad voice, and I can say now that I definitely wasn't a natural singer in any way - I fought against strain and tension, I lacked high range, my voice was ridiculously inconsistent and nothing seemed to work. I recently detailed how I spent over $15,000+ on singing lessons, courses, books and supposed magic solutions for my singing voice; but nothing really worked.

Until I discovered The Four Vocal Fundamentals.

That's right, it wasn't some crazy technique, a complicated term, or edge, or compression, or vowel modification, or mixed voice; sure these are all an important part of a great singing voice; but it was actually mastering these four simple fundamentals that changed everything for me as a singer.

You'll find tons of videos on YouTube and tutorials online that speak about "the secret" to great singing; usually followed be "the answer is in my course" - but instead of just telling you what REALLY works; I'm just going to show you how to sing with The Four Vocal Fundamentals (other voice coaches hate me for sharing 'their' secrets!)

But before I do, let me share with you exactly what I'm achieving as a singer now that I've mastered these four vocal basics. Remember, I wasn't a natural and every spec of range, tone and power that I enjoy now at will is a result of The Four Vocal Fundamentals and nothing else - oh yeah, I'm actually a low baritone voice type naturally; so you absolutely can learn how to sing with effortless freedom, power and range no matter what voice type you are. Here's just a few quick examples of what I'm achieving now that I've mastered The Four Vocal Fundamentals - just imagine the incredible singing voice you're going to enjoy when you nail these four simple basics!

The Four Vocal Fundamentals

Every single singing technique and vocal concept out there relates directly to these four fundamental basics;

  • Height In The Vocal Tract
  • Forward Placement
  • "All In One Flow"
  • Mixed Tonality

For example, Vowel Modification, Yawning, Raising The Soft Palate, Resonance Tuning and Narrowing the Vowel are ALL a direct relation to singing with Height In The Vocal Tract, and with mastering the fundamental basic of Height In The Vocal Tract - none of these concepts, tricks or techniques will work correctly in your singing voice. Another example is how Connecting Chest and Head Voice, Classroom Voice, Balance between the TA and CT muscles and blending resonance relate to Mixed Tonality, and without it how you can throw every trick in the book at your voice without making any progress at all.

Are you starting to understand why nothing seems to work for you, even when people keep telling you that "this and that" are the true secret to singing? Without a firm grasp of these fundamentals, your voice will fail every single time - and this is exactly what happened to me time and time again when I was first learning how to sing.

Ultimately, singing is a super simple process of airflow, vibration, balance and resonance - nothing more. The key to becoming a better singer is to simplify your approach by first mastering the basics so that you have a rock solid foundation for your voice to be built upon.

Foundation in singing really IS just like the foundation of a house being built; the concrete base that your range and tone (roof and walls) are being built upon - and the first step to a better vocal foundation is The Four Vocal Fundamentals;

Height In The Vocal Tract

Managing Height In The Vocal Tract is one of the main components of Open Throat Singing Technique - the "open" really refers to height and space within the vocal tract and the pharynx, not "the throat" in a literal sense. This is where we get haphazard instructions like yawn before you sing - that do very little but increase strain and tension in your voice.

The most effective way to achieve height in the vocal tract is with The Internal Smile - and it's called "Internal" for a reason; many coaches on YouTube get this one wrong by telling their customers to "Smile Wide" or "Smile Bright"; when in the fact the smile is actually with the eyes;

  • Open and bright eyes (like making eye contact across a bar)
  • Sunken cheeks at the back of the mouth
  • Raised cheeks
  • A raised soft palate

When you inhale from this Internal Smile, you'll notice a small burst of cold air at the back/top of the mouth - you can even accentuate this feeling by inhaling directly from a "K" consonant sound (don't actually voice the K though!) to get the positive aspects of a yawn without creating laryngeal or neck tension.

If you want a powerful and extensive vocal range - height in the vocal tract is one of the most important fundamentals.

Forward Placement

Forward Placement is probably the easiest of The Four Vocal Fundamentals - but the one that beginner singers in particular struggle most with. This is because they're overly focused with the tone they think they're hearing their favourite singers using on albums - and in particular the fear of sounding nasal or whiny; when in fact Forward Placement is a key component of a balanced, pleasant vocal tone.

The intention of singing with a forward placement is where we get those weird instructions like "Sing like a duck" or "sing bratty" and also those horrid NAY and NYAA exercises you might have been shown before. I'll reiterate; Forward Placement involves the nasal resonator but isn't actually nasally in tone.

If you sound nasal when you sing, then you're not actually singing with Forward Placement; you're just singing nasally. The true key to singing with forward placement in a balanced way is to retain Height In The Vocal Tract while singing forward to add a touch of pharyngeal resonance and space for your vowels.

Great singing is a result of balance between your three vocal resonators - the oral, nasal and pharyngeal resonators.

"All In One Flow"

This one was huge for me personally - if you've got a big voice like me naturally, or a lower voice type; learning to sing "all in one flow" instead of clamping and pushing when you sing is going to be a game changed.

Now, there's really two different voice types when it comes to untrained/natural airflow in a singing voice;

  • Aspirate
  • Clamp and Push

If you're an aspirate singer by nature (breathy and airy), then you'll benefit by performing a slight "hold" in your airflow at the diaphragm when you sing. Instead of allowing your diaphragm to return to the resting position so quickly when you sing, the key here is to resist the recoil of the diaphragm a touch while achieving solid vocal fold closure with a balanced onset.

Now, if you're a "clamp and push" singer like I was, then you'll actually benefit by practising with a slight "sigh" in your onset and through the middle of your range. Instead of holding your breath before you sing and building up a megaton of pressure behind your delicate vocal folds when you start singing, instead you need to balance that closure with airflow in the same moment to balance your onset more effectively for instant resonance and a strain free tone.

These rules also apply through the middle of your voice when you're warming up and building your range - an aspirate singer might need to hold back a little more air through the middle of their range than a pusher who might need to release a subtle "H" to avoid choking off at the vocal folds.

Just Show Me How To Do It!

I call this fundamental "All In One Flow" because it really does feel like you're singing with just one breath of air through a vocal phrase instead of a choppy "uh. uh. uh." like we often do in speech.

Mixed Tonality

If you've ever had a singing teacher tell you to "sing like a little boy" - they're actually trying to get you to sing with a Mixed Tonality. There's really two basic elements to singing with Mixed Voice; balance between the TA and CT muscles, and secondly a blend of resonance between your chest and head registers.

If you want to sing with a powerful and dynamic range that sounds like full voice from your lowest note to your highest note in a connect way - mixed voice truly is key. If you're trying to drag chest voice as high as possible; you're going to lack mixed resonance and ultimately strain your voice with all that tension and weight at your folds.

A key component of mixed tonality is Vowel Modification which actually shifts the balance of weight and tension in the TA and CT muscles as you shift through each register overtone - I cover Vowel Modification in the Growth 101 singing course here at Bohemian Vocal Studio; but you'll need to get started in Foundation 101 first to master these four basic vocal fundamentals before moving on to the growth stage in your singing.

You can get started with Mixed Tonality in this exclusive Mixed Voice singing lesson where I'll show you the exact process I use to help my own students connect their chest and head voice to created Mixed Resonance while increasing their range and improving their tone.

 

Do You Have What It Takes

When I was first learning how to sing I often wondered whether I really had what it takes to become a great singer - and wished that someone could just TELL ME whether I was really capable of being a good singer or not; and also how to best invest my time and effort to make the most out of my practice routine and see more progress in my singing.

Now it's possible!

This simple vocal quiz will calculate your exact potential for improvement as a singer; best of all it's quick, super accurate and most singers are absolutely SHOCKED at the results!