Top 10 proper singing techniques
With this top 10 list of the absolute best vocal training techniques, I hope to show you where you can improve your singing techniques so you can build a powerful, confident and consistent singing voice. As I always say, a powerful singing voice starts with your foundation, so check out my free foundations short courses first to make sure you understand what is proper singing posture and how to breathe through your diaphragm. Lets get started on the top 10 proper singing techniques!
#1 – Breath Support aka “Appoggio”
Much ado is often made about appoggio singing technique, but it’s honestly such a simple technique that learning to sing with appoggio is one of the most basic singing lessons you could imagine. In short, you actually set up your breath support in your POSTURE before you breathe through your diaphragm;
- Head Up
- Shoulders back and down
- Chin Parallel with the floor
- Sternum ‘up’ aka ‘Ribs Out’ aka ‘Appoggio’
That’s right, this mysterious “Lean” everyone keeps talking about is simply a very basic aspect of your posture that allows you to breathe using the diaphragm rather than letting your rib expansion and contraction dictate your airflow.
I deliberate chose appoggio singing technique as #1 on this list because it really is the most important part of your foundation, and without it, the following techniques will be incredibly difficult to develop. Powerful singing starts with your posture, so make sure you’re using the right Breath Support by setting up your appoggio singing technique in your posture.
#2 – Diaphragmatic Breathing
I’m sure you were expecting this one, but it goes hand-in-hand with Appoggio singing technique – you don’t breathe using your chest and ribs like we often do during speech, you actually need to engage your diaphragm to sing. If you learn from the very start how to engage your breathing diaphragm muscles, breath support and resonance will become an absolute cinch for you as your singing progresses. To develop powerful singing breath control, you first need to engage your diaphragm and build the musculature required for consistent and strain free breathing. A fantastic way to do this is to first set up your posture, and secondly, to imagine either breathing very low and sharp through a small straw, or, if you hold your arms out as though you are about to shoot an archery arrow and then try to breathe in – you’ll find that your breathing ocurs very low, and you may feel some muscles that you’ve never been aware of – congratulations, that is how you breathe using your diaphragm.
Over time your diaphragmatic breathing capacity and control will strengthen and coordinate more efficiently. If you’re a beignner, then it’s wise to take things slow and practice your breathing for some time before you move onto the next singing technique on this list
#3 – Inhalare la voce aka “Inhale the voice”
Strange name, super powerful singing technique. Rather than a literal inhaling of the voice, Inhalare La Voce is intended as a figurative approach to creating resonance. Instead of blowing air “out” while you sing, your voice should resonate in a stationary manner with minimal airflow. If you can imagine (again, not literal) that your voice is flowing ‘inwards’ into your mouth instead of OUT of your mouth, this will coordinate your breath control, your onset AND your resonance all in one motion. Again, this one is figurative, but if you nail it, you’ll be well on your way to a POWERFUL singing voice.
#4 – Middle Voice aka Sing mixed voice
You’ve likely heard of Chest Voice vs Head Voice – but did you know there is actually another ‘middle’ register that is often refered to as Mix or Middle voice? I like to think of Chest Voice as ‘full length vocal chords’, and Head Voice as ‘fully shortened vocal chords’ – and then your mix sits anywhere between the two, basically, a relief of tension from Chest Voice, but without the ‘flip’ or ‘air’ of Head Voice.
Among the top 3 exercises singing mixed voice will benefit from are PROJECTION, what I like to call CLASSROOM VOICE and also a play on the common CRY exercise. Here’s a simple tutorial I’ve put together for you to learn how to sing in mix voice:
Now that you’re able to release into your middle register it’s time to talk register control…
#5 – Register release
Now, this is usually the first step in my students’ warmup, but it also carries through to singing actual songs. If you’re locking your vocal chord coordination at any point and ‘belting’ up to pitch, that might be okay as an ‘effect’ for one or two notes, but if this is the ONLY way you’re able to hit high notes when singing you’ll soon run into trouble. It’s important to understand the difference between each of your vocal registers and learn how to control (and release from) them in the right manner. Most students are taught to ‘release’ by practicing a lip trill throughout their whole range – training coordination between their breath support, air pressure and of course connection of their registers. A problem starts to develop when singers try to sing higher chest voice notes rather than sing higher notes without straining – the right way.
Learn to release your registers and issues such as pulling chest will never be a problem again – releasing your registers is actually the first step you should take if you want to improve chest voice, build a higher range and an often overlooked element to developing your singing voice.
#6 – Vocal Placement
Often mistaken for mask singing, vocal placement refers more to limiting your frequencies that creating frequencies. The most efficient way to sing with vocal placement is to imagine singing ‘above’ your top teeth – but rather than singing nasal or trying to force your sound higher, you should simply ‘limit’ the vibration and frequencies that occur below this point. Placement is incredibly important if you want to get really good singing voice with minimal effort and limit vocal cord strain. Here’s a super practical singing tutorial that will show you HOW to sing with vocal placement:
#7 – Singing Consonants
Learning the subtle ary of singing consonants can be the ‘make or break’ when you’re aiming to build a great singing voice. A great singing voice is really only as good as the SONGS that you can sing, even if you can sing sirens and ‘technically’ have a high singing range – without singing consonants in the right manner, building a high range is like a fast engine with no wheels.
I like to separate my singing consonants into groups – glottal, sibilant, plosive, resonant and ‘coordinated’ consonants, each with their own special approach.
Glottal – Limit the glottal compression or vocal compression and learn how to sing a vocal onset in the correct manner. A good vocal onset is known as a ‘balanced onset’.
Sibilant – Otherwise known as “S” and “T” sounds, the secret to singing sibilant consonant sounds without EXCESS sibilance is to simply HOLD your breath on the consonant rather than ‘exhale’. Here’s a short tutorial that I’ve put together that will SHOW you how the secret to singing consonants like S and T:
Plosives – Again, the secret to P and B sounds in singing plosive words is to HOLD your breath and allop a pop of your lips without excess airflow.
Resonants – Resonant consonant sounds, at least in singing, include R, L and W and involve replacement of the consonant sound itself with a vowel, often OO in the manner of “OO-AWE-R” for a word like “WAR” as an example, or “EE-EH-S” in the case of “YES”.
Combination/coordinated consonants – This is basically the rest of your singing consonants that often involve a combination of the above approaches to allow you to sing them with resonance, power and freedom.
#8 – Vocal onset
Learning how to sing a balanced vocal onset is another ‘make or break’ singing technique that is often overlooked in contemporary singing methods. One of the best vocal onset exercises is a simple crescendo, from light to full – your balanced onset actually lies in the direct center of this crescendo, so a fantastic way to build control of your vocal onset is to first practice a BREATHY onset, which involves release of airflow before your vocal chords come together, then a GLOTTAL onset, which is basically a CLOSED vocal tract/vocal chords before you sing, and finally try to hit the direct center of the two, neither breathy or glottal, but BALANCED directly between the two for a perfect vocal onset.
#9 – Vowel Mechanics
Learning how to SHAPE your vowels correctly by using the correct tongue shape and vocal tract width is the difference between speaking, and truly SINGING. It’s a super simple concept, but again not often taught in contemporary singing methods – basically, the shape of your tongue “EQ’s” your resonance to give the illusion of a vowel;
- AH – Tongue low and concave
- AA – Similar, but with the middle of your tongue slightly forward
- EE – Tongue “up” at the back, down at the front
- EH/AY – Similar, but with your mouth ajar and your tongue forward
- OO – There’s actually TWO different OO vowels which would be easier to show you personally.
#10 – Vowel Tuning
Now, as you ascend in range using the aforementioned tongue shapes for your vowels, you’ll notice that sometimes your sound doesn’t resonate correctly, or you feel the need to ‘push’ – this is because the width of your vocal tract isn’t allowing the right mix of frequencies to “EQ” your vowel. A great way to learn vowel tuning is the idea of Vowel Modification, you can try it youself by singing an AH vowel all the way up towards your first vocal break, and just before your voice hits the ‘danger zone’, you subtley allow your throat to changing the vowel into an “OH” instead of a pure AH – can you feel how the vowel resonates better, without strain and also keeps the purity of the vowel you intend to sing? Bingo, you just tuned your first vowel.
Vowel tuning is a very delicate art and really does require the help of a professional singing teacher – you can book a session with me today and I’ll show you how to tune each of your vowels to your individual resonance.
Are you ready to POWER UP your singing voice with professional singing lessons with the TOP vocal coach? Since launching in 2010, Bohemian Vocal Studio has steadily grown into the premier destination for rock singing lessons, and has become synonymous with GREAT SINGING.
Feel free to leave any feedback or 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.