Top five simple singing exercises
As a professional ROCK vocal coach, I can tell you that THE single best way to learn how to sing is by Keeping. It. Simple. That’s right, keeping things as simple as possible will actually take your voice much further than being overly analytical about your technique and jumping into confusing techniques and overly complicated approaches to something that should be simple, natural and easy to learn. Right now, learning how to sing probably seems like a huge well of muddy information and confusing terminology – making it very hard to know where to start and which techniques are important for YOUR voice. Lets break it all down to the roots with these simple singing exercises that will GROW your voice and build a healthy foundation.
1. Lip Trills/bubbles
Now, I know there’s quite a few people out there who are unable to do lip trills, and this likely because noone has ever explained how to actually do them properly! For starters, stop all that airflow immediately – one of the most important parts of healthy singing technique, and by default doing a liptrill, is the concept of HOLD or INHALE, which is just fancy words for holding your breath. Now, the second part of doing a lip trill is controlling your soft palate correctly – basically, your soft palate should be blocking off your nose when you sing a lip trill. You can try it yourself by taking a breath ONLY through your mouth without actually blocking your nose – congratulations, you just lifted your soft palate! You now need to gently close your lips (not slammed shut!) just enough to catch the air behind them, but not enough to hold it in – and start making a TINY buzzing behind your nose. We’re not trying to make a “BRRRR” sound, we’re just going for that gentle buzz behind the nose.
How do I make my lips trill though?
This is the genious, and often misunderstood part of lip trills, trilling the lips aren’t the focus! If you block off your nose with a raised soft-palate and sing with a buzz behind your nose, the air will have nowhere to escape EXCEPT for through your very gently held lips, making them pulse open when there is enough air built up behind them to escape, but simply close again when there ISN’T enough air pressure to push them apart. Pretty cool, right?
- Breathe using your diaphragm
- HOLD YOUR BREATH
- Raise your soft palate so it’s blocking off your nose
- Make a small buzz behind your nose
If you’re still unable to keep a consistent trill going, keep working at it – the better your breath control gets and the more you understand the various functions of the soft palate, the more consistent your liptrills will be.
2. Humming and buzzing
Now, a hum is a little different to a liptrill because your soft palate is actually OPEN – allowing the air to flow into your nose while your mouth is shut. Humming is a GREAT tool for building resonance and can be fantastic at relieving strain while you’re still developing your various registers and middle voice.
3. N and NG for placement
I personally avoid NG due to my considerably low voice type, but they can be done safely if you position your tongue towards the center of the hard palate (roof of your mouth) rather than the back. If you sing an “NG” with your tongue positioned at the back of your hard palate like you probably do when you speak, you’ll be changing the shape of your throat and training your voice in the wrong way.
I use “N” with my students to build placement in a safer way, and it’s MUCH better at building a powerful ROCK resonance over time than anything else commonly used like NG.
Remember to focus on making a sound behind your nose rather than pronouncing an “N” – your tongue should be sitting behind your top teeth naturally and you should feel some buzzing behind your nose.
4. Vowel Modifications
Modifying your vowel is IMPERATIVE if you’re going to increase your range and learn to sing with power – they’re
actually really easy to achieve using my vowel position method, and are my favourite simple singing exercises as they build your range, strengthen your voice and allow you to sing ANY song in the original key without strain.
It takes some guidance to learn how to modify your vowels correctly, but once you get the basics your range will increase in leaps and bounds. You can try the first vowel position yourself by subtely changing the sound of your voice towards an “OH” or “AH sound as you get towards your vocal break – the sound should feel like it travels back into the soft palate or the back of your head.
Without vowel modification, you will strain as you ascend, your voice will break and you’ll experience a whole host of issues – make sure you practice your vowels properly!
5. Middle Voice
Developing your middle voice is just as important as vowel modification – if you get the first vowel position like I explained above, but your voice is STILL breaking, it’s because you’re singing too high in chest voice rather than releasing into middle tonality. I’ve put together a short video illustrating Middle Voice and how you can use it to extend your range and build POWER in your voice:
With these super simple exercises, you can GROW your voice into a powerhouse rock machine and access as much range as you could ever want, all with as much POWER as the greats. If you’re ready to start building your own powerful singing voice, you can book a session with me in the booking calendar to your right.
Feel free to leave some feedback or any 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.