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Top Five simple singing exercises

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

“Placement” (c) 2017 BVS

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 nosethe 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.

9 thoughts on “Top Five simple singing exercises

  1. Hello Kegan

    I want to say how pleased I am that I landed on your website! I too am a musician but never knew that there was a way like this to improve vocals!

    I noticed when I arrived the pop up offered 10% off if you subscribe which I realized that your coaching is done via Skype! Again taking full use of the present day technology to make things easier for your students and busy schedules.

    I love the ideas of the sounds of the letters to help with the vocal and you really have an excellent skill to be able to pass over to others!

    Thank you for your great resource!

    Paul

    1. Thanks so much Paul, I’m glad you found me too 🙂

      Absolutely, Skype has steadily taken over – most of my student base is actually international! It’s great to be able to reach out to budding singers in need of help no matter where they are in the world. I also have a great student resource center here at BVS that has a collection of my coaching materials and diagrams that are useful for my students’ ongoing practice.

      Let me know if you have any questions about your voice!

      K

  2. Hey Kegan – it’s just so interesting to see how easy it can be!

    I am a musician myself but never really thought about improving my singing until now – wow an eye opener! Thank you so much for this.

    When are your opening hours and how can I contact you?

    best regards
    Paul G

    1. Hey again Paul! You can use the booking calendar to your right (in the sidebar) to book a session with me personally. You can also email me under the ‘contact’ tab up in the top menu.

      All the best!

      K

  3. Hi Kegan, great post man I learned a lot from this! I am just transitioning from a rapper to a singer and I know the basics are essential to me being able to sing how I really want to over the music I have written. I´ll definitely be coming back to your website for more tips and tuition and to book a session!

    All the best and much appreciated,

    Nathan

  4. Dear Kegan,

    Im Lorence, fellow singer and a huge fan of Chris Cornell aswell. I accidentally found you on youtube and started looking at your videos and now with the knowledge i have all your teachings are making a whole lot of sense. I think ive watched almost all your videos mostly with vowel modification, placement, and resonance. Theyre absolutely amazing man i love it. Simple and easy to apply! I do chris cornell as practice songs almost everyday. I would have a question to you as of course im still stuck at some points.

    if one has a proper technique, for how long should he be able to sing stuff like audioslave cochise, show me how to live, gasoline etc. 😊 (put aside the distortions and grit stuff, just in clean but powerful A4 and B4 notes) reason why im asking that is because im doing quite good for sometime but maybe after an hour (roughly) i cannot sustain the quality and power of those notes. Is there something wrong i do or thats just natural to get tired so fast of that stuff to sing? Would appreciate your help alot!

    Kind regards,
    Lorence

    1. Hey Lorence, thanks for your kind words! It means alot that people are improving their voices with my method.

      That’s great, Chris is my biggest influence, I’ve been a fan since Soundgarden released Superunknown, had it on cassette from day one! If you put aside the song choices, you should be able to sustain an A/B4 all day long without strain. It sounds like you’ve got a touch of tension going on, or perhaps you’re not releasing into the middle-voice/mix properly – belting is ‘okay’ every now and then, but if you’re doing it in a sustained fashion/all the time your voice will suffer.

      The way he sings those songs in particular is pretty awful for the voice, he started straining and pushing alot with Audioslave for some reason – so practice easing up to those notes without straining or breathiness (adduct your chords properly), then you can work on your consonants. The other thing to look at would be your practical vowel sounds, for example, “Nail” would be an “EH” vowel, and “My” would be “Ah”.

      Let me know if you have any other questions about your voice!

      K

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