Want To Improve Your Singing Voice? This Works!
If you want to improve your singing voice, relax, there is an easier way! Sure, singing is a process that takes time, practice and perseverance – but there is one simple step that is often overlooked that will cut your learning curve in half. This tip relates to absolutely every single aspect of your singing voice, from breathing and support, to onsets, to vowels, to resonance – this one step relates to absolutely everything in singing, are you forgetting to do it?
This really works.
One Word: Balance
Every single aspect of singing is an act of balance, not one of muscular force or strength. For support, you balance your airflow and air pressure, for a good onset, you balance vocal fold closure with release of air, for your registers you balance resonance – absolutely every element of singing has balance in some form or another, are you balancing your voice, or are you muscling your way up into your high range with force?
One of the most important parts of building a great voice is connecting chest and head voice in a fluid and smooth way – this, of course, requires balance. By coordinating vocal fold weight with vocal fold tension, a push-pull motion if you will, you can easily connect your two main registers and create a seamless bridge between your low and high range – if you’re muscling your way up there solely with a push, you’re creating an imbalance and will break every time you sing.
To connect your registers, the first step is to achieve balance, however light and small, by using a small sound like a lip trill or an “N”, and over time tune your vowel sounds to this balance so that you can sing with a fuller and more resonant sound on each vowel with ease – you will then be able to sing ANY song in ANY key with connection between your registers as though you have one long note and one single voice.
Balance your onset
One of the most important balancing acts of a great singing voice is the onset. A vocal onset is the manner in which your resonance begins. A breathy onset features an aspiration of air before you achieve vocal fold closure, a glottal onset involves full closure of your chords before there is any airflow, and a perfectly balanced onset is a direct coordination between the two, in essence balancing the exact moment of vocal fold closure with airflow. This results in an instantaneous onset that involves no other sound or sensation other than resonance occurring at the very moment of balance – this is the only healthy way to sing a vocal onset and will save your voice from vocal strain in more ways than one.
Any good voice coach will show you the simple process of balancing your onset and will likely identify any issues with your balance within the first few minutes of a lesson with you – are you balancing your onset, or singing with force or aspiration?
Balance your frequencies
Balancing your frequencies is related to your registers, sure, but it is also in part due to the tonality you are intending to achieve. This is due to the involuntary and psychological nature of much of the vocal mechanism, the way you think affects the way you sing – if you separate your voice solely into chest and head voice, or chest and head tonality, there is no way for you to bridge properly or balance between your registers. Now, if you instead think of your vocal tone as a gradient that shifts from black to grey to white in a fluid way, you will always have a pleasant tone and frequency balance.
Balance your vowels
If your vowels suck, or you can’t sing a particular word properly, you aren’t balancing your vowel sounds. Now, vowels aren’t the same between singing and speech, so you need to put the ‘sound’ of the vowel out of your mind for a moment and form the right tongue shape and resonant space instead. A great example of this is to alternate smoothly between an EE vowel and an AH vowel – you will no doubt feel how your tongue rises at the back for the EE sound and lowers to a concave in the base of your jaw for the AH sound. Balancing your vowels in this manner is the most efficient way to allow powerful resonance while also articulating your words and sounds clearly. If your words are coming out muffled, improper or forced, then it’s likely you’re not shaping your vowel correctly and allowing a balance between the shape and sufficient resonant space for the vowel to resound.
Singing itself is actually just a process of coordination, a good singer isn’t necessarily a ‘strong’ singer or a ‘muscular’ singer, a good singer is one who sings with balance and coordination. The first thing you must do to achieve your dreams of becoming a great singer is to start with balance, however light it has to be, before trying to extend your range or sing with power and intensity. You’ll soon learn that a powerful and intense singing voice is simply a balance that requires very little effort, but results in a tightrope-like strength in the vocal folds that in turn resonates like crazy, all without muscular force or brute strength.
Balance is truly key to a great singing voice – are you singing with balance, or are you forcing? A great place to start is the free foundations short courses here at BVS which will show you how to set up the strongest foundation for your balanced voice to be built upon. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level you can then book a Skype Session and we’ll start working towards extending your range, developing power in your balance and of course building consistency and control in your voice every time you sing.
If you have any questions about learning to sing with balance instead of force, 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.