We’ve all heard it before – “Sing from the diaphragm!”, “Sing forward” – those vague singing tips and instructions that either don’t make sense or aren’t explained properly to make any difference to our singing voices. With these 5 simple tips, your voice will improve in no time! We’ll skip diaphragmatic breathing because you know that one already…
Place your voice
It’s somewhat figurative, but ‘placing’ your voice is incredible important. The reality of vocal placement is that by figuratively ‘focussing’ the resonance of your voice in a specific place, you change the thickness of your vocal chords to make different frequencies – in the case of healthy singing technique, you create a bright, powerful and relaxed tone by placing your voice ‘above’ your mouth (bear with me!). Rather than blowing air out of your mouth, imagine that the sound is stationary behind your cheeks and let it resonate… can you feel the placement? As one of the few professional baritone singing coaches out there with a specialty for rock singing technique, placement is an area of expertise I’ve learned to excel at – use the booking calendar to your right when you’re ready to work on your placement with a professional vocal coach! Check out one of my recent lessons focusing on these tips, singing better and increasing your range;
Vowels, Vowels, Vowels
“Vowel” is a deceptive word where singing is concerned. By “Vowel”, I actually mean the shape of your throat, and as a result, the sound of your resonance – like “AH” or “OO”. Now, there’s another simple technique that has been over complicated by guru singing courses with their ‘secret’ tips, singing better needn’t be so confusing or expensive – I’m referring to vowel modification. I prefer to use the term vowel position, but it’s much the same. You can try it now yourself; as you get towards your vocal break (where your voice ‘flips’!), very subtlely change the character of your vowel to an “AWE” like the word “Car” – can you feel how easily your pitch ascends up into the soft palate? Bingo – that’s your first vowel position right there.
Diction vs. Enunciation
I see this alot with students who are in the musical theatre field, and have been told to ENUNCIATE as much as possible – this is a total misnomer where proper vocal technique is concerned. Proper diction doesn’t involve enunciating your consonant sounds, actually, it involves creating them in a separate, OPEN way which differs to speech. Try it yourself by singing a word that starts with a “W”, like “Worry” – it’s pretty tough in as you get into a higher pitch, right? that’s because you’re enunciating a SPEECH “W”, rather than creating an open SUNG “W” – there’s no such thing as speech singing, only improper enunciation and bad technique. Lets fix it for you by singing an “OO” instead of the W in Worry – so, kinda like “OO-orry” – can you feel how open the word now sounds when you sing it a little higher? This is the correct way to create your consonant sounds and is referred to as diction.
I know we said we’d skip diaphragmatic breathing, and we have, but we’re going to take it a step further by talking about breath control and ‘compression’ – now, as you ascend in range, your vocal chords need to vibrate faster to create the frequencies required for a higher pitch (stay with me!), and to do so, along with proper vowel positions and placement, we need to control our air PRESSURE vs. air FLOW. Keeping it simple, we need more air pressure to sing high, but lower airflow – try holding your breath as you sing up higher! If this doesn’t help, try thinking ‘down’ instead of ‘up’ as you go higher – this forces you to ‘compress’ the air being held by your extended diaphragm. I like the analogy of pulling down on heavy weights, or picking up a heavy table as you ascend (figuratively!) – try it yourself with your hands near your shoulders, gently lowering them as you ascend as though they are holding REALLY heavy weights, can you feel your core strengthen and your tone get a little more clear? Bam – that’s proper breath control. As a ‘rock guy’, breath control is what I’m all about, that gritty, distorted and POWERFUL resonance can only be achieved with proper breath control – you can book a session with me in the booking calendar to your right.
Singing correctly doesn’t have to be difficult
Using just these four tips, singing better can be a much easier process – and knowing where you need to focus and the techniques you need to develop can save you ALOT of time and money on your singing journey.
Let me know if you have any questions or feedback 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.