Singing is a skill many want to acquire or, if one already has it, to improve. No wonder music has always been a part of our existence, removing all known barriers, such as distance, culture, language and many more. Hence, the question, how can someone sing better?
This article outlines tips on how to start singing or improve your singing no matter if you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
Many people believe that singing is a natural talent that someone is born into. To some extent, there is some truth to this as anatomy does have an impact on a person’s abilities as a singer. This is not the only thing that contributes to what makes someone a great singer, however. Singing is a very technical skill. In order to develop a voice with great quality, there are many techniques that must be learned and applied.
The good thing about singing is that anyone can pick it up any time they decide to. Kids to the elderly, there is no age limit to who can and cannot sing as long as one is willing to put in the work, training, and dedication.
This is why I will give you some useful tips to teach yourself to sing.
Part 1: How to Improve Your Singing Voice Beginner Level
Breathing is one of the most important factors of singing ability. Singing in itself is just a result of the different vibrations that travel through your vocal cords as you use the pressure of the air you inhale to make sounds. So, knowing the proper way to breathe is extremely crucial to every singer.
It is also one of the easiest ways to improve your voice. Working on it will allow you to sustain your notes for longer and create a fuller, stronger sound. Needless to say, if your breathing habit is awful, then your singing will suffer as well.
So, what exactly is the right way to breathe for singers? The secret is breathing through your diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a muscle that is responsible for controlling the air in and out of your lungs. However, we do this almost unconsciously. Being aware of the muscle that is in control of your breathing will make it easier for you to control the way you breathe and the way it affects your singing voice.
So how do you breathe through their diaphragm? Here is how:
- Start by lying on your back, this position will force you to breathe through your diaphragm and feel the way your diaphragm works while you do this.
- Bend your knees and put one hand right below your ribcage and the other on your chest.
- Inhale through your nose and pull the air in using your lower lungs and allow your abdomen to expand while keeping your chest steady.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth and feel your diaphragm contract.
Once you get used to the feeling of breathing through your diaphragm, you can do this while sitting or standing and incorporate it with your singing.
Aside from diaphragmatic breathing, breathing exercises also help open up the vocal cords to prepare them from singing. If you want some breathing exercises that you could use every day, I have an article written with several useful techniques that will not only improve the way you breathe while you sing but also improve your lung capacity and sustainability in the long run. You can check out my article here.
Posture is certainly something many people – singers or not – struggle with. Keeping a straight posture can be challenging especially to people who spend most of their time lying down or sitting. However, as a singer, you must know that the instrument you play is your whole body. Therefore, you must make an effort to keep it healthy and that includes learning the proper posture.
Let’s do a quick exercise:
- Get into a slouched position.
- Try breathing through your diaphragm. (If you have no idea how to do this you should try and follow the steps I provided for you.)
- Now, stand up straight and try breathing through your diaphragm again.
Notice how much easier it is to breathe when you aren’t slouching? A drooping posture makes it difficult to breathe in air and, as a singer, you must be able to optimize the air you breathe in. Thus, the reason proper posture is important.
It’s a popular belief among aspiring singers that proper singing posture is simply squaring up the shoulders and keeping the back straight. This is not true. The position of your head, chest, abdomen, arms, and even your feet and knees contribute to the way you sing. So what exactly is the proper posture for singers?
- Make sure that your chin is parallel to the floor and is slightly tucked in.
- Hold your chest high and bring your shoulders down. Be careful not to strain yourself while doing this. Unnecessary tension is bad for your posture as a singer.
- Your abdomen must be expandable but firm. As you do diaphragmatic breathing, this will have a great effect on the way you sing.
- Allow air to flow around you by keeping your hands still on either side of your body but not too close.
- Keep your knees in a loose position. This can be difficult to achieve, especially when you are nervous about your performance, but do your best to keep your knees from being stiff.
- Separate your feet, the distance should be the same width as your shoulders.
- Put one foot forward for balance and allow yourself to lean forward slightly.
For beginners, this might sound like a bit too much, but the more you do it, the more you get used to it. A tip to keep practicing this posture is to stand against a wall and keep your back, head, and shoulders flat against it.
Not only will posture improve your singing voice and the way your body processes air, but it will also do wonders for your image and stage presence.
3. Relax Your Throat and Tongue
Unnecessary tension has some adverse effects on the way you sing. A tensed throat might even cause you to strain which may result in you momentarily losing your voice or even hurting yourself. Before you start singing, make sure to check that your throat and your tongue are relaxed.
How do you know if your tongue is tense? Put your thumb on the space between your throat and your chin. Do not poke or press on the muscles located there. Just put your thumb gently over it and feel for any tightness.
How about your larynx? How do you know if it is tense? You can put two fingers on your neck to gently feel your larynx. Do not hold it tightly, simply allow your fingers to rest against your vocal cords. If it rises or feels far too tight, then you are likely putting too much strain on it.
Unfortunately, there is no exercise that will instantly fix these issues for you. Now that you know how to feel if there is unnecessary tension in your throat and your tongue, then it will be much easier for you to train it to relax as you sing.
4. Relax Your Jaw
Your jaw’s position is crucial to your singing as it helps your vocal tone and even has an influence on your pitch. Tension on the jaw can easily be spotted as you sing because a tensed jaw can make a singer sound robotic.
So how do you train your jaw to relax? Here is how:
- Stand in front of a mirror.
- Using the lyrics you intend to sing, allow yourself to read it without singing. Remember, we are not yet singing, only speaking.
- Observe the way your jaw flexes as you speak the words.
- When you sing, your jaw should only open as wide as it did when you were only reading and/or speaking the lyrics.
Once again, as a beginner, you might think this is far too much work, but you will notice that this skill will turn into muscle memory as you progress further into learning how to sing better.
5. Auditory Skills
When someone sings and you immediately hear whether they are off-key or in-tune, you are using your auditory skills. This is why listening skills are extremely important when it comes to learning how to sing.
To better critique your voice, it’s important to acquire the following skills:
- Know whether you are singing in time with the music
- Know if you are on or off your rhythm
- Know whether you are singing off-key
As a singer, it’s vital that you can tell if you’re not doing a supreme job when singing. Or risk being heckled because you’re singing off-key on stage.
One quick and easy way to hear if your pitch is off is by cupping your hands around your ears. Doing so enables you to hear yourself the way others hear you. If there’s a problem, work towards rectifying the way you sound.
6. Sing from Your Diaphragm
You have probably heard this many times before when people talk about how to become a better singer. You know how to breathe through your diaphragm. Why does this matter?
Why does it feel so weird when you do? The reason is that we are taught to use our upper lungs to breathe. As a result, this pulls our stomach in instead of pushing it out.
Now, why should you breathe through your diaphragm while you are singing?
- Because the diaphragm is a muscle responsible for breathing, it can give you more singing power. Not singing from your diaphragm will make your voice too breathy and whimpery which is not a good quality for vocalists.
- By extending your breathing all the way down to your abdomen, you are allowing yourself to take in more air that you can use to sustain your notes. This means you will not have to breathe often and you can hit those long notes without a problem.
- Singing through your diaphragm will also make the sound of your voice fuller and richer, including your high notes. Oftentimes, a shrill sound is produced when you do not sing through your diaphragm and sing from your upper registers. You can easily avoid this by doing diaphragmatic breathing while you sing.
These are some of the benefits that you will get once you master diaphragmatic breathing and apply it to the way you breathe in air while you sing from your diaphragm.
7. Breathing While Singing
As a singer, you must learn how to breathe in quickly. In a performance, the band or your fellow vocalists will not wait until you have had time to catch your breath. This is why you should train yourself on how to take in huge amounts of air in a short amount of time. Here’s how you can do this and improve your singing:
- Imagine that the air around you is heavy as you inhale. It is difficult to breathe, is it not?
- Inhale deeply, do diaphragmatic breathing and remember the sensation.
- Then, let the air in faster, almost as if you are gasping but do your best not to make any noise.
- See how that fills up your lungs quickly?
- As you exhale, try not to let your chest collapse entirely, this will allow you to take in another quick breath.
This is just another one of the things that feel strange to someone who is just starting to learn the basics in singing but will begin to feel natural as you progress through your training.
8. Learn to Read Notes and Sheet Music
Not learning how to read notes and sheet music will not stop you from learning how to get better at singing. However, acquiring the ability to do so will definitely make it easier and more accurate to sing than simply practicing everything by ear.
If you are interested in learning, here is a great quick video that will help you:
9. Learn to Read Scales
Once again, learning scales is not something that will prevent you from becoming a great singer. With this skill, however, you become more fluid while singing a song and improve your prediction. With improved prediction and fluidity, it will be much easier to put your own twist to a song.
10. Learn an Instrument
Even though your voice is your own instrument, the truth is that no one can see its physical manifestation. Learning how to play an instrument like a guitar or a piano will not only serve as a visual representation of your own voice but also increases your accuracy and auditory skills, helping you improve as a singer.
11. Learn to Match Pitch
Did you know that tone-deafness is an actual condition? This is scientifically known as Amusia, a biological defect where an individual cannot tell the difference in musical pitches. Although this is a rare defect with only 3% of the population suffering from it, it is still very much real.
If you would like to try and test if you have Amusia, you can try out this online test (1). This is not an official diagnosis, however. It is best to get tested officially if the online result says you have Amusia.
There are plenty of ways to learn how to match the pitch and how to sing in tune. Imitating a song is one of the quickest ways but if you want an in-depth reading of your own voice, you can buy a digital tuner to monitor while you sing or use a phone app!
Your voice box is also a muscle, vulnerable to stress and strain if you are not careful. Just like any workout, you should try to adopt a daily vocal warm-up and exercise to ensure that your voice is always ready and in top shape. Here is an article I wrote providing you with a full daily workout plan for your voice.
Daily workouts will not just help with keeping your vocal health, many of the exercises in these types of workouts are also made to improve your vocal quality over time.
Cooldowns are just as important as vocal warm-ups and singing exercises. After straining your muscles, it is important to let them wind down as any athlete will tell you. Vocal cool down will help your strained vocal cords to relax and return to their usual position when you use your normal speaking voice.
For a great cooldown routine, you can use this video for reference (2).
14. Daily Practice
After your vocal warm-ups, you should be able to sing several songs! This is important to do every single day, at least one or two songs that you like. Why you might ask? This is so that you can avoid stagnation.
Because your vocal cords are also muscles, if they are not used, they will return to their natural state, much like how other muscles are. Stagnation will make it hard for you to reach notes that you found easy to reach before. This is why it is crucial to stick with your daily vocal regimen and continue to practice every day.
15. A singer’s diet
Part of being a singer is taking good care of your vocal health. As you are your own instrument, it is crucial that you take care of your body, especially your vocal cords. What foods should belong to a singer’s diet?
- Fresh Fruit. Before you run to get your juicer, grab that fruit and take a bite of it. Chewing does not only help exercise your jaw, but it also grinds down fiber, which you need to cleanse your throat and stomach. Did you know that juicing fruits remove some of the best vitamins and nutrients that your body needs? You should also avoid pre-made fruit juices as these are mostly sugar and sugar is bad for a singer’s diet!
- Fish. Since you will be developing muscles, specifically your vocal muscles, protein is important in your diet. Just make sure to bake or boil your fish to avoid the excess oil from frying!
- Chicken. Chicken is lean meat and will, therefore, fill you up better, longer. Broiled or baked chicken will give you the necessary energy to keep you singing longer!
- Vitamin A. With the ability of your vocal folds to produce mucus, it is important to keep it in top shape by consuming lots of foods rich in vitamin A. This can be found yellow vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes, leafy greens like spinach and kale, nuts, meat, eggs, and even yellow fruits like mangoes and peaches!
- Nuts. They are a great snack to have on hand. Choose the unsalted version as salt can dry your throat!
- Peanut Butter. Peanut butter is great for a singer, especially the unsalted and unsweetened ones. They are extremely tasty and versatile. You can partner them with a banana or bread!
- Honey. Did you know that honey is a natural disinfectant? Christina Aguilera often has a plate of honey ready when she is recording in her studio. It has a soothing effect and helps ease the vocal strain. If you need anything sweetened, go for honey.
- Licorice Root. Many teas contain licorice root. Go find yourself a decaffeinated blend and drink up. Licorice root is a demulcent, meaning it protects your mucus membranes by developing a film over them to prevent them from infection or irritation. It is also great as a soothing agent.
- Room Temperature Water. Let us face it, for many people, room temperature water is kind of boring and tastes…well…different. To drink it is the kindest thing you can do for your vocal cords, however. As a singer, it is absolutely crucial for you to stay hydrated. So you will need lots and lots of water to drink. Ice-cold water will constrict your vocal cords, putting you in a rather uncomfortable disadvantage. Room temperature water will provide you with the water you need without making it hard for you to sing. Many singers initially did not like room temperature water only to develop a taste for it later on.
These are some of the best foods a singer should eat! Always remember that even if it is good for you, it is advisable to practice moderation. Everything too much does more harm than good.
16. Things to avoid
Now that you know the best foods to eat for a singer, let us discuss the things you should avoid. This list is surprisingly long but if you want to be a great singer, and keep your vocal cords safe and protected, then you must learn how to pace and discipline yourself.
- Dairy. Yes, milk, yogurt, and even cheese are things a singer should not include in their diet. Why is that, you ask? Dairy often causes acid reflux that can burn your throat and your vocal cords. Aside from this, dairy makes the mucus produced in your vocal folds even thicker. This causes you to clear your throat frequently.
- Sugar. Too much sugar is bad for you whether or not you are a singer. However, as a singer, it is even worse because sugar also thickens the mucus in your vocal folds. It will also give you a sugar rush; a burst of energy followed by a drained feeling afterward. This is generally a bad idea, especially before a performance! You do not want to be caught tired while singing.
- Caffeine. I want to apologize to every coffee lover out there who dreams of becoming a singer. I regret to inform you that caffeine is one of the foods that should be avoided in a singer’s diet. Not only does a lot of people put dairy and sugar in it, but caffeine is also known for its diuretic properties. It will dehydrate you. If that is not bad enough, it will also constrict your vocal cords, causing unnecessary strain.
- Chocolate. I love chocolate, guilty as charged. However, if you are someone like me, it is better to wait until after the show before eating chocolate. Chocolate has caffeine, dairy, AND sugar that are all things bad for a singer!
- Fried Foods. Too much fat and oils clog up your vocal cords and have the potential to give you heartburn! Like chocolate, if you are craving for fried foods, it is better to save them for after the show!
- Ice Water. For the longest time, the only way I could enjoy drinking water is if it is ice-cold. However, ice water will constrict your throat, it will give your vocal cords unnecessary strain and make you lose some of your vocal flexibility.
- Soda. Sodas are filled with sugars and artificial sweeteners. These are also carbonated! Try drinking a can of soda and you will notice the need to burp a few minutes to an hour afterward. Could you imagine doing that in a microphone in front of hundreds of people? Definitely not classy.
- Alcohol. We have all thought, at one point or another, that a shot of alcohol is like taking liquid courage, which is what some people need before stepping out on stage. However, the payment for this so-called courage is your throat drying up. It is better to save it for after the show.
- Nothing. Some singers may want to opt-out of eating before a show, afraid that the nerves will make them nauseous. However, performing and singing on stage takes a lot of energy. Eat enough but not too much, just eat something! This will help you stay on your toes throughout the performance.
These are the foods that you should avoid, especially before a performance. I know some of these are hard to let go of. However, if you want your vocal cords to stay in top shape, it is important to take note of foods to avoid.
17. Avoid Vocal Strain
Protecting your voice should be a top priority when you are trying to teach yourself to sing. Unfortunately, there are plenty of ways to strain your voice. Below is a list I compiled of activities you must avoid as much as possible.
- Yelling or Screaming. Sometimes, we cannot help but scream or yell in excitement. However, doing so will likely result in hoarseness that decreases vocal quality.
- Improper Breathing during Singing. This causes your voice to either be too soft because of the amount of air passing through your throat or strained because you’re not breathing from your diaphragm. This is why it is extremely important to observe proper breathing during singing.
- Forcing Your Voice to Sing Too High or Too Low. We have all been impatient with our own abilities before. We have tried to force ourselves time and time again to sing more than we are currently capable of. However, this will only give unnecessary tension to your vocal cords and cause vocal strain. Stick to your daily training instead of forcing your voice. Eventually, you will see an improvement in your range that allows you to sing as high or as low as you desire without the damage.
- Overuse. When you begin to sing well, it is tempting to sing all the time. Overusing your voice can result in a momentary loss the next day and a sore throat. It is better to keep proper pacing in mind.
- Not Warming Up or Cooling Down. Using your vocal muscles without warming them up will only cause unnecessary pain. The same thing goes for not cooling your voice down after using it for a length of time. Relaxing your muscles after use is just as important as preparing it beforehand. If you are looking for great warm-up ideas, here’s a helpful article I wrote.
- Putting Too Much Tension on Key Areas. How do you check for tension in crucial areas such as your neck and shoulders? Vocalize in front of a mirror while you gently touch your neck to feel for tightness. If there is tightness, try to breathe, relax, and try again. Tension can cause vocal strain and creep into your tone, so it is crucial to learn how to sing without tension.
- Smoking. Smoking is already bad for everyone, a singer or not. It causes health problems to yourself and to the people around you. Unfortunately, smoking is even worse for singers as it directly affects the voice box, causing it to produce mucus, burning it, and preventing its flexibility. This can also lead to problems that are hard to treat. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and do not smoke.
- Coughing. Coughing is not something we can always avoid. You do not immediately become immune to coughs and colds even if you are observing the perfect diet and exercise. So in the event that you do develop a cough and simply cannot stop it, try clearing your throat and staying hydrated. Doing so will less likely scrape your vocal cords and throat.
These are some of the easiest things to do to avoid giving your vocal cords unnecessary strain and, in turn, improve your vocal quality. Some of the things listed here cannot be helped but, hopefully, the alternatives I have provided could alleviate the strain these might cause.
18. Online Video Lessons
Now that we are in the digital age, it is far easier to get a hold of training materials online and learn to sing. Many sites and teachers are only too eager to provide you with materials that you can use to improve your voice. While this is something exciting, it is important to be discriminatory. Not every information published on the internet is correct and healthy for you to follow. Research for credible sources.
19. Online Singing Courses
Online singing courses are truly a blessing to everyone who cannot leave their homes or are too busy to find time for a vocal coach. With online singing lessons, you can simply pick it up whenever you are free and get access to useful lessons in technique, exercises, and many more. You also have your own vocal coach teaching you digitally.
If you truly want to focus on how to become a better singer, it is a great idea to invest in the best online singing tutorials.
20. Improve your Modal Voice
Your modal voice is what you use every day for speaking. It is also responsible for giving strength and power to your singing. So how does one improve their modal voice and how can you use it to sing well?
The first thing you should do is to focus on your breath support. Because the modal voice is strong, this means that your diaphragm must learn how to push air out of your lungs in a way that makes your vocal output more powerful than ever. Once more, avoid putting unnecessary strain on your vocal cords so do not force yourself to sing powerfully with your modal voice right off the bat. This can be difficult, especially for new singers. Try this exercise a few times first.
- Make a ‘Ha’ sound.
- From the Middle C on your piano, press the keys going down.
- For each key, continue making a ‘Ha’ sound to match the pitch until you get to your lowest note.
- Once you reach your lowest note, gradually make your way back up the scale while still making a ‘Ha’ sound for each key.
- Do this until you reach your highest note and then go back down the scale again.
- Keep doing this exercise for 5 minutes.
Here’s a video you could use as a guide while you go through this exercise:
21. Improve Your Falsetto
The falsetto is responsible for providing that soft, light tone. It is what you often hear singers use when they sing higher notes. Make sure that you consciously work to improve this tone. Using pitch-matching devices or applications, listening and imitating your favorite singers are all good ways to develop your falsetto.
Humming is the best exercise to help develop your falsetto and teach you how to sing higher notes without straining. Here is how to hum with a purpose.
- Rest your tongue behind your bottom and front teeth.
- Begin humming from the lowest note you can make and slowly and gradually make your way up the scale.
- Do not strain your vocal cords. When you reach a point while humming where you feel like you are exerting too much effort, gradually hum your way down the scale before going back up.
- Make sure to include the ‘H’ at the beginning of your hums as they help facilitate nasal breathing and improve your tone.
- Keep doing this exercise for about 5 minutes.
Here is a video that you can follow with this vocal exercise:
Part 2: Improve Your Singing Voice Intermediate Level
22. Singing with Mixed Voice
After you have gone and improved your modal voice and your falsetto, you would want to be able to use both vocal registers. As a singer, you want to have the ability to sing both rich and powerful tones as well as light and airy ones and, sometimes, a mix of the two. You can use this exercise as a part of your routine to help with developing your mixed voice.
- Go ahead and channel your inner Goofy as you do this next exercise.
- Make a “gee” sound and say it the way Goofy does,
- Climb up and down the scale and then back up again.
This will help your larynx drop and give you a richer tone and help with your vocal transitions.
For more help on this exercise, this video is the perfect example of how to do it:
23. Smoothening Your Transitions
This is extremely important for every singer because you would not want your audience to be able to tell when your modal voice ends and your falsetto starts. There must be a gradual transition between the two for a seamless mix of both high and powerful tones. To help develop your mixed voice, here is an exercise that you can try:
- Using the word ‘nay’, make this sound much like a cackling witch.
- Make a gradual climb to your higher registers (modal to falsetto),
- Then, make a gradual climb down.
This exercise specifically helps you reach your higher registers while lessening the cracks in your voice.
If you need help with this vocal warm-up, then this video is perfect for you:
24. Fixing Voice Breaks
As a new singer, you will find that you will have times when you are singing a higher note and then, all of a sudden, your voice makes a funny sound. Do not panic. Keep in mind that breaks in your voice like these are a result of your muscles rearranging themselves as you continue your vocal training.
These also mean that you are putting far too much tension on your vocal cords while you sing. Go ahead and drink some water and allow your voice to rest before continuing with practice sessions.
25. Improving Your Range
When you started learning how to sing, it is very likely that you’ve become obsessed with improving your vocal range, or how high or how low a singer can sing! If you are interested in reading more about the vocal range and how you can find yours, read through this article that I wrote. It comes with a pretty handy range finder tool too.
Aside from that, you can also incorporate this vocal exercise into your daily routine to help with your range improvement.
- Use the ‘ng’ from the word ‘ring’
- Make this sound from your lowest tone.
- Gradually climb to your higher register.
- Repeat this 6 times.
This video demonstrates the perfect way to do this exercise as well as gives you accompaniment for yours:
26. Vocal Techniques
Developing your vocal techniques can help teach you how to sing with more agility than others. Slides and runs that make songs more interesting will become easier for you to accomplish.
However, it is important to keep in mind that developing your techniques might take a while before you are as good as your favorite artists. The best way to give yourself the perfect opportunity to develop your vocal techniques is to master your mixed voice.
27. Vocal Control
Vocal control is the ability to match the pitch of a certain song and to do this without all of your vocal registers going haywire.
There have been cases where singers get overly excited about hitting that high note that they relinquish the control of their voice. The result? They sing far too high without matching the pitch. It is crucial to remember to have complete control over the resonance of your voice throughout your performance.
28. Learn How to Belt
The next thing you will hear from other singers is the desire to learn how to belt. However, you might be wondering what on earth do they mean by belting? This is defined by being able to sing falsetto with the strength and power of your modal voice register.
It is easy to make a mistake when learning how to belt, which often results in vocal strain and voice loss. Some people assume that by yelling as they sing they would give off the impression of belting. This is wrong, and will only serve to bring unnecessary strain to your vocal cords.
Belting is achieved through practice and by incorporating several extra exercises into your daily routine. This exercise will help you put more power into your high notes without damaging your vocal cords. You can also use it to improve your singing voice.
- Get your vowels ready and add Ms to the beginning
- Say “ma-me-mi-mo-mu” in a prolonged, monotonous voice.
- Gradually make your way up the scale as you say “ma-me-mi-mo-mu”.
- By adding the prolonged ‘M’, your voice will have more power in it, even when hitting the higher notes.
- Repeat this 6 times.
If you need a guide for this warm-up exercise, this video is perfect:
29. Improving Your Tone
Improving your vocal tone is something that sounds difficult but is actually pretty easy once you find out how.
- Observe proper breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing
- Eliminate tension when you sing
- Observe proper posture
30. Avoiding Nasality
Have you ever tried singing while pinching your nose? If your voice quality changes and you sound a bit like Squidward from Spongebob, chances are, you sound way too nasally when you sing.
Nasality in a voice is unattractive. When you sing, you want to be able to produce a clear, resonant voice. You want to be able to reach those high notes without them sounding like a shriek.
Once again, the importance of diaphragmatic breathing and a relaxed jaw comes into play. To avoid nasality in the voice, make sure to do diaphragmatic breathing as you sing and observe other proper breathing techniques. Do not forget to open your mouth properly to ensure that your voice reverberates through your palate instead of out your nose. This is very important if you want to learn how to improve your voice.
31. Importance of Solfege
Even as children, we were taught the solfege system by singing “do-re-mi.” Now you might be wondering what exactly is the solfege system, and what is its benefit to you as a singer? It is all quite simple.
- Pattern Recognition. The solfege or solfeggio is important to singers and songwriters alike as it gives them the ability to recognize patterns and changes in music. Recognizing musical patterns allows you to have a deeper understanding of melodies.
- Improve your sheet music skills. The solfege also allows you to read through sheet music without the notes played for you. Because of your knowledge of the solfege system and knowing where the initial pitch lies, it will be easier for you to predict your next note solely based on the first one.
Recall melodies. No need to think too hard about what comes after a specific part of a song. The solfege also gives you the ability to recall melodies even better.
Staccato is a stylistic addition to singing. What is a staccato, you ask? It is a shortened note. If you listen closely to your favorite artists, you will recognize that, at certain points of a song, there would be sustained notes and notes that are simply cut short. Staccatos are often heard during upbeat songs and music genres. This is important to recognize as it will not only teach you how to become a better singer but it can also be one of your weapons to turn a song into something more unique.
The legato is almost like the opposite of the staccato. It is described by the long, uninterrupted intervals between one note and another. You can observe the legato very clearly during ballads, and slower music genres, specifically during times where the singer sustains the notes. This gradual flowing sound is also a great stylistic way to make a song your own.
The vibrato is the shaky sound a singer incorporates in their song, especially during a sustained note. This gives the song a classy, soothing feel that everyone loves. Most singers, especially beginners, make the mistake of assuming that vibrato can be made by shaking your jaw or vibrating your larynx or diaphragm. This is definitely wrong and sounds really funny if you try it. So where does vibrato come from?
Remember when I said that singing is a physical activity that involves your vocal muscles? This is where it comes from. The vibrato comes from flexing and relaxing your vocal muscles as you sing. The variation in speed divides the vibrato into two subcategories. The faster is called tremolo and the slower is called a wobble. Learning how to do vibrato and knowing when to incorporate it into your songs can help you become a better singer.
35. Sing in a Chorale
If you have the time to commit to a chorale, do yourself a favor and take the chance. Not only will you be creating a community for yourself filled with singers just like you and to learn more about how to improve your singing voice, but you will also be committing to weekly practices. You’ll even get a taste of performing in front of an audience. Joining a choir will also provide you with a coach and help you categorize your voice. There are a lot of benefits that come with joining a choir, especially if you are an aspiring singer.
36. Sing with a Coach
You might be thinking, why do I need to go find myself a vocal coach when there are lots of free resources on the internet for me? The answer is pretty simple. You’ll have expert assistance and advice. You’ll learn how to become a good singer from someone who studied vocal techniques for years.
37. Join a band
Joining a band is another great way to expose yourself to fellow musicians, teach yourself to sing, as well as give yourself a chance to check what the industry has to offer for you.
If you want to take singing professionally, the experience you will get from joining a band is priceless. It is also much, much smaller than a choir. This means your exposure to an audience is much more intimate. This will really help you assess your goals and help set your expectations as a singer.
38. Imitating Your Favorite Artists and Not Their Songs
Many will tell you not to imitate your favorite singers and that this is not the right way on how to improve your singing voice. This is true as you need to be able to separate yourself from the rest and be your own person.
However, listening to your favorite artists, especially after you have had some vocal training allows you to analyze their vocal techniques that you may not have discovered otherwise. Imitating someone might not be ideal, but listening to your favorite artists and analyzing their singing style will definitely help you in developing your own.
39. Find Your Own Style
There are plenty of voice styles that you can adapt and make your own. This part is extremely crucial to someone who wants to go on and be their own singer.
The vocal style you employ will set you apart from others and help you identify your audience. Take your time to decide what kind of singer you truly aspire to become and work on creating something akin to a vocal personality based on that.
40. Memorize the Lyrics
Sure, there are no rules that prevent you from singing on stage with a copy of the lyrics on hand. However, when you are holding something and constantly looking at it for reference, you draw attention away from your performance. True artists don’t rely on lyric sheets too.
If you really want to become a better singer, memorize the lyrics. Doing so also helps you focus more on your breathing techniques and your overall voice quality, making yourself an even better performer.
Part 3: Improve Your Singing Voice Advanced Level
41. Mic Techniques
Sing with a mic as often as you can. This will help you get accustomed to singing in front of a microphone and identifying early on how to better perform in front of an audience long before you go on stage.
Listening to your mechanically processed voice also helps you familiarize the way you sound through the speaker and to adjust your singing voice based on the output.
42. Finding the Right Song
In classical music, assigning roles depending on vocal type is how directors make sure that their singers are singing songs that fit their voice type. Even if you are not classically trained and do not intend to be (although I highly suggest you explore as many musical genres as you can since versatility is important) there are still songs that would sound amazing for your voice type.
On one end of the spectrum, some songs will make your voice less appealing. Thus, the need to pick the right songs for a stunning performance.
You have to be able to choose easy songs to sing or something that you CAN sing. Then, challenge yourself and sing something you want even if you’re unsure how your voice will sound.
Challenging yourself constantly is part of improvement and training. If possible, list down a few songs that sound amazing with your voice so when the time comes that you need to perform on stage, you can simply select from your list.
43. Patience and Persistence
Anything worth having takes a while. This is something you must keep in mind. Learning how to get better at singing is not easy. There will be ups and downs, and times when you feel like you are not moving or getting anywhere. During these times, instead of giving up, it is important to remain patient and stick to your training. Remember that talent is anything you are willing to pour your passion and work into. Stick to your training, surround yourself with supportive people, and keep pushing forward. The world has not seen the best of you yet!
44. Whistle Tone Training
Ah the elusive whistle tone, coveted by many singers all over the world. The whistle tone sounds like something only special people can do, but this is not entirely true. Anyone can do a whistle tone as the vocal register is a part of every vocalist. Who gets to use this register, however, comes down to who is patient and persistent enough to undergo the appropriate training.
The thing about the whistle register is that it is very strange to use compared to your modal voice and your falsetto. This is because, instead of using your vocal cords the way you are used to, the whistle register only works by using the front of your vocal cords. In a way, it almost feels like shallow yawning.
Before you begin practicing to use your whistle register, it is extremely important to be cautious and careful. It is so easy to put a lot of strain on your vocal cords while training for this but force yourself to relax and lose the tension in your body.
If you are able to, get a vocal coach to help you through this. Yes, while practicing to use the whistle register, things may feel a bit tight and constricted, but it should NEVER hurt.
Here is a video that you can refer to for exercises on how to sing high notes with the whistle register:
45. Stage Presence
As a singer, your job is not only to captivate the audience with your voice quality. Part of your work is to know how to command the stage and the crowd, to draw and hold their attention with your presence alone. Think about it; would you rather watch a singer who knows how to engage their audience or someone who is just standing there? Of course, you would very much enjoy the stage presence and remember the time you had with an entertainer who can engage their audience.
So how do you develop stage presence? This is where improv classes or acting classes come in handy. You do not have to go in-depth with these kinds of training but a few classes would definitely not hurt. Don’t just learn how to become a better singer, learn how to capture the audience’s ears and eyes too.
46. Performance Tips
If you want to learn how to be a good singer with a riveting stage presence, here are ten great tips to keep in mind.
- Identify what makes you unique. Every person has their own set of charms. If you do not know your special attribute, go and ask a couple of your friends. Use your best features to set yourself apart from the majority and shine. Embrace the difference in you.
- Do not be afraid to take up space. The stage is yours, make use of it. Even a few steps can set you apart from a singer who simply stands still.
- Keep the energy going. It is a rookie mistake to allow silence during your set or show to permeate through your performance. This will destroy the energy you have set for the night. Talk to your audience, learn how to keep them hyped up and excited for your next songs.
- Dress well. Ever notice how people always talk about what someone is wearing? Use this to your advantage. Dress well and give them something good to talk about.
- Involve your audience. Your audience is there to have fun! Give them something more interesting than just standing around and jamming to your music. Now you know why your favorite singers let the crowd sing with them during a concert.
- Honest emotions. If you are impressed with your own voice. Let it show. If you are moved by your own songs. Let yourself cry. Excitement, sadness, joy, these are all very human emotions. Your audience wants to relate to you. They want to see you as human just like them. Allowing yourself to be emotional breaks the barrier between audience and artist and creates a deeper bond between you and the people you want to sing to.
- Research. The best way to learn is to learn from the best. On the internet, performances of legendary artists are available to watch for free. Watch them and learn what makes the energy different, what makes the performance interesting and memorable, and learn from them so you can apply some of the things you have learned for your own.
- Record your performance. Self-critique goes a long way. By recording your own performance or having someone record it for you, you will be able to watch it later and take note of the parts you need to improve on.
- What does the audience want? Performance is not just about you as a performer. It is also about the audience who likely paid to see you on stage. Since your goal is to entertain them, find out what songs you can serenade them with. Get this right, and they’ll know you understand them.
- Practice. Performances are not just a one-night kind of thing. If you follow your favorite artists on social media, it is clear that they practice positioning, songs, and everything they have to do on performance night weeks ahead. You should do this too! Nothing will refine your performance better than practicing hard and consistently.
47. The Proper Mindset
Singing is not just a physical skill. It is also a psychological skill. As a singer, you are appealing to your audience’s emotions and, therefore, you must keep your mind in check too. It’s not enough that you know how to sing, you must have the right mindset too.
- Remember your vocal techniques. You have trained for this. You have the foundation, and now it is time for you to showcase the skills you have acquired during training. Proper technique will not fail you.
- Prepare. So many unexpected things can go wrong during your performance, and you do not want to get caught without a backup plan. Prepare for plans B, C, and even D, so you know exactly what to do should trouble arise.
- Work through mistakes. No matter how hard you prepare, it is still possible to make mistakes. This is fine but you need to be able to make it seem like everything is according to plan. As an overused saying goes, “the show must go on.”
- Be Yourself. Your audience wants to be able to relate to a human being. By creating a false persona, not only will you get tired mentally by continuously putting on a mask, your audience will not get the same intense effect of relating with the real you.
- Be present. Many singers make the mistake of removing themselves from the situation because they are too nervous to face the crowd. This behavior will cause them to be distant from the performance and make them more likely to make mistakes that are hard to work through. Instead of doing this, take a moment to calm yourself, and be in the moment. You must remember that you are a trained artist and that you CAN make a performance worth watching.
I hope this guide was helpful to you. Singing is a package deal, it is physical, visual, and psychological all at the same time. Choosing to learn how to sing and taking the path of a singer might not be the easiest but it is definitely one of the most rewarding.
How to Become a Better Singer: 2021 Ultimate Guide [Over 45 Ways]