Clay Aiken on Singing
“A song can be more than words and music. And when it is sung with soul, a song carries you to another world, to a place where no matter how much pain you feel, you are never alone.”
Everyone has at some point in their lives sang along to a catchy tune on the radio. Some of our best memories are those road trips and family nights where we just sang our heart out to the songs that would become an integral part of a beautiful memory. No matter what the language is, we find ourselves bobbing our heads to a snappy beat. What a wonderful ability it is to sing, one that bonds all of mankind everywhere across boundaries of the world.
Not everyone is a born singer with the voice of an angel and yet we all sing anyways. It’s just one of the little things that can spark indescribable joy in us and makes us human. When signing in a group it can turn into a bonding experience. Several cultures sing as a part of their festivities to share their joy and also during funerals to share their grief. Music is truly food for the soul and it keeps us in touch with our emotions.
Now and always, singing is definitely considered an amazing form of art and singers are truly treasured in this world.
While we all like singing our most favourite song, for a budding music performer, it is so much more than just singing at the family get together or passing time while driving on the way to work. Singing a song professionally as a career choice or singing live in front of people requires a lot of practice and hard work.
Singers live to sing what their soul demands and their lives are always circling around music. It’s hard to describe how deeply singer’s are attached to singing and how it sparks a fire in their heart to do it over and over again. They live and die for music, they breathe lyrics and their voice is the greatest treasure they always try to safeguard. There are so many singing tips and tricks out there to improve your voice out there, it can get a little overwhelming about where to start. But first perhaps it’s vital to know why we need to protect our vocal cords (voice box).
Why is vocal tone important?
Your voice has the powerful ability to communicate your thoughts to another person. It’s a conduit for your power and talent to shine through. The quality of your voice has the potential to help you influence and make a long lasting impact on your audience. It isn’t important to protect your voice box just for singing but it’s useful for your day-to-day conversations and your office presentation.
Think of your body as a musical instrument, let’s say, a lovely violin. If you pluck random strings of the violin in a haphazard fashion, it would make a pretty hideous sound, right? In pretty much the same way, if our bodies are tense, stressed and constricted, it will have a negative impact on the way our voice box transmits our voice. So we need to treat our body like a delicate instrument, and learn how to ‘play’ it properly, in order to create the most beautiful, hypnotising sounds possible by mankind!
Now if you’re seriously considering creating your singing career or just get better at singing, then here’s a compilation of 17 awesome tips to improve your singing voice:
#1 Begin with breathing
Breathing exercises are usually used for reducing stress and promoting a healthy state of mind. But did you know that it is an integral part of singing exercises?
Practice breathing from the diaphragm instead of your chest. Most people don’t use their entire lung capacity when they breathe, resulting in a lot of unused potential sitting at the bottom of the diaphragm. Keep your shoulders low and your chest relaxed and start breathing deeply. Try to say “sssss” slowly when you exhale. It’s a good technique to learn how to control your air flow.
Drinking water is a universally known health tactic. Your body always functions better when it’s rehydrated. The same applies for your singing. A dry patchy throat is going to do you absolutely no favours. Take little sips of water throughout the day and make that a habit. Sip your water a little bit every time you start your singing exercises.
#3 Singing Posture
Your posture is one of the most underrated things you never knew was important for singing. But it plays a significant role in developing a strong vocal range. Maintaining a wide range is hugely dependent on your ability to control your airflow. So when you slouch, you’re stopping your lungs and diaphragm from fully expanding. Good posture aids in keeping the air moving fluidly by keeping your throat open, which in turn helps you hold high notes longer.
The best stance for developing your singing voice is standing tall and straight with your knees unlocked and keeping your feet placed 1 foot apart. Try to relax your shoulders and abdomen. By tilting your chin down, you can hit the high notes better and make your voice sound more powerful.
#4 Blow bubbles
Blowing bubbles is an innovative way to help you learn how to sustain your breathing. Practice blowing soap bubbles in the bath every day to familiarise yourself with the intensity of your airflow.
#5 Go up and down the stairs
Don’t worry, you don’t actually have to step up your cardio all the way! You can leave that to the gym. Going up and down the stairs implies widening your vocal range. Read a story or an article out loud. Start by speaking in a soft tone and then raise your voice towards the end. Do this for all the sentences and then go vice versa. Start with a loud voice and then bring it to a lower decibel by the end of the sentence. This is a really great exercise for people who tend to sound monotonous in their daily conversations.
#6 Control and pitch
Every singer is familiar with the term “pitch”.Pitch is essentially the high or low frequency of a sound. When you sing, your vocal cords vibrate at a certain speed and you create your pitch. When you sing at a higher pitch, your vocal cords vibrate faster, and when you sing at a lower pitch, they vibrate at a slower pace.
For a singer, an integral part of being able to sing is getting your pitch under control. By warbling off key and getting carried away, you lose your footing on some notes. This form of loss of vocal control is a telltale sign of an unsophisticated singer. Once you start to gain control over your voice, it’s half the battle won.
#7 Volume and style
In our daily conversations we are almost always aware of the volume we are speaking at. This is necessary in singing too. Mumbling your vocals or suddenly increasing your voice at the wrong time in the song is basically the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. As a singer, you must always be aware of your volume and the style of your sound. Good singer’s don’t smash their songs and sing off key, instead they work with a volume and style that suits both their voice as well as the song.
#8 Self awareness
With some practice, you’ll start becoming aware of your singing voice, you will be more attuned to knowing if you are able to hit the right notes. You’ll start developing a better idea of how you sound and how to modify your voice.
Experience will help you identify when you’re damaging your throat muscles. At any rate if your throat hurts, stop what you are doing. If you have a tendency to lose your voice and can’t sing for days after singing, then it’s a definite sign that you should seek out professional help from a doctor to help diagnose the problem. They’ll help you figure out what’s wrong and also recommend therapeutic vocal exercises to get your voice back.
#9 Singing warm ups
Vocal warm ups are a great way to care for your throat and mouth muscles to re-energise before you start singing. There are so many vocal exercises that you can look up to put your singing techniques through the paces. Some of them include practicing scales, repeating tongue twisters and simply humming in a variation of tunes. It also helps to practice tongue-soft palate coordination.
#10 Understanding the concept of enunciation
Practicing the art of enunciation is a quick fix magic trip to instantly brighten up your singing routine. Stand in front a mirror and closely observe how your jaw moves when you pronounce the vowels : A, E, I, O, U. If you have a tendency to close your jaws while saying them, then use your fingers to keep your jaw open for about 2 inches while saying them. Practicing this really helps your voice sound louder and clearer.
#11 Flex your face
Actions that help you flex and loosen your facial muscles such as: yawning, puckering of lips, smiling wide, arching eyebrows, etc are really beneficial in helping to keep your vocal cords in tip top shape for stronger singing techniques. By keeping those muscles flexible and resilient, it makes it easier to control them to help you during singing.
#12 Double down on the high note
Learn to understand the difference between your head voice and your chest voice to help widen your singing range. It’s a good way to use your note variation effectively. It’s easy to think that hitting high notes means being very high pitched and shrill, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Try adding a little weight to your voice so that you can sing without strain. Practice fake crying to help you picture how to get those high notes and then try to slowly incorporate that into your singing.
#13 Don’t hold your breath before you sing
Have you ever noticed that you don’t hold your breath while talking, instead you actually exhale while saying the words? Well your singing should be like that too. Say a sentence or sing a sentence- it should feel the same. Taking a deep breath and holding it right before singing will cause you too much tension in your vocal cords and it can mess up your momentum. Relax and let it breeze out of you.
#14 Open your mouth while singing
If you can sing without holding your breath, then you can feel your belly moving in and out. Practicing airflow entry and exit is very important. Opening your mouth can not only manage airflow but also help you in your enunciation of words.
#15 Give yourself feedback
Identifying your weaknesses will help you pinpoint your problem areas that you need to work on to improve your singing. A great way to give yourself feedback is to record yourself singing a song you like and then playing it back to yourself. Compare it with the original version and then jot down your mistakes. Figure out whether your range was weak or if you hit the wrong notes and then try to incorporate the corrections into your next session.
#16 Listen to professional singers give advice on singing
Professional singers are the ones who’ve made it. They’ve put in the time and learned the ropes and have finally reached the pro levels. It’s only natural for them to have made mistakes along the way. So listen to podcasts and interviews of singers talking about their careers and their singing routine. They usually share their rookie mistakes and what they did to overcome it and rectify it. It would be really insightful for a novice singer.
#17 Practice singing everyday
Practice makes perfect and discipline is the key to success. It’s a tired statement but it’s truth is strong enough to be carved in stone. Create a daily routine for yourself where you can set aside 30 minutes to an hour every day just for you to practice your vocals. A daily vocal warm up exercise before your singing session will help improve the quality of your voice and also your command over your range and pitch.
Believe your voice deserves to be heard
Confidence is a huge must for all artists of any field. It’s necessary for you to believe in your work, in this case, your voice! So that you can remind yourself that you’ve got what it takes to make it. You need to be confident so that you can handle any amount of criticism. And walk away feeling like you found more areas to improve on, rather than feeling like you failed at something.
If you’re not confident while singing, then it’ll start showing up in your performances. There’ll be a slight cracking in voice, mumbling lyrics, going off key, struggling with your breathing and standing with bad posture. Having faith in yourself is good to remove all the doubts that you might not do well and then subconsciously make that a reality. Finding your own voice and singing style will make you a better performer and more relatable. Practice again and again everyday till you feel you’ve mastered the techniques you wanted to. A confident singer is always fun to watch. They’re enigmatic and they exude this magnetic pull that you just can’t avoid. So start working on your confidence and remind yourself that you are a good singer.
Online Singing Course by Monali Thakur
Now that you’ve gone through all the important techniques to enhance your singing style, by all means go forth and dominate that stage. You were born a star and it’s about time the world found out.
Breathing exercises, good posture, vocal cords warm-ups, vocal tone exercises and the other little voice training tips and ideas will keep your vocal resonation sound bright and clear while gently tugging on the heartstrings of those who are lucky enough to hear your rendition.
We at Unluclass have always strived to bring the best coaches to people looking to pursue their talents and in this case we have none other than the talented Monali Thakur who’s experience and nuanced suggestions would bring forth the Broadway singer in you. If you love singing, then you might as well do it well.
Subscribe to Monali Thakur’s Unluclass, and learn singing online now!