Do you want to learn how to sing better but just aren’t sure where to start? These days there’s a ton of information online which can oftentimes be overwhelming. Furthermore, if you’re just learning how to sing and don’t yet know the basics you’ll want to ensure that the person you’re learning from is actually experienced and knows what they’re talking about.
That’s why in this post, I’ve asked 10 questions to the vocal coaches over at Singdaptive who offered their best advice on how you can get started improving your vocals today.
Without further ado, let’s get into the questions and answers!
10 Q&As About How to Sing Better
Q1: Where Should a Beginner Start When Learning How to Sing Better?
One of the best things you as a beginner vocalist can do is to sing, sing, and sing often. Chose songs that you enjoy and attempt to produce as close a sound to the original artist as possible. This will stretch your abilities to mold your sound, through both imitation and inspiration.
Seek out a voice teacher and be diligent about practicing exercises. Record yourself singing so you not only get comfortable with hearing yourself in a critique setting, but can acclimate to your voice from an audience’s ear (outside of your own head).
Q2: What Is the Best Way to Warm Up Before Singing?
A great place to start is SOVT (Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract) Exercises
- STRAW PHONATION – Blowing bubbles in water with a straw while humming a comfortably-pitched note; immerse the straw about 1-1.5”. Hum for as long as you can, then breathe and repeat. Then hum a comfortable note intermittently, in short dashes (:01 in length), repeat. Also, glide from the bottom of your range to the top and back down, all while bubbling.
- VOCAL GLIDES – On the long vowel sounds A, E, I, O, U (/ei/, /i/ ai/ou/yu/). Same as the straw phonation glides. Also on the nasalized vowels M, N, NG.
- LIP TRILLS – We all know those!
- TONGUE TRILLS – If you can do them. If you can’t, practice saying, “Bring me some bread” like this: BA-DING ME SOME BA-DEAD… very slowly. You may get there!
This is a short warmup, just bringing blood to the area. It can be enough for light singing!
Q3: How Can I Improve My Vocal Range?
Exercise your head register regularly in your practice sessions, no matter how you think it sounds. Give energy to your breath flow, yet avoid tightening your throat.
Use vocal exercises, not songs, to get your sound flowing freely right to the highest notes you can sing. I recommend sirens – they may sound annoying, but they help you coordinate your voice like nothing else!
Q4: What Are Some Tips for Improving My Posture When Singing?
Perform a six point body check; FEET, KNEES, PELVIS, RIBCAGE, SHOULDERS, HEAD/NECK. It’s helpful for being in touch with your body and posture, but also relaxing.
With each body part you should focus on three different positions saying the days of the week out loud in each position.
FEET: Start standing, with your feet hip distance apart.
- Rock forward onto the balls of your feet, say the days of the week.
- Stand neutral, say them again
- Rock back onto your heels, say them again.
KNEES: Start standing, with your feet hip distance apart.
- Knees locked, say the days of the week.
- Knees neutral, say them again
- Knees bent, say them again.
PELVIS: Start standing, with your feet hip distance apart.
- Pelvis tilt forward, say the days of the week.
- Pelvis neutral, say them again
- Pelvis neural with rounded back, say them again.
RIBCAGE: Start standing, with your feet hip distance apart.
- Hands on your lower ribs, say the days of the week.
- Hands by your side, say them again
- Hands on your upper ribs, say them again.
SHOULDERS: Start standing, with your feet hip distance apart.
- Shoulders forward, say the days of the week.
- Shoulders neutral, say them again
- Shoulders back, say them again.
HEAD/NECK: Start standing, with your feet hip distance apart.
- Head jutted forward, say the days of the week.
- Head neutral, say them again
- Head back, say them again.
Consider the six points on your body, where did your voice feel most free? Your body will thank you!
Q5: How Do I Breathe Properly When Singing?
Your job as a singer is to create a lifted and open space with your rib cage that doesn’t collapse when you sing. With practice, you can achieve this without becoming rigid or tight in your body. Your other job is to allow your abdominal muscles to engage naturally with the right energy for every sound you make, then release instantly for your next breath.
Much of this muscle engagement is instinctive, which means once you optimize your posture, the main conscious skill singers need to work on is expanding their lower ribs on the inhale and then when singing, then slowing down the rib’s natural inward movement when singing a phrase.
The reason we must partially resist the collapse of the lower ribs is so we get ourselves out of the way to let our breath flow and vocal folds respond to each to each other instinctively with every note and every volume level we may choose.
Q6: How Can I Improve the Quality of My Singing Tone?
If you’d like to improve the quality of your singing tone, you need to be acutely aware of the variety of resonance your voice/tone can offer, which will most likely mean stretching yourself out of your usual comfort zone when choosing songs and styles of exercises to sing.
Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises, such as singing an ‘oo’ through a straw, promote ease of resonance into the chest cavity when singing in the lower range. When you remove the straw and aim to continue singing with identical sensation, tone usually thickens up and sounds more supported. This is one example on how exercises, guided by an expert vocal coach, can help improve your tone quality.
Q7: How Do I Find My Vocal Range?
There are a number of different ways to find your vocal range but in my opinion one of the simplest is to use an online virtual piano. The best part is that this method is completely free, can be done independently and doesn’t require you to understand music theory.
First, open a virtual piano. Click on the note with the red dot on it (this is C4). Try singing “Ah” and matching the sound. Then play the next key to the left on the piano (including the black keys) and continue until you can’t comfortably sing any lower. Write down the letter and number you see in the top left corner (eg. E3). This will be the lowest note in your range. Repeat this process but this time go to the right on the piano. When you can’t comfortably sing any higher you’ve found the highest note in your range. The distance between these two notes is your vocal range!
Note: some male singers may need to start lower than C4
Q8: How Can I Make My Voice Sound More Powerful?
Many mistake passion with power. Powerful people don’t need to be loud all the time. To truly sing with power is to have an intention – from the beginning to the end of a song.
Billie Eilish is a great example of someone who commands and captivates with intimacy versus intimidation. Don’t sing at your listeners – sing for them.
Q9: Is Singing a Talent or Skill?
It’s a skill. The talent or gift you hear in some singers is love. Love of singing. Love of their voice. Love of the song. Love of the circumstance. Love of life. Love something and sing!
I believe singing is both a talent and a skill. In my opinion, the talent portion is a blend of muscular (most likely genetic) and emotional (mind set) strengths. The muscular portion is no different than a basketball player being gifted with extra long bones/limbs and agility.
The vocal folds and the muscles which control them, can be extraordinary in ways of length and ability to stretch them longer than the average person (resulting in higher notes) etc. The emotional (mind set) aspect can also be compared to an athlete. It takes an abundance of determination, hard work and control to produce your best vocal sound. Even the world’s best singers can sound ‘average’ with an emotionless delivery. A
ll that being said, even a singer with a lower amount of natural muscle control (natural talent) can ABSOLUTELY learn the skill of singing, through studying. I have personally seem miraculous transformations in students, who were near tone deaf at the start of their journey. But just like studying a language, they became ‘fluent in voice’, simply because they applied themself 110%.
Q10: What Are Some Tips on Singing High Notes?
First, no matter your vocal goals, it’s most important to build balance throughout your range so all your sounds are made without unnecessary tensions of the throat, tongue and jaw. To strengthen your head voice, use “oo” and “ee” vowels on exercises of your choice.
Simple is best such as short slides or 3-5 note descending scales. This will be harder for some males who don’t use their head voice often. Always be careful not to tense the lips or jaw and keep your tongue tip gently touching the back of the lower teeth…. don’t let it pull away ever!
Don’t let your throat muscles tense as you ascend. These tips are true for every exercise you can do! Intense high notes, such as in belting, require a completely different physical co-ordination, including different vowel shapes, but strengthening your mixed and head voice will ultimately help you hit the high notes!
Having a few experts provide their insight into how to sing better has been extremely helpful. Now, let’s go over a few of the main points that were brought up and expand on them a bit.
Avoid Singing From the Throat
When learning how to sing, most people believe that you have to sing loudly to sing well and they attempt to do so by shouting or what is also called singing from the throat.
Although throat singing is actually a type of aboriginal style of singing, it isn’t what we are accustomed to hearing. In fact, singing from the throat is not what we would traditionally consider a sound that is pleasing to the ear. In order to improve your singing voice, every vocal coach will tell you to avoid the throat when singing.
Your voice and sound are created in the vocal cords. Your breath is what supports your sound. By developing the correct breathing habits you can support the air that carries your voice and this way, you have more control over the sound and volume you create.
Avoid the throat when you’re singing and you will be able to sustain the sound you make for longer breaths and sing for longer periods of time without getting tired.
Sing From the Diaphragm
In order to find the most effortless way to develop vocal control, you must sing from the diaphragm. You can practice this by taking deeper breaths and filling (what feels like) your stomach with air.
This is an extremely important aspect of singing, as it will allow you to avoid the throat and focus on the sound you are creating with less effort.
Use Your Resonators
Your voice is an instrument itself and your singing is something that involves the entire use of your body. One aspect of using your body is to allow sound to resonate in your chest and head resonators.
The chest is used for the lower notes and the head is used to resonate sound for the high notes. Well-trained singers are able to transfer the sound between the two with effortless, smooth transitions.
Develop the Proper Singing Posture
Singing involves the use of the body and the smooth release of air as you make a sound. To do this in the most effortless and natural way, it’s necessary to sing using the proper postures that allow the air to support your voice for the longest time and allow you the most control.
Sitting up or standing with a straight back is an obvious singing posture that opens the lungs to allow for deeper and fuller breaths. Chest up will also assist in opening the lungs.
When standing, have your feet shoulder distance apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other. You should be able to shift your weight comfortably with a stable base.
Your head should be straight, your arms and hands at your side, and relaxed. When you sing high notes, tilting the head down will help to hit those notes and help you use your head resonator for a fuller sound.
Drink Lots of Water
Many people don’t realize how important water is to singing. Your vocal cords are covered in a thin watery mucus and drinking plenty of water helps your body produce that mucus which in turn coats your vocal cords.
When your vocal cords are well-hydrated, they vibrate more easily, resulting in a richer, fuller sound. But when they’re dehydrated, they can become dry, irritated, and inflamed, causing a hoarse or raspy voice. That’s why it’s recommended to drink 64 ounces of water each day.
So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your vocal cords in tip-top shape. And if you’re going to be singing for an extended period of time, be sure to drink even more water to prevent dehydration.
Use Your Ears
Finding the perfect pitch is something that talented singers are able to do naturally. This can also be achieved by ear training exercises to improve your singing voice. When you are aware of the sound you are making and can match it to the right pitch you are demonstrating complete control of your vocal cords.
When you hear people miss notes or sing off-key, this is due to a lack of vocal control or simply not being able to recognize how to match their voice with the correct pitch.
There are many ear training exercises you can do to improve this aspect of your vocal ability. Consistent practice is what will really help you to break through to the next level. When you’re constantly singing you develop more awareness of the muscles that help control your sound.
Remember that singing is a full-body effort. By incorporating the use of the abdominal, back, and intercostal muscles you improve your ability to control breathing. There are dozens of facial and neck muscles that help enunciate while keeping an open jaw at the same time. Using all of these muscles becomes easier when you practice religiously.
We hope you learned something from this expert roundup on how to sing better. One of the most important things you can do to become a better sing is to practice. However, practicing properly with the right instruction could also be considered equally important.
That’s why if you’re serious about becoming a better singer, taking in-person or online singing lessons is a great way to fast-track your progress. If you’d like to learn more about Singdaptive or any of the vocal instructors in this post, check them out – you’ll be glad you did.
Excellent article very very helpful information. I will put it to good use. Put me on your mailing list please.