Whether you sing in the shower, on the commute to work, at a karaoke bar or in front of friends and family at parties and get-togethers, you sing because you enjoy it. After all, singing is fun and one of the oldest forms of musical expression. But, some of us weren’t born with the natural talent to sing. And, although that may be true, even the most beautiful voices need some coaching and we can all use a couple of recommendations to help us improve.
So, to help you in your journey, we’ve put together three real-life lessons that every singer uses.
Lesson 1: Say, “Ahhh!”
You have to open your mouth in order for the sound to come out; however, most people make the mistake of opening up, not opening wide. The best way to develop your natural tone is by opening wide — vertically, not horizontally. To accomplish this, use your tongue to block the oral cavity. Begin by simply being conscious of where the tongue is resting (and, it should rest in it’s bed). You’ll lose tone if your tongue pushes against the lower row of teeth. Be aware, not only of the notes being in pitch, but also of the sound that you create. The way your voice resonates is important… Very important.
Also, have you noticed the way your voice sounds from room to room? For example, if you talk in a church, bathroom, stairwell, coffee shop, etc. it sounds different. The echo (or reverb) that each of these environments creates is different. You’ll need to learn how to adapt to each different environment and control the resonance of your voice.
How do you do that? “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”
Keep the above tips in mind as you practice singing in front of a mirror: • Mouth open vertically
• Tongue resting in it’s bed
• Being aware of the sound that you’re creating
• And, imagining yourself as your favourite singer.
Lesson 2: Stand up straight!
Posture is so often overlooked and especially important when it comes to singing. Singing is much more physically demanding than people think — your body is your instrument. If you’re tired and begin to slouch, or are used to slouching, your notes will have a tendency to go flat. For most singers, a simple improvement of posture will improve their pitch. Also, improved posture will help with breathing, breath control and your ability to project. Stand up straight and feel the energy of each note as it flows through your entire body.
How do you improve your posture?
Focus on your core (the abdominal muscles). If you keep yourself aware that your overall sound is generate from your core you will immediately notice the difference. You can use a mirror as well to practice this; but, if you still have difficulty, you can practice by laying down on your back, folding your hands over your belly, and focusing on your core. If you’re moving your hands up and down while you’re singing then your core is doing it’s job.
Lesson 3: Take a deep breath!
Breathing is life. And, it’s the lifeblood of every singer. Short, shallow breaths create small, weak sounds; subsequently, long, deep breaths produce large, strong sounds. Which would you rather have?
Again, awareness is the key: Where is the air sitting when you breath? If it’s in your chest you’ll have short, shallow breaths. But, if it’s sitting at the bottom of your lungs then you’ll be able to hold your air better while you’re singing. You will need to learn how to measure the amount of air you use while singing to make the best use of each breath.
Here are a few tricks:
- First, empty your lungs. Exhale all of the remaining air from your lungs.
- Second, breath in. The same way that you would drink from a straw, through your mouth.
- Third, yawn. Yawning begins with the core. This will reinforce lesson 2.
Be mindful of the physical changes that result from breathing deep:
• Your ribcage opens more sideways
• Your belly moves slightly
• Your shoulders and chest remain calm
You will immediately improve by being aware of these tips. They will not become second nature over night, but, with consistent practice (just a few minutes each day) you’ll begin to notice the difference and in a few weeks they’ll become solid habits.
You’ll also enjoy singing a whole lot more. Good luck!