You can sing. You can sing. You can SING! If you have a voice that can be heard, that voice can sing. That voice belongs to you and only you. If you want that voice to be heard, you need to commit to every step of its nurturing.
Just like any skill you acquire, any technique you master or any project you complete, they all take a level of training, research and practice. With singing, it is the same.
After hundreds of hours of performing professionally, and all the hours practicing for those performances, it is clear that my commitment to my singing has produced the voice that is truly mine.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took a long time and I was very unsure at the beginning. I didn’t feel my voice would bring anything different to the world but as I took the steps to nurture my voice, my confidence grew. When listeners began to feel my emotion, my confidence soared. It will happen for you too. You will find that voice that is truly yours.
As a beginning singer, it can be intimidating and daunting to even start singing anywhere other than in your car with the windows up.
With your desire to learn about singing, naturally, you will seek some singing tips for beginners. It is a good place to start and will set you on the right path. Consider the why, the how and the where and soon you’ll be singing with the windows down!
Why Would You Like to Become a Singer?
If you want to learn how to sing, the first item you should consider is “Why?” Spend some time thinking about why you want to nurture your voice.
Do you just love to sing and want to share it with the world? Are you doing it because music makes you feel good? Maybe, someone told you your voice is unique? Secretly, you want to be a rock star or diva? Do you have a message you want to share through music?
It is different for everyone but that reason needs to be clear for you to be able to see your goals. For me, I wanted my music to touch my audience emotionally – help them feel. If I have even one listener that I do that for, I feel I have delivered my best.
You wouldn’t start out on a journey without a destination. Think of your voice training as a journey and ask yourself “what is my destination?” “What do I want to do with my voice?” Then, ask yourself “Why do I want to go there?”
This exercise will set the structure for your training. For example, if your goal is to sing at the local open mic night, that is your destination. Asking yourself “why do I want to sing at the open mic night” gives you the reason for your journey. From this step, you can address the “how”.
How to Improve Your Singing Voice?
How do you nurture your voice? The three main steps are: listen, learn and practice.
Listen to your favorite artists
What is it about their voice that makes you want to keep listening? Take one song and with the lyrics in hand, listen to how they express those lyrics. Where do they take a breath? Do they speed up and slow down? Can you hear all the words? Is the tone of their voice soothing or exciting?
Study what makes their voice work with the song. Even imagine a different person singing it. Would it work? This exercise will give you an appreciation for how a singer delivers a song. And, it will help you understand, you aren’t just learning to sing, you are learning to create music that only you can create.
Once you have listened to enough songs in this manner, you will find one that speaks to you. It needs to be one that you can sing a thousand times and not become sick of it. The lyrics and the melody should connect with you in some way so that when you sing it, you are singing it with more than just your voice…with your heart and soul.
Fundamentals of vocal techniques
The fundamentals of vocal technique are scientific. Your voice is an instrument. You need to know how it works in order to care for it and for it to be used to its potential.
In basic terms, your vocal cords reside within your larynx (voice box). When singing or speaking, air comes up from your lungs through the larynx muscles. These muscles work to snap your vocal cords together at great speeds. It is this snapping together at various speeds that creates your voice.
From there, the shape of your mouth and throat and the position of your tongue and soft pallet create the quality of your voice. For a detailed description of all facets of how we create vocal sound, I’ve enjoyed reading Kristina Seleshanko’s vocal anatomy article. In it, she combines sketches and more in-depth writing on the voice and all of its components.
Once you understand how it works, you will be ready to implement the various singing techniques available.
The five basic learning to sing rules are: breathing, posture, warming up, finding your range, and hydrating.
Breath control allows a singer to manage the amount of air that passes the vocal cords. Without breath control, a singer might run out of air stressing the vocal cord and producing an unpleasant tone.
By incorporating breathing exercises into your daily singing routine, you will increase your lung capacity and your ability to control how much air flows through your larnx. This increased strength and awareness will give you the ability to sing longer and higher notes with improved control and better tone.
You can start with a simple exercise such as breathing deep into your belly for a count of five and hissing out your exhale for a count of ten. You’ll notice as you inhale how your diaphragm expands into your stomach area and then, with the exhale, it slowly relaxes as the abdominal muscles engage to express the air.
Try this exercise lying down and you will really feel the action.
Appropriate singing posture allows for increased breathing capacity, tension release, blood flow, airflow and organ space. I have often instructed my students to compare singing while slouched in a chair with singing standing up with their shoulders back. By standing up with a relaxed neck, shoulders back, and feet planted firmly on the ground, you give your diaphragm and lungs all the room they need to expand and support your voice.
Just like a runner stretches before a race, your vocal cords and larynx muscles need a warm up to protect them from injury. These exercises help warm up your lungs, diaphragm and vocal cords and prepare them to support your singing voice. In addition, warming up focuses your mind and total body to bring your best voice forward.
A simple warm-up exercise is to find a note you are comfortable with. Whatever note comes out is fine. Sing “ah” on the next five notes going higher then, turn around and sing those same notes back to your starting note. Next, start this ten note sequence on the second note of the scale you just sang.
Continue this sequence for five scales and then sing it in the opposite direction. Go slowly, using your new deep breathing and breath control as you sing. Try it using “ee” and “ooo” as your vowel sound too.
Finding your range
Obviously, not everyone has the same vocal range. It is important as you start out singing that you sing where you are comfortable. Do not try to hit notes that are out of your range that put strain on your vocal cords. You will reach those notes in time but for now; find songs that you can sing without strain.
A well-oiled machine runs best. Think of your voice as a machine with working parts. These parts (vocal cords, larynx muscles, lungs, diaphragm, throat, mouth and nose) all need water to operate effectively.
Your vocal cords vibrate easier and more smoothly when they are hydrated and have an optimal layer of mucus. Your muscles and lungs need water to carry nutrients through your system so it can operate effectively.
Keep in mind; you need to allow time for the water to work through your system. Your vocal cords are not lubricated by a quick glass of water.
The lubrication comes through your digestive system so you need to drink regularly in preparation for singing and always keep your body hydrated.
How to Practice Singing When you are a Beginner?
This may seem like an obvious rule but it is the key to progressing with your voice. Like any new skill you attempt, daily training will set your mind and body in gear.
As you focus on exercises and develop your voice, the muscles that you utilize each time will strengthen, your lungs will expand, your diaphragm will give you better breath control, and your ears will begin to recognize pitch and tone. You will become more confident. The easiest way to start practicing is to set up a daily routine.
In the beginning, a half hour is all you need but you need to commit to it. Spend fifteen minutes on the scales delineated above and then spend fifteen minutes on a song of your choice.
Part of practicing will be listening to your voice. Set up a recording device while you warm up and sing your song. Keep separate recordings so you can hear how your voice improves. You’ll also be able to hear what sounds good and what you need to work on.
In time you’ll find a half hour goes by awfully fast and you’ll need to expand your practice sessions. Be sure to expand both your warm up time and your singing time.
Where to Practice Singing?
The where includes “where to practice”, “where to sing” and “where to learn more”.
What can I use as a beginning practice space?
When I first started singing, stairwells were my go to practice rooms. The echo in a tall, cement-walled chamber gave my voice reverberation that rang to the roof. It was inspiring to hear my voice richly ring out. If you don’t have a stairwell conveniently located, try a tiled bathroom. Your tones will reflect off the walls and give you that surround sound. You will be able to hear yourself and get to know your unique tone. You might even put a sign on the door that says “In Use: Practice Session”.
What are good places to sing?
When you are ready to sing outside the bathroom or stairwell, sing everywhere you can…in the car, on a hike, in the grocery store aisles, while preparing food in your kitchen, and of course in the shower (which everyone knows has wonderful acoustics!) This step is important in your training because it gets you comfortable with singing aloud and exercises those vocal components. I have certainly had my share of people laugh as they drive by my car to find me singing at the top of my lungs. I used to quickly quiet down but now I own it because I am a singer!
Joining a local chorus is another great place to enjoy your melodious adventures. You don’t have to have years of vocal training to be part of a singing group. You just need to be willing to learn how to sing in a group. Some choirs are audition only and some are open to anyone. You’ll find the one that fits you best. And, not only do you get to hear other singers, you get to create music with them.
Everyone has heard of “open mic” nights. They are in just about every town. Some of them even have house bands that will back you up as you sing. I believe the best thing about these venues is they give you a chance to sing in front of an audience and you only have to sing one song! If you are nervous about singing in front of people, this is good! If you were too confident, it would show through your singing.
My best tip for singing in front of people is to remember it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable but YOU are the one with the courage, not the audience. Let that courage empower you. Let it pour through your song. Honestly, I still get nervous before a show but I use that nervousness to emote my performances.
Where Can I Learn More About Singing Lessons?
There are many vocalists that do not know how to read music. They listen and learn and it works. However, learning music theory gives you the toolbox necessary to really understand what your voice needs to do with each note. Being a pianist as well as a vocalist, I can quickly sight read a vocal chart, anticipate when it will change key or know how long to hold a note all the while singing it with confidence.
I encourage you to pick up a beginning theory book. Educate your music mind as well as your music muscles.
Alternatively, to learn more, you can hire a professional voice teacher. I believe the most important gift a voice teacher brings is that they listen constructively. They will support you tremendously in your voice nurturing process. Keep in mind; it takes time to find the right teacher for you. In the meantime, you can get started today on the journey. Are you ready to make the commitment? Your voice is waiting!