Here's is a small sample of some of our free singing tips. Most of our tips via e-mail are longer and more detailed than we are able to provide here.
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PREPARATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Singers are very much like athletes. Take care of your body/instrument by stretching out the vocal muscles and relieving the body of unnecessary tension before singing.
When learning to sing your full range and accomplish the desired one voice (same power with similar tone throughout the whole range) singers often experience cracks and breaks. One way to test this is to practice a siren. Slide on the syllable “he” from the bottom of your range to the top. If you do not experience cracks or breaks, try it on all syllables at all volumes. When you find yourself faced with this challenge, it is the common response to “try harder” or “give more effort” on those notes. This is not the way to solve this issue. What you want to do is to lighten up just a bit on these notes, let them float like a feather instead of trying harder and stomping on them. Understand that most often this is caused because muscles and membranes not having the memory they need to make the transition you require, as quickly as you want it made. Repetition will give them memory, so keep practicing. Lighten up just a bit on those notes and sing through the break. Don’t develop the habit of stopping when you “crack” or it will come back to bite you later.
KEEP IT CLEAN
When practicing your vocal skills focus on creating a pure and clear tone first, free of airiness, rasp and other tonal changes added for stylistic purposes. If you cannot create a clear tone full of life and energy, you are not singing up to your potential.
Never guess the pitch you are about to sing. Hear the note in your head before you open your mouth.
WATER WATER WATER
Drink room temperature water as often as you can to keep hydrated. If you only have cold or hot water available, swish it around in your mouth for a moment. This action will keep related muscles from being startled or stressed by different temperatures. Keep in mind that if you only drink water when you feel the dehydration during performance, the water you intake will be dispersed to the larger muscles in the body, not your vocal cords. In order to avoid vocal dehydration during performance, pay attention to your body's hydration all-day, every-day.
Using your articulators (lips, teeth, tip of the tongue) more specifically to create your words will help you sing better and more easily. So many of us swallow our articulation (meaning farther back in our mouth) and that habit gets in the way of resonance, tone placement and other important singing mechanics. To improve your skill, quickly say the articulator tongue twister five times in a row: “lips, teeth, tip of the tongue. Lips, teeth, etc.” Be sure to really concentrate on exaggerating the movements with the articulators. See where all the action is? That is where you feel the action of articulation when you sing. Keep in mind that you will probably feel like you are moving them in a ridiculous fashion if you are not used to using them actively. Check a mirror, you’ll probably be surprised.
LIFT YOUR DIAPHRAGM
So many singers learn to “belly breath” (breathe into the belly) and therefore tend to think that lifting their diaphragm feels similar to holding in their stomach. You can sing like this, but you are only using half your resources and not making full use of the power provided by the muscles in the back. To get your best breath for singing, you want to fill up your abdomen like an inner tube, you should feel expansion all the way around your body…yes, even in your back. Then to compress the air and support the vocal tone release, you lift the diaphragm muscle straight up from the center of your body. If you are used to the other way, it takes some practice to get the new diaphragm muscle memory, but well worth the effort!
Never hold your breath while singing. The airflow is what creates and carries your vocal tone, so keep it flowing. Avoid Clavicular Breathing and Belly Breathing -- instead, learn the proper way to breathe for singing, called diaphragmatic breathing. Fill the lower portion of your lungs as if you had an inner tube around your waist, evenly filling the entire area.
RAISE THE SOFT PALATE
Creating a larger space inside your mouth by raising the soft palate, or fleshy part of the back of our throat, helps achieve a deeper more well rounded singing tone.
One way to achieve this is to think of biting into a large apple. At SingSmart&8482; we like to call this APPLE AH. To practice, pretend you are about to bite into an imaginary apple and sing AH.
Remember, it takes repetition of this action to retrain those muscles to hold that position so do this on a regular basis for many weeks while you practice. Before you know it, this action will be moved into your subconscious and you will be singing with a lifted soft palate and creating a much warmer, rounder vocal tone..AND, singing will be easier.
QUIT BAD HABITS
Quit smoking. Quit talking too loudly. Quit talking too much. Quit clenching your jaw. Quit holding your breath. Quit beating yourself up for vocal imperfections.
ELASTICITY OF THE VOCAL FOLDS
The vocal tone is created as airflow bursts through the cleft of the vocal cords causing them to vibrate/oscillate. The vocal folds can lose elasticity due to misuse, lack of use and/or increase of age. Be sure to train your voice with vocal exercises on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape.
Low notes are often sung with too much, or more specifically too fast of an airflow. Try decreasing your airflow speed, keeping it focused, not pushed, to achieve a more natural, more relaxed tone.
So many students avoid improving certain mechanical skills because they claim that it is their style. While it is true that certain things a singer does, shape of their mouth, how they pronounce words, etc., contributes to their signature voice… improving how you create your tone will only make your signature voice better. Don’t back away from understanding your voice; learn all you can about your instrument in order to create your best sound.
Communicate the music's message. During performance it is very important to communicate the message of the song. If you make a "mistake" don't point it out to your audience. It is most likely they did not even notice.
QUIT SINGING THROUGH YOUR NOSE
Nasal tone qualities occur when there is too much resonance in your nasal cavity and not enough sympathetic resonance or overtones being created in other cavities. One quick fix is to simply open your mouth taller.
UNIFY YOUR VOWELS
You know how you can sing one word on a specific note easily, but another word seems much harder? You could probably use some practice and training on unifying your vowels. The ability to unify your vowels and make them sound as if they come from one instrument, having about the same high and low frequencies and blended with no cracks or breaks is one skill that separates the accomplished singer from an amateur.
GET OVER IT and GO FOR IT
So many talented young singers come into my studio with a good voice and with work, really shine on their vocal skills…but when it comes to performance they suffer the “I’m afraid I’ll look stupid” syndrome. Why do we do that? We see music videos and concerts every day when artists give us their all, and yet we feel less stupid singing like a statue than we do really going for it? Makes no sense, but this is not a random occurrence. And unfortunately, when you don’t really “perform” the song, you will never be able to give your absolute best performance. Why? Performance involves some sort of emotional connection with the song, when you put the emotion on your face and in your body, you will sing completely differently than the statue, no matter how knowledgeable.
Resonance is commonly defined as the “key to your signature voice.” As singers, we are far more interested on how we manipulate it that it’s textbook definition. Resonance is created by the sound wave/frequency you are creating is shaped and amplified by dancing in a resonating cavity (chest, mouth, nasal, sinus). The resonating cavity we have the most control over is the size and shape of our mouth. So play around with the size and shape of the mouth to hear changes in your resonance. With regard to mouth shape, taller is preferred over wider.
Learning the facts about tone placement and resonance make a huge difference in the abilities of a singer. In simple terms, a singer has numerous body cavities (nasal cavity, chest cavity, etc.) and amplifiers (bones, ligaments, etc.) that act as resonators. Focusing the vocal tone through the proper resonating chamber with the proper support is a major key to controlling and developing your personal sound.
SING THROUGH THE VOCAL BREAK
If you do not teach the muscles the necessary actions to sing through the trouble spots, success will never be achieved. If you constantly stop every time you hear a crack or break…how will you ever get past it? Easy. Practice singing through those notes repeatedly. Don't PUSH through the break, LIFT through the break, keeping your chin in a down position. If your chin starts to lift to the sky and you are not properly prepared underneath (diaphragm, palate, etc.), you're gonna crack.
Vibrato is a natural or forced fluctuation of a singing tone. Do not concentrate on learning how to sing with vibrato. Instead, concentrate on the basic foundations of singing, breathing and support. When the proper coordination is achieved, vibrato will occur naturally. While forced vibrato can be used effectively, natural vibrato gives the tone a life of its own. Pure and natural vibrato is an unexplained musical phenomenon and can only be achieved through balancing the breath in the vocal instrument.
INCREASE YOUR BREATHING SKILLS
Increase your breathing capacity and control by doing breathing exercises every day. Be sure to avoid patterned breathing. Singers must negotiate phrase lengths of all different sizes, so it is important to be versatile.