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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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.
Breathing properly for singing requires the shoulders to remain down and relaxed, not rise with the breath intake. A singer will gain power to their voice by strengthening the muscles in their rib cage and back.
COPE WITH THE UNEXPECTED
Singing events and challenges occur with every performance. Deal with them the SMART way. Figure out which part of your vocal instrument is out of balance and make an instant adjustment. If you are not sure what actually makes up your “vocal instrument” you would definitely benefit from learning vocal mechanics.
ALWAYS ON THE PHONE?
If you speak on the phone at work you should be aware of the adverse effects this causes your larynx. When you speak you're listening to your voice through the tiny ear piece which has a small electronic sound. Subconsciously you adjust your voice to make the sound more intense. This situation over a period of time will aggravate your larynx due to over-energizing the point where the two vocal folds meet. Be sure to breathe deeply and keep your voice animated by changing the pitch frequently.[Tip excerpted from The Rock-N-Roll Singer's Survival Manual]
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.
MONEY NOTES MATTER
Let’s face it. If you are singing a song with a big money note, let’s be real. You can knock the rest of the song out of the park, but if you miss the money note that’s all your audience will remember. A lot of times singers miss money notes because they are worried about it and if you even think for a moment that it “might not happen” you just increased your odds of it not happening by a great deal. Usually it is only one or two notes of a phrase that reach that “money” potential. When you focus specifically on the note, you compartmentalize it and tell your subconscious to watch out for it. Instead, in practice try concentrating on the phrase. Figure out how to use the phrase to your advantage. Sometimes changing your placement on the note(s) just before your money note can make a huge difference. And of course, during performance…see yourself hitting that note like a pro. If you can see it and you believe it, you’ll hit it almost every time.
If you have been around organized singing groups or perhaps even studied training you have probably heard these terms: chest voice, middle voice, head voice and belt voice. Some singers have even had the misfortune of studying under these kinds of principles…unfortunately that usually means they can’t sing very many songs and still sound like one person. When they go up for that higher note in the phrase they end up switching to some hooty, covered, “head voice” sound. We won’t go into the foundation of these terms here, but know that your goal as a singer is to manage the balance of resonance in all cavities so you can sing from low to high with a consistent tone.
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.
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.
UNIQUE VOICE UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Remember that your voice has its own unique fingerprint and is constantly changing with our actions, environment, health habits, etc. With this in mind, listen to your own voice often and use vocal training tools to keep your voice on the right track. Stylistically embrace the changes that occur over time, but discipline your vocal machine to remain in balance to support your artistry. Embrace your uniqueness and enjoy your voice.
Most people don’t realize how tense their jaw is…because it feels perfectly natural to them. Be sure to stretch out your face and jaw muscles and even make a specific point to monitor your jaw when singing to be sure it truly is relaxed. If your jaw is tense, you will not receive your best tone and perhaps even have trouble hitting some of the higher tones.
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.
The show must go on! Sometimes we can’t help but let our emotions and personal life circumstances affect our performances. We are human, after all. However, with practice and meditation you can learn to clear you head and totally focus on connecting with your song and the appropriate emotions of your selection, instead of whatever else was distracting you. Your body language and expression communicate your focus…but it’s your eyes that communicate your thoughts most of all.
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.
Never guess the pitch you are about to sing. Hear the note in your head before you open your mouth.
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!
If you are having trouble getting your body completely involved with singing, try doing some cardiovascular activities, like jumping jacks, for a few minutes before getting started again. Sometimes your instrument simply needs an airflow wake-up call.
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.
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.
VOLUME AND POWER
Volume and power should be gained by using the muscles in the back and abdomen. If you are losing your voice after 4-6 songs or if you hear a lot of “effort” in your tone (it doesn’t float in a pure fashion), then you are probably using your throat.
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.
INCREASE YOUR AIR SPEED
Increase your air speed for high notes and decrease your air speed for lower notes. Each frequency requires a specific air speed to create the absolute best tone. Many singers push too much air, too quickly, while singing low notes in an attempt to make the note louder. All this does is add stress and tension to the tone. Use your ears to tell you when the proper balance is reached. The tone should sound clear and pure before adding stylistic nuances.