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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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]
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.
ENERGY NOT EFFORT
This is one of the most confusing concepts in singing. Energy in the tone is what we want and Effort is something we want to desperately to avoid. Energy is created naturally when our vocal instrument is in balance and our body is involved in the singing process. It feels good. It feels easy. Sometimes it occurs naturally and other times we may have to make adjustments. Effort usually occurs when singers use their throat muscles/membranes and vocal cords improperly to create volume. We should actually feel and see very little happening in our throat area.
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.
YOU CAN SING
Making an impact on a room is as much about expression as it is physical ability. Take the time to understand your current skill level and exercise your vocal machine to help it become as balanced as possible at your current level. Make a plan for improvement, but ACCEPT your current level and love it. Face every song performance like a football player approaches the field. Forget about everything else except for the current play and how much you love the game. Say to yourself, YOU CAN SING and give it everything you've got.
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.
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.
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.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Don't sing too high or too low. Don't sing to the point of vocal fatigue. Never strain or push your voice. Doing so will not result in a higher or lower singing range, or a stronger voice, only a voice that has suffered undue stress.
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.
Wishing your voice was pro quality won’t get it there. You’d be surprised what one hour of specific vocal practice five days a week can do. Sorry, this doesn’t usually apply to singing your favorite songs during commute time or singing the same song over and over again in your bedroom. While you may make some improvement this way, making a productive practice vocal plan would be much more efficient and of course, help you make much faster progress.
PLACEMENT OF YOUR TONE
PLACEMENT OF YOUR TONE refers to where the tone is centered. Mastering tone placement will make your singing incredibly easy and consistent. Some people are born with the skill of good tone placement and others have to really work at it. To get technical, there is both a horizontal and vertical placement. For example: horizontal placement, the tone can be centered at the front of your mouth, the middle or the back (back never preferred). For example: vertical placement, draw a line from the middle of your chin to the top middle of your head. The higher the note, the higher the placement.
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!
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.
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.
OPEN YOUR MOUTH WIDER
Nine times out of ten this will help you achieve a stronger, more defined vocal tone.
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.
NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT
The perception of the audience is the reality. Say that out loud, “the perception of the audience is the reality.” What they think is true, is true. So if you sing with confidence and handle that “creative” phrase you accidentally added like a professional, most of your audience will be convinced that you meant to sing it that way. Professionals sing creative nuances, amateurs make mistakes.
The most efficient way to learn a song is actually to NOT sing it right away. By listening to a song you can learn what you are supposed to do a lot faster, without creating any bad habits you are only going to have to break later. If you can think sing a song from beginning to end, anticipating every breath and melody nuance, then you are ready to sing. It’s like a playbook for football. Study the play first before jumping in the game. Not successfully “think singing” the song before you actually sing it is like a ball player running around the field with no idea of the play.
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.
(E)XERCISE YOUR VOICE REGULARLY
So many singers shy away from actually doing exercises, claiming they can train and warm up by singing their favorite songs. While some professionals will do this in a pinch, most of them train using exercises and warm up their voice prior to performance the same way. Pros know that warm ups will take you through muscle movements that a song never could. Not only will warm ups tell you where you voice is “not awake”, but using them during training can help you develop necessary muscle memory for difficult passages you encounter later. Today it is easy to accomplish these tasks as there are many vocal exercise CDs available. There is even a dynamic and interactive style vocal warm ups system now available at http://VocalWarmups.com. Here is another quick tip…when you go to sing your song, you should be singing it like you sing the vocal exercises. Most of us will exercise with good placement, support, resonance, etc., but when we add words and our favorite melody all that goes out the window. Work at being consistent. If we were a football quarterback, would we practice throwing the ball one way and then throw it completely differently during a game? I don’t think so.
Develop the strength and coordination of the diaphragm and become a pro at controlling the speed of the airflow released, the quantity of the airflow released and the consistency of the airflow released.
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