How Can I Improve My Singing?
Like most broad statements, answering this question is not as straight forward as it may at first seem. The key to understanding how you can improve your singing has a lot to do with first diagnosing what your problem areas are. However, as a rule I can say that healthy practise that uses the fundamentals of good technique (diaphragmatic support, controlling the breath and then exercising the vocal folds without any tension in the throat) - is always going to improve your singing.
The voice (when I say this I am “technically” speaking about the vocal folds) is connected to all sorts of muscles, and so like any muscle - they get stronger with use. It’s also important to lean into exercises gently and gradually take on more challenging things; you wouldn’t go to the gym after never working out, and expect to lift 100 kilos on your first day.
Having said that, here’s a few simple ways to always improve your singing, no matter where you’re at, or what skill level you’re currently at.
1. Take care of your body
Unlike other instruments, the voice is very much a part of your body and it is one of the first things to show you are tired. Therefore you have to approach singing somewhat similarly to physical exercise. This means regular sleep, don’t overdose on foods that cause you irritation, avoid alcohol, and make sure you are well hydrated.
2. Make sure you always practise using correct breathing techniques
This is hugely important. If you aren’t supporting your voice with your breathing it allows tension to transfer to the throat putting stress on your vocal cords. See the above link to learn the correct breathing for singing and discover the ONLY place you should feel tension when you are singing. If you feel tension anywhere else, basically - you’re doing it wrong!
3. Once you understand the correct breathing - practise!
There are two distinct sides to being a great singer. One part is technique - and the other part is Practise. Technique you can learn, but practise and doing it is the inescapable part that requires commitment and time. Noone can make you a great singer no matter HOW much technique you understand, without the repetition practise so that that technique becomes part of your muscle memory, and eventually the most natural thing in the world. Being a great singer means being able to control a lot of minute muscle movements that control pitch, sound and dynamics. The more you do it, understanding what you’re doing - always listening and using your ear to refocus your phrasing, the more natural it becomes.
4. Build on your technique
The other part of being a great singer is actual technique. If you really want to be a great singer you need to understand vocal technique and how to implement that techniques in your own body and voice. When you use it correctly singing becomes easier, more efficient, louder and everything you want to do in your voice becomes possible (within the realms of your own genetics!!) Breathing is a hugely important part, but then comes sound and the larynx, and finally using the articulators. Other things like posture and performance play a role but the most overlooked part of good vocal technique is (in my opinion) understanding vocal tone/ sound and how to fix those problems. I’ll do my best to try to explain facets of sound in this blog, but if you want to dive in right now and know everything - visit www.bigsinging.comwhere you can take my step by step, comprehensive course on vocal technique where I teach you absolutely everything you need to know.
5. Be you
The last thing I want to say is, great singing is really about a certain authenticity. Beneath all the technique, the high notes or the loud phrases, ultimately great singing moves us. It allows the audience to feel something. The best way to do that is not to try to pretend to be anyone else. We all have our limitations physically, in how we sound, how high we can sing. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Be whoever you are with the instrument you have and be proud and still in that. If you strive to be generous, emotionally open and allow yourself to be vulnerable it doesn’t matter if you sing high or low or loud or a little bit off every now and then. Connect with your audience honestly. That is the MOST important thing. Singing is giving. Singing is empathy. Singing is the most mysterious thing in the world. But it connects us and opens us up. What could be better than that?