Give or take, anyone can pretty much sing. Much as some people are more gifted than others, even a poor voice, with some practice and determination, can be improved. If you are a beginner and want to improve your singing, this article is for you. The tips below will help you become the singer you have always wanted.
1. Know Your Vocal Range.
This basically refers to the range of octaves that you can sing. In other words, the highest and the lowest pitches you can sing. As a singer, your voice type will mainly be determined by two things; your vocal range and gender. Knowing your vocal range is crucial, even as you start your journey to becoming a good singer. Notably, your best vocal range is determined by your most comfortable and natural pitch. Try different songs and keys to know which one makes your voice sound best while at the same time does not make you strain your vocals
The first step entails knowing the highest and the lowest note you can sing and every other note in between. Some people, like the famous pop singer, the late Michael Jackson, had larger vocals of up to four octaves, but majority will not go beyond two.
As a beginner, you will usually have a shorter range than the more advanced singer because your voice has not developed, but you will be able to accommodate more with practice. With the help of a voice coach and some musical background, you can easily identify your range within the six voice types.
Like a violin, your voice is an instrument that is required to reach a certain note when the song demands, and being aware of your voice type will save you a great deal into knowing which notes you can or cannot hit, whether as a solo singer or in a choir.
Gender will also determine the kind of notes you can sing. Notably, certain vocal range can only be sung exclusively by either male or female. Bass, for example, is done by males and soprano by females. This, however, is not exclusively true with the other four ranges.
2. Understanding the Different Voice Types.
It is important for you to understand the various voice types in order to place yourself. In fact, this will help you realize which notes you should train with, hence avoiding possible injuries to your vocal chords were you to train outside your range. With that said, you will fall within the following vocal range regardless of whether you are female or male:
Soprano, which ranges from C4 to C6.
Mezzo-soprano: A3to A5.
Alto: F3to F5.
TENOR: C3 to C5.
Baritone: A2 to A4, and
Bass: F2 to F4.
3. Learn to Sing Harmony.
Harmony in music happens when you have multiple pitches being played concurrently but end up blending into each other. For example, in a rock band, you can say that the guitar offers the harmony. In other words, harmony is the chords that provide accompaniment to the melody. Notably most music is sung with these instruments and when you don’t train yourself to sing along these instruments, you will most often find yourself going off-key. Mastering how to sing along other pitches will go a long way into making you a real professional in your music.
4. Always Warm up Your Voice.
As much as it may be taken for granted, this is an important practice that every beginner needs to make a habit. Just like you always warm up your muscles before any sport exercise, the voice needs warm up too. This will benefit your musical career as it is a health precaution for your vocal chords.
Warm up your voice in an interval of 10 minutes a few times in a day. Do not strain your voice either, as this may cause fatigue and/or injury. Find an enclosed place or go to the wild and make different nonsense sounds with your voice. Make sure to include in your exercise what will warm up your lungs, jaws, tongue and the whole body as well. Do the following exercises every time before you sing.
These exercises are categorized into two types, the physical and the vocal exercises. The physical ones include the following:;
- Open up your throat by yawning. As easy as it may look, this is an important part of the warm up for every singer. Make a forced gentle yawn by slightly opening your mouth, if that does not make you yawn. You can do it while watching a video of someone yawning. That will trigger your body to respond and actually yawn as well. This will also open up your throat and diaphragm as well and hence prepare your internal musical organs to sing. Do this for three to four times so that your diaphragm is fully opened up and ready.
- Engage your core muscles. Singing involves using your abdominal muscles. To warm up these muscles, make a gentle forced cough. Watch out the kind of muscles you are engaging. The most necessary ones are psoas, the pelvic floor and the diaphragm. These three are the most important muscles that will help you sing better.
- Relax your neck and shoulder. It is necessary that your entire body is relaxed as you sing. Otherwise, you will find a lot of difficulty reaching the higher notes in the song. Shrug your shoulders and hold them for about five seconds before you release them. Repeat this upto five times.
- Learn to breathe right. As simple as it may sound, this is a technique that you cannot underestimate. Breathing is a mechanism that molds your voice. Inhale deeply through the nose right into the diaphragm so that you feel your stomach rising slightly, and then exhale through the mouth so that your stomach flattens back. Do this for about two minutes then Inhale just the same way but while exhaling, let the air escape out much slower, making a hissing sound. Do this for one minute.
- Release tension in your jaw. Put both your hands on both sides of your cheeks, open up your jaw, just in a natural way, gently massage the jaw and the facial muscles for about two minutes. This will help release any tension around the jaw muscles which are relevant in singing.
The second category is the vocal warm-ups as discussed below:
- Hum. Do the simple ‘hmmm’ sound from your throat and exhale at the same time. Repeat for one minute, then make the same sound but with your mouth open for another one minute, this time in an ‘ahhh’ sound. Humming is important as it warms up the muscles on the face, throat, neck and shoulders. It also helps with controlling breathing since you learn how to hold your breath for longer. The longer you hmmm, the longer you hold your breath.
- Do do-re-mi – After the basic humming warm up, do the pitch change warm ups of do-re-mi, up the scale then down. Start from the lowest range of your voice and gradually go up. Do this for upto five ascending keys and then down in the same keys.
- Do some lip bubbling – This will vibrate and hence warm up your lips and voice. Loosely close your lips as you blow air through them. As you do this, make sounds that go as high as you can as well as low ones.
- Practice tongue twisters in different pitches – This will help in articulating the lyrics, and doing it in different notes and sounds will be a great way to warm up your voice.
5. Learn How to Sing on Key.
This is the only way to become a great singer. It is as simple as knowing when you are out of key and when you are on key. Once you realize these two things, it will be much easier for you to make the necessary corrections and maintain consistency.
Do some recording – During your practice, make a recording of yourself while doing a performance, listen to it over and over and become your own critique. Recording yourself makes it easier for you to know where you need to make corrections as well as where you nailed.
Make several recordings of yourself with different keys randomly changing them so that you challenge yourself and see how fast you can adjust from one key to another almost at the same time. This exercise will help you test your capacity to shift from one key to another. Do this every day for about two weeks and you will be surprised at how much you will master your pitch.
Pitch mastery – Learn the difference between a perfect pitch and a relative one. By this, you become an expert at listening to yourself. Get to know your voice by heart and you will always be able to instantly tell if you are singing out of key or not.
6. Finding the Right Singing Style.
Finding the right style of music plays a big role in determining how successful you will be as a singer. Some musicians can sing just about anything, but everyone has that special style that they feel most comfortable in.
Your range limit – The first big step is understanding the limitation of your range. Find out what makes your voice tick and concentrate on that and leave the rest. Do an experiment on the different styles and then narrow down to the one that the melodies are easier for you. Some of these styles range from classical to country and even rock. The list is endless.
Own the lyrics – Another thing that will help you choose the right style is the lyrical content. Sing songs that you believe in and mean something to you, that way, you will be able to emotionally connect with the song. What more natural way to carry your audience along with you.
You can also write the lyrics yourself. Write songs out of your own life’s themes and experiences. This way, you will understand your songs more than anyone else, thus making your own signature brand.
7. Learn How to Improve Your Tone.
Getting to improve your tone is crucial in your learning process. To do this, decrease your volume and instead, use the microphone. Do not push your muscles too loud before they are ready. Think of yourself as an athlete, you have to train first, slowly and gradually. Remember, you cannot do it all in one day, give your voice time to build up. Rushing will just injure your vocal chords, thus making your voice sound unpleasant. So as a beginner, if you want to sound louder without straining your vocals, get used to a microphone.
Breath control – A good singer learns to take faster breaths between the lyrics. Singing is 80% how you breathe and sometimes, you may have a lot of fun singing to your favorite tune and end up forgetting to breathe in between so that you get enough air to sustain the song. If you make this a habit while practicing, you will just do it naturally without having to think about it.
Mouth Open – Always open your mouth wider when you sing, but not too wide as to cause any tension on your jaw muscles. The point is to open the throat so that your voice is let out from the deep of the diaphragm.
To open your mouth right, practice by placing your index finger on both sides of your cheeks, infront of your ears and unhinge the jaws, almost like a gentle yawn. If you feel the hole right where the upper and the lower jaw bones join, then your mouth is wide enough. This will go a long way into improving the tone of your voice.
All said and done, there are endless tips that will make you become a great singer. This article has only highlighted a few. With the internet at your disposal, if you do not have time or money to hire a coach, all you have to do is go for the various sites that have enough information on how to be a great singer. Go to YouTube,pick your favorite singer and learn from them. See how they manage to entertain their audience. Mimic them; see how they breathe and hold the microphone. With these in place, you may well be on your way to becoming the next superstar.