Learn How to Sing – Improve Your Singing with These Exercises

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Everyone can learn how to sing

Are you a singer-songwriter who struggles to sing well? Do you lack the confidence to put your music out because you’re worried about your wobbly voice? Do you know you need to improve the strength, tone and range of your voice but don’t know how to go about doing it?

If you said yes to any of the questions above, this article is for you!

So sure, you may never croon quite like Mariah Carey or Al Green, nor belt it out like Aretha or Chris Cornell. But whether or not you ever match Freddie Mercury’s range, you can definitely develop your voice and improve your singing.

The word from academia is that singing is much more a skill that we can learn than a characteristic we’re born with. And like most skills, you’re unlikely to master singing without some lessons and a whole lot of dedicated practice. And the more you sing, the stronger your voice will become.

In this article we discuss:

● 5 key things you need if you want to learn how to sing.

● 6 great exercises to improve your singing.

● How coaching can take your voice to the next level.

● Your next steps in the music industry once you’ve learned how to sing.

5 key things you need to learn

1. Self-belief

Ever been told you can’t sing? If that’s a yes then you’re in great company. Did you know that a young Elvis was told that he had no aptitude for singing? That Fred Astaire himself was advised fairly early on of his non-existent talent? If these guys had given up at that point how much poorer the world would be. Self-belief is crucial if you want to improve your singing. Ignore anything negative you may have heard so far about your ability. Believing in your unique voice and your ability to master it is the first step in becoming a better singer.

2. Commitment

Ok so we have to tell you now – it’s not going to happen overnight. We guarantee that anyone can improve their singing, but you’ll need patience and commitment. You need to get to know your own unique voice and get comfortable with it before you can even start to improve it, and this may take months. It may take years to learn a variety of vocal techniques and become a really confident singer. The good news is, once you commit and get started, the potential for improvement is almost endless. The other great news is: you can get started straight away with the simple exercises below.

3. Willingness to access support

You can certainly plug away at improving at singing on your own. But as with most skills, input from an expert is going to accelerate your improvement. Whether you access online resources, private one-on-one singing coaching or vocal technique classes, vocal mastery will come more easily with regular lessons from expert tutors. Get started right away with the exercises below, all of which have been developed by experts in vocal development.

4. Focused practice

Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. I mean practice really does make perfect. And not mindless repetition but a focused approach: really paying attention to what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Ideally you need to be doing vocal exercises every single day to really start to improve your singing. Start immediately with the exercises in this article.

5. Achievable goals

We get it – you’re heading for stardom. We have every faith in you and we’re here to help you get there! But for now, setting more achievable goals will help your confidence expand alongside your voice and this is going to help you swerve any early discouragement. Though it may be tempting to set your sights on singing that perfect falsetto at the open mic next week, learning to sing in time over several months is likely to be a more useful goal at this point in your journey.

6 great exercises to improve your singing

Warm-up exercises

One of the most common mistakes you can make as a singer is not warming up before a session. This can impede your performance and even damage your vocal cords. A professional athlete wouldn’t dream of starting a run or a game without doing warm-up exercises, and neither should a professional musician start singing straight from cold. Try these vocal warm-ups for singers of all levels:

1. The Hum

Warm up your vocal cords without straining them with this simple humming exercise. The key thing here is to use a ‘hmm’ sound rather than an ‘mmm’ sound.

● First, close your mouth and make sure your tongue is tucked behind your lower teeth.

● Then, ask ‘hmm?’ as a question so the pitch moves higher along the sound. Notice how the sound reverberates up through your nasal cavity as it ascends in pitch.

● Try saying ‘hmm’ without the question – this time say it as if you are doubting what someone has just said. You may notice that the sound reverberates further down your throat this time, perhaps even into your chest.

● Now play with your ‘hmm’, running up and down the major scale with it, and always keeping your mouth closed.

2. The Bubble

Lip bubbles are a well known vocal warm-up for singers. The Bubble is a great exercise for relaxing both lips and jaw whilst taking some of the pressure off your vocal cords. It’s also a good one for warming up the diaphragm and providing a steady air flow. The diaphragm is the big shelf of muscle below your lungs and above your abdominal cavity and it’s an essential muscle to be aware of when you’re setting out to improve your singing. We’ll focus on the diaphragm more as we progress through these exercises.

● First, breathe out from your mouth as your lips vibrate like they would if you were breathing out underwater. This should make a ‘brbrbrbr’ sound. This is your bubble!

● Gently use two of your fingers to push your cheeks in at either side of your lips and notice how this helps to relax them. As Dr. Dan points out, this will also add structural support to your bubble.

● It’s crucial that you’re not forcing the air through your lips in a strained manner as you do the bubble warm-up. Focus on making the sound of one note as you make your bubble sound. Breathe all the way out, staying at the same pitch.

● It’s also important to try and end your breath and sound cleanly together – rather than the sound ending before the breath sputters out. Keep practicing this clean ending to help your vocal cords work more efficiently.

● Continue this warm-up by making your bubble at a variety of pitches and through scales.

Breathing techniques

The breath is the fuel of the voice and breath control is absolutely crucial for mastering your voice and improving your singing. Breathing in from the chest and shoulders whilst sucking in the belly is a common but highly inefficient way of breathing, and one that creates extra tension in your body. It’s super important to breathe from your diaphragm if you want to build your vocal control, protect your vocal cords, bring more power to your voice and generate a fuller tone in your singing. Try these simple breathing exercises to immediately improve your singing:

3. The Bagpipe

When you sing you need to inhale much more deeply than when you speak. You also need to exhale more slowly, and with more control. Regularly practicing this exercise will improve your singing posture, reduce tension in your body and help you to sing from your diaphragm.

● First, stand up straight with your chin neither jutting out nor pulled too far back or down. Roll back and drop your shoulders to invite them to relax as much as possible. Make sure your weight is resting gently over your knees rather than in your lower spine, and leave a gentle bend in your knees. Anchor your feet lightly on the ground about shoulder-width apart.

● Next, place both your hands around your belly as if cradling it.

● Breathe in deeply towards the bottom of your lungs and diaphragm for a count of 4. You should feel your belly gently expand like a bagpipe as your diaphragm moves south. There’s no need to push your belly out.

● Make sure your throat is as relaxed as possible as you do this, and that your shoulders and chest aren’t rising as you breathe in.

● Hold your breath gently here for a 4 count.

● Then, as you breathe out, steadily sound one note… an ‘ahhhhhh’ or an ‘oooooh’. You should notice your belly gently move back as you do this.

4. The Hiss

As The School of Rock points out, using a hissing breath during a singing warm-up is a great practice for building breath control and encouraging singing from your diaphragm.

● First, stand in the upright posture described above in The Belly.

● Breathe in using the technique described in The Belly as you count to 5.

● Then breathe out steadily whilst counting to 9 and making a sibilant hissing sound like the first letter in ‘snake’. Finish your exhale as you end your count.

●     As your lung capacity expands and you become more comfortable with hissing on your exhale, try breathing in for a count of 7, and out again on a 12 count.

Vocal articulation exercises

It’s vital to exercise the muscles of your face, throat and lips if you want your voice to transition clearly and smoothly across a complex series of word sounds when you’re performing.

5. The Vowel Maker

Vowels are the longest sounds you will make when singing, and where you will show off the unique qualities of your voice. The Vowel Maker is a great exercise for helping to develop your singing muscles and vocal control.

● Make sure your posture and breath are similar to those of The Bagpipe.

● Next, find the simplest mouth shape to produce common vowel sounds. For example, you might start with a narrow ‘owwww’ shape.

● Continue to work with each of the following sounds in turn, consistently using the same mouth shape for each one:

– ‘eeeeee’

– ‘oooooh’

– ‘ehhhhh’,

– ‘eyeeee’ (as in sky)

– ‘aaaaah’.

Make sure your jaw and tongue stay as relaxed as possible while your mouth makes these sounds.

● Identify the most common vowel sounds in the songs you sing the most and practice them regularly.

6. The Tongue Twister

Tongue twisters are a great way to work on articulating your words and toning your mouth and facial muscles.

● First, make sure your posture and breath are similar to those of The Bagpipe.

● Try singing the following tongue twisting sentences in turn, repeating them as quickly as possible for a minute or so:

– She says she shall sew a sheet

– Which wristwatches are Swiss wristwatches?

– Lesser weather never weathered lesser wetter weather.

– Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers; a peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.

● Next, really exaggerate the shapes your mouth makes as you sing these sounds.

● It’s a great idea to find and practice tongue twisters which contain sounds and letters that you tend to struggle with most.

Coaching can take you to the next level

Once you’ve practiced these exercises and feel ready to take the next steps to improve your singing, we recommend you work with a singing coach.

Some great online schools and tutors include:

● Matt Ramsey – check out the Ramsey Voice Studio

● The School of Rock

● Guernsey’s School of Popular Music

● Virtual Voice Lessons with Charlie Adams at the New York Choir Project

Your next steps in the music industry once you’ve learned to sing

At Novecore, our passion is helping musicians share their music, voice and talent with the world. Once you’ve developed your singing skills and feel ready to release your songs, we can help you to sell your music on Spotify and other major platforms. We’re committed to helping you reach millions of listeners and earn money so you can focus on what you do best: making music. Visit our site and sign up for free.

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