Are you are singer/songwriter who is just starting out recording demos or tapping into becoming a recording artist? Do you ever feel frustrated by how your singing voice sounds in a recording? Do you feel like your performances sound “weak” or somewhat “lame” or is your voice shaking too much? Are you not singing on pitch? The good news is…this is all normal. We have to get used to how our voice sounds in a recording and we also have to get used to singing into microphones that pick up the slightest irregularities. It takes some practice and a lot of awareness to shift and adjust things. But the good news is, we have put together 4 singing tips to help you become a better recording artist. Let´s look into those, shall we? Here we go:
Tips for learning to sing on pitch
Whether you are recording a demo or are going for a fully produced track. Whenever you breathe life into your songs, you will want to pay special attention to being on pitch. Pitch is key. The king of your kingdom. Consider it your “Namaste” in singing. You “bow your head” before your song, owing it respect by singing on pitch. In other words: Singin on pitch is your way of acknowledging your song´s soul and bones.
Now, how do you make sure you “nail” it?
Singing on pitch might take a while, as we often are biased when singing our own songs. We know how the melody is supposed to be and so our brain is “wanting” to hear what it wants to hear as we sing. This may lead to us being slightly flat or sharp here and there and not even noticing it. We are so “caught up in the emotion” sometimes and so much “inside” of our body, that we forget to truly listen from the outside. One way to train your “listening to yourself” skills is by recording yourself over and over. Ideally you will want to record your vocals in a professional DAW, e.g. Logicx, pro tools or Cubase or one of the many others in the market. Sing and listen back and try to hear where you are slightly off. It´s all about the details.
One trick that has helped me and still is helping me personally is to “tune my recorded vocals” with autotune or flex pitch. Hearing how your vocals are supposed to sound, can be an eye opener and help you understand which notes you are not hitting well. Once you identified those notes, try and analyze what makes you go sharp or flat. Is it a lack of breath support? Is it an issue with your range? Then maybe consider singing it in another key.
Or do you simply have to modify some vowels, making those high or low notes easier to sing? Maybe, if you are flat, a little smile while singing might do the trick. Or if you are sharp, don´t push too much air. Play around and record yourself as often as you need. It will help you progress tremendously. But remember: Rome wasn´t built in a day. Things take time. So, give it time!
Tips for sounding less weak even when singing gently
There´s a fine line between singing gently and allowing for vulnerability to shine through, which we want to allow as artists, and sounding weak and insecure.
This concept is not always easy to understand for beginning singers. Microphones allow us to sing at very low volumes and still capturing a beautiful sound, however, we want to avoid a super weak and “small” sounding voice.
The solution: Projecting. Vocal Coach and artist Caroline Kelley has opened my eyes when mentioning that even in a small room and singing at low levels, you will want to reach your audience. So, you “project” the sound over to them. What this means is, that you still have enough air to support your sound and good posture while directing your sound forward.
In a recording, you might want to visualize singing to a small audience across the room.
Even when singing in breathy and almost whispering quality, you will want the sound to travel across the room. Give it a try and see how your vocal performance will improve. It makes a big difference!
Tips for dealing with nerves while recording
Are you someone who loves to sing and usually does a good job, but the minute you start to record yourself, some kind of anxiety rises and you screw up?
If that is the case, do not worry. The first thing you can do to calm your nerves down is checking in with your body. Breathe some deep, long breaths into your belly. Drop your shoulders, release any tension. Scan your body for tense spots and relax. This in turn will also calm down your brain and emotions. Breathing deeply works wonders. Then, talk to yourself in kind ways. Tell yourself this is only a recording. You do not have to get it right in one take. You can take as many run throughs as you like. It is normal to layer vocals and do overdubs. It is a process. Treat it like one.
Instead of worrying how you will sound, pay attention to how you feel while singing. Do you have the song´s message in mind? Are you enjoying yourself? Are you relaxed and passionate? Try to get into the zone, and shut out your inner critic. Remember how privileged you are to be doing what you love to do!
If none of this helps, do some jumps and squats or go for a jog around the block. Get pumped up, so that some endorphins can be released. Those will help you take things easy for sure.
Also, remember to drink enough water and love yourself. Nobody is perfect and that is the beauty of it.
Tips for sounding like your true self
If you listen to the radio these days, you will notice how much singers sound alike.
Obviously, they are following certain trends in the way they phrase or in how they modify vowels or stripping out vibrato. While all that “playing” with your voice is fun and part of the artistic journey, I would personally recommend not to overdo it. At the end of the day, you want to connect with people and authenticity is always key!
Instead of wanting to sound a certain way, approach your song performance from the song´s perspective. What is it about? What are the emotions you want to bring across? How would you sing this to your younger self or even your young child, if you were to pass a message in a meaningful way. Would you be all playful and distracting, or would you keep things simple but real? Finding your own voice might take a while (sometimes up to years), but the best way to do it, is to not follow everyone else, but look and listen inward and bond with the song.
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