Beginning singers often struggle with typical vocal “mistakes” – in the sense of techniques that might hurt the vocal cords in the long run. A lot of times untrained vocalists (myself included) apply a lot of pressure in the throat and don´t manage to gain control over different volume intensities in seamless and effortless ways.
There are three elements that are essential in mastering a healthy vocal technique and can help you drift away from “bad, hurtful habits” and towards a healthier singing routine! Those elements are “breath”, “pitch” and “tone”. Let´s look at each component in more detail
Breath support is the number one thing to master if you are wanting to become a professional singer. Learning to breath into the belly (as opposed to shallow chest breathing!) isn´t easy for everybody. Even though every newborn naturally practices diaphragmatic breathing, this kind of breathing is no longer intuitive for a lot of stressed-out, modern-day adults. However, breathing in deeply and then purposefully releasing air out (exhaling) is the very basis of singing. Your sounds sort of float upon your breath!
Gaining control over how quickly you release air and how much to hold in is key in juggling different volumes and managing the so called “mixed voice”, which is applied to eliminate or at least diminish the level of contrasting sound qualities when switching from one register to the other. You guessed it, we are talking about the vocal break. Without proper breathing technique, you will easily get stuck in mastering the “dreadful” gap between chest and head voice.
So, as boring as breathing excersises might seem, do embrace them and appreciate any teacher that pushes you to stick with breathing excersises for a while, before even beginning to actually sing anything!
This one might sound obvious, but pitch is an essential part of your singing. In order to learn to sing in tune, learning to listen to yourself is the first step! I definitely recommend you record yourself regularly. Recordings won´t mask any of your mistakes and help you learn to listen to particular parts in a song that might be challenging. As soon as you notice you are either too sharp or too flat, you will want to go back to element number one and play with different amounts of air.
There are many additional ways to learn to “nail” your notes…like practicing to sing intervals and learning to slide up or down the scale and hold notes as soon as they are in perfect pitch. Not paying attention to pitch can easily lead to poor vocal technique as you might never learn how much air to use, how to modify vowels or how to position your tongue! There are countless little tricks to help you improve your pitch, but as long as you do not learn to critically listen to yourself, all hope might be lost;)
3) Tone quality
This third element is last in line, as this is mainly for artistic purpose. Playing with various tone qualities, e.g. by placing your sounds further backward or forward in your mouth and by applying certain mouth shapes can add interest and personal flavor to your singing. But it can also help you master difficult high or low notes. Vowel modifications are a way to make certain sounds brighter or darker and therefor also easier to sing, depending on the pitch and volume that´s required.
You see, all three elements work together, to create the sounds you are aiming for. There are countless videos on the internet and aside from “breath”, “pitch” and “tone quality” there are many more tools to consider. We also recommend you check our article on Honoring your unique vocal style and if you write your own songs, writing lyrics for singing.
Keep singing everybody!
Happy Sunday and see you soon!
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