Most of us at some point during our lives have wanted to become a successful singer, make music, live the high life and learn how to sing. As we get older, holding onto that dream gets harder to do- but for those of us who have managed it. there are easy (and free!) ways to hone our singing skills. Here are a few of the best and most useful.
Having bad posture slumping, slouching, or crunching- can drastically hinder your singing ability. When the human body is in a slouching position, the amount of air that the lungs can take in is drastically reduced. Slouching also means that more effort is needed to engage the vocal cords and throat in order to sing well.
So how do you maintain good posture? Pay attention to your posture and make a conscious decision to keep your back straight and shoulders up. As easy as this sounds it can be difficult seeing as there is a fine line between your shoulders being up and being up so far that they curl forward.
I obviously don’t have to tell you how to breathe or that you need to breathe in order to sing you know that already, but what you might not know is that everyday breathing and “singing breathing”. Breathing that is ideal for singing is different.
Over the years we tend to develop breathing habits, for example when taking a deep breath our shoulders tend to rise when really our torso should stay stationary and our stomachs should be expanding to full capacity.
Babies are experts at this How else would their tiny lungs fill with so much air allowing them to scream at ear-splitting volumes?
It seems silly, and is often forgotten but vocal warm ups are quite important. Why? Warming up before practicing your singing allows your vocal cords to stretch giving you access to your full range of vocal tones. Warming up doesn’t have to be a huge ordeal it can be as simple (and quiet) as humming your favorite song.
While humming, try to transfer the sound from your throat and into the area behind your nose. A good way to tell that you’ve mastered this is when it tickles. It should feel like an annoying itch or a sneeze building.
It’s a simple trick, and allows for sound to travel from your throat with less force. Practice the vowel sounds while allowing your mouth to open as naturally as possible. Take note of the sound that an open mouth makes and how it compares to a “closed” mouth.
When we have the flu, chest infections, or problems breathing we’re often told to avoid dairy products because they cause phlegm to build up. Phlegm is kryptonite for singers when it builds up, it blocks the airways and causes coughing (and if you have a bad gag reflex, the coughing can cause vomiting).
Don’t Smoke and Sing
I’m not going to lecture you about quitting smoking, but I am going to advise against smoking before you sing. Smoke, whether it be tobacco, or marijuana, irritates/swells the vocal cords and throat. Irritated throats cause pain, discomfort, and trouble singing.
If it’s at all possible, try to avoid smoking at least an hour before any extensive singing and if it’s not possible, limit how much you do smoke.
Our vocal cords need rest. Try to ignore the urge to sing for a day or two every now and then, especially when preparing for a performance. This seems counter productive because isn’t the whole point of getting better at something to keep doing it?
Yes, but on the other hand an overly tired voice means a weak and shaky voice, and a weak voice isn’t the type of voice any singer want on their big day.
Singing is a talent, and all talents-even the best can be improved, so take advantage of the old saying “practice makes perfect”. Practice your butt off and keep the above tips in mind. You’ll notice improvement in no time!