Here's is a small sample of some of our free singing tips. Most of our tips via e-mail are longer and more detailed than we are able to provide here.
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Vibrato is a natural or forced fluctuation of a singing tone. Do not concentrate on learning how to sing with vibrato. Instead, concentrate on the basic foundations of singing, breathing and support. When the proper coordination is achieved, vibrato will occur naturally. While forced vibrato can be used effectively, natural vibrato gives the tone a life of its own. Pure and natural vibrato is an unexplained musical phenomenon and can only be achieved through balancing the breath in the vocal instrument.
LIFT YOUR DIAPHRAGM
So many singers learn to “belly breath” (breathe into the belly) and therefore tend to think that lifting their diaphragm feels similar to holding in their stomach. You can sing like this, but you are only using half your resources and not making full use of the power provided by the muscles in the back. To get your best breath for singing, you want to fill up your abdomen like an inner tube, you should feel expansion all the way around your body…yes, even in your back. Then to compress the air and support the vocal tone release, you lift the diaphragm muscle straight up from the center of your body. If you are used to the other way, it takes some practice to get the new diaphragm muscle memory, but well worth the effort!
Learning the facts about tone placement and resonance make a huge difference in the abilities of a singer. In simple terms, a singer has numerous body cavities (nasal cavity, chest cavity, etc.) and amplifiers (bones, ligaments, etc.) that act as resonators. Focusing the vocal tone through the proper resonating chamber with the proper support is a major key to controlling and developing your personal sound.
MONEY NOTES MATTER
Let’s face it. If you are singing a song with a big money note, let’s be real. You can knock the rest of the song out of the park, but if you miss the money note that’s all your audience will remember. A lot of times singers miss money notes because they are worried about it and if you even think for a moment that it “might not happen” you just increased your odds of it not happening by a great deal. Usually it is only one or two notes of a phrase that reach that “money” potential. When you focus specifically on the note, you compartmentalize it and tell your subconscious to watch out for it. Instead, in practice try concentrating on the phrase. Figure out how to use the phrase to your advantage. Sometimes changing your placement on the note(s) just before your money note can make a huge difference. And of course, during performance…see yourself hitting that note like a pro. If you can see it and you believe it, you’ll hit it almost every time.
High notes require consistent and steady fast moving airflow. Many students tend to hold their breath as they sing higher. Let the air flow. Try increasing your airflow and gauge your result.
GET OVER IT and GO FOR IT
So many talented young singers come into my studio with a good voice and with work, really shine on their vocal skills…but when it comes to performance they suffer the “I’m afraid I’ll look stupid” syndrome. Why do we do that? We see music videos and concerts every day when artists give us their all, and yet we feel less stupid singing like a statue than we do really going for it? Makes no sense, but this is not a random occurrence. And unfortunately, when you don’t really “perform” the song, you will never be able to give your absolute best performance. Why? Performance involves some sort of emotional connection with the song, when you put the emotion on your face and in your body, you will sing completely differently than the statue, no matter how knowledgeable.
The most efficient way to learn a song is actually to NOT sing it right away. By listening to a song you can learn what you are supposed to do a lot faster, without creating any bad habits you are only going to have to break later. If you can think sing a song from beginning to end, anticipating every breath and melody nuance, then you are ready to sing. It’s like a playbook for football. Study the play first before jumping in the game. Not successfully “think singing” the song before you actually sing it is like a ball player running around the field with no idea of the play.
PLACEMENT OF YOUR TONE
PLACEMENT OF YOUR TONE refers to where the tone is centered. Mastering tone placement will make your singing incredibly easy and consistent. Some people are born with the skill of good tone placement and others have to really work at it. To get technical, there is both a horizontal and vertical placement. For example: horizontal placement, the tone can be centered at the front of your mouth, the middle or the back (back never preferred). For example: vertical placement, draw a line from the middle of your chin to the top middle of your head. The higher the note, the higher the placement.
PREPARATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Singers are very much like athletes. Take care of your body/instrument by stretching out the vocal muscles and relieving the body of unnecessary tension before singing.
Communicate the music's message. During performance it is very important to communicate the message of the song. If you make a "mistake" don't point it out to your audience. It is most likely they did not even notice.
ENERGY NOT EFFORT
This is one of the most confusing concepts in singing. Energy in the tone is what we want and Effort is something we want to desperately to avoid. Energy is created naturally when our vocal instrument is in balance and our body is involved in the singing process. It feels good. It feels easy. Sometimes it occurs naturally and other times we may have to make adjustments. Effort usually occurs when singers use their throat muscles/membranes and vocal cords improperly to create volume. We should actually feel and see very little happening in our throat area.
Never guess the pitch you are about to sing. Hear the note in your head before you open your mouth.
UNIQUE VOICE UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Remember that your voice has its own unique fingerprint and is constantly changing with our actions, environment, health habits, etc. With this in mind, listen to your own voice often and use vocal training tools to keep your voice on the right track. Stylistically embrace the changes that occur over time, but discipline your vocal machine to remain in balance to support your artistry. Embrace your uniqueness and enjoy your voice.
(E)XERCISE YOUR VOICE REGULARLY
So many singers shy away from actually doing exercises, claiming they can train and warm up by singing their favorite songs. While some professionals will do this in a pinch, most of them train using exercises and warm up their voice prior to performance the same way. Pros know that warm ups will take you through muscle movements that a song never could. Not only will warm ups tell you where you voice is “not awake”, but using them during training can help you develop necessary muscle memory for difficult passages you encounter later. Today it is easy to accomplish these tasks as there are many vocal exercise CDs available. There is even a dynamic and interactive style vocal warm ups system now available at http://VocalWarmups.com. Here is another quick tip…when you go to sing your song, you should be singing it like you sing the vocal exercises. Most of us will exercise with good placement, support, resonance, etc., but when we add words and our favorite melody all that goes out the window. Work at being consistent. If we were a football quarterback, would we practice throwing the ball one way and then throw it completely differently during a game? I don’t think so.
NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT
The perception of the audience is the reality. Say that out loud, “the perception of the audience is the reality.” What they think is true, is true. So if you sing with confidence and handle that “creative” phrase you accidentally added like a professional, most of your audience will be convinced that you meant to sing it that way. Professionals sing creative nuances, amateurs make mistakes.
Humming should be easy and sound alive. If you cannot hum well, you are not singing up to your potential. Humming is a good way to determine which part of your vocal instrument is not warmed up or pulling its weight. When you hum you should be able to feel the resonant vibration on the front of your face.
KEEP IT CLEAN
When practicing your vocal skills focus on creating a pure and clear tone first, free of airiness, rasp and other tonal changes added for stylistic purposes. If you cannot create a clear tone full of life and energy, you are not singing up to your potential.
ELASTICITY OF THE VOCAL FOLDS
The vocal tone is created as airflow bursts through the cleft of the vocal cords causing them to vibrate/oscillate. The vocal folds can lose elasticity due to misuse, lack of use and/or increase of age. Be sure to train your voice with vocal exercises on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape.
Develop the strength and coordination of the diaphragm and become a pro at controlling the speed of the airflow released, the quantity of the airflow released and the consistency of the airflow released.
INCREASE YOUR AIR SPEED
Increase your air speed for high notes and decrease your air speed for lower notes. Each frequency requires a specific air speed to create the absolute best tone. Many singers push too much air, too quickly, while singing low notes in an attempt to make the note louder. All this does is add stress and tension to the tone. Use your ears to tell you when the proper balance is reached. The tone should sound clear and pure before adding stylistic nuances.
WATER WATER WATER
Drink room temperature water as often as you can to keep hydrated. If you only have cold or hot water available, swish it around in your mouth for a moment. This action will keep related muscles from being startled or stressed by different temperatures. Keep in mind that if you only drink water when you feel the dehydration during performance, the water you intake will be dispersed to the larger muscles in the body, not your vocal cords. In order to avoid vocal dehydration during performance, pay attention to your body's hydration all-day, every-day.
DARE TO TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT
So many singers practice the same song, the same way, over and over and over again. If it didn’t work the first twenty times, why is it going to work the twenty-first? Try altering different aspects of your singing and attempt to find an easier way to accomplish your best sound. For example, increase/decrease articulation, increase/decrease the amount of airflow, increase/decrease diaphragm support, alter tone placement, alter resonance…get the picture?