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How to sing better: 5 tips to improve your singing

Posted on July 26, 2019

Have you always dreamed of being a good singer but your voice doesn’t sound like you want it to? Congratulations, you’ve decided to take on one of the most notable roles in a band: the singer. But before you attempt to reach the heights of your vocal range like Freddie Mercury, there are a few steps you should consider

These first steps will get your body and voice ready to start practicing. It’s like warming up before exercising; it will prevent you from hurting your voice. Learning how to sing is much more fun when you protect your vocal cords and don’t strain them.

Follow these 5 tips to improve your voice and sing better. As AC/DC puts it: “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll.” In other words, learning to sing doesn’t come easy and requires some work. Remember to keep practicing, and soon you’ll be hitting high notes and navigating different vocal techniques like a professional.

1. Control your breath

The most important tool for any singer is, of course, their own voice. Your voice is unique, so take good care of it. With time and practice, you’ll eventually find the singing style that suits you the best. One important aspect of singing and training your voice is regular practice. Use breathing exercises to learn breath control. Professional singers practice their breathing to sing flawlessly while jumping and dancing on stage. Start practicing your breathing techniques with us!

The first step to protecting your voice is to breathe correctly. Luckily, breathing techniques are an easy way to improve your singing. If you take a breath now, does it feel like it’s mainly your shoulders and chest moving up? This is something you want to avoid, as it’s a very shallow way of breathing.

As a singer, you want to use a breathing technique called diaphragmatic breathing. This means that instead of taking a breath from your chest and shoulders, you inhale from your diaphragm. Your diaphragm is the most important breathing muscle, and it’s located just below your lungs.

In diaphragmatic breathing, you use your stomach, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles to stabilize your core. Not only can diaphragmatic breathing improve your singing technique, but it can also reduce stress and anxiety. Practice diaphragmatic breathing like this:

  1. Place your hands on your stomach. You can stand in front of a mirror to get a better look at your torso from the side.
  2. When you’re breathing, you should feel your belly, ribs, and back expanding without moving your shoulders. This is the breathing technique you want to use when singing.
  3. Breathe in through your nose and send the air to your stomach. Feel your stomach expand against your hand. Your chest should remain still.
  4. Exhale through your mouth while keeping your core strong. As you exhale, feel your stomach move down.
  5. One helpful tip is to imagine that the air you inhale flows all the way down your spine and then expands your torso 360 degrees.

This exercise might feel uncomfortable at first. But don’t worry! Since we’re used to sucking our stomach in while inhaling, adjusting to pushing it out instead will naturally take some time.

A Female Singer Using Diaphragmatic Breathing

When you can feel your belly, sides and back expanding, you have the breathing technique right.

2. Vocal tension

Now that you’ve begun to pay attention to your breathing, it’s time to release some tension in your vocal muscles. The two most common areas of tension among singers are the tongue and the larynx, which is located in the front of your neck. After singing or doing some vocal exercises, do your vocal cords feel exhausted or sore? Or does your neck pulse and feel sore like it does after a workout? If this sounds familiar, you might have vocal tension.

When singing properly, you should not feel pain and tension in your throat, chin, or shoulders.  Tension in your vocal muscles can affect your singing abilities. Singers often tend to lift their chin when reaching for higher notes, resulting in tightness and tension in the neck and jaw area. Thankfully, there are a couple of tricks you can use to alleviate this tension and feel better.

To continue with our earlier gym workout analogy, these techniques are like stretching after a good workout to help you recover and return stronger the next time.

First, stick your tongue out. That’s right. Get it out of your mouth and maybe give it a good stretch by doing some loops. You may already feel some tension leaving your jaw and neck as you release your tongue.

As you sing, your tongue should rest and not take part in making a sound. If you still feel like your neck is involved in your singing and your tongue is getting tense, try to sing while sticking your tongue out. This might sound and look silly, but trust us, it’s a great way to ease any tension you might have.

Singing Exercise Sticking Tongue Out

Sticking your tongue out while singing helps to ease the tension.

3. Tension in the neck and shoulders

Next, focus on relaxing your neck and shoulders. Many people raise their shoulders and tense their necks while singing. Similarly, many people may clench their jaws when they’re focused on something. Be aware of this next time you’re practicing or doing vocal exercises, and see if this is a problem you’re having as well.

To help with tension in the neck and shoulders, try this simple exercise:

  1. Lean your head toward your shoulder and take deep breaths.
  2. Try to relax and feel the side of your neck lengthening.
  3. You can also think of pushing your shoulder down gently, the one you’re leaning away from. This way you feel the lengthening a bit more.
  4. Inhale, raise your head back up, and exhale.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

This exercise is good for lengthening and relaxing the neck. After a couple of repetitions on each side, you should notice a sense of relief as the tension in your neck softens.

Proper posture for singing

In addition to relieving tension from the upper body, remember to ensure good posture. Learning the correct singing posture is an integral part of becoming a great singer. Just like with any instrument, avoid slouching over and make sure your core muscles are providing enough support for the rest of your body.

The best posture to sing better is called the “tall posture”. This posture gives your diaphragm and throat the support necessary to maintain a good vocal tone. To perform the tall posture, start by placing your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees unlocked. Make sure that your shoulders, hips, and feet are aligned. Bend your knees slightly and make sure you’re not leaning forward or backward with your chest. Think of it like standing in a moving bus without holding on to anything. If your knees were locked and your legs were stiff, you would fall. Instead, think of a strong but elastic support from your legs, glutes, and back. This leaves your upper body and stomach free so you can do the deep breathing we discussed earlier.

Once you find the right posture for singing, you can learn to sing in different vocal registers. A vocal register is a set of notes characterized by similar sounds and vibrations in your vocal folds. To bring your vocal exercises to the next level, try to find your chest and head voices. Robust tones vibrate in your chest cavity, forming the foundation of your chest voice, while higher, breathier notes resonate within the head cavity, characterizing the head voice.

4. Warm up your vocal cords with vocal exercises

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of warming up before singing. Like the rest of the muscles in your body, you could hurt your voice and vocal cords if you don’t warm up. A proper singing warm-up expands your vocal range and strengthens your voice. This allows you to sing for longer periods of time without getting tired.

Here’s how to do vocal warm-ups  before singing:

  • Stretch your jaw and face muscles. If you have the time, make sure to stretch your entire body, including your neck, sides, and back.
  • Another way to relax your muscles is by letting out a great yawn. This will work wonders, especially if you’re practicing in the morning when you’re stiff after getting out of bed.
  • Practice your breathing techniques regularly. Follow breathing exercises like the one we described above to prepare your body to sing.
  • Test the limits of your singing voice. Start producing a note at the bottom of your vocal range. Then slowly glide to the top of your vocal range, but don’t strain your voice too much. Glide back down to a low note and repeat.

You can find helpful warm-up exercises in Yousician by navigating to the Learn → Workouts tab. If something still hurts after a proper warm-up, don’t force your voice. You might end up with long-term damage to your vocal cords. Symptoms of damaged vocal cords include a raspy and low, breathy sound or trouble swallowing. Rest your voice and ask a qualified voice teacher to help with your vocal training. You might be doing something wrong, or your voice might be strained. A trained vocal coach can help you overcome your struggles by giving you qualified vocal lessons.

5. Train and improve your singing voice

Consistent practice is key. There are no shortcuts to becoming a great singer, but that doesn’t mean the learning process has to be boring. Try to create a routine from the different exercises we’ve listed. Perhaps you can start your mornings by concentrating on your breathing before getting out of bed or cheer up your neighbors by giving them a demonstration of your vocal registers while making breakfast.

It’s important to schedule practice sessions and avoid interruptions. As you make daily practice a part of your routine, you’ll notice a great improvement in your voice and singing. Even if you’re in a hurry, try to squeeze in at least 10 minutes of singing practice every day.

To start doing these vocal exercises in the morning, you will want to know your vocal range. One way to find it is by using a piano or virtual keyboard. Play through the notes to see how high and low you can sing. Use ear training to understand the notes you hear and improve your ability to sing them back. Many singers can identify chords, but they’re not able to sing them back correctly. To practice this, ask someone to play an E on the piano and try to sing it back.

You can also use our app to find and calibrate your vocal range. This will help you pick the first songs to practice. Knowing your vocal range and transposing songs to a lower register is especially helpful for male singers and those with a lower voice.

After a while, you can check to see if your vocal range has improved. This is a great way to track your progress and measure the improvement in your singing voice. As you advance, you’ll be able to sing high notes that you couldn’t reach before.

A Vocal Range Finder in Yousician

Yousician helps you to find your vocal range.

Learn to sing with your favorite songs

We’ve discussed a bunch of facts about how to sing better, and you are probably eager to start singing. That’s the spirit. After all, motivation will help you keep practicing, and in the case of singing, motivation often comes from singing the songs you like. When you sing songs you enjoy to improve your voice, practicing won’t even feel like work. Who said learning how to sing better has to feel like a chore?

Luckily, Yousician has a variety of well-known songs from different genres and artists to choose from. You can also choose the right difficulty when searching for songs.Download Yousician on your desktop or mobile device, choose a song you like, and start your journey to becoming a better singer. Soon you’ll be able to sing along to Freddie Mercury’s live improvisation!

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