This article was written by Arttu Juntunen, our Music Education Designer for Voice and Piano at Yousician.
I often get asked, what are the most common challenges for male singers? As we come in all shapes and sizes, it’s difficult to make many generalizations of how a male voice behaves. However, I can describe three challenges male singers often face and give tips on how to overcome them.
VOCAL RANGE AND HIGH NOTES
The most common challenge male singers have is singing high notes. This is especially common with men who have a deep voice. What most often happens is that their voice either flips to this very breathy and weak sound, or that they try to push their way up by yelling.
If you try to simply add pressure and force your way up to those high notes, you will most likely tire your voice and sound tense and strained. Brutal force is not the answer, otherwise rock stars would never be able to sing for hours on stage every night. The trick is to work your way up slowly. Start with the weak sound your voice flips to after a certain height, and start strengthening that.
At first the high register of your singing voice might sound breathy, but with practise you can make it stronger. To better close your vocal cords, try imitating the sound of a moaning kid, or a high-pitched laughter. Experiment with all the sounds you can make in that register and really get to know how your voice behaves. You rarely use the higher range of your voice in everyday life, so at first you’ll need to get used to it and make yourself feel comfortable there.
After this, you can try to glide down to your speaking range without cracking your voice. At first I recommend you use the “ng” sound from the word “sing”. Once you get that to work, you can try with the vowel “E”. This is not an easy task, but if you do this a little bit every day, you’ll definitely notice improvement. Just remember not to do too much or your singing voice will get tired!
PRACTICE YOUR SINGING VOICE WITH LOW NOTES
The second challenge male singers often have is the opposite of the one I mentioned before. Singers with a naturally high voice might experience problems singing low notes. Their voice might turn breathy or sound thin, or they might feel tension in their throat.
The trick with this is to relax your throat! The most common mistake here is similar to the one made when singing high notes: using too much force. Only this time, instead of yelling, you might be using the muscles in your throat too forcefully and tugging your voice box down. Your voice box is the system of cartilages and muscles under your Adam’s apple. It produces your voice.
Also, you might be pushing your chin down, which reduces the space available in your throat. Low notes resonate in large spaces, so we don’t want to make that space smaller. Keep your head in the position you would keep it when you normally speak, then just relax your throat. You may even try visualizing the sound bypassing your throat completely.
Instead of pulling your throat and jaw down, try and feel the sound resonate in your mouth. To prevent your vocal cords from leaking, you can practice a solid vocal cord closure by saying “o-oh”, like you realize you’re in some trouble. Start from your normal speaking range, then go lower step by step.
After this, try singing down a scale using the sound “baa” (yes, like a sheep!). The ‘B’ naturally builds some air pressure and space in your throat before the sound, gently lowering your voice box. Try to keep it strong and solid, without doing extra muscle work in your throat. Again, practice singing, do vocal exercises such as this one a little bit every day, and take breaks if your voice gets tired.
YOUR VOICE IS UNIQUE
The third tip I’d like to give you is a bit more abstract. Often, I’ve had low voiced males come to my lessons, and they want to sound like Robert Plant or Bruno Mars, both of whom have naturally high voices. I’ve also taught high voiced men who want to sound like Barry White, who in turn has a very deep voice. It’s very important to have role models for singing, but to remember that your voice is unique and has its own characteristics. With enough practice, you may be able to sing as high or low as your idols and other professional singers, but most likely your own style and voice won’t sound the same as theirs at all. And that’s great. There already is a Bruno Mars in the world, and he’s the best Bruno Mars there will ever be.
Listen to a lot of music and try to imitate great singers to discover the things that work best on your voice. Also, search for songs that are suitable for your vocal range and own style of singing. Instead of trying to be someone else, try to find your own voice and style. It’s far more interesting and will sound amazing.
Let’s sum it up.
- To sing high notes, don’t yell, but work your way up slowly.
- To sing those low notes, relax your throat and jaw, and practice a solid sound that resonates in your mouth.
- Don’t try to be your idol. Be yourself.
I hope you found these singing tips useful. Now let’s go sing.