Vocal Techniques for Singers: There are a huge variety of vocal techniques for singers that can help develop & improve all round vocal performance. Although you will achieve the best results by attending voice lessons with a qualified teacher, here are some simple vocal techniques that can be done daily or just before a performance plus some key dos and don’ts!
Many singers fall into the trap that they must do endless breathing exercises to in order to sing well but this shouldn’t be the case. Many of the breathing issues that singers encounter such as running out of breath before the end of phrases are far more often down to the internal muscles (the vocal cords & larynx) being made to function incorrectly & also how the air flow is distributed rather than the actual function of breathing being incorrect. It is however really important to get the basics right.
You should never sing at full volume without fully warming up first. Failing to warm up your voice can result in damage and will only hinder your progress in the long run.
This should sound like you’re mimicking the sound of a car engine. Support your face around your jawline with your fingers, squish your lips together into a loose pucker & gently blow a “buh” sound into your lips so they vibrate. Once you’ve mastered this, use scales, slides up & down as high & low as you can & even use them on the melody of a song you’re learning.
Make a “mmm” sound in your own spoken voice like you’re agreeing with something or have just had something tasty to eat. You should feel a gentle vibration in your throat & on your lips. Once you’ve mastered it & it feels really comfortable hum through various scales. Do this with broken up notes, 1 per note “mm mm mm” & also in 1 long “mmmmmmm” smoothly across the notes. Avoid starting on an “H” as this indicates you’re over using breath & make sure your tongue stays down & doesn’t start pulling to the back of you throat.
Vowels have major impact on anything you sing as they are the sounds that are sustained & showcase the unique tone of your voice so they need to be controlled effectively. Many singers find themselves modifying the sound & shape of a vowel dramatically to make it easier to reach certain notes or in some cases to copy the style of another singer. Practice the most common vowels found in the words you sing & work on maintaining a more consistent mouth shape to produce them naturally rather than manipulating your mouth, tongue & jaw to try to create them. A good starting point is a nice narrow O shape then work individually & in turn across the following:
EE as in See, OO as in Soon, EH as in Stare, Oh as in Snow, I as in Sky & AH as in Star
Use 1 sustained note & 4 or 5 note scales up & down. Again, careful you don’t add any “Hs” to lever the sound out & keep that tongue relaxed.
It’s vital an audience can understand what you are singing so make sure you don’t get lazy with annunciation. Add consonants into your vowel exercises to crisp up your diction, they also help with breath control as they will create stops in the air flow at different points within your mouth & throat. There are many variations to choose from but B, C, D, F, G, M, N are very effective.
Your voice is at its most relaxed when you’re speaking in your own natural voice so try bringing it together with your singing voice. Work on tricky parts of songs in shorter more spoken way whilst maintaining the melody. It will sound & feel rather soulless & formal but gradually you can start sustaining notes & adding more of your own singing style back in. You’ll be amazed how much easier it feels!
Check out our other tips for singers below and check out our singing competitions TeenStar 2015.
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