Become A Better Singer: Basic Vocal Techniques

Tips and techniques to sing better.

A lot of people want to become a better singer - to be in a band, to sing with a church choir, or just for pleasure. Some take private voice lessons or sign up for a class at a local community college. However, if you learn a few simple rules, you can teach yourself to be a better singer.

1. Pronounce all consonants - This is very important. Consonants like "b, c, d, g, j, k, l, p, q, s, t, v, w, x, and z" are what are called "voiced consonants." Pronounce their sounds and you will see that they have a sound you can pronounce. Other consonants, like "f, h, m, n, and r" are imploded consonants. This means that the sounds can't really be said. For example, the "f" sound is like "fff," while g, a voiced consonant sounds like "guh." You must emphasis all consonant sounds when you are singing, whether they are voiced or imploded. If you have a word that ends with a "t" or "k," you must pronounce it. For example, say you were singing "I want to take it to the end of the rainbow," you would sing, "I wanT To TaKe iT To thee enD of the rainbow," which the capitalized letters being clearly pronounced and slightly emphasized. Don't overemphasize or you will hurt your vocal cords.

2. Vowel sounds are also very important. Some vowel sounds are "dipthongs," which means they have more than one pure vowel sound in them. The pure vowel sounds are "Ah, eh, ee, o, ooh." Some vowels, like the long "I" sound, are a combination of these sounds - in that case, "Ah - ee." When you run into dipthongs, you must pronounce both vowel sounds. You must also pronounce the vowel sounds clearly and by the pure sounds, NOT the same as you would in general speaking. For example, the sentence "Night has gone and day has come" would be "N-ah-ee-ght hAHs gone AHnd dAHy hAHs cUHm."

3. Relax your mouth - Singers can't be tense. Let your jaw drop and remain slack. Let your tongue fall forward in your mouth and rest, flat, against your front teeth. Don't move it too much when you are pronouncing words, and don't try to use your jaw to control pronunciation or volume. Stay loose and relaxed, with everything falling forward.

4. When singing, feel like you are always on the edge of a yawn - this will create the correct tone in your voice. It will feel weird, and probably sound weird at first, but that's how the professionals do it. Make yourself yawn, and then talk in a "sing-song" voice. This is how you will feel and sound (sort of) when you have the correct tone to your voice.

5. Posture is very important for singers. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart (some singers put one foot slightly in front of the other). Your shoulders should be relaxed and down. Your body should be loose - not tense, but not hunched over, either.

6. Breathing is also very important. Always take a deep breath from your stomach, NEVER your chest. A low breath will push your diaphragm down and help you control your air. The idea is to have enough air to sustain a phrase. You will learn how to control your air as you sing. Don't let too much of it out at once or your tone will sound breathy. Always practice taking a deep breath from low in your stomach, and learn to control from there. Take a deep breath, then try pretending you're blowing through a straw. This will help you develop breath control. If you're not sure where you're breathing from, lay down on the floor and place a folder or notebook on your stomach. It should rise as you breathe - your chest should not. When you're standing, your shoulders should remain down when you breathe.

7. To create vibrato, you must keep your jaw very relaxed and dropped, and allow the vibrato to develop naturally. If you clench your jaw or try to force vibrato, it won't happen. You will feel vibrations in your throat, around where your tonsils are when you begin to develop vibrato.

8. Practice a lot. You will begin to notice where each pitch lies in your voice, and how your throat and mouth feel when you hit that pitch. Use this to memorize where specific pitches are, which will improve your accuracy.

If you use these tips, you will be a better singer in no time! Just remember - breathe low, pronounce consonants, and relax.

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