As a professional singer, I know there are literally hundreds of things to study and internalize about the music world before you can get really good at it. While I've learned tons of techniques and abilities through private lessons, choirs, courses, and performances, there are a few that forever stand out to me.
A few methods and techniques I know in the singing world are almost always relevant to me and needed for me to make a performance good, whether I'm singing live or in the studio.
As I've grown and collaborated with other singers from across the world, I've found that a lot of the top techniques among the singers are often the same, with only slight variations.
Check out my suggestions below If you're a singer or an inspiring singer looking to make a difference in someone's life with your musical talents.
Singing from your diaphragm is a vital part of getting through a sung phrase without running out of air.
There are generally two ways you can breathe before you sing or speak: you can breathe from your diaphragm, AKA your chest, or you can do a breath from your throat.
While breathing a shallow breath from your throat will work in most speaking cases and some short sung phrases, singers want to make a habit of breathing in with their diaphragm (full chest) in order to get a good amount of air for their sung phrases.
If you get a breath from your throat instead of your chest, you will find that you'll run out of air and have to break up your phrases. Or even worse, your sung notes to get a quick breath in and continue to sing.
A lot of tension that singers suffer from is focused right in the larynx and mouth area, which can lessen the air you get successfully when breathing and singing from your diaphragm.
Straw singing, often referred to as straw phonation, is a helpful vocal technique for singers and speakers that want to maximize their performance abilities, especially when it comes to breathing.
Straw singing is perhaps the most popular form of SOVT singing, which stands for semi-occluded vocal tract. It may sound intense, but it's really just a fact way that you are singing with your mouth partially open.
Standing or sitting with poor posture can lead to poor sound quality in your singing or speaking voice. You want your back and neck to be upright, so avoid slouching or being curled up if you are trying to sing without sounding nasal.
Standing is the most optimal posture, but sitting upright in your chair with your head centered vertically and horizontally will help you avoid singing nasally.
Lips trills are sometimes referred to as lip rolls, raspberries, lip bubbles, or lip buzzing. This exercise helps put your body adequately positioned for healthy singing and speaking.
The air that pushes up from your consistent escaping breath helps you increase your breath support and puts your larynx muscles in a productive and relaxed state, and then the vibrations help relax your tongue and facial muscles.
If you are tense in your throat and mouth, you can be in a clenched position and wind up sounding very nasally when singing. Practice lips trills up and down a scale for a few minutes to relax and avoid any tightness in your throat or tongue.
Related Post: How Long Does It Take To Get Good At Singing?
An easy way to ease that stress in your body is to warm your voice up. Don't be afraid to try a full body stretch before singing, too, if you are a beginner looking to get better at your singing posture.
I would recommend doing some of the vocal exercises that I've suggested in the article while in a position of lying down on your back.
It may sound crazy, but lying on your back is a great way to connect your body and breath for a vocal performance!
Popular professor Richard Miller from the Oberlin College-Conservatory of Music wrote in his bestseller that "Lying on the back places the entire body, head to toe, in alignment, and the sternum is dissuaded from falling."
"In the supine position, the head, neck, and torso remain axial, and problems of laryngeal positioning, voice registration, and clavicular breathing are avoided."
Most warmups include a lip trill, which is the act of making your mouth vibrate very fast while making a "brrr" sound, and is sometimes referred to as lip rolls, raspberries, lip bubbles, or lip buzzing.
Lip trills help put your body in the proper position for healthy singing and speaking, just like singing while lying on your back can.
The air that pushes up from your consistent escaping breath helps you increase your breath support, puts your larynx muscles in a productive and relaxed state, and then the vibrations help to relax and activate your face muscles.
Singing is more than just about sounding good and hitting the right notes. Emotion can make or break the quality of your performance.
The more you focus on the lyrics and the tone of your song, the better your emotional output can be. Lyrics are a critical part of what makes music hit our souls and our hearts.
Even with the most basic backing music, powerful words in a song can help a singer perform it with intense emotion and connect with the audience.
On the other hand, you're singing a song that you understand but you really don't relate to.
If you'd consider yourself a good actor, all you really need to do is tap into that acting skill and create a scenario in your heart where the song really speaks to you.
Related Post: How To Sing With Emotion - 7 Methods To Help Your Performance
Riffs and runs are one of the most exciting yet challenging parts of learning how to sing R&B music (or any other music that has soul in it, for that matter).
Before I confuse you, riffs and runs are the same things. Some people just prefer to say one over the other.
A run or riff is a series of at least three notes close in pitch, sung consecutively, and very fast. Think of someone running down steps, where the person running is the voice, and each step is each note or pitch that they hit while singing downward.
You can really throw a run anywhere in a song as long as it isn't overkilled. Short, three-note runs fit into so many places in a song that many singers subconsciously do it.
They are best used when you're freestyling on a song, also known as ad-libbing.
Diction is becoming a lost art in the eyes of music professionals thanks to popular genres like mumble rap and whisper rap.
Sometimes, the inability to understand the words that the artist is saying on the track can work if they want to give you a sense of getting lost in the beat or under the influence.
But most of the time, people want to know what the artist is saying. This is especially true for live performances, where it can be even more difficult to hear a singer over the instrumentation.
Can people hear what you're singing in terms of your lyrics, or are they just hearing your great voice and guessing the rest?
You'll want to hook your audience in with your voice and message to get the best chance of them returning for more. Consider overdoing your diction some, especially if you are singing without a mic, to get your words cross.
Freestyling isn't for everybody, and it definitely isn't easy for beginner singers. In order to be good at coming up with freestyle lines and adlibs, you will need to practice and master three different musical skills.
The first and most important thing you will need to have is a good musical ear. You will need to know major and minor scales, and potentially be able to keep up with all types of key changes.
You will also need musical creativity to be able to master sung freestyling, since it's not just like rap freestyles, where you only need to come up with lyrics.
While some can grasp pitches, chords, and keys, they might not be able to come up with their own phrases and be stuck at a point where they can only think of lines that are not original.
And lastly, you will need to have exceptional skills for hearing, following, and creating rhythmic structures. Similar to a great ear, this will require tons of time and practice to master this type of audiation.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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