HOW TO IMPROVE SINGING TECHNIQUE: 5 STEPS TO BUILDING GOOD VOCAL TECHNIQUE
If you really want to sing and want to reach your true vocal potential, you gotta work on your singing technique.
Despite what you might think, everyone can sing. We all just go about it in different ways. And sometimes this can work for or against your voice.
What developing your singing technique really means is knowing how to use your voice effectively and efficiently as possible. When you truly master the art of singing you’ll find out what your voice can really do. And it will be much more than you imagined!
But I remember when I started taking lessons, I had no idea what was going on or why I was being asked to do something. Improvements were made but...I was 100% reliant on the teacher to guide me and my voice.
It was only years later after working with different styles of teachers, learning to teach singing myself, and studying vocal pedagogy that I started to see that there’s a process to building your voice. And if you know me, I love a process!
Hi, I'm Rebecca! And I truly love everything about the art, science, and teaching of singing. If you're looking to build an effective and healthier singing technique so that you can sing with more ease and confidence, then you're in the right place! Here's a few other blog posts you might also like to read:
4 alternative therapies that will improve your posture for singing
And of course, grab a copy of my ultimate vocal health starter guide where I'll share how to create a vocal health routine and reset your voice in 14-days!
In today’s article, I wanted to share the five things you need to do to build a good and solid singing technique. My advice is to work through them in order, mastering each one before moving on. Building your singing technique is like building a house - you can’t plaster the walls before you’ve installed the electrics.
By the end of this blog, you’ll know how to build your singing voice and you’ll walk away with a few helpful hints to get you started.
No 1 | POSTURE, BALANCE, & ALIGNMENT
Recently, I’ve seen some debate online about whether posture, balance, and alignment is really that important in singing and whether it should even be addressed in singing lessons. Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it makes a huge difference!
Think of it this way - if you put a woodwind instrument together not quite in alignment it still plays but it’ll be out of tune and the keys are not easily in reach, increasing the likelihood of injury. This is exactly the same with the voice. If you have poor postural alignment the voice doesn’t quite line up, doesn’t work as efficiently, you can’t reach your true vocal potential, and you increase the likelihood of developing a vocal injury.
So, when starting to develop your vocal technique, start with improving your posture, balance, and alignment. This is the hardest part to convince students to work on - but it’s the foundation for your house and the rest of your structure (vocal technique) relies on a sturdy foundation.
And when I say work on your postural, balance, and alignment I mean working on and developing those core muscles. Activities like Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi will help strengthen your core and pull your body into it’s natural alignment. Or if you prefer, taking regular Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais lessons work really well too.
>>Related<< How the Alexander Technique can improve your singing
No 2 | BREATHING
For me, breathing is the most important element of good singing technique - it’s the walls of your house. It needs to be strong and supportive for the rest of the house. But it’s also like fuel for your car. If there is no fuel in the tank you’re not going anywhere!
And being honest, learning to breathe for singing is the toughest and longest part of developing vocal technique. It can take upwards of 5 years to change your breathing habits and requires consistent management and maintenance.
If you read my blog, how to breathe for singing you’ll see how to get the mechanism to work but there are a couple of things you can do to improve your breathing technique:
Work your core muscles. The same muscles needed for good postural alignment are the same needed for your breathing mechanism.
Use aerobic exercise, like power walking, running, swimming or cycling to increase your lung capacity and stretch out your intercostal muscles so that your rib cage can fully expand.
No 3 | RESONANCE
Resonance is a fancy name for natural projection or twang and is the reason why opera singers can sing over a full orchestra without amplification.
It’s also where singing technique can get a little technical. It’s very easy to get the wrong type of resonance, i.e., nasal if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Accessing the resonating cavities in your chest, face, and head firstly relies on correct postural alignment and, secondly, on a working breathing mechanism. But you’ll know when you’re in the resonating cavities because the voice will naturally “ring” and you’ll feel a sense of effortlessness with your voice.
By using your natural resonating cavities you’re freeing the voice, releasing it from excessive tension and creating a healthier habit for your voice long term.
No 4 | ARTICULATION
In the simplest of terms, mastering your articulation is perfecting how to shape vowels and consonants using your tongue, jaw and lips. Getting your articulation just right will up-level your resonance/projection and help you develop clear diction. It’s like fitting energy-efficient windows and doors in your house.
If you have jaw and tongue root tension, this is going to slow your progress and you will need assistance from an experienced singing teacher to help you learn to release this tension.
Personally, I prefer singing in Italian to any other language because it is built primarily on five pure (open) vowels. If you’ve ever listened to Luciano Pavarotti sing in Italian you’re heard how seamless he moves from one vowel sound to the next and the consonants nicely snuggle around the vowels without disrupting the flow/air stream.
Although he was Italian, and you might think that this came much easier to him, in his biography he details how he spent two years working on vowels and vowel transitions before being allowed to sing actual words.
No 5 | PERFORMANCE
Once you’ve mastered your vocal technique by following steps 1-4, and this is working as much on automation for you, you’re ready to start polishing your performance. It’s the roof on top that completes your house. As Janice Chapman says:
“Vocal technique underpins artistry...”
And to truly master the art of singing, you’ll need to develop your musicianship skills, have a good understanding of the style and composition of the music, as well as learning how to create an emotional connection with your audience.
This takes time and really-life practice. You can enhance your performance skills by taking dance and acting classes but nothing beats getting out there and doing performance after performance.
My best advice is to video each performance and watch it back, giving yourself *constructive* criticism. This way you’ll find out what you do well and what needs more work. Practice makes perfect, right?
And there you have my 5 part process to developing good vocal technique. If you really take the time to master each of these steps (in the order above) you’ll see a dramatic improvement in your vocal technique and performance.
And if you’re serious about learning to sing well, take instruction from a teacher that can guide you through each of these steps, help you make adjustments where needed and set you on the right path to reaching your vocal potential. There’s nothing worse than having to unpick bad vocal habits!
And don't forget to grab your freebie:
The Ultimate Vocal Health Guide
- a 14-day plan to help you improve your voice!
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