Singing Techniques – 3 Need To Know Singing Techniques
By: Aaron Anastasi
When it comes to singing techniques, there are three things that come to mind that alone, if understood and applied, could transform your singing voice in a relatively short period of time. I want to give you those three things along with some exercises that will help you apply them immediately. In this article you’ll find out, once and for all…
- How to connect your diaphragm to your singing
- What breathing and vocal exercises you NEED to be doing
- How to get the most out of your falsetto (and head voice)
Singing From Your Diaphragm
Even if you are just casually interested in singing (which I’m guessing you are more than that, if you’re reading this article), than you have probably heard that proper, full, resonate singing comes from using your diaphragm—singing from your diaphragm, that is. And it’s true. When singing to yourself in the shower it’s fine to sing using only your throat, but if you want any real power in your singing voice, and want to sing a wide range of notes, high and low, on key, then it’s necessary to practice singing from your diaphragm.
“That’s fine,” you may say, “I’ve heard that, and I’d like to, but how do I really do that?” Singing from your diaphragm can be a little tricky to figure out, but it’s probably easier than you think. Let me tell you a little bit about what the diaphragm is and how it functions, and then I’ll give you some easy steps to follow that will help you connect your singing to your diaphragm right away.
The diaphragm separates the heart, lungs and ribs from the abdomen and is an important part of your breathing—your respiratory system. The cool part, though, is how it functions. When engaged, it contracts and creates a suction that pulls air into the lungs. At the same time, it pushes the organs in your lower cavity down, and your ribs to the side, expanding and creating a larger space so that more air can fill your lungs.
Using your diaphragm allows you to deep breathe, or ‘belly breathe,’ giving you the maximum amount of air possible, whereas shallow, or chest breathing, will limit your ability to sustain notes and to sing on key.
Okay, okay, enough of all that. Let’s talk about an exercise that you can do right now to learn how to engage your diaphragm and drastically improve your singing ability.
1. Lay or sit down with loose fitting clothes (or just unbutton the top button of your pants)
2. Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest.
3. Slowly inhale, either through your nose or through partially closed lips.
4. While inhaling, push your stomach out and feel it expand with your hand.
5. Exhale slowly, regulating how much air you allow to escape, until all the air is gone.
That is what it takes to breathe from your diaphragm. And here is one more quick exercise that will help your begin to translate that into your singing.
Diaphragm-engaging Vocal Exercises
I call it the Puppy Whine. And that’s exactly what it sounds like. Make the sound of a puppy whining, with the high pitched, repeated sounds. While doing so, notice the slight expanding and contracting of your stomach and abdomen, and watch that your chest doesn’t rise and/or expand. All the movement should be concentrated to your belly.
Next, I want you to, on one breath, make the following sounds: “Ho ho, he he, ho ho, ha ha.” Take in a nice breath and repeat several times. The feeling you get while doing this exercise is what it should feel like when you’re singing, if you want to sing from your diaphragm. If you’re feeling strain or tension in your throat, go back and redo the five step breathing exercise above. Your throat and voice box are primarily for guiding and tuning the air as it flows through from the lungs aided by the diaphragm. There shouldn’t be much strain in the throat at all.
Falsetto and Head Voice
Your goal may be to sing higher notes, which is fine. It’s a common goal of many singer, both professional and beginner alike. But how does that happen, and is it even really possible? I’ll get to the how in a minute, but yes, it is possible. It will simply take some work on your part and a program, included the right vocal exercises.
Your head voice and falsetto are not the same thing, as some suppose. Your falsetto is first of all a protective mechanism built into your voice. When you’re singing a note that is too high for your vocal cords, or vocal folds, they go from being very close together to splitting apart, because any more tension would just harm them. The indicator that you are now in your falsetto rather than your head voice—your chest voice is the register that you speak in, whereas your head voice is where your higher register notes are—is that the sound is weaker and more airy or breathy sounding. When your vocal cords split apart, more air rushes in-between them, which is why the sound come across more airy.
But your falsetto is more than just a protective mechanism; singers have used it stylistically for many years. And you can strengthen your falsetto by incorporating vocal exercises into your regular routine that focus on your higher register.
Head Voice and Falsetto Exercise
For example, one good exercise to do is the Siren exercise. This is good not only to strengthen your head voice and your falsetto, it also serves to stretch your range and begin smoothing the pesky break in the transition from your head voice into your falsetto, which is a primary goal for many singers.
The Siren is simply mimicking the sound of an American siren, beginning in your lower register and climbing up across registers up to and through your head voice into your falsetto. Repeat this exercise several times. The Siren should follow a few warm up exercises, as it is an advanced exercise that may cause you to strain your voice if it’s not warmed up properly.
I hope this helps! Godspeed in you goals as a singer!