Vocal Training – Online Vocal Training Tips
By: Aaron Anastasi
Founder: www.HowToSing.com and The Singing Guide
Some part of you may be thinking, “C’mon. Vocal training? What’s to train? I use my voice all the time, without training, and, when it comes to singing, you can either sing or you can’t. Right?” The good news is that that is partially true. Because you talk all the time, you are already naturally working on mid- to lower-range, which is great.
But, I’m guessing you don’t want to always be stuck singing around your middle register. You want to be able to sing high notes, as well as low notes, clearly, powerfully and on key.
The untrue part of the statement is that you can either sing or you can’t. While natural talent definitely plays a role in singing ability, you can learn to sing better whether your singing voice is good right now or not. You just need the right information and the right exercises. And it’s not something that will take a lifetime to develop. You would be surprised how quickly you can develop your voice into a beautiful instrument. Again, you just need the right training.
You’re smart enough to know that anything you want to do well in life takes training. And singing is no different. There are muscles in your throat, your voice box, that need to be developed and there are techniques to be learned. But the good news is that you can get there, and you can get there with less work and less time than you probably think, with the proper information and training.
In this article you will discover:
- Where to start with vocal training whether you’re new to singing or a seasoned veteran (along with one exercise!)
- How to protect your voice and expand your range
- One great universal vocal warm up and one more advanced singing exercise to get you on your way to a better singing voice, faster.
It may surprise you to know just how much your posture affects your singing. It’s an afterthought at best for most singers, but before you get that part right, all the other training in the world won’t help you. All right, that may be a little extreme, but hyperbole is great for making a point!
Your posture affects two major things that affect your singing. First, slouchy, bad posture will make you tense, normally in your neck and shoulders and sometimes your back. Tension, like posture, will prevent you from maintaining good breath support, singing on pitch and hitting higher notes with power and clarity.
So, what is proper posture? I’m glad you asked! If you stand up against a wall with your head, shoulders, backside and heels up against the wall, you’ll have a pretty good idea what it feels like to have proper posture. In fact, it’s a great exercise to get in this position a few times a day for several days to help you remember (muscle memory) what it feels like, and you can mimic it when you’re sitting, walking or standing throughout the day.
Okay, the second way that your posture affects your singing (did you forget I was listing two things!? I kind of got sidetracked for a second there!), has to do with your breathe. It should be no surprise to you that the most important part of singing is having, and sustaining, plenty of air. Your lungs have a great capacity for air, but bad posture can decrease this capacity by up to 30 or 40%.
You may have experienced this truth without even noticing it. If you’ve ever been out of breath, after exercising or running or whatever, you didn’t slouch while breathing, did you? You stood, or sat, up straight because that was the way to get the most amount of air into your lungs the most quickly. When you slouch, hunch or lean over, your lungs can only expand so far. All right, you get the idea. Posture matters…blah, blah, blah.
Protecting Your Voice
Imagine if an Olympic sprinter just rolled out of bed, put on his clothes and then went straight to the starting block just before the starter gun went off. That would never happen, right? I mean, he would probably pull a muscle, and, at the very least, he wouldn’t perform anywhere near peak level. Professional runners always do warm ups and stretches before a meet.
The same goes for singing. Before performing, or singing at all, really, it’s important to do warm up exercises. In fact, warm up exercises should be done even before regular vocal exercises.
It’s also very important to stay hydrated. You want your body to stay hydrated, but your also want your voice lubricated (I know, haha! That’s a funny word!). If you let your voice dry out when trying to sing, you won’t be able to sing as well and may cause some vocal damage.
Vocal Warm Up
Here’s a great vocal warm up that can be used everyday, especially the days that you plan to do a good amount of singing or performing. I call it the “Hmm” exercise, and it works like this: starting in about the middle of your range, with your mouth closed, give out a nice big “Hmmmmmmm,” letting your voice trail down to your lower register, as if you were exaggeratingly pondering something. Doing this several times will give your voice a good warm up, allowing it to ‘stretch’ a bit and wake up.
Expanding Your Range
This next exercise can follow the “Hmm” exercise, and it’s both a warm up and a vocal expanding exercise. The beginning starts as kind of a second level warm up, and it goes like this: start around the same note that you started the “Hmm” exercise, using a “Zzz” sound as if mimicking a swarm of bees, follow the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 pattern, descending a note on each number. Once you’ve done this, increase the starting note, the 5, by approximately one key, and then do the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 pattern again. Continue this process, remembering to raise that first note each time, and do this until you reach close to the top of your range. As you do this exercise over the course of a few days or weeks, try to push yourself to go higher and higher, which will help you stretch and increase your range.
I hope this has been helpful!