Don’t forget to check out my YouTube video if you don’t fancy a longish read. You can check it out over here. Or alternatively check out the embedded video at the bottom of the page.
Firstly, I want you to think about singing as being less work. Less pressure, less gripping, less about pushing and certainly not about volume.
Now that we are clear that singing is less about the volume and push, I want you to remember to be kind to yourself. Progress takes time and no you will not become Beyoncé overnight.
Your voice will develop as you continue to train, and you will be surprised at the small improvements along the way. I recommend that you record yourself at the start of your journey to track your progress.
I know, this literally starts every single anything these days. Goals, goals, goals. Well I am sorry to say but I want you to have a clear idea in your head about what you would like to achieve.
Do you want to sing for yourself? Would you like to record your own music? Would you like to be a superstar? When you have your goals in mind you can always go back to remember why you are working so hard.
Your goal could be just to have fun. Then remember that next time you start practicing. This IS SUPPOSED to be FUN!
The voice is created inside the larynx by the vocal folds. The vocal folds, or vocal cords as you may have heard them called are small ligaments inside your larynx that vibrate to create the desired pitch. So basically you are training a bunch of muscles like in sport.
Place your finger on your chin and trace a line downwards towards your collar bone. You will hit the first knot quite high in the throat. This is your larynx.
Ok, before we start making any noise we need to locate our vocal folds. You can do this by doing a very small cough, like a theatre cough. That way you can feel them clicking together. Gently does it though! Now I want you to do a little Teletubbies ♪ Oh, oh, ah, ah.
The most important part of singing is vocal fold closure. Do check out the video below for the full exercises if you need a bit of help. It can be easier to watch than to read, but I will do my best.
We are going to perform the following exercise on thin vocal folds. That means that the sound is relatively quiet, and you are going to make a wimper like a puppy dog.
Secondly, once you have found your paper thin folds, I want you to start on an NG as in sing… where the back of the tongue is touching the soft palate (the roof of your mouth at the back). That way we can create pitch without having the tongue get in the way of the larynx.
Now I want you to slide up the range, just a little and back down again keeping the vocal folds closed. You can feel that they are closed because no air comes through.
Can you roll your shoulders and create the same sound?
Can you turn your head side to side gently and still keep in tune?
Can you walk around the room and hold the note?
These are called relaxation manoeuvres, they help to make sure that you don’t grip or hold onto any excess unwanted tension before you start singing.
Aim of the exercise: To release excess tension in the body to allow the singing voice to move freely.
So now that you have found your puppy dog sound and you can move up and down the range comfortably without scratching, catching or coughing. We can move onto a thicker vocal fold sound.
Exercise 1 - Thick vocal folds.
Start to count in your „normal“ spoke voice from 1 – 5
one, two, three……
Now feel how easy that feels. Did you need to push? Did you need to strain? Did you need to engage your core? …. probably not. Well I hope not. if you do feel some pushing then try it again and go through those relaxation manoeuvrers. Walking, rolling the shoulders and turning the head. You can get more information over at the Naked Vocalist on tension releasing exercises.
Aim of the exercise: Getting the vocal folds to come together and stay together.
Exercise 2 - Moving the pitch.
Moving on from counting 12345 we are going to start vocalising.
Start speaking 1 2 3 4 5 on one note around where you would usually speak. Feel the ease at which that occurs. I mean, don’t pitch it up where Michael Jackson speaks. Where you speak.
Now speak 1 2 3 4 and on the Five you are going to move the scale up 3 notes.
How did that feel? Remember your relaxation techniques.
Now try it again but this time a semi-tone higher. We are staying at this point below the passagio. So that means, in your chest voice register. We want to keep this low in the range to begin with.
Repeat this exercise until you reach the point in your range where you feel you can’t go higher. You must remain speaking on pitch, however. We don’t want to slide back into old habits.
Aim of the exercise: To not switch into a breathy sound whilst moving the pitch.
Exercise 3 - Singing on the correct pitch.
This is where you need a singing teacher or vocal coach if I am 100% honest. You can try all you like to work with apps, YouTube tutorials or pitch software but in the beginning if you are a 100% beginner I suggest you get some live classes.
Your teacher will be able to tell you when you are singing the right notes and perhaps when you are singing out of tune.
However, I am here to help you sing at home without a coach, so I recommend the app Nail The Pitch. You can then check if you are singing the correct note.
Exercise 4 - How to start singing a song.
Ok so you have your closed vocal folds, and you want to start singing a song. You are going to have to check out my YouTube video about how to learn a song from scratch because I go quite into detail about it all.
You now want to take that good vocal fold closure, which is in tune (cause you checked right?!) then you are going to go through the steps of learning a song to the melody of your choice.
Aim: To keep up the in tune, no pushing, closed vocal folds and not start with living on a prayer for day 1!
Start with something that you find comfortable and then slowly get harder. You can check out my Playlist for easy songs for beginners over here if you get stuck. Basically you don’t want to sing too high, nor do you want to go too low to begin with.
Start. Just start. I hear it all the time that people say they „wish they could sing…“ just start with purposeful practice. Minding you sing in tune and don’t push and perhaps think about getting some classes along the way. You do really need the feedback from a teacher in order to steer you in the right direction. You will get there a lot faster if you have someone to help you.
My main takeaway for you is that you can sing, everyone can sing. It just takes time, trust and patience. Don’t let yourself be sucked into these voice shows that think you will be a singer overnight. It takes a bit of work. You wouldn’t sit there with a violin thinking „oh I should really be able to play this straight away shouldn’t I?!“
Have fun and enjoy the ride!
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