Singing is an incredibly fun and challenging activity and while many people are naturally gifted, taking lessons is an easy way to take your talent to the next level. Unfortunately, lessons are expensive and often at times not realistic. But there are many ways to strengthen your voice and improve your singing abilities, all of which can be done at home and for free.
Method One of Three:
Improving Your Technique
Relax your tongue. Your tongue can present a huge obstacle when singing. If the root of your tongue is tight, your throat will constrict and your voice will come out sounding strained.
- Position your tongue so the tip is touching your bottom row of teeth.
- Stretch your tongue out and say “Ahh” a few times to warm up your tongue before starting to sing.
Breathe from your low belly. Your singing breath comes from a different place than your regular breath does. Concentrate on taking deep breaths from your low belly by pushing out your low belly every time you breathe.
- Place one hand on your stomach, just underneath your belly button.
- Drop your jaw and breathe in, filling your lower stomach up like a balloon.
- Release all the air by hissing until you run out of breath.
- Try this three times a day, every day.
- Practice yawning and opening your throat. Try to mimic the feeling you get when you yawn every time you sing.
Drop your jaw. When you clench your jaw, the sound has to come out of a much smaller opening in your mouth. The clenching causes tension, which is then reflected in the way your voice sounds when you sing.
- For a wider, fuller sound, drop your jaw as you sing.
- Loosen your jaw a few times every day to make sure you’re not unconsciously clenching your teeth.
- Try propping your mouth open with a bottle cork and saying “A-E-I-O-U.”
Stand up straight. Singers rely on their breath to sing well, and if you’re hunched over, you can’t breathe deeply. Stand with your feet apart, and your shoulders back. Keep your chin pointed down and flex your pectorals.
- Singers tend to tip their chins up to try to reach the high notes, but this can cause vocal problems.
- Stand in front of a mirror to watch yourself sing. Make sure you don’t start hunching over as the song progresses.
Method Two of Three:
Strengthening Your Vocal and Performance Skills
Practice every day. In order to reach your full potential as a singer, you need to practice singing every day. Singers are like athletes, and the more you sing, the stronger your vocal cords will get. Also, the more comfortable you get singing, the better you will be when it’s time to perform in public.
- Try your best during your practice sessions. If you practice things incorrectly, they will become habits and bad habits are hard to break.
- Keep a practice journal to help keep track of what you’re working on.
- Write down what you’re doing well and what still needs improvement.
Record yourself singing. The way people sound in their heads is completely different from the way they sound to others. Record your practice sessions, then listen to the recordings and analyze them.
- Listen for notes that are out of tune or places where you sound off key.
- Check to see how your voice sounds – does it sound pitchy like you’re running out of breath?
- Once you have made your observations, set new goals of how to improve and try to execute on those goals.
Hum in the shower. You may be familiar with singing in the shower, but for singers, humming is actually more effective. Humming will cause your vocal cords to stretch thinner, improving flexibility and expanding your vocal range.
- Close your mouth and make an “mmm” sound while pretending you have gum in your mouth.
- Hum scales or your favourite song.
Sing in front of the mirror. A singer’s voice is only part of the package – singers also have to be very strong performers. Singing in front of a mirror will help you gauge how your movements look, judge how well you’re emoting and decide how believable you look when you’re performing in character.
- If you’re performing for musical theatre, remember to perform in a heightened manner.
- Practice what you’re going to say in between songs, or as you’re introducing yourself.
- Use the mirror to see if there are any points where you look scared, or like you’re thinking about what comes next.
Method Three of Three:
Taking Care of Your Vocal Cords
Sleep regularly. Singers don’t have the luxury of replacing their instrument because their body is their instrument. If you’re low on energy, it will affect your body and your voice.
- Figure out how much sleep you need every night. Make a bedtime and stick to it.
- The more energy you have, the more energy you can use to power your voice.
Hydrate your body. When your vocal cords are dry, your voice comes out sounding weak and scratchy. In order to keep your voice sounding strong and healthy, drink water consistently throughout the day.
- Have a glass of water during every meal and another one during a snack.
- Carry a water bottle around with you throughout the day so you don’t get thirsty.
Cut out caffeine. Coffee dehydrates the vocal cords, so singers should stay away. Instead, pour 1 teaspoon of manuka honey into a mug of warm water and add a few drops of lemon to taste.
- The honey and lemon will help stave off any colds or cases of flu.
- Try drinking this every morning with breakfast so you don’t forget.
Warm up your voice. Before you can start singing the song you’re working on, you need to warm up your voice. Without warming up, your voice will sound rusty and it’s possible over time you could do actual harm to your vocal cords.
- Try going up and down scales a few times to warm up.
- Loosen your tongue by saying a tongue twister. Try saying “Mama made me mash my M&M’s” ten times, picking up the speed each time.
- Warm up your body as well. Singers hold tension on their shoulders, necks, backs, faces and jaws, so stretch and massage those areas to keep them loose.