There is far more involved than just a having a “nice” voice when it comes to learning to sing. We here at Starland School of Music also understand that it may be difficult to know where to begin when deciding to start voice lessons, so through my personal experience, interviews with our voice and singing teachers, and further research I put together some of the most important to tips and tricks to be the best singer you can be during your voice lessons.
This tip is number one for a reason.
Use your diaphragm (or as our teacher Miss Leanne calls it big belly breath). Proper singing techniques involve your whole body. Relying solely on your vocal chords to hit notes in a song will cause pain and strain, and if you feel any pain you are not using proper technique, and you are potentially causing damage. In order to sing using your diaphragm you need to have good posture to access that part of your body whether you are standing or sitting.
Correct breathing techniques in voice lessons is the most important skill to learn.
There is a certain idea where in a song we should try to sing as much of the song as we can without taking a breath, and this is not a good idea. Your singing teacher will work with you to plan your breaths accordingly so you will have enough air to hit the notes and to finish the note without cutting it short or trailing off (which can be detrimental in an audition or on-stage performance).
So in this case it’s actually required in voice lessons to just relax and breathe!
It’s like stretching before working out. Remember your vocal chords are a muscle. Doing vocal warm-ups are going to make you sound better, the warm-ups will remind you and your teacher of things you need to focus attention to, and it helps expand your range, as well as figuring out where your comfortable range lies.
Vocal warm-ups also help connect your chest voice (low range) to your head voice- (higher notes). Most vocal warm-ups also create an opportunity to help with your vowel formation, which we will get to later.
Even a quick vocal warm-up is better than none, and they should be done every time before you sing.
Shake Out Those Nerves
There is no feeling quite like the nerves and jitters that can build up during the intro of a song before you sing your first note, and I’m not sure there is an exact science to working out “stage fright”. The voice is obviously the most vulnerable of the instruments, and can be the most intimidating to learn because of that reason, but singing is so much fun and rewarding, so have no fear!
The first step you can take is to become comfortable with singing in front of your voice teacher in your singing lesson right away. We are professionals here, and we have all been there before. We understand being shy at first, but when you find a qualified voice teacher you can trust that they have the experience and the right teaching personality to not be judgmental, and to make you feel at ease.
Take Care of Your Voice
Maintenance of your voice is just as important as maintaining any instrument, but even more so because this is a body part, and not maintaining your vocal chords properly could potentially create a health issue. Hydrate your vocal chords with water, and always bring water with you to your singing lesson.
NO SMOKING of any kind. This is so important for your health AND your singing voice. It will cause irreparable damage to your vocal chords and the rest of your body.
We also recommend not drinking diuretics (caffeinated drinks, cranberry juice) or dairy drinks just before your lesson or the day of a vocal performance; it can either dry your throat out or cause phlegm to build up.
Use a soft voice (“rest your voice”) before your voice lesson or for a couple days before your singing performance (no screaming and cheering at your favorite band’s concert- yes, even if it’s really fun.)
Form Those Vowels and Articulate–
It may seem silly for me to remind people to OPEN THEIR MOUTHS while singing, but I think it is common for singers to either be shy or just not mindful that when you are singing you have to over exaggerate the formation of the vowels.What I mean by that is during your “Aaahhss” your mouth should be wide and tall so the note can come out, and during your “Oooohhs” in a song your mouth should be shaped like an “O”.
Try singing the notes now with a slack half open mouth, and then try again with an open wide mouth. You can hear the difference right away.
We recommend that you practice your warm-ups and assignments from your voice teacher for 30 minutes a day. If you want to practice singing more than that be sure to take long breaks between each 30 minute practice session so you can rest your voice, and not strain it. It is also important to stop practice if you are feeling any strain or soreness in your throat, and to not practice singing when you are under the weather.
Know The Song and The Lyrics First – Then Work On Technique
This tip is especially important when you and your voice teacher are preparing for a recital performance or a vocal audition. Listen to a recording of the song you are preparing, or even better, record an accompanist playing it so you can sing along during your daily practice time (be very careful not to strain your voice by singing along too much, the key is listening here). The more you know the song the more comfortable and successful you will be singing the song.
My suggestion is that you “live the song” by listening to the song or an accompaniment of it as much as you can stand it during your daily life until you are overly familiar with it. I know that after I am finished with an audition or performance my friends and family know the songs by heart too!
You should also use this as an opportunity to understand where the song came from and understand the lyrics to help incorporate emotion and feeling into your song when you sing. I find it helpful to connect the meaning of a song to a personal life event to help carry the emotion to your voice, which most find makes the song sound more rich and sincere.
I suppose this should really be the most important tip or trick to singing lessons and voice lessons. Love what you’re doing, and relish in the fact that you are taking what you love and putting the energy into improving yourself with a skill that fulfills self and brings happiness to others around you.