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Tone and Resonance

Tone and Resonance


Singing is produced by the same anatomical structures.  Sound made by the vibration of the vocal cords as air from your lungs passes through

The vocal cords/folds) are two bands of elastic muscle tissue. They are located side by side in the voice box (larynx) just above the windpipe (trachea).  These membranes are fixed at one end, giving them a  V-shaped and open and close to allow for breathing and sound production.


Your larynx sits on top of your trachea (windpipe) and when you are silent, the cords remain open. They create an airway through which you breathe.

When you speak or sing, the vocal cords tighten up and move closer together. Air from the lungs is forced between them and makes them vibrate, producing the sound of our voice.

Vocal Cord

The frequency that your vocal cords vibrate will determine the pitch of your sound. They vibrate faster for higher-pitched sounds, slower for lower-pitched sounds.  Male vocal cords tend to be longer and thicker and vibrate slower within the larynx, giving the male voice a deeper, lower sound. Female vocal cords tend to be shorter, thinner and vibrate more quickly, giving the female voice a higher and lighter sound.


If the mechanism of singing is the same for everyone, why do singers sound so different to each other?

It is the tone and resonance of your voice that sets us apart.

Your vocal cords produce the sound wave, but the tone and resonance can be altered by manipulating the different structures of your vocal tract.

Each and every one of our bodies is unique.   We all look different to each other, we come in different shapes and sizes, different hair or eye colour etc, and the same applies to our insides.

With regards to singing, inside your head and throat, there are lots of wonderful shapes and cavities, such as the size and thickness of your vocal cords/fold, the length and shape of your throat, your tongue, soft palate, oral and nasal cavity, sinuses etc.   These all help shape and polish the sound wave before we exhale, thus creating our own unique tone (timbre). From an early age, when we first start to speak, we learn how to shape these sound waves to communicate.

As a singer it is about learning to place and polish each note so that is sounds good.

Facial MaskExperiment with different notes, and try placing them in different areas of your facial mask, pull faces as you try. Some will sound awful, but others will sound great, and this will all help improve the tonal qualities of your voice.

For example.  Try humming.   Feel where it is resonating inside your head.  Try a low note, then a higher note and feel the resonance shift inside your head.

Try playing on the the vowel sounds.

  • Ah as in Apple
  • Eh as in Air
  • Ay as in Sky
  • Oh as in Orange
  • Ee as in Bee
  • Oo as in Room

Different vowels will resonate differently for you.  Choose a comfortable note to begin with. Push the sounds around inside your head.   Move your tongue, purse your lips, open or close your mouth try squeezing the sound out of your ears or push it down to resonate in your chest.   How does it feel?  Does it sound nice?

Now try it on higher or lower notes.  Does it change for you?

Learning to balance all of the factors that go into your tone quality like breath support and control, stability, flexibility, and strength are important when creating a new sounds with your voice.  Working with a singing teacher or voice coach will allow you to explore your voice and will give you the tools you need to work on to developing your own tone and resonance.


Tone is what’s known as the colour or timbre of your singing voice. Every voice has a specific colour, which can be described as warm, dark, light or heavy . Two singers singing exactly the same notes will sound completely different to each other. The reason is tone.

Resonance is the amplification of the vibrations that create tone through and within your mouth, throat, sinuses and nasal passages. Large, full resonant tones are desirable in some styles of music but inappropriate in other styles.  In musical terms this is known as timbre.

Chiaroscuro timbre is a musical term that is used universally to refer to the balancing of the light or clear (chiaro) and dark (oscuro) aspects of timbre, or balancing tonal brilliance and depth of the resonance.





Voice Registers

Voice Registers

Voice register is a term used to describe the difference in tones produced by the human voice in varied ranges. People who sing may have noticed that they experience sensations in different parts of the body, depending on what range they sing in. This can be attributed to the presence of different vocal registers.


We have 3 main voice registers:

  • Head voice
  • Chest voice
  • Middle Voice


Head Voice

The higher register of the voice is known as head voice.  Singing in this register you feel the resonance more in the bones and cavities of your face and head.   Head voice is more associated with light, bright singing tones and is higher in pitch. 

Chest Voice

The lower register of the voice, or chest voice, is where our speaking voice occurs Singing in this register is usually accompanied by a resonance in your chest, hence the term.   Chest Voice is often associated with deep, warm, rich sounds and is lower in pitch.

Middle Voice

Our middle register is where we mix the elements of head and chest voice.  Think of it as altering the balance of treble and bass on your sound system to make it sound better. Each singer must learn how adjust their own levels of bright and dark tones, through resonance and blending of the vocal registers.

As we sing from low to high (or vice versa high to low), an untrained voice will experience notes which don’t resonate quite right.  Your voice may become weaker and thin sounding, or you may struggle to secure the frequency of your note (you may be slightly off key).  This is known as the bridge or break point. Also known as Passagio in classical singing.


How to master the break

Singing lessons will help you develop your middle voice.   Through vocal exercises, you will improve the tone and flexibility of your vocal cords/fold.  You will understand your chest and head voice registers and be able to connect the two as you increase your voice range. You will learn to adjust (mix) your voice to add the desired tone for what it is you are singing.  You may want to sing a high note, with a darker, more powerful resonance, or sing a low note with a brighter tone to it.

Vowel sounds will have an effect on your middle register.  Some vowels are narrow sounding and are easier to control in a head voice, whereas wider vowel sounds are easier to control in a chest voice.  By adjusting the tone and weight you put on these vowels will help you with mixing the middle voice.

The more in-tune you are with you register breaks, the better able the singer is at anticipating the need for vowel modification and attention to resonance. Much of this knowledge is gained simply by trial and error, and with the help of a teacher who understands different techniques to help ease these transitions.


Some more on Vocal Registers:


Whistle Register (also known as the flute register) is the highest vocal register, and is so called because the timbre of the notes that are produced from this register is similar to that of a whistle.  Whistle tones are created by covering the opening to the larynx/trachea with the epiglottis, allowing for air to escape through a very small hole.  In whistle register, only the front part of the vocal cords are vibrating together.  Whistle register, although very high, should be able to connect with your other registers.


Falsetto is a musical term for a male voice that’s artificially high. Falsetto means “artificial voice” and comes from the Italian word falso for “false.” 

Falsetto is where the vocal cords are not fully connected and adducting along their length, but have blown apart creating a Mickey Mouse sound.  You may be able to produce the same high notes of head voice or whistle register, but true falsetto will not connect with your other registers

The differences between whistle voice and falsetto can be difficult to hear, due to differences in tone between singers, that said in an exaggerated form it’s the difference between Mariah Carey hitting the highest note you can think of (whistle) and Neil Young’s highest notes (falsetto).  Though they are both in the higher register, whistle voice and falsetto are physically different actions of the vocal cords.

Vocal Health

Vocal Health

Do you have a problem with your voice?

  • Has your voice become hoarse or raspy?
  • Have you lost your ability to hit some high notes when singing?
  • Does your voice suddenly sound deeper?
  • Does your throat often feel raw, achy, or strained?
  • Has it become an effort to talk?
  • Do you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat?
  • Do you feel as if you’re coming down with an infection?


We have compiled a few self-help guides to point you in the right direction, but these are not a substitute for medical advice from your own doctor or pharmacist.

About Your VoiceGuide To Vocal HealthImportance Of Drinking WaterNodulesSinging With A Sore ThroatUK Voice ClinicsWorld Voice Day





Scales and Vocal Exercises

Scales and vocal exercises

Singing exercises will improve the strength, flexibility and stamina of your vocal cords.  We have included a few here that will help, but they don’t replace advice from your own vocal coach/singing teacher/choir leader.

We use a combination of consonant and vowel sounds when using vocal exercises.

The main vowels sounds in singing are:

Ah as in Apple

Eh as in Air

Ay as in Sky

Oh as in Orange

Ee as in Bee

Oo as in Room


Consonants can be hard or soft sounding.    Soft consonant sounds examples are: F, L, M W.  Hard consonant sounds examples are G, H, T and Y.

Combining consonant sounds with our vowels sounds can help improve your singing.   For example the ‘L’ consonant, mixed with the Ah sound – giving us La, La La La La … is using the tongue muscle as well as your vocal cord muscles.   It’s a good consonant vowel combination to start learning with.


Try the following exercises in the following sounds to begin with








Singing Exercise No1 – 5th and Octave

High Voice Range

Middle Voice Range

Low Voice Range

Singing Exercise No2 – Chromatic Scale

High Voice Range

Middle Voice Range

Low Voice Range

Singing Exercise No3 – Thirds

High Voice Range

Middle Voice Range

Low Voice Range

Singing Exercise No4 – Arpeggio

High Voice Range

Middle Voice Range

Low Voice Range

Singing Exercise No5 – 12 Tone

High Voice Range

Middle Voice Range

Low Voice Range

As you progress with these exercises, start swapping the consonant sounds


Wah, War, Why, Weh, Wee, Woo or Mah, Maw, My, Meh, Mee, Moo etc.  Try them on just the vowel sounds too:   Ah, Eh, AyeOh, Ee, Oo

Vocal Exercises

Singing – Ross Campbell

Singing – Ross Campbell


  written by the internationally renowned Singing Specialist, Teacher & Performer


to go directly to purchase please click here:

The HARDBACK has been professionally designed so:

  • It is a large enough size for the diagrams and musical exercises to “pop,” out, and be easily viewed by it’s readers.
  • The sturdy construction and materials used, means it will last a lifetime.
  • It has colour coded sections and exercises as well as a 20 page Appendix and Glossary.
  • For a fraction of the cost of singing lessons, this Hardback has a lifetime’s worth of information, and all in brilliant colour!

Exclusive Full Premium Colour 7″ x 10″ Hardback Book!

With his vast experience spanning 35 years as a classical performer and teacher, Professor of Singing, Ross Campbell has created an essential read for all singers, teachers, music directors, and actors alike.

In this exciting book, Ross Campbell deals with all genres and styles of music, providing the reader with the practical tools to support the technical information contained inside, and making it easily accessible for all.

“SINGING – An Extensive Handbook For All Singers and Their Teachers” published by NOVORDIUM is available exclusively as professionally designed, full premium colour 7″ x 10″ Hardback book, 

It contains information such as:

  • Detailed anatomical diagrams in premium colour & how the voice works
  • How to train all voice types
  • Extensive series of explained and notated Vocal Exercises
  • How to troubleshoot all of those niggling vocal problems
  • How the singing voice develops from birth to death
  • The Psychology of Singing
  • Repertoire advice
  • An extensive Appendix of vocal composers, genres & styles

With over 220 pages; sturdy hardback design; full premium colour throughout, there really is NOTHING like this on the market!

Whether you are a young singer or teacher, or a vocal practitioner who wishes to professionally develop your skills, this is THE only book you’ll ever need regarding “Singing” and “The Voice”.

To purchase please click here and add to basket. You will be taken to the singersportal website.

About The Author

Ross is a graduate of the Royal College of Music in London and completed his studies on a scholarship to the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He won several awards whilst at the RCM and went on to sing in opera, oratorio and as a concert artist throughout the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Japan and South East Asia. He was also invited to create a number of roles in world premieres, particularly the Role of Saul/Paul in The Promise at London’s Southbank Centre in 1997.

Ross was a founder member of The Kensington Consort and had a long association with the BBC, regularly singing on live radio broadcasts. He has recorded for Radio France as well as BBC TV.
He is currently Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London, a post he has held since 1999, and was Head of Singing and Music at Guildford School of Acting at the University of Surrey until December 2011. Ross has students appearing in all West End Musicals and UK and International Tours on a continuous basis.

Whilst at GSA/University of Surrey, Ross created the internationally recognised MA degree course in the Practice of Voice & Singing (MA POVAS), and founded, built and launched the GSA Musical Theatre Examinations Syllabus in 2010, becoming the Director and Chief Examiner.

He was appointed to the ABRSM Panel of Mentors in 2001, and also the QAA Panel of Specialist Reviewers for Higher Education in 2003. He is regularly invited to assess at other Higher Education establishments in the UK, is invited to lecture on singing to both teachers and musicians throughout the UK, and has combined lecturing and performing on Seminars and Conferences in Beijing, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo and Malta.

Ross was invited to speak at the ‘Music Education Forum’ in Beijing in December 2010 and went on to launch a new Syllabus of Exams in Hong Kong and Macau at the same time, with accompanying masterclasses and workshops for both students and teachers. He was subsequently invited to deliver another paper to the same forum in December 2011 entitled “With One Voice – The Classical Sound & Musical Theatre Singing”, and with accompanying workshops and masterclasses for Teachers.

Ross was commissioned by ABRSM to produce five anthologies of songs which serve Grades 1 to 5, for which he received the prestigious MIA award for ‘Best Classical Publication 2009’. A further commission to produce a book on all aspects of singing is to be published in 2012.

He also has extensive experience in designing courses, and producing documentation at Foundation, BA and MA degree levels.

His reputation and passion in sharing his own experience and research in professionally developing singing teachers and performers in musical theatre and commercial styles, often from classical backgrounds, has taken him to Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo, USA, Malta, Oslo, Zurich, Krakow, Dublin, Cork, Aberdeen, Belfast and numerous cities throughout the UK.

Ross created Musical Theatre Ireland (MTI) in 2012 based in Cork, offering specialist Musical Theatre training in singing, dance, acting and voice. He subsequently launched Musical Theatre UK (MTUK) in 2012 which is based in London.

Ross was invited to become a Consultant to Musical Theatre Poland (MTP) in 2013 which is based in Krakow. He travels to Poland regularly to conduct specialist singing training, workshops and masterclasses for MTP.

He also became a consultant and patron to Aberdeen Academy of Performing Arts College in 2016.

Ross Campbell Website


The Singers Portal Website



Singing Tips

Top Singing Tips

Man Singing with Passion

Man Singing with Passion

Improve your singing with Successful Singing and our free singing tips and resources.
Whether you are a professional singer, sing in a band or community choir. Perhaps you join in at your  local on the karaoke, or just sing in the shower, there’s something here for everyone.     Why not pick up a few singing and performing tips from our free guides, or browse the above tabs to see our large range of backing tracks, sheet music, song books, equipment and accessories.

The human voice is one of the most fragile instruments, and is incredibly difficult to master. If you want to learn how to sing well, it’s going to be a long battle, but here are some great singing tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls.

1. Breath from the diaphragm. You really need to control the air that you’re expelling when you sing, and breathing from the diaphragm gives you more control to do this.  Breath in  so that you feel your stomach moving gently outwards when you inhale.

2. Practice your scales.  Yes they  can be boring, but they really will exercise your singing muscles and help strengthen your voice and extend your range.  They will also help your sense of pitch.

3. Don’t strain your voice.  Warm up before you start and don’t try to sing too loud or too high as you might damage your vocal cords. Take it slow and steady and you’ll sing well in no time. Keep your practice time to an hour or so a day, then move up if you feel like it. If you ever feel like your voice is straining, or if you feel soreness or pain, stop right away.

4. Seek out people’s opinion. Learning to sing well takes a long time, and during this time you may hear people’s comments about your voice. Use their comments constructively and if there is something you can improve on, try to work on the problem.

5. Make recordings of yourself. This is the best way to hear your problems, because you can separate yourself from your voice and listen to what other people hear. You may not like the sound of your voice at first, but keep at it; you’ll improve vastly, and you’ll start to notice stuff you like about your voice and really expand on those things.

6. Talk to established singers. Most of them will be happy to give you some tips and exercises that helped them out, and any time you need to ask for directions, the best idea is to ask the person that’s already at your destination.

7. Eat and drink well. Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. Don’t do anything that’ will affect your  voice and prevent you from singing well. Caffeine isn’t particularly good for you,  as is anything that causes mucous build-up like dairy products (drinking milk before singing is a  particular bad choice). Don’t smoke or drink too much alcohol as this can really affect your singing voice.

8. Sing for the style. If you’re singing country, listen to country singers. If you’re singing rock, listen to rock singers, etc. Notice things that are the same in each style and emulate those. Be careful, however, to keep your voice unique, and not to simply copy another singer’s voice. Allow your personality and your voice to come out in your music.

9. Experiment with different sounds. Play around with different sounds. If  you sang something with a nasal sound or perhaps a growl, would it improve what you are trying to convey in your song.  Have fun too singing your songs in a different genre ,or in the style of a different singer.

10.  Stay positive! If you’ve had a bad session, that doesn’t mean your voice is going to be bad forevermore. Have a break, address the problem and try again another day. Don’t get down on yourself, and don’t think that your voice is bad,  Mindset is definitely a big part of singing, and you need to be positive. If you don’t think you sound good, neither will anyone else.


Singing Techniques

Singing when done with correct singing techniques will help improve your singing voice.

Are you singing through your nose? Sing an open vowel sound such as AH whilst pinching your nose.  Listen to how your tone sounds. Does it sound normal.  If it doesn’t or is difficult to do, then you are singing through your nose.

Open your mouth  Cradle your face in your hands and gently pull down so that your jaw opens more than usual.  Now try singing with your mouth in this position and see how much easier it feels to sing.

Lip Trills This is where you blow air through your lips as if you were mimicking a horse or an engine noise with a gentle sound coming from your throat..Brass players also use this technique to play their instruments.   It sounds a bit  like you are blowing bubbles underwater.  It might take a bit of practice at first to get used to it, and if you smile, you’ll lose it.   Yes I know  you feel stupid and that it tickles your nose, but it’s a fantastic way of keeping your larynx down and not straining your voice when practicing scales or even songs.

Tongue Trills This is where your tongue rolls and vibrates against the back of your teeth, as if you were saying Brrrrrr on a cold day.   It may not come naturally to some people, and may take a bit of practice to get used to.  Its another gentle way of exercising your voice along higher notes without straining your voice.

Tongue Tension Does your tongue have too much tension?    Press your thumb up into the flesh behind the bone of your chin when you are singing.   It should feel soft and supple.   The base of your tongue is almost attached to your larynx, so if your tongue is tense, then your voice has to work harder.  Try to relax and open your mouth more when you sing.

How much air do I need? Try humming/singing through a straw.  Try not to let any air escape through your nose either.   This will give you an idea of how much air you really need to be able to sing.


Problems With Your Voice

Singing Should Never Hurt.   If you try to sing a song and it hurts, you are doing something wrong.  Don’t continue as this is going to cause damage to your throat and vocal chords.  You will need to identify what you are doing that is causing you to hurt.

Did you warm-up your voice before you started singing?   You wouldn’t see an athlete tearing around the racetrack without having gone through a warm-up routine.  You should do the same for your vocal chords

Are you singing too high or to low? Maybe you should think about changing the key of the song to make it more comfortable for your range.

Is it your singing technique? Many singers have never learned good singing technique, so seek advice from a singing teacher or vocal coach.They will be able to help you to identify where you are going wrong, and point you in the right direction

If this doesn’t help then a visit to your Doctor may identify what could possibly be causing your singing voice to hurt.


Vocal Care

Your voice is your instrument, so always take care of your body.

Drink plenty of water.  This allows the cells around your throat and larynx to be well hydrated

Eat healthy.  Junk food is so called for a reason

Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking,

Don’t shout or whisper.  It really strains your voice

Try to give your voice a day off every week, especially if you have a busy schedule.  That means no singing or talking.


Top Tips For Singers