Below is a list of our free guides about singing, your voice and performing which you may find useful. Click on a button of your choice and it will open a new page, or keep scrolling down for more on our learn to sing video’s.
About Your Voice Choosing A Singing Teacher Diction For Singers How To Read Music Introduction To Opera Singing In Tune Singing With An Accompanist Singing In A Choir Singing Glossary Singing Tips Tone & Resonance
Looking After Your Voice
Learn To Sing
Below you will find information on the following:
- Warm Ups
- Singing Exercises
- Vocal Health
- How To Practice
It is very important to consider your posture when you sing. You use your voice as an instrument and like all instruments, you should know how to hold them correctly. When we sing, we use our heads, throats, chest and abdomen to create our sound, so it is important that we maintain a posture that benefits these areas.
It is difficult to draw into the bottom of your lungs if you are sitting down, so stand up.
Stand tall, with your shoulders back and let your arms dangle loosely by your side.
Keep your head up so that it opens your airway
Feel yourself being pulled upwards from your navel to the top of your head, so that you create more space for air in your lungs
Try standing with your knees unlocked with one foot slightly in front of the other and about shoulder width apart
Try to keep your abdomen muscles tight
Relax but don’t slouch!
Breathing well will support your voice. Singing when there’s no breath left is a common way of tiring your voice. For more details about your diaphragm and breathing
To breathe properly for singing, you must breathe deep into the bottom portion of your lungs, engaging the diaphragm. This will support your voice.
Warning: too many of these breathing exercises in straight succession could leave you feeling dizzy and lightheaded, especially if you haven’t done these exercises before. If you do feel woozy, please sit quietly until the feeling passes and try again later.
Some Breathing Exercises for you to try:
Find Your Diaphragm
Place your hand over the soft part between the bottom of your rib cage (just above your tummy). Now feel your hand gently being pushed outwards as you breathe in. (Watch you don’t use your stomach muscles to help you push your tummy out, and that you don’t lift your shoulders!) This is the diaphragm, the muscle we use when breathing and for singing. Just to feel the difference (keeping your hand over your tummy) – now try breathing in as if you are sipping through a very large straw (imagine it to be about 2cms in diameter). Gently suck that breath in and feel it filling the bottom of your lungs. Then feel it filling the sides and back of your lungs. You should feel your hand being gently pushed outwards. You should also feel your chest expanding. Gently exhale the air in a long and steady breath.
Pant like a dog
Pant like a dog. You will feel your diaphragm pushing against your hand each time you pant.
Breathe Over Counts
Now breathe in (again, imagine that you are breathing through a big straw) but control it over the counts of four:
Inhale 2 3 4 Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4
Inhale 2 3 4 Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4
Inhale 2 3 4 Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4 and relax.
Take a deep breath in, then exhale gently in a SSSSSS breathe (hissing like a snake). Try to keep your exhalation as a steady and constant stream for as long as you are able.
When you start to get the urge to breathe, try and exhale just a little bit more before you have to breathe in.
Some people can manage just a few seconds, others can manage a minute or more.
Do what is right for you to begin with. Try timing yourself. For example : this week you managed 10 seconds, next week try for 11 seconds etc.
Breathing To Music
Use our short breathing exercise set to music as part of your vocal warm-up. Also great to ground yourself for a few moments of mindfulness.
This exercise is breathing to music over 8 counts. Gently breathe in as if you are sipping the air through a big straw.
Breathe in 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Breathe out 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Watch you’re not hold your breath during the exercise. You should aim to continually draw air slowly over the 8 counts, then exhale slowly over the 8 counts.
We take you through a series of singing exercises that will warm up your voice in just a few minutes. Our video guide is easy to follow and these exercises if done on a daily basis will also help strengthen, increase the flexibility and range of your voice too.
The first half of the video has the warm-up exercises along with some explanations and examples to help you along. When you are more confident in what you are doing, then click over the chapters on the video to find the exercises without the explanations, allowing for a quicker warm-up (It’s about 9 minutes in).
The aim of a vocal warm up is to start gently. You only need to sing these exercises quietly and not in full voice (loudly).
Find Your Voice Range
It’s interesting to know what your voice can do, and what span of notes you can sing. Your vocal range is the span between your highest and your lowest notes that you sing. It is possible to extend this range with a good singing teacher and a lot of practice.
The main adult voice types and these are classified by the range of notes they typically can sing. Males are Tenor (higher notes), Baritone (middle notes) and Bass (lower notes) and Females are Soprano (higher notes), Mezzo- Soprano (middle notes) and Alto (lower notes). The video can help find your range and give you an idea of what type of voice you have.
Use our helpful video to discover your vocal range.
It is important that we look after our instrument. If we break our voice, it’s harder to repair than say a guitar or a piano.
Always remember to warm up your voice before you start to sing. So many people think that it doesn’t apply to them, but continued over-use, shouting and even whispering, will over time, result in injury or damage of the vocal cords, which may need medical attention.
Know Your Limits
When your voice gets tired, it starts to get hoarse. Now is the time to stop singing and rest your voice. Learn to build up your voice’s stamina over several months of exercises and practice sessions. You couldn’t run a marathon without training first.
Avoid abusing your voice throughout the day. Don’t talk for long periods of time and avoid whispering as this is stressful to your voice and will cause vocal fatigue. Do not shout over loud noises, such as machinery or concerts.
Give your voice a day off. If you’re expecting your voice to work for you, then give it some time off. That means No Talking. No Singing,
Vocal hydration is extremely important. Your vocal cords/folds dry out very easily (especially in dry, smoky atmospheres). So drink plenty of water.
Alcohol will numb your senses. Normally, when you’ve not drunk alcohol, you know when your voice is tired or when you have pushed your voice too far because you will feel discomfort in your throat. But, these senses become harder to notice once you have drunk alcohol. Your ‘buzz’ is pushing your voice past its usual boundaries (this may take the form of singing or talking too loud, too high, too low, or simply for too long a time period) and you don’t notice your warning signs. You may wake up in the morning, with a sore head and no voice for several days (or in some cases several weeks or more!).
There are no health benefits to smoking, so either cut down or stop completely. Smoking affects your lung capacity, so you will struggle to hold onto those long notes. Also smoking irritates the membranes in the windpipe, resulting excessive mucus and a cough, which can inflame the vocal cords, as well as all the other long-term health problems associated with smoking.
If drinking and smoking are bad for your voice – drugs are even worse. Don’t go there!
What can you do if you get a sore throat
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid Tea, Coffee, Cream & Alcohol
- Drink hot water with Lemon & Honey grate a little ginger if required
- Severe, prolonged, violent coughing can injure the vocal cords. Cough Syrup, Throat Sprays and Lozenges can help. These are good for temporary relief of symptoms
- Hot Water Steam Inhalation, with or without a few drops of Eucalyptus, Peppermint or other Essential Oil helps to clear the sinuses, and get moisture onto the vocal cords
- Do NOT attempt to Sing and avoid Talking until you feel better to allow the inflammation an opportunity to reduce. This may be even take several weeks
- On recovery start with some gentle humming for 5-10 minutes at a time and slowly build up to a few vocal exercises in your mid-range gradually expanding the range over several days. The rate of recovery will depend on the severity of illness and how experienced a singer you are. If there is any recurrence of hoarseness, stop and rest the voice for another couple of days.
Ask your Doctor or pharmacist for advice if your symptoms persist or get worse.
How To Practice
Practice Makes Perfect
I must have said to everyone whom I have taught, ‘Practice’. The truth is that the more you practice the better you get.
Depending on how serious you are about singing, you should keep to about 1⁄2 hour practice on most days. This helps your breathing and strengthens your vocal cords, without over- working them.
Think of your vocal workout like building yourself up in the gym. The more you do the stronger you get. The same goes for your voice. Don’t sing to the point of hoarseness. You will run the risk of damaging your vocal cords.
Whatever you are worst at, practice the most. If you have a problem with a particular phrase in a song, just concentrate on that phrase until it flows naturally, then move on to another problem and work on that. It is pointless practising songs you already sing well. Just run over these once or twice a week or so, to keep you from slipping into any bad habits.
As well as building your range, it is also important to focus on your diction. It is important to be able to sing words clearly without the effort of pronouncing your words affecting the quality of the tone of your voice. There’s more about diction here.
Use something to record yourself when your practice. You will hear what you sound like and find out how you are doing, where you are going wrong and it will give you ideas on if you need to change something, etc. You will find this a very useful learning tool.
And Most Importantly – Take time out. We all need to have a break. You need a complete rest from singing at least once a week and I mean a complete rest. No practice, no singing along to your favourite records, no singing in the bath etc. Also if you done a hard or long gig, then give your voice a rest the following day.