Learn to Sing

Learn To Sing

Learn To Sing with Successful Singing. We have lots of online advice and articles to help you learn to sing. Use our vocal exercises, scales and voice lessons, to help strengthen and develop your singing voice.

Whether you’re a novice or seasoned singer our videos and exercises will help you get the most out of your voice.  All our exercises are free to use online.

Posture

It is very important to consider your posture when you sing.   You use your voice as an instruments, 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 in to 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 and with one foot slightly in front of the other, about shoulder width apart

Try to keep your abdomen muscles tight

Relax but don’t slouch!

Breathing

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:

Breathing Exercises 1 – 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, or that you are lifting your shoulders!)         This is the diagphram, 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.

Other exercises to help you find your diaphragm:

 

Pant like a dog.  You will feel your diaphragm pushing against your hand each time you pant.

 

Breathing Exercises 2

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.

 

Breathing Exercises 3

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.  Eg this week you managed 10 seconds, next week try for 11 seconds etc.

 

Breathing Exercises 4 Breathing in-time with music

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 don’t hold your breath during the exercise.  You should aim to continually draw air over the 8 counts, then exhale over the 8 counts.

Vocal Warm Ups

Your vocal cords/folds are made up of two bands of elastic muscle tissue, situated in your larynx (Adams Apple).  They are easily damaged and therefore need warming up before use.  Warm-up exercises will make sure that your voice is ready to practice and perform.

Here we’ve put together a few exercises to warm up your vocal cords and get you ready for singing.  All our vocal exercises are in a high, middle or low singing range.   You can find out more about your singing range below (after the warm up exercises).

Warm Up Exercises

Here we’ve put together a few exercises to warm up your vocal cords and get you ready for singing.

Singing Warm Up No1

High Voice Range

Middle Voice Range

Low Voice Range

 

Singing Warm Up No2

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 (notes) and Alto (notes) and the below 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.

Click here for a more in-depth guide about your vocal range

 

Singing 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.

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

 

 

Vocal Health

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.

Warm Ip

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 needs 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,  Avoid whispering. This is stressful to your voice and will cause vocal fatigue.       Do not shout over loud noises, such as machinery or concerts.

Rest

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

Vocal hydration is extremely important. Your vocal cords/folds  dry out very easily (especially in dry, smoky atmospheres). So drink plenty of water.

Alcohol

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!).

Smoking

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.

Drugs

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

1.    REST!

2.    Drink plenty of water.

3.     Avoid Tea, Coffee, Cream & Alcohol

4.  Drink hot water with Lemon & Honey grate a little ginger if required.

5.       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.

6.       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

7.       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

8.      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. 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 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 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 practicing 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 and that the effect of pronouncing your words doesn’t affect 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, give you ideas on how to change something, etc. You will find this a very useful learning tool.

Find it hard to learn your lyrics.  This may help

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.

 

 

Here’s some more of our free guides that you may find useful:

Learning to Sing

To be able to sing well you will need to practice on a daily basis.

Start with your posture Posture

Next try some breathing exercises Breathing Exercises

Warm-ups. Start with some gentle humming  either to our exercises or with a gentle song.

Try some of our vocal exercises, that will help strengthen and develop your voice.

Now you can move on to practicing the songs that you want to work on.

Don’t forget to cool down with a gentle song, some humming and close your practice with some deep breaths.

 

What to know what range to sing in.  Find out with our helpful tool Find Your Vocal Range

More Singing Advice

Choosing A Singing Teacher Diction For Singers Singing In Tune Singing With An Accompanist Singing In A Choir

 

Performing Advice

Audition Advice

Charisma Performance Blues

I Forget The Words Be More Confident Singing Mic Technique Stage Fright

 

 

Looking After Your Voice

Guide to Vocal Health Nodules

 

Singing Glossary

Useful Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultures, from all around the world, for thousands of years have been singing. The urge to sing and to hear people sing is an innate part of being human. Even those of us who insist that we’re tone deaf or a dreadful singer, can still be found to hum or sing along to the radio when we thing no-one is listening.

Exposure to singing would have started in early life with the singing of nursery songs or lullabies. Studies have show that talking and singing to a baby will help babies learn to talk, and the repetitive songs that children love can help them learn their alphabet and numbers.

Often as we grow, singing for many people becomes a neglected behaviour. We may become self-conscious, or feel that singing is no longer part of our social group. We then lose the confidence in our ability to sing, which is a real shame as there are so many benefits of singing.

  • Singing increases the amount of oxygen you take into the body as you take deep breaths. This produces a feeling of alertness and happiness as more oxygen gets to the brain.
  • Singing also improves the muscle tone of your rib cage, and in your back and abdominals (belly and lower), because these muscles are involved in controlling the outflow of air and stabilizing the larynx as you sing.
  • Singing helps burn calories as you increase the amount of oxygen you take into the body. You use muscle in your face, throat, neck and jaw. Singing can also improve the muscle tone of your rib cage, back and abdominal muscles.
  • Improving the muscle tone in the larynx, which singing does, also helps to calm snoring, which improves sleeping and helps counter insomnia.
  • Singing is a great stress-buster, and can help shift us from distracting and negative thoughts.
  • Singing also has the ability of reaching out to even the hardest of heart, by unlocking feelings and emotions.
  • Singing as part of a group or choir can also help you socially by meeting new friends and having that sense of belonging.

There’s many ways that you can sing: in the bath/shower, in the car, but step outside your comfort zone a little and find something that appeals to you, such as a local singing group, karaoke night or take up some singing lessons. You’ll probably find you’re not quite as bad a singer as you initially thought.

 

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