By Nellie Vinograd
There are a bunch of ways on how to improve your singing voice, whether you’re a complete beginner or a professional opera star. Just to name a few potential improvements: broadening range, tightening pitch, increasing stamina and breath control, polishing tone, and improving the power of your fortissimo. The following are a few tricks for going from fine to good, from good to great, and from great to breathtaking.
Warm-ups and exercises
This should be a no-brainer, but you’re not going to improve your singing just from practicing a song over and over again. Keep adding new and challenging warm-ups and exercises to your rehearsal routine. There are an endless number of exercises for particular skills you’d like to work on, like runs, vibrato, falsetto, belting and more.
Set a performance date - and follow through!
Sometimes fear is the best motivator. Add your name to that talent show sign-up or agree to next week’s karaoke night. Knowing you have a performance coming up can help you focus during rehearsal and set aside more time for practice than you might otherwise. No more excuses! As nerve-wracking as it might seem, if you’re really committed to singing then you’ll need to try performing solo at least once. After you perform, you will learn so much about yourself as a singer and ways you can improve.
Sing for friends and family
Not quite ready for a performance? That’s okay! Start with people you trust to get used to singing for an audience. Having eyes on you will make you better aware of things like posture and put you in “performance mode,” hopefully prompting you to sing with all the intensity and emotion you can muster. It’s also generally good practice to get used to singing in front of people: this will help you feel less shaky and out-of-breath during auditions, solos, recitals and more.
Set regular, achievable goals
By next week, you will be able to sing through this entire song without needing a break. By the end of the month, you’ll be able to sustain the low note you’re currently struggling with. Figure out exactly what you want out of your practices and set realistic goals based on what you feel comfortable with. Write them down on a calendar or set a reminder on your phone. This will be another great motivator for increasing your practice time.
Record yourself and listen back
Everyone hates the sound of their recorded voice, which is actually why this is a great trick for improvement: you’ll be more attuned to mistakes and areas that need polishing. Even if it’s something an audience wouldn’t have noticed, you may pick up on that one moment you went sharp or where you could have taken a better catch breath. It might feel taxing, but these small moments are where you can have huge improvements.
Try a variety of styles
Even if you don’t find madrigals exciting, there’s so much you can learn from practicing the classical repertoire. On the other hand, if you’ve started with the classics, try adding some jazz, pop and gospel to the mix. You can even try mimicking other singers: take on the bluesy swing of Billie Holiday or the emotional vibrato of Rufus Wainwright and consider the different ways you engage your singing muscles when you make those changes. Singing different genres and trying out alternative styles will radically expand your singing ability and help you get a better sense of your own, personal flourishes.
Practice reading music and learning music theory
While this skill might not directly make your voice sound better, you’ll find your singing experience as a whole is smoother when you can learn a new piece faster and have a deeper understanding of an arrangement. These skills can also be immensely helpful if you’ve been struggling with rhythm and staying on beat.
Join a choir
Diversify your repertoire, enhance your harmonizing skills, learn from others, get lower-stakes performance experience, learn how to blend, connect with fellow musicians, make new friends...there’s really no reason not to join a choir. Visit the church down the street or the community theatre – there’s bound to be an available choir or acapella group if you start looking.