I’m Camille van Niekerk from 30 Day Singer, and I’m here with 4 tips to help you sing better in 2024.
Because this is a time when many folks set new goals or commit to new habits, my tips for you today are less about technique and more about making your singing practice fun and sustainable.
First: discover the joy of learning songs - not just doing exercises!
I see some singers get a little stuck thinking they need to do exercises for months before they’re ready to tackle songs. Ideally, you’re working on both exercises and songs from the very beginning! And if you’re currently stuck in an “exercise only” routine, it’s very simple to start incorporating songs. What’s your go-to karaoke song? What song might you sing at a wedding? What was your favorite song in high school or middle school? Your favorite lullaby as a kid? Any song you like can get the ball rolling! For beginners, I recommend choosing songs that feel easy at first, which usually means they don’t have an extremely wide range. A site like Singing Carrots can help you define a comfortable range and find songs within that range to sing.
Second tip: have a “lazy day” warmup you can do anywhere.
That could be a video you have saved, or an mp3 you’ve downloaded for easy access. It could also just be a few exercises you’ve memorized and can do anywhere: taking a shower, driving in the car, unloading the dishwasher. Sometimes we lose momentum with our practice when we can’t or just don’t set aside dedicated practice time. But a day or two of missed practice can easily turn into a week or more, and then it’s even harder to start up again. All of that to say: have an easy go-to warmup so you don’t have to spend any time searching for one, and you’re guaranteed to at least get a few minutes of vocal exercise in.
My third tip for you is to lead with your strengths.
Within the world of singing, we often focus on identifying and tackling weaknesses. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that! If you hire a vocal coach, or voice teacher, that’s their job! And if you’re self-guided or using courses online, you’ll generally want to do the same. But I sometimes see singers so focused on their weaknesses that they don’t even see or admit that they have strengths. I don’t care how long your to-do list is with your voice; you have something that you do well! Maybe it’s your expressiveness, your low notes, or your sense of rhythm. Ask yourself (or someone else) what you do well, and consider which songs help showcase that. Build up a list of easy, feel-good songs that are in your wheelhouse, and I promise you’ll start gaining confidence as a singer.
And my fourth tip is to reap the benefits of mental rehearsal.
Mental rehearsal includes visualizing yourself singing and even lip syncing. Studies on mental rehearsal with athletes and instrumentalists have shown improvement almost as great as physically practicing. This is such great news for singers because 1) we can’t always practice aloud, especially if our schedule or living situation makes it tricky. 2) Your voice has limits; it will get swollen and fatigued from overuse, even if you’re being careful and not doing anything too risky or intense. And 3) we know that there’s more to singing, and especially performing, than just vocal technique. We have nerves or performance anxiety to deal with. We practice in our room and then perform on stage. There’s an audience to interact with. We can’t create every component of performance in the practice room, but we can create those components in our mind. If we practice in this way, visualizing the venue, the audience, and ourselves doing well, we give our brain more practice without fatiguing our voice.
To recap: work on songs that make you happy; have a “lazy day”/”do anywhere” warmup handy; lead with your strengths; and incorporate some mental rehearsal. I hope these tips and all of the lessons here from 30 day singer help you sing better in 2024!