Singing Tips

Singing Tips – How to Sing Better Right Now

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Veteran vocal coach Cari Cole shares five singing tips to make your voice sound better

This post originally appeared on Cari Cole’s “Standing in the Spotlight” blog. Reprinted with permission.

As one of the top vocal coaches in the country, I’m frequently asked, “What are your top singing tips for vocalists?” Well, I could rattle off a long list, and yammer on for hours. I’m a nerd’s nerd when it comes to vocals, and I have a long list of favorite tricks up my sleeve from more than 20 years of coaching singers… But I love a challenge – so I pretended I had only five minutes to tell you my best singing tips, and I wracked my brain to come up with the Top 5.

First, one of the things I am constantly teaching my private clients is that the voice is an instrument inside your body and you have to learn how to use it to get the most out of it. It’s very “physical” on the foundational level.

To have a strong voice and to have vocal consistency there are certain things you have to know and do, and there are some really simple methods you can use, right now, to get a great sound out of your instrument.

And the truth is most singers, even professionals, unless they’ve trained, don’t know this stuff. I’m going to give these singing tips to you as if I were actually giving you a voice lesson: right here, right now.

So, stand in front of a mirror, because I’m going to ask you to watch your jaw and your head position to control movement as you sing.

Cari’s Top 5 Singing Tips

1. The “instant fix”
This is a quick trick that makes you sound better instantly, so I call it the “Instant Fix.” Say A-E-I-O-U (watch your jaw movement in the mirror). Did your jaw close on any of the vowels? Chances are your jaw closed on the “E” and the “U” – and most likely on others too, if not all of them. Take your first two fingers and pull your jaw down two inches – or even better, use a plastic bottle cap or a wine cork to prop your jaw open. Now speak the vowels again. And repeat again (we’re trying to re-program muscle memory – so the more the better).

Now sing the vowels on one pitch. A-E-I-O-U. Your goal is to keep your jaw open (long not wide) without closing for all of your vowels. Repeat until you can do it. Now sing a phrase of one of your songs – and make sure your jaw opens to the same position on all of your vowels. You have to practice this a bunch before it becomes natural – but the more you do, the sooner this new movement is programmed into your muscle memory.

And you might be one of those lucky ones who notice the improvement in the sound right away (it will sound louder and more resonant with less vocal strain). If you don’t, don’t sweat it, you will. It just takes a little practice. You might have some unwanted tension in your neck, jaw and throat muscles – try loosening them up and try it again. The next time you perform open your jaw more on your vowels, it’s one of my quick singing tips that makes you sound better instantly!

2. “Think down” for high notes
When you sing a scale, try thinking of the way an elevator works: a heavy weight is attached to a pulley, and as the weight pulls down, the elevator goes up to the higher floors. So, the highest floor is reached when the weight is the heaviest. Similarly, you should use the most “weight” on your highest notes.

3. More power without strain
Who doesn’t want more power without strain? This is one of those simple singing tips that’s easy to apply – easier than the one above. All you have to do is to keep your chin pointed slightly down and your pectoral muscles slightly flexed (sometimes it’s a lot flexed) when you go for more power. Most singers reach forward or lift their chin up to sing with more power. While it may temporarily work, it causes vocal problems. Tipping your chin down not only works better and saves your voice, it actually SOUNDS better!

Stand in front of the good ‘ol mirror. Sing an “ah” scale up and down in one phrase (1-2-3-4-3-2-1). Press your chin slightly in (point your chin towards the floor), usually only 1 inch or so. Don’t let your head bob up as you raise pitch – keep it firmly in place. Go all the way up the scale of your voice keeping this position. Notice how the chin wants to move up as you raise pitch. Keep it planted. This will give you more power and control and eliminate strain. Practice it until it becomes natural!

4. Vibrato
Here’s a quick tip to get your vibrato working. Stand in front of a mirror; press on your chest with both hands, then raise your chest higher than normal. Take a breath in and then exhale, but don’t drop your chest. Sing one note and hold it as long as possible with your chest raised. Press on your chest halfway through the note (press kind of hard and raise your chest to meet the pressure). Relax the back of your neck and keep your jaw open as you’re singing “ahhh.” Imagine the air spinning around in your mouth while keeping your chin tucked down a bit and your chest raised. Keep in mind, overuse of vibrato is not a good thing in contemporary singing (pop, rock and R&B). At the same time, no vibrato is also not a good thing. So, try ending phrases with straight tone, then into a little bit of vibrato. The bottom line is to do what’s best for you.

5. HearFones®
A good vocal tone is not established by singing loudly, it’s established at medium volume. Good tone happens when vocal folds are strong enough to have a good closure but not touch.

Releasing too much air creates a “breathy” tone and releasing too little air creates a “nasal” tone. Unless you’re really going for breathy or nasal as a stylistic choice, somewhere right in between the two is the perfect balance. HearFones® allow you to really hear yourself and work on your tone at medium volumes.

Learn How to Maintain Your Voice

Cari

Image of vocalist via ShutterStock.com.

Cari Cole is a celebrity vocal coach, artist development expert, and new music biz mentor. She has over 25 years’ experience working with independent artists and A-list performers. Her website offers tools and materials for serious vocalists, bands and singer-songwriters, and her “Standing in the Spotlight” blog is a great resource for vocal and music industry info.

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108 thoughts on “Singing Tips – How to Sing Better Right Now

  1. Thank you for your post!This tutorial is fabulous! Lots of great info including, Next is start warming up Find your range. I’ve only been watching her tutorials for a week and I already feel an improvement.Thinking, More Power without strain.

  2. Begin with breathing exercises. Breathing exercises will allow you to better control the pitch and duration of your singing.Next, start warming up.Find your range.Try singing along to a song that you like with a voice recorder nearby.Drink plenty of water.Practice daily.

  3. Thank you for your post!This tutorial is fabulous! Lots of great info including, I’m frequently asked, “What are your top singing tips for Singing?” Well, I could rattle off a long list, and yammer on for hours. I’m a nerd’s nerd when it comes to vocals,I heard Classically Trained Pop Singer are better singer than any of the other singer.

    1. Impressive post. Glad i found this. When i meet new students, they always ask me whats the easy way to learn how to sing better. Next time ill tell them about this article. Glad to see there is some good lessons online for those that want to learn to sing. Most of the sites ive seen are always trying to sell you something. Keep up the good work.

      John Pipney – Vocal Teacher

  4. My wife loves to sing and was in her college choir. So, she gives me tips every now and then when we are singing in the car. One of her most often said tip is for me to work on my vowels. I’ll give the bottle cap method a try and hopefully wow her with my improvement next time we go on a car trip.

  5. Recently discovered Cari Cole and she is my favorite vocal coach out there. She explains singing in a way no one has ever explained to me before. I’ve only been watching her tutorials for a week and I already feel an improvement.

  6. Having a melodious voice is not enough to become a good singer. We have to work on various things like chords, volume and much more. Cari, you have suggested very useful recommendations for the aspiring singers to get their singing done in an efficient manner. Thanks a lot.

  7. I think ‘Superior Singing Method’ by Aaron Anastasi is the best when it comes to voice coaching. I tried different voice exercises on the net. But none of them, in my opinion, compares to what Aaron has to offer. Actually I experienced some improvements right after doing some of exercises from this method

    Here’s a link to his video and guide: http://fb.me/2gOMazz07

  8. These ARE great tips – thanks for sharing them! Especially the first tip. And since others are plugging some vocal methods, I’ll go ahead and plug the method that worked great for me – “Set Your Voice Free” by Roger Love. It comes with a CD chock full of practice exercises to sing. I use three of them as a warmup routine. Super book.

  9. Great tips.

    To anyone just getting started I also highly recommend a program called the Superior Singing Method by Aaron Anastasi. It is an absolutely brilliant online program, perfect for beginners or at an intermediate level.
    You can find his online presentation and guide at: http://www.SSmethod.pw

    Anybody can learn if you put the practice in.

  10. Thanks Cari for your suggestions. These are the tremendous tips of all I have read so far. These have assisted me a lot in opening up my vocal chords . But still I have a query regarding the crackening of the voice while singing. Plz grant me some more of your specializes tips concerned to my query.

  11. These are good tips. Cari Cole has made video tips on singing at ehow. I could add few more.

    Although Cari doesn’t mention it in the 5 tips above, singers should never underestimate warm up routines. Before going on stage, learning a new song, or recording a track, every singer should engage in any warm up routines. Warm up routine should be done daily, not just for preparing for a concert, recording or performance. It could involve anything from the body to our vocal cords. Part of Cari’s instant fix is warming up our vocal cords or singing anatomy.

    Another thing that singers should also monitor is their posture. As Cary has advised above, you should have a full length mirror handy so you can monitor every movement of you when you practice any singing activity. Maintaining good posture has to do with maintaining alignment from head to toe. You don’t want to slouch or hunch. Good posture can work many ways for your singing including breathing process, high notes, pitch, etc.

    Different vocal coaches would have different emphasis. I think one important part of vocal or singing techniques that many vocal coaches would emphasis is breathing process. Breathing and posture go hand in hand for overall singer in you.

  12. Music is life, I’ll live to love music, getting a vocalist like you is something am looking forward to.

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  14. There are various good tips available to improve your singing.Open your mouth when you’re singing! Singers who keep their mouths mostly closed are likely tense in the tongue and are far from achieving maximum quality of tone. Don’t take in too much air. If you breathe in too much air, then you create pressure under the folds that can easily hinder you ability to sing freely. Sing with energy.Singing is a very physical activity. You must be energized and excited about what you’re doing .

  15. This is the best vocal advice I have ever read online. Thank you so much! Very straight forward and so helpful!!

  16. Thank you SO SO much! Im doing a Fine Arts contest and this will be the first time i sing in front of ppl where its just me singing iv done back up stuff before but nothing like this. Im very nervous and this helped my confidence alot! God Bless

  17. Thank you so much for this I have a singing audition tonight, I just tried your tips and noticed a change in how my voice sounds clearer. 😀

    1. I also really love the Superior Singing method by Aaron Anastasi. It’s extremely helpful if you’re a beginner or even at an intermediate level. Here’s a direct link to his video and guide: http://www.ssmethod.pw

      Hope this helps!

  18. It sounds link your singing philosophy sounds a lot like the Superior Singing Method we just reviewed. It is great to see that sound singing coaching seems to be consistent. I love your imagery for thinking down for a high note. I’ve worked in a lot of high rise building so I’ll probably never be able to get that image out of my head.

  19. Very handy. Just trying the open mouth thing has made an improvement. Kind of embarrassing that something so obvious escaped me, but that’s how it goes. As for the guy leaving all the negative comments, his singing is almost unbelievable – it sucks, and blows, and bites all at the same time.

  20. I think this blog is good for me because I love to sing and I want to know more tips on how to sound better. So many people tell me to shut up cause they hate when people sing. I just want them to love my singing so I am trying to get better and this blog can help me with that.

  21. Lastly…we vocalist know that when we sing, we sing for ourselves. An audience is secondarily significant if at all. We continue to seek our perfect vocal expression long after the thrill of performing is gone. It is the most beautiful instrument and one should never stop evolving their singing technique and reaching for a higher note, new tone and better way of expressing emotion.

  22. Much of the singing process is psychological. The “weight” or “elevator” analogy as a technique for singing notes in your higher range is really nothing more than suggesting to your mind that there is no difference in low and high notes. If you think a note is high or too high, you will physically respond

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