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Can You Learn to Sing Without Vocal Lessons?

Audrey Hunt, author of "Anyone Can Sing," explains how we make sound.


Anyone Can Learn to Sing

Singing is not a privilege given to a select few. Anyone that can speak can sing because singing is sustained speech, supported by air.

This article will provide the necessary elements for you to learn to sing without spending a fortune for lessons. A qualified singing instructor is still the best way to go because good teachers have been trained to hear exactly what is needed to correct a persons singing. The student can't really hear their true vocal sound so they need expert feedback from a good vocal instructor. Therefore, they are at a disadvantage when trying to teach themselves.

But for those who cannot afford to study with a private teacher and are not able to sign up for a singing class at school, I'm providing some of the necessary steps needed to learn to sing. Follow these steps carefully and practice daily to correct present vocal weaknesses and take your voice to the next level.

How Singing is Produced

Your entire body is your vocal instrument, therefore, understanding how your vocal sound works will help you to sing better.

The following briefly explains how sound is produced:

  • A breath is taken by inhaling air as the diaphragmatic muscle inflates.
  • The sound is initiated in the larynx. (The voice box.)
  • The vocal resonators receive the sound and influence it. ( The chest, mouth, head.)
  • The vocal chords vibrate as they meet. (Air sets them into motion which produces sound.) This is why breathing correctly is crucial.
  • 4. The articulators shape the sound into recognizable units - (The tongue, jaw, teeth, palate, and lips are the articulators.)

As you practice the vocal techniques outlined, concentrate and really focus on how the sound "feels." This will be a more accurate barometer of how well you are learning to sing than to listen for the right sound. You cannot hear your true sound so you must learn to "feel" with your body what correct singing is.

This means you must acquire the habit of feeling for vibrations in the resonating system (chest, mouth, mask, head.) Also, you must feel for the expansion around the waistline as you manipulate the diaphragmatic muscle and ribcage during inhalation. So you see, learning to sing is about learning to feel and connect with your body.

Once you learn each of the described vocal techniques outlined in this article you will be ready to apply these new techniques to your favorite song.

Avoid Forcing Your Singing Voice

Singing must always be easy and free.

Singing must always be easy and free.

Singing in Tune (On Key)

Not everyone has perfect pitch. Even if you are unable to sing-on-key or carry a tune it doesn't mean you can't sing. You can learn how to sing with excellent pitch. In fact, most musicians practice some form of ear-training on a daily basis.

If you have a keyboard or know someone that does, the following exercise can work miracles for anyone wanting to improve the art of singing on key:

  1. Begin by playing middle C on the piano (or a low C if it's more comfortable) and match the note with your voice. Sing any vowel such as Ah or Ee and record your sound. Do this 3 or 4 times.
  2. To determine if you're singing in tune, your voice will blend in with the piano. Otherwise, you will hear a difference in pitch. If you are singing too high or too low, adjust the pitch until you have a direct match.
  3. Experiment with different piano keys, matching each sound. When the pitch is too high, sing one octave lower. When the pitch is too low, sing one octave higher. Never strain your voice.
  4. Play and sing 5 notes going up and coming down beginning on C or G. Be sure to adjust your voice to eliminate straining.

If you do well with this exercise you probably have a pretty good "ear." If not, continue to practice daily until you develop the proper pitch. Singing along with recordings that are in your range (see definition below) will help to develop your ear training skills. Be sure to record your singing to tell if you are singing in tune.

Tip: Concentration is critical as you practice matching a pitch. Listen! Really focus on the sound of your voice. A common reason for failure to sing on key is simply a lack of concentration.

Do not expect immediate results. Avoid high expectations and any self-criticism or judgment. This will only deter your progress.

Remember to use proper breath support. One cause of singing a note or phrase 'flat' is lack of energy which comes from insufficient air upon inhalation. So before you sing that first note be sure to 'tank up" with plenty of air executed from the diaphragm. (Belly Breathing.)

And now you are ready to learn the secret to good singing.

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Correct Diaphragmatic Breathing Is The Foundation For Good Singing

Be sure to take in enough air  just before singing so the air will last through the entire phrase of music.

Be sure to take in enough air just before singing so the air will last through the entire phrase of music.

Three Important Tips to Save Your Voice

As you study the techniques of singing, allow your own unique style to emerge. It's the very technique you're learning here that will set your voice free. Every Singer has their own unique style, sound, and tone which is worth studying. As you observe and listen to the way a professional singer performs, you will learn to sing too, as this will provide an insight into the techniques you will use.

Remember these three important rules as you go to work on your singing voice:

  1. Always hydrate your throat with plenty of room temperature water while singing.
  2. Never sing higher or lower than is easy and comfortable.
  3. If your throat hurts, or you get a gripping feeling during or after singing, you are singing wrong. Hoarseness can also be contributed to incorrect singing.

Singing must always be easy and free.

Breath Control ~ The Key to Good Singing

A house must be built on a solid and strong foundation to keep it from washing away or collapsing. The same is true with your singing voice. Breath Control is the foundation on which your voice is built.

Air acts as a cushion for the singing tone to ride on. It is the energy and life force of the voice. How you manage your breath when you sing can drastically change the sound of your singing voice.

Singing requires a different set of rules than for speaking. So if you try to sing by breathing the way you do when you speak, well, it just won't work. When you sing, you not only need to inhale quickly and exhale slowly as you sing, you also must have good posture.

Also, when we sing, unlike speaking, we need to learn how to control the breath as we sing. Here's an exercise to help you learn how to take a quick breath of air:

1. Take a minute and observe how a dog breathes. That's right - a dog. (A baby also breathes the same way.) You will not see any movement in the neck, shoulders or chest region. But you will see movement in the stomach area as the dog or baby breathes in and out.

2. Next, you will pant like a dog. Don't laugh - this really works. Actually pretend that you're a dog on a hot summer's day and pant, noticing where the movement is taking place in your abdomen.

3. During inhalation, the abdominal muscles move down and out. Now continue panting and slow down the rate of your inhalation.

4. As you're slowing down feel the steady movement of your body. Notice that as you breathe in the air your belly expands outward. As you exhale your belly returns to its natural position.

5. Notice that during the exhalation, your abdominal muscles move out, not in. This is the natural way to breathe and your body does this form of breathing as you sleep.

6. Practice doing this entire exercise repeatedly to aid in teaching your body how to inhale and exhale. Be sure to have a drink of room temperature water during and after this exercise.

For a complete lesson on how to breathe for singing click here. You will learn in an easy and efficient manner exactly how to use the diaphragmatic muscle, which is your singing muscle.

Now that you have learned how to sing on key and support your voice by breathing correctly - let's sing.

Belly Breathing for Better Singing and to Relieve Stress