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7 Steps For Expressive Singing

Audrey Hunt, author of "Anyone Can Sing," teaches us how to attain a soft, beautiful tone when we sing.

Sing With Conviction To Express Your Feelings

Lifting the eyebrows helps to hit the high notes. Always sing expressively even when practicing.

Lifting the eyebrows helps to hit the high notes. Always sing expressively even when practicing.

Using Your Emotions To Sing Expressively

As a singer, your ability to communicate to the listener is the most important responsibility you have. The singer may have perfect vocal technique, but if his singing is void of emotion, the listener feels nothing and believes even less. This robs him of the whole singing experience. When you combine the basic skills of singing and the ability to communicate you can count on a good performance.

Not everyone has the natural ability to sing with feeling and express themselves freely. A vocalist may have a beautiful tone, natural and controlled, but still unable to execute a song with any emotion. This is because the singer fails to feel his own emotion.

It is generally agreed that emphasis should be upon expression first and technique second. I tell my vocal students, "Do not be afraid to emphasize the emotional aspects of singing for it is the key to enthusiasm and success."

But it's also true that learning vocal technique will set you free. With sound skills, you then have the freedom to sing expressively. With proper singing principles under your belt, you no longer use all your concentration on breath control, diction, remembering the words to the song, or adding a touch of vibrato to beautify the tone. Because you've worked long and hard to instill these necessary techniques they become automatic. Then you are free to live the song, free to express your own true feelings and free to reach out and touch another person's heart and soul.

Sing With Feeling and Meaning

Sing with all your heart and soul. If you don't believe in the lyrics you sing - no one will.

Sing with all your heart and soul. If you don't believe in the lyrics you sing - no one will.

What About Those of Us Who Have Trouble Expressing Ourselves When We Sing?

Even though some may find it next-to-impossible to sing expressively, to sing with feeling can be learned. Let's begin by first finding the reason for why it's a challenge in the first place.

Here are 11 Reasons for non-expressive singing:

  • We're taught to repress our own emotions early in childhood.
  • We have a fear of being laughed at.
  • General nervousness.
  • The fear of forgetting the words.
  • We are easily distracted.
  • Not knowing how to use the microphone.
  • Feeling uncomfortable on stage or in a new environment.
  • Fear of being evaluated or judged negatively.
  • Lack of confidence.
  • We fear to tap into our emotions - being vulnerable.
  • Too high with the expectations of our self. Being a perfectionist.

When we constantly worry about how we sound to others, we lose our spiritual connection with music.

Singing Expressively - Being Versatile With Your Voice

7 Steps To Expressive Singing

If you don't believe the words you sing neither will anyone else. Be absolutely convincing. Relate to the words as you sing each phrase. Use past experiences to help you stir up forgotten emotions. Once you capture these feelings you will be able to apply them as you sing.

Take a look at the following suggestions for discovering your expressive side:

  • Eradicate fear. Be vulnerable and show the real you. When you conceal who you are you also bury your feelings. When these feelings are locked up inside of you there is no possibility of expressing them.
  • Extend an ending note. Holding a note longer than indicated can help the listener to experience their own feelings.
  • Sing with impeccable diction. This helps in concentrating on the emotion found in the word itself. If needed, hire a vocal coach to help with this important step.
  • Enjoy the song as you sing. Through joy, your feelings are set free to be used for self-expression.
  • Select the right material. Why have you selected this song to sing? Do you even like it? With so much material available stick with songs, you love to sing.
  • Make absolutely sure the song is written in your key. If you struggle with hitting the high notes, the music is not in your key. It is said to be out-of-your-range. The same rule applies to any song that contains low notes. If you can barely reach the lowest note, forget it.
  • "Scatting." Learning how to scat with a note is a great and fun way to begin styling your vocal sound. Listen to vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Celine Dion or Louis Armstrong for the best lesson in scatting. Checkout the video below as well.

Make the song yours. If you're singing cover songs avoid duplicating the original artist. This is a big mistake. Find your own style because you do have one. It's inside of you longing to be set free. Don't be afraid to take liberties here and there but don't overdo it.

Sing With Truth To Express Your Feelings As You Interpret The Song

Former student, Angela Hernandez brings down the house as she sings her heart out.

Former student, Angela Hernandez brings down the house as she sings her heart out.

To Convince Others You Must First Convince Yourself

Gloria Rusch, singer, and author of "The Professional Singer's Handbook has this to say about expressive singing:

"When you sing you need to know how to create the place (environment) suggested in the song. You need to be able to communicate exactly where you were at that moment in time when you felt in the emotions you're singing about. And you need to be able to do this whether you're singing to a live audience or into a microphone at the studio."

I'd like to add the importance of being able to express yourself even when you're singing alone - in the shower. No one will believe you if you don't believe yourself. You must live the lyrics and feel the emotion with every fiber of your being. You must convince yourself first if you want to convince others.

Incredible Scatting and Delivery

Two Very Important Tips For Singing Expressively

  1. Always sing the song as if it were the first time. If you find yourself getting bored with a song because you've sung it so many times before you are missing something.

You must always sing the song as if you're singing it for the first time. Apply all the passion and emotion you've given before - whether it be the first time or the 500th time. Your audience deserves not to feel bored just because you do.

While earning my living as a professional singer in Hawaii, I was asked to sing "The Hawaiian Wedding Song" well over 500 times. This is the most popular song in Hawaii and is performed at virtually all weddings. Can you imagine how a wedding couple would feel if this song were performed with complete boredom?

2. Know your material well. In other words, be prepared. There is no excuse for not remembering the words to a song. If you have a hard time memorizing lyrics, you may have to practice repeating those lyrics over and over again. It may take up to 10 times each day or even 20 times a day. It may take a week or it may take a month.

The lyrics must be ingrained within you. Regardless of the conditions or distractions, you, as a singer, must know every word of every song you sing. Only then will you have complete freedom to express those lyrics.

Singing is Your Birthright

Embrace your voice.  Singing is your birthright.

Embrace your voice. Singing is your birthright.

In Conclusion

People like to feel a song not just hear the lyrics. They long to relate to the message delivered by the singer. This is the vocalist's biggest responsibility. Be vulnerable and completely open to interpretation.

Until you 'sing it like you mean it' you are only going through the motion of singing. Singing is a gift you give to yourself as well as others. Unwrap it gently and enjoy it daily. But be grateful for it always.

Thank you for being here. I welcome your comments in the section below.

Sing with joy!

Compare Low-Note Scatting And High Note Scatting With These Divas

© 2016 Audrey Hunt


Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 03, 2017:

Hi Sha -

You've said it well my friend. The singer's responsibility is to become one with the song. You have a special gift when it comes to music (and writing, etc.) Thank you and stay well and happy.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 13, 2016:

Like Bill, my favorite show is The Voice. The artists who really put themselves into the lyrics are the most entertaining and get the audience fired up. Pharrell is keen on the singers who "emote" and I agree with him. When a song moves you to tears, or gives you goosebumps, or gets you on your feet, you know the artist became one with the message.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 28, 2016:


Thanks Beth for being here. I appreciate your taking time to read and comment on my hub. I think most people share your fear of being judged or laughed at. I know I did (before I became a professional singer.) The more we sing publicly the less fear we have. It's as though we need to prove to ourselves that we won't be laughed at or judged negatively.

Anyhow, you keep right on singing and pay no mind to anyone!

Beth Perry from Tennesee on April 27, 2016:

Good advice, and you have the insight on why people don't sing as well as they'd want. I've always had that fear of someone judging me or laughing at my voice. However, I was able to sing pretty well to my kids when they were babies, and to our cats. It must be because I know babies and cats are not judgmental.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 19, 2016:

Hi Peggy.

I share your enthusiasm for "The Voice." The coaches are good at guiding singers to the importance of self-expression. So pleased to hear you enjoyed the videos and thank you kindly for sharing.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 19, 2016:

Great advice which is mirrored on "The Voice" television show. I love watching it and seeing how the coaches guide the singers on their path to learning how best to express themselves. Those videos you found are wonderful! Happy to share this with others.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 18, 2016:

Hi Frank

Very glad you like my hub about expressive singing. Coming from you...this means a great deal to me.


Hello my friend. I just love your story about your closet singing. I'll bet others can relate to the same experience. So good to hear you are singing now. Thank you.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 18, 2016:

As a child I told myself I couldn't sing, but as a teen my love of especially country music (Janie Frickie, Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker, George Jones, Gary Morris, Dolly Parton ) had me singing along with their songs. I was a closet singer and had lots and lots of practice, singing in the car usually. Years later, my family had no idea I could sing until my husband told them. There's now a little ditty for everything in my house.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on April 17, 2016:

I like your how to sing 101 type hub... it is entertaining and informative.. easy to follow guidelines :)

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 16, 2016:

Hello Vellur

Singing is indeed a gift both to ourselves and to others. While the quality of the voice is important, it's the expressiveness that means the most. You've said it well - to convince others we have to convince ourselves. Thanks for your participation and enjoy the moment!


Hello my friend. You offer the most helpful and informative hubs in all of hubland! I enjoy them immensely. Now I see a whole new side of you as I read your comments filled with wisdom with respect to great singing. Thank you kindly for sharing your thoughts. You've brought valuable information to my hub.

Love and light,


Dear Nadine

You bet! And judging a singer involves looking at many facets of the voice. Thank you and enjoy the moment!

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on April 16, 2016:

After reading your post I now will be more equipped to make an assessment of a singer on the talent shows on TV.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 14, 2016:

A great singer is one who is not only versatile but can emote with his voice. This holds very true for Bollywood playback singers who not only have to give feeling to the lyrics but also modulate their voice to suit the persona of the actor they are singing for.

Very useful tips.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 13, 2016:

So true to convince others we have to convince ourselves. Singing is a gift and we should share it with the world and make others happy and sing it like we mean it. Great hub.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 07, 2016:

Hi MsDora

So pleased to know you enjoyed this vocal lesson. These suggestions really work! Keep that shower singing going and thanks.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 06, 2016:

Audrey, so you thought about me--in that section about singing in the shower. I love to sing and I will practice these suggestions. Thank you for a very good lesson.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 06, 2016:

Well, I guess I might sing a little louder, Janis Joplin, huh, yea!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 06, 2016:


Nice poetry! Your grandson is blessed to have you. Your passion for singing is just wonderful. I share your enthusiasm for Sondheims beautiful quote. Singing can give us the feeling of flying. Thank you so much.

always exploring

Do you know how many singers want a raspy voice? It's sexy, unique and gets the old adrenalin flowing for the lucky listener. Janice Joplin became a top recording star in the 60 and 70's because of her raspy sound. I join you with your love of the old songs. They are the best!

Thanks my friend.


Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on April 06, 2016:

I love to sing even though I have a raspy voice due to allergies. ( Tis the season. ) I hum a song more than singing in church because I might hit a high note when it should be low. I love singing the old songs, they still move me to tears at times. My favorite show on TV is ' The Voice ', so much talent and they are so young. Great tips once again Audrey. Thank you...

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 06, 2016:

Wow! Audrey, I love to sing and I am writing a song for my grandson.

I also love the quote “If I cannot fly, let me sing” by Stephen Sondheim

I want to sing because I cannot fly

With soring melodies

That reaches up to the sky

In a lilting voice that can rise so high

Simply because I cannot fly

Singing songs that are sure to please

With every word to make you sigh

Or a sad one that will make you cry

And in my head I hear me sing

Simply because I cannot fly

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 05, 2016:

Hi denise

I'd like to see you incorporate spontaneous singing as you go from day-to-day. If singing becomes stressful you're probably judging your voice. The only time judging is effective is through singing lessons (and even then, the teacher should take care to never judge) or during vocal competitions.

Very happy to see you and sing with joy and freedom.



Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on April 05, 2016:

I have never thought of singing as a gift I give to myself. I enjoy singing, but there comes a point that it becomes stress rather than enjoyment! If I were to change my thought processes and remember what you have said here, I would probably enjoy and do it much more than I do! These are great tips!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 05, 2016:


My first reader here! So glad to find that you also feel the same way about discipline and individuality when it comes to self-expression. It's important to stop finding fault with our own unique sound and embrace it instead. Thanks my friend and joyous singing to you!


The singer should always be rewarded with a 'feel-good' type of joy. Singing is the one free gift to ourselves and promotes good mental and physical health as well.

I appreciate your being here my friend and may you sing with great joy!


"The Voice" is the most credible television production for singing competition which is why I also watch it. By the way, studies indicate that singing to your chickens, animals and plants helps them to grow and thrive!



Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 05, 2016:

Our favorite television show is "The Voice." It's fascinating to me, watching the transformation of singers as they receive quality instruction. They change before our very eyes in a matter of weeks....which is to say, everything you say is true. A great voice is part natural talent and a whole lot of work. :) Blessings and love, dear friend.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 05, 2016:

Beautiful thoughts about expressive singing!

You are absolutely right in saying that, "Until you sing it like you mean it" you are only going through the motion of singing.

Singing should satisfy the soul, then only it can 'touch' others.

Thanks for sharing this wonderfully written hub!

Andrew Spacey from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on April 05, 2016:

Thank you. I like the way you emphasise discipline and individuality as ways to best express yourself when singing. We might not all be divas or opera singers but we've all got something inside waiting to escape!

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