How to Be a Good Singer in 6 Simple Steps
Many people who aim to enter the music industry want to be great singers. It seems like a glamorous lifestyle and many people think it’s easy. It’s just singing, right? Who can’t do that?
Wrong! Singing is something everybody can do, but not everyone can do it well. There are many working musicians who have found something that works for them and many artists actually do something that would be more accurately described as talk-singing, and that’s just fine. There are plenty of ways to make it sound like you’re doing more than you really are or to dress up your fairly basic vocals and make them perfect for the kind of music you’re creating.
The suggestions below on how to be a good singer are really for those who are aiming to be vocalists first. They are good to follow for anyone who will be on stage singing for a crowd, as they certainly will make you sound better, but they are truly meant for those who will be taking on opera, classical, or choral pieces, which require an intense amount of practice and focus, and where outside factors really come into play.
There are a lot of things to consider if you’re looking to be that kind of vocalist but here are half a dozen tips anyone who knows anything about vocal performance will suggest when it comes to becoming a truly good singer.
1. Work with a Professional
I know many people clicking on this article are looking for advice they can use entirely on their own to become better singers and while a lot of the items featured are good for those who are going about this solo, the best piece of advice I can offer is to suggest you start working in person with somebody who really knows what they are doing. Listening to what friends have to say or reading blog posts can be helpful but when it’s time to take the next step, you’re going to need a Vocal Coach of some kind.
When you’re first starting to improve your singing skills, that person might be a Teacher in school or perhaps someone else you know who has been singing for a long time. As you progress and get better and better, and as you want to refine your talents, you’ll need to look for more help, potentially from someone you might need to hire. That can be daunting for a lot of young people, as they may not have the resources to take lessons, and while it isn’t necessarily vital, it is the best way to ensure you’re doing things correctly. It would be a shame to practice and work hard for so long, only to finally meet with someone and find out you’ve been doing things wrong.
If you are looking to sing just for fun or for a band that doesn’t require you to be a stellar vocalist, you can put hiring a professional off for longer than if you want to devote your talents to something much more difficult, such as becoming an Opera Singer or the like.
You should take time to practice breathing (a sentence that sounds funny, but is actually sound advice) before every performance.
Breathing properly and in time is key to delivering an on-point vocal performance and it is something you will have to master if you want to be a good singer. Breathing is also, sadly, something many of those just starting out as singers don’t think about nearly enough when really it’s one of the first things that needs to be mastered in order to improve.
Any good Vocal Coach or tutorial will tell you to breathe in from your stomach and not from your chest and this is something you need to imagine doing as you inhale. It might sound strange but once you’ve figured it out and you can feel it, you’ll never be able to go back to the old way of breathing while you’re performing.
You should take time to practice breathing (a sentence that sounds funny but is actually sound advice) before every performance. In fact, if you’re really committed to becoming a great singer and potentially pursuing this as a serious hobby or even a career later on, you should find time every day to practice just breathing properly, studying when to take breaths, for how long, and understanding how long you’ll need to hold a certain amount of air in your lungs.
3. Warm Up
Before you go for a run, especially in a race that matters (but hopefully all the time), you spend a few moments stretching your muscles, don’t you? You lift your legs, push them in ways you don’t normally, and you can sometimes look a bit strange doing so, right? Many people don’t think of singing as using a muscle but you are putting strain on parts of your body so you should take your time and stretch before every performance, just as athletes do.
You’ll need to learn vocal exercises and you’ll probably feel a bit silly doing them when you first begin but know every great vocalist takes part in this tried-and-true ritual and it is absolutely worth your time and initial slight embarrassment, which will disappear after a while. I won’t describe these warm-up exercises here as I could spend an entire article going over the best practices and what noises you should make with your vocal chords but it’s best if you gather this info from a Vocal Teacher, or, if you don’t have one of those of your own, perhaps a YouTube video or an online course.
4. Drink These Good Beverages Before Singing
I am not here to be your diet coach and I won’t dive too deep into this item but as much as it may suck, what you put into your body throughout the day, and especially shortly before a performance matters and it can affect your voice. The most important thing to keep in mind is you need to drink water. It’s simple to say, and it’s a piece of advice everyone has heard many times before, but water is key, and you should already be finding ways of subbing in other drinks for pure water throughout the day.
In addition to regular water, you can also go for green tea (without caffeine — this is important) or water with a fruity additive like lemon. These two are better for you if warm (not too hot) but regular old water is still the best thing to stick to regularly.
If you want to truly improve your vocal skills and become a great singer, one who might be able to go to school specifically for singing and potentially one day have a career doing so, you’re going to need to sing every day.
5. Stay Away from These Bad Items
Water and tea are the best things for you and your vocal chords, but what are the worst things?
When it comes to foods, you need to stay away from anything with dairy, anything sugary, and especially spicy menu items for hours before a vocal performance. In fact, think ahead and try to avoid these things all day before you sing. You’re welcome to have them after you leave the stage but while you might have a hard time believing it these things truly can affect the sound of your voice and it would be a shame to spend so much time rehearsing just to ruin it thanks to some cheese, right? Okay, it’s not going to destroy your vocals, but these are the best practices for those who are serious about becoming the best performer they possibly can be!
In terms of drinks, anything with caffeine can dry you out, which is exactly the opposite of the water suggestion mentioned above. Teas with caffeine, as well as coffee, are not ideal to drink before you sing, even if it’s just a warm-up.
Also, you’re going to need to stay away from vices like alcohol and smoking. I hate to tell you that you can’t do the things you love and to be a buzzkill, but both of those items will seriously affect your ability to belt a banger and carry a tune. It’s not that you need to completely stay away from smoking and drinking but the hours before warming up and even a full day before any performance of something even slightly challenging, shouldn’t contain either of those.
Many Rock Stars and Pop Singers smoke and drink so there’s the misconception it doesn’t really matter, but many of these people aren’t straining their vocal chords in a daunting manner. If you’re really pushing your talents to the limit and tackling something vocally challenging, alcohol and smoking (and I won’t even get into drugs, which aren’t great for a number of reasons), will ruin your shot.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
No matter what you are working on being better at — dancing, writing, painting, playing an instrument, or singing — you need to do it all the time. If you’re only singing every few days or even less frequently, that might be enough for you to enjoy the pastime or to be good at your hobby, but you won’t advance very far with that level of activity. If you want to truly improve your vocal skills and become a great singer, one who might be able to go to school specifically for singing and potentially one day have a career doing so, you’re going to need to sing every day.
I’m not saying you need to find a public performance every single day and in fact, it isn’t recommended. You do, however, need to find time every day not only to sing but to do your warm-up exercises (which we already discussed). That means belting Top 40 smashes in the car on your way to school or work isn’t enough. You may think actually singing every day isn’t too much of a challenge, but the real difficulty here is setting aside the time to do it correctly, which is what ends up making it a commitment many people can’t keep.
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