how to sing

How to Sing Better in 8 Simple Steps

Do you have a talent for singing? Do you have the gift of a powerful, beautiful voice? If so, that’s wonderful, but it’s not everything you need in order to become a professional (or even a respected amateur) Singer. In fact, a lot goes into warming up, standing straight, breathing right, and many other topics you probably don’t know enough about. But it’s okay! There are steps you can take to teach you how to sing better, and they’re below.

Here are eight steps to help you learn how to sing better:

  1. Listen
  2. Learn warm-up exercises
  3. Learn proper breathing
  4. Practice correct posture
  5. Practice singing regularly
  6. Work with a Coach
  7. Push yourself
  8. Let others hear you

Listen

When talking about how people can improve as musicians and vocalists, I often suggest they start by listening, and it bears repeating. Don’t just begin belting because you can — listen, and listen carefully and critically. Listen to everyone who sings, whether it’s someone who simply talks through their songs or the most powerful vocalist out there. Listen to them hitting high notes, lower octaves, and see if you can find examples of great vocalists practicing and even failing online. You should not just hear the best, but all of it, and think as you hear. What makes their performance work? Are they really trying as hard as you think, or is the music behind them doing some of the work?

When you begin listening critically, you may discover things you never heard in music, and you’ll learn a lot in the process.

Learn Warm-Up Exercises

If you’re learning how to sing better all on your own (which many people will do, especially in the beginning), you should begin where all vocalists do: with warm-ups. If you don’t know how to do any vocal warm-ups, no worries! They’re strange, they make you look and sound funny, and they don’t come naturally. Having said this, they’re very important, and if you want to not only be able to perform songs, but do so in a way that could make you one of the greatest Singers in the business, you have to learn how to warm up like the best of them.

I would suggest going to YouTube first and searching for vocal warm-up exercises. The videos will help you see and hear what those who know what they’re doing are up to. You can also simply Google this phrase, though written descriptions probably aren’t as helpful as visual aides.

If you’re looking for a place to start, you can begin with a few popular pages, such as the Jacobs Vocal Academy, The Singing School, Vocal Coach Eric Arceneaux or any number of other professionals who have taken to the world’s largest video hosting site to share their knowledge. Some of these videos are proper visuals (like this one on Increasing Vocal Range) while others are audio-only (such as this clip focusing on Scales and Triads and another condensing everything into just five minutes).

Don’t just tell yourself you will practice, make it a priority! Put time on your calendar every day to learn how to stand, breathe, warm-up, and actually perform. It doesn’t matter when it is, and when you first start, you’ll need to fit it in when you can.

Learn Proper Breathing

Many people just getting started as Singers or who aspire to be great performers only focus on reaching the highest note possible, learning all the words, and belting as loudly as they can, trying to make sure they will reach those in the seats all the way in the back of the arenas they’ll eventually play.

Those are impressive skills to have, but being a professional Singer is about so much more, and one very important skill to master is breathing. Sure, you’re breathing right now as you read this article, but doing so while singing is very different, and it can take a while to learn how to do so properly.

If you’re learning how to sing better in the privacy of your own home and without a Coach, I’d first read up on what it means to breathe while singing…and then I’d go back to YouTube to watch how others do it. Believe it or not, there are many different exercises you can learn that focus solely on breathing, with some designed specifically to teach you control, how to stop running out of breath mid-song, and so on.

Practice Correct Posture

Like breathing, posture is something else not many want-to-be-Singers think about. I mean, it’s simple, right? You stand and you perform. That’s it…isn’t it? No, of course not! How you stand, walk, or even dance (should this be something you want to incorporate into your time on stage, though that’s taking things to an entirely different level) is incredibly important to how the words come out, and if you haven’t already started thinking about this part of a performance, you must immediately.

Unlike warm-up exercises and breathing exercise, which are best watched in a video (as I mentioned above), posture is something you can study in a number of ways. You may want to combine formats and do a lot of reading, looking at photos and drawings, and watching videos of how those who have been properly trained to stand while they belt.

Practice Singing Regularly

This is perhaps the most obvious way to sing better, but I must keep it on this list. Just because you know you must practice doesn’t mean you’re doing so…or doing so enough or properly. If you’re serious about learning how to sing better and becoming the best artist you can (with your instrument being your voice, of course), you need to do two things when it comes to practicing:

  1. Carve out time. Don’t just tell yourself you will practice, make it a priority! Put time on your calendar every day to learn how to stand, breathe, warm-up, and actually perform. It doesn’t matter when it is, and when you first start, you’ll need to fit it in when you can. Make sure it is something you can commit to. If you don’t do this, you will find you brush it off and move it around time and time again, and soon enough, you’ll see you haven’t been practicing very much at all.
  2. Practice correctly. Yes, that’s right, even practicing is something you need to learn to do right. You need to go into every practice with a plan. What do you need to work on? What haven’t you done in a while? Is there something you’ve been avoiding? Maybe there are exercises you must commit to trying every day.

When you practice correctly, you get the most out of your time and you ensure you’re learning and progressing, not simply rehashing old things you already know and leaning on what is easy. As is the case with athletes and bodybuilders when they go to the gym, they need to know what they plan to do when they walk in the door, and it’s usually something that makes them uncomfortable, at least for some time.

Push yourself to stick to your training schedule, no matter how strict it may be. Push yourself to focus and do what you know must be done through your research to become the best you can be.

Work With a Coach

Throughout this article, I have focused on tips and methods that allow you to learn how to sing better on your own, as many people who will be reading this are somewhere near the beginning of their vocal journey. When you’re just getting started, you, understandably, might not want to invest a lot of money into things like practice spaces or Teachers. At some point, you’ll learn all you can on YouTube and by reading articles from experts, and if you want to take your career (or maybe it’s still just a hobby at this point) to the next level, you’ll need to find the money to pay someone to teach you.

I won’t dive into what makes a great Vocal Coach or where to find one (those could be a completely separate piece), but I will say you need one who can make sure everything you’ve taught yourself is right and who can help you progress. By the time you sit down (or stand up, if we’re keeping posture in mind) with a Vocal Coach, you should be practicing regularly and you should be comfortable with many different warm-ups, your breathing should be steady and planned, and you must know your posture.

Again, this person may tweak what you’re doing to ensure it’s all the best for you, but I wouldn’t suggest paying up if you know nothing at all, especially since there are so many free resources available to you!

Push Yourself

There is a theme running through most of what I’ve written above. Did you catch it? Here it is: push yourself.

Just as you need to listen to songs and artists you might otherwise not be interested in when you’re listening critically and just as you need to incorporate vocal and breathing exercises into your daily practice that are unusual and make you do things you’ve never done before, you need to constantly be pushing yourself in every way. If you don’t, you stand no chance of growing, acquiring new talents, and learning how to sing better.

Push yourself to try a difficult song you’ve never attempted, or perhaps a style of music not normally part of your repertoire. Push yourself to stick to your training schedule, no matter how strict it may be. Push yourself to focus and do what you know must be done through your research to become the best you can be.

Let Others Hear You

Many people who have great voices never take the big step it takes to become true performers, as they never sing in front of a crowd. Is this a scary thought? Of course! But it is one every artist must take if they want to grow and make what might have been a secret hobby into a profession. You have to overcome the fear of singing in front of others, whether that’s one person or a thousand, and you must learn to embrace the nerves and conquer them over and over, as they may never fully go away.

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