how to sing better

Learn to Sing: 4 Options for Vocal Training

With almost anything creative — be it acting, sports, dancing, or playing an instrument — practice might not make “perfect,” per se, but it certainly makes somebody better at what they love. This way of thinking is easy to repeat in your mind and say aloud but it can actually be difficult to implement in your life. It’s not just about doing something many times, it’s about doing it well, with other people, and learning every time you do whatever your chosen activity may be. If you simply repeat the same action over and over you might be doing it wrong and in the end, you’d have just wasted a lot of time.

Singing is lumped in with everything stated above and while the more you can practice, the better, there is so much more that needs to be done in order to become a truly great vocalist — at least one with a chance of being a working Singer — and you’re going to need to seek out opportunities to hone your craft and make your talent stand out from the crowd. The task might seem daunting but there are actually many different times and ways you can better yourself as a singer via practice and most of them only require your time and commitment.

1. Joining a Chorus

Perhaps the best (and the most easily accessible) option available to most young people is the chorus at their school. Many high schools and colleges offer a chorus program of some kind and though what that looks like differs from location to location, the idea is usually the same and there are plenty of benefits, no matter what shape the program takes.

When I was in high school, Chorus was offered as an actual class which gave students an opportunity to express themselves creatively in the middle of a day usually filled with much drearier courses like math and science. I knew many people who selected Chorus as a field of study and they benefited immensely as it didn’t require them to give up any more of their time than they normally would have during the day and they got to practice singing often.

Sometimes Chorus is only offered as an after-school extracurricular, although this doesn’t typically diminish what it can do for those just getting started as vocalists. The fact it only takes place after the final bell has rung does mean some students can’t participate since everyone has a different schedule and between homework, familial obligations, part-time jobs, and a normal, healthy social life, not everybody who wants to can sign up for an extra hour or two after the school day has wrapped.

Now, while Chorus is a great introduction to singing for many young people, it’s usually just the first step in studying vocal performance. Many Chorus Teachers have obviously been involved in music for a long time and they have learned how best to instruct students in the art of singing. However, if you decide you want to pursue singing after high school (or even during), you will need to work with others to further sharpen your talents and take your skills to the next level, such as College Professors, or perhaps even private vocal lessons.

So many people who went on to become great artists started by singing along to the songs they love the most and they did so everywhere. In the car, at a party with friends, at karaoke, or even if they’re by themselves, people like this sing all the time, which helps them become more familiar with their vocal chords, what they like to sing, what resonates with them, and what works for them.

2. Taking Vocal Lessons

Speaking of private vocal lessons, they’re the next item on this list! (Although some would rank private lessons even higher than I have.) The best way to learn how to sing is from a professional as they will be able to show you techniques you likely wouldn’t be able to pick up on your own or with someone who isn’t a highly-trained educator. Practicing on your own (which appears later on this list) is wonderful and I highly suggest it but a Vocal Coach or Teacher can be very beneficial, as he or she will help choose the perfect songs, the best exercises, and they will even be able to explain why certain ways of singing will hurt you in the long run. If they’ve been doing their job a long time, they might even have an “in” when it comes to other educational programs, gigs, or full-time jobs.

The toughest part of working with a Vocal Coach is the cost. Many people who know how to teach vocal performance have years of experience and they truly know what they are doing (at least they’re supposed to). Paying them by the hour or half-hour, which is standard practice, can quickly become extremely expensive. Thus, private lessons are simply not an option for many people who want to pursue singing. Sadly, it’s something which would help many students decide whether or not they really want to invest the time and money in this profession…but by the time most wannabe artists are in a place where they can afford to bring on a coach, they are too old to commit to the practice.

3. Practicing On Your Own

Maybe it’s incredibly obvious but sometimes the best way to become a better singer is to simply start singing. So many people who went on to become great artists started by singing along to the songs they love the most and they did so everywhere. In the car, at a party with friends, at karaoke, or even if they’re by themselves, people like this sing all the time, which helps them become more familiar with their vocal chords, what they like to sing, what resonates with them, and what works for them.

If you think vocal performance is something you’d like to pursue in any way, start finding time to sing almost every day…if you’re not doing that already. You might be belting along to hit singles when they play on the radio but you can, and should, do more. Set aside some time to listen to tracks and do your best to learn how to perform them, both in the same way the original artist does and then in your own fashion. The two can be very similar or completely different and any practice you do while thinking critically about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it should be time well spent.

Also, while simply singing along might seem like a less-than-productive use of valuable hours, you can eventually use this time to help kick off your career. There is now an entire culture of up-and-coming musicians making something of a name for themselves just by covering already well-known tracks. It started with YouTube, where future stars like Justin Bieber first gained attention by posting videos covering some of their favorite tunes. Were they perfect? No. Did they sound exactly like the famous renditions? Usually not, but they reached enough people to help them get to the next level.

Posting videos on YouTube is still a great first step but at this point, the scene is a little oversaturated. It seems like everyone with a fair voice has a channel. Nowadays there might be thousands of covers of hit songs online and it has become incredibly difficult (though not impossible) to stand out. Go this route but also look for other avenues to post covers and clips of you singing tunes, even if you mix in some original cuts. Other social platforms like Instagram could serve you well, while apps like musical.ly were made for just this kind of content. Will you become a famous musician after signing up for these platforms? Probably not, but the attention won’t hurt and it will give you a structured excuse to sing more and start thinking about what will get your voice heard over the millions of others attempting the same task.

If your goal isn’t to land a smash hit but rather to practice and learn, you don’t need to spend a lot of money creating songs, because for a while, they may only reach a small audience, which might sometimes just be you. That’s a fine place to start.

4. Making Your Own Music

If you want to become a great musician, whether with a guitar, a software program that creates electronic beats, or with your own voice, the best advice I can give you is to seek out an education. As we’ve discussed both above and in many other articles on this website, you can practice and learn how to be a better artist in a million different places and in as many different ways but sometimes you just need to go out and start creating on your own.

Many a great artist has gotten their start simply by going for it and committing to their craft. It’s daunting and exhausting but there is no better way to figure out who you are as an artist than by just trying it out! Write a song, look for beats online, record yourself singing a brand new piece of music you’ve composed, and at first, don’t worry about if it’s terrible or not because chances are, it won’t be great.

That’s okay! Very few people are fantastic on their first (or second, or third, or…) attempt, and even some of the biggest and most successful musicians of all time cringe when they hear their early recordings. These days, there are countless tools readily available to help you do everything you need to launch your music career, including buying beats, making your own instrumental tracks, recording, mixing, engineering, and so on. If your goal isn’t to land a smash hit but rather to practice and learn, you don’t need to spend a lot of money creating songs, because for a while, they may only reach a small audience, which might sometimes just be you. That’s a fine place to start.

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