how to Sing
Exactly what is your next step in finding out how to have fun with singing?
Hopefully, by this stage, you’ve been interested in singing. The next action should be to actually discover how to sing! And luckily for you, this portion of our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning Singing’ will allow you to get started.
How To Sing for Beginners
Remember the saying “The more you learn, the more you realise that you don’t know”? That’s how it might feel when you start to learn how to sing. Most people probably think that having a great voice and being a fantastic performer is all down to something you were born with…. Any professional singer will tell you that this isn’t quite true. Yes, natural ability comes into it, but most singers work incredibly hard at their craft before presenting it to the world. By the same token, people who think that they can’t or will never be able to sing can learn how to use their voice and improve their sound. There is no such thing as “I can’t sing”!
Here are some things to think about when you first start to train your voice:
Your body is your temple, right? No! Your body is your instrument! You use your whole body to sing with and so it’s vital that you feel as comfortable as possible and that you are as aligned as possible when you sing. When your body is most aligned your voice has the chance to function in the best possible way. Think of any kind of machine, a sewing machine, for example, machines always work best when they are set up correctly. A perfect posture is not achievable for everybody all of the time but here are some tips to get you started.
If you are standing plant both feet on the floor about a shoulder-width apart. Relax your shoulders, give them a roll backwards and a roll forwards to release any tension.
Imagine that you have a piece of string that is attached to the ceiling and it is also attached to the top of your head and that this pulls you up very slightly. Keep your head in a neutral position so that your chin doesn’t stick out forwards or upwards.
Imagine that you also have two pieces of string attached to your chest. Take one piece of string to a corner of the room and the other to a different corner. Your chest will feel more open, and proud, now.
Keep your feet on the floor but don’t feel that you are rooted to the spot, you should always feel you have flexibility in your body. Relax your knees and watch that they don’t lock. Keep your arms loose by your sides. You should feel a little like Pinocchio, flexible and free but in position. If you notice any tension creeping into your body at any point shake it out.
If you are sitting try to sit on the edge of the front of the chair and keep your feet on the floor. Your back shouldn’t feel too rigid and straight but do sit up if you can. As with standing, try to feel relaxed and flexible.
This is a big one! Confidence is not something that you have, it’s something that you create for yourself. It’s so important that we get rid of the little voice in our head that says we can’t do something, or that we’re not good enough. Singing should be joyful and an emotional release, not something to beat ourselves up about. Confidence gives you the ability to handle difficulties and setbacks. Having confidence allows you to fail and to bounce back, to not beat yourself up about anything that might have gone wrong or to not quit at the first hurdle.
So how do we get rid of that self-doubt so that we can keep practising singing to reach our goals?
Keep telling yourself that you are doing well, even if you have a bad lesson or rubbish practise session. Allowing yourself to make mistakes in your lessons or practise is super important to help you to learn. I always think of my teaching studio as being a chemistry lab to experiment safely in! And then try again, and again, and again without criticising yourself for how long it might take you to learn something. Everybody learns at different speeds and what one person finds easy to pick up another will struggle with and vice versa.
If you’re really struggling with confidence try some meditation or motivation apps. These might just quieten the negative voice in your head.
Breath is life! We spend all day everyday breathing in and out without complications or hang-ups. So why do so many singers get so tangled up when thinking about breathing? My best advice for beginners is to always make sure that you do breathe before you sing. If you feel that you have gasped instead of breathed in naturally, or if you feel any tension in your body or feel that your shoulders have risen up: relax, breathe out, shake out the tension and try again with a breath similar to the one that you would take if you were going to speak a simple sentence. Take that breath low into your body as if you have a balloon in your tummy that inflates in every direction. Think about the kinds of low breaths you might take if you were meditating. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged but relaxed, a bit like you have a Buddha’s belly. Remember again that if your chest or shoulders have risen you need to breath out, relax and start again.
When you are singing a phrase if you feel that you are running out of the air, often you notice that your posture collapses. Fight this urge and keep your posture strong. Instead of going with that feeling of collapse, imagine that your back is getting wider like you are growing angel’s wings. I promise you that you always have more breath than you think!
Open your mouth!
Warm-up and warm-down your voice
An athlete wouldn’t take part in a training session without warming up first and neither should a singer. Warm-up exercises wake your voice up and get your vocal apparatus into position ready to sing. The best sound to make at first is a siren. Say SING! Then take off the S and I and you have NNNNGGG. This is called a siren. Take this siren up and down gently throughout your vocal range. This is the easiest and quickest way to set up your voice. Some more exercises are covered in the improve your vocal technique section. At the end of your session don’t forget to warm down, you will need to get your vocal setup back into its speaking position for the rest of the day: count out loud in your normal speaking voice and siren downwards to your speaking range.
Learning is more fun when you are enjoying the music. What songs you start off with as a beginner singer might influence how you feel about having lessons. Be guided by your teacher and choose something that you enjoy but that is also well within your capabilities at first. Perhaps something with a smallish range that doesn’t require you to stretch your voice too high or too low, to begin with. Know your limits at this point! Don’t start off by trying to sing Wagner’s Ring Cycle or Bohemian Rhapsody… you’ll get there in time if that’s what you want!
How To Sing - Summary
By now, you should be able to:
- Do the correct posture when singing
- Have confidence so you can sing properly
- Do the correct way of breathing when singing
- Do the proper mouth opening to sing better
- Warm-up and warm down to help ease the strain on your vocal cords
Now it’s time to improve your technique…
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