People have a strange double standard around singing… While most people have come to accept that anyone can learn to play an instrument with enough practice, most people still cling to the idea that singing can only be natural talent!
- “You are either born with a good voice or you aren’t.”
- “There’s no way you can learn how to sing in tune!”
- “It’s a gift you have to be born with.”
You’ve probably heard at least one of these statements before. Fortunately, these misconceptions are becoming less and less common.
If you’re finally ready to pursue singing, maybe after years of procrastination, this article is for you.
Here, you’ll find some insights on how to teach yourself singing, how to improve your voice, and where to find the best resources for your journey.
Can I sing?
YES! YES! YES!
I can’t say it enough times, you can absolutely sing! Regardless of your natural abilities, everyone and anyone can learn how to sing. Yet, singing requires a complex (yet achievable!) set of skills, including a good ear and sense of rhythm.
One of the first things you can do to teach yourself to sing is evaluate where your singing voice is right now. To understand how strong you are in each area, you can carry out a quick self-assessment. This way, you will know what you’ll need to work on the most.
How To See If You Can Sing In Tune
The first thing you need to do is determine whether you sing in tune. There are a several different ways to assess this skill.
- If you are a musician who owns an instrument (possibly a keyboard, guitar, or piano), simply play out a note and sing along. Are you able to match the pitch?
If you’re starting from a level of complete beginner, it may not be as easy to figure out whether you’re matching the pitch. If that’s the case, check out option 2.
- Some simple music apps can help you in the process. For example, the Android ear training app Perfect Ear features an interesting exercise. You will hear a note and then you’ll have to sing it. On the screen, a scale will show you what note you are singing, with the needle indicating how close you are to the original pitch. This is an excellent way to check how good your ear is and to train for improvement. (1)
How To Test Your Sense Of Rhythm
After this first assessment, you will need to test your sense of rhythm.
- To do that, you could still use smartphone apps. Perfect Ear, for example, features a whole section dedicated to rhythmic training.
- Another way to test your rhythm is to choose your favorite song, find a basic karaoke backing track, and record yourself while singing on it. Now listen back to your performance. Was your delivery precise and smooth? Did you struggle to keep the beat?
Whatever your results are, don’t get too worried. We will shortly see how you can improve different aspects of your singing, with or without a teacher.
How To Teach Yourself To Sing – The Basics
To become a good singer, you’ll need to master the two skills we covered in the previous paragraph. For this reason, consider ear training and rhythmical training the foundation you’ll need to lay down before you start singing.
The next step will involve the acquisition of some breathing techniques.
Your breath is fuel for your voice. If you mismanage your breath, you might not be able to sing in tune or even cover your whole vocal range.
Simple Breathing Exercises
- Align your head with your spine in a natural way. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Now breathe in without raising your chest and shoulders. Try to fill in your lower rib cage and your belly. Feel them expand in all directions. Breathe out naturally.
Congratulations! You have figured out the best breathing technique for singing!
Now that you are familiar with the right breathing method, you can take one step further.
- Breathe in again, as you did in the previous exercise. Now touch the area underneath your belly button. As you breathe out, try to contract it. Emit a hiss and see how the intensity of it varies according to how you squeeze the area beneath your belly button. That area is what’s known as your “support spot.” By using support, you can manage your breath and adjust it according to the pitch you’ll need to sing.
Singing Techniques, Tips, and Practices
To achieve the smooth and rich sound you’re looking for, you’ll need to follow a few more singing tips.
- Project your sound out and forward: What does this mean? Remember what Whoopi Goldberg suggests to a shy Sister Mary Robert in Sister Act? Pretend you are singing in a room full of people talking, eating, and shouting. Pretend your voice has to reach one single person standing on the other side of that room. What do you do? Putting a strain on your larynx to shout out loud wouldn’t be a great strategy. Try this instead: imagine to project your sound right towards the horizon.
- Ground yourself while singing high notes: When you have to sing an uncomfortable high pitch for your vocal range, imagine being pulled down towards the ground. Alternatively, take a short walk. This will help you work on your support spot, contributing to an effortless, rich high note.
- Use your soft palate: To achieve a full head voice without using falsetto and without sounding nasal, is another important technique to acquire. Luckily, there is an easy way to learn this: just yawn. What happens to your soft palate? You should feel it raising. This phenomenon helps you use your head resonators, allowing you to reach higher notes without straining your larynx.
Singing Exercises To Improve Your Voice
To practice the basic and the more advanced techniques illustrated here, as well as listening skills, there are four groups of exercises you can engage in.
- Humming warms up your voice while helping you become more aware of your breathing.
- Producing a smooth siren sound, transitioning from the lower to the upper register without too much effort, will help you practice your soft palate technique as well as your support.
- Singing scales will help you work on your emission and vocal range.
- Intervals will help you become more confident in the transition from lower to upper registers. Working on intervals will also improve your relative pitch.
30 Day Singer is a great course to learn more singing exercises when you’re just starting out.
How To Get Better At Singing
There is no one-size-fits-all rule to get better at singing. Depending on your level of knowledge, vocal range, and age, you will have to enforce different strategies or pursue specific goals.
Different Approaches For Beginner And Advanced Singers
Adults with singing experience should work on their vocal range and the fine-tuning of their technique. If you are part of this category, ask yourself: am I using my whole vocal range? Can I comfortably switch from my low to my high register without using falsetto?
Beginners, on the other hand, should focus on some more basic aspects. First of all, they often forget to monitor their posture while singing. If this is your case, remember to keep attention to the position of your head, neck, shoulders, and chest. Maintain a natural position, without curving your spine or shoulders, and always look up to the horizon.
Secondly, beginners often carry a lot of tension around their jaw, tongue, and neck while singing. This can make the process a lot harder than it should be and, with time, it could even damage the larynx. If singing provokes strain, you are doing it wrong! To avoid this, try keeping a good posture and using breath support (especially on higher notes).
Your Vocal Range
Your approach to singing could slightly vary according to your vocal range too. For example, those with lower registers usually have a hard time working on their upper register and head voice. Most of them end up using falsetto, putting a pointless strain on their larynx, and limiting their vocal power.
To make sure you are developing a healthy head voice, practice your siren sound, traveling from your lower to your upper register with a smooth transition. Or try working on your scales backward: start from the upper notes and walk back down, maintaining a light, head sound in the lower register too. Roger Love Singing Academy is a great course for working on increasing your range without stressing or harming your voice in any way.
Teaching Children To Sing
Children also need to practice in specific ways to have good results. First and foremost, they should never force their range up nor down. Their voices are still in formation, so any strong strain could damage them forever.
At the same time, however, they should be free to experiment with different melodies and exercises. It is a very good idea to encourage their creativity, maybe allowing them to make up their songs if they feel like doing it. At the same time, it is also advisable to help them develop a very good ear, presenting them with a few simple ear training exercises.
To make learning easier and more enjoyable, give them visual cues, illustrating scales and pitches with shapes and hands movements. Call and response songs are also a precious resource to educate children to sing correctly and safely.
How To Sing Like A Pro
Professionals have worked for years on their technique. As a result, they don’t have to think about how to enforce them – everything comes automatically.
On top of that, they distinguishes themselves for the punctual delivery of various aspects: the emotions described in a song, the dynamics in the melody, the precise rendition of the rhythmical patterns.
To sing like a professional, you will need to focus on two activities: active listening and practicing.
The next time you listen to your favorite song, don’t just let it pass behind in the background. Study how the singer delivers all the aspects described above. How are the dynamics executed? How are the emotions delivered? How precise are the intention and the rhythmical rendition? Take note of as many elements as you can perceive.
After this step, start imitating your vocal heroes, practicing for quite a long time before finding your own, unique voice. The Vocalist Studio can help you get to the point where you can nail every audition you go to
Free Resources Online
- YouTube is probably the best place to sift for some free yet valuable resources.
- Dr. Dan Voice Essentials, for example, is the channel of Australian vocal coach Dr. Dan. He provides some interesting theory insights always accompanied by practical exercises you can try as you follow him along. (2)
- Singing Karaoke is also a great way to practice your singing voice, and YouTube provides tons of karaoke videos; excellent to practice your favorite songs.
- Another way to sing karaoke online and for free is through sites like KaraFun, that provide an endless lists of backing track you can sing along to. (3)
- Vocal analyzer apps or ear training apps, like the one presented in the first paragraph, are another incredible tool to help you learn how to sing properly.
- Lastly, you could find assistance in one of the virtual singer applications available online. These pieces of software provide a human-like singing voice you can follow along while learning a song. You can usually adjust the volume, the timbre, and the depth of the voice, according to your needs. (4)
Eventually you most people will still want to start following a more advanced and guided curriculum to make sure to fill any missing knowledge gaps they might have missed. Singorama and Hear And Play Vocal Mastery are the two best value courses on the market (we recommend Singorama for the best course for the lowest price).
With the tips and tricks provided in this guide and the free resources available online, you’ll have no excuse to put practicing off! Anyone can master their voice and learn to sing like their heroes and idols!
Want To Improve Your Singing Fast?
Taking a good course is vital to becoming a better singer. It will make your singing improve faster than you ever thought possible. Check out some of the best options for learning to sing like a pro! Show Me The Best Singing Courses