If you are a singer, you understand that there is always room for improvement in your singing. Many people who sing still want to learn how to sing better, from beginner singers to seasoned singers. If you are a beginner singer, you may be unsure how to even start to learn how to sing well.
So, how do you train your voice to sing?
And more importantly, how do you sing better?
The good news is, there are singing techniques, singing tips, and vocal exercises that you can utilize to help you improve upon your singing voice and learn how to sing well.
Even if you are a beginner and just starting to find your singing voice, this guide will help break down the basic techniques for singing well and tips for how to sing better.
Before we begin, you should ask yourself first a crucial question: Why do you want to learn to sing? If you’re going to become a professional or view yourself as a serious singer, you should acknowledge that it takes a lot of time, dedication, and practice to sing well.
In other words – no one is just automatically an excellent singer. Even the best singers that you know can tell you that they improve their voices every day.
So, if you want to learn to sing and what you can do to improve your singing voice, understand that consistency and work are needed in order to succeed.
Can Anyone Learn to Sing?
This is a question that is asked a lot – can anyone sing? The truth is, yes – anyone who can speak has the ability to sing.
Of course, some singers are more skilled than others or have a more raw, natural talent, but if you start with fundamentals, learn techniques, and put them into practice, you can improve upon your voice.
The crucial element to all of this is that you must be dedicated when you want to improve in anything and take the steps to make it happen.
So, for example, you may think that you suffer from tone-deafness and don’t know how to match pitch, but the truth is there are only about 5% of people that are genuinely tone-deaf, meaning they cannot notice and accurately match pitch.
So, the chances are with some instruction and proper technique, you can detect tone and match pitch with accuracy. And eventually, you can also learn to improve and sing better.
Related read: Think you can’t sing? I disagree.
Singing Better and Sounding Good
Even good singers will sometimes ask, “Why can’t I sing better?” or “Why can’t I sing the way that I want to?” It is important to understand that the idea of “sounding good” when singing is subjective and different for every person.
Some people argue that famous artists sound good when they sing, and others don’t believe that even popular artists who sell millions of records have great singing voices.
Who you think sounds good may differ from your best friend, brother, or children. The idea of “sounding good” is simply a matter of your opinion.
You may not like the sound of your own voice; many singers don’t. That doesn’t mean that you are a bad singer. It just means you have to grow comfortable with your voice and what it can do when you sing.
That being stated, it can help to understand that if you learn to use your voice when singing properly, you will become more successful as a singer, whether your stage is an actual place or your shower at home.
So – the question remains – “How can I teach myself to sing?” Follow the singing tips below to get you started, and you can quickly develop your voice skills to learn and improve your singing at home.
But, you should also remember that working with an expert vocal coach or voice teacher can help provide and equip you with more information and solid technique to ensure you are training your voice correctly.
Vocal lessons are also an excellent option if you want to sing but don’t know where to begin.
Tip #1 How To Sing Better: Proper Posture
Many people ask, “How do I train my voice to sing?” or “I want to learn to sing. Where do I start?”
One of the first ways to help improve your singing voice is by executing and putting your body in the proper posture to sing. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to stand or sit correctly when they sing, and believe it or not, it has a more considerable bearing on their singing than they realize.
So, what is the proper posture to sing from?
The best singing posture is known as Tall Posture, and the easiest way to be in Tall Posture is by following these steps:
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep your knees slightly bent, so you’re not hyper-extending
- Keep your chest up, and you are not leaning forwards or backward
If you’re performing this good posture correctly, you should feel everything is in line, and when you sing, you will notice how open and supported the sound is. You can use a mirror when practicing so that you can check on your posture throughout your singing.
Tip #2 How To Sing Better: Relax the Shoulders, Jaw, and Throat
Tension is a leading cause of strain in the voice. When your vocal muscles are tense, you also create tension when singing.
For example, many singers incorrectly lift their shoulders or chin when going for higher notes, which creates a pull on the neck, shoulders, and throat muscles. They also make tightness in their jaw when straining or clenching their teeth together.
Keep your throat and larynx relaxed, as well as your jaw, neck, and shoulders. You can check for tension by gently placing your fingers on your larynx and underneath your chin.
You should be able to feel if they are tightened and work to relax them. Breathing deeply in and out can help you to ease the tightness, along with some gentle jaw massages.
Tip 3# How To Sing Better: Breathe From Your Diaphragm
The next step is knowing how to breathe to support the notes you sing. Most singers learn early on to improve their singing voice by taking conscious deep breaths and feeling those breaths expand your belly.
Proper breathing is vital to sustaining long notes and creating a good tone. As a result, the diaphragm contracts, and you feel your lungs fill with air. It is the most efficient way to take in breaths to support your singing voice.
You can test this by standing in Tall Posture with both hands on either side of your stomach. When you breathe in, you should feel the breath expanding and pushing your hands outward.
The critical component is to ensure that your shoulders, chest, or chin are not moving when taking breaths in and out.
Initially, this exercise can feel strange since most people associate breathing the opposite way. We were taught that when we breathe in, we suck in our stomachs, so it can seem a bit weird to do it differently.
Tip #4 How to Sing Better: Warming Up and Finding Your Range
Warmups are a vital part of improving the voice and a basic technique for singing well. Singing is just like exercise, so you need to warm up the voice so as not to cause any injury or harm.
However, the voice warm ups help you stretch your vocal folds gently and figure out just what your voice is capable of achieving.
You should warm up your voice every single day, and professional singers understand this. Of course, you do not have to repeat the same exercises each time, but understanding which ones can benefit you the most depending on your voice goals is the best way to select your vocal exercises.
For example, Celene Dion shows Ellen her daily vocal warm up routine here. She starts with a lip trill, which is one of the most effective and safest forms of beginning to warm up your voice every day.
The lip trills help eliminate voice breaks or strains, relieve tension, and help you expand your vocal range.
Typical voice ranges are the four main types: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass. The soprano is the higher range for women, Alto is the lower; Tenor is a higher range for men, and Bass is the lowest. There are other variations to these, such as contralto, mezzo-soprano, and baritone.
Locating your natural range for your singing voice is done by following these steps:
- Create a comfortable sound; go with what comes easily
- Try to raise and alter the sound to a high pitch until you feel uncomfortable, and stop
- Repeat this by starting with that natural, effortless sound, and then work to alter the pitch lower until you feel you’ve reached the maximum low note.
It is imperative to note here that you should not push your voice to go further one way or another. If you do that, you can cause damage to your vocal cords. It helps if you can play or have someone play the piano to help identify what range you tend to fall in comfortably before you start to work to increase your range.
Tip #5 How to Sing Better: Training Your Ear
Finding and matching pitches are essential tools for a great singer. You should have the ability to hear a note and effectively sing it back. Some people tend to do this more easily than others.
Ear training involves understanding the notes you hear and matching your voice to those same notes simultaneously.
While many learning to sing can hear the note, they cannot always sing it back correctly, and this is because it can be difficult to listen to one’s self. However, there are some helpful tips to help you learn to hear yourself better.
One great way to do this is by cupping your hands behind your ears and facing the direction the music is coming to you. Then, when you match the pitch of what you are listening to, you will hear yourself better with your hand behind your ears.
Working with a voice teacher can help fix your pitch; coaches who sing still want to help you detect whether you are going sharp or flat and provide you with the tools to adjust and match tones correctly.
Tip #6 How to Sing Better: Learn an Instrument
Often, students will ask how to sing properly, and if matching pitch is a big struggle for you, then another excellent option for training your ear is to learn to play an instrument.
Studying a musical instrument not only helps you match tone and pitch but gives the added benefit of advancing your musical skills so that you can play and sing.
Musical instruments add the advantage of seeing the notes, which can help you, especially if you are a more visual person. By becoming better as a musician, you, in turn, will become a better singer and sing songs well.
Tip #7 How to Sing Better: Understand Good Vocal Tone
Singers tend to have a particular style or voice type that their voice will naturally gravitate towards. However, you should understand that it is never a good idea to sing with too much breath as a singer.
Breathy or light sounds indicate that your vocal cords are too open, letting too much air in with the sound, and it prevents your tone from sounding clear and robust.
If you find that you have a breathy sound to your voice, here are some steps to follow to help eliminate it:
- Focus on the phrase or phrases where you sound the most breathy while singing
- Speak the phrases out loud, as if you are giving a speech – project your voice without yelling
- Try to mimic that same sound with your speaking voice by starting to sing it on a single pitch or note
- Work to sing more and use each note with that same strong sound
Another part of knowing what a good vocal tone means is not sounding nasally. When your voice resonates more within your nasal cavity and doesn’t come out clear, you have what is known as nasal articulation. If this is the type of tone you hear yourself singing, you can fix it pretty quickly by following these steps:
- Find the phrase or phrases that sound nasal.
- Sing the phrases while pinching your nose intermittently, and take notice if you feel a vibration in your nose and fingers
- Correct the sound by directing your voice to push outward from the mouth so that you no longer feel the vibration in the nose or fingers while pinching
There are exceptions to this sound. For example, certain words that use the “m” and “n” sounds will create that vibration in your nasal cavity since they are nasal consonants.
Tip #8 How to Sing Better: Finding Your Vocal Registers
Now that you have proper posture, breathing, have warmed up your voice, sing on pitch, and understand clear tone, you can turn your attention to your vocal registers, starting with the chest voice.
There are four vocal registers total. Each one is where your voice can sing a series of notes with similar vibrations and consistent sound patterns in your vocal folds.
The vocal registers are Vocal Fry, Chest Voice, Head Voice (falsetto), and Whistle register. Each register corresponds with where the sound vibrates, so with the chest voice, your voice feels the most vibration in – you guessed it – your chest.
The registers correspond with the thickness of your vocal folds when singing. Thicker vocal folds don’t vibrate as fast, creating lower notes, such as with vocal fry or chest voice.
Thinner vocal folds are more stretched and vibrate more quickly, creating higher notes in the head voice and the whistle register if you can get super high.
Experimenting with vocal exercises can help you locate when you transition from one register to another. The chest and head voices are the most dominant, so here are some tips for working with each:
- Chest Voice: Use a speak-sing method with a counting exercise such as in this 5-Tone Count
- Head Voice: Start with a simple “ee” vowel sound to locate the head voice, or some simple Head Voice Exercises for Women and Men. The head voice is also called “Falsetto” in male voices.
Tip #9 How to Sing Better: Keep Your Voice Hydrated
When you are singing and practicing singing, you are constantly working and putting strain on your throat muscles. Therefore, you need to ensure that you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
When you take voice lessons from an instructor, they will advise you to keep a water bottle handy during regular practice.
It also helps if you avoid foods that may cause mucus to build up in your throat, such as milk, cheese, or chocolate. Eating those things can hinder you from singing at your best.
Tip #10 How to Sing Better: Open Your Mouth
Most singers run into the problem of breathing in enough air, but they don’t expel enough sound because they don’t open their mouths wide enough.
Think about yawning and purposefully make your mouth into that shape – that is how widely you should be opening your mouth.
When you are singing vowel sounds, in particular, this is when you should most elongate your mouth. To achieve this, separate your tongue from the soft palette, and keep them separated while singing, with the tongue laying against your bottom jaw.
When you go through the vowel sounds “ah-eh-ee-oh-oo” – keep your mouth open the entire time you sing them. You will be surprised at how having an open mouth consciously when singing vowels helps improve the quality of your singing voice.
You can put at least two fingers between your teeth as a good reference for positioning your mouth when singing. Being relaxed with the muscles in the throat and jaw loose also helps create the wider opening you should have.
Tip #11 How to Sing Better: Control Your Voice
As a singer, you should be able to learn to follow a scale or series of notes sung in a row, both up and down in pitch. If you play an instrument, then you already have a working knowledge of what scales are.
Training your voice to move along the scale efficiently will assist you in your vocal control.
Having control over your voice is a crucial element to improving upon it. For example, you can use solfege to sing the notes, “do re mi fa sol la ti,” or create your own variation giving the notes numbers or words, vowel sounds, and more.
When you work with a vocal instructor or coach, many of them will work with you on learning scales in such a way to help you learn to control your voice.
Tip #12 How to Sing Better: Mixing Your Registers
If you listen to great singers on Broadway, you might be stumped on whether they utilize their chest or head voice to sing and project.
The truth is, for many singers on Broadway these days, the answer is that you’re right on both accounts: they typically use a mixture of the chest and head voice together. This version of singing is known to many as mixing.
How do you achieve this sound? The most basic way to describe it is that you will hit your high notes with more power behind them, essentially making it seem as though you are still in the head voice register.
There are some great vocal exercises online that you can work on developing your mixed voice.
Tip #13 How to Sing Better: Eliminating Your Vocal Break
It was mentioned previously, but your voice will have a natural “break” when transitioning registers. When you work by mixing, you can virtually help eliminate that break or “crack,” as it is referred to by many singers.
One great exercise is starting with the “ghee” sound scales and then bringing in the “nay” sound to connect your voice’s bottom and top parts.
These sounds help create a connection and then strengthen that connection going up and down the scales so that you can adequately assess and effectively stop your voice from having that break.
Tip #14 How to Sing Better: Vocal Dynamics
You may feel at this point you have a pretty good grasp on the fundamentals of singing. But honestly – we have just barely scratched the surface!
There is so much that is involved when it comes to singing and having a better voice. So the next singing tip to help you improve is learning all about vocal dynamics.
If you learn a musical instrument, you will use dynamics as well. Dynamics are when you use your voice to create and evoke emotions, such as when the tempo speeds up and you sing more staccato (short, quick notes), or when the tempo is slower, you sing more legato (flowing).
Dynamics also involve volume control. So, when there is a swell to a note you hold for a long time or gradually get louder or softer, this is another element of creating dynamics with your voice.
In addition, you will gain knowledge about multiple musical terms when learning dynamics such as crescendo, decrescendo, mezzo-piano, fortissimo, and so on.
Tip #15 How to Sing Better: Improving and Expanding Your Vocal Range
Maybe you have a song you’d love to tackle, but you are nervous about the high notes in one phrase or section.
Don’t feel that you can’t improve upon your comfortable or typical vocal range because you understand your comfortable or familiar vocal range. Instead, work to expand your vocal range so that you can sing the tunes you want to!
High notes come from thin, stretched-out vocal folds when you are in your head register. To expand upon the notes, do some exercises in your head voice using the “ng” sound, which is more in the back of the throat with the tongue against the soft palate.
Here is an exercise that you can try:
- Hold the “ng” sound on a note until you feel it vibrating in your nasal cavity
- Start with a comfortable note within your range, and gradually move up the scale and back down.
- Now, go one step higher and repeat the “ng” going up and down the scale.
As you move further up the scale, you’ll eventually be able to increase your range. It will be nasal sounding, but that’s okay – the point of this is to help you stretch with the least amount of tension in your voice.
Tip #16 How to Sing Better: Practicing Proper Vocal Techniques
There are so many vocal techniques available for those wanting to learn to sing or improve their singing. However, it is challenging to know which vocal exercises are the best for your voice.
Working with an expert vocal coach or voice teacher can help you to determine some of the best practices and vocal techniques.
However, suppose you are teaching yourself to sing or practicing your vocal exercises at home. In that case, the most critical thing to practicing exercises correctly is to ensure that you are not forcing your voice.
If you feel you are straining, there is tension, or trying to push your voice to a note that it doesn’t want to reach, you need to stop. Instead, find vocal exercises and techniques that let your voice do things gradually and naturally, without any pushing.
Tip #17 How to Sing Better: Singing With Diction
Have you ever wondered how singers can sing notes effortlessly, but you can also have no trouble understanding what they are singing? Pronunciation of the words entirely means the singer is utilizing good diction.
As a singer, you want to convey an emotion or tell a story – that can be challenging if the audience doesn’t understand what you are saying.
Sometimes when you cut off words or shorten them, it is difficult for those listening to acknowledge what that particular word or phrase is.
If you can, slow it down and pronounce each of the words within the phrase fully to make the song easier. If the piece is meant to be sung at a fast tempo, practice it slowly until you can master each of the lyrics with the melody.
Ending consonants are a big deal when singing. However, people often don’t cut off their vowels with the end consonant, so be more conscious of each word you sing starting and ending letters.
An exercise you can try is just speaking the song out loud, focusing on pronunciation before singing it through.
Tip #18 How to Sing Better: Record Yourself Singing
Listening to yourself to identify trouble areas is essential in becoming a better singer and learning to sing a complex phrase or song with noticeable improvement.
When working with a voice teacher or vocal instructor, they may periodically record your singing so that you can listen to yourself for this very reason – to help you learn to listen to yourself.
If you are practicing at home, you can record yourself with audio or video on your phone when you are singing to identify things you may need to work on.
Look for inconsistencies with the following:
- Balanced pitch and volume
- Effective or emotional Dynamics
- Clear tone (this may change depending on your musical style – Opera, Pop, Country, etc.)
It can be equally important to learn how to listen to your singing to learn to sing better.
Tip #19 How to Sing Better: Consistent, Daily Practice
With any skill you are developing, you can only get better with regular practice. Doing voice exercises or following these steps to singing better for a week or even a month will not ensure that you automatically become a master or professional singer.
Master vocalists spend every day of their lives working to improve their singing abilities.
While you don’t have to practice every day (though it can be a good thing to do), ensuring that you set aside adequate time to practice most days during the week to warm up your vocal cords and practice singing techniques will help your voice grow stronger and better over time.
It doesn’t have to be a lot of time either – just take maybe 10 to 15 minutes each day to warm up and do some simple voice exercises.
On the days that you do not warm-up, you will immediately tell the difference it makes in helping your voice sound better.
Seasoned singers can attest that with a lot of practice, they feel their singing improves. Feeling more prepared and practiced will also help you feel more confident when you sing, and building your confidence is helpful if you plan to sing in front of an audience.
Tip #20 How to Sing Better: Take Singing Lessons
Developing and improving your singing voice is something that you can do on your own at home. However, unless you are an expert on the voice and singing fundamentals, it can help get the support and guidance of a vocal instructor.
Even as a seasoned singer, working with a professional vocal coach can help you to improve upon your advanced skills. While in-person singing lessons are great for some, with many singing teachers online, you can have your pick of the best instructors from any location to help you feel comfortable with your voice.
In addition, many singers tend to pick up bad habits when they are self-taught, and a voice instructor can help eliminate or aid you in practicing better singing habits through warm-ups, allowing you to sing in your best voice.
In addition, vocal coaches work to help you gain more confidence in your abilities and provide you with the motivation to keep practicing and reach more significant milestones as your voice gets better.
So don’t be afraid to take the necessary steps to improve your singing voice, so you can start singing better today!