Any singer, aspiring or professional, there is one indispensable asset that is central to their singing journey. You probably know what I’m talking about. Yes, their singing voice. A singer’s voice is indescribably important to them. It’s what they start with, work on, take care of, nurture, develop, and use to define themselves as a singer.
If you are trying to improve as a singer, you might have a question: how do I improve my voice?
The answer lies in a set of practices that every good singer follows. The aim is not to change your voice or make it sound different from what it is: the aim is to work on your voice and improve it such that its unique qualities show up more prominently in your singing.
Here is how you can achieve this:
1. Do Vocal Warm Up and Voice Prep
Before you start an intense or actually any workout session, you are told to prep your body by warming up. Warm up, in general, prepares you for the work ahead and ensures that you get more out of said work. It’s the same when it comes to your singing voice. Before every singing session, you need to prepare your singing voice.
Not only will this ensure that your voice is ready for all the practice to come, but it will also ensure that the quality of your voice is better and that you have a more fruitful practice session. Want to know what should be included in an effective vocal warm up routine? Click here and find out.
2. Know your Singing Voice
To improve anything, you need to know and understand it. Agreed? If yes, then start finding out more about your singing voice today! What do I mean by this? It’s not as complex as it may sound. Knowing your voice means listening to it, figuring out its unique qualities, its overall sound, its range, its strengths and weaknesses, and much more.
Let me take the example of range. You cannot improve your vocal range without knowing your vocal range, right? This applies to your singing voice itself. You need to collect all the data-points you can about your voice in order to maintain and work on it.
Or, you can just download the FrontRow app and use the all-in-one riyaaz feature in order to find out and improve your vocal range.
3. Sleep Better
Did you know that the quality of your sleep cycle impacts your singing voice too? There’s yet another reason added to the long list of why you should sleep properly. You will yourself be able to hear the difference between your voice on the day after a good night of sleep and on the day after a sleepless night. Famous Indian singer Neha Kakkar also talks about the importance of proper sleep for a singer in her singing course on FrontRow.
So start exercising the discipline required to sleep and wake up at similar times everyday, and improve the quality of your sleep by minimising distractions, not using electronics right before you sleep, and overall taking care of your health.
4. Practice Regularly
This is obvious but worth reiterating: in order to improve your singing voice, you need to put it into practice regularly. Daily singing practice or riyaaz will not only improve your voice, it will help you figure out your weak points and work on them. And of course, it will help you make your strengths even more solid! Here, you will find more reasons why regular singing practice will change your life.
A word of caution is due here. Do not start singing as soon as you wake up. Your vocal chords have not moved all night: don’t start straining them as soon as you are up. Wake up, have some quiet time, drink a glass of warm water, and only then start your riyaaz session with humming and kharaj. Do this everyday or at least regularly. I am willing to take a bet that your singing voice will improve if you do this!
Need help figuring out a riyaaz schedule? Use the Riyaaz feature on the FrontRow app. It has everything you need in order to do your riyaaz properly.
5. Breathe Properly
Breathing and breath-control are essential parts of singing that you might end up ignoring. With the correct breathing technique, you can open up your voice more and ensure that you are using your voice to its full potential. When I say “correct breathing technique”, you might be wondering at how breathing can be correct or incorrect. Well, while singing, unlike in regular situations, you need to pay special attention to your breathing. You have to ensure that you can feel the movement of your diaphragm when you place your hand near your stomach. Your stomach should expand as you breathe in, and go back to normal as you breathe out.
Apart from this, you need to make sure that you have adequate control over your breathing, so that you can find the right time-spans to breathe while you sing. This will ensure that you aren’t short of breath, say, just as you’re supposed to start with the chorus. Breath-usage also affects the emotionality in your singing voice. Clearly, there’s a lot to be said about breathing and its impact on your singing voice. You can read more about this here in order to ace this important factor!
6. Maintain Proper Posture
Here’s another important factor you might end up ignoring while focusing on the more technical aspects of singing. Yes, notes and scales are important, but so is your posture while you sing. You need to keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed in order for your singing voice to reach its full potential. Again, your diaphragm comes into play here. Keeping your back straight will ensure that your diaphragm moves properly and your voice opens up more.
Neha Kakkar says that as beginners, it is best for singers to stand while they sing so that they can focus more on their posture.
As you become a better and better singer, your singing voice will reach such a level that you might not have to think so much about posture anymore. But as you are trying to improve your singing voice, remember to take care of this simple point.
7. Do Vocal Exercises
I mentioned the importance of vocal warm up. Now comes the vocal work-out. Yes, there are activities called vocal exercises which train your vocal chords to help you sing better. One really simple vocal exercise is to sing the sargam in its most regular form: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa. Or if you prefer to use the solfege (the same thing as sargam but in western classical music), you sing “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do”. You will find innumerable videos and tutorials online on how to sing the sargam or the solfege.
Another well-known vocal exercise that can improve your singing voice is the lip trill, also called lip bubbles. There are many more such exercises, and they have different sets of benefits that will bring your singing voice to the next level.
8. Find a Community
When assessing your singing voice, you might not be able to achieve the critical distance that it takes to make a fair assessment. This is where group-learning comes in. Working on your voice in the presence of other learners or people who are willing to help you in your journey by literally lending you an ear, can help you tremendously. They can focus on listening to your singing, matching the accuracy of the notes to that of the original song (it helps if they too have some background or interest in singing), and maybe even point out your improvements and errors.
I have some great news for you. FrontRow provides an amazing opportunity for you to find a community of aspiring singers. You can become a part of this community, communicate regularly with other singers, get feedback from singing experts and professionals, and take part in exciting challenges and competitions. Talk about incentive to learn!
9. Don’t Strain It
Here’s another really obvious thing that is worth reiterating: don’t unnecessarily strain your voice. You need to be gentle with your voice as you work on improving it. I’m not going to restrict the definition of straining to outright screaming. Don’t do that, for sure.
But also don’t strain your voice in the attempt to make quick progress in your singing. Trying to forcibly hit a note much higher than your range might do more harm than good. Trust me, your voice will come into its own with time. Take care of it, follow the steps I have enumerated, and keep faith in yourself.
10. Appreciate It
No, it does not end at gentleness. You need to actually appreciate your singing voice for what it is in order to work on it. It is easy to listen to the most popular singers of today and wonder why you don’t sound like them.
Well, my question to you is, why do you want to sound like them? You sound like yourself and that is where your power as a singer lies. It lies in your unique voice quality. So start appreciating and loving your voice, and work on it alongside. If you do this, progress is guaranteed!
Learning to sing by yourself is fun, but especially as a beginner, a mentor can help you a lot with improving your singing voice. A guided approach will help you stay committed, be more regular, and make steady progress.
This is where FrontRow comes in! On FrontRow, you can learn singing from Bollywood’s beloved Neha Kakkar, or enroll in live courses taken by other experts in the field.
Happy learning, happy improvement, and happy singing!