Most people love to sing but not everyone is born with a great voice. The great news is that anyone can learn how to sing better no matter where you are starting from. The voice is like a musical instrument and although some people have more of a natural aptitude for getting a great note out of it, by learning how to “play” this instrument correctly, you can improve considerably, wherever you’re starting from.
One of the most important aspects of singing well involves correct breathing. Now you would think that we would already do this correctly. After all if we couldn’t breathe we wouldn’t be alive! But in reality many people have bad breathing habits caused by a variety of things including poor posture and our often frantic lifestyles. Learning how to control your breathing is one of the keys to improving your voice.
Singing requires that you are able to take in enough air quickly before you are about to sing a line and then let this air out in a regular and controlled way whilst singing the notes. The mistake many novice singers do is to take a quick shallow gasp of air into the top of the lungs. This results in there being insufficient air, to get you through the line you are singing, and you will end up dropping notes. I’m sure you can relate to this experience and can remember times when you have had to quickly take in more air half way through the line or note you are singing.
When you inhale correctly you should feel your abdomen rising rather than your chest. To test this out lie on the floor (its easier to start learning in this position) and place one hand lightly on your chest and the other on your abdomen. As you breathe in, imagine the air flowing all the way down and filling up your abdomen. Don’t rush, just allow the breath to flow into your body and then out in a relaxed way. Notice as you do this the sensations in your body. If you are doing this correctly you should be able to feel your abdomen rising with each in breath and falling as you breathe out. The hand on your chest should remain still. If you notice this moving then you are probably taking shallower breathes which can cause tension in the neck and chest area and will hamper your singing. Once you get the hang of this you can progress to doing the same kneeling, sitting and then standing. After all you’re not going to lie down when doing a karaoke!
Once you start to get a feel for how your breath moves in and out your body you are ready to start working on the speed of your in breath. When singing you need to be able to get a full breath of air but in a limited time so that you are ready to sing the next set of notes. Still focusing on the breath going down in to your abs, allow the air to fall quickly into your lungs.
The out breath or exhalation is also crucial to the quality of your voice. Both when we talk and sing, the sound is created on the out breath. To hold a note and to have a smooth sound its important to be able to control this, so that the air comes out in a sustained and regulated way.
Breathing the correct way for singing does require practice, but it is one of the major factors that will impact how well you’re able to improve your singing voice. Combine good breathing with correct posture and you are well on your way to learning how to sing better.
And remember singing is fun. Be kind to yourself whilst you are working on improving your voice. Don’t expect to be able to sing as well as your favorite artist with just a few weeks of practice. What you want to look out for is how your voice is changing and improving. So rather than compare yourself to others, use yourself as your benchmark. One great way to do this is record yourself singing regularly so you will be able to track your progress. Before you know it all your friends will be wondering at your new improved voice and asking you for tips on how to sing better!