Singing is often thought of as an “uncommon gift.” People will often say, you can either sing or you can’t. And while we would all like to sing better, it doesn’t always seem possible or within our repertoire.
We’re going to lay to rest some of these unfounded beliefs. In fact, we’ll lay it out simply; you can improve your voice and develop the skills to sing like a professional musician. Just as you would learn to play any instrument, you can also learn the strategies that most famous singers still use today. So, whether you’re dreaming of touring with a band, or you simply want to level up your shower voice, here are some things you can start to do to learn how to sing better.
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Part 1: Develop A Better Singing Voice
Ever hear the phrase “get in the groove?” As a side history lesson, grooves refer to the areas of old vinyl records where the record player needles were placed. So, quite literally, getting in the groove meant to focus in on that song/sound. In this case, we also mean for you to enter into this moment.
Learning how to sing is difficult for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason is battling your pre-conceived notions. Whether people have told you that you can’t sing, or you’ve tried and failed, you have already adopted the idea that you’re naturally “offkey” and out-of-tune. First, this isn’t an uncommon issue. Many people do, in fact, sing out of tune either knowingly or by accident. The solution here is to learn the tools you need to sing in-key. Further, no one has gifted the ability to do this without hard work and dedication. In reality, even the best singers have studied, trained and practiced to refine their voices.
Step 1: Define Your Style
The world’s leading musicians often don’t have the technical background, but they have successfully defined their own style. The best example we can give you is singer/songwriter Shakira. Her voice is widely considered unconventional, but her music is celebrated worldwide. She has been a true example of how unique voices can often be the best ones.
The point here is, you have to be able to understand your individual style.
Your voice is an instrument. While there are technical ways of playing a said instrument, it is entirely up to you what style you’d like to utilize.
Bottom line is, you have to be confident as there is no room for self-doubt when singing. One great way of building your confidence in your singing abilities is to mimic the artists and musicians that you enjoy most. Rather than choosing songs that you relate to, define a style by the manner of singing. Here are some examples of types of singing voices:
- Hushed/whispered voice
- Yelling/screaming metal voice
- Sultry voice
- Deep smokey voice
The list of possibilities is endless. Find your unique style by choosing the types of singers that resonate with you most.
Work on practicing their techniques. This can include the way the says certain words, or how fluid or choppy their transitions sound. Listen carefully and practice those styles until you feel comfortable making it your own.
Step 2: How to Sing In-Tune
Check if you are biologically capable of singing in tune. Often when we talk about someone who can’t sing you’ll hear the phrase “tone-deaf.”
Tone deafness is a real condition. Biologically it is termed as amusia which encompasses a number of musical inabilities, including some related to rhythm rather than pitch. As part of amusia, you are incapable of hearing the differences between musical pitches.
In practice, this means that if someone played two different notes on a guitar, someone with true tone deafness would be unable to tell whether it was the same note or two different notes. Naturally, if that person tried to sing they would have to struggle because their ears and brain wouldn’t have a clue if they were singing the right notes or not.
Does that sound like you?
Some things you need to know:
- True tone-deafness is very rare and there are other (much more likely) reasons for singing out of tune.
- Less than 3% of the general population actually exhibit tone-deafness. This has been shown in a large number of tests and rigorous scientific studies, and so the probability of you being tone deaf is very small.
Singing In Pitch
Let’s assume you are not part of the 3% of the population that is tone-deaf. This means that you are fully capable of learning how to sing in-tune. There are a few ways to do this.
Studies have shown that playing an instrument helps singers to tune better. Are you interested in learning how to play an instrument? There are hundreds to select from and if it makes you a better singer, why not? Being able to play guitar or piano, actually, helps immensely with tuning. You will learn how to understand notes and pitches and then how that translates to your voice.
Here are some steps on practicing to sing in-tune:
- Grab an instrument
- Play a note
- Imitate the note
Do this multiple times every day until you can begin to hear how your voice differs from the actual note that is being played. If you don’t have access to an instrument, or you’re not ready to learn how to play one, you can always use a CD or radio to try and match your favorite singers. This is a little more difficult as singers switch notes quickly, so it’s harder to grasp what is being played.
This is part 1 of our “How to Sing Better” series. Kathryn Brickell Music will be giving more instructions on things you can implement to sing better and more confidently. If you’re interested in music lessons in NYC or Brooklyn area, contact us here.