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How to Instantly Sing Better

By May 10, 2016Uncategorized

True or false? Great singers are born great!

The answer to that is true and false.

I’m a voice coach who believes that great technique, the kind that allows someone to sing all the way from the lowest notes possible in the range to the highest notes without any pressure, straining or breaks, will give anyone the opportunity to sound like a much better singer. I am also aware that certain people are born with particular physical attributes that make the sound generating part of their body create more resonant sounds.

For example, think of all of the inner parts of the body that sound touches as it’s trying to get out of the mouth. Certainly air comes out of the lungs, so the size of the lungs should matter. The air moves to the vocal cords, and the size of the passageway of that air should also matter. Then as air hits the vocal cords, the size of the cords matter. As air passes through the vocal cords and heads out of the mouth, it can touch many things on the way out, like the insides of the cheeks, or the back of the teeth, or the sound can be directed towards the sinuses, where the size of the sinuses should matter. As the sound and air partially comes out of the nose, the size of the nostrils should matter. And the above list are just a few of the things that the air and sound touches as it goes out of the body and tries to get to anyone that’s listening to your singing. So when I talk about physicality mattering or that personal physical attributes count, I’m just talking about everything that your body has that could shape the sound quality of your singing.

Years ago people used to believe that there was a good reason for operatic singers to be large and hefty. They thought that if you had a larger body, that might possibly give you more long capacity. But now we know that is certainly not always the case, so you don’t have to be overweight to be a great singer, or to sing powerful sounds. But the body does matter, just like the sides of a drum dictate how big the sound of that drum might be, or the size of the instrument dictates how big the sound might be. A small piano sounds different than a grand piano. A flute sounds different than a clarinet. A trumpet sounds different than a tuba. So you can see by my example, that the size of the instrument, the physical attributes of the body of the instrument can certainly affect the sound that comes out of it. But even with all of that understood, even having a great physiology, parts of your body that enhance the sound as it comes out, that still doesn’t mean you’re absolutely going to sound like a great singer.

I have a beautiful piano in my living room. My piano skills are at a certain level. But there are pianists who have been practicing their piano skills for 7 to 8 hours a day for 25 years. Clearly those pianists who sat down at my piano would be able to make that instrument perform better than someone who may have only had a few lessons at piano. So in order to get the most out of the instrument that sits in my living room, I have to match that instrument with the technique of the person who is expertly going to play it. Then and only then will the realization of great music come out of that great instrument. The voice is no different. As a matter fact, the voice is one of the most difficult instruments to learn how to play well. Think about it, you can hold all other instruments in your hand,  or use your hands to trigger the instrument to make certain sounds. You can see a trumpet, you can see a piano, you can hold a flute. But the voice lives inside of your body and you can’t see it, you can’t touch it, you can’t put your fingers on it to do certain things that so many other instruments are capable of allowing you to do. With those two facts in mind, you can’t see it, and you can’t touch it, the voice is a difficult instrument to master. It’s also difficult because the voice is like playing two Instruments at once. It’s a wind instrument, because air is going to the vocal cords, and it’s a string instrument because the vocal cords are vibrating just like the strings on a stringed instrument would, like a guitar. So you’re actually playing two Instruments at one time, but you can’t see and you can’t touch.

Have I scared some of you away already? Has my description of the voice as an instrument lead you to believe that it would be impossible for you to be a good singer? Well fear not, I’m going to make sure that I give you the right information, today, right now, to make sure that you can instantly sound like a great singer. I say that to you regardless of your physiology, mindset, what Mother Nature gave you, or what she forgot to give you. I say that with the knowledge that I’ve already spent most of my life, taking people who couldn’t sing, and making them sing better. So don’t worry, because I have your back.

First, I’d like you to understand that the great singers that I’ve worked with over the years have had one thing in common, and it’s not always the best voices. That one thing they all share, is the fact that they sing for the absolute best reason I can think of. What’s that reason? They sing because it makes them feel good. They sing because it warms their heart. They sing because it makes them happy. They sing because they can’t keep it inside of themselves. The great singers do not have fortune and fame at the top of their want list. Money, power, and notoriety are bi-products of understanding and utilizing the joy of singing.

When people raise their voices in church, or temple, or in any other method of praise. They’re not thinking that the Almighty, the Divine, the powers in heaven, are judging their singing voices, separating those prayers that come with great sound attached, from those prayers that come with certain notes off pitch. I’d like to believe that if there is someone listening to the songs of praise in the heavens, sent by us mortals here on earth, that they are more interested in what’s in our hearts, than how we’re performing those words of praise.

People who sing, and who sound great, love to sing, its just part of their DNA. They grew up singing along with nursery rhymes, and the radio, and their favorite artists, they listen to music in the car, they go to live concerts, and music is an integral part of their everyday life. Great singers love to sing and want to share that joy, so they bring their performances to audiences and give them the gift of themselves.

I want to show you how to instantly sound like a better singer, so what’s the first clue? Making sure that as you sing, the people that hear you, feel that the songs are coming from your heart. I want your listeners to be moved by the way that you’re singing, and in fact, I want you to be moved to joy as you sing, and the audience to just share that joy. When that happens, it feels amazing for you and them. There’s a reason that singers love to perform live. They feel the joy of singing, and then the energy and connection of an audience that appreciates the gift they’ve given them, makes the performer feel full, appreciated, and sometimes even loved.

So how do I make sure that you sing from your heart, and that the people listening to you perceive that’s where the music is coming from? Here’s where to start. You need to show confidence, clarity, and conviction… by getting a little louder. Sounds too simple, doesn’t it? But let me explain more. When you sing, and volume comes out, people think that you are strong and committed to that sound. When you open your mouth to sing softly, and mostly air comes out, people perceive you as being shy, less powerful, and less professional. So creating a louder sound instantly makes them feel like you are more in control over your instrument, that you have chosen to sound this way, and that you are confident about your choices. You might be thinking, “My voice is bad, if I get louder they’ll just think I sound horrible and loud.” But I’m going to make sure that we mix volume with something else so that that doesn’t happen.

What’s the first thing I want to mix in with the extra volume? It’s mouth positioning. Most people, as they sing from the low notes to the high ones, let the corners of the mouth go wide. When that happens your voice sounds nasal, whiny, harsh, thin, and unattractive. As you get higher, if you keep the corners of your mouth in, and not in the smiley- wide position, you’ll sound so much better. The air will bounce into the inside area of the cheeks and that will create a resonance that you can’t get any other way. You will simply sound good. Going wide with the corners of the mouth also distorts every vowel you sing. In other words, you want to have the words sound correct, the way you would speak them, as you sing. For example, if you were singing the word LOVE down low, it would sound like LOVE. Try that. Just sing that word on any pitch you feel comfy with. Now sing the same word, LOVE up high in your range, letting the corners of your mouth go wide like a smile and dropping your jaw, and suddenly, the word LOVE become LAAVE. So you changed the word. I don’t want that to happen when you’re singing. Making sure that you keep the corners of your mouth from going wide will make sure that you say the words correctly… and the audience will know you are a better singer.

Now I have one more extra secret for you to do to instantly sound like a better singer. And I want you to add that to the other two techniques I’ve already given you today- the extra volume and the non-wide corners of your mouth. I want you to do this next secret at the same time you do the others. When you can do all three together, you will absolutely sound better.

Okay, here it is, the 3rd ingredient in your new and improved singing voice is called the “Accelerator Effect.”

Think about how you drive a car. If you want it to move forward faster, you need to push the accelerator pedal down. If you want to go slow, you push it down a little. If you want to go fast, you push it down farther. Whether you have an old clunker car, or a racecar, that’s how it works. And that’s how the singing voice works as well. If you want great sound to come out, you have to get control of the way the air comes out of your mouth, after all, the air is carrying the sound out. The best way to get that kind of control is to understand that your stomach area can function like an accelerator pedal.

When you inhale, you’re supposed to breath in through your nose and pretend that you have a balloon in your stomach. So your tummy needs to come forward as that happens. Now, here’s the important part. As you sing, you must let your stomach fall back in slowly as the sound comes out of your mouth. That’s the “Accelerator Effect”. Bringing your stomach in that way, like the pedal on a car, will send the perfect amount of air to your vocal cords. That will most certainly make you sing better. This 3rd secret is probably more important than the other 2. Having control of the air will make you sound infinitely better. It will help everything, and especially help you stay on pitch… sing the right notes and the right time. So really focus on this technique.

There you have it, three tools that if done together at the same time, will instantly make you sound like a better singer.

1. Get louder

2. Don’t go wide with the corners of your mouth

3. Use your stomach like an accelerator pedal, and only sing while your stomach is coming in.

Play around with these three ideas. The fans are waiting to hear you sing like a pro. No matter where you are on the ladder of vocal talent. These secrets will make you… INSTANTLY SOUND LIKE A BETTER SINGER.