I meet so many singers who are searching for effective singing techniques that are… un-complicated. One time I almost threw away a song for good because it felt so uncomfortable for me. I thought “this is going to need a miracle.” Finally, I sat down and experimented with baby steps. Then my limitations changed into revelations. You’ve probably had that sinking feeling as well, BUT before you discard a song completely, try these adjustments. Sometimes the simplest tweaks can completely transform your sound and bring a sense of freedom.
- OPEN YOUR MOUTH. I get it… Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande make singing sound totally cool and effortless — without enunciating. But that doesn’t work for everyone or every song. A client earlier this week said she was struggling with pitch control at the end of long notes. Watching her sing, I could immediately tell she was closing off her vowels too early. She sang the word “away,” but used a heavy dipthong at the end, (when there’s two vowels in a single syllable.) By changing her “AWAY-EEEE” to a more open-jaw “AWEH,” it improved her pitch. You might not have someone watching you sing while you practice. So… grab a mirror. So many times I “think” I am exaggerating my vowel shapes and tasting the consonants. But as soon as I see myself I realize that what I’m feeling and what I’m actually doing are different! Recording myself is just as helpful. It helps me strip back old muscle memory that told me “your mouth is in the right position” and start creating new muscle memory that promotes better pitch. If you feel your pitch wavering or your sound closing off, the simple act of “tasting your words” will elevate the energy. It’s like a power stance for your voice!
- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR VOLUME. Are you singing too loud or too soft? Maybe both at different points of the song? I used to sing songs with this big loud sound, but it felt out of control and unbalanced throughout. Remember that volume and impact are independent of each other. When I tone down the volume on certain notes, I am able to embrace different colors and placements within my voice. Applying this to a song is simple, but it will transform a performance! I begin by humming the song as quietly as I would if there were a sleeping baby in the room. Once I am comfortable humming the song at one volume throughout, I add in the lyric line by line making sure to keep it at this same soft volume. Gradually, I increase my volume from there paying attention to when I feel my old habits start to take over. There’s so much more freedom when my power comes from control, rather than volume.
The more I learn about my voice, the less unknowns there are to fear. Be fearless when practicing! Do not shy away from what you deem to sound “ugly,” but push past it. Practice is the time to get out of the box! I crack, I lose my balance, I make the strangest sounds, but it’s part of the learning process. Just because I am wobbly at first, doesn’t mean that is how it will always be… unless I never go back to that wobbly place again and help it develop. Look at every song as a key that will unlock more about what your voice has to offer.
Singing helps us explore the depths of our voices, but not if we don’t welcome what we find there.