5 Ways to Sing Better Without Lessons
There are ways to improve your singing, even without lessons. This includes taking care of your vocal cords whenever possible, practicing your breathing technique, warming up before singing, relaxing posture, and practicing as much as possible.
There are many resources available online to improve your singing. YouTube, for example, is a goldmine of information, with all the professional singers and vocal coaches out there, ready to share their knowledge with the world. However, you can still improve your singing even without lessons.
Despite having so much information at our fingertips, some misconceptions about singing still survive this digital era. For example, many people still think that singing is a sort of divine gift you were born with. According to this false myth, whoever has a raspy, unpleasant voice and sings mostly out of tune has no chance of improving their vocal skills.
This idea couldn’t be more distant from the truth!
Even Ed Sheeran claims that talent is not all it takes to become a great singer. It all boils down to practice. Take a look at this video and see for yourself.
1. Take Care of your Vocal Cords
This is the easiest and most non-musical way you can greatly improve your singing. Taking care of your vocal cords is vital to a good performance because, without nurtured vocal cords, there would not be any ‘good’ singing.
The best way you can take care of your vocal cords is to not overexert them on a daily basis. This means practicing reasonable hours and avoiding yelling. Also, you have to have a good sleep routine. Sleep is extremely important and plays a crucial role in our daily lives, activities, and bodily functions.
Another thing to keep in mind is to hydrate regularly. Drinking enough water every day makes a huge change in the way we operate and also tends to the vocal cords in an indirect but useful manner. You can also implement hot beverages in your daily routine like tea.
Try to stay away from coffee when you can as caffeine is the enemy when it comes to vocal cords.
2. Practice your Breathing Technique
The basics are by far the most important. We produce a sound, singing or speaking, only if the airflow gets through our larynx and vocal cords. Without air, we can’t produce any sound at all. This means you’ll need to work on your breathing to improve your vocal emission.
First of all, try to breathe from your abdomen (diaphragm) rather than from your chest. Avoid raising your shoulders. With this kind of breath, you’ll prevent your larynx to get obstructed and you will activate good support for your airflow. Support is a keyword here.
What is support exactly? In short, it’s the mechanism you’ll use to control your vocal emission. Focus on the tiny spot right underneath your belly. Breathe in and softly contract that tiny stop to control the emission. You’ll notice that just a little contraction will help you regulate the airflow.
This is essential when singing, as you will need some strong breath to go through longer phrases. Here’s a good exercise to master this skill.
Place a hand on your belly and breathe in, trying to raise your hand while breathing (in other words, breathe “through” your belly). Now emit an “S” or a “Z”, contracting the tiny spot I already identified. The contraction will help you make the emission longer. Repeat this exercise a few times before you start warming up your voice.
3. Always Warm Up before Singing
Before belting out your favorite songs, remember to warm up your voice. It is not recommended to sing without properly preparing your apparatus. After all, athletes always warm up before a race or a competition, so why shouldn’t you?
Some good news: many warm-up exercises are also useful to learn some technical tips like humming. This exercise consists of humming single notes and holding them for as long as possible. Contract the tiny spot underneath your belly to control the vocal emission as you did in the breathing exercise mentioned in the first paragraph.
A more advanced version of the exercise consists of humming three subsequent notes in a scale (such as C – D – E) and back (E – D – C). After some humming, you can repeat these exercises in a full voice.
4. Relax your Posture
Wrong, in singing, almost always equals strain. Whenever you feel your throat too rigid or too tired, you are doing it wrong.
To sing properly and safely, engage your abdomen, but keep all your body relaxed, especially in the area of the throat, the neck, and the jaw. If you feel your jaw too tight, you can massage your cheeks with your fingertips while doing your humming exercises. If you feel your throat or neck strained, stop, relax, and start over.
When you think of your voice as something developing in your larynx, maybe forcing that area of your body to reach higher and higher notes, you will do more harm than good.
Imagine your voice raising from your support spot instead: the air column will naturally get to the larynx and your vocal cords. You don’t need to do anything to force it: with good support comes good emission.
5. Practice every day
Remember to practice every day to master these basic techniques. Singing will become much easier and more relaxed.
You use your voice every day, many times a day. You are not even aware of the challenges you throw at your voice on a regular basis! With some good practice, you will not only improve your singing but you will also do a favor to your voice.
Practice is key but remember to practice reasonable hours and avoid straining your voice too much. Yelling is also not recommended so try to stay within the limits. With practice, you will notice your technique getting better. Need I remind you of the Ed Sheeran video again?
Can anyone Improve their Singing?
With the right training, anyone can drastically improve their singing. They might not become the next Callas or Caruso, of course, but with singing lessons and some ear training, it is possible to improve your intonation and your vocal emission.
Singing can also be an important skill to develop for any musician. Whether you play the bass, the drums, or any other instrument, singing can improve your musicianship. For instance, it will improve your ear, but also your breathing, resulting in a more relaxed approach to your instrument.
Singing is often the first approach non-musicians have to music. Letting your voice go can be extremely liberating and singing can be your passion, no matter what your job is and what level of musical education you achieved.
Singing is the most “democratic” musical activity, in the sense that we can all approach it, no matter what. After all, we all have a voice, so we are all built to sing! However, to keep your vocal cords healthy and deliver a good performance, it is necessary to master a few techniques.
Do you need to get singing lessons to learn them? Short answer: no! Of course, a teacher is the most valuable resource you can have when learning how to sing. A teacher can hear and see what is going on with your voice, adjusting his or her advice accordingly.
You won’t have such precious feedback if you decide to teach yourself. But if you follow a few basic rules and keep your voice monitored, trying not to hurt it, you can get good results or at least a solid foundation before turning to a qualified teacher.
While singing lessons are the best way to learn and improve your singing, there are ways to improve it without them. This can be something as simple as warming up your voice before singing or relaxing your posture to something as crucial as nurturing your vocal cords and practicing every day. The basics are important but proper care is also extremely vital. Follow the advice and practice regularly to see your improvements.