Archives for category: Singing Tips

Having a wobbly or weak voice is quite a common issue with people who have just started singing, and, like most things in singing, is related to good breath control. This wobble is technically known as vibrato, which is a technique we want to be able to use as a sound effect when we choose to, and not one that just happens without us wanting it to!

To support the sound coming out of your mouth, you need a strong diaphragm muscle to support the control of air you take in, and let out. If you place both hands lightly one above the other, starting around your belly button area, and give a quick laugh – ‘ha ha ha’, you should feel your diaphragm muscle kicking.

Keeping one hand placed on the diaphragm, take a deep breath into that area, keeping it really low so that your belly and back expand as much as possible (so pushing the hand resting there AWAY from your body), and your chest and shoulders stay down and relaxed. Now less that breath out, slowly, as a hiss. Is it wobbly and wavering about, not a consistent sound?

Try it again – take your deep breath into your diaphragm area, and really let the belly expand. Now when you hiss slowly out, try squeezing the diaphragm muscle at the same time, so that your belly area slowly contracts back in. The sound should be stronger, more steady and controlled. You can start to try this on vowel sounds, like ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ah’ On a note that is natural for you), and then bring it into actual songs! It works!

To strengthen up the diaphragm muscle on an ongoing basic so that your singing improves in the long run, try this exercise:

Put some music on which has a good steady beat to it, not too fast, not too slow. Something like the speed of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ works well (one my demo tracks posted on my site if you want to use that). Find the beat – you should be able to count ‘one, two, three, four’, ‘one, two, three, four’ throughout the song.

Now with your hand placed on your diaphragm area as above, try breathing in for the count of four, breathing out for the count of four – always through your mouth. Once you get the hang of the timing, take your breath in as deep as possible, really filling up your lower abdominal area, and engaging your diaphragm. You  should be completely full by the count of ‘four’! On your breath out, keep the breath steady and controlled using your lips, and your diaphragm, so that your lungs are empty and your diaphragm has contracted back in by the count of ‘four’, and you are ready to breathe in again on the count of ‘one’.

Practise this over a few days, and if it becomes easy, increase your intake of air gradually so that your lung capacity improves.

You can then move on to breathing in for 8 and out for 8…and then breathing in for 4 and out for 8, or more, which is more like what you would do when singing a song.

Having control of your diaphragm, and therefore your breath control, will help in so many ways when singing. Look out for my next tips soon…happy singing!

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Warming up before you start singing is really important, and I am going to talk you through a really useful warm up exercise known as a ‘siren’ to get you started. I still use this exercise to warm up before gigs- you can get so much out of it in a few seconds!

This exercise goes through all of your notes – or registers – so that they all get warmed up, and you will be able to access them better in your voice when you come to sing them in a song.

To start, take a deep breath in through your mouth, allowing the air to fill your lower abdominal area and engage your diaphragm – see previous post – ‘Singing tips – Breath Control’ for more detail on this.

Then hum the lowest note you can find in your voice – experiment, you may not know where this is yet. Still on the same hummed sound, gradually slide up in scale so that your voice eventually reaches it’s highest note, and then slide back down again. Don’t rush it – spend as long as you can on the slide, basically as long as your breath lasts! The whole thing should take between 15 – 25 seconds to give you an idea, although you may find yours are a bit quicker as you are getting used to them.

You are aiming for a smooth, consistent sound that briefly touches upon ALL of the notes in your registers. With each siren, try to go a little higher (and possibly even a little lower) each time, so that you are really stretching your voice – but keep them gentle. You should not try to force the voice, it’s ok if it’s quiet. Warm ups are not about power or volume. If your voice cracks or cuts out at certain points in the exercise, don’t worry, just keep it gentle and these blips should iron out the more sirens you do. However, don’t overdo it – a few sirens a day is a good start, especially if you are experience areas where the voice cuts out.

I would love to know how you get on with these, and do let me know if you have any questions or need a bit more advice!

So you have probably heard that breath control is important for good singing. You may know to take deep breaths using your mouth, and to breathe low, into the lower abdominal area, in order to engage the diaphragm to support your voice. Great! But if not, read on:

Diaphragm illustration

Thoracic diaphragm

The diaphragm is flat muscle that sits just below your lungs.

When you breathe in for singing, try to fill up your lower abdominal area (your belly!), thereby engaging your diaphragm. Don’t let your chest or shoulders rise – it should just be your belly, lower back and sides expanding with the air. You are still breathing into your lungs, just lower down than you are used to, and more deeply.

You could try placing one hand on your belly, and one on your chest – take a deep breath in through your mouth, and try to push the lower hand away from you as you do so. The hand on your chest should not move – your chest should barely be rising at all.

Imagine the air as being heavy, filling your lungs from bottom to top. You could imagine it as having a colour, and see it filling you up from the bottom up. This process reverses when you breathe out – your belly should contract, and the hand placed on your belly should come back in towards you.

Try this for a few deep breaths to really get the hang of it – you might feel a bit light headed at first as you get used to the increased oxygen intake. More proof that singing is good for you!

See you soon for my next tip…or get in touch to ask a question!

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