How to Hum – Singing Lessons For Beginners

Learning how to hum is an essential part of every singer’s vocal tool box. Don’t want to be too loud when you are vocalizing?  Then humming to the rescue!  Want a delicate forward tone, or just great coordination between breath support and the vocal folds then humming is your man or woman.  It’s all cool! :)

So in the video “How to Hum”, I go over my 3 favourite types of hum. The first one is what I would call my every day hum, although I do like to mix it up regularly so as to keep my voice flexible.  Doing the same vocalize day in and day out is not a cool thing, as it will lead to a ridged voice. The tip of the tongue is placed on top of the bottom teeth and is touching the bottom lip, the tongue is relaxed, not forced there just placed. The teeth are not touching and the jaw is free to hang open a little. From here, a small amount of air is let out of the nose, as if you were about to blow your nose. The resonance (the buzzy feeling) should then be felt to strike the top lip and under the nose cleanly. Check out my video on onsets here as this will show you how to get the resonance striking correctly, the correct term for this is onset or the attack.

The second hum is the same as above, except with an added twist that the tongue is now sticking out a little this will help those of you that have tongue tension. This will really tickle the tongue when done correctly, sorry about that!

Onto the last hum, to feel the correct placement of the tongue simply swallow (this can also be noticed first thing in the morning as it’s the normal resting place of the tongue when you sleep). The tongue hugs the roof of the mouth (some of the hard palate) and the tip is touching the front top teeth. Again allow a little air out of the nose to start with to get a good clean onset (remember to refer to the video on this here) and feel the resonance (buzzing feeling) hit the cheek bones.

So there you have it, three great variations of the humble hum! Go and have fine with them, master them and they will be your best friends on your vocal journey to becoming the best singer that you can be.

This is vocal coach Dylan signing out Yo!

 

Learning how to sing

By far the hardest thing and always the first step in learning how to sing is learning how to release the voice. When the voice is released – tension free – there are no obstacles in the way of a responsive open sound. If you really want to learn to sing better, then you must master this most difficult of skills! The rewards of learning this skill will be noticed in everything you do from singing to your everyday life. Your singing will sound natural, with great tone, power, range and agility and you will be a more chilled out as a person. This is also a great exercise to do if you want to improve your talking voice too.

Learning How to Sing – The Right Environment

Learning how to sing - learning to get in the zone

Girl in a relaxing environment

So before we get started on the exercise, let’s get ourselves in the right environment. There’s no point in trying to chill out when you are in a stressful environment, or when you are worried about other people hearing you. So take the time to find somewhere you are happy to make strange noises and somewhere you can just let go.

Now that we have the right environment for learning how to sing, it’s time to go through the exercise:

The Steps are:

1)    Breathing

2)    Get the Right Mind Set

3)    Tilt

4)    Sirens

5)    Vowels

Before you start the exercise, it would be a good idea just to sing something – record it down if you like – so that you can sing it again at the end for comparison, to start with you may just feel that your singing is a little easier, and that you notice the tension more. This is normal and the first step to releasing that tension. Your voice isn’t tenser, you are just more aware of it, and this is the first step in getting rid of it, you can’t get rid of something if you don’t think that you have it right?

Step 1 – Breathing

Get yourself nice and comfortable sat down or standing, whatever works for you. Then breathing through the nose, feel how your body expands as you breathe in and how it sinks a little as you breathe out. If you have had singing lessons before, do not focus on controlling anything, we are just learning to notice what the body is doing and that’s it.

Notice how as you breathe in the rib cage expands, and as you breathe out how it sinks back down. Now I want you to focus on the shoulders and as you breathe out – silently as this is not yoga either – feel them melt into the ground getting heavier. Stay focused here doing this for as many breaths as you need until you feel those shoulders relax.

Now focus on your neck muscles and do the same, every time you breathe out, feel the neck tension – a sensation of gripping around the throat – slowly melt into the ground. Do this until the throat feels released.

Now focus on the Jaw then the tongue, facial muscles and anywhere else that you can feel tension.

This is a great exercise in itself, you can use this technique of focusing on the breath then as you breath out feel that tension melt away on any part of your body that feels tense. You may not have even been aware that you had any tension at all to start with, but after doing this exercise you will have started built that awareness, which is the first step in getting rid of it and learning how to sing, then using the tool above you can release it.

Step 2 – Get The Right Mind Set

Now that we’ve released the tension in the body and built awareness of it, it’s time to take that mind to another place. As long as your mind is in a state of over control, the body will always go back to where it was as the start…tense!

So while still breathing silently through the nose, feeling the body melting into the ground on the exhale. I want you to imagine that you are on a hot sunny beach. Really take yourself there, feel the warmth on your face, take a moment to just lose yourself in this place. If you can think of a real place that you have been to then that would be better.

Now I want you to picture yourself walking up to a deck chair, and imagine yourself falling into that deck chair in slow motion, and as you do let out a sound. It should be like a sigh. Now ask yourself as you were doing this were you focused on the sound that you were trying to make or were you focused on the image in your mind of falling in slow motion into the deck chair? Most people would say that they focused on making a sound as that’s what I asked them to do. But actually I asked you to focus on falling into a deck chair and just let out a sound, I didn’t say that it had to be controlled to come out. I don’t want a perfect sound I want a released sound. It may have just been the sound of air coming out of your mouth, if it was released then that’s all I wanted! Lol tricky isn’t it? Don’t worry it’s frustrating for a lot of singers, especially for, as I said before, singers who have had lessons previously. Please stick with it, I promise when you get this, and it will take a bit of time, you will be so happy that you did.

So let’s try this again, hot sunny beach, feel the sun on your face, now in slow motion fall into the deck chair and as you do let out a sound. If you are still struggling that’s cool keep at it. Some of my students find it better to imagine a hot bath, for me it’s the sound that I make the moment I jump in the shower, and I feel my whole body melt away, that sound I make then is totally released, I don’t care what it sounds like, the sound is an expression of the emotion that I feel at that moment, I am not controlling it in anyway, this is where we need to get to with this exercise.

Keep trying this until you feel that you have a released sound, it may break in the middle it might be very wobbly, it doesn’t matter, you should notice that as you get better at just letting go that, the sound is not so wobbly and the break not so obvious. This work should never hurt the voice, if it does then you are over controlling still, go back to working on releasing and recognising tension in Step 1 – Breathing.

Step 3 – Tilt

We can use the body now to help us a little more to feel that release of tension, especially in the throat. Do not move onto this step until you are comfortable with the first 2 steps.

Standing up now, I want you to breathe in feel the body expand, get yourself on that hot beach and just before you fall into your deck chair in slow motion, I want you to start to tilt over from the waist, your back should be straight, all the time. Do not go so slow that you hurt your self do this gently, but feel the sensation of falling and try to add this to your image of falling into the deck chair. As long as there is sound coming out of your mouth you should be gently tilting over, when you reach the bottom – as low as you can go without hurting yourself – then just stay there for the remainder of the sound.

Play around with how quickly you tilt over, when you get this right you should feel some release of grip around the throat area. Once you can feel the release of throat tension, then try doing the same exercise, but with no tilt, and see if you can feel the same sensation in the throat, remember that you need to imagine that you are still tilting over for this to work. If you feel your throat closing up again, then go back to tilting; keep working back and forth until you can do this while standing up.

Step 4 – Siren

As you tilt over, start to make your sound slide down with you, keep doing this until it feels automatic, then as you are still focused on tilting down and sliding down at the same time, start to slide back up again, without coming back up! So to be clear you must still be tilting over as you slide up and down, do not start to come back up as you slide up – as you can tell you wouldn’t be the first to do this if you did.

Your throat should feel as open as it did when you were making your sound and tilting from step 3. If as you slide back up on the siren it feels more closed in the throat then go back to sliding down only, then when you feel the throat is released again work on the siren again. Below is a video on how to do a siren:

Step 5 – Sound

Let’s now change the sound from whatever you used at the beginning in step 2, to a vowel sound, remembering to keep it just as relaxed as your starting sound. If while working on vowels it doesn’t feel as open as your starting sound then go back to your starting sound. Systematically go through all the vowels until you find one that is the easiest for you to do, then work through the other vowels from there, always going back to the last tension-free sound as a reference when things start to get tight. You should be able to at least do the 5 main vowels which are:

Learning how to sing - Girl Singing into a microphone with release

Girl Singing into a microphone with release

EE as in He

EH as in Hen

AH as in Far

OH as in Hot

OO as in You

You are now well on your way to learning how to sing better, but remember it takes patience and regular practice.

Once you can do this, it’s time to try your singing again.  If you have done everything correctly then your voice should feel much lighter, smoother, less effort and sound nicer. The sound should feel more responsive and agile, and the emotion should be coming through, if you’re singing with emotion that is, but that’s a blog for another time! Lol

I hope that you found this article “Learning How to Sing” helpful? If you have any comments then please leave them below as I would love to hear from you.If you would like to learn some more from me then why not check out my youtube channel

Posture for singing – Singing Tips For Beginners

posture for singing

good posture for singing is crucial

A great singing tip for beginners, which is often overlooked, especially by the beginning singer is their posture for singing. If you want to breathe correctly, tension free, singing with a great tone then it all starts with posture. For example if your head is too high up then the throat will start to close off giving a more restricted unnatural tone, the pitch will not be good and the onset not as clean.

How do I create a good posture for singing?

 

So starting from the head and moving down:

1)      The top back part of your head should be pointing up to the sky – as If you were a puppet on a string and the string is attached to the top back part of your head.

2)      Your eyes should be looking slightly down from looking straight ahead – when you do this correctly you should notice that your chin relaxes.

3)      The back of the neck should feel stretched and the front short

4)      Your ears should be in line with the shoulders

5)      Shoulders should be relaxed down and slightly back – gently pinching your shoulder blades together will help with this. When done correctly there should be a feeling of slight stretch at the front of the chest.

6)      The chest should feel lifted and open, like it does when you take in a good breath – note that I am not saying an over breath just a good comfortable breath.

7)      There should be a firmness in the breath support muscles, but also flexible never ridged

8)      The pelvis should tilt ever so slightly forward – this will happen automatically if you unlock your knees.

9)      The knees should be free to move not locked, so just bring them forward a little – this feels very strange at first for a lot of my students, but remember that is what the leg muscles are for :)

10)  Stand slightly forward towards the balls of your feet, one foot should be slightly in front of the other – gently rock back and forward until you find a nice point where your body suddenly feels released. When you feel this sensation then you know that your posture is correct.

 

Remember that good breathing and singing depend on a good posture for singing, so don’t forget to set it up every time before you go to sing – in time this will become second nature to you. While you are learning it though, you could use the list above as a check list. This singing posture is just a good starting point as you get used to the feeling of the freedom that it gives your voice start to play around with it to see what you can get away with before you lose that freedom of singing voice. All beginning singers who are learning to sing should start here.

 

I hope that you found this singing tip helpful. Remember as a beginner before you sing you must set up your posture for singing. If you would like to know more about posture in singing or any other area in singing for that matter, then please get in touch, via the comments below. Remember that I am here to help you to become a better singer :)

 

Singing Tips For Beginners – Vocal Exercise Effectively

Singing Tips For Beginners

Singing Tips For Beginners

 

How to do a vocal exercise effectively is something that every singer MUST know. In this singing tips for beginners article you will learn how to make your vocal warm ups and workouts more efficient.

Singing Tips For Beginners – The two main areas for an effective vocal work out

There are two main areas that you should always be focused on when doing a vocal warm up or workout to maximise your efficiency and reinforce great vocal technique. Everyone is aware of the first area but the second area is far too often over looked to the detriment of the singer.
The two main areas are:
1) Building correct muscular coordinations
2) Mental awareness of those correct muscular coordinations

Building INCORRECT Muscular Coordinations

If you are singing scales and doing vocal exercises correctly then this will build good muscular coordinations, strengthen and improve your pitch and tone. As long as you can copy a sound you can vocalise and build your voice. One of the problems with this is that not everyone can copy a sound well. In fact most people don’t, picking the wrong way first as there is always more than one way to make the same sound.

So we have lots of singers out there doing their daily vocal exercise, just copying sounds incorrectly, and they don’t even know it. Yes sometimes it will still improve the voice, but only for a short time, and then they will need to work out the voice again. Lip trills, tongue trills and hums are some good examples of sounds that can be done wrongly and will make the voice worse than no vocal exercise at all.

The truth is that if you are not aware of the correct sensations that you’re supposed to be monitoring when you are vocalising then you are wasting your time but more importantly you could be building muscular strength in the wrong coordinations, which will be only be evident when you then go to sing!

How to build CORRECT muscular coordinations

Building correct muscular coordinations starts with understanding the correct sensations of singing, and an understanding of theoretical vocal technique so as to be able to guide the voice correctly through the vocal exercises. If you don’t know why or what you are trying to achieve from a vocal exercise then you should not do it! Just warming up your voice every day without this awareness is ineffective, but more importantly can be damaging for the voice!

Mental awareness of correct muscular coordinations

To build mental awareness we need to know what we need to be aware of, the list below covers the 4 main areas to be aware of when you are doing your vocal exercises.

1) Open Throat

2) Resonance

3) Breath Support

4) Vowels

Once you have this awareness, you will no longer be doing your vocal warm ups incorrectly. You will know how it feels when it’s right, but more importantly you will also know how it feels when it’s wrong and what to do to fix it. This is the only way to build a voice safely and efficiently.

Please watch the video for more information on singing tips for beginners. I hope that you found it helpful? If you would like to see more of my stuff then feel free to check out my youtube channel: Vocal Coach Dylan

Vocal Warm Ups

Vocal warm ups and downs should be done by anyone who uses their voice for singing or as a professionally speaker. Warming up your voice before singing or speaking will help prevent vocal injury and keep your voice sounding pleasant.

I have known singers to start a gig with some easy numbers so that they can warm up their voices on the songs. This is not a good idea for the singer or the audience! Warm up your voice focusing on a balanced sound and you will feel great, your voice will feel amazing and you will last the night!

Why should I do a vocal warm up?

Think of yourself as a vocal athlete, no athlete would go for a race without warming up their muscles as the risk of getting an injury on cold muscles is high.
Muscles when warmed up are more responsive and thus more predictable, so what you expect to come out of your mouth will!

What are the best exercises for me to warm up my voice on?

The age old rule of “keep it simple” totally applies here. I always start my students on:
1) Descending slides
2) Sirens – over a 5th then octave
3) Slide up scale down
4) Descending triplets
Check the video out for examples of the above. If you do these correctly you will notice that your voice feels ready to sing.

How long should I warm up my voice for?

If you are a beginner you should warm up your voice for around 10 minutes but everyone is different. Learn to listen to your voice, remember that the aim of a good warm up is to get the voice ready to sing or speak, so your warm up should be long enough so that you feel just that. If you feel like you need longer than 10 minutes then do longer but don’t do so long that you don’t last the gig. Don’t forget to warm down at the end too!

What are the best sounds to warm up and down my voice?

Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises! Sorry about the fancy words there, basically anything that takes some weight of the vocal folds. These sounds also have the added bonus of balancing the breath support beautifully with the vocal folds. Some examples are below:

1) Lip trill
2) Tongue trill
3) MM hum
4) N Hum
5) NG hum

These are the top 5 but there are others. I would suggest that you learn all of them as I believe that variation will keep your vocal muscles on their feet and encourage improved flexibility and strength, leading to a better all-round voice.

Here is another video where I use the Lip trill, to warm up the voice, without scales :)

So there you have it, you now know why you should warm up your voice. If you watch and work along with me on the video, then you will know how to warm up your voice as well.

Root Tongue Tension a Singers Worst Nightmare!

 

In singing there are few things that give so many problems as root tongue tension. It will stop your beautiful tone from coming out, lock up your jaw, close your throat, engage the swallowing muscles, create imbalance in the breath support due to the added resistance that the back of the tongue is creating and make it impossible to articulate the vowels correctly.

 

What does root tongue tension feel like?

Root tongue tension

Root Tongue Tension is a singers worst nightmare!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many different levels of this, from just very mild to feeling like someone is strangling you! You will feel like there is discomfort at the back of your tongue by the tonsils. If you do a lot of singing you may really feel this lock up. Your articulators will then try to compensate for it and create more tension.

If you place your thumb under your jaw then move it back to the soft bit just behind it, this is the underside of your tongue, gently press your thumb in here. Now take in a silent breath, it should stay soft or go a little softer, now slide up and down through your range on any vowel that is comfortable for you. It is very common for students to feel that as they slide higher that the tongue starts to push against the thumb, this is a sign that root tongue tension is starting to kick in. If this goes unchecked then the throat will lock up.

You can only increase your range correctly and sustainably if you do it without incorrect tension, and root tongue tension is an incorrect tension.

 

What does root tongue tension sound like?

You will notice that the sound is muffled, sounding like someone has something in their mouth and is trying to sing around it…well they are – the tongue!

 

What can I do to get rid of root tongue tension?

1)      Slowly stick your tongue out then bring it back it; do this several times.

2)      Say the word glug a lot as this will work the front and back of the tongue.

3)      Start to use the NG sound in your daily vocal warm up routine as this lifts the back of the tongue out of the throat.

4)      Stick your tongue out and leave it resting on your bottom lip. Then say the vowel ER as in the word urn. Now do your slides on this.

5)      Go through the vowels with your thumb in the soft part just behind your chin, this should stay soft on all the vowels, ee is often a hard one, so take your time, start with the 5 main vowels EE as in he,  EH as in hen,  AH as in far, OH as in hot and  OO as in who.

6)      Stick your tongue out and move it from one side of your mouth to the other, so that it moves like a metronome arm. Do this daily and especially before singing to help release that tension.

 

I often find that just making my students aware of the movement of the back of the tongue helps the most, so focus your mind at the back of your tongue by your tonsils, and say the vowel oo – make it hooty sounding – as in the word who, now stick your tongue out and say er as in ern, now alternate between these two vowels, oo er oo er oo er.  Say er like you mean it, like you really have seen something that makes you say it. While you are doing this stay focused on the back of your tongue and notice it move, back on the oo and forward on the ER you must work to keep the vowels forward and out of the throat, this will then help your voice to project naturally, but that’s another blog! :)

 

Now you know what root tongue tension feels and sounds like, also what to do to deal with it. I hope that you found this helpful, if you have any questions then please get in touch as I would love to hear from you.