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

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3 thoughts on “Learning how to sing”

  1. I really like what you said about getting into the right environment to sing. My daughter has an amazing voice, and I really want her to learn how to use it. After reading this, I think that if she gets into a relaxing environment, and the right mind set, she should be able to let loose a little bit, and then she can show off that voice of hers.

    1. Vocal Coach Dylan

      Hi Jackie,

      It will really help her, but it does take time. Good luck to your daughter!

      Have a great day

      Dyl 🙂

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