So let's say you want to learn how to sing better, but can't afford to take singing lessons. Is it still possible to become a better singer without expert tuition? Yes, it is! And we're going to look at some of the things you can do to improve your vocals over the next few minutes.
While not a replacement for proper lessons, they can help you improve until you're in a position to get professional help. So, let's get started. 🙂
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1. Practice Singing Every Day
As with any skill, the more you practice, the more proficient you will become. Athletes, painters and woodworkers all practice their chosen craft to become as skilled as possible. Singing is no different. If you want to become an accomplished singer, you need to practice every single day.
Many aspiring singers take a weekly vocal lesson. Then, in the time from one session to the next, they neglect to practice the exercises that were given to them.
The problem with practicing less frequently, say weekly, is that you forget the good and the bad moments of the last practice. It is good to remember the things you did well in the last practice, so you can build upon those things. It is just as important to remember what you struggled with, so you will know what you need to work on next time. If you are practicing infrequently, it is like starting from square one every single time.
Another reason you should practice daily, is it will give you a psychological benefit. If you are comfortable singing, because you do it every day and it is a part of your routine, you will be that much more comfortable when it is time to sing in front of an audience. This will allow you to perform better gigs and generally record your vocals faster when it comes to using the studio.
One thing I'll say though, is it's important to remember to practice proper technique. Spending an hour or two practicing poor technique can be counterproductive. If you practice poor technique, that technique will become habit and will be very hard for you to correct. The rest of the tips in this guide will help you with some better technique, although some can only be learned through vocal training. We have some guides on that here, but for more advanced guidance you may need to eventually take lessons.
One final reason for daily training, is to strengthen your vocal cords. Although not technically muscles, your vocal cords do need to be exercised like muscles. Training every day will ensure that when you sing, your vocal cords will be prepared. Think of it like a runner training for a marathon. You would not expect that runner to show up on race day and expect to perform well, if he had done no training for the race. Likewise, you should not expect to hit the stage and sing well, if you have not practiced and trained.
2. Record Yourself Singing And Analyze Your Vocals
This tip can be a hard one for some singers, especially beginning singers. You know that no one hears your voice the same way you hear it in your head. We have all listened to our outgoing voice-mail message and thought the person delivering the message must be a stranger. The fact is, the only way for you to hear your voice the way others do, is to record it and play it back. When you do this for the first time, you may not like how it sounds.
Don't worry though, you will get used to it. The important thing here is to forget you are listening to yourself. Try recording yourself singing along with a song you know well. Just listen to the voice and ask yourself if that voice is on key. Is that voice sharp or flat. Analyze that voice and decide where it is strong and where it needs to improve.
Now that you have made those observations, practice the song and record yourself again. You may be amazed at how much you improve after just one or two recordings. After you have gotten that familiar song down, branch out.
Take on a song you are a little less comfortable with. Again record yourself singing along with the song for the first time. Analyze the recording. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your voice, and sing it again. When you practice this technique, you will identify, very quickly, the areas in which you need to improve. Also, you will not only be improving your voice, but your ear as well.
Once you have that bit of information, you can take it back to your practice sessions and use it to improve as a singer.
3. Warm Up Before Singing
As with any physical activity, it is important to warm up before you begin singing. Again, like the marathon runner, you have trained and practiced, and now you are ready to perform. Would that runner begin the race without stretching his muscles and warming them up? No, he wouldn't. No matter how many years he had been training and practicing for that race, he would not line up on race day without warming up. And you should not begin singing, in practice or in performance, before properly warming up.
Without an adequate warm up, a singer's vocal cords, just like an athletes muscles, can be strained. Or worse yet, permanently injured. Keep in mind, a runner, even a sprinter, does not begin their warm up by running sprints. A runner warms up by stretching and jogging to loosen and warm up the muscles.
You as a singer should begin your singing warm ups by doing easy, low strain exercises. Singing, especially a prolonged performance, can be a very physically demanding activity. You sing with your whole mind and body. For this reason, it is important to warm up your entire body.
Do exercises to loosen your jaws, lips and tongue. It is also important to stretch the other muscles of your body. Warm up your arms and legs. Stretch your shoulder and back muscles. Anything you can do to make your whole body feel loose and comfortable when you are singing will shine through in your performance. A tight, uncomfortable performer will deliver a tight, uncomfortable performance. Don't let this be your downfall.
4. Master Your Breathing Techniques
Breathing is an aspect of proper singing technique that is often overlooked. Proper breathing technique is one of the most important skills any accomplished singer needs to learn. The breath behind your voice is what gives it its power and control. Conversely, if you loose control of your breath while singing, you loose the power and control over your voice.
Proper breathing technique will ensure you have as much power behind your voice at the end of a phrase as you did at the beginning of it. Additionally, just like with warming up, breathing techniques are important for your entire body and mind. When you are on stage, proper breathing technique can give you that calm, centered feeling you need to deliver a great vocal performance.
My advice is to listen to how and when professional singer breath. Watch Youtube performances (Be sure they're singing live and not miming), and see how they handle this. Then, try and apply it to your own singing.
The important thing is you're comfortable, and can let your full range of vocals out. It may take a while to reach this level, but keep practicing and you will get there.
So there you have it, 4 ways to become a better singer without spending loads on singing lessons. Do all of these things and you will become a better singer.
I still suggest you take professional singing lessons when you have the money, as that's what will make you a great, and maybe even a famous singer in the long run. That said, at this initial stage, it's not essential.
Whatever you decide to do, good luck.