Learn How to Sing

Have you ever asked the question, “Can I learn how to sing?”  Let me help you find an answer to your question.Learn how to sing

Learning how to sing

The answer is very simple, “Yes, you can learn how to sing.”  In fact, it is almost a natural thing for human beings to sing.  If you can speak, you can probably already sing. Speaking and singing are very similar.  The same mechanisms and muscles are involved in each process. It is a matter of manipulating them so as to produce a creative presentation.

Tools for speaking and singing

When I say that speaking and singing are similar I refer to the processes involved.  To speak you must have an actuator, which is the breath. This is provided by the lungs and the muscles involved to inhale and to exhale.

Then you must have a vibrator.  This comes in the form of the larynx which we commonly call “the voice box”.  

Above the “voice box” we must have resonators, or “amplifiers”.  These are provided by the pharynx(upper throat), the mouth, and the nasal passages.  These can be more finely defined, but there is no need for that now.

In speaking and singing, we use words, so we need tools for that, too.

The main tools for forming words are: the jaw, the tongue, the teeth, and the lips.  There is also the soft palate which is used to produce certain nasal enhanced sounds.

If you have these tools, you have everything you need for speaking.  Therefore, you have everything you need for singing.

How is singing different from speaking

learn how to sing
Singing vs Speaking

When speaking we usually are thinking of producing single words.  Though we are expressing thoughts, which include all the words, we speak one word at a time.  When we sing, we must consider the beginning and the end of our thought.  

When speaking, our voice produces sounds in bursts.  To contrast, when singing the sound flows from the beginning of the phrase to the end.  Because of this, the actuator must provide a sustained supply of air instead of bursts of air.  This necessitates the coordinating of the actuator muscles to operate in a way that is not totally natural. This is where the learning comes in “learn how to sing”.

Some exercises for developing breath control

There are some simple exercises that can help us to begin to develop our actuator.

The first begins by dropping our jaw and inhaling through an open mouth.  You should inhale over a time of about 3 seconds. (Just count in your mind to 3).  Then exhale through a “hiss” for a count(think) of about ten seconds. Do this for about five repetitions.  If at first you cannot “hiss” for 10 seconds, start with 5 seconds and work your way up. Click on the MP3 for a demonstration.

      Inhale-Exhale warmup - Thomas Harvey

After you have done this exercise with the “hiss”, relax.  After relaxing a little, do it again. This time substitute vowels for the “hiss”.  Use “Ah”, as in father: “Oh”, as in no: “oo” as in sooth: “a” as in say: and “ee” as in see.

      Inhale-exhale warmup2 - Thomas Harvey

Another difference

Another difference between normal speech and singing is the range of pitches in the voice.  You may think that you do not employ pitch in your speaking, but you do. If you did not use pitch in your speaking you would sound monotone.  Here is an example of what a monotone voice would sound like. Then it is followed by a normal speaking voice. See if you hear the difference?  I am sure you will.

(Monotone)

      Monotone - Thomas Harvey

(Normal speech)

      Non-monotone - Thomas Harvey

(Normal speech)

That should answer any questions you may have as to your ability to sing.  If you talk like the first example, you may have problems developing a singing voice.  But, I doubt that you speak as the first voice did.

With that said, just about everyone can learn how to sing.  It is just a matter of finding the right exercises that will help you develop your singing.

Some exercises to help develop your singing voice range

Just as in any job or trade you learn you must work at areas you wish to develop.  So, if singing on pitch is something you need to work at, we have an exercise for you.  If expanding your vocal range is something you need help with, these exercises will be good beginning points.

For this exercise, we shall use the vowel, “Ah”.  Begin by dropping your jaw, inhale a good breath and say “Aaaaaaaah”.  Hold that for about 3 or 4 seconds. Take a breath again and this time as you say “Aaaaaah”, let the pitch slide down. (Here is an example-MP3).  Let it go as low as you can. Do that several times.

After a minute or two of rest, set up to do this previous exercise.  This time, though, let the pitch slide up. (Here is an example-MP3). Do this several times.

Variations

Do a variation on the previous exercise. Begin on the first pitch and slide up and then slide down. (Example-MP3)  After several times change it around. Begin on the first pitch and slide down then up. (Example-MP3)

If at first it seems a little rough, don’t give up.  It is “practice that makes perfect” not thinking. Just as babies do not learn to walk in a day, nor do singers learn to sing in a day.  Learning how to sing is an ongoing progress. I have been learning how to sing for almost 60 years. And I am still learning and growing in many areas of my singing.

Voice training exercises

These few voice training exercises that I have shared with you are just the beginning for beginners.  You can begin this wonderful adventure and learn how to sing better every day. 

The benefits of vocal training go far beyond just the singing that you will enjoy.  You will find yourself assuming better posture which benefits your overall physical well being.  There is also the benefit of breathing deeply which aids in the expulsion of toxins from the body.  In addition to the physical benefits are the mental and emotional benefits. People who engage in artistic endeavors tend to excel in other areas as well.  

Musicians, which include vocalists, consistently rank in the top 25% of their field of study, even if non-music fields.  So, by learning to sing, you are giving yourself an advantage, no matter what field you are in.

When to begin to learn how to sing

There is no better time to begin that RIGHT NOW!  You have the exercises you need to begin. Then you have exercises that will help you grow in your singing.

We provide the accompaniment for your exercise so you do not have to be distracted.  If you need additional help, we will have that for you, too.

We are ready to listen and help in any way that we can.  Contact us a tomharveybaritone@gmail.com or leave a comment in the “Comment” box below.

Maybe you have a favorite song you would like to sing, but do not have the accompaniment.  If you can tell us where to get a copy of the music we can record an accompaniment for you and email it as an MP3.

We want to help you learn how to sing

We want to help you learn how to sing and sing better.  Let us know how we can encourage you and help you grow as a musician.

Learn more about singing by checking these blogs:

HERE     and   HERE   and    HERE

God bless you!

 

 

How to Develop the Low Voice

I received a request not long ago on how to develop the low voice.  This is basically aimed at the male voice but could be adapted to the female voice with a few tweaks.

How to develop the low voice

Strengthen your voice
Bass singer

Let us state at the outset that we are not creating a “low voice”.  Each of us is given a certain mechanism which is called our voice. Certain parameters of its structure will determine what kind of voice it will be.  Female voices are usually of a higher pitch and range than a male voice. Our genetics will control most of that.

However, in every person, there is a given limit that the muscles of the mechanism will work.  We usually refer to this as the range of the voice. Some like to emphasize the upper range while others focus on the lower range.

Head voice or chest voice

Two typical titles given to define these vocal ranges are those of head voice and chest voice.  If those terms are employed we find that both male and female have these. There are some that think that only males have the two “registers”.  But both male and female have the same muscles in the vocal mechanism. It is usually more noticeable in the male.

In males, the chest voice is usually associated with the man’s natural singing range.  That range is usually determined as the young male begins to mature and genetics grow larger muscles in general.  This causes the voice pitch to lower because of an increase in size. The female’s muscle growth is less and thus the vocal range is not lowered as is the male’s.

The head voice is facilitated by a set of muscles.  In men, the voice produced is called “falsetto”. It is not a “false” voice at all.  For men, it harkens to the young boy’s soprano voice. The muscles used to produce the “falsetto” voice will remain viable if used regularly.  Sometimes the muscles grow weak or atrophy because of lack of use.  

The head voice is usually a mixture of the chest voice and the “falsetto” voice.  The best singing voice is usually a well-balanced use of both sets of muscles.

Can you extend your lower range?

I have met several men who wished to extend their lower singing range.  They wanted to know if this was possible. The answer varies, depending on the person.

The biggest determining factor is one’s genetics.  If you inherit the genes that grant you a relatively large larynx and likewise muscles, you may be able to.  Seldom do people endeavor to lower their voice range. Some may be blessed with nice rich low voices and they work within their range.

Most of us would like to expand our range a little if not a lot.  Once again we harken to the size of the instrument and the muscularity thereof.  Very few people even consider that you could develop the muscles to sing lower pitches.  However, muscles can be trained.

It is possible, through proper training, to develop the muscles to sing lower pitches.  One can also improve the quality of the production of the lower pitches. Whether there is a great increase in the volume, there will definitely be an improvement in the quality.  We often think that low-singing basses in a quartet have big full voices. Such is usually not the case. It sounds that way because the sound or recording system magnifies the sound exponentially

Develop your singing voice

Building your voice
Vocal Practice

The overall goal should be to develop your singing voice in general.  If you sing in a choir or a quartet where you sing lower than usual notes, work the lower range.  But, we work to produce a sound that is not so much louder but produces presence.  

What is “presence”?, you may ask.  “Presence” is not so much that you stand out in the sound of the choir or quartet.  But rather, you would be evidently missed if you were not there. It does not take nearly as much volume to evoke presence if the voice is well produced.  The goal in developing a lower range is not so much volume as it is quality.

If you are thinking of developing the lower range for solo you will probably lean toward the sound production equipment.  That is not necessarily bad because when singing in small groups microphones are the norm.

Strengthen your singing voice

It is always good to strengthen your singing voice.  Whether it be low or high or just in general. By strengthening one range of the voice you will be strengthening all areas.  

For this particular training, I am giving some exercises that will help to build the lower range of a male voice.  Building the right kind of strength in any range of the voice does not happen quickly. The training needs to be steady and methodical.  Sometimes it may take a year or more to begin to get the results you desire.

I think of Arnold Schwarzenegger the bodybuilder/actor.  When he began, he was not an exceptionally muscular man.  But, he worked out regularly and consistently for several years before winning his first competition.  He went on to be the top bodybuilder of his time.  

So, when you begin to build your voice, be patient and be consistent.  The strength will come and the voice will develop.

Some exercises to strengthen your lower voice

How to develop the low voice
Exercise

All three of these exercises are simple but will be effective in building strength in your lower range. Let me note that you should use good posture as you do these exercises.  Good posture is the foundation of all good singing.

Exercise 1

The first exercise is just a stepwise exercise beginning on the 5th of the scale.  It descends stepwise down a 5th and then returns up and then descends again. Then it modulates down a half-step and repeats the process.  Begin with the “Ah” vowel for a complete run-through. Then repeat the exercise using the “Oh”, “Oo”, “a” and “Ee” vowels.

This is the notation of the first rendition.  All others follow the same pattern.

How to develop the low voice

This is the MP3 for your use as an accompaniment.

      Bass Development 1 - Thomas Harvey

 

 

Exercise 2

Exercise 2 is even simpler.  You begin with a sustained note on the 5th of the scale and descend by quarter notes to the tonic. Hold the final note for 3 beats.  Do the entire exercise using the same vowels as above. The tone should be relaxed and not pushed.

Strengthening your voice
Notation Exercise 2
      Bass Development 2(2) - Thomas Harvey

 

Exercise 3

The third exercise is a little different.  The first two were working to maintain flexibility as we build our lower range.  This exercise has the goal of tying our “falsetto” to our lowest bass notes.

The exercise begins by sounding the note which is “A” above middle “C”. Then it sounds the “a” in the second octave below middle “C”.  The goal is to use the “Ooh” vowel and slide from the top note to the bottom note. This is a falsetto exercise. You are to maintain the falsetto all the way to and including the lowest pitch.  It may not be very loud, but that is OK.  

As the exercise moves downward it may be harder still to do the falsetto.  Just do your best and go all the way through the exercise. Even if you do not get any sound, go through the motions.  It may take you a week or two before some of the lower notes begin to sound.

For now, just use the “Ooh” vowel.

Strengthening the lower voice
Notation of Exercise 3
      Bass Development 3(3) - Thomas Harvey

 

A little information

If you were like I was you may not have much of a falsetto.  That came about because I wanted to sound like a man. I had to build the muscles which produced the falsetto part of the voice.  

If you have that problem you might try the trick I used to begin redeveloping my falsetto.  Though I could not sing in falsetto I could call my cat. The way I call my cat was the typical, “Kitty, kitty, kitty.”  In other words, I unconsciously used falsetto to call my cats. It took me about three months to get my falsetto to where I could control it.  Any trick that will help you “Peep” out that falsetto will do. But don’t do anything that causes pain in your voice.

Conclusion

Incorporate these exercises into a daily or regular warmup and you will be surprised at your vocal development.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions below.  If you wish to email me, you do that at tomharveybaritone@gmail.com.

We have many other helpful articles to help you grow in your singing.  You can check them out by clicking on the menu.

 

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