Following up my “5 Singing Tips for Beginners to Start Off on the Right Foot” here are a couple more suggestion that, in my humble opinion, can further improve your singing.
1. Breath Control is Everything
This one is about the fundamentals. While it’s key that you work on your pitch, it is equally super important for you to develop a proper breathing technique. This means to train your abdominal and lower back muscles to work together in stabilizing the diaphragm so it can move nice and slow. A controlled diaphragm movement allows the right amount of air to be released to create the perfect sub-glottal pressure for good volume and great resonance.
Remember that singing must never feel tiring and if you feel a strain in your voice you need to stop because it means you’re doing something wrong. You are probably compensating a wrong breathing technique by increasing tension in the neck or jaw which eventually creates tension around the vocal folds. Take a step back and do some exercises to regain consciousness of your breathing.
2. Be Mindful of Dynamics
Now that your pitch is on point and your breath control works for a great tone, it’s time to think about how you deliver the songs. Mastering dynamics (together with phrasing, timing, and expression) is one the best ways to give dimension to your performance and to make you sound far more polished and professional. The ability to dose different levels of volume during the song is what gives your expressivity that extra umph, it allows you to paint light and shades making a huge difference in what would otherwise be a flat and boring delivery.
3. Stay Hydrated
Singers must rely on the flexibility of the tissues, mucosas, muscles, and cartilages of their throat and to ensure their proper functionality, they can’t be dry! Drinking good amounts of water (and I said WATER, alcohol is not good guys!) is essential.
Being well hydrated helps the vocal folds vibrate smoothly and lowers the amount of lung pressure needed for their vibration.
Be careful though, when you drink a sip of water on stage, that’s it’s not hydrating (although the swallowing does have a lubricating effect), it can take up to 4 hours for water to reach the vocal folds. To be truly hydrated for a performance you need to drink a lot during the day, especially when in the presence of heating or AC. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty!
4. Keep an Open Mind
Versatility is my favorite quality to admire in a vocalist. The ability to tackle different styles and genres allows performers to have so much more texture than those who stay in their comfort zone. Versatile vocalists have much larger horizons and greater resources to enrich each performance, so they inevitably stand out. Just think about Freddie Mercury, he was a true chameleon!
My advice is to listen to as many different styles as possible, never limit yourself to one genre. Explore, be eager, find the beauty of every style and internalize it. Master one style (or more if you can!), but practice all of them and you’ll find that infusing your singing with different influences can color your performances in the most interesting and unexpected ways!
The most obvious advice I can give to an aspiring singer is to sing as much as possible. Just like athletes work out to keep in top shape, singers need to constantly train their voice, to avoid wasting progress and to improve. This doesn’t mean that you have to drive your family crazy vocalizing all day every day, just make sure you don’t end up out of the game for too long. Trust me on that, I put singing aside for almost a year and when I started working with Ancient Bards again I didn’t even know who I was anymore, and though recovery wasn’t difficult it was a bit frustrating nonetheless.