How Can I Improve My Voice Quickly?
Is a question I get asked a lot by singers and non-singers. The short and long answer is that improving your voice is not always ‘quick process’ but you can see ‘improvements quickly’ if you invest time and effort into understanding your voice. Singing songs alone is not enough to help you understand the parameters of your voice, but by applying proven training based exercises, using correct form, you can identify what you need to work on to accelerate improvement!
Like any athlete who trains in a particular sport, some of the biggest singing stars have had to work long at hard at maintaining their voices to meet the demands of their busy vocal schedules. Daily, 1-2 hour vocal training focusing on targeted vocal muscle groups to enable a better on and off stage vocal response, abstaining from certain food like coffee and dairy weeks before a gig, or putting in a hefty workout session to keep their physical fitness up, is not uncommon practice for a professional singer; it’s been reported that Beyoncé can vocally perform her whole 2-hour stage show, running on a treadmill!!! Sounds all too much? Well, the good news is, if you are looking to improve, committing to purposeful daily vocal training and incorporating a few healthy lifestyle habits, can lead to some amazing vocal results!
Some tips I like to give my students starting on their singing training journey:
- Use it – The adage ‘use it or lose it’ rings very true to me as I’ve seen, and experienced, a better vocal response from myself and students who vocalize every day. Humming softly, lightly gliding up and down in pitch (glissando) is a great way to start stretching your vocal cords after a good night’s sleep. You can hum, bubble or trill a soft glissando almost anywhere you are. I’ve been known to walk through crowds humming softly through my range!
- Create a practice space– It’s important you have a place to practice, free from judgement, that’s quiet, private and allows you to use your voice with vulnerability. Throga calls it the Vocal Gym and you have lifetime access to it!
- Schedule purposeful practice daily and set goals for yourself after each session– Aim to be mindful and present during your practice session so that you get the most out of your practice time. I like to suggest practicing between 20-30 minutes a day with 1 rest day, for beginners.
- Stay hydrated– The vocal cords need to be hydrated to vibrate effectively and create sound. Always overestimate the amount of water you think you need to keep hydrated. As a singer you are more demanding of your vocal output, keeping properly hydrated, can in the least set you up for good voice quality.
- ‘Move’ your speaking voice throughout the day (prosody)– Have you ever caught yourself talking in one low lazy and consistent monotone sound? Or the opposite, talking at a high pitched stressed out sound? Well, neither will help with vocal responsiveness when you get to the vocal gym. I’d like to encourage you to move your talking voice up and down throughout the day (but always with ease) to encourage flexibility and movement (prosody) when you come to sing.
- Don’t mistake high for loud and low for soft- They are two very different concepts. Discuss differences with an instructor.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself and the sound you are producing- Every day will bring with it a new sound or tone. Remember your voice is a vulnerable internal instrument that can be affected by hormones, virus’, pollen, hydration, stress and emotions affecting it’s output. Work with the voice you have been given today and adapt exercises to address any imbalances that may arise that day.
- Get enough sleep– You must allow your vocal folds to rehabilitate after a long day of vocalizing. Down-time from singing and talking is essential to maintaining a healthy voice.
- It’s OK to sound like you– Try not to compare the way you sound to others. It’s fine to be influenced by a singer and it’s a great exercise to try to reproduce the same tones and overtones as that singer, but learn to love your own unique sonic footprint as well.
- Confidence comes from a reliable voice– A voice you can trust in, one that will produce your intended tones, pitch and emotions can be life-changing for a singer. Daily purposeful practice can very much assist with this.
AUTHOR: ANNA RIZZO-TASSONE