Learning to Sing

Regardless of your starting point, you can be a great singer if you train your voice! The human voice is an extraordinary instrument, capable of a myriad of different colours, tones and moods. Read on to find out more.




Singing is Important!

Singing is simply an essential part of the human experience: singing was the beginning of all music and is still a central tenet of music making in the 21st Century. From the original folk and religious songs, to opera, jazz and contemporary music, the art of song and singing will continue for as long as we exist. Singing connects with people on many different levels - not only do we connect with the melody of a vocal line, but the words and the primal human connection of the voice draw us in. The vocal part of a song is what most casual listeners remember - rather than the bass line or the guitar part. Taking professional singing lessons with our team of singing teachers across the UK will help to connect you with this incredible cultural lineage!






Types of Voice Explained

There are different categories of voice, divided by vocal range. Your vocal range is natural and can change over time, especially for younger children and teens. Knowing your voice type is important first step when you learn to sing. You could damage your voice by singing repertoire that just doesn't fit your natural vocal range/type and this is just one reason we recommend taking profesisonal singing lessons. There's a common misconception that if you can't sing in a certain range, it means you're not a good singer, but that couldn't be further from the truth! Everyone has a slightly different comfortable range and it's not about how high or low you can sing, it's what you can do with what you've got!

There are six vocal types overall:

Female:

  • Soprano: the typical soprano singer lies between C4 and C6.
  • Mezzo Soprano: the typical range of this singer is between A3 and A5.
  • Alto: the typical alto singing range lies between F3 to F5.

Male:

  • Tenor: tenor singers typically have a comfortable range that lies between C3 to C5.
  • Baritone: the typical baritone singer's range is from A2 to A4.
  • Bass: the bass singer has the lowest singing range and typically lies between E2 to E4.

Correct Posture

The voice is a unique instrument as we are all born with the ability to sing. So you don’t need to purchase a physical instrument, but we do need to learn to use our vocal cords in our singing lessons - without being able to see or look at them! When learning other instruments, it's important to pay attention to posture in order to achieve a fantastic sound and avoid injury. When learning to sing in singing lessons however, it is the top priority. Without correct posture, your air flow is limited, your muscles are used incorrectly and the strength of sound acheivable becomes less. In just a few singing lessons, you will learn so much about your anatomy and the muscles involved in learning to sing, you will have a whole new appreciation of the human body and what it can do!

It's best to have a professional singing teacher to advise you on posture as you learn to sing but here are a few tips to get you started ahead of your singing lessons:

  • Your chin should be about parallel to the floor, not tilted down or raised.
  • Your shoulders should be held back and down, with your chest held high. A good way to reach this position is to stand straight and reach your arms straight as far up as you can. Then gently lower them to your sides. Concentrate on what your shoulders feel like when they land, and try to keep that position.
  • Your abdomen should feel flat and firm.
  • Your hands should be relaxed and still, at your sides or in a comfortable position.
  • Your knees should be flexibly loose, and never locked.
  • Your feet should be about shoulder width apart, solidly planted on the floor.
  • Your whole body should feel engaged and strong when as you learn to sing - if somebody nudged you, they shouldn't be able to move you or push you over.

Breathing

When you're learning to sing, breathing is a huge part of producing a good sound. So learning to breathe properly is very important. A good breath control exercise to practise in your singing lessons is a "count-out". Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose, as far as you can. Then start to count out-loud at a steady pace while slowly letting out your breath, controlling your breath as much as possible. The aim is to reach the highest number you can. This helps with controlling breath to produce different articulations and being able to make it through longer phrases without breathing. Try and do this every day as well as in your singing lessons and you'll soon see an improvement in your breathing as you learn to sing.

Looking After Your Voice in Your Singing Lessons and Beyond

Learning to sing and maintaining the voice is just like maintaining a physical instrument like a guitar or violin; we have to make sure we keep our vocal cords healthy both in our singing lessons and at home or on the stage! Vocalists have to be extra careful as factors like lifestyle and diet can have a prolonged effect on vocal health. Here are some useful tips our singing teachers have shared with us which you should bear in mind as you learn to sing:

  • Stay hydrated: drink plenty of water throughout the day, every day and especially before singing lessons! For your vocal cords to be hydrated, your whole body has to be hydrated. While most singers will have a bottle of water on the stage with them, this is more of a comfort blanket than anything else - if you're dehydrated when you step onto the stage, it's already too late! Adult students who learn to sing should also consider limiting their intake of alcohol and caffeine as both of these work to dehydrate you. This is especially true on the day of a performance or singing lessons.
  • Don't smoke: it's known to damage your lungs and can be the cause of serious issues like bronchitis. Even second-hand smoke could have negative effects on your voice. It's the worst thing you could do when you learn to sing.
  • Rest: make sure you're getting enough sleep and not over-working yourself as you learn to sing.
  • Avoid too much dairy: consuming too much dairy can cause a build up of phlegm in your throat, and makes singing and singing lessons more difficult.
  • Steam: steaming can be really helpful to hydrate and sooth your voice - simply pour some boiling water in a bowl, place a towel over your head and inhale the steam from the bowl. You can also buy machines that are specially made for this exact purpose. Make sure not to drink a cold drink straight after steaming - this can actually damage your voice as it shocks and tenses the muscles.

Your singing teacher will know what to look out for if you had any issues with your voice, and should refer you to a GP if they think you have any damage or illness which becomes apparent as you learn to sing.

If you would like to know more about vocal health as you learn to sing, The British Voice Association is a fantastic organisation offering support to musicians and professional vocalists.



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