Improving your singing voice requires consistent practice over a prolonged period of time, and like with all skills, there are no shortcuts. That being said, if you use certain techniques, you can see noticeable advancements right away.
When I first started singing in a band, I had the incorrect belief that a person’s singing voice was something that couldn’t be improved, and was down to the natural ability of the individual.
Years later, I’ve found that this notion couldn’t be further from the truth. In this guide, I’ll present some measures that you can take to start improving your singing voice right away.
Table of Contents
Assessing Your Current Ability
The first step that you need to take in order to improve your singing voice is to identify your strengths and weaknesses at the present moment. The reason this is so vital is that you need to have a reference point to see how far you have come as you embark on the journey of improving your voice.
After months of practice, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you aren’t improving as much as you would like, and this ultimately leads to a lot of singers abandoning their routines.
By getting a baseline level of your ability, you can compare the different aspects of your singing voice to when you started out. This is a great motivator to encourage you to keep practicing even when you might not feel like it.
What’s Your Vocal Range?
One main area that singers want to improve is their vocal range. This is the distance between the lowest and highest notes that you are able to hit. The vocal range can be improved over time, but to do so you have to establish what your current capabilities are.
An easy way to do this is by sitting at a piano or with a guitar. Ensure that your voice is fully warmed up, and then begin by singing the lowest note in your register. While singing the note, play the piano or guitar until you find the matching note that you are singing.
You may find that you are singing a note that doesn’t exist, or sits between two semi-tones. If this is the case, find the nearest note on the piano or guitar and match it with your voice. Write down the note, and then repeat the exercise with the highest note you can reach.
You now have a baseline measurement of your vocal range.
Singing in Falsetto
Arguably the quickest way to improve your vocal range is by learning to sing falsetto. This style of singing allows you to reach much higher notes than is possible in your chest voice.
Singing in falsetto can be difficult at first, but once you learn how to use the necessary muscles and vocal cords, it soon becomes easy. Start by singing softly at the highest note you can comfortably reach, and then gently try to sing a higher note.
Singing an “ooh” sound will put the least strain on your voice in falsetto. The way to know if you are singing with your chest voice or falsetto voice is to analyze the tone of your singing. If it’s light and airy, it’s falsetto.
Now repeat the previous exercise to find the highest note you can sing with your falsetto voice and the lowest. This will decide where the transitional points are between the two styles of singing, which is highly important when it comes to improving your ability.
Now that you’ve established the boundaries of your vocal range in your chest voice and you’ve got a basic grasp on your falsetto voice, the next step is to practice transitioning between the two.
This is a skill that many singers overlook, but in my experience, it produces the quickest improvements of any technique I learned. If a note is too high for your chest voice, you need to know that falsetto would be a better option.
Likewise, if you’re singing in falsetto and the melody moves down a note, you may be better going back to your chest voice to sing that particular note. This is a difficult skill to master, so don’t get disheartened. If you spend some time practicing it, you will see quick improvements.
The most effective way I found to practice transitioning between my chest and falsetto voice was to sing major scales. You can do this at a piano, or if that’s not possible, search for a major scale video on YouTube.
When you get to a scale that is towards the top of your chest voice, choose that scale for this exercise. It needs to be one that challenges you to get to the upper limits of your range so that you can incorporate falsetto.
Find the particular note in the scale that is a struggle to reach with your chest voice, then sing the whole scale again, remembering to use your falsetto when you get to that note. You may need to repeat this a few times to memorize which note requires you to use your falsetto.
Keep repeating the scale, going up and down the notes, and paying extra attention to the points where you switch from your chest voice to falsetto. Remember, this is a tricky skill to master, but with a few hours of practice, it will become second nature.
Now that we’ve covered the tangible skills that can be measured, it’s time to move onto something a little more subjective. When we speak about the tone of a singer’s voice, we are referring to the general sound that they produce rather than the notes they hit.
The great thing about a person’s singing voice is that their tone is completely individual to them. It’s an attribute that should be celebrated and presented with confidence, but it can be tweaked to produce the results you desire.
So how do we improve our tone if it’s subjective? Well, the method I found to work for me was to think of some of my favorite singers that I would like to sound as if I had the choice.
It’s a good idea to choose singers that have a similar singing style to you. I chose to model my voice on John Lennon initially because I found that I could sing most of his songs with a similar timbre. If I’d have chosen Beyonce, this exercise might not have been so effective!
All Art is Theft
You might be thinking, isn’t it inauthentic to mimic someone else’s singing voice? I don’t think it is because as I previously stated, no two voices will ever be the same. The way your vocal cords and diaphragm work is completely individual to you.
So by choosing an artist and trying to deliberately sing like them, what you are doing is taking small elements of their voice and blending them with your natural ability, therefore creating a new, unique singing voice.
If you have access to a quality microphone or a voice recorder on your phone, sing along to your chosen artist, intentionally trying to sound as much like them as possible. It helps if you know the lyrics and melody of the song well.
Listen back to the recording with a pen and paper. When you hard a part of the song that you like or dislike press pause, and note down what it is about that particular part that you dislike.
It could be that you have sung the note too flat, or your pronunciation of a word was unclear, or the rhythm went slightly off. Do these for the whole song, then re-record it, making sure to pay extra attention to the parts you disliked in the previous take.
Once you’ve got a full recording of the song that you’re fairly happy with, listen to it a few times, and this time, write down all of the parts you like. Maybe you managed to reach a lofty high note, or your tone sounding nice on a certain lyric.
You’ll notice when listening back to the recording that you probably sound nothing like the singer you’ve tried to imitate. This is a good sign! You’ve now taken some of the best aspects of their voice and incorporated them into your repertoire.
You can repeat this exercise once a week with different artists, and it will dramatically improve your ability to use your voice to create desired tones.
Get Out There and Sing!
The number one piece of advice I can give you to improve your singing voice is to put yourself out there. You never know what your ability is until you’re in the high-pressure environment of singing to an audience.
It’s said to be quite rare that an athlete breaks a world record in practice. This is because psychologically, they know that they are saving their best efforts for the Olympics or another event.
Singing is the same. You might be surprised at your ability once you put yourself in the limelight and are forced to give it your absolute best. So get out there and bless the world with your voice!