No-nonsense Vocal Instruction Manual - learn how to sing better, fast!

First chapter free below!

 

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When you sing in front of other people, you want it to sound great. Period.

If you've found this page, it's likely that you love to sing, and your love of music has led you in some way to sing for others. It may be a church, school or community choir, a country or classic rock band, a community theater production - whatever the situation, whether you are a soloist or singing with others, you want to put out the best sound possible.

You want to know how to make people want to hear more.

I didn't start singing in front of others until I was in my 30's. Before that, I was a musician, but I didn't think anyone would consider me to be much of a singer. I could make a pretty decent sound and sing in the vicinity of the right pitches, but I knew that my attempts weren't really up to par, especially not for singing as a soloist. Worse yet, I didn't know where to begin to improve, because I didn't know what I was doing wrong.

After ten years of singing with two top-quality choirs, under the direction of several world-class choral directors - masters at getting a very professional sound from amateur singers - I have thoroughly enjoyed success as a soloist and vocal director in local theatre and worship venues, using the vocal techniques learned from these choral geniuses. They not only taught me how to sing well - they also taught me the best methods available to teach other people how to sing better.

I hope to faithfully pass along my teachers' proven methods, and toward that end I've developed this Instruction Manual as a way of summarizing, and explaining in simple terms, the techniques I've learned - techniques that will also help you improve as a vocalist.

I can offer this information inexpensively because the product I deliver is electronic - it is emailed to your computer instantly after you supply your payment info.

I have organized the concepts and exercises in the order I believe to be most important in helping you produce quality vocals. In the instruction manual, you will find detailed sections covering topics such as:

  • Breath Control (The proper way to breathe)
  • Intonation (Singing in tune)
  • Tone (Creating a sound people really want to hear)
  • Polish (Vowels, Consonants, etc.)

If you feel you have talent as a vocalist, but have questions about the vocal techniques you should be developing, give our Vocal Instruction Manual a try. Then, please send me an email to let me know how these techniques work for you. If, after 30 days of use, you are not satisfied that you have received a good value, you will be promptly refunded the full amount.

The first chapter is included below - enjoy!

Mark


Breath Control (Power) (Return to Intro)

I was tempted to make this first section about Intonation, because if you sing flat (or otherwise out-of-tune), the other things we will be talking about won't matter much. But, since having plenty of "air support" is essential to reliably producing the right pitch, let's instead start with learning the best way to breathe.

Since I started singing so late in life, the correct technique does not come naturally to me, and when singing I have to deliberately remind myself, at every opportunity to breathe, to do it the "right" way. If I forget, I risk leaving myself short on air during the upcoming passage.

I knew that I had found the correct way to breathe when it became much easier to sing longer passages without breathing, and to sustain notes for longer amounts of time. The improvement which good air support makes to your intonation and tone is also very significant, but it's not as easy to measure - you will just have to trust me.

You have no doubt been told that you should sing "from the diaphragm", and that is of course correct. But how can you tell if you are doing it right? A simple note-duration exercise will help us make sure. First, let's try to describe the proper breathing technique.

I have seen this demonstrated in several ways, but I think this may be the most effective: lie on the floor on your back, with a few heavy books stacked on your lower stomach. Experiment with different types of big breaths, looking for the one that lifts the books the most - think of this as a good "belly" breath.

Notice that it's also possible to take a big breath without raising the books at all - think of this feeling as a weak, "chest-only" breath. It fills only your upper chest area with air. This is the type of breath that comes naturally to most of us, but it should of course be avoided when singing.

Continue working on raising the books until it happens consistently, then graduate to spot-checking your technique by simply placing your hand on your lower stomach and feeling how much lower-abdomen expansion you are getting.

To demonstrate the value of this style of breathing and to test your grasp of the technique, grab a stop watch (or watch with a second-hand) and time your own ability to sustain a note that's near the upper part of your range. Try it with a big "chest-only" breath and then with a big, powerful "belly" breath. You should find that with the belly breath, you can hold the note longer.

Try singing that note until your breath gives out, and listen carefully to what happens to the pitch as your air completely gives out. No matter how hard you try to keep the note on the same pitch, as your air expires but before the sounds ends completely the pitch will change. A lot. This demonstrates that your pitch is affected by the quality of air support. I'll bet the quality of the sound you were making also changed. A lot. This demonstrates that your tone is also affected by the quality of air support.

So, a big "belly" breath is essential to singing with power for long amounts of time and with a good tone. How about singing quietly? Any old breathing technique will do, right?

In certain ways, it's even more important to breathe correctly when singing quietly. Why? Because singing quietly also often means singing with a weak, thin sound. To avoid this, and instead create a quiet sound that has intensity despite the low sound level, you should breathe as if you are about to sing at your loudest volume.

Perhaps I should mention the concept of "projection" here. Many singers try to improve their sound by creating as much resonance as possible within their bodies. Singers who do this often breathe just fine, yet fail to give the impression of a powerful voice to their listeners. The correction for this problem is to focus on projection rather than a "contained" resonance.

Good projection can be visualized. If you were standing of the edge of a canyon and wanted to create a great echo, or be heard by someone on the other side, you would shout in such a way as to expel the sound away from you as much as possible. That is what good projection feels like.

Many singers who have developed the habit of "contained resonance" are reluctant to give it up, for the simple reason that the "contained" sound often seems to be of superior quality, at least to the singer. Keep in mind that you are the only listener whose ears are physically connected to your body! No one else is going to hear the resonance in the same way you do.

If you need to be convinced, use your audio recorder, positioned on the other side of the room. Sing a passage from the same song using both the "send it across the canyon" method (projection) and the "contained resonance" method; then, compare the results for yourself.

(Return to Intro)


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how to sing vocal tips singing tips how to sing better vocal technique vocal techniques singing techniques singing technique sing better learn to sing singing lesson singing instruction voice lesson vocal tips vocal coaching While every aspect of proper singing technique is important, your listeners will almost universally be able to detect virtually every off-pitch note that you sing. That means it's vital to learn all of the pitfalls that lead to sour notes and to prepare your vocal pieces with a goal of singing every note just right. When it comes to singing in tune (on pitch), I would place singers in these categories:
  • Pitch very bad, no relationship between correct notes and singer's notes
  • Pitch bad, near the correct pitch, but just as likely to be above (sharp) as below (flat)
  • Pitch bad, consistently flat compared to the correct pitch
  • Pitch usually good, but fairly frequent flat notes occur
  • Pitch usually good on longer notes, but short-duration (passing) notes often flat
  • Pitch good on nearly every single note
  • Pitch good on every single note (find the closest American Idol auditions) Diaphragm The large muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity and is the principal muscle of respiration. As the diaphragm contracts and moves downward, the lungs expand and air moves into them. As the diaphragm relaxes and moves upward, the lungs contract and air is forced out of them Dissonant Disagreeing or harsh in sound Falsetto A vocal sound in the upper register, beyond the voice's normal range Flat A pitch that is to some degree below the correct pitch Interval The distance between two pitches Intonation Pitch The relative position of a tone within a range of musical sounds Sharp A pitch that is to some degree above the correct pitch Vibrato A pulsating effect produced by small, rapid changes in pitch how to sing vocal tips singing tips how to sing better vocal technique vocal techniques singing techniques singing technique sing better learn to sing singing lesson singing instruction voice lesson vocal tips vocal coaching