One thing that can mark out a bad singer is that their voice seems weak or feeble. To sound like a good singer, you must have solid vocal support while singing. This allows you to produce good, clear tones that sound strong and don’t waver.
It also helps you produce a broad tone, rather than one which sounds thin and feeble. Although you might occasionally want to sing with a weaker-sounding voice to suit a particular song, a good singer must have a voice which is capable of producing a strong, broad tone.
Vocal support comes from a combination of good posture, proper breathing technique, and overall practice and development of your singing voice. If you don’t think you have a good voice you’ll be reluctant to sing and feel held back. That’s understandable. Especially when it comes to singing in front of other people!
How can you improve your singing voice? What are the best singing tips out there? How much does your vocal range matter? What should you focus on when you practice singing?
What makes a voice “good”?
We all instinctively know a good voice from a bad one. You have probably heard amateur singers and thought “wow, they really can’t sing!” But what is it we’re reacting to?
Certainly one of the most noticeable factors in whether someone seems like a good singer or not: are they in control of their voice?
Having good vocal control means staying “on pitch”. This means singing the pitch of notes accurately, rather than a bit sharp or flat. It also means not wandering off key or singing in the wrong key to begin with.
Singers with good vocal control are able to sing each note distinctly for the intended musical effect in a melody or harmony. They can also handle note leaps accurately, not jumping too far or not far enough in pitch whether they’re hitting high notes or low. Working on your control will help improve your singing.
What are those things that mess up your voice?
Whether you’re a hobbyist who simply loves to sing, a touring artist or band member, a local rocker, a Broadway star, an opera singer, or if you sing in a choir, you know the importance of having a healthy voice that’s ready to deliver an all-star performance every time. Here are five things that may have an effect on your voice, for better or worse.
Are you getting a full eight hours every night? If not, you may be risking vocal strain and damage. Every night, our bodies require a certain amount of rest to recharge as well as relax, and by day we have to stay focused and energetic to perform. When your body is tired, your voice is tired too, and will be fatigued much faster. Singing while experiencing vocal fatigue will eventually damage your voice, resulting in a lack of clarity, loss of volume, and diminishing tone quality. So make sure to always get a full, restful night of sleep!
I’m sure you’ve heard it said before that “you are what you eat,” but as a vocalist, you sing what you eat, too! There are certain foods to avoid before singing, ones that seem to impact a singer’s voice more than others, including dairy, spicy foods, fried foods, and anything particularly fatty. Not only can they increase phlegm in your throat, but they can also cause vocal cord inflammation. Vocalists with acid reflux or heartburn should be particularly careful about their diet as well; stomach acid can wreak havoc on your vocal cords. As far as what to eat before singing, stick to fruits and veggies that are rich in nutrients, and lean meats that aren’t fried.
Coffee contains caffeine, and while caffeine has a pleasant way of “perking up” the day, it’s a diuretic, which means it’ll dehydrate you and leave you with dry, irritated vocal cords. I know it might be hard for many of us to give up our coffee habits, so if you can’t quit, you should make sure to drink a big glass of water with every cup to compensate for its dehydrating effect.
Clearing Your Throat
Sometimes when you feel extra phlegm in your throat (maybe from eating dairy or spicy food… see number two above) the natural response is to make an “ahem” sound and clear the throat. Of course it may work temporarily, but the actual action of clearing your throat requires that your vocal cords violently smack together! This will cause your vocal cords to swell and lead to a strained sound and vocal fatigue.
Aerobic exercise not only builds a strong heart and healthy blood circulation, but it helps to expand the lungs and keep the airways clear. As singers we need our lungs to work for us, not against us, and you can increase your lung capacity by getting regular exercise. For best results, aim for getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, five or six days a week. Your voice will thank you!
What effect does alcohol have on the voice?
Irritating the mucous membranes that line the throat, alcohol has the potential to dry out a singer’s voice, potentially rendering them incapable of hitting the high notes and preventing them from making the most of their range. At its worst (in the long-term), alcohol can increase chances of cancer, particularly in the mouth, throat and voice box by two or three times compared to non-drinkers.
Despite the dangers, musicians (and indeed, much of society) continue to enjoy a drink or two. This is especially true before a performance. Research by the Office of National Statistics shows that in 2011 64 per cent of men drank more than 20 units of alcohol per week, 63 per cent of women drank more than 10 units weekly.
What to drink to have a good voice
The best drinks for your singing voice are water (especially room-temperature water, perhaps with a squeeze or two of lemon). “In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day.
Drinking tea with a few drops of lemon juice does the job of clearing your throat without causing any damage, but be careful about consuming too much caffeine from tea, which can dehydrate you. You can find wonderful herbal teas designed for singers. There’s some anecdotal evidence that these may help.
In addition to basic vocal health tips such as staying hydrated with at least 64 ounces of water a day, remember to avoid alcohol and tobacco. SEE: Health Benefits of Zobo Drink Without Sugar