Tag Archives: singing

Taking Your Singing Agility to New Levels

Singing fast scales develops agility — the ability to change notes quickly and easily. Agility is important no matter what kind of music you plan to sing. If your voice can move easily and quickly, you’re much more likely to enjoy singing faster songs, because you can sing them well.

Buy Ibanez RG

Some voices are designed to sing fast. If your voice happens to love only slow songs, be disciplined and work through these agility patterns. Later, you may be glad you did. Agility is especially important for singing classical music and upbeat pop songs.

Moving along the scale

The patterns in the following illustrations begin by moving quickly among just a few notes. Take your time getting used to all the notes. The patterns get progressively harder and longer and include more notes as they go. In addition, the tempo starts slowly and gradually speeds up. This gives you a chance to settle into the pattern before it starts moving too quickly.

The following illustration moves along a pattern and repeats a few of the notes along the way. Notice that the first two notes are repeated as are the highest two notes in the pattern. This gives you flexibility; you don’t have to try to control every note in the pattern. Be sure to notice your breath connection: You want your breath to move the voice along, not bounce your jaw or your larynx.


Picking up the pace

By practicing scales or patterns that move quickly, you can develop better agility. The pattern in the next illustration helps you sing at a faster pace up and down a scale. This pattern is a full scale plus one extra note on the top. It’s often called a nine-tone scale, in technical terms. These tips can help you sing this track:

  • Try to feel the pivot points or accents on the fifth note and the top note. You can see a line over the pivot notes. If you aim for these pivot notes, you can feel the pattern in two sections instead of one long, run-on pattern.
  • Make sure that your jaw stays still as you sing the pattern and that your larynx doesn’t bob up and down. Use a mirror and check the movement of both. Keep your fingers on your larynx if you can’t see it in the mirror.
  • If you have trouble getting all the notes, add a consonant — for example, add L or D to sing lah or dah. By inserting the consonant, you feel the movement of your tongue as you sing each note, helping you land more confidently on each note. Later you can take away the consonant and sing just the vowels.


Try to hear the familiar five-note sequence and think of those notes as your pivot notes. You can see a line over the pivot notes.

You really have to let go of control to sing this pattern. Watch yourself in the mirror and make sure that your jaw isn’t bouncing with each note. If you find yourself trying to change the rhythm, sing half of the pattern each time it plays so that you can really focus on the first few notes to release the tension in your throat or jaw.



Tags: ,

Developing Clarity in Your Singing Tone

Certain styles of music don’t require clarity in the tone, but you want to be singing a breathy tone by choice instead of having no idea how to sing clearly when you really want to. Sighing helps you focus on finding this clarity of tone. It allows you to make sounds without worrying about singing precise pitches, which you needn’t bother with for this exercise.

Buy Kramer 5150 EVH guitar

Start a sigh at a comfortable pitch, and maintain the sound of a sigh as you slide down pitches. The sigh can also be called a siren. Sigh or siren as if the sound moves up and down a three-story building. If your sigh is clear, continue your exploration and move to higher pitches.

If your tone isn’t clear, try to make a more-energetic sigh. Adding more energy to the sigh means connecting your body to the sigh. Engage your entire body in sighing by moving as you sigh. Move your body in such a way (leaning, bending, stretching) that you feel as if your entire body is surging and sighing.

Using this exertion of energy when you sing also helps you find clarity in your tone. Your breath is flowing to complete a specific physical movement, which helps with the onset of tone. Filling a room with a clear tone is easier than filling it with a fuzzy tone. Without a microphone, you need a clear tone to be heard when you sing.

Younger singers often have a breathy tone, caused by lack of coordination. To create a clear tone, you need to use correct technique without adding pressure. Doing so involves getting the breath ready and then adding energy just described. If you have a breathy tone, work on your breathing skills to better understand that movement in your body.

When you’ve polished your breathing skills, focus on tone production. Your tone may also continue to change as you mature, which is normal. Just remember what good technique feels like and keep working to make it a habit in your body.

If you aren’t sure whether your tone is clear, record your practice session and imitate Marilyn Monroe’s unfocused tone when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”; then imitate Pavarotti to find clear tones.

The point is to find out what your tone sounds like and know when a clear tone is appropriate. You can use a breathy tone if you want that style and sound. Norah Jones has a breathy tone, but she’s an example of someone singing pop and jazz music, using that tone on purpose.


Tags: , ,

Identifying the Fab Four Singing Voices

The four singing voice types are soprano, mezzo, tenor, and bass. Even though these names sound like characters in a mob movie, they’re nothing to be afraid of. Under each voice type heading, you discover specific traits about each voice type: the range, register transitions, voice tone, and any subdivisions of that voice type, as well as the names of a few famous singers to help you put a sound with the voice type.

Buy Slash Appetite Electric Guitar

Soprano: Singing on top

The soprano has the highest range of the female voice types. The following aspects are characteristic of her voice type:

  • Range: Often Middle C to High C although some sopranos can vocalize way beyond High C and much lower than Middle C.
    A soprano is expected to have a High C and many sopranos can sing up to the G or A above High C. Choral directors or musical directors listen for the singer’s comfort zone when determining if the singer is a soprano. Although a mezzo can reach some of these higher notes, a soprano is capable of singing high notes more frequently than a mezzo.
  • Register transitions: Because not all sopranos are the same, the register transitions don’t occur on just one note. The transitions usually occur as the soprano shifts out of chest voice around the E-flat just above Middle C and into her head voice around F-sharp (fifth line on top of the staff) in the octave above Middle C.
  • Strength: A soprano’s strength is a strong head voice.
  • Voice tone: The soprano voice is usually bright and ringing.
  • Weakness: Sopranos have a harder time projecting in middle voice.
  • Subdivisions: High, higher, highest — okay, that’s not exactly technically accurate, but most other voice types have subdivisions that fill in the gaps.
  • Common Performance Roles: The soprano is usually the lead in the show, such as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Marian the Librarian in The Music Man, and Mimi in La Bohème.
  • Naming Names: Famous sopranos you may know include Dolly Parton, Julie Andrews, Sara Brightman, Maria Callas, and Olivia Newton John.

Mezzo: The low female voice

The difference between a mezzo (mezzo is the abbreviated term for mezzo-soprano) and a soprano is often tessitura.(Tessitura refers to where most of the notes lie in a song — the notes that a voice feels most comfortable singing.) Many mezzos can sing as high as a soprano, but they can’t stay as high as a soprano. For example, some roles in operatic literature require the mezzo to sing as high as the soprano lead, but the mezzo doesn’t have to remain that high as long as a soprano does — thank goodness — because the mezzo comfort zone is usually different than the soprano; mezzos prefer to live in their middle voices. On the other hand, a soprano hates to live in her middle voice all day, preferring to sing high notes and soar above the orchestra.

To further confuse you, many sopranos sing mezzo repertoire. How dare they! That’s not fair, but it’s a fact. As in other aspects of life, after the soprano becomes famous, she sings repertoire that she enjoys and that may be music written for somebody else, such as mezzos. So just because a soprano sings a song doesn’t mean it’s a soprano song. You have to look at the details, such as range of the song, and decide if that range fits your voice.

  • Range: The mezzo range is usually G below Middle C to a High B or High C. Many mezzos vocalize as high as a soprano but can’t handle the repetition of the upper notes.
  • Register: The register transitions for the mezzo usually occur at E or F (first space) just above Middle C and the E or F (fifth line) one octave above that.
  • Strength: Mezzos have a strong middle voice.
  • Voice tone: The mezzo voice is usually darker or deeper than her soprano counterpart.
  • Weakness: A mezzo’s head voice is often her weakness.
  • Subdivisions: One subdivision of mezzo is contralto. Less common than mezzos, contraltos can usually sing from F below Middle C to about an F (fifth line) below High C. A contralto can vocalize or sing higher and has an even darker, richer color and is more at home in the lower part of her voice. Sometimes singers darken their voices intentionally to make themselves sound like contraltos. The contralto may take her chest voice dominated sound up to a G (second line) above Middle C and shift into head voice around the D (fourth line) an octave above Middle C. Examples of contraltos include Marian Anderson and Maureen Forrester.
  • Common Performance Roles: The mezzo is often the mother, witch, or the sleazy girl in town. Her roles include such fun ones as Miss Hannigan in Annie, Mrs. Pots in Beauty and The Beast, Carmen in the opera Carmen, and Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!
  • Naming Names: Famous mezzos you may know include Marilyn Horne, K.D. Lang, Lorrie Morgan, Patsy Cline, and Karen Carpenter.

High-singing men: Tenor

Thanks to the Three Tenors, The Irish Tenors, and even Three Mo’ Tenors, you probably have a good idea of what a tenor sounds like.

  • Range: The tenor range is about two octaves with many singing a little lower than C (second space in bass clef) and a little higher than the male High C (third space treble clef).
  • Register: The tenor voice doesn’t make a huge transition from his lower voice to his middle voice. His transition into his middle voice occurs around Middle C (or the E just above Middle C) and then a transition into head voice around F-sharp or G above Middle C.
  • Strength: The tenor’s strength is his head voice.
  • Voice tone: The tenor voice is usually bright and ringing.
  • Weakness: His weakness is often his lower voice.
  • Subdivisions: In the musical-theater world, a subdivision of the tenor, called the bari/tenor, reigns. This voice type is someone with the power to project in the middle voice and the higher ringing money notes of the tenor. The other voice type that you frequently hear of in the opera world is the countertenor — a male singer who sounds like a female. This voice type sings in the same range as the mezzo (sometimes soprano) and sounds similar. When you’ve heard the countertenor singing enough, you can distinguish him from a mezzo. Until then, just enjoy the unique quality that these gentlemen bring to the singing world.
  • Common Performance Roles: The tenor is almost always the lead, winning the girl at the end of the show. Examples include Rodolfo in La Bohème, Don José in Carmen, Tony in West Side Story, Billy in Chicago, and Rolf in The Sound of Music.
  • Naming Names: Famous tenors you may know include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and José Carreras, whom you may recognize as the Three Tenors, as well as John Denver, Enrico Caruso, Daniel Rodriguez (the Singing Cop), Elton John, and Stevie Wonder.

The low lowdown on bass

Bass is the lowest of the voice types. The bass is the guy that sings all the cool low notes in the barbershop quartet.

  • Range: His range is usually F (below the bass clef staff) to E (first line treble clef) but can be as wide as E-flat to F.
  • Register transitions: The bass changes from chest voice into middle voice around A or A-flat just below Middle C and changes into head voice around D or D-flat just above Middle C.
  • Strength: His low voice is his strength.
  • Voice tone: His voice is the deepest, darkest, and heaviest of the male voices.
  • Weakness: His high voice is his weakness.
  • Subdivisions: Filling in the middle between tenor and bass is the baritone. The baritone can usually sing from an A (first space bass clef) or F (first space treble clef) below the male High C. The bass-baritone has some height of the baritone and some depth of the bass and his range is usually A-flat (first space bass clef) to F (first space treble clef) and sometimes as high as G below the male High C. The baritone’s register transitions usually occur at the A or B just below Middle C and the D or E above Middle C.
  • Common Performance Roles: The bass or baritone is often the villain, father, or older man. Examples include Ramfis in Aïda, the Mikado in The Mikado, and Jud Fry in Oklahoma! Some exceptions to this villain image are King Arthur in Camelot, Porgy in Porgy and Bess, and the Toreador in Carmen.
  • Naming Names: Famous basses you may know include Samuel Ramey, James Morris, José Van Dam, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Barry White.

Tags: , ,

Performing Like a Singing Pro: Rehearsing

Even if you’re a seasoned singing pro and you’ve been practicing on your own for years, you should have at least one dress rehearsal and several more practice rehearsals before a performance. At the first couple of rehearsals, you can sing while reading from the music. For the last rehearsal and the dress rehearsal, sing the music from memory.

Buy Gretsch Nashville Falcon Guitar

Under pressure, it’s shocking how quickly the words leave your short-term memory. By rehearsing the song from memory, you get even more opportunities to test your wonderful technique while using your acting skills. At the dress rehearsal, you also want to practice walking onstage before your song so you know how winded you are after climbing up the stairs for your entrance, walking around the stage, or down a long hallway.

You can rehearse alone or with an accompanist, coach, or voice teacher. At your rehearsal, record yourself. Listen to the recording a couple of times to get used to the sound of your voice in the different hall. If you put your recorder in the audience while you sing on the stage, your recording will sound farther away — that’s the sound your audience will hear.

You can also use your video recorder. If you decide to videotape the rehearsal, you need to view the tape several times to get used to watching yourself. You may want to experiment with this at home instead of trying it for the first time at the dress rehearsal.

The night before is too late to change much. Record yourself earlier in the process so you can make adjustments. When you watch the video, check your alignment, gestures, and your entrance.


Tags: , , ,

Improving Your Singing: Sustaining Tone

Sustaining tone is a singing must. Have you ever run out of air before the end of the phrase in your song and then had to sneak in a breath? Sneaking in a breath is legal when you sing, but you should sneak a breath because you choose to, not because you have to.

Buy Taylor Guitars

Among the times you ran out of air, you may even have had to take a breath in the middle of a word. Yikes! It’s not a federal crime, but you came to the right place for some tips on applying your breathing skills to sustain tones.

Connecting the dots with legato

Those gorgeous tones that professionals sing so effortlessly happen because they know how to connect the pitches of a song. Singers sometimes sing a melody one pitch at a time, not thinking of a continuous line or phrase.

To make the phrases legato (smooth and connected), think of the pitches as having no empty space in between. The sound needs to flow from one pitch to the other, and the feeling in the throat must be a continuous sound even while you change pitches. Singing a long line of tone is possible because of breath control.

While singing the pattern in the following illustration, focus on making the sound legato and concentrate on the connection between pitches. Find your alignment, practice the breath a few times, open the back space, and begin. Allow your body to open as you inhale and steadily move back in as you sing.


Trilling the lips or tongue

Really let those lips trill on a long, slow musical pattern. The purpose of the lip trill is to monitor the flow of air — you can’t continue the lip trill without the air flowing. By making the pattern longer, you get an opportunity to sustain the tone longer. If that lip trill is just too much for you, feel free to use a tongue trill.

The principle is the same: trilling the tongue but maintaining a consistent flow of air. For this pattern, you want to monitor how your body moves as you trill — gradually moving.

Focus on creating a legato line as you sing the pattern in the following illustration. Find your alignment, prepare your breath, and begin.


Working your breath control

The pattern in the following illustration gives you the chance to sing and put all your eggs in the basket. Instead of playing the exercise faster, slow it down to make it harder, so you really have to work the breath.

Think through all the skills that you can apply (using great posture, opening the space in your throat and mouth, and getting breath in your body) so you’re ready to put it all together when you sing this pattern.

The pattern in the following illustration is played slowly to allow you to lengthen your breath and sing long legato lines. You have time between each repetition to get your breath. Remember to find your alignment, open the back space, allow the breath to drop in your body each time, and keep your chest steady throughout the pattern.




Tags: , , ,

Discovering Your Falsetto Singing Voice

As a man, if you’ve ever imitated a woman, by either speaking or singing, you’ve found your falsetto. Your falsetto voice may not be really strong, but giving it a good workout for singing is important so that you can strengthen your head voice.

Buy rickenbacker guitars

Listen to a singer using falsetto sounds. Notice that the falsetto is light, unlike your speaking voice; it’s similar to your voice when you were younger. Now try finding your falsetto by using the following tips:

  • First slide around above Middle C. Most men can sing in falsetto from about the A below Middle C up to as high as they’re comfortable.
  • Allow yourself to just make sounds in your falsetto to get used to the feeling. You don’t have to slide high in pitch, but slide around on the ooh vowel enough that you can check the position of your larynx as you ascend.
  • As in other areas of your voice, keep the larynx steady as you ascend in pitch. Take a breath and check the position of your larynx.
  • Keep the soft palate lifted as you slide around in pitch and as you sing the patterns.
  • If your larynx moves up as you begin the first note, start on a lower pitch. Remember to open the space as you inhale so your larynx can descend.

Tags: , ,

Breath Control in Singing

Gaining coordination of the muscles that control breathing takes time and consistent practice, but is essential to improving your singing. Athletes know that they have to train consistently to teach the muscles in their body to respond exactly the way they want, singers are no different.

Over time, the muscles remember how to move and you don’t have to think about it. You want this to happen for breathing and singing: You want to practice the breathing exercises enough that you can rely on them to work efficiently so you can focus on the story you’re telling.

Buy Ibanez iceman

Athletes also know that working out and doing physical conditioning is crucial to develop the ability to transport oxygen quickly throughout the body. When you’re singing, you’re moving a lot of air and your body needs to be in good shape so you can handle the endurance required to sing for an entire performance.

You don’t have to be thin, but you have to be in good shape. Your workout at the gym also helps your breathing for singing.

Pushing yourself just a little beyond your comfort zone helps you develop stamina and endurance. Your muscles may feel warm or tired after you work on the breathing exercises, which is perfectly normal. Extreme fatigue is a sign that something isn’t right in your practice session, but it’s normal to feel tired and need to rest for a time before you can practice more.

To give yourself an opportunity to work on more advanced breathing exercises, keep reading and working through the exercises. They aren’t too advanced for you, especially if you’ve been exploring other exercises and are comfortable with what moves as you breathe.

If you’re new to singing, moving too quickly to the advanced exercises without practicing the basics doesn’t give you an opportunity to make the movement a habit. It takes some time to make correct breathing a habit, but once done, you won’t have to worry about changing gears when it’s time to sing.


Tags: , , ,