As a singer, you should never expect that lightbulb moment, that miracle product or that magic formula that will immediately and radically transform your voice (real life is not like a shopping on QVC or a Harry Potter saga).
But, thanks to some tips, using only what mother nature gave you, along with a few small tweaks, improving your voice in the blink of an eye and without lifting a finger is possible and easier than you may think.
Firstly, the hard work doesn't necessarily lie in correcting your issues, but more so in identifying them.
You've probably already experienced it: you've recorded your phone’s voicemail message, play it back and find yourself saying…"That can't be me. Is that really what I sound like?" Between what you hear and what others hear, there is a slight difference. And what applies to your spoken voice also applies to the sung voice. The best way to become really aware of how you sound is to record yourself in your usual conditions with a dictaphone, a mobile app, music editing software or even using your own answering machine. The exercise may not be a pleasant one, as more often than not, our own voice isn't music to our own ears. Banish this from your mind and focus instead on the essentials:
- your vocal register (is it adapted to your tessitura?)
- your articulation (can you understand every word?)
- your projection (is your voice drowned out by instruments?)
- your breath (are the end of your sentences as audible as the beginning?)
- your silence management
- your accuracy, etc.
Once you can identify what's wrong, record yourself again, this time trying to correct any defects. Do it as many times as is necessary, then compare your very first recording to the last. Do you notice progress?
It may make you chuckle, but singers who sing with their jaw protruding likely aren't doing it so that the audience admires their pearly whites. Why then? Good articulation: it is essential! Some singers tend to forget this. Whether you are singing your own lyrics or those of another, articulating the correct words is just as important as the beauty of your voice, so help your listeners to understand. Here's a simple exercise that will help: the good old pen in the mouth trick. Place a pen between your teeth and recite the words to the song.
This is probably nothing new, but paying attention to good posture when you are singing is extremely important. Try this: sing sitting, back bent, shoulders low and head down. Then, sing standing with both feet firmly anchored on the ground, back straight and shoulders back. We’re willing to bet that it's virtually impossible that you do not notice a difference in your voice. Not only will you mark your presence (giving way to heightened confidence), but at the same time you will be opening up a column of air that’s indispensable for improving your voice.
Where does your voice come from? Duh, from my mouth, of course! Yes, of course, but where? Your voice should come from deep down, as low as possible. If you find that your voice is nasal... there is work to be done (unless of course you are suffering from a cold). Visualizing your bearings can help: imagine your voice coming from your mouth, your throat, rib cage and abdomen. Each time, try singing to lift your breathing from place to the next. You will find that you will sing one short breath, followed by one deep breath, perfect for singing.
Don't forget that breathing management can be worked on with a bit of practice and in conjunction with endurance sports and yoga.
We're not going to insult you by asking you to correct your off-key singing instantly. This is something that can take time if this poses trouble for you. Several simple exercises exist to help: try accompanying your voice with an instrument on simple melodies, like children’s songs, or imagining an invisible ladder that places notes according to their height when you sing (without necessarily knowing the names of the notes or even the interval between each). You can also train with free apps like Swiftscales, Sing True, Sing Sharp or try out a karaoke subscription with KaraFun. But, our advice: nothing can replace the expertise of a teacher in order to improve your singing instantly.