Having a beautiful singing voice is a dream shared by many, but this can become a reality with the help of a vocal coach!
A lot of aspiring singers often believe that their age or singing ability stands in their way of improving their tone quality and extending their vocal range.
However, contrary to popular belief, anyone can learn to sing well, as Emmanuelle Ayrton explains:
Singing is a natural act. In actual fact, most of us sing a little every day. People can practice their singing at any age. Unfortunately, some believe that they are completely incapable of singing. This affirmation is untrue in 99% of cases.
This is why many budding singers choose to take private singing lessons.
There is a wide range of benefits to taking private singing lessons. As a fun and affordable way to develop your musical ear and learn about performing, in-home singing lessons provide a regular and personalised method of teaching which is ideal for those looking to overcome their stage fright and blossom as a musician.
Hiring a singing teacher is a personal investment. This is why, after carefully choosing their ideal singing teacher, students are expected to maintain a certain level of motivation and seriousness when it comes to their voice training – this means doing plenty of practice outside of singing lessons without your voice coach.
Here is Superprof’s guide to ‘revising’ what you have been taught in each singing lesson effectively!
Preparing Pieces for Your Voice Coach
If you’re an aspiring singer, you will probably see your voice teacher for one to two hours per week.
Of course, being led in your musical development by a professional will always be the most effective way to make progress, however, in order to make the most of your coach’s expertise, you’ll need to do a good amount of practice by yourself.
The first and most important piece of advice applies to musicians. Learning to play a musical instrument (such as the piano or the guitar) is particularly useful for practicing on your own as a singer. This is because students can accompany themselves and learn about placing their voice within a given rhythm and at a certain pitch.
Furthermore, having a good understanding of music theory and being able to read music is indispensable for those who wish to attend auditions and take ABRSM exams.
For those who don’t play any musical instruments, it is still possible to rehearse songs before your voice lessons. Instead of focussing on the relationship between your voice and your instrument, you can work on learning the lyrics and melody of a piece either on your own or with a backing track from the internet.
During your first session with your vocal coach, the teacher will identify your singing ability as well as the timbre of your voice and your vocal range.
There are six distinct registers when it comes to classifying singing voices:
- Soprano: High-pitched female voices
- Mezzo-soprano: Mid-range female voices
- Alto: Lower female voices
- Tenor: High-pitched male voices
- Baritone: Mid-range male voices
- Bass: Low male voices
Students should, therefore, choose pieces that are suitable for their vocal range when building their repertoire – coaches will usually help them with this process.
There are also websites which suggest songs and pieces suitable for each of the vocal registers.
Training your voice requires daily practice. 90 minutes of lesson time per week is not enough to fulfil your singing potential, which is why it is advised that students spend around 30 minutes per day practicing their pieces and singing exercises.
If you feel that 30 minutes of practice will tire your voice out, break it into two 15-minute sessions instead.
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Working on pieces in the time between your session with help you make faster progress and get more out of your money!
Mobile Apps for Singing Practice
Wherever you may be, at home or on holiday, the digital age has opened up a world of possibilities for using technology to practice your vocal skills!
The educational software that is available not only helps you to improve your singing skills, but also to develop your musical ear and your awareness of your breathing techniques whilst having fun!
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If you feel lost when it comes to your vocal warm ups, these applications are ideal!
Certain apps aim to help users with their vocal range, whereas others focus on teaching users to recognise musical notes using relative pitch – which is useful for those preparing for music exams.
Here are just a few apps that you may find useful as a vocalist:
Sing! By Smule
- Available on: iOS and Android
- Price: Free
- Superprof’s favourite feature: Duet with the song’s original artist
Sing! is an app aimed at casual singers and aspiring recording artists alike. Marketed as a ‘recording studio in your pocket’, this app lets you record yourself singing alone and with others – including your favourite artists! And once you’re finished your recording, you can add audio effects to your song.
The Voice: Sing and Connect
- Available on: iOS and Android
- Price: Free
- Superprof’s favourite feature: Create and edit your own music videos
Based on the BBC’s talent show, The Voice, this app is similar in style to Sing! By Smule, however, it also offers social networking opportunities for its users. The Voice: sing and Connect also allows its users to auto-tune their audio recordings and use filters and visual effects in their video recording to create effective music videos of their performances.
Singing Vocal Warm Ups – Singer’s Friend
- Available on: iOS
- Price: £3.99
- Superprof’s favourite feature: Choose from a wide range of scales – perfect for exam and aural test preparation!
This app is loved by amateur singers and professional vocal coaches alike. Singer’s Friend helps singers to warm up their voices by taking them through scales according to their vocal range without the need for a piano.
For example, if an alto singer wanted to warm up with a harmonic minor scale, all they would have to do would be to select ‘Minor (Harmonic)’ under ‘Set Scale’, then ‘Alto’ under ‘Set Range’ – then the app would play the scales for them to follow!
- Available on: iOS
- Price: Free
- Superprof’s favourite feature: Content has been optimised for singers of varying abilities
Voxtrain is made for everyone, regardless of whether you’re a complete singing newbie or a seasoned professional. The app is a 6-week programme for training singers by teaching them about warming up correctly, breath control techniques and increasing the user’s natural resonance.
According to the app’s description, the curriculum was originally designed for a prestigious art and music school, but by using it for just 20 minutes per day, you too can receive expert vocal training!
YouTube: A Music Student’s Best Friend
Lots of 21st-century musicians have learnt to play their instrument through online singing lessons and video tutorials.
Platforms such as YouTube and Dailymotion are full of singing teachers who share videos on improving your vocal skills and developing as a musician.
Whether you’re an aspiring opera singer, or you would just like to get started on some musical ear training, these videos are a great way to learn new singing techniques and breathing exercises to support you in your learning and help you on your way to singing success!
The musical community on YouTube is ever-growing. Some leaders in the discipline of singing include:
- Felicia Ricci
- Eric Arceneaux
- Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy
- New York Vocal Coaching
Using Books in Your Singing Practice
Learning to sing through a manual may not seem like a viable option for many, however, there are useful materials out there!
The best material you will find will likely be those accredited by music examination boards such as ABRSM.
When it comes to singing, these will help you with:
- Your posture and singing technique with the help of illustrations
- Your musical memory, as many textbooks come with backing CDs
- Your muscle memory, as you learn scales and arpeggios
Learning from books will make you focus on the more theoretical side to singing – perfect for those looking to go into composing or learning a musical instrument.
The authors of such manuals are usually highly-qualified professional musicians with a wealth of teaching experience – which makes them perfect candidates for making information accessible to learners of all abilities.
These teaching books help students to extend their vocal range by getting used to using their head voice as well as their chest voice to produce a richer tone and reach higher pitches.
Whether you’re learning to sing for fun, or you’d like a confidence boost before joining a choir, using this kind of material in your singing practice is usually advised by singing teachers, especially if you’re preparing for a singing exam.
So, if you want to broaden your musical knowledge and gain confidence as a performer, always remember: practice makes perfect!
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