Having a clear, audible voice is an important part of singing, especially if you are planning to perform in front of an audience. In the same way that you can remove static and tune a radio station to crystal clearness, we can also develop singing clarity in our voices.
Here are 4 things guaranteed to improve your singing clarity:
4. Record yourself
Something that sounds clear to you might not necessarily sound the same to your audience.
Consider recording yourself and then give it a listen. If you have a means of recording yourself visually, do so as well. Seeing yourself sing will help you to study things like your jaw, breathing, and posture which all play a role in producing the clearest sound.
Another way of gathering feedback is to sing for someone else and ask them if they can hear every word clearly. If they had trouble hearing you, try to over-articulate the words during your song to improve your voice clarity. Focus on singing every word accurately.
If a word in your song starts with a vowel, be sure to sing it separately from the preceding word so that it does not sound like one long word. On the flip side, make sure to end off your words properly, especially if they end in a t or d.
2. Open up wide
When you sing, your mouth should be opened, wide but remember to keep it relaxed. Your neck muscles should not be tense and your jaw, lips and neck should stay loose and relaxed.
When your mouth is opened properly, it allows your sound to be clearly projected, thereby instantly improving your singing clarity. Always keep your head and chin level with your jaw and relaxed.
The way a singer breathes is viewed by many as the most important singing skill of all to master. You need to lay the foundation by developing your breath’s muscle memory and control for optimum voice clarity and tone.
By creating muscle memory, you ensure that the way you breathe during singing becomes second nature and you don’t have to think about it whilst performing.
When you inhale, it needs to be controlled by your core muscles, and especially the lowest part of your tummy, or your pelvis. Your pelvic floor and diaphragm move and work together as you breathe. When you breathe in, your tummy should be pushing out, rather than your chest rising up. In this way, the air fills your abdomen rather than your chest.
Taking a breath straight to your chest is sometimes referred to as shallow breathing. This means that the muscles of your shoulders and ribs are being used rather than those of your tummy, pelvis, and diaphragm. Singers generally inhale through their nose, if given enough time between lyrics, but you can breathe in through either your nose or your mouth.
Sighing make for better singing
In order to practise your breath control, think of your exhale as a sigh when you release your breath.
By using the principle of a sigh, you become aware of and learn to control your release of air. The goal is to be able to slowly relax your diaphragm so that your (singing) air is released in a slow manner. To practice this, do the following:
- Start by releasing your initial exhale / sigh and then slow the sigh down so that it lasts 5 seconds.
- With you next exhalation, slow it down to 10 seconds, and then 15 seconds.
- Exhale through the mouth with your jaw open and loose, and remember to drop your jaw, not your chin.
To feel the result of your exhale, hold your palm in front of your mouth whilst singing a long note and you should feel your palm warming up gently as you sing.
Remember that the foundation of singing clarity lies in your breathing. There are certain styles of music that are complemented by a breathy sound, but that is due to the musician’s style and choice rather than not knowing how to breathe correctly. It's not always the best idea to imitate your favourite singers.
Singer Norah Jones, for example, is a singer who specifically choose a to use breathy tones, but no doubt that even she will admit that her technique isn't correct for when you are starting out your musical career.
If, by now, you're feeling a little bit confused and worried, don't be!
Taking on new habits and learning new techniques always take time, and by applying these 4 singing tips there's absolutely no doubt that you will add voice clarity to your singing.
About the Author: Brian Collins
I am a classically trained singer who believes that every instrument requires maintenance - including the voice! I started my professional music studies at the age of 8 and competed in and won several local and state piano competitions. I graduated with honors and earned my Bachelor of Music Education in 2003, and since then I have studied with famous musicians and teachers around the world. I have also completed hundreds and hundreds of voice lessons, exploring various methods, and attended countless seminars on voice coaching for all ages.