The Quest for Ways to Improve my Singing Faster and Faster
There are many ways to improve your singing. They are not all the same.
Some are faster than others. Some take you farther than others.
Some vocal training methods will give you some quick improvements early and then improvements slow, stall, and you never reach your most ambitious singing goals.
I want you to learn from my experiences, both the bad ones and the good ones.
This article may save you some headache and keep you from making the mistakes I made when I was younger, studying the wrong singing method from the wrong type of vocal coach.
You may not be able to incorporate all five of these suggestions. They do have a cumulative effect so as you add each of them, you rate of singing improvement accelerates.
STEP 1: Find a Great Vocal Coach
This sounds like a given. It is. I love my vocal coach and private lessons.
I don't depend on them. I can't. My coach is a professional singer and travels a lot. I'm lucky to get 20 lessons in a year. I have to find other ways.
Private lessons are just one of the many things you can do to sing better faster, especially if you are a beginner.
I know that good coaches are hard to find. I know that private lessons are expensive. That's why the other steps can become so important.
For beginning singers who can't afford private lessons, the other four steps become even more important.
STEP 2: Independent Studies
My rate of improvement took a nice jump forward when I immersed myself into independent studies. I read the best few dozen books about singing and vocal training written over the past 200 years.
I then read my favorite two dozen over again and took meticulous notes.
I went on to read PhD dissertations and research papers. I picked up a lot of great ideas that have helped me to improve faster.
Also, because my voice coach is "old school", I was able to learn so much about vocal physiology and acoustics that she simply doesn't teach.
I took the pressure off my coach to be "all things" to me. She does what she does best and that's one of the many ways I get better at singing.
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STEP 3: Regular, Effective In-Home Vocal Training
I'm lucky to have two private lessons per month. Yet, I train and sing at home 20 hours or more each week.
If you add that up, it's 2 hours per month of private lessons and 80 hours per month of training and singing at home.
Where do you think most of my improvement is going to come from?
And what happens when the chamber orchestra school of music where I study closes for the two-month summer break?
The key, though, is in the words, "effective" and "regular".
Not all training is the same. And private lesson coaches rarely help their students build an effective in-home training solution.
Most beginning singers are left with a lot of unanswered questions:
- What are my biggest vocal problems?
- Which problems do I solve first?
- What are the best vocal exercises to solve my worst problems?
- What order do I do them in?
- What scales do I use for the exercises?
- What are the best techniques and the things to keep in mind while training?
- For how long do I train? At what frequency?
To me, this is the missing piece for a lot of singers and why I'm creating my vocal academy. I found all the popular online vocal courses lacking in some way, which is why I'm creating what I know is a much better solution.
I had to create my own in-home training practice from scratch.
My in-home training improves my voice faster than anything. In fact, step #2 was needed to create the most effective aspects of my training. The best of what I learned from my independent studies is condensed and taught in my courses.
Steps #4 and #5 are integral parts of my in-home training.
No matter how you go about training at home, this is the one area that, done correctly, can take your rate of improvement to new heights.
STEP 4: Adopt a Bottom-Up Vocal Training Approach
I explain this thoroughly in another article posted today. It's called Bottom-Up versus Top-Down Vocal Training.
I recommend you read this other article and I'll touch on the highlights here.
Most popular, contemporary methods are "top-down". They start with superficial exercises involving vowels and consonants. There's a bit of work on phonation and very little instruction on breathing technique.
You can get some quick improvements this way. However, you won't be solving the more serious foundational problems that always live in the breath engine and sound making system inside the larynx.
A bottom-up approach has a long tradition in the classical realm.
You begin with breathing and make it a high priority. This isn't just "lip service" paid to breathing. Done properly, you rebuild the way you manage air for singing with careful attention to the inhale, the transition to exhale and then the exhale from onset to offset.
Phonation is the next priority. Beginners often do a lot of work with semi-occluded exercise, or those with your mouth partially closed. Examples are lip trill, tongue trill, various forms of humming, voiced fricatives, and the very best, straw phonation in water.
Caution is taken with vowel and consonant work early on. And how you use them at home in your training (or not!) is different than in a private lesson.
Private voice lessons are not workouts! Your coach may give you many open-mouth vowel exercises as a way to analyze and adjust your technique. Don't conclude that these are then the best exercises to do at home. Quite often they are not.
STEP 5: Emphasize Training on the Inhale through Onset
Be sure to read them and view the accompanying videos.
In essence, we focus our training on "phrase crafting". A well-sung song requires well-sung phrases.
To sing a phrase correctly you must onset the phrase correctly. This is the hardest skill to master. Onset is everything. Mess up the onset and you spend that phrase trying to fix things.
A correct onset requires a correct inhale and correct transition to exhale. Messing up either of these messes up the onset, which messes up the phrase, which messes up the song.
You get the point.
Private voice lessons are wonderful. They are also very expensive. Whether you can afford them or not, and whether you can find a great coach or not, there is still more you can do to get better at singing faster and faster.
The faster you improve, the sooner you reach your singing goals. The sooner you reach your goals the less you spend on private lessons.
Knowledge precedes skills. Grow your knowledge with independent studies.
Effective in-home training is the GREAT ACCELERATOR. Take it seriously and you'll be rewarded.
Choose a bottom-up in-home training strategy and then focus on developing the perfect inhale through onset.
All of these ideas combine to produce ever faster improvements to your singing voice. Life gets more fun when we sing better.
What to do Next
Keep studying my blog, past and future. The dots will begin to connect.
Invest in yourself. Find a great voice coach if you can.
Build your knowledge. Find a way to develop a bottom-up, Onset-focused, in-home training program like the one I’m about to launch. I’m certain I can help you improve your singing faster and faster, as I’m doing with my own singing.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Leave any questions you have, too. I’ll be posting more articles and demonstration videos soon, too.
Be Well and Train Hard!