Having a beautiful singing voice is a dream shared by many that can truly become a reality with the help and guidance of a vocal coach!
Many aspiring singers believe that their age or natural singing ability can stand in the way of improving their tone quality and extending their vocal range. However, this may be farthest from the truth.
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 and seasoned singers choose to take private singing lessons.
There is a wide range of benefits to taking private singing lessons. Singing lessons are a fun and affordable way to develop your musical ear and learn about performing. In-home singing lessons can provide regular and personalised methods of teaching kids and adults, ideal for those looking to overcome their stage fright and blossom as a musician.
Hiring a singing teacher is a personal investment. After carefully choosing the ideal singing teacher, students are encouraged 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 and on your own.
Here is Superprof’s guide to ‘revising’ what you have been taught in each singing lesson effectively!
Preparing Songs for Your Voice Coach
If you’re an aspiring singer, most likely you will see your voice teacher from one to two hours per week.
As a voice student, being led in your musical development by a professional voice coach will always be the most effective way to make progress. However, in order to make the most of your coach’s expertise, you will still need to do a good amount of practice by yourself.
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Primarily the most important piece of advice applies to all 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. Singing students can accompany themselves and learn about placing their voice within a given rhythm and at a certain pitch.
Furthermore, a good understanding of music theory and the ability to read music is considered indispensable for those students who wish to attend auditions and take The Royal Conservatory exams.
For those who don’t play any musical instruments, it is still possible to rehearse songs before or inbetween your voice lessons. You can work on learning and perfecting the lyrics and melody of a piece, either on your own or with a backing track from the internet or a phone app.
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, therefore, are usually advised to choose pieces that are suitable for their vocal range when building their repertoire – coaches will advise and help them with this process.
There are also websites available which can suggest songs and pieces suitable for each of the vocal registers.
Training your voice does require daily practice. Usually 90 minutes of lessons per week is not enough to fulfil your singing potential, and it is usually recommended that students spend around 30 minutes per day practicing their pieces and singing exercises.
If 30 minutes of practice you feel may tire your voice, you can break it up into two 15-minute sessions instead. You may find that you get stronger as well the more you practice.
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Working or practising on your dedicated pieces, in the time between your lessons with help you make faster progress and get more out of your money!
Mobile Apps for Singing Practice
Whether you're at home, on holidays, or for that matter just about anywhere, the digital age has opened up a world of possibilities in using technology to help you practice your vocal skills! And just for the pure joy of singing.
The educational software so readily available not only helps you to improve your singing skills, but can also help to develop your musical ear and awareness of your breathing techniques, all while having fun!
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If you feel somewhat lost when it comes to your vocal warm ups, these applications are ideal!
Certain apps aim to help users with their vocal range, while others may focus on teaching the user to recognise musical notes using relative pitch – important tool especially 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: $ 5.49
- 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: The 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!
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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
Books and Manuals For 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 The Royal Conservatory.
When it comes to singing, textbooks or reference books can help you with:
- Posture and Singing techniques, with the help of illustrations
- Musical memory, many textbooks come with acommpanying CDs
- Muscle memory, to help you learn scales and arpeggios
Learning from reference books and materials, helps to focus on the more theoretical side to singing and is especially beneficial for those wishing 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 – the best candidates to make accessible their musical knowledge to learners of all levels and abilities.
These teaching books can also help students to extend their vocal range. Books and manuals can help by showing students how to get used to using their head voice as well as their chest voice, and the different techniques used to maximise and produce a richer tone, and even how to reach higher pitches.
Whether you’re learning to sing strictly for fun, or to boost your confidence before joining a choir, using these types of of materials to enhance your singing practice is usually advised and promoted by singing teachers, especially those of you’re preparing for formal singing exams.
So, if you wish to broaden your musical knowledge , gain confidence as a performer, it's always important to remember: practice makes perfect!
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