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Five Must-Haves When Learning to Sing

Updated on October 6, 2014

And Talent Is Not One of Them

More and more people than ever before are learning to sing. Some people seek the help of professional vocal teachers to develop their voices. However, some people do not have the means or access to a trained professional. Luckily, the internet can open doors into the world of singing for anyone. Online learning has been on the rise and learning to sing is no exception.

Welcome to my "hub" where you discover the five absolute must-haves that every singer needs. And talent is not one of them. Of course, it helps when you have a talent but there are other "points" on the list that are more important than having a talent. Additionally, you will find here valuable information about the benefits of singing, how you can learn to sing and much more. I will also share my favourite websites that offer invaluable advice about singing, as well as some of my favourite easy songs to sing for beginners. Happy reading and happy singing!

An Easy Song For Beginners

Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace

A beautiful and easy song for new singers.

 

Everyone Can Learn To Sing

Yes, you have heard right. Everyone can improve their singing skills. Even if you have been told that you cannot carry a tune, it does not mean you cannot learn to sing better. There are people who are born with natural musical abilities. Some people are even born with perfect pitch. However, perfect pitch does not guarantee a successful singing career.

Singing is a learned skill!

Singing is more than the ability to hear pitches. Singing is the ability to produce musical sounds using one's voice (ideally in a healthy way). Many new singers start with a flat and weak voice, limited vocal range, poor breath management, little resonance or endurance. But all these areas can be developed through regular and systematic practice. Improvements in one of these aspects can lead to dramatic changes in your overall vocal abilities. Imagine what happens when you improve in all of these areas!

How Does Voice Work: a Video

Be Fearless and Sing!
Be Fearless and Sing!

Why Do You Want To Learn To Sing?

You have decided to learn to sing because you landed on my lens. There may be hundreds of reasons why you decided to improve your voice. Some people want to become singers to make big money or to become famous. These are reasons that can motivate you for a while but they are not good reasons to keep you in this business for the long run because learning to sing is a hard work. Only a few people make it to the very top because of hours of sweat, some talent and a bit of luck. Even if you have a great musical talent and can sing perfectly on pitch, improving singing involves hours of practice. I can hear you saying: "But I don't have time." We are all busy and we don't have time for everything. That is fine. Just be aware that the amount of effort put into practice will equal the amount of progress in your singing. In other words - you have to be in it to win it!

You can learn to sing too.
You can learn to sing too.

What Is Your Vocal Range? Find Out Your Voice Type

Voice classification was developed to categorize operatic voices. It considers vocal range, pitch abilities, voice quality, voice colour and most comfortable range to classify voices. Categorization of non-classical singing voices is done more loosely and vocal ranges and voice qualities are considered to figure out voice types. You can read more about voice types and vocal ranges here..

Watch this video to figure out your vocal range

5 Absolute Must-Haves When Learning to Sing

Some of the following items may surprise you!

You may have some of these must-haves already. Some of them are cheap, some are not. Some are easy to get, others are difficult to achieve.

Mirror gives you visual feedback.
Mirror gives you visual feedback.

1. Mirror

Singing is a self-discovery process and it often employs body parts that we have very little or no awareness of. Therefore, a simple visual feedback in the form a mirror is instrumental. A full length mirror is the best. However, you can use a smaller size mirror to monitor your movements and actions of your upper body and head. A mirror is important for the development of a good posture, fluid breath support, and healthy vocal techniques free of neck, jaw or vocal cord tensions, as well as performance skills in later stages of vocal training.

Record yourself on a regular basis
Record yourself on a regular basis

2. Recording Device

Many of us hate to listen to our own voices because we sound different on a recording. And that is the very reason why it is so important for singers to record their own voice on a regular basis. It is a reality check! It is even more important for new singers so they can become aware of their improvements.

When we sing, we perceive sounds in two different ways. One way is the air-conducted path, which means that we perceive sounds that travel to our eardrum through the air. The second path, called the bone-conducted path, transfers sounds by the means of vibrations from the vocal cords through the bones and resonating cavities in our head. This bone-conducted path enhances sound frequencies that are deep and low pitched. So when we sing, we perceive our voice through a combination of these paths. However, when we listen to a recording of our own voice, we are missing the bone-conducted way of perceiving sounds. Suddenly, there are no deep and low frequencies and our voice sounds differently. This is our true voice quality that other people hear.

An Easy Song for New Singers

Love Me Tender
Love Me Tender

All time favourite, nice and slow, Love Me Tender.

 
There are many different types of resources
There are many different types of resources

3. Singing Guide or Resource

Many new singers avoid learning about vocal mechanism, vocal cords, how voice works, how voice is created etc. And that is a mistake. A singer needs to understand these topics in order to improve practical vocal skills. Singing is a self-discovery process, in which you raise self-awareness of kinesthetic properties of a vocal instrument. For example, when you are developing a "mixed" voice in order to sing higher notes, you need to know what resonators are involved in this type of register. If you don't know what resonators are and how to access them, you will never learn what it feels like when your voice is transitioning from one register to another.

Having a good guide or resource is undeniable. In today's world, there are many choices. You can find a real person (vocal coach or teacher) who works with you on a regular basis. Such training is invaluable because a good vocal teacher gives you individualized feedback and tailors vocal training to your needs and capabilities. However, this option can be expensive or even inaccessible for some people.

Luckily, there are other types of guides and resources, such as books and training programs. There are a slew of quality training programs for beginners. You need to do your homework and research them in order to establish which fits your needs and price point.

There are some free options too (such as free Youtube videos) but these are usually of a lesser quality and they are not organized into comprehensive programs. Books accompanied with CDs also offer a cheaper alternative to regular vocal lessons but they lack the more effective visual input (video demonstrations) that are important for some vocal skills.

The ideal would be a combination of some of these options, such as regular vocal lessons with a book study and an online singing program with home exercises. Of course, these combinations are most expensive.

Book for New Singers

Singing For Dummies
Singing For Dummies

Do not feel like a dummy. This book provides you with essentials for singing and more.

 

4. Source of Music

In order to practice your singing skills, you need a source of music. A piano or a keyboard is good for practicing scales or simple melodies (unless you are a skilled musician who can play songs of your choice). There are also apps that can produce simple music or scales.

To practice a song, you need a recording of an accompaniment. For new singers, I also recommend the original recording of a song as it may be challenging to sing the song with an accompaniment only.

The biggest source of free music is Youtube. There are some free karaoke sites that let you sing a limited collection of songs. Free sources may be of a lesser quality and are harder to transfer from one device to another. It is also difficult to use these sources for live performances where a high quality recording is required. In these situations, you need one of the paid versions (CDs, Mp3s, iTunes tracks, etc.).

If you are using a live accompanist to perform your song, he or she will require music sheets. There are many on-line or off-line music stores with a great selection of music sheets for different levels of singers.

Time, patience and dedication are the key to success
Time, patience and dedication are the key to success

5. Time, Patience and Dedication

This final point is probably the most powerful.

Good vocal techniques don't happen overnight. Some websites and Youtube videos promise immediate improvements in singing skills - beware of such misleading statements. Solid singing skills develop through hard work and commitment.

If you are a talented singer but do not have time, patience or dedication, you will experience very little improvement. If you are serious about improving your voice, setting time aside for regular practice is a must. If that is not what you can or want to do, you need to know that improvement will come at a slow pace. Your progress will be equal to the amount of effort applied.

Singing Books For New Singers - Your Guides to a Better Voice

Books accompanied with CDs are a good option for new singers. They are relatively inexpensive compared to private lessons or comprehensive online courses. They represent an easy introduction to the world of singing.

Singing Guide with a CD

Singing Exercises For Dummies, with CD
Singing Exercises For Dummies, with CD

A must have - a book full of exercises with a CD to accompany you.

 
How To Improve Singing with Katarina
How To Improve Singing with Katarina | Source

Websites That Rock

Here are a few recommendations for websites that provide high quality information about various aspects of vocal development. Learning about vocal mechanism and techniques is an essential part of becoming a better singer.

1. How to Improve Singing at http://tips.how2improvesinging.com - This is a website that I created for new singers. It has several sections with important topics in singing. Make sure to check it out as it offers some good tools to improve your voice and singing.

2. SingWise at http://www.singwise.com - This website is a great source of information about vocal techniques. The blog posts are comprehensive and detailed and they will definitely give you a deep understanding of various topics.

3. Wonder of Voice at http://www.wonderofvoice.com - A blog site written by a singing teacher offering invaluable information about vocal health and healthy vocal techniques.

Are You Ready to Rock 'n Roll?

Are you still not sure where to start on your journey to a better voice? In today’s world, it is easier than ever to find singing lessons, regardless of your skill level or budget.

Private Lessons

If you live in a big city, there may be a big supply of vocal studios and teachers. Some will be better than others; some will be more expensive than others. Pick one that has experience with singers of your type (preferred music genre, age group, etc.) Ask your friends, teachers or co-workers - some of them may be involved with a vocal coach or teacher. Do your research and get some recommendations from trustworthy people.

Join a Choir

If paying for private lessons is too much for you, consider joining a group of singers. Nowadays, there are many choirs and vocal groups associated with churches, schools, community centres, clubs etc.

Online Courses

If you want to experiment with your singing voice in the comfort of your home, then you can try some online singing courses. Most of them offer video and audio lessons together with written material. There are a number of online programs, so again, you have to do some research, ask people who already purchased the programs or read some reviews to find out if the programs fit your needs. Here is one such review to help you out.

Self-study Guides

You can find some good books, DVDs, CDs at your local library, bookstore or on Amazon (I gave you some suggestions on this page). This is probably the cheapest option but requires discipline from the student to diligently follow the program and practice.

Don't forget that the most important part of singing is to have fun!

HAPPY SINGING!

Another Singing Guide with a CD

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Singing
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Singing

This is a great resource with a CD.

 

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