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When it comes to the usage of our voice as a musical instrument, we have to remember that it is an instrument that you can’t just replace. In this article, I tell you the difference between singing quick fixes and long-term solutions. Some things in your voice are quickly fixable and some require a long-term plan.
Taking care of your instrument not only makes you a better singer, but it also prevents your instrument from long-term damage.
That said, in singing training, some of your technical issues can be resolved with quick fixes, and some issues require a long-term plan. Knowing what you need will help you approach those issues in the best possible way so you can use your voice safely at its full potential.
Before we dive into what we can fix quickly and what we can’t, let’s remember that using the body to sing is not about repeating exercises mindlessly. If you want real and deep transformation in your voice, you have to learn to do the exercises correctly and with awareness, and you want to aim to increase your body awareness more and more every time.
The muscles we must use for a voice that is powerful and free are not muscles that are completely voluntary to you. If you don’t build body awareness, your body will try to perform the sound by tensing muscles that you need to relax when singing.
This is why it is so important to train regularly and to be patient. Learning to sing and develop your voice to a high standard requires much more than some “quick tips”. Singing quick fixes and long-term solutions repair different aspects of your voice and understanding the difference between what can be achieved quickly and what requires time can actually save you a lot of time in your training.
There are some things we can easily fix when it comes to singing, but not everything. Most of these are usually not considered but they do play a huge role in your voice.
Some of them are:
Keep your body hydrated!
Do you spend lots of hours talking because of your job? Drink too much coffee? Forget to drink water?
More often than not, people are not as hydrated as they should be. If you are a person that works in a call center, has the habit of drinking quite a few coffee cups, or simply forget or don’t like to drink your water, chances are your voice is suffering.
Keeping your vocal cords hydrated is not only important but also essential for a healthy voice. If your voice is dehydrated and you attempt to sing in this state, some damage will occur and it could be serious.
When you have to sing or speak for a long time, make sure that you are properly hydrated. Try to avoid caffeinated beverages if possible, and if it is not possible make sure you take an extra glass of water. It is easy to fall into the temptation of replacing water for coffee but trust me, it is not the same!
If your vocal cords are already damaged, it will take time to recover. But building the habit of keeping your voice hydrated could make a real difference very quickly.
Remember that it takes about 20 minutes from the moment you drink your glass of water to the moment in which the hydration gets to your vocal cords.
Similarly, watch out for what you eat before singing. It is not a good idea to have a meal right before singing. The best thing to do is to get some fruit instead if you need to eat something.
Keeping your voice hydrated is a habit you must adopt if you are serious about your voice.
Things to avoid before singing
Avoid spicy foods and dairy products before singing!
Not many people enjoy memorizing lyrics, but this is very important for many reasons. To start with, if you need to read your lyrics your eyes are going to be fixed on a piece of paper or the screen and this will lead to more difficult voice production. Also usually people keep their paper or screen at an angle in which you have to use the neck in a way that is not optimal for a free and full voice. Plus if you have to read you will not be able to focus on anything else!
Whenever you are learning a song, make sure that you memorize your lyrics first and foremost!
Preparing your body to sing has a rapid and deep effect on your voice.
Most people skip this step and go straight to singing. But you have to understand that our instrument is our body and our mind, and these are not static. Your voice is in a different state every single day.
If you have been anxious or nervous for any reason, you might find that your breathing is shortened and shallow. Maybe your back is sore and your abs are tight. If you are in this condition, your voice will be tenser and harder to produce.
Here are some practical steps you can take to get your voice ready to sing:
Learning to sing is a lot about building habits in the way you use your body to produce sound. We all know that building a new habit is not an overnight process. It takes time, repetition, and awareness. And there is a lot of beauty in observing the process itself.
Here are some examples of the long term solutions that we need in our singing training process:
Building up a good posture for singing is a different process for each person. Every single person has a different way of standing according to their activities, their emotions, their thinking patterns, etc.
To produce a strong and effortless voice we have to have some muscles relaxed and some others active.
For some people, building up a good posture for singing might mean strengthening certain muscles and relaxing others. But this is different for everybody!
To give you a very common example, people who work sitting in front of a computer all day might develop back pain which will limit their breathing. For them, building a good posture will involve learning to sit properly and possibly starting doing some exercise as well.
By having control of your posture you can improve almost all areas of your life, not only your singing!
Learning to breathe properly for singing is much more complex than to say “breath deeply”. Most people raise the shoulders to breathe when singing or they breathe with a lot of noise. In any of these scenarios (usually both at the same time), you are not able to produce your voice freely and effortlessly. The amount of air taken is too small and shallow and so your body will need to work harder to sing.
If you are a person that suffers from anxiety, for example, your breathing will tend to be shallow. You can change this for sure, but it will take time for your body to learn to breathe in a different part of your body.
To sing with freedom, we need to learn to keep our larynx in a certain position when we sing. This is not an easy process since the default situation is for our larynx to be in a high position to protect our body.
To bring our larynx to a lower position, you need a combination of posture, breathing, air support, and even mental state (eg – if you don’t feel safe consciously or unconsciously, your larynx will tend to go up).
This is not as hard as it sounds, but it is not as easy as to tell a complete beginner “lower your larynx!”.
This is a process that is completely doable and not so hard, but of course, it requires time and practice to create the habit so you don’t have to think about it anymore.
Ready to start your singing journey? contact me today to get started! At Auckland Singing School you can get holistic and integral singing training for adults in Auckland. We also offer singing lessons in Auckland for teens and kids 9+ years old. Exam preparation available.
Do you prefer to learn as a group? Join our group singing class for adults (beginners) in Auckland.
Not in Auckland? Check out our online programs HERE
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