Tip #1: If it doesn’t feel good, chances are it doesn’t sound good.
Tip #2: Singing is a SPORT. It has more in common with tennis than with painting. There are muscles involved that must be developed, but then you have to trust the body to take care of it. (And you can). It is actually a mental endeavor, based on humming. It’s better not to think of the sound as something you must do, or place or “hit.”
Tip #3: The voice must be free and not controlled consciously.
Tip #4: Place your finger on your forehead between your eyebrows and sing “eee” on any note. Then “hang” an “ay” to match the “eee.” Make sure the resonance is the same. Try to feel as if there’s no difference in your mouth between saying the “eee” and the “ay.” Then hang “ooo,” “oh,” and “ah” in the same place. Next go through a song you have trouble with and only sing the vowels, no consonants. “Hang” them in the same place as the “eee.” The idea is to match the feeling in your mouth, as well as the sound.
Tip #5: Register breaks…try “waggling” the jaw as you go through a spot where there’s a crack in your voice. Remember seeing Whitney Houston do this? Also, notice if you’re holding your breath when you approach a troublesome note…usually you are. Keep the air stream steady.
Tip #6: Note: Did you catch the episode on “Making the Band” when they had the guy auditioning for O-town blow a piece of paper against the wall (and keep it there) for 60 seconds? This was to develop the control to sing and dance simultaneously, while not exhaling too fast. If you can do it for 30 seconds, I salute you! (Your voice will too).
Tip #7: “It’s only a gift if you give it away.”
Singing can seem like a selfish endeavor: time, money, effort, sacrifice…all spent for the end goal of fame and fortune, or at least first place in a contest or a lead in a musical. Most singers have also been accused of selfishness at some point by frightened parents, threatened partners, or even lonely pets at home. (I know my cats lay on the guilt when I go on the road!)
Singing is fun, easy, natural to all human beings, and meant to be shared…
Singing and playing an instrument are usually seen as pleasurable pursuits. In our culture, pleasure still equates with selfishness, ease (therefore not worthwhile), and possible even slightly sinful. Suffering is greatly valued, however, and is seen as a noble and selfless state. This often unconscious assumption has us live our lives making things harder for ourselves and feeling guilty about pleasurable activities. Cut to singing your favorite song: You will most likely make it much harder to sing than it is in an unconscious attempt to make it valid. Valid equals difficult in this paradigm. If it were just pleasurable and easy, who would respect that? And, if you get paid for having fun…please. Remember “Money for Nothing”? (“Got to move this refrigerator…little guy singing gets money for nothin’ and chicks for free”). Now consider a new possibility: singing is fun, easy, natural to all human beings, and meant to be shared for other’s as well as our own pleasure.
Tip #8: “The gift that keeps on giving.”
Faces light up, everyone appears younger and happier. The energy in the room, and the love, is tangible.
I’m performing at a very exclusive retirement home. I sing and then give them a few singing tips and they sing too. The audience is full of expectant glowing faces, all between the ages of 70 and 90. This is a show most of them are not able to get out and see anymore. To them this is special. And soon to me, it becomes even more special. Faces light up, everyone appears younger and happier. The energy in the room, and the love, is tangible. It’s perhaps one of the best audiences ever. They are so much more appreciative than people who can see a different show a week. Singing is a gift, and while developing it may be solitary, it is a gift meant to be shared. And sharing it benefits everyone. All you great singers reading this…please share your gift this holiday season. Carol for a hospital, sing at a rest home, or entertain at a homeless shelter. You have a real gift, but it’s one that’s meant to be shared. You will get it back many times over in smiles, appreciation and love. It will put you in touch with the pure, magical, and generous experience singing really is.